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Pre-Amp or No?

622 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  TheWGP
When should you install a Pre-Amp for OTA? Lots of things are going to be changed in the next week, and one of them is that the Premiere is going to get a direct line from the antenna (No splitters or anything). The solid copper center quad shielded RG-6 coax is going to be 80 feet long. Would a Pre-Amp help, hurt, or not make any difference in this new setup?
I'm usually the "Play with it and see what happens" guy, but this is pretty much going to be a one shot deal (I CAN get back up and add/remove the pre-amp, but it's not going to be easy).
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What kind of signal strength are you getting without a pre-amp?

How far are you from the Antennas your are trying to receive? (go to tvfool dot com to see where they are in relation to you.)

You have to also realize that a pre-amp will only amplify the signals that your antenna can already get. It will not find new signals that were not there.

Where I live, I am 32 miles from the Antenna Farm that hosts all of the City of Houston's OTA TV broadcasts. I am in heavily wooded area and using antenna in the attic. Most stations came in with a signal strength around 60 to 70 but a couple were below 50. Using a pre-amp I am now getting signal strength at 70 to 90 for everything and am very happy.

My pre-amp only adds about 17 to 20db to the signal but it gets me where I need to be.

I would say to first you need to make sure you need a pre-amp by looking at the signal strength you get without one.

If you need one then get the pre-amp with low noise and preferably lowest DB gain that will get you to 80 to 100 signal strength. (you don't want so much gain that it actually can cause reception problems)

If you are just trying to reach out farther to grab longer distance signals then get a better antenna and get it up well above your home. again a pre-amp only adds signal gain to signals it already sees, it does not find signals it could not get previously.
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The above is a really good summary, I just wanted to throw one more anecdote / analogy in there:

Think of it as trying to bring in a station on your radio. If there's lots of static, turning up the volume is only going to make the static louder, not remove the static or make the signal clearer. If the signal was just SOFT, that's when increasing the volume is helpful.

The amp is just a volume knob. I've used one in the past in a setup that it made sense - where there was sufficient signal coming in at the antenna, but a very long cable run was needed, so "increasing the volume" with the amp made the clear signal louder to compensate for the very long cable run.

(Note there are many technical details, terms and units I'm ignoring, and I'm aware of that, but this is the best analogy I've heard for this.)
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