Being cooped up indoors and away from people definitely has me looking for more ways to connect. That’s why I decided to try on a Sirius XM satellite radio subscription. Since I wasn’t in the car, I enabled the Sirius XM app so I could listen at home or when I was out on daily walks. Here’s what I learned after spending several weeks with the service.
Sirius XM Satellite radio review
Getting the service up and running is easy enough. You can call the Sirius customer service centre to get yourself connected. (The set up for enabling your car audio is a bit different so I’ll skip that for now; you basically need your radio number from inside the car.)
Download the Sirius XM app and enter your login and password. The app is very user friendly and easy to navigate.
Sirius XM Satellite radio: how to Discover
To find some radio channels you might like, start with the Discover tab. You can see what’s available in Music, Sports, News, or Talk. The Discover tab will also recommend fan favourite channels and top-listened stations.
Keep Favourites: easier than presets!
Got a few stations that you’re going to be putting on repeat? Tap on the station and then hit the star icon in the top right to mark it a favourite. When you go to your favourites tab at the bottom of the page, they’re all there; just like programming your presets on the car radio… only much easier!
All the recent stations you’re surfing will show up here.
Want to seek out a genre, artist, channel or category? Searching is easy.
I have a bunch of favourite channels: Triumph radio (I’m loving Dr Laura’s no-nonsense advice!), LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells and Eminem’s Shade 45 for amazing hip hop and vintage hip hop, Symphony Hall and Chill for chill out background music to work to.
Sirius XM Satellite radio: How to stream to other devices
While you can easily listen to your Sirius XM app online, on your phone or tablet, you can also stream to other devices like a Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Doing it is as simple as playing the show on your device and touching ?? Connect to Device’ about halfway up the screen.
Choose your nearby device from the list to connect in a second. Then you can use the voice control of your smart digital assistant to play, pause and adjust volume.
Get show reminders
Is your favourite show about to begin? Enable the reminder function and get a message just before the show starts! Make sure reminders are turned on on Settings, then click the ‘Set reminder’ button on the show you like. Does your car radio do that for you?
Benefits of Satellite radio: what I found after listening to Sirius XM
I’ve very quickly learned having the Sirius XM app has a bunch of benefits.
Not only do you get access to a bunch of content, but you’re in control of how you access your content too. You can listen live, or restart a show from the beginning, or skim through it using the scrubber bar.
You can also go back and listen to the last few days of shows using the app too. magic!
When using the app, the stream quality is less about what Sirius XM is sending out and more about how strong your signal is. With good Wi-Fi or cellular, you should be just fine.
Downside of Sirius XM: Commercials… sometimes
This has to be my biggest beef with this service: commercials. I’m old enough to remember when satellite radio started and it was meant to be commercial free; that’s what you were paying for it for. You’re still paying for it, so having to also listen to ads is a bit of an annoyance.
Some channels have ads running on the channel itself. Others, like CNN for example, where they’re broadcasting the TV signal, cut in with dedicated radio commercials during the TV breaks.
Serious Sirius Sports
If you love sports, this entertainment package is pretty insane. Some of the higher tier packages including the All Access give you ever MLB, NFL, NBA, PGA NHL and NASCAR event and game all year long. No blackouts, no missed games, and no hunting for who’s carrying them.
On Demand listening & Downloads
This is supposed to be satellite radio, right? What can you do if you’re heading offline? Not a lot unfortunately. Some of the Sirius XM shows are available as ‘On Demand’, options, but you have to hunt for them. On Demand simply means you can play them any time you want, and it also means these are generally downloadable. The download process isn’t intuitive.
Here’s how to download:
From the Now Playing screen of an On Demand episode, scroll down and select the Download button below the On Demand Episode name.
Alternatively, choose Music, Sports, News, Talk or Howard from the Browse section, scroll down to select one of the categories, and then tap On Demand to see the list of shows that produce On Demand episodes. Select a show to go to its episode list, then press and hold on an Episode to download it.
NOTE: Not all shows are available for download.
Overall review: Sirius XM streaming Satellite radio
I can’t find much that’s negative to say about Sirius XM’s app. I love how many channels there are, and there’s content for every need and want. It’s easy to flip around, the reminders are handy and the favourites setting makes it easy to dial up my preferred stations. There’s also a tonne of choice, meaning you don’t have to be bored if you’re sitting at home, or commuting
On the downside, it’s those pesky commercials on some channels. But really, there’s so many channels (and ways to avoid the commercials) that you can sidestep them if you want to. I also with there was more offline listening options and more content available for download and offline listening.
The Streaming-only package I tried is the Premier package and it’s $13.99/month.
Sirius XM in-car packages start at $10.99/month and the All Access package, with 140+ Channels plus Streaming is $21.99/month.