Sirius Satellite Radio: Still sounds awful after all these years

The Audiophiliac rants about the good, bad, and ugly of Sirius Satellite Radio.

Steve Guttenberg

Don't get me wrong, I love Sirius' programming, but I hate the sound. It's grungy, harsh, with no actual high frequencies and muddy bass. The music's dynamics are squashed flat as Kansas so it sounds like a low bit MP3. Digital smigital, Sirius sounds awful, way worse than FM radio.

Ah, but the on-air talent, well, it's better than anything on commercial AM or FM, by a long shot. The fire-breathing Liberal political talk channel, "Sirius Left," crushes its ever lamer terrestrial radio counterpart, Air America, and you conservatives can feast on the Sirius Patriot channel. For everybody else, there's Howard Stern, Martha Stewart and NASCAR.

The Jay Thomas Show blows Howard away; he's on the Sirius Stars channel. Jay's show mixes current events and politics with beauty queens and all sorts of wackos. Jay's a really funny guy.

On the music side I'm a huge fan of Sirius Disorder, their all mixed up, rock, alternate, jazz, world, whatever channel. The morning DJ, Ghosty, is an odd duck, and David Johansen (he of the New York Dolls) serve up wildly disorganized shows. Over on the Underground Garage channel, Andrew Loog Oldham (the Rolling Stones first producer) spews trivia and fascinating stories amidst spinning Nancy Sinatra, the Ramones, Radiohead, Muddy Waters with music from the fifties to the present. Looking for uncensored rap and hip hop, reggae, blues, country, jazz, world music--Sirius is probably playing it, without commercials. Point is, if you have eclectic taste, Sirius has the tunes.

But squeezing so many channels through a limited bandwidth pipe, the sound suffers. Maybe, just maybe if the XM/Sirius merger goes through the combined bandwidth will give us better sound. I've got my fingers crossed.

 

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