In this day and age, the radio is still a good way to listen to music and news from your car. Factory audio systems have the tuner as standard equipment.
Despite the portable and easily accessible music players that we have in our phones and other mobile gadgets, there’s a comforting feeling that we don’t always need to think about playlists or worry about what song comes next.
To some degree a radio takes some stress away because when you want to hear something else, all you need to do is flip between stations.
The car radio is not without its setbacks though and the most common problem is the signal. You need to be within range of your favorite radio station’s transmitter tower in order to get good quality sound.
Go farther away about 30 miles and all you will hear is static.
This is where the best satellite radio for car audio systems comes in. The name itself should give you an idea about its range.
Using the satellites in orbit around the planet, satellite radio can broadcast its signal from 22,000 miles above the earth. And all this in the best audio quality possible.
With FM radios, you lose signal when there are tunnels, mountains or tall buildings along the road, whereas with satellite (XM) radio there is no need to change the station even if you’re traveling across states. Plus you get to hear more music and less ads.
How Does Satellite Radio Work?
Also known as digital radio, satellite radio provides high quality music without interruption. The signal is transmitted from outer space straight to the receiver in your car.
Not only will you be able to listen to music, there are also channels featuring talk shows, news, as well as programs on sports, comedy, entertainment, weather and traffic.
There used to be two major players in the satellite radio industry and they are Sirius and XM, each having launched their own satellites for transmission. Later however, the two companies merged although they still operate some channels exclusively.
Benefits of Satellite Radio in Cars
Satellite radio programs are not interrupted by ads. This is due to the fact that it’s the listeners who provide income to the provider, and not advertisers.
You have a wide variety of commercial-free music channels to cater to any music taste. About 70 programs are available for you to choose from and these channels cover just about any music genre there is.
Whether you are driving from coast to coast or simply taking a trip to the mall, you won’t hear any static along the way. This is made possible because of the digital signal that comes from the satellites.
You are guaranteed CD-quality audio anywhere and everywhere.
In addition to the actual radio programs, your satellite radio tuner also receives metadata that includes the title, program, artist and radio channel.
This means that you will see all the needed info about what you’re listening to on the screen.
When you happen to like a song that is playing, all you have to is look at the receiver’s display and you will know the title and who sang it.
Satellite radio is uncensored and this is the reason Howard Stern shifted from conventional radio. Apart from uncensored talk shows, you can listen to hiphop music without the bleeps.
Traffic and Weather Updates
Information on the weather and traffic conditions is very important especially for residents of metropolitan areas. When a disaster strikes, conventional radio stations may shut down.
Satellite radios will continue to operate even in such situations.
Satellite Radio Installation
There are many ways to put a satellite radio in your car but only two are the most common: Dock & Play or a dedicated receivers.
They are not difficult to install but they both need a satellite radio antenna. It is important to use a guide or follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
To ensure that everything will be done correctly and the system to work properly, it is best to have professional installation.
The 5 Best Satellite Radio for Car Audio Systems
1. SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus with Vehicle Kit by SiriusXM
What We Like
- Pause, rewind or replay live programs
- Favorite alerts
The Onyx Plus SXPL1V1 has plenty of features that you will definitely enjoy. Its full-color display gives you full control of the settings, functions and playback.
Push buttons will show channel logo, album art and other information. The buttons can save 20 stations allowing you to switch between them easily.
Another neat feature of the Onyx plus is that you have the option to pause, replay or rewind live programs.
SiriusXM also added TuneMix which lets you put all your favorite channels into one so that you will listen only to the music you like. This satellite radio receiver notifies you when your favorite song or artist is playing on another channel.
2. XEZ1V1 Onyx EZ Satellite Radio with Vehicle Kit (Black) by SiriusXM
What We Like
- One-touch Jump
- Parental controls
- Easy mounting with accessory kits
Just one look at this satellite radio receiver is all you need to notice its outstanding feature – the blue screen. The bright display will surely catch your eye as you look around the dashboard.
It shows you the channel information, program title, song and artist’s name. You can browse channels while listening to music as well.
You can save 10 of your favorite channels on the preset buttons, making it easy and convenient to switch among them.
A nice feature on this model is One-touch Jump which lets you return to a previous channel or lets you listen to weather and traffic reports.
Lastly, you don’t have to worry about the kids hearing things you don’t want them to as the Onyx EZ is equipped with parental controls.
3. SiriusXM Satellite Radio SSV7V1 Stratus 7 by SiriusXM
What We Like
- Great looks
- Simple and easy to use
- One-Touch Jump
The SiriusXM Stratus 7 is probably one of the manufacturer’s satellite receivers that closely resembles a car stereo. It has a blue backlit display that is easy to read.
You can see what is currently playing, and the functions, channels and settings can be accessed quickly.
Switching between channels is just as easy thanks to the 10-station preset buttons.
One-Touch Jump provides weather and traffic conditions of 20 major cities at the touch of a button.
A neat optional accessory which Sirius calls PowerConnect makes docking the device to your car a breeze.
4. XM Snap XSN1V1 XM Satellite Radio Receiver with instant plugin by Audiovox
What We Like
- Very easy to use
- Wireless connection
- Plug and play
Simplicity seems to be the goal when the folks at XM designed the Snap. Anyone can see that they succeeded.
Here is a satellite radio that you can take anywhere and is very easy to use. The design has absolutely no gimmicks and installation is straightforward.
Just plug the thing into the power port and you’re ready to go.
The two-liner display shows the channel information, song and program. Viewing angles shouldn’t be a problem because you only have to move the stalk.
Navigation is made simple by arrow keys and changing channels are done by twisting the knob. The Snap connects to your car radio via an FM transmitter so you just tune in to the set frequency.
5. SkyFi2 XM Satellite Radio Receiver and Car Kit by Delphi
What We Like
- 30-Minute Replay
- Unique look
- Comes with a remote
The SkyFi2 is a compact and lightweight satellite radio receiver that comes in a bright silver finish with bluish white display.
The buttons are on the small side but this is easily solved by using the remote that comes with the kit.
Its coolest feature is 30-Minute Replay which lets you travel back in time to your favorite song in case you want to hear it again.
This satellite radio can save up to 30 preset channels and it can connect to your existing car stereo through an FM transmitter.
Indeed satellite radio has plenty of advantages over terrestrial radio. However these benefits come at with a price, around $15 for a monthly subscription.
But then there must be a price to be paid for high fidelity music and programs without commercials and static noise.
If you are an audiophile like us and you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, then we recommend that you get a satellite radio for your car.