SiriusXM Internet Radio Review & Rating

October 30, 2016 – 05:15 pm
SiriusXM Internet Radio

Remember Sirius and XM's battle for satellite radio supremacy in the early 2000s? Or the companies' 2008 merger that ensured survival of subscription radio as a product? No? That's fine, because you don't need to know SiriusXM's history to enjoy its rich mix of news, talk, comedy, and music. A $14.99 per month SiriusXM Internet Radio subscription lets you stream more than 140 satellite radio channels to your PC, tablet, smart phone, and Internet radio devices. Like iHeartRadio, SiriusXM Internet Radio is a streaming music service with a strong focus on live content, except that it's implemented in a far more engaging and entertaining fashion. As a result, SiriusXM Internet Radio is an easy Editors' Choice for live streaming music services.

Radio Days
The Editors' Choice award-winning Slacker Radio began dabbling in live radio in 2012 with ESPN Radio content, but SiriusXM bases its entire model on that idea. You arrive at a home screen featuring a variety of categories after logging in with your credentials. SiriusXM doesn't have as many top-level stations as Slacker Radio, but once you drill down, you'll discover several genres, including decade-specific music ('90s on 9), sports (Major League Baseball), and niche offerings (Cinemagic, which plays strictly movie soundtracks). There are more than 140 channels that to explore, including high-profile, SiriusXM-exclusive voices such as Howard Stern and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.

A side panel shows all the channels within a category (Opie With Jim Norton appears under the Talk & Entertainment heading, for example), while the main content area displays related information, such as the name of the song that's playing, the artist's name, and the artist's biographical information. SiriusXM Internet Radio lacks lyrics, however—one of my few complaints with an otherwise outstanding service.

You can also favorite channels for fast access, share tracks via Facebook or Twitter, buy songs from Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes, and set alerts to learn when a song is playing anywhere within the SiriusXM universe and quickly jump to that channel. Despite these many useful options, the interface is clean and attractive, something that cannot be said of iHeartRadio.

Talk to Me
TuneStart is my favorite SiriusXM feature. When you channel-hop on this service you never jump into the middle of a song, because TuneStart automatically plays songs from the beginning when you stumble onto a track. Sometimes it catches the tail end of a song that's playing before the one you wanted, but that's not a deal breaker. This is, after all, a feature that traditional radio stations lack, and it's a welcome addition here. On a similar note, you can also pause and rewind live radio courtesy of a 5-minute buffer.

Unfortunately, SiriusXM Internet Radio no longer has the excellent Start Now feature that use to let you turn back the clock a massive five hours, which was perfect if you missed a morning show on your commute. Instead, you'll find that an element of it lives on in the service if you visit a channel's Now Playing section. Here you see the select shows you can still rewind by up to 5 hours. With Start Now, you could do that with every channel. Taking a page from services like Slacker Radio and Spotify, you can stream select content on demand.


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