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Satellite Radio Category Matures

Satellite radio is undergoing a sea change as more of its receiver sales shift from aftermarket to OEM-originated.

Satellite radio is undergoing a sea change as more of its receiver sales shift from aftermarket to OEM-originated.

XM Chairman Gary Parsons has said he expects 40 percent of new vehicles to carry satellite radios in 2008, compared to 20 percent in 2007.

In years past, XM and Sirius had several product announcements and exciting press conferences at the CES convention. This year, there were no press conferences at the winter show. The companies spent less money on booth space and signage didn’t discuss much about their proposed merger, except to say they hoped the feds approve it.

Audiovox, Directed Electronics, Audio Design Associates and Samsung introduced XM products.

Sirius had a booth at the show, unlike last year; it also again shared space with Directed Electronics, which introduced Sirius products, as did Audio Design Associates.

(click thumbnail)Sirius Backseat TV in an SUV. The service will be available for $6.99 a month in addition to a Sirius subscription of $12.95 per month. Credit: Photo by Leslie StimsonSirius did not announce any of its own branded products, although it did display Sirius Backseat TV in an SUV. The service will be available for $6.99 a month in addition to a Sirius subscription of $12.95 per month. Users will also need a video monitor or entertainment system sold separately. A spokeswoman pegged availability by the end of March.

XM Introduces Systems for Portable, Desk Listening

Audiovox unveiled a third generation of XM docking speaker systems. The two universal systems are designed for home and office environments.

Distributed by Audiovox, the XM Sound System has two woofers, two tweeters, bass boost and a 10 watt RMS amplifier. It includes an Audio In jack for playing an iPod/MP3 or CD player. A foldable handle, internally stored XM antenna, and some 18 hours of battery life are marketed as features that make the unit portable. The XMBB1 will retail for just under $100.

The second product, the XM Compact Sound System, is a tabletop unit to fit smaller spaces like a night table, kitchen counter or desk. It has four speakers, a four-channel enhanced digital audio processor, bass boost and a 16 watt RMS amplifier. The unit also includes the jack for playing an iPod/MP3 or CD player. The XMAS100 will list around $150.

Both systems work with a variety of XM radios, including the RoadyXT, SKYFi3, XpressEZ, Xpress, XpressR and XpressRC, as well as the Inno and Helix with an optional adapter, sold separately.

(click thumbnail)Distributed by Audiovox, the XM Compact Sound System is a tabletop unit to fit smaller spaces like a night table, kitchen counter or desk.These sound systems will be available in retail and at

The XM Sound System has not been authorized as required by FCC and will not be sold until authorization is obtained, the company said.

Acoustic Research Adds XM MiniTuners

Acoustic Research is adding an embedded slot to accept XM MiniTuners to two tabletop radios. The units, due in Q1, also feature embedded iPod docks.

The XM-50 features AM/FM analog reception while the XM-C90 further adds a CD player

ADA Ships Suite 8200

Audio Design Associates is shipping the Suite 8200 multi-room receiver, an eight-source, eight-zone (16 channel) unit intended to drive a multi-room audio system.

(click thumbnail)Audio Design Associates is shipping the Suite 8200 multi-room receiver, an eight-source, eight-zone unit intended to drive a multi-room audio system.ADA says this unit uses a class A/B amplifier that outputs 25 watts per channel whereas its predecessor, the Suite 8100, used a class D amplifier.

The installer tells the factory which two tuners will be integrated into each Suite 8200 ordered. Tuner options include XM, Sirius or HD Digital AM/FM/WX Radio. Users can order either two of the same or mix and match.

Suite 8200 retains the 2U rack height. It lists for just under $5,000.

For whole-house remote control, Suite 8200 is iPod-compatible and works with the company’s family of keypads, touch screens and IR remotes.

Directed Introduces SiriusConnect Interface

(click thumbnail)Directed’s HON-SC1 SiriusConnect Interface adds Sirius to Honda and Acura factory radios that had been XM-only. Directed’s HON-SC1 SiriusConnect Interface adds Sirius Satellite Radio to Honda and Acura factory radios that had been XM-only.

The HON-SC1 allows the Honda/Acura factory radio with its proprietary data bus to communicate with the SCC1 SiriusConnect Vehicle Tuner (sold separately) for a permanently installed solution, using the existing OEM radio controls, according to Directed.

By substituting a SC-VDOC1 vehicle dock in place of the SCC1, the HON-SC1 user can interface a dock-and-play radio with the factory head unit, creating a portable system that can be used outside the vehicle.

The TOY-SC1 works with Toyota, Lexus and Scion autos.

A switch in both the HON-SC1 and TOY-SC1 selects the number of characters and scrolling parameters of the metadata display to match the factory radio data display.

The HON-SC1 and TOY-SC1 are available now for $99, while the companion SCC1 SiriusConnect Tuner is $49.

Directed Improves Sirius Controller/Display

Directed has updated its on-dash Sirius controller/display. Combined with a $49 Sirius Connect tuner, the FMSC1 controller/display enables most factory sound systems to reproduce Sirius programming. The unit connects to an OEM radio’s aux input or with a wired FM modulator.

The small controller/display sits on the dashboard and allows users to control Sirius functions like channel changing. Directed says the FMSC1, which lists for just under $130, has improved display features.

Clarion Makes Satellite Additions Easier

Clarion said it is making it easier and less expensive to add XM or Sirius tuners to aftermarket head units.

The manufacturer says new source units, called “XM MiniTuner direct connection,” are the first the incorporate the connection. XM Mini-Tuner is a portable cartridge that allows users to take an XM radio subscription from one XM-ready car or home product to the next.

Clarion also introduced two other head units that can connect directly to a Sirius tuner.

The new tuners allow both the XM and Sirius installations to be made without a translator box. Such boxes contain satellite radio control software, as well as software to work with the data busses of specific head-unit brands.

The Clarion DUZ385SAT, VRX785BT and MAX685BT head units don’t need a translator box; they connect to a $30 XM MiniTuner placed in a $30 CNP-2000 cradle with antenna. In contrast, an XM Direct 2 kit includes a MiniTuner, cradle and translator box for $130.

Clarion’s DUZ385SAT is a new 2DIN design, with large buttons that have an OEM factory look and feel. This 2DIN CD source unit offers MP3, WMA and AAC playback with XM Mini-Tuner direct connection. Features include iPod audio direct control via USB.

The DUZ385SAT also offers the capability of interfacing with factory steering wheel controls when used with an optional third-party device and is Sirius Satellite Radio connection-ready when used with Clarion’s CeNET CLA-SC1 translator.

The VRX785BT is a one DIN in-dash DVD system that offers the XM Mini-Tuner direct connection and iPod audio direct control via USB.

Both the VRX785BT and the new MAX685BT offer a several playback options including: DivX, DVD-Video, MP3, WMA, AAC, USB and USB digital media streaming WMA-DRM compatible (WMDRM10).

Clarion’s premium 2DIN multimedia source unit, the MAX685BT features the XM MiniTuner direct connection, integrated Bluetooth, iPod audio direct control via USB, and iPod video control (with optional cable); it is compatible with Clarion’s navigation system.

Availability is Q1 for all three head units. The DUZ385SAT retails for just under $300; the MAX685BT and VRX785BT retail for just under $1,000.

Clarion’s MAX385VD double DIN multimedia center offers Sirius direct connect where no $50 translator box or adapter cable is required. The user simply plugs in the Sirius tuner into these Clarion source units. The MAX385VD has a 6.5 inch monitor with touch-panel control, MP3/ WMA playback, iPod audio control and iPod video playback with Clarion’s USB iPod cable.

The VRX485VD 1-DIN AV Center features a 7 inch flip-out monitor with touch-panel control, MP3/ WMA and DivX video playback. It is iPod audio and video-ready.

The company expects Q1 availability with both the MAX385VD and VRX485VD retailing for just under $600.

Samsung Reserves 3 HTiBs for XM

Samsung offers three models of its 5.1-channel Home Theater in a box systems that are XM-ready.

The units include five-disc upconverting DVD player and have embedded iPod docks. The Samsung HTiBs feature wireless out-of-the-box speakers with 5.8 GHz technology. Z510 Series consists of the HT-Z510, which features four satellite speakers; the HT-Z512, which features two satellites and two tallboys; and the HT-Z515, which has four tallboys.

The HT-Z510, HT-Z512 and HT-Z515 will be available in April and list for $379, $429 and $479 respectively.

Sirius Exceeds 8.3 Million Subscribers

Sirius Satellite Radio reported it ended 2007 with more than 8.3 million subscribers. That compares to the company’s 2006 ending subscriber base of just over 6 million.

XM reported ending the third quarter of 2007, its last reported figure as of early February, at more than 8.5 million paying customers.

During 2007, Sirius added approximately 2.3 million net customers. Churn was about 2.2 percent, according to the company, which intended to update its figures in February.

Stern Marks Two Years on Sirius

Jan. 9 marked the beginning of Howard Stern’s third year broadcasting on Sirius.

On that date in 2006 he “left his long and dominating reign” in terrestrial radio, according to the satcaster, to launch his show on Sirius. Stern was joined by longtime co-hosts Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, Artie Lange, and producer Gary Dell’Abate.

“Howard Stern revolutionized broadcasting, and at Sirius he has redefined radio,” said Scott Greenstein, Sirius’ president, Entertainment and Sports.

Sirius airs two dedicated Stern channels — Howard 100 and Howard 101. In addition, The Howard Stern Show is available online through Sirius Internet Radio at, as well as at

In December 2007, Sirius premiered The History of Howard Stern. The first installment was “The Early Years.” The second installment will debut this December.

Satcaster Debuts XM NavWeather for Consumers

XM displayed a concept car filled with ideas its R&D teams are exploring with the hope of bringing some of them to market.

At CES the company gave some reporters a peek at such a car containing next-gen technology before it was unveiled at the North American Auto Show in Detroit following CES. The infotainment vehicle is designed to illustrate how XM’s technology can be implemented by its OEM partners.

(click thumbnail)Acura is XM’s first automotive partner to debut the XM NavWeather service. The weather will be bundled with XM’s real-time traffic service. Credit: Photo by Leslie Stimson Inside the SUV was XM NavWeather, its first weather service for consumers. The satcaster says it’s the first real-time, in-vehicle weather tracking system for GPS navigation to include a warning system for severe conditions.

Acura is XM’s first automotive partner to debut the XM NavWeather service. The 2009 Acura RL will offer XM NavWeather featuring Threat Matrix technology as a part of its AcuraLink service. The new Acura RL was unveiled in early February at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.

The weather will be bundled with XM’s real-time traffic service.

The system includes a touch-screen display featuring an electronic programming guide, stocks and sports tickers and dynamic information, including the ability to download local gas prices or flight information.

“We’ll send data as well as audio” to the vehicle, Stuart Cox, senior vice president of XM’s OEM and Advanced Applications Engineering, told Radio World.

The system features a split-screen capability that enlarges what the customer is using at the moment yet still retains the rest of the display in view.

XM NavWeather enables drivers for the first time to view live, personalized weather forecasts and conditions on top of their existing navigation display. The so-called “Threat Matrix” technology provides immediate alerts on developing weather conditions, such as hail, tornado and storm warnings, mapped to the driver’s location and driving route.

Drivers will have the option to view current and developing road weather conditions and multi-day forecasts for cities across the country, and also view weather maps to monitor conditions around the United States. The new service complements the XM NavTraffic real-time traffic data service.

XM NavWeather was developed with Baron Services, using the latter’s Threat Matrix technology. Baron, which does weather analysis, is the satcaster’s weather partner for the XM WX Satellite Weather service that provides real-time weather information to aircraft cockpits and marine navionics instruments.

XM NavWeather will be available for the portable hand-held GPS Bushnell ONIX 400 in Q1.

The XM R&D vehicle displayed improved features and those their OEM partners may decide to implement, including:

  • New touch-screen interface featuring a color display including album art, channel and sports team logos and a multi-function display for viewing multiple XM channels at once.
  • Electronic Programming Guide: An interactive programming guide notifying the driver and passengers of upcoming special programs. The driver can request a reminder for a program of interest and later be alerted if they are in the vehicle the next time the shows they selected are broadcast.
  • Pause/Replay: The ability to pause and replay multiple channels of XM programming simultaneously.
  • XM NavTraffic: A satellite-delivered traffic information service that informs drivers of traffic conditions, including travel speeds on major roads, accident locations and road closures, updated in real time on the navigation screen. The service is available for 80 markets in vehicles from Acura, Cadillac, Toyota, Lexus, Nissan and Infiniti, as well as retail aftermarket GPS navigation products.
  • XM Sports and XM Stocks: Streams team game times and scores and/or your updates to a stock portfolio directly to the vehicle as updates happen, without interrupting XM Radio listening.
  • VoiceCommand: Voice control, developed by VoiceBox Technologies, for operating the radio, along with weather, traffic, stock quotes and sports scores.
  • XM NavInfo: Dynamic data service that uses the XM satellites to deliver point-of-interest data to the vehicle, such as nearby open parking space locations, local fuel prices and flight information. XM NavInfo then relies on the vehicle’s GPS navigation to lead the driver there.