John Caldwell over at Electronic House has a lengthy blog entry about the quality (or lack thereof) in satellite radio. It’s a quiet problem few people are willing to talk about.
His rant is directed at XM and not owning XM, we can’t comment about XM’s sound quality. But the inventor of satellite radio, Sirius, was interviewed today on the Howard Stern show and spoke to this issue. He said that XM used cheaper components and a cheaper, easier technology to implement its radio broadcasting via satellite, which affects things like sound quality and reception.
Sirius, on the other hand, spent more time in development and working on quality (realizing that quality does indeed matter). And so while it hurt their business to be second to market, anybody who’s listened to the two in side-by-side comparisons notices the sound quality difference.
That said, both technologies, we believe, allow for “high” and “low” fidelity broadcasts. Stern is broadcast like the music channels on Sirius, in “high” quality fidelity. Having been a listener now for years, I have to say I’m hard pressed to tell the difference between Sirius and an FM station or even a CD while in my car.
My biggest problem is I live in an area where a lot of the roads have trees and other obstructions overhanging them. I get dropouts regularly, and that is my biggest pet peeve with satellite radio. There’s little that can be done about drop-outs (times when the sound just cuts out for a second or two), since it is a satellite line-of-sight issue. In cities, the companies fix this with repeaters, but that doesn’t help the majority of Americans who live outside a big urban center.
Ah well. The joy of satellite is the commercial-free aspect and the ability to listen to the same stations (and shows like Howard Stern) anywhere in the country. That is a very big, positive freedom to have, and one we here at Satellite Blog very much enjoy!!