SiriusXM sound quality - is if just bad on Volvos?
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    1. #1
      Junior Member Northeast's Avatar
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      SiriusXM sound quality - is if just bad on Volvos?

      Even though I love music I'm one of those people that doesn't have the patience to constantly create playlists or DJ streaming music in the car. Satellite radio is so much more convenient. The down side has been that the sound quality is pretty horrible.

      The only cars I've owned with SiriusXM radios built in have been Volvos - a '13 S60 and a '16 S60. The '13 had the base stereo, and the '16 has the HK system. They both sound good using a CD, USB, or iPod as a source, except for the door rattles on the HK system. But, when listening to satellite it's a different story. I can fiddle with the tone/EQ controls and make it tolerable for low volume background listening, but can't get rid of the obnoxious "underwater" treble artifacts and bass dropout if I actually want to listen to something. One of the reasons I went with a Platinum was to get the better HK system, but if anything it sounds worse on satellite than the base system did. My assumption has been that this is just what you get with the audio compression going on and is the price you pay for convenience.

      So, when I recently bought an '18 Jeep Cherokee with the Alpine stereo system, I was shocked at how good SiriusXM sounded on it. There are no compression artifacts, and the EQ settings that work for listening to other sources (USB, iPod) work for satellite too. Then I tried online streaming SiriusXM on my laptop (MacBook Air with a Dragonfly DAC) connected to my home stereo, it also sounded good. About as good as Apple Music streaming on the same setup.

      This makes me think that it's not an inherently low quality, over compressed signal that causes the problem, it's a low quality receiver/DAC built into the Volvos.

      Anyone else have this experience? Are the newer Volvos with the new Sensus system better?
      2007 C70 T5 Magic Blue
      Previous:
      2016 S60I, 2013 S60, 2003 XC70, 2002 V70, 1998 S70

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    3. #2
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      For the most part, pretty much every radio I have had stock or installed aftermarket has sounded like that. I can remember a few GM's I have been in that sounded better. Some channels also are given a higher bitrate than others for various reasons.

      They only have so much bandwidth from their satellites and in order to offer so many channels, they have to degrade the sound quality for most of them. As you found out listening online, it sounds 100x better as they don't have the same limitiations.

      And no, it doesn't sound much better on Sensus systems.

    4. #3
      Junior Member billshoff's Avatar
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      I drive a 2012 C70 with the Dyna Audio sound system and the SiriusXm sound is incredible. It's clear and the bass is amazing. But to answer your question I have no idea why it would differ from one car to another.

      My SiriusXm is not currently active. I had them turn it off in March when we couldn't agree on a fair price for the service. My neighbor gets it for $60/year but Sirius refused to give me that price.

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    6. #4
      Junior Member Okidiver's Avatar
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      SiriusXM has some weird pricing schemes and marketing hooks. A friend got an offer for is wife's Miata of $99 for THREE years...I was like--damn, get me some of that...but, when he called they withdrew the offer. Pricing schemes are all over the place. Heard a guy on Swedespeed from Canada saying he got about $16 a year, but have never matched that--best I've gotten is about $30 for 5 months.
      Rapid Rick...I roll
      2008 C30 Matt Pearl Gold OSD-customized w/Elevate tune
      2015 V60 Seashell Metallic w/Platinum, BLIS, wood

    7. #5
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      SiriusXM has limited bandwidth for all of its channels. Traffic uses the least, which is why it sounds the worst. The jazz stations are using the most per channel, and they sound better. If you pay for streaming, try listening through CarPlay and the SiriusXM app. You should notice improved sound to some extent.

    8. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by DudeDad View Post
      SiriusXM has limited bandwidth for all of its channels. Traffic uses the least, which is why it sounds the worst. The jazz stations are using the most per channel, and they sound better. If you pay for streaming, try listening through CarPlay and the SiriusXM app. You should notice improved sound to some extent.
      That was my experience in my XC 40. SiriusXM's sound in my XC 40 and the RX 450h before it is better with streaming than natively through the infotainment system. Even streaming Pandora through the Pandora app on Sensus using the XC 40's AT&T modem is much better quality than SirisXM.
      2020 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription, Thunder Grey Metallic, Polestar Optimized
      traded - 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design with Polestar Optimization, Bursting Blue Metallic
      first Volvo - 1985 740 GLE sedan

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