XM or Sirius

I want satellite radio, but which sounds better? The more I read, the more it seems 50/50, yet some are so convinced. I wish Sirius had an analog digital out unit like the Polk, so I can run the signal through a dac. And I do like the idea of $500 lifetime with Sirius. Please advise.
make your decision on content and gear; not sound quality.....they both suck from the audiophile perspective. the signal is very compressed, the bass is 'one-note and it lacks depth. the better the gear the worse it will sound. i don't think you would like what a good DAC would tell you about the sound......sometimes it's better not to know.

all that said; satelite radio is a great thing for many situations. about 40% of the cars at the dealership i manage have XM and so most of my demo's have it. when i drive long distances out in the boonies it is great. near home at this latitude i do get lots of 'shadows' from the mountains and hills here in Western Washington State.
Mikes experience mirrors mine, I chose Sirius for content and I do like the lifetime membership.
I bought Sirius at the end of last year before Howard Stern jumped to satellite. From personal experience and what I've read I agree with what Mikelavigne has said. The sound quality is poor and the signal is finicky. I hear equal complaints from both sides. I can even sometimes hear a "tinny-ness" to the sound through my headphones. The decision really comes down to programming, the features of the unit for your application and subscription packages.
Same as what's already been said. I have Sirius in my car, but have had a large number of rental cars which typically give you XM. IMO XM has better jazz and blues stations, with deeper playlists than Sirius. XM also has deeper punk and alt playlists (again IMO). Sirius may have the edge on pure Rock 'n' Roll. Classical is a toss up so far. They both sound like cr@p compared to a high end system and source (I sometimes bring my radio into the house and hook it into my system).
Actually I am quite pleased with the sound quality of XM service using a Polk tuner through a Benchmark DAC. Granted it is not nor do I think ever could be "CD quality" as claimed, but some formats (Jazz, Classical, Instrumental) sound pretty close. Format wise I think both are about the same from a music standpoint, X the differences like Stern or XM's version of anoying talk show hosts. I chose XM for home use due to the inclusion in my GM vehicle as I already had an account, and the fact that Polk was comming out with a home tuner with analog output to a DAC. Not sure if anyone has a similar tuner available for Sirius but I am sure if not they will soon.
In two of my cars, one has XM and the other Sirius integrated into the sound systems. To me the audio quality seem the same. I much prefer the Sirius programming (jazz, sport, rock) although the XM programming also pretty good. My son put an after-market add-on XM unit in his car and the sound quality was not good with spotty coverage. In my experience, it seems that the add-on units are not as good as the integrated units.

Good luck,

I agree also with Mike above, sat is the way to go in cars if you don't mind non-audiophile sound. And for rg, tell your son to use the home antennae on his dash and use the mobile antennae at home, works MUCH better.
I have had both services and IMO Sirius is better because I mostly listen in a car or party situation, and Sirius plays more popular tracks.....for being in a car or at a party that is more pleasing, I also like Sirius more because of the DJ and music news, to me XM is more like Musac......sorta lifeless and they do dig alot deeper into music as far as unknown tracks, so if you like more variaty XM will work for you, but Sirius is more entertaining and plays more popular songs, as far as Audiophile quality it isnt gonna happen.....I much prefer the Music Choice channels on my TW cable for at home sound quality. So in short I think you should choose based on programming not quality, and I hope some info I gave helps.
either is like discovering music on the radio for the first time....no its not audiophile, but who cares...the comeday stations too are worth the price.
Jaybo, I completely agree. My wife gave me an XM receiver for Christmas and I had flashbacks to the best radio shows and formats I've listened to over the past 30 years. I'm more than a little bummed that they took the Prog/Jamband channel off the air but I can still get a fix online.
As stated above, XM playlist is deeper. To me, that means listening to pure crap half the time. I have had both and much prefer Sirius. Those who complain about the sound quality are probably using the FM modulator. (antenna) Use the adapter and go straight to the head unit if you have aux. input. VERY close to CD. BEWARE of the lifetime deal....it is for the lifetime of the reciever! When your radio dies your subscription dies with it.
Baffled, I'm running my Sirius directly into my pre/pro so I'm not using an FM modulator. However, it is interesting that the tin can effect I'm hearing is most pronounced through headphones and usually not audible through loudspeakers. And good point on the "lifetime" deal. I now some people that were fooled by that. I just hope these units last long. But they sure get hot! Regardless of sound quality, the programming diversity is fantastic.
This is from WikiPedia:


"Audio channels on XM are digitally compressed using the aacPlus codec from Coding Technologies for most channels, and the AMBE codec from Digital Voice Systems for some voice channels. Due to bandwidth restrictions and a large channel load, the maximum bitrate XM broadcast from its satellite per music channel is limited to 64kbit/s."

Keep in mind that the 64kbit/s is maximum, so it is unclear from reading this what the actual bitrate is in real-world situations.

Any audiophile who has spent some time learning about digital compression will understand that no matter how good the algorithm, 64kbit/s will have major and unforgivable sonic comprises for serious listening.

Though this data is only for XM, it is pretty clear from reading various peoples' opinions that there is no "clear winner" XM vs Sirius in sound quality, so my assumption is that Sirius is probably as bad with the compression.

So while I have no opinion as to whether or not someone "should" get satellite radio, I will say that if you do decide to go for it, do it for the content, with full knowledge that sound quality will be far less than desirable.
I love Wikipedia. I often go there intent on doing a specific search and end up spending hours getting sidetracked and branching off into completely unrelated topics. A great place to get a primer on something before investigating it further.
Has anyone tried the new Directed/ Polk Audio SIRIUS tuner (SRH-1000)? Ive got the older SRH-500 and wonder if it's worth upgrading.
Both are glutinous examples of aural wallpaper sorry to mix metaphors). Give your central nervous system a break and give your brian something to do - try "Books on Tape" (CD, iPod). Your local library probably has hundreds of them.