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The sixth generation 3 series, chassis code F30. 2013 model year 328i and 335i sedans now in production. Read the F30 frequently asked question thread for all your basic question and dive into all the details in the ultimate F30 information thread.

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  #1  
Old 11-23-2012, 11:26 AM
jeffrey0509 jeffrey0509 is offline
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Angry Poor sound quality on satellite radio in new BMW

I have a new 2012 328I. The satellite radio sounds "tinny" almost like your underwater. Regular FM sounds fine as do CD's etc. I have heard from others that the problem is with Sirius and the amount of compression in their sound files. I don't believe this to be my problem because I have satellite radio in my home and the music sounds absolutely perfect. Are others experiencing this problem? I took the car to my dealer and the service manager listened to the radio but did not feel there was a problem. He said they would still remove the unit and check it out but I will wait to hear back from others before pursuing this option. Thanks
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  #2  
Old 11-23-2012, 12:25 PM
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has always sound bad in every bmw i have owned. satelite quality is just poor.
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  #3  
Old 11-23-2012, 01:40 PM
samualcc samualcc is offline
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Sirius is aweful. Maybe the receiver has something to do with it, but nothing is wrong. It is just bad.
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  #4  
Old 11-23-2012, 01:59 PM
jmsent jmsent is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffrey0509 View Post
I have a new 2012 328I. The satellite radio sounds "tinny" almost like your underwater. Regular FM sounds fine as do CD's etc. I have heard from others that the problem is with Sirius and the amount of compression in their sound files. I don't believe this to be my problem because I have satellite radio in my home and the music sounds absolutely perfect. Are others experiencing this problem? I took the car to my dealer and the service manager listened to the radio but did not feel there was a problem. He said they would still remove the unit and check it out but I will wait to hear back from others before pursuing this option. Thanks
Don't bother having them remove the radio. It's the signal from Sirius that's bad. When you say you have satellite radio at home, exactly what do you mean? You can get Sirius/XM off the internet or from some TV satellite systems. This is not the same as getting it off the satellite for your car. Also, turn off the surround option on your car radio. That just makes it worse.
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  #5  
Old 11-23-2012, 02:01 PM
hans007 hans007 is offline
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sirius is 56kpbs or something on a codec that is maybe WMA level good. it is a 10 year old codec.

that said i can't imagine it being much different than FM. i dont have a BMW yet, but i've had XM in an acura and sirius in my current audi and it seems to sound "ok". i wouldnt say it was CD quality, but its definitely on par with FM
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:29 PM
jmsent jmsent is offline
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Originally Posted by hans007 View Post
sirius is 56kpbs or something on a codec that is maybe WMA level good. it is a 10 year old codec.

that said i can't imagine it being much different than FM. i dont have a BMW yet, but i've had XM in an acura and sirius in my current audi and it seems to sound "ok". i wouldnt say it was CD quality, but its definitely on par with FM
FM is analog. Its audio quality potential is more akin to 12 bit linear PCM sampled at 30kHz. Much more data than Sirius. Of course, FM stations are purposely compressed, but you don't get the high frequency artifacts of low bitrate digital-that "underwater sound". XM uses a very different format and to my ears sounds slightly better than Sirius. I'm also told that different bit rates are used in Sirius depending on the station in question and that some are substantially less than 56kb equivalent. In any event, for any of us who have been listening to Sirius for years, there's little doubt that it's terrible and that the OP is just discovering this fact. To my ears, most FM sounds better overall than Sirius.
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  #7  
Old 11-23-2012, 02:46 PM
Elk Elk is offline
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Originally Posted by jmsent View Post
I'm also told that different bit rates are used in Sirius depending on the station in question and that some are substantially less than 56kb equivalent.
This is indeed the case.

Some stations are also higher bit-rate, in particular the classical stations and, interestingly enough, Salsa. Salsa is higher rate as the deficiencies in the CODEC are most apparent with percussive sounds; classical, as many classical aficionados are more critical listeners.

I have not yet heard a Sirius station which even vaguely approaches the quality of a decent FM broadcast.
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:28 PM
jeffrey0509 jeffrey0509 is offline
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Thanks for all the responses. I am not convinced it is simply a problem with Sirius. My home satellite radio is a tiny XMp3i that sits in a docking station. It is connected to a Bose music system. But irregardless as to what it is connected to, I can use it as a portable device with headphones and it still sounds equally great - no underwater sounds, no tinny sounds. So you need to explain to me why the same signal source can have that much of a difference unless the car unit decoding the signal is at fault. Please lets' hear from others with a similar problem so I can go to BMW with factual ammunition to get this problem resolved, not only for me but apparently for others with the same problem.
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffrey0509 View Post
Thanks for all the responses. I am not convinced it is simply a problem with Sirius. My home satellite radio is a tiny XMp3i that sits in a docking station. It is connected to a Bose music system. But irregardless as to what it is connected to, I can use it as a portable device with headphones and it still sounds equally great - no underwater sounds, no tinny sounds. So you need to explain to me why the same signal source can have that much of a difference unless the car unit decoding the signal is at fault. Please lets' hear from others with a similar problem so I can go to BMW with factual ammunition to get this problem resolved, not only for me but apparently for others with the same problem.
Trust me, there is nothing wrong with your Sirius in the car. The sound quality is going to suck, period.

If you don't like it (I don't either) then vote with your wallet and don't renew it.
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  #10  
Old 11-23-2012, 04:44 PM
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people dont buy sirius for the sound quality...
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  #11  
Old 11-23-2012, 05:01 PM
Elk Elk is offline
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Originally Posted by jeffrey0509 View Post
So you need to explain to me why the same signal source can have that much of a difference . . .
Because the BMW system, while limited in absolute terms, has greater resolution than the XMp3i and the equipment with which you use the XMp3i.

As others have stated, there is nothing wrong with your car. There is however a great deal wrong with Sirius.
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  #12  
Old 11-23-2012, 05:30 PM
jfox335i jfox335i is offline
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Sirius sounds fine in my F30. It doesn't have the quality of the IPhone or CD, but it sounds on par with FM. Agree with what was said earlier about turning off the L7 surround. Since I did that and adjust the EQ/bass/treble settings and set it back 2 spots to the rear, the HK sound is decent.
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by justinnum1 View Post
has always sound bad in every bmw i have owned. satelite quality is just poor.
+That's why I can't understand why some insist on putting it in at their cost. Unless they're interested in talk programs.
cheers
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  #14  
Old 11-23-2012, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Elk View Post
This is indeed the case.

Some stations are also higher bit-rate, in particular the classical stations and, interestingly enough, Salsa. Salsa is higher rate as the deficiencies in the CODEC are most apparent with percussive sounds; classical, as many classical aficionados are more critical listeners.

I have not yet heard a Sirius station which even vaguely approaches the quality of a decent FM broadcast.
+1 If i want classical music I tune to my local HD FM station.
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  #15  
Old 11-23-2012, 05:52 PM
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+That's why I can't understand why some insist on putting it in at their cost. Unless they're interested in talk programs.
cheers
vern
I got it in my other Bimmer so I could listen to the newest Alt Rock. It hits there much quicker than mainstream FM. I can't always get the college stations either.
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  #16  
Old 11-23-2012, 06:23 PM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is offline
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I think the Sirius sounds worse with the Harman Kardon sound system than it does with the base sound system. The HK is a premium system, and the Sirius is a lower quality signal than many commercial FM stations. As they say, "garbage in, garbage out".

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  #17  
Old 11-24-2012, 12:32 PM
jmsent jmsent is offline
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Originally Posted by jeffrey0509 View Post
Thanks for all the responses. I am not convinced it is simply a problem with Sirius. My home satellite radio is a tiny XMp3i that sits in a docking station. It is connected to a Bose music system. But irregardless as to what it is connected to, I can use it as a portable device with headphones and it still sounds equally great - no underwater sounds, no tinny sounds. So you need to explain to me why the same signal source can have that much of a difference unless the car unit decoding the signal is at fault. Please lets' hear from others with a similar problem so I can go to BMW with factual ammunition to get this problem resolved, not only for me but apparently for others with the same problem.

First off, consider the first 2 letters of your home satellite radio: XM. That's not a Sirius radio, it's an XM radio. As I already posted, the XM system is not comparable to Sirius, even though the programming is essentially the same. There's nothing BMW can do about the bad sound quality of Sirius. I've had many a rental car with Sirius on it, and the sound quality is always like this, regardless of make or model. You're just wasting your time with your "crusade", and risking that the service center will just ding up your dash while removing your radio.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:08 AM
mossman35 mossman35 is offline
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Originally Posted by jmsent View Post
FM is analog. Its audio quality potential is more akin to 12 bit linear PCM sampled at 30kHz. Much more data than Sirius. Of course, FM stations are purposely compressed, but you don't get the high frequency artifacts of low bitrate digital-that "underwater sound". XM uses a very different format and to my ears sounds slightly better than Sirius. I'm also told that different bit rates are used in Sirius depending on the station in question and that some are substantially less than 56kb equivalent. In any event, for any of us who have been listening to Sirius for years, there's little doubt that it's terrible and that the OP is just discovering this fact. To my ears, most FM sounds better overall than Sirius.
I thought I was the only one that could hear the difference between XM and Sirius..

My last car was a G35X with XM. XM did sound better and had less compression artifacts. I never knew Sirius had different compression depending on station. This explains why some stations sound really bad to me ears. I thought it was just a particular song or my imagination.

Thanks for the info. Helps a lot. Wish I could go back to XM. I agree the OP is just discovering the downside to Sirus as I had when I first got this car.

I also strongly agree the listening quality depends on the stereo. I can tolerate lower quality on earphones because you can't hear the artifacts as strongly. Not true on my home stereo or any car with a decent stereo.

As for why we might buy Sat radio...... We have horrible FM stations in my area, no FM HD music at all and bad enough cel coverage that you can't realistically stream music. While my 120Gb IPOD does have a lot of music, sometimes I just want to put something on without having to choose.
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:21 AM
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I thought I was the only one that could hear the difference between XM and Sirius..

My last car was a G35X with XM. XM did sound better and had less compression artifacts. I never knew Sirius had different compression depending on station. This explains why some stations sound really bad to me ears. I thought it was just a particular song or my imagination.

Thanks for the info. Helps a lot. Wish I could go back to XM. I agree the OP is just discovering the downside to Sirus as I had when I first got this car.

I also strongly agree the listening quality depends on the stereo. I can tolerate lower quality on earphones because you can't hear the artifacts as strongly. Not true on my home stereo or any car with a decent stereo.

As for why we might buy Sat radio...... We have horrible FM stations in my area, no FM HD music at all and bad enough cel coverage that you can't realistically stream music. While my 120Gb IPOD does have a lot of music, sometimes I just want to put something on without having to choose.
I do notice the traffic/weather station is really compressed. Classical sounds better than most rock stations.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffrey0509 View Post
Thanks for all the responses. I am not convinced it is simply a problem with Sirius. My home satellite radio is a tiny XMp3i that sits in a docking station. It is connected to a Bose music system. But irregardless as to what it is connected to, I can use it as a portable device with headphones and it still sounds equally great - no underwater sounds, no tinny sounds. So you need to explain to me why the same signal source can have that much of a difference unless the car unit decoding the signal is at fault. Please lets' hear from others with a similar problem so I can go to BMW with factual ammunition to get this problem resolved, not only for me but apparently for others with the same problem.
1) your XMp3i is not getting the same signal as your car. its using the XM frequencies and codecs

XM runs over 2332.50 through 2345.00 MHz

Sirius runs over 2320.00 through 2332.50 MHz

2) now that we have that out the the way, sirius uses a crappy codec vs xm. sirius uses PAC vs XM using AAC.

3) IIRC, sirius uses lower bit rates than XM

the poorer codec and the lower bitrates is why your XM radio sounds better than your car. sirius just sucks. years ago, it sounded better, but a few years back they lowered the bitrate of the stations to squeeze more channels in.
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  #21  
Old 11-26-2012, 02:30 PM
jtuds jtuds is offline
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+That's why I can't understand why some insist on putting it in at their cost. Unless they're interested in talk programs.
cheers
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Last edited by jtuds; 11-26-2012 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:05 AM
shabadoo25 shabadoo25 is offline
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For all the technical reasons listed above, XM's sound is superior to that of Sirius's.

XM has better higher end sound. Sirius has an increased lower end as a form of compensation.

Also, the aftermarket and especially recording units usually had better sound than factory and/or in-dash units.

So at the end of the day, there are a lot of reasons why your BMW Sirius doesn't sound as good as your XMP3i.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:49 AM
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This is a bit off topic, but do different car manufactures get different stations and packages? My parents have a Lexus and they get several channels that I do not get on my new BMW. Specifically the Lexus gets chan. 014, 015 and some others I don't receive on mine.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:09 AM
shabadoo25 shabadoo25 is offline
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This is a bit off topic, but do different car manufactures get different stations and packages? My parents have a Lexus and they get several channels that I do not get on my new BMW. Specifically the Lexus gets chan. 014, 015 and some others I don't receive on mine.
All the Asian cars have XM, not Sirius. While the content is 95% the same, the channel numbers differ in some cases.
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Old 11-28-2012, 07:55 AM
NewToCarBuying NewToCarBuying is offline
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Than put in your own smartphone integrated music if you don't like the XM

Its unfortunate it happens on every car

Thanks to satelites!
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