Audio Deficency

While I’m totally digging XM, I’ve noticed something rather annoying. It seems as though the rock stations are encoded at a lower bandwidth rate than some of the other stations. The classical stations sound like they’re encoded at CD quality (and it sounds awesome), but every rock station I’ve listened is of noticibly lower quality. One of them sounds like it might even be encoded in mono. They also are substantially lower in volume. On a lower quality setup, it might not be a large problem, but both in my car and my home theater setup in my living room, it’s quite noticable. The local XM evangelist at work, Ben, says that they do tend to alter the compression settings across multiple stations from time to time, especially when they’re adding new stations or when time-oriented content like sporting events go on or off air. I doubt one customer’s complaints would do much, but I plan on letting them know that I’m not happy with the audio quality. It can’t hurt.

On a related note, I figured out a nagging problem with my audio setup. I’ve been noticing some issues with funny sound, and I finally figured out why. My CD player was skipping on a brand new CD, so I got out my CD lens cleaner and ran it through the CD player. It also has some audio tuning tracks on it, so I ran through it for the hell of it. It turns out that my right front speaker was hooked up out of phase, even though the wiring between the receiver and speaker was correct. I guess the wiring inside of the speaker is backwards. After I found that problem, I re-ran the automatic configuration on the receiver, and things sound a ton better now. I guess all the funny levels I saw before in the autoconfiguration were because of the speaker being hooked up out of phase. Let this be a note to you! Check your polarity!

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