• Does anyone use Sirius XM radio? If so, for what?

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  • Now that you can stream music on your phone, is there any need for a sat radio subscription?

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    Question by kevin kelly
    05/05/2013

I still use Sirius XM in my car. Saves the phone battery, plus the controls and the artist/song listing are easier to see while driving. Plus I am often using my phone as a GPS....

Answer by cafiorello
05/09/2013

I listen all the time in the car. The sound quality is worse than FM, but I don't have to listen to obnoxious ads (at least on the music stations) and I can get coverage even in the boonies where no FM or cell phone signal reaches. I subscribe to the a la carte version, so for less than $10 a month I can hear lots more new music than I could pay for with Pandora and a data plan for my mobile phone. The cost for their Internet stream is too high, though—you're much better off paying for the premium service from Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, etc.

Answer by sobiloff
05/09/2013

Constantly. I assume you're looking for a better reason then "More music" but that really is all there is to it for me. I'm in my car for at least 2 hours a day so about 10 bucks for dozens of channels of music doesn't strike me as any odder then paying for cable TV. And I avoid "dead zones" where they are no strong, clear channels I want to listen to.

Answer by joebentley
05/09/2013

Many reasons. BBC World Service. No ads (or, more accurately, very few; there are ads for other Sirius/XM stations). Excellent disk jockeys (Michael Tearson, Mark Marone, Meg Griffin). Good talk radio services (CSPAN, POTUS.) I'm irritated that the free Internet listening is gone, and I refuse to pay extra for it, but otherwise I am very glad to have the service.

Answer by derbes
05/09/2013

I've read that some roadster lovers are dumping their Sirius for this tecno product. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/7/prweb9731518.htm

Answer by maintcmh
05/09/2013

I have an XM radio integrated with my GPS on my motorcycle. Channel changes and volume controls are done from the GPS screen, and the XM audio is muted whenever the GPS navigation lady needs to talk to me. I pay a little extra for XM Traffic and Weather, which feed in info that the GPS uses for navigation calculations, such as routing around road closures and traffic jams.

I mainly got the XM because I ride a lot in areas that don't have terrestrial radio reception -- places like the wilds of central Nevada, northern British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska. Even with a big library of MP3's, I'd rather listen to curated music on a commercial-free XM station. On days I'm on a long ride (750+ miles), it's nice to be able to listen to a baseball game, or an 80's Alt station, or even ESPN Radio, just to have something different.

Answer by tcfjr
05/09/2013

I am no longer a Sirius XM customer, but there are compelling differences between their product and "your phone".

Data and Coverage

As I understand it, a significant number of people use satellite radio in areas where there isn't great radio coverage. I expect that these areas don't have great cellular coverage, so streaming on your phone probably isn't an option. I live in an area where I have perfectly fine 3G/4G coverage, but cellular data is still priced at an unreasonable premium. Being able to use a small amount of data (throughout the month) is worth it, but casually using 100MB/hr would put me over my limits. However, again, I think that's not even an option for truckers, ex-urbs, rural dwellers, or professional drivers.

Specialized Hardware

Leaving that aside, Sirius XM has nice hardware that lets you find what you're looking for (and browse) without distraction. I probably use my phone to power my car stereo more than anyone I know, and I'm still hugely frustrated by the fact that it's a phone. Sometimes you pick it up to fast-forward through a track, and you have a notification about some social media activity. Or a new email. Or a sports score. I am skeptical of people that refuse to text in the car, but claim to be perfectly capable of finding the perfect iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, or Songza playlist for the moment, given the UX limitations in those mobile apps.

On a piece of car equipment, you'll find a power button, a keypad to enter a channel number, and buttons to channel-up or channel-down. Largely distraction-free.

Content

It's been a while since I sold the car that had Sirius XM in it, but in 2012, there were content exclusives that had no phone equivalents. Their kids station is fantastic, and almost worth the entire cost if you have kids 2-13. (I don't think Pandora or Songza come close.) Their news station selection is probably unrivaled, as they simulcast a number of cable news channels, again in a way that I don't think they've distributed to phones. One of their "indie" stations reached out to five MP3 bloggers and gave them hour-long weekly shows over lunch. And while a lot of the sports leagues are catching up to MLB's app, having all that content together is a really big part of their offering. (And all this leaves aside silly "anchors" like Howard Stern, Oprah, and Martha Stewart, who mean a lot to dedicated audiences, but who don't factor into the average person's decision to buy or not buy.)

Answer by dnord
05/10/2013

I have been an XM customer for about a decade. The service's price has escalated quite a bit in that time (I wish I had pulled the trigger on the lifetime membership years ago), which caused me to alter my plan last year to only include talk radio. Of that, I actually only listen to two or three public radio stations. It's about 10 bucks a month to do so, but given my location out West, the ability to pull down public radio regardless of my location is a tonic. Perhaps some day when cell towers become more prevalent I will be able to get public radio programming through my phone, but for now, satellite is the way to go for me.

Answer by bigskyguy
05/10/2013

I got several free months of XM after buying my new car, but I would never pay for it. The content was mostly the same as what you get on FM radio in any town, though some specialty stations (underground, indie, reggae, metal, etc) were a nice change.

The reception was terrible, at least in my town. Every time I drove next to a building or near trees, the signal would cut out completely. There are lots of trees here, so I would often get frustrated and switch back to FM.

Answer by cwilson
05/10/2013

I will do whatever possible to keep satellite radio, now that I finally own a car new enough to come w/it installed. I love the different genres of music that are available at the flick of the dial, the comedy channels, all of the different news options... I could go on and on. The phone app is not enough to replace having the radio in my car.

I see others who have remarked on "terrible" reception; I honestly haven't seen that issue, and any minor/intermittent issues with reception are most likely caused by solar activity and are more than outweighed by the usefulness of having radio reception when taking long car trips through the boondocks.

Answer by amazonite
05/10/2013

I like it on long drives so I can just listen to one program or game. I know phones can do it but with the new bandwidth caps that are being imposed on Verizon users, streaming isn't optimal. Plus most radio streams on the net don't include sports. I loved being able to listen to the NCAA tourney while driving from MI to NY through Canada and not getting nailed with extra fees.

Answer by ajax
05/10/2013

I have a different experience than Sobiloff - i find the sound quality is better than FM.

Over time, I've found some of the channels to get repetitious, however, putting it at 1 and hitting SCAN has exposed me to a lot more "current" music. (being the father of a teenager, some currency is relevant)

I especially love their foreign "stations" and "alternative" stations -- Verve from CA; ATN from CA but covering Bollywood type stuff; these are things I cannot find in my normal radio selection.

I initially purchased it instead of selling the car -- it was a way to make my car experience new again, and I'm glad I did.

Answer by sunnywiz
05/10/2013

I like being able to find whatever genre of music that I might want to listen to at any particular time, though I am also aware that this perception is fairly limited by my own narrow tastes. I am also aware of just how close and overlapping many of the stations are (coffee house, loft, etc.?)...

I've had a long (60mile) commute for the past year and it's been a good supplement to the various other sources of audio media (commercial U.S. radio, Canadian/CBC, phone streaming of Pandora, phone-borne music files, USB thumb drive, SD-card drive, etc.)... I have a great car with access to all of this, as well as a great 8.4 inch TFT display screen, so it's been a real boon on my daily commute. SDRS is a significant part of my strategies to survive the drive.

One relatively big complaint for me about XM/Sirius is the laughably high cost of accessing broadcast materials on-line. Does anybody remember that AOL, at one time, streamed XM music? It was great but did not dissuade me from subscribing to the Satellite broadcast, yet somehow XM/Sirius have convinced themselves that internet broadcast of exactly the same media (without the overhead, or perhaps just to help bear the overhead, literally, of the satellite infrastructure) at a high surcharge makes sense. It doesn't to me and, despite being a very early proponent of SDRS, I refuse to purchase the internet capability. This is one of the things about XM/Sirius that turns me off (at least figuratively) and will probably result in my leaving them when a reasonable alternative (especially in my car) comes along.

Answer by pmontero
05/10/2013

I record and time shift listen to shows at my schedule. Some unique shows you will not find elsewhere

Buried Trasure with Tom Petty (Blues and Rock)

Boundries with Paul Bachmann (Xover Classical)

Mansion of Fun with David Johansen (Classical to Blues to Rock to ... often with themes like Crying or eyes)

Disorder with Meg Griffin (Contemporary similar to Mansion of Fun but less Classical and more current)

On the Aisle with Bill Rudman (Broadway with a theme for each show)

NY Shuffle with Lou Reed (Very contemporary, sometimes it feels like you are listening to musical chain saws)

Roots Showing with Franny Thomas (Contemporary, folk eclectic, with a unique segment were band members pick artist/songs they like and at the close play live music)

The Village with Mary Sue Twohy (Village used to have a channel of their own, but lost it for some reason. Available on the internet channels and for 4 hours on the Bridge channel)

Linked with Peter Cummings (Classical music interviews once a month ... often with Xover artists)

Answer by pod
05/11/2013

I'm a Sirius subscriber. I don't use it with my mobile phone nor do I use the Internet streaming option. I only use it in my truck. I prefer it over terrestrial radio because I can listen to the same stations no matter where I travel in the US and Canada and there are no commercials (at least on the stations I listen to).

Answer by johnzilla
05/11/2013

from Ed Kelly on US Sailing Vessel ANGEL LOUISE (a British Built 25 yr old catamaran) currently on the South Shore of Sicily:

As you can tell by my intro, we are not normal, in the sense we are 24/7 boater live-aboard folks. We bought a subscription to Sirius/XM back in 2010. We were impressed we could receive it throughout Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. You can get its many stations worldwide if you have internet as well, but at an extra cost of $3 per month. We have a unit made for a car, but put it on the boat. We also paid for a lifetime membership, slightly more than $500, but we figured it would be worth it in the long run. We enjoy having the reception throughout the US East Coast when we cruised there, and also in the Eastern Caribbean islands. We are retired and live our lives as nomadics now. Ed Kelly also email at ATTYEDKELLY (at symbol) GMAIL.COM

Answer by attyedkelly
05/12/2013

I have 2 SiriusXM radios, and and the TTR-1 Internet Radio. I feed SiriusXM into a small FM transmitter (F-S Electronics FSCZH-05B) so that I have music all over my house, into the yard and out in the shop. Great classical music programming, comes in super clear and is available everywhere. The local classical station is always running a pledge drive, comes in crackly everywhere, and has annoying DJs. No contest! I had poor reception in my car until I had the antenna mounting by a dealer that knew what they were doing. Only occasionally does it go out for a moment. Internet SiriusXM can be more problematic, I've had to futz with my TTR-1 to get good reception more than I would have liked to. The SiriusXM app on my Android phone comes in handy in a pinch, but I have an unlimited data plan that was grandfathered in.

Answer by dbarnard
05/12/2013

Ron and Fez

Answer by hughwalton
05/12/2013

Be careful about subscribing to Sirius XM service. They make it very difficult to cancel your subscription. If you do sign up, use a check, not a credit card, or they will keep charging you even after you cancel. Read this: http://boingboing.net/2012/07/13/it-pleases-me-to-see-sirius-xm.html

Answer by Mark Frauenfelder
05/13/2013

I get great coverage so I just stream through the car. The songs and playlist come up on my radio display and my steering wheel controls work with the phone and aftermarket head unit. I have never run over .5 gig streaming everyday. I am so glad that I DON'T have to pay for radio. I LOVE my Pandora. Of course I have a flash drive jacked in too- so I can make my own playlists for out of range areas.

Answer by nascar4u
03/24/2014

I've been a Sirius subscriber since before it was publicly available. I like having it integrated into my car stereo, there's no cables, no having to worry about battery, data caps, signal coverage or forgetting my phone in the car. I start the engine, music starts playing. My stereo also has a remote, so I can change channels without taking my hands off the wheel.

I do use the Sirius mobile app, mainly at home or work where I can plug into power and either wireless headphones or speakers.

Answer by Captain Packrat
06/10/2014

HD radio has vastly better sound quality than SiriusXM.  I have both.  When I’m within range I always choose HD radio over SiriusXM.  If you do not have an HD radio receiver, you are sorely missing out.  HD FM sounds as good as CDs, while SiriusXM sounds like highly compressed MP3s.

Answer by insideshovel
03/04/2015
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