XM vs. Sirius

So you want to switch to satellite radio, but you aren’t sure with which service to go with? Two of the biggest names in satellite radio today, XM and Sirius, both offer a large variety of music stations that you would never hear on regular commercial radio. And most of the music channels, for both services, are commercial free. Of course, nothing is truely free. Both Sirius and XM charge you a service fee to listen to their music channels – someone has to pay for those satellites!

So what is the difference between Sirius and XM?

First of all, Sirius and XM both offer the same commercial-free music service broadcasted via satellites. Sirius offers 120 channels, or feeds, of music, sports, and entertainment programming. For this service, Sirius charges a flat monthly subscription fee of $12.95 for residents of the continental US. XM currently charges, on the other hand, has 122 channels broadcasting similar content (68 of which are music channels), and charge a slightly smaller monthly fee: $9.95. XM currently has the largest share in the satellite marked with 2 million customers.

So why does Sirius charge more? Sirius claims to have superior sound quality thanks to their statistical multiplexing technology, which provides additional bandwidth across all SIRIUS streams. This is supposed to increase overall sound quality and resolution. There has been little feedback however, to verify whether or not this system really enhances sound quality to a noticeable degree. In addition, Sirius is offering free audio feeds through the internet to its paying customers, something XM charges a couple dollars a month extra for. So if you plan on listening to the radio via the net often, you can expect to pay about the same no matter which company you go with. Sirius also claims to have 24 hour customer service – something XM radio has yet to fully achieve. Oh, and one more thing. Sirius has 2 NPR channels, for you NPR fans out there: NPR Now and NPR Talk. Pretty cool.

So does that mean Sirius is better? Well, that depends. XM has some neat stuff too, like a bunch of cool XM Satellite Radio receivers and displays. They also have the biggest broadcasting network right now, and are probably the most likely to expand services significantly in the near future. Overall, they are just about equal, and you are better off going with either of these services than any other.