Sat. Radio - actually digital output? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-04, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Question Sat. Radio - actually digital output?

A bit of a noob question - I am considering the Sat radio system, but I am under the impression that you would be able to connect it to a DIGITAL output, (i.e. my home theatre stereo system) to get a much superior sound quality compared to an FM transmitted signal.

Am I wrong? or am I not looking at the correct Sat. radio receivers?

I was looking at the Myfi and the Skyfi2, or Roady XT systems, but they all seem to be simply an FM signal transmission, not giving the Sat. radio system any better fidelity than a locally transmitted FM station...?

Thanks for any help offered -
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-04, 04:23 PM
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For the most part, you can hook your receivers up to your home stereo through a 3.5 stereo to RCA adapter. There were some threads from older times where people were using optical connections to connect to there home receivers (usually by adding parts to there satelite receivers).
ewertro is offline  
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-04, 04:39 PM
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Optical = Expensive OR hassle

Hi Black Sunshine,

I have a Sirius receiver, so I only know the Sirius equipment (this unit, for the record: )

There are a few home systems (I believe you can get them in Canada via or ) that have optical output - but they're around $300-$500 if I recall. Quite outrageous.

You can also get one of the car units, like the Alpine something-or-other, and buy an aftermarket optical adapter. That is the most economical choice (~$100 for the Alpine, $50 for the aftermarket board), but you'll have to use a WindowsXP software tuner to change channels.

As an aside, every receiver I've seen (including my $48 Xact) has at least FM modulated output *AND* stereo RCA left/right outputs.
mrlumpy is offline  
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-04, 05:11 PM
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If you're considering going through the trouble of doing all of that, you might want to sit down and give both services a listen. The audio quality on both SIRIUS and XM are quite lossy due to cramming so many channels in. Everyone out there can talk about how much better it is S/N ratio wise to FM, but when it's that lossy, there's no comparison. Have a listen to both, you'll see. An FM station, if it's setup right, with a good signal will always sound better than satellite radio. SIRIUS and XM can sound better, they just don't simply because of over compression. If both services get the extra requested 12.5 MHz of bandwidth from the FCC, then you will hear better audio...before they cram another 150 channels in.

The attraction to satellite radio for me is the choice, not sound quality. I live with less than stellar audio quality just for that.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-04, 07:59 PM
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Have to agree with SuperDarrell71, think a digital connection to a stereo is a waste of time myself given that the audio quality is not really that great.

As purchased a XM unit and have listened the Sirius units also at stores, and not really impressed with audio at all.
Corwin is offline  
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-04, 10:24 PM
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Second that

I would have to agree as well. I have had both XM and Sirius and for me its much more about programming and not the sound. Also love no commercials on the music channels. Commercials drive me nuts and there are sooooo many of them on FM.
trellaine is offline  
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-05, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Gotcha - so the real reason is not so much that it has better sound QUALITY than FM, but it is a better option choice, and has few if any commercials.

The 'remoteness' factor is a problem for me as well. If I am in the city I can pick up a few stations ok, but I am about 100 kms away, and the local FM stations are quite statiky even on good days...

Thanks again for all of your suggestions. I was thinking it would be a huge jump in quality - but as mentioned, it's a bandwidth issue at the moment...

If the bandwidth increase is accepted, will the rates will go up??

Yeah, and if they do get more bandwidth, will they apply it to increasing the number of channels, or improving sound quality?? Who actually makes that decision?

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-06, 11:56 AM
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and if they do get more bandwidth, will they apply it to increasing the number of channels, or improving sound quality?? Who actually makes that decision?
Probably some of both, if existing hardware can tune the added bandwith. And don't expect anything soo.

If they get approval to use the added bandwidth today, I'd give 2 to 3 years before something is available to subs, from satellite.

Now, in theory, they could make the added bandwidth terrestrial only, and put local services there (freeing up satellite bandwidth for new services/better audio), and invest in a thicker terrestrial repeater coverage for those markets, so they get an almost sure coverage of the local channels in a market.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-06, 10:04 PM
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 2005-12-07, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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I picked up my sat. rad. a couple of days ago - went with the Skyfi2 and a home kit - Canadian subscription.

Works pretty good - lots of content.

There is no doubt that the sound quality is lacking - I thought it would be a bit better than it is, but it seems that is affected more by the compression choices they are using to squeeze more channels on the air. If they choose to, they can improve the sound quality, but at an expense of bandwidth.

I guess for them it is a tough choice early on - they want as many listeners as they can get to keep the money rolling in, but they are definitely shutting out the audiophiles with this current level of quality.

Yes, I am sure that a digital connection, and decent equipment will help somewhat, but ultimately, it is the quality of the signal they are sending that has the final say on sound quality.

I'll try it out for awhile and see what I think.

I read the thread and realize Kevin007 is a little upset, but he sounds like a 'gotta-have-it-all-now' kinda guy that is never really happy anyways.
..."I get about 146.9 db with this setup and I am a avid installer of car audio in my area... and when its come to car audio I know my stuff"
I think that statement sums it all up.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 2006-01-01, 06:25 PM
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Location: Hamilton , Ontario Canada
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Hey People ...

I too had issues with the sound quality (in general) from XM radio, but I compromised by going out and buying a computer sound system from Future Shop. It ended up being the Altec Lansing (model VS4121) for 100 bones. It only has 30 watts RMS , but this little system Rocks !!. What a great sound (from the upper end ), and the bass is just fine; I don't need lots of power for the way I listen but it has it. I tested-out other systems side by side at Future Shop as well and purchased this lower price componet set. The sound is reaaly good as compared to my standard stereo system to which I had my XM hooked at first. XM now sounds super (connected directly to the Altec Lansing) here in the house using this setup. I was so surprised !
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