Polk XRt12 XM Radio Reference Tuner Review, Cont.

Francis Vale


The XRt12 has an antenna-aiming feature (a signal strength meter) to find the optimal location of the small black clamshell antenna, which is very neatly designed.  The antenna is deigned for both indoor and outdoor use, and can be wall mounted. A 20' antenna cable comes standard with the unit so you can move it around the house. If that's not enough, there is an optional 50' antenna cable. But I could not get the XM satellite signal in my high-rise apartment building, apparently because my home is facing in the wrong celestial direction.  Fortunately, XM Radio has a number of terrestrial repeaters located around the country, and in downtown Boston where I live the signal strength was excellent. 

But when the XM satellite radio signal mysteriously disappeared from the XRt12 tuner I was well and truly bummed. Sure enough, XM Radio had become an integral part of my daily life and its sudden absence was cause for consternation. The XM signal went AWOL several times during this review.  But it was always easily fixed with a phone call to XM Radio, or by visiting the XM Radio web site, as one of the menu options is to send a refresh signal to reactivate the radio. In addition, there were a number of times when the signal would fade in and out.  This effect was random, only happened on a random single channel, and it didn't effect any other channels. Whether this occasional signal lapse was unique to the terrestrial relay or to the XM satellite feed in general I just don't know.

So how does XM Radio sound?  The answer has two parts, content and quality.  Content first. It's excellent. This is not Muzak. Nor is it a mindless Clear Channel operation without advertising (an oxymoron).  Behind every one of XM Radio's 150+ commercial free channels, whether it's rock, soul, jazz, urban, top hits, classical, world, and much more, there is a living, breathing DJ with intelligence and some pretty good musical taste.  The XM DJ's clearly know what they are doing and what the music is about.  Which is good, because they have over 2 million titles to choose from in the XM Radio play list library.

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