Friday, December 30, 2005

Music From the Skies

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a technology geek. I love electronics; toys like MP3 players, GPS units and all forms of portable gadgetry really get my blood pumping! So you can imagine how happy I was to unwrap a Sirius satellite radio from under the Christmas tree a few days ago. Of course, the very next morning I was in the garage installing the radio in my car. All in all, it was a rather painless install. I guess the biggest PITA was routing the antenna wire from the back hatch area (I drive a station wagon) to the front dash - this basically involved removing various interior panels and tie-wrapping the wire onto clips. Whatever, it only took a few hours to install.

First impression - the activation was easy. It took about 10 minutes on the phone and when I powered up the radio for the first time: BINGO! Over 100 channels at my fingertips. I was a little disappointed at the sound quality since both Sirius and XM tout their services as being "Digital-Quality Sound". This may be true, but it doesn't define the level of quality. From what I understand, both satellite radio services have a similar setup where they're pushing about one hundred channels through a sipping-straw's worth of bandwidth. So basically, music stations get more bandwidth, while talk-radio gets less. The best comparison would be with Internet radio; a good netcast will sound OK at about 64Kbps, while less than stellar quality can be heard at 32Kbps.

What did impress me, however, was the quality of the programming. Three stand-out music streams (for me) were Big 80's (with former MTV VJ's), The Spectrum (Adult Rock) and Hair Nation (80's and 90's glam rockers). I also find myself listening to The Faction quite often as I like their mix of Hip-Hop, Hard Rock and Rap.

I've never been a big fan of talk-radio, even less of Martha Stewart (yup, she's got her own channel - 112), but I was pleasantly surprised when I landed on the Whatever show while checking out the different offerings on Sirius. What I heard could not have been farther from what I had expected coming from the Queen of Homemaking's radio station. Whatever is hosted by Martha's daughter Alexis Stewart, and her good friend Jennifer Koppelman Hutt (daughter of Omnimedia Chairman, Charles Koppelman). It was refreshing (and damn funny) to hear Alexis and Jennifer bitch about their parents (very openly, I might add) and the ups and downs of being part of the New York bourgeoisie. One of the phone-in topics of Wednesday's show was "do your parents still treat you like a child?" It was great to hear Alexis being frankly honest about her relationship with her mother, and just as wonderful to hear Jennifer disagree! The whole show had a very relaxed feel to it, sort've like sitting in a bar with a few friends and bitching about life in general.

Anyhow, I've now ordered the "Home Kit" so that I can hook-up Sirius to my home stereo. Not being a big TV fan to begin with, this just may be the death nail in my cable company's coffin!

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I just activated my Sirius tuner also. Let me know how your home kit antenna setup goes -- I've had problems finding a good place inside my apartment for consistent reception. I documented my activation experience on my blog, linked to my profile.