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Is the Sound Quality of Satellite Radio: What Do They Promise?


A site visitor, with a Radio engineering background, writes an opinion concerning the sound quality of Satellite Radio:

No one has mentioned the sound quality! Yes, it is all digital and there are none of the usual analog problems. However, the bandwidth and thus the fidelity, is quite bad in many cases. Both systems [XM SIRIUS] talk about “CD quality”. Well, yes, CD clarity perhaps, but not CD quality. Both companies use compression techniques to cram as much as they can down that soda-straw of bandwidth.

It also seems to me that the ratio or split of bandwidth is adjusted based upon time-of-day, such as drive-time, evenings, and so forth. News/talk get low bandwidth (that’s fine, it’s talk), traffic gets the worst (that’s fine, it’s talk), but the music stations where quality makes a difference (Classical, Jazz, etc.) really suffer.

I thought it might be the FM modulator, but I bought the home kit and trotted off to my engineering friends. They all listened on their “professional grade” systems and heard what I heard – compression and low-quality on stations (Classical being the worst of the music channels) that would receive a lower audience share.

We all know the American public long-ago accepted whatever goes out over the air and never questioned quality. I think that is why AM Stereo bombed – who cared?

...Americans will go for quantity over quality, sadly, any day.

- from Chuck Gage

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