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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2019 Ascent with the standard radio installed.
When I listen to SiriusXM music channels they sound great - just like they should sound.
When I listen to Fox News (or Fox Business) channel the voices sound tinny and distorted; hard to understand in some cases.
This is not a new problem - I think it has been this way ever since the car was new.
I have tried many combinations of bass/treble, front/back, etc. with no improvement in the problem.
I have not noticed this distortion problem on other SiriusXM channels with talking like Patriot.

Has anyone else noticed this issue?
Is anyone aware of a setting change that would correct this issue?

Thanks in advance!
 

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It is the satellite feed for that particular station is highly compressed. There isn't much you can do. However, if you have the app installed on your phone, try streaming the same channel. If I am guessing, it will be clearer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is the satellite feed for that particular station is highly compressed. There isn't much you can do. However, if you have the app installed on your phone, try streaming the same channel. If I am guessing, it will be clearer.
I tested the Fox News channels (113&114) on my cell phone app and the voices are quite clear.
So it would appear that jak341's theory about compression may be correct. Thanks, jak.

I also tested listening to the Fox channels on my old Sirius "boom box" radio which, of course, uses the same satellite feed as the automobile.
The boom box sounds perfect - there is no distortion at all in the broadcast voices.

Now the question is why can't the Ascent's SXM radio properly decompess the compressed data stream?
Is this a defect in the Ascent's radio receiver itself?

How can I report this problem to Subaru and obtain a possible fix?
 

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2019 Subaru Ascent Limited 2010 Subaru Legacy GT limited
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I tested the Fox News channels (113&114) on my cell phone app and the voices are quite clear.
So it would appear that jak341's theory about compression may be correct. Thanks, jak.

I also tested listening to the Fox channels on my old Sirius "boom box" radio which, of course, uses the same satellite feed as the automobile.
The boom box sounds perfect - there is no distortion at all in the broadcast voices.

Now the question is why can't the Ascent's SXM radio properly decompess the compressed data stream?
Is this a defect in the Ascent's radio receiver itself?

How can I report this problem to Subaru and obtain a possible fix?
It sounds more like a problem with the incoming signal, especially since it is only the one channel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I tested the Fox News channels (113&114) on my cell phone app and the voices are quite clear.
So it would appear that jak341's theory about compression may be correct. Thanks, jak.

I also tested listening to the Fox channels on my old Sirius "boom box" radio which, of course, uses the same satellite feed as the automobile.
The boom box sounds perfect - there is no distortion at all in the broadcast voices.

Now the question is why can't the Ascent's SXM radio properly decompess the compressed data stream?
Is this a defect in the Ascent's radio receiver itself?

How can I report this problem to Subaru and obtain a possible fix?
I also tested the Fox News SiriusXM channels in my 2019 Outback.
The Outback's radio sounds perfect, no distortion in the voices.
This is the clearest evidence so far that the radio in my Ascent is defective.
 

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Perhaps it may be a good idea to speak with your dealer service department about this. :)
 

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Fox News is distorted on my Ascent too. So I contacted my dealer and Subaru and they said there was nothing they could do about it. So then I tried contacting SiriusXM and they said the same thing. Fox News is also distorted on my truck. So if anyone has a solution for it, I'd really like to know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Fox News is distorted on my Ascent too. So I contacted my dealer and Subaru and they said there was nothing they could do about it. So then I tried contacting SiriusXM and they said the same thing. Fox News is also distorted on my truck. So if anyone has a solution for it, I'd really like to know.
Thanks for confirming that you are having the same distortion problem.
This means to me that there is a design defect in the Ascent radio.
There must be a way to report this to Subaru even when the dealer does not want to work on it.
Would someone please let me know how this can be reported directly.
 

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Thanks for confirming that you are having the same distortion problem.
This means to me that there is a design defect in the Ascent radio.
There must be a way to report this to Subaru even when the dealer does not want to work on it.
Would someone please let me know how this can be reported directly.
One quick note: there is no such thing as distortion on a digital signal. Either you get the stream without error and the audio sounds clear, or you get the audio equivalent of those colored squares you see on TV when the wind moves your DirectTV dish. It's almost 100% garbage, you wouldn't be able to hear anything. Either it is perfect so it can be decoded, or it can't be decoded at all.
Somebody mentioned that particular channel may be too compressed. That's one possibility, but it would happen on every Ascent, and on every single vehicle or device using Sirius XM via a satellite antenna. If you stream through the internet it's a different thing, the streams might be less compressed since there's less bandwidth restriction.
Other users report no problem with the same stream, perhaps the issue is only happening at certain times of the day, who knows.
More than Subaru you'd need to complain with Sirius XM. Te!l them you'll cancel the subscription if they don't improve the sound quality on that particular channel.
I'd bet 99% chance your radio is just fine, if one stream plays well then your device is OK.
 

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One quick note: there is no such thing as distortion on a digital signal. Either you get the stream without error and the audio sounds clear, or you get the audio equivalent of those colored squares you see on TV when the wind moves your DirectTV dish. It's almost 100% garbage, you wouldn't be able to hear anything. Either it is perfect so it can be decoded, or it can't be decoded at all.
Somebody mentioned that particular channel may be too compressed. That's one possibility, but it would happen on every Ascent, and on every single vehicle or device using Sirius XM via a satellite antenna. If you stream through the internet it's a different thing, the streams might be less compressed since there's less bandwidth restriction.
Other users report no problem with the same stream, perhaps the issue is only happening at certain times of the day, who knows.
More than Subaru you'd need to complain with Sirius XM. Te!l them you'll cancel the subscription if they don't improve the sound quality on that particular channel.
I'd bet 99% chance your radio is just fine, if one stream plays well then your device is OK.
You bring up some good points, but on this specific issue, I guess it all depends upon your definition of "distortion". Your description that "it's almost 100% garbage" seems very accurate but I don't think that telling Sirius XM to improve the quality on that particular channel is going to help. That's unfortunate because it would be so great if there were only some way to finally get that distortion to stop.
 

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Somebody mentioned that particular channel may be too compressed. That's one possibility, but it would happen on every Ascent, and on every single vehicle or device using Sirius XM via a satellite antenna. If you stream through the internet it's a different thing, the streams might be less compressed since there's less bandwidth restriction.
Other users report no problem with the same stream, perhaps the issue is only happening at certain times of the day, who knows.
^ This is what I'm thinking, too - I routinely surf between various talk-show and comedy channels (my programmed favorites include BBC World, NPR Now, NPR Remix, MSNBC, FOX, and CNN), so I've been paying more attention since I read @TerryM 's OP.

I seem to occasionally get that tinny/reverb-y sound, but I really can't pin down any specific pattern in terms of when or during what programs it comes in.
 

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In urban areas there are terrestrial XM transmitters to compensate for concrete canyons.

Perhaps that signal is compressed differently or that local transmitter has a problem. As drive you may be in and out of of terrestrial and satellite signals.

That may account for others posters experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
One quick note: there is no such thing as distortion on a digital signal. Either you get the stream without error and the audio sounds clear, or you get the audio equivalent of those colored squares you see on TV when the wind moves your DirectTV dish. It's almost 100% garbage, you wouldn't be able to hear anything. Either it is perfect so it can be decoded, or it can't be decoded at all.
Somebody mentioned that particular channel may be too compressed. That's one possibility, but it would happen on every Ascent, and on every single vehicle or device using Sirius XM via a satellite antenna. If you stream through the internet it's a different thing, the streams might be less compressed since there's less bandwidth restriction.
Other users report no problem with the same stream, perhaps the issue is only happening at certain times of the day, who knows.
More than Subaru you'd need to complain with Sirius XM. Te!l them you'll cancel the subscription if they don't improve the sound quality on that particular channel.
I'd bet 99% chance your radio is just fine, if one stream plays well then your device is OK.
While there may not be digital distortion as the Clunker said, SiriusXM must compress all or many of their channels so that the total bandwidth does not exceed the 4MHz satellite downlink. All compression schemes automatically create distortion in the original program, almost by definition. There is a fairly good explanation of this given here by the author JGM on Feb. 22, 2016. And I quote...

The sound quality of Sirius and XM signals via their satellites (or terrestrial repeaters) is, basically, terrible.

The reason is bitrate. The two satellites use different systems, but both have around 4MHz of bandwidth to share amongst ALL the channels broadcast. This means that each music channel winds up getting enough bandwidth to transmit around 48 - 64kb/second of data. The encoding scheme is a modified AAC algorithm somewhat better than MP3, so this can get you about the sonic equivalent of a 96k MP3.

That is bad.

In practice what you will hear on SXM radio is a rough semblance of the original recording. Details of instruments that are not in the foreground will be lost completely, as will any sense of space or reverberation in the original recording. It is common to hear "swishing" type artifacts and the "underwater" type sounds typical of low-bandwidth compressed audio.

In comparison to "standard" radio, the answer is "it depends", but FM, with a decent signal, is generally far preferable from a sound perspective. The advantages of satellite radio are in areas other than sound quality: coverage, content, and freedom from commercials.

Note that Sirius/XM is also available as an on-line service, including a mobile app, which stream at much higher bitrates and sound much better. If you have an aux input and a data plan to support it, a good alternative is to use the app instead of the satellite when possible.
 

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While there may not be digital distortion as the Clunker said, SiriusXM must compress all or many of their channels so that the total bandwidth does not exceed the 4MHz satellite downlink. All compression schemes automatically create distortion in the original program, almost by definition. There is a fairly good explanation of this given here by the author JGM on Feb. 22, 2016. And I quote...
Exactly, and perhaps (just wildly speculating but this is how I would do it) they have software analyzing the signals and dynamically changing the bitrates on the different channels. For example, channels where music is detected get a higher bitrate while channels with talk shows and lots of silence gaps get compressed more. This way the user gets a better experience. Unless you are listening to the talk shows and expect high audio quality.
 
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