Video: How To Use Satellite Radio On Your Boat
By Matt Champneys
Satellite radio is, of course, radio delivered by satellite. It is a subscription service that requires a monthly fee and some special equipment, but the sheer amount of choice available for music, talk and sports makes it very attractive. Plus, much of the programming is commercial free.
Satellite radio used to be offered by two competing companies: Sirius and XM. A few years ago these companies merged and became SiriusXM. They still offer two separate networks, but the programming is very similar for both.
You might think that a "satellite radio ready" marine stereo would be all ready to tune in satellite radio stations, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Five years ago or so you could purchase a stereo with the satellite hardware built into it, but none of the new models come that way now.
You have to purchase a separate satellite receiver box like this one that plugs into the back of the stereo. The box doesn't have any controls on it and it can remain tucked behind your stereo. A satellite ready stereo has the software you need to control the satellite receiver right from the faceplate.
In addition you will likely need to purchase a satellite antenna like this one that is specifically designed for marine use. The antenna plugs into the satellite receiver box and needs to be mounted somewhere with access to open sky. Fortunately, it is small and unobtrusive. Only a few inches wide.
Your receiver will come with a code and a phone number that you can call to activate it and set up your account.
One word of caution about the sound quality of satellite radio. The audio signal is digital which means you won't have any problem with static like you might with an FM radio. However, the signal is highly compressed which introduces a small amount of distortion. Most people won't notice it, but if you are picky about your sound quality, it could be a annoying.
For more information about digital compression, check out our other video that explains it in detail.