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XM Radio vs Sirius Radio

Satellite radio is becoming more and more popular as an alternative to regular FM radio, and especially for travelers who want to listen to the same station throughout their trip. Basically, you get commercial-free radio for a small monthly fee(around $13/month) and the ability to listen to the same station wherever you go in the country.

So the question on everybody’s mind is “What is the best satellite radio service?” Is it XM radio or Sirius radio? If you look at just subscribers, XM easily wins the battle with over 5 million subscribers compared to Sirius’ 3 million subscribers. However, there are a lot more options to consider when choosing your satellite radio service.

Here are some things to consider when making your decision:


XM has the strongest variety of satellite radio receivers with the two best plug-and-play models probably being the Delphi XM SkyFi2 – with a 30 minute recording buffer(cost: about $95) or the Delphi XM Roady XT(cost: about $80.) If you want a portable option, the best one is the Tao XM2go(5 hour recording feature) – it can play broadcasts through headphones or speakers that are included and doesn’t require a docking station(cost: about $150.)

Sirius might not have the range that XM has in the hardware market, but they still have some nice equipment. The two best plug-and-play models for Sirius radio are probably the Sirius Starmate Replay – with a 44 minute recording buffer(cost: about $120) or the Sirius Sportster Replay – designed for NFL fans and it also has a 44 minute buffer(cost: about $95 after rebates.) Sirius doesn’t have a true portable satellite radio device yet but they have the S50 model which will allow you to record 1 GB of satellite radio content while hooked to a docking station so you can play it later as a stand alone device. The Sirius S50 also doubles as an MP3 and WMA file player. (cost: about $330)


Sirius and XM both have about the same amount of music stations, covering Pop, Rock, Dance, R&B/Hip-Hop, Country, Christian, Jazz/Blues, Classical and Latin. Both services also share news channels such as CNN radio, CNBC radio and Bloomberg radio. The big difference comes down to sports coverage and some guy you might have heard of….Howard Stern. Sirius signed Howard Stern to a blockbuster deal that will be sure to boost subscriptions for them.

Sirius also has a stranglehold on sports radio with exclusive rights to NFL broadcasts, NHL, NBA and rights to NASCAR in 2007. XM currently has exclusive rights to MLB baseball and NASCAR until 2007, they also have a lot of college football broadcasts. If you’re a sports fan at all, you’re going to want Sirius for their wide coverage of sports.


Currently both Sirius and XM radio services cost approximately $13 a month. Other costs you have to consider is in the accessories that go with the satellite receiver you choose. Docking kits for the home or car(if not included) can add about $100-150. Headphones and external antennas are other accessories that should be considered.

You can only expect the costs to decrease as satellite radio becomes more and more popular. All in all, satellite radio is an inexpensive option to get commercial-free, static-free, uncensored radio that you can take with you anywhere in the country and listen to the same station.

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Last modified: August 18, 2022

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