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Antex XM-3000 Triple Play Satellite Receiver Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 February 2006
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Antex XM-3000 Triple Play Satellite Receiver
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Getting the XM-3000 into your home is very straightforward. Antex built this tuner with the intention of integrating it into your existing home audio distribution system. First, Antex only requires one antenna to supply all three of its internal tuners. A 20-foot antenna cable is included; larger lengths are available from Antex. As with all XM antennas, you do not need to have line-of-sight orientation to the satellite by mounting the antenna outside as you would with DirecTV. Instead, you can place the antenna on a wall or on a shelf inside your house. You will want to place it so the XM logo faces south or southeast, depending on whether you are on the East Coast or the West Coast of the U.S. By accessing the set-up menu, you can find a signal strength meter that will tell you if you have positioned the antenna in a good place. Upon placing the tuner and the antenna where you want them, the next step is to get out your credit card and call XM to get your three XM tuner IDs to activate each of the three tuners.

Once all the audio outputs are connected, you are now ready to plug the RS-232 cable into a module compatible with your audio distribution system. Fortunately, Antex only requires one RS-232 connection to control all three tuners. The modules for Crestron systems are pricey, so this can make up for the hefty price of the Antex in short order. A complete list of configuration codes and supported distribution systems are easily attainable on the Antex web site. AMX, Crestron, Elan and Niles are among those already supported. The interface modules for Crestron, AMX, Elan and Niles support bi-directional feedback of title, track, artist info. Custom installers will rejoice at a product like the XM-3000 that was designed with them in mind, instead of having them as an afterthought.

About XM Radio
I listen to a couple local San Diego FM radio stations in my home and in my car. My biggest complaints are hissing static noises, signals dropping out of range, unfocused programming and simply too much talking. XM solves all these issues with 68 channels of commercial-free music that pull from a database of over two million titles. Boneyard is one of my favorites, since it plays exclusively my beloved heavy metal and very little of the commercial made-for-the-masses crap. They stick the prime cuts. There are live DJs for most of the music stations who answer song requests via a toll-free phone number or email. Talk and news shows like Larry King are great to keep up with current events, while the traffic channel tells me whether I should sleep in or not. In total, there are over 152 channels of sports, news, traffic, weather and, most importantly, music. The talk and sports shows do have commercials, so don’t be surprised to hear the latest advertisement for tuning in to “American Idol” this week. The basic monthly fee is around $13 per month and that is for one tuner. To activate all three tuners in the XM-3000, you will need to add another $14 per month to the basic $13 per month. XM Online allows for your computer to access XM content for an additional monthly charge. Also, for an additional charge, you can pimp out your ride with the XM NavTraffic service, which delivers up-to-the-minute traffic information directly to your vehicle's navigation system. What will they think of next?

Sirius is the other competitor to XM in the satellite radio business. Sirius has the same monthly rates for basic service and the additional charges of adding the extra tuners. The programming is similar to XM and offers 121 channels of music, talk, weather and sports shows. Sirius has 65 music channels and now has an exclusive contract with the Howard Stern Show. Finally, Howard has his wish and can have uncensored content for the first time without fear of the FCC. On the other side of the talk show spectrum, Martha Stewart has her own finer living show exclusively on Sirius as well. Sirius is still smaller in its subscriber base as of the beginning of 2006, with about three million listeners to XM’s nearly six million. This said, the sound quality and programming are comparable, so it really comes down to personal preference. If you are more interested in Sirius, Antex does make a Triple Play tuner nearly identical to the XM-3000 called the SRX-3 that is offered for the same price.

The Music
The Real Jazz channel is packed with the legends in modern jazz. A prodigal example is the late Cannonball Adderly. Cannonball played in a quintet with his brother, Nat, in the ‘60s, then later joined a sextet with none other than jazz great Miles Davis. Cannonball’s alto saxophone carries a warm yet spirited sound that quickly pulls the listener into a world of unspeakable bliss. Even newbies to jazz will find themselves tapping fingers on their chairs or toes on the floor to Cannonball’s swinging solos. In “Blue Funk,” a walking bass line supports an involving sax performance by Adderly that spills over from the midrange to test the high frequencies. I noticed that, although the high and low frequencies were apparent, they were noticeably laid-back in presentation compared to my SACD version of the song. Imaging, openness of sound and high-frequency performance were far superior with the SACD version of the track. This degradation is to be expected with the compression of audio signals to squeeze more channels into the limited satellite transmission bandwidth. With that in mind, the XM-3000’s selection of quality high fidelity components in the tuner hardware is especially important in getting the most out of the XM signal.

  The KISS channel featured a track by R&B artist Baby Bash called “Baby I’m Back.” The sweet midranges from both the male and female vocalists were devoid of any signs of grain. The lack of harshness with the hand-clapping sounds and the deep punchy bass drum demonstrated that the other parts of the frequency range were not lagging behind the midrange. Larry King Live on CNN featured an interview with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales regarding the renewal of the Patriot Act. The deep voice of King and the higher-pitched voice of Gonzales were lush and warm at both extremes of the midrange frequencies. On the MSNBC channel, Tucker Carlson had an interview with a guest that resulted in a less impressive experience. The entire interview sounded like it was conducted in a subway tunnel. Echoing effects and a very distant presentation left me wishing the programming across XM was a little more consistent in recording quality.


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