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Old 07-17-2012, 07:37 AM   #1
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Over the air vs Sirus/xm

Not positive, but would i be correct that my factory 2012 radio does not have HD radio? I have noticed and to my surprise that the local broadcast stations sound better(more open airy listening experience) compared to sat. Seems the sat radio broadcast is compressed and reminds me of listening to mp3's now. Anyone else experience this? It is a factory head unit in my 2LT RS. I do have Hertz speakers and Phoenix Gold amp/sub package and i am liking the clarity of local now more so then my sat.
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:08 AM   #2
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XM sound quality is garbage. I know some people on here disagree, but they must be deaf. I completely agree that an analog FM station has better sound quality than XM.

XM's compression is 39kbps for stereo music and is significantly worse than a standard MP3 compression of 128kbps, something many people think is too lossy. I cannot find specific numbers on the Sirius broadcast, but when I had Sirius in my truck it sounded better.

HD Radio's bit rate ranges from 64-128kbps, depending on the station. But our cars do not have HD radio.
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:12 AM   #3
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Pandora Seems to suit me just fine and the quality of sound is close to that of CDs or high quality mp3/digital copies. Worth the comparison for someone that has changed out their speakers and stuff
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:03 AM   #4
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From Cnet:
What's so special about satellite radio?

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6466_7-...1.html?tag=nav

I like XM, but I a use my Camaro as a office all day, so it's ease of use not the sound quality I am after. Sure I can use my iphone with Pandora or Slacker, but I do not have the time being in and out of my car all day. FM stations where I am at are all digital now for the most part, and do not play the variety I like. You want sound quality, go old school, CD before they go away
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:22 AM   #5
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I do have Pay version of Pandora...isnt that supposed to be 192Kbs?
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flynnaz View Post
From Cnet:
What's so special about satellite radio?

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6466_7-...1.html?tag=nav

I like XM, but I a use my Camaro as a office all day, so it's ease of use not the sound quality I am after. Sure I can use my iphone with Pandora or Slacker, but I do not have the time being in and out of my car all day. FM stations where I am at are all digital now for the most part, and do not play the variety I like. You want sound quality, go old school, CD before they go away
Keep in mind that article was written in 2005, shortly after satellite radio first launched. They do censor their stuff for the most part now, and the quality is far worse now than it was back then. Reason being is they've added more channels and data content, and have had to compress the signal more to allow for the increased content and data.

AM/FM, even the non-digital, has artist and song info on every station now days too. The only thing still relevant about that article is the no commercials. I suppose the static free argument is valid, but static free garbage is still garbage. If it weren't for the satellite companies paying GM not to include HD Radio with their head units, the argument would be a no brainer. If I were a trucker, or drove cross country a lot, I would get satellite, because my presets would never change. The other thing that I do like about satellite is their selection of talk radio.

ALAC on an iPod is a very close second, with the ease of use that an iPod offers.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepguy_1980 View Post
XM sound quality is garbage. I know some people on here disagree, but they must be deaf. I completely agree that an analog FM station has better sound quality than XM.

XM's compression is 39kbps for stereo music and is significantly worse than a standard MP3 compression of 128kbps, something many people think is too lossy. I cannot find specific numbers on the Sirius broadcast, but when I had Sirius in my truck it sounded better.

HD Radio's bit rate ranges from 64-128kbps, depending on the station. But our cars do not have HD radio.
Are you/they serious at 39 kbps? I like the variety of songs, but the sound quality is terrible. At 39kbps, I now understand. Some channels like Hiphop Nation sound much better than Octane. So, XM must delegate different compression rates for their channels. Unfreak'n believable.
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Old 07-31-2012, 01:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badbubba View Post
Are you/they serious at 39 kbps? I like the variety of songs, but the sound quality is terrible. At 39kbps, I now understand. Some channels like Hiphop Nation sound much better than Octane. So, XM must delegate different compression rates for their channels. Unfreak'n believable.
I've often thought the same thing.. Some channels sound better than others but over all they all sound like garbage... I doubt I update my next subscription..
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badbubba View Post
Are you/they serious at 39 kbps? I like the variety of songs, but the sound quality is terrible. At 39kbps, I now understand. Some channels like Hiphop Nation sound much better than Octane. So, XM must delegate different compression rates for their channels. Unfreak'n believable.
It is true that XM uses different bitrates for different channels. I don't know if different music channels have different bitrates, but the talk channels have lower bitrates than the music channels.

As for being sure, I'm not. It was a number I found online, from a credible source. It's not something that XM advertises, and it's a number that probably changes frequently (but doesn't trend for the better).

This is an old post, but it breaks down the bitrate by channel:

http://www.xm411.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=33127

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertRat on XM411
Originally posted by DesertRat:
quote:
Originally posted by espnjason:
DR, how is a channel scan conducted?
I am curious of what the bitrate is for all the non-music channels on XM.

And is there anyway I could do it for my own research?
Anyone with one of the original XM2go radio can measure the period it takes to fill its memory when in record mode. This isn't all that practical if you want to characterize all the channels. A 32kbps channel will require almost 9 hours of record time.

The technique I use requires a hardware hack. Basically I to tap into clock and strobe lines within the receiver. A few gates and a counter allow a direct bitrate readout on a frequency counter. Any channel can be measured within seconds. The encoding rates for the accPlus encoded channels are based on multiples of 8,192 (2^13). The AMBE channels run at 4,096bps. Because of the way XM allocates fixed blocks of bandwidth, they don't appear to use VBR encoding.

To my ears, 48kbps (49.152kbps) is the sweet spot for aacPlus. I've always thought it was reasonably close to a clean FM signal. Good high-end details and excellent stereo imaging. I found the level of encoding artifacts to be acceptable. Not perfect, but pretty good for that low of bitrate.

At 40kbps the upper mid-range and high-end frequencies become noticeably degraded. The higher frequencies sound muted and indistinct. It also appears the effective dynamics are crushed. Without high levels of pre-processing, much of the details drop out. This was really noticeable last year when Cinemagic was reduced to 40kbps. They do manage maintain something of a stereo image, but little or nothing in the SBR frequencies.

Music encoded at 32kbps has a bit less high end content than at 40kbps. It does however sound worse to me than than the small differences indicated on spectral plots. The big drawback of 32kbps encoding is the decimation of the stereo image. What remains has limited channel separation and can be transitory in nature. It's a shame XM has reduced the majority of their music channels to this abysmal quality.

I've sampled accPlus v2 where the primary improvement is the addition of Parametric Stereo. About all PS manages to accomplish is to marginally improve the stereo imaging of 32kbps encoded music. It's nothing to get all that excited about.

As for the bitrates on all the channels, this is from the last sample. Missing is 201, the new SEC play by play channel. For whatever dumb reason, it currently appears to be running at 16kbps.
code:
Code:
Low Transponder                   High Transponder 
  1 XM Preview        16,384     75 Hear Music           40,960 
  4 The 40s           24,576     76 Fine Tuning          65,536 
  5 The 50s           32,768     77 Audio Visions        40,960 
  6 The 60s           32,768     78 Escape               40,960 
  7 The 70s           40,960     80 The Move             32,768 
  8 The 80s           40,960     81 BPM                  32,768 
  9 The 90s           40,960     82 The System           32,768 
 10 America           40,960     83 Chrome               32,768 
 11 Nashville! cm     49,152     84 XM Chill             32,768 
 12 X Country         40,960     90 Fuego sp             32,768 
 13 Willie's Place    32,768     91 Viva sp              32,768 
 14 Bluegrass Juncti  32,768     92 Aguila sp            32,768 
 15 Folk Village      40,960     94 Caliente sp          32,768 
 16 Highway 16        40,960    100 Air Musique fr       32,768 
 17 US Country        40,960    101 The Joint            32,768 
 20 Top 20 on 20      40,960    102 Sur La Route fr      32,768 
 21 KISS cm           49,152    110 XM Classics          57,344 
 22 MIX cm            49,152    112 Vox!                 57,344 
 23 The Heart         40,960    113 XM Pops              65,536 
 24 Sunny cm          49,152    115 Radio Disney         32,768 
 25 The Blend         40,960    116 XM Kids              32,768 
 26 Flight 26         40,960    121 Fox News             16,384 
 27 Cinemagic         40,960    122 CNN                  16,384 
 28 On Broadway       40,960    123 CNN HDLN             16,384 
 29 U-POP             32,768    124 ABC News & Talk      16,384 
 30 XM Hitlist        40,960    125 Weather Channel      16,384 
 32 The Message       32,768    126 CNN en espanol       16,384 
 33 Spirit            32,768    127 CNBC                 16,384 
 34 enLighten         32,768    129 Bloomberg News       16,384    4,096 
 40 Deep Tracks       40,960    131 BBC World Svc        16,384 
 41 xL Bone Yard      32,768    132 C-Span Radio         16,384 
 42 xL XMLM           32,768    133 XM Public Radio      32,768 
 43 XMU               32,768    140 ESPN Radio           16,384 
 44 Fred              32,768    141 ESPNEWS              16,384 
 45 XM Cafe           40,960    142 Fox Sports Radio     24,576 
 46 Top Tracks        40,960    144 XM Sports Nation     16,384 
 47 Ethel             32,768    145 IndyCar Racing        4,096   16,384 
 48 xL SquiZZ         32,768    146 PGA TOUR Network      4,096   16,384 
 49 Big Tracks        40,960    147 XM Deportivo sp      16,384 
 50 The Loft          40,960    150 xL XM COMEDY         24,576 
 52 The Verge         32,768    151 Laugh USA            16,384 
 53 xL Fungus         32,768    152 EXTREME XM           16,384 
 54 Lucy              32,768    153 xL Laugh Attack      16,384 
 60 Soul Street       32,768    154 National Lampoon     16,384 
 62 Suite 62          32,768    155 Take 5               16,384 
 64 The Groove        32,768    156 Oprah & Friends      24,576 
 65 xL The Rhyme      32,768    161 WSIX cm              40,960 
 66 xL RAW            32,768    162 E!                   16,384 
 67 The City          32,768    163 Sonic Theater        16,384 
 68 The Heat          32,768    164 Old Time Radio       16,384 
 70 Real Jazz         40,960    165 Talk Radio           24,576 
 71 Watercolors       40,960    166 America Right        24,576 
 72 Beyond Jazz       40,960    167 Air America          16,384 
 73 High Standards    32,768    168 Fox News Talk        16,384 
 74 Bluesville        32,768    169 THE POWER            16,384 
174 Sports Guide           0    170 FAMILYTALK           16,384 
247 Emergency Alert    4,096    171 Open Road            24,576 
                   ---------    172 Sport Plus fr        16,384 
   Primary Payload 2,035,712    173 WLW 700              24,576 
                                175 MLB Home Plate       16,384 
                                176-190 MLB pbp x 14    229,376   16,384 
                                190 MLB en Espanol        4,096   16,384 
                                191-199 College pbp x 9  36,864  147,456 
                                200 XM Live               4,096   32,768 
                                202 xL the ViRUS         32,768 
                                204 Home Ice             16,384 
                                205-209 NHL pbp x 5      81,920   16,384 
                                210 Boston                4,096 
                                211 New York City         4,096 
                                212 Philadelphia          4,096 
                                213 Baltimore             4,096 
                                214 Washington DC         4,096 
                                215 Pittsburgh            4,096 
                                216 Detroit               4,096 
                                217 Chicago               4,096 
                                218 St Louis              4,096 
                                219 Minneapolis           4,096 
                                220 Seattle               4,096 
                                221 San Fancsico          4,096 
                                222 Los Angeles           4,096 
                                223 San Diego             4,096 
                                224 Phoenix               4,096 
                                225 Dallas/Ft Worth       4,096 
                                226 Houston               4,096 
                                227 Atlanta               4,096 
                                228 Tampa                 4,096 
                                229 Orlando               4,096 
                                230 Miami                 4,096 
                                244 Canada 360            4,096 
                                245 Quoi De Neuf fr       4,096 
                                                      --------- 
                                      Primary Payload 2,039,808
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:24 PM   #10
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Well, I have decided to cancel after my 1yr trial. Over the air definitely sounds better to me. I had xm for last 8 years.
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepguy_1980 View Post
worse than a standard MP3 compression of 128kbps, something many people think is too lossy.
MPEG3 compression, by definition is lossy. That means that each time you save it, it gets worse and worse quality, which is why you should NEVER transcode.

But of course, you meant it just sounds bad. I would agree. I don't accept anything lower than 320kbps unless I absolutely have no other choice. The marketing gimmick states that 128 is "CD quality," but this is DEFINITELY not the case at all.


Quote:
Originally Posted by was619 View Post
Pandora Seems to suit me just fine and the quality of sound is close to that of CDs or high quality mp3/digital copies. Worth the comparison for someone that has changed out their speakers and stuff
I wouldn't accuse Pandora of being anywhere near high quality MP3. It's usually better than XM though, but that isn't saying much. Pandora and Slacker are often considerably worse than 128kbps, in my experience. Slacker tends to sound a little better, and less tinny, but it also has less selection from what I've seen.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flynnaz View Post
From Cnet:
You want sound quality, go old school, CD before they go away
CD is old school?

I must really be old. /sniff
My first F-Body had an 8-track. I'll hold on to the fact that I am the same age as the Camaro and you young-uns still like Camaros.


Even with my old ears I will agree... radio sounds better than XM.
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