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The Sky's the Limit for Satellite Radio
by: ARA Content

How many times have you taken a road trip in a vehicle with only a radio, scanning radio station after station as you enter new cities?

Most of us bring a music collection on road trips, sometimes spending hours at home compiling tapes or CDs of music we enjoy. And even if we stay at home, many of us prefer the sound quality of our CD collection to the weak reception or extensive commercials on the radio.

But with the debut of satellite radio this fall, radio is about to enter the digital age.

Billed as the biggest advance in radio since FM, satellite radio presents consumers with a stunning array of choices, all with sound quality that equals digital CDs, which will make ear strain and static a thing of the past.

"This new technology holds the possibility of redefining the way we listen to radio. The quantity and quality of the programming is beyond anything that traditional radio has been able to offer," says Dan Hodgson, senior vice president of Merchandising at Crutchfield Corporation, the leading Internet and catalog retailer of consumer electronics. Crutchfield offers satellite radio products through its audio/video catalog and its Web site at

Satellite radio is a subscription-based service that will be offered initially by XM Satellite Radio, a company that will beam its signal from orbiting satellites. A second company, Sirius Satellite Radio, also is preparing to enter the market.

XM plans to broadcast 100 channels of music, talk, sports and entertainment -- many of them free of commercials -- as it rolls out its service this fall. In addition to popular formats, listeners will be able to tune in to "niche" formats ranging from showtunes, reggae, classical and NASCAR, to a trucker's channel.

That means listeners will have access to more extensive libraries of music for all formats, compared to limited playlists that often have caused them to scan stations repeatedly in search of more choices. A network of terrestrial repeaters means an eventual end to radio "dead zones," and the sharp, clean sound is an impressive advancement from traditional radio, Hodgson says.

"With the range of channels and the quality of sound, there's truly something in it for everyone," says Hodgson. "After people listen to satellite radio in their home or in their car, they'll wonder how they ever put up with so much static and interference."

To receive XM satellite radio signals, consumers need an XM-compatible receiver, a tuner module, an antenna and a monthly subscription. Crutchfield offers several products that will help listeners get in on the ground floor of satellite radio technology:

  • The Pioneer GEX-P900XM tuner module ($199.95) connects to an XM-compatible receiver just like a CD changer. It also works with more than 3 million Pioneer receivers sold since 1995, and can be used in conjunction with Pioneer CD changers, as well. It requires a separate antenna.

  • Keep your factory or aftermarket radio and still get high-quality XM radio with the Pioneer GEX-FM903XM ($249.95). This FM modulator works with any FM radio by sending the XM signal to an unused FM frequency. You then control station selection through a separate outboard display. The unit also requires a separate antenna.

  • The Pioneer DEH-P3370XM ($399.95) includes an XM-compatible receiver and tuner (antenna not included) for users who want to replace their factory or other in-dash radio in favor of a satellite radio package.

  • Take great XM sound from car to car -- or even your home -- with Sony's removable XM01C package ($299.95). It has a tuner, antenna, remote control and cassette adapter. Add XM to a vehicle with a cassette receiver using the cassette adapter. Or, if your CD, MiniDisc or cassette receiver has an auxiliary input, you can connect the tuner's line output. Used with the XM01HK accessory home kit ($149.95), you can even listen to satellite radio through a home receiver.

  • The XM01R FM modulator from Sony ($399.95) also brings XM satellite radio to any vehicle with an FM tuner. It includes a hideaway FM modulator that broadcasts through your FM receiver. The XM01R works with Sony's accessory home kit so you can hear your favorite channels in the car or in the den.

  • Terk offers two antennas that can mount in different parts of your vehicle. The SR-1 ($99.95) has a 10-inch mast and uses Terk's exclusive "Thru Glass" technology to mount through most any side or rear window without cutting. The SR-2 ($79.95) mounts to the roof and uses a micro cable that can slide under the weather sealant of most rear windows.

About The Author
This article courtesy ARA Content,; e-mail: .
EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information, contact Alan Rimm-Kaufman (804) 817-1000, Ext. 2301.Founded in 1974, Crutchfield Corporation is the nation's largest direct integrated marketer (catalog, call center and Internet) of consumer electronics products. It offers convenient, full-service shopping to buyers of car and home audio/video products. Providing a superior level of customer service, Crutchfield is noted for its high integrity, product expertise and technical support. Mailed to approximately 8.5 million households, Crutchfield's catalogs include comprehensive explanations of product and technology intended to help consumers make informed buying decisions. Crutchfield was the first authorized vendor-authorized audio/video retailer on the Internet, launching its Web site ( in the summer of 1995.

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