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Satellite Radio > What Do I Need?


What Do I Need to Get Satellite Radio?

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Everyone owns a broadcast radio for entertainment - the tuner that is in your home, car, and even in your PC. With satellite radio, you need:

  • Equipment that will allow you to access to a specific satellite radio system
  • A subscription to a satellite radio service

One way to think about this radio format is to compare it to your cable television system. In most cases you have the equipment (the cable box) that is part of your home entertainment system, and a subscription for the selection of cable channels you are able to view. However, you typically do not purchase your cable box, but with a satellite system, you will buy that piece of equipment - the satellite radio receiver.


Each satellite radio system - XM Radio or Sirius - has equipment that is exclusive for their entertainment programming. Changing to a different satellite system requires purchasing new equipment, so it is important to select the best system to start. See our section finding out which system is best for you.

The equipment for satellite radio comes in various configurations, based on where you want to listen: for home entertainment, to your car stereo, or have it in a portable format.


For home entertainment, you can purchase a stand-alone radio that operates very much like the radios you now have in your home. These units have the satellite receiver as well as speakers. Think of the clock-radio by your bed and you will get the idea.

There are also units that are integrated into your home entertainment system. Just like a DVD player, these units are plugged into your existing system and use the speakers you currently use.


For your car stereo or truck audio system, again you need the receiver that can tune into the satellite radio network. These units can be a completely new audio component that replaces your existing car radio and has the capability to receive satellite radio, or it can be an additional piece of equipment that is plugged into your car audio system.


Some of the satellite radio equipment is designed to be used in both your home and your car. You take the portable receiver and plug it into a home or car audio system so you only have to purchase one piece of equipment and have the ability to listen to satellite radio in both places. This way you will be able to get the most out of your subscription and be able to enjoy music entertainment as well as news and sports almost anywhere.

For more information, see our section on equipment.


As with cable television, you subscribe to a satellite radio service. This subscription can be on a month-to-month basis, an annual subscription, or for a lifetime. Obviously, with the lifetime subscription, you get the best deal - assuming you are going to be using the system for years. But starting out, a month-to-month program can be a good way to see how satellite radio works for you.

And unlike cable TV, most subscriptions to a satellite radio service will include all of the stations available. XM Radio does have three premium entertainment channels, but with Sirius, you receive all of their available channels on one subscription.

For more information, see our section on subscriptions.

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