Best Sirius Setup for Home and Car?
July 20, 2007 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy a Sirius radio for my home and the car but I'm having trouble weighing all the options -- any help would be appreciated. I'd like to install this in the car (2003 Honda Civic w/ no audio input) and be able to use it at home as well. Options like recording are nice but not a must. I am interested in the Stiletto but am worried about the antenna quality as well as the car installation. If the fm transmitter won't work well (likely as the one I have for my ipod is spotty at best here in Chicago) is there a way to use it wired directly to my existing car stereo? Should I look at other options? For home use, I'd like to listen to it through my existing stereo setup.
posted by jules1651 to Technology (7 answers total)
I have the (now-obsolete) Sirius Starmate model, and separate antenna set-ups for my home and car. All I have to do is pop out the receiver and take it whereever I want it. The antennas only cost about $40 a pop last time I checked.

The FM Transmitter is the Starmate is _significantly_ better than my iTrip, though I can't vouch for the Stiletto model.

If you're an electrical wizard, you will be able to bypass the FM radio and hardwire your Sirius directly into your car yourself. If not, my father bought a kit that allowed him to do it. Though either of these options may (a) limit the mobility of your receiver (b) impact your cars resale value if it invovles tampering.

Hooking up the radio at home takes about three seconds. Throw an antenna out a window and plug the Sirius receiver into your home stereo receiver. Ta da.
posted by coryinabox at 12:15 PM on July 20, 2007

agree that the FM transmitter for my XM Roady 2 is way way way better than any iPod one i ever bought. or you can buy and install an inline antenna kit, which will totally overpower even the strongest of terrestrial signals.

i also did a nifty thing with the power: i wired an additional car cigarette power input thing (sorry for the highly technical language) to the main power and hid it under a seat, so you can't see the power adapter sticking out of the dashboard. it plugs in out of sight.

with a digital signal, my understanding is that you can either hear it, or you can't. so i don't know if antenna 'quality' is an issue.
posted by uaudio at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2007

If you have a cassette tape player in the car, considder gettinng a cassette adapter. I'm surprised how well my Sirius setup works - my experience has is working much much better than with the FM transmitter.
posted by cgg at 1:14 PM on July 20, 2007

If you give even half a crap about sound quality, hard-wire it to an input in your car stereo. Putting digital sound through an FM modulator is like washing your silk sheets in wallpaper paste.

If you have no aux. input, you likely have a CD-changer input that will work. There are kits available from Blitzsafe, among other suppliers. No need to worry about "tampering" altering resale value, it's all completely removable.

In my car, I plugged a Blitzsafe adapter into the CD changer input behind the head unit, and ran the cable out from under the center console where I can plug it into my Sirius unit or an MP3 player as the mood strikes. The power and antenna cables are simply tucked under upholstery and trim edges to keep them from view until they reach out of the center console as well. There is little evidence of the installation, yet I could remove the whole shebang in minutes.
posted by Tubes at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2007

XM listener here... Like uaudio, I had the XM Roady for a while (before I got a car with built-in XM), and can vouch that the FM transmitter was pretty good. The Roady is a $30 portable radio, so nothing fancy here. I use it in my house now that I no longer need it for my car (bought a $20 stereo hook-up kit that works a peach).

The only complaint that I had was that this particular XM radio only allowed you to choose from a few FM stations, and in Chicago, every single one of them experienced interference in at least one part of the city (Grrr!). If you have an option to buy one that allows you to choose ANY FM station, I would recommend that (assuming that you have no way of physically attaching the thing to your car stereo, which would be my first choice).

As far as the antenna is concerned... my understanding is that (at least for XM, and I would assume this is true for Sirius as well) satellite radio providers set up ground repeaters in their most heavily populated areas to get around things like large buildings blocking the signal. That said, there are still certain parts of the Eisenhower where my signal goes dead for a couple of seconds (even with the built-in radio/antenna).

Oh yeah, and the mess of wires hanging all over the car... yeah, that sucks. My friends gave me a pretty hard time about that. But it was worth it to be able to listen to a ball game no matter where in the country I was driving to.
posted by jknecht at 2:02 PM on July 20, 2007

The Stiletto has gotten awful, awful reviews, btw. The internal fm transmitters are quite weak in the new sirius radios. Plan on a cassette adapter or wiring it through your stereo.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:13 PM on July 20, 2007

I'm new to XM myself, though I was a long-time XM subscriber. I've also installed the car stereos in all my cars myself, and installed the XM radio and this new Sirius radio (a used Starmate Replay).

I say, the FM transmitter is worth a try, but how well it works is going to depend entirely on how crowded the FM spectrum is where you are. In Chicago, I'd guess it's not going to work well.

Your next-best option (and guaranteed to work) is called a "direct FM" connection. Basically, it plugs in between your car's antenna and the radio. You still have to tune in an FM station to pick up the Sirius, but while the Sirius radio is on, it disconnects your car antenna, giving you much better reception.

The third option is connecting it to an auxilary input. If your car has a CD changer option, you can probably connect the Sirius to that with an adapter. If not, then you probably can't use this option.

Oh, and like CwgrlUp said, the Stiletto has gotten amazingly awful reviews. I'd stay away from that model. The Starmate 4 looks good, comes with everything for the car, and a home kit is $50.
posted by CrayDrygu at 5:32 PM on July 20, 2007

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