What Are Dedicated Car Satellite Radios?
If you plan on listening to satellite radio exclusively in your car, consider going with a dedicated car satellite radio tuner. It's a "black box" that receives the satellite signal from an antenna that you mount on your vehicle's roof, then sends it to your car stereo. There are two kinds of dedicated car satellite radios: brand-specific and universal.
|A brand-specific radio works with your satellite radio-ready in-dash stereo.|
To use a brand-specific car satellite radio tuner, you need to have a name-brand, satellite radio-ready in-dash stereo. The satellite radio you use with it must be made by the same brand (or work with a brand-specific adapter). You change channels and save presets using your in-dash stereo's controls, and artist, song, and channel information shows up on the stereo's display.
Connecting the radio
A single cable connects the satellite radio to your stereo exactly the same way that it would a same-brand CD changer. This cable provides power to the radio, and sends the satellite radio signal to the in-dash stereo. Because it's a direct, high-grade connection, a brand-specific satellite radio offers the best sound quality out of all the options you have for your vehicle.
A dedicated satellite radio can
be installed under a seat.
Mounting the satellite radio
The satellite radio itself mounts under a seat, usually. It can, and most often is, mounted out of sight; once you've hooked everything up, you have no need to access it. You have to connect the cable that goes to the stereo and the wire from the antenna you've mounted on the roof. Typically, car satellite radios also have an extra input, called a pass-through, that allows you to connect another same-brand component (such as a CD changer).
|In-dash stereo adapters let you connect a satellite radio tuner to your compatible in-dash stereo.|
In-dash stereo adapters
These let you connect your "satellite ready" in-dash stereo to an XM or Sirius satellite radio tuner. You'll control the satellite radio through your receiver's display, just like AM and FM stations, and be able to save satellite radio stations as presets. Be sure to check whether your receiver is designed to work with XM or Sirius specifically, or if it'll work with either one.
Real-time traffic information
Some satellite radio models are designed to work with real-time traffic information services. To use one of these services, you have to have the special radio, the antenna, and a compatible stereo with navigation capability. For an extra fee you'll be able to get continuously updated traffic information on the route you're traveling; it's a handy tool for avoiding traffic jams.
Who would use this method?
This solution is popular with people who want satellite radio, but don't want to upgrade their stereos. A modulated solution's tuner box tucks neatly out of the way, and the display/controller is small enough to mount on the dash or console unobtrusively. The sound quality isn't quite as good as a same-brand satellite radio/in-dash stereo combination, but it's not bad either. Basically, it sounds like a high-end FM signal, and, overall, provides a satisfying listening experience.