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Old 11-18-2014, 09:48 PM   #1
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Poor reception from SiriusXM

Thought I'd ask if anyone else looses their SiriusXM around tall trees or in the mountains.

I expected the reception to be better, but realize it has to be line of site to the satellite over the equator. In Alaska this summer SiriusXM was useless most of the time due to high latitude. I loose the signal often when driving in northern Maryland and Pennsylvania mountains. I also get routine signal drops just driving around the Baltimore-Washington with no apparent obstructions.

My brother has a Jeep Cherokee that gets much more reliable reception.

Just wondering how SiriusXM is working for others in their Interstates.

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Old 11-18-2014, 09:55 PM   #2
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We live in Illinois and have traveled a fair bit the past year. We have had very few signal drops. The coverage has been similar to what we get with our Honda Pilot.

You may want to call Siriusxm and have them help you trouble shoot.


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Old 11-18-2014, 10:09 PM   #3
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While searching tonight I did find an answer to my problems in Alaska, as expected. This is from the Crutchfield web site:

"SIRIUS Satellite Radio does not officially market and sell subscription service in the State of Alaska, due to limited satellite coverage. At times, you may experience less than perfect reception in some areas.

Please be aware that the following issues may occur:
There is no guaranteed minimum number of reception hours per 24 hour period.

There is no guarantee that a customer account can be set up and subscription accepted with only an Alaska address.

When an account is set up and subscription service begins, the account and service can be discontinued at any time and without notice due to reception limitations."



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Old 11-18-2014, 10:18 PM   #4
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No problems in the Southwest including in the mountains in Colorado, except in some narrow canyons.


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Old 11-18-2014, 10:23 PM   #5
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XM uses satellites which are in a clark belt orbit over the equator so anything which blocks signals the view of the south sky will cause signal dropout. I had XM for years and learned that in deep valleys it would drop out frequently. The signal in Alaska is going to be very poor due to the very low "look" angle you have to have to see the clark belt satellites.

Sirius on the other hand uses satellites which make a figure 8 pattern over the US and as such are at a much higher "look" angle so signals are not blocked nearly as much or as often as XM signals. When they were separate companies that was one of the selling points of Sirius over XM. Although they are now under the same ownership, they keep their old satellites and signal systems.

Your brothers Jeep uses Sirius so he will get a better signal in difficult locations than you do, and I am assuming you have XM. I have a Jeep with Sirius, and a Toyota with XM and it has been interesting to compare the two over the same valley run here in the western mountains. Sirius consistently gives a better signal with far fewer dropouts.

Unfortunately you have one system or the other, and cannot switch, especially if it is built into your rig. You could get an add on Sirius system and have it activated and discontinue your XM though, but you would have an external extra amount of stuff.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:15 AM   #6
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The terrain in East Tennessee will cause spotty reception in all of our Sirius-equipped vehicles. The Interstate seems to get the most reliable service though.


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Old 11-19-2014, 07:54 AM   #7
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The terrain in East Tennessee will cause spotty reception in all of our Sirius-equipped vehicles. The Interstate seems to get the most reliable service though.
It does help that the antenna on an Interstate is nine feet above the ground. Obstructions have to be taller and/or closer to make a difference.
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:03 AM   #8
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I have Sirius in two cars, my Airstream and my boat. I get generally good reception, fading out only going under a bridge or in a narrow road in a high forest or next to cliff.
It sound to me like an antenna issue. Make sure you have an outdoor antenna and it is mounted on top of your vehicle in an unobstructed place.
I had a windshield antenna that was factory installed in one of my vehicles. It worked poorly. I had to replace the antenna and mounted it on top of the vehicle. The wire runs around the windshield gasket.
The boat goes south of the tropic of Cancer and reception continues to be good down there.
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by idroba View Post
XM uses satellites which are in a clark belt orbit over the equator so anything which blocks signals the view of the south sky will cause signal dropout. I had XM for years and learned that in deep valleys it would drop out frequently. The signal in Alaska is going to be very poor due to the very low "look" angle you have to have to see the clark belt satellites.

Sirius on the other hand uses satellites which make a figure 8 pattern over the US and as such are at a much higher "look" angle so signals are not blocked nearly as much or as often as XM signals. When they were separate companies that was one of the selling points of Sirius over XM. Although they are now under the same ownership, they keep their old satellites and signal systems.

Your brothers Jeep uses Sirius so he will get a better signal in difficult locations than you do, and I am assuming you have XM. I have a Jeep with Sirius, and a Toyota with XM and it has been interesting to compare the two over the same valley run here in the western mountains. Sirius consistently gives a better signal with far fewer dropouts.

Unfortunately you have one system or the other, and cannot switch, especially if it is built into your rig. You could get an add on Sirius system and have it activated and discontinue your XM though, but you would have an external extra amount of stuff.

Thanks for this great information, it helps me understand my system. I had no idea that the Sirius has a different orbit.


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Old 11-19-2014, 12:14 PM   #10
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Reception drops off in tree cover, under overpasses, and on the side of a hill. I don't think there is anything that can be done about it. The antenna has to have a clear, unobstructed path to the sky.
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Old 11-19-2014, 12:24 PM   #11
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Reception drops off in tree cover, under overpasses, and on the side of a hill. I don't think there is anything that can be done about it. The antenna has to have a clear, unobstructed path to the sky.
Agree 100%. But I also occasionally just get drop outs with no obstructions nearby in suburban shopping areas in Maryland. On Sunday I was at our local Wegmans grocery store on a wide street listening to CSPAN on SirriusXM. Got drop outs and switched to local FM HD radio station for crystal clear reception.

Guess I've just discovered some of the limitations of satellite radio. Have similar problems with getting GPS lock when in heavily wooded areas. Then I also recall having problems with DISH TV many years ago when we had that service in another house with a large tree out front.
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:18 PM   #12
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Our sat radio had worked very well. As stated above, occasionally tall trees next to the road and bridges will block it. Overall, the reception is as good or better than I have received in other vehicles. We currently have it in two other cars and have used sat radio for a number of years.
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:38 PM   #13
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I attribute those random dropouts to solar flares or some such. At any rate, I am done with SiriusXM and will never get another subscription. The 2 radios I have are lifetime subscriptions. They don't offer lifetime anymore. The sound quality isn't as good as CD's, mp3's, or Bluetooth (which don't drop out). Also, the monthly rates continue to go up (like cable and satellite TV) and the garbage and advertising goes up, too. It is really just a slight notch above FM radio.
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:49 PM   #14
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Agree 100%. But I also occasionally just get drop outs with no obstructions nearby in suburban shopping areas in Maryland.
I get this, too - there's one spot on our commute that for some reason often drops Sirius reception for a few seconds. No major overpasses or trees to explain it, either. Having had both Sirius and XM service, I can tell you Sirius was more likely to be a problem this way; the XM network (and SiriusXM) doesn't do it. I suspect it has something to do with the orbit of the Sirius satellites at certain times of day pushing the limits of the signal, and then some minor atmospheric disturbance is enough to degrade the signal too far. (Sirius' satellites aren't geostationary, instead, they follow an interesting figure-8 pattern.) I think all new radios use the (former) XM satellite network, though.

Another possibility is that there's some sort of transmitter in those areas that somehow interferes with the radio's reception. Anything is possible.

But, on the original question: Yes, trees. Satellite radio signals are much weaker than terrestrial FM and AM broadcasts, so they won't poke through trees as well, for example. On the other hand, I had my Sirius antenna mounted inside my B190, on top of a cabinet, receiving signal through the fiberglass roof, and it worked perfectly, with only occasional dropouts as long as the tree cover wasn't too thick.

Another possibility is that the antenna wire is broken. This does happen, usually on aftermarket units which are subject to doors being closed on them. When it gets really bad it'll be cutting in and out almost constantly. Also, the tuner itself can fail.
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