We’re living in the era of high-definition entertainment ladies and gents, and we can safely say that TV has come a long way since the golden days of rabbit-ear antennas sitting pretty on top of “brick and glass” TV boxes weighing half a ton.
Now we all have HD Flat TVs, which are so fragile that you’re afraid to sneeze around them, and even a stiff breeze might break’em, not to mention the magic little box that can get you hundreds of high-definition channels and a world of entertainment at a flick of a switch.
However, the subscription for that cool little box is becoming increasingly expensive year over year, as any other thing in our lives actually, and in turn, people are starting to cut cable and come back to antennas.
Which brings us to today’s topic actually: how to boost an outdoor TV antenna signal?
Modern antennas are highly advanced compared to old-school models, and the latest-gen Antennas Directs ClearStream series of HDTV antennas are ideal for “cord cutters” looking for high-tech solutions.
Speaking of high technology, antennas today are designed with sleek and inconspicuous profiles, and obviously, reception ranges have improved greatly compared to earlier versions.
However, you might end up spending a lot of money on the best outdoor TV antenna and discover that reception quality is still horrible. Don’t worry, we’re here to help, and here comes our take on how to boost outdoor antenna signal, right after a short commercial break.
Direct your Antenna Correctly
This may sound like a “doh” moment for our readers, but here’s the thing: it’s not enough to throw your new antenna near a window or wherever, and voila, you get crystal-clear/ 20/20 reception. Most modern antennas require a little bit of research to work correctly, as in you need to direct the antenna towards a certain point in space, from where the signal originates.
Speaking of quick and easy fixes, this one is as straightforward as it gets. Okay, but how do you know the correct position of the antenna, right? That’s why we’re here.
All you have to do is go to your computer and browse AntennaWeb, TVFool, or the Digital TV Map from the FCC, put your details in and you’ll be served with enough information, including a map showing where the broadcast signal is coming from relative to your specific location.
Based on that map, you can aim the antenna correctly and you will dramatically increase your chances to pick up subchannels.
Move your Antenna’s Placement
Again, this may sound obvious to most people, but if the direction of the antenna doesn’t solve the problem, you may have to actually move the antenna to another location. Not a problem with modern antennas, which all have sleek designs which allows them to be moved around with ease.
The idea of relocation the antenna is to take it from behind the TV (maybe you thought to put it there for optics reasons) and put it in a less blocked off area. For example, if the broadcast signal comes from the west (according to the map), the best location for the antenna would be near an external wall on the west side of the residence, and as high-up as possible.
Changing the physical location of the antenna is aimed at reducing physical interference first and foremost, but there’s another kind of interference messing up with your signal: electronic interference.
Electronic interference is caused by wireless communication devices, such as Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth speakers etc. If you own such devices, you should test if they are the root cause of the poor-signal issue by turning them off and checking antenna reception quality again.
Generally speaking, it is advisable to move any potentially interfering gear as far away from your antenna (and TV) as possible.
Consider Replacing your Cable
As any other product these days, TV antennas arrive with a bunch of gear in the retail package, including a cable to connect the antenna to your TV set. Unfortunately, in most cases, the quality of the connection cable is rather poor (generic RG59 made in China crap), and our recommendation would be to replace it with a higher-quality (thicker) cable, such as the RG6.
Install a Signal Booster
Also known a TV antenna amplifier, the signal booster is the best thing ever invented since sliced bread if you’re looking to improve reception, or so we’re told. The thing is, some antenna models already have a signal booster built-in, but if your particular model doesn’t, you should try find a compatible one, hoping that it will improve reception range.
Keep in mind that using signal boosters can be hit or miss, because they amplify both the broadcast signal from network stations and other signals, which means you can end up adding to your interference. Which is not good, to use technical jargon.
Ditch the Foil
Back in the day, putting tin foil on “rabbit ears” antennas was a cheap remedy to low quality signal reception. By attaching tin foil to your digital antenna, you’re probably doing more damage than good, as this high-tech procedure is highly likely to mess up reception.
Reset Your Digital Tuner
Ever called tech support when you had trouble with your computer, and a guy asked you to restart your machine and see if the problem still persists afterwards? Well, fix may very well end up working for your antenna, and by that we mean restarting your digital tuner to get better TV reception.
The digital tuner works by converting signal captured by the antenna into a digital format recognized by your TV set. Here’s the catch: from time to time, broadcasters change metadata, which may interfere with how your tuner understands the signal.
To make a long and complicated story short and easy to understand, restarting your digital tuner may fix signal quality issues in 5 minutes flat. Here’s the procedure:
- Disconnect the coaxial cable from your TV
- Run the channel scan on your TV
- Turn off and unplug you TV and/or converter box
- Reconnect all connections
- Do one more channel scan
Mount a Second Antenna
You know that saying: if something doesn’t work, bring a bigger hammer; in this particular case, a second antenna, a bigger second directional antenna, to be more precise. Don’t forget to allow at least 2 yards between antennas, as in don’t stack them closely together, and attach them using a coaxial signal combiner.
To avoid phase problems, make sure you are using the exact same length of coaxial cable between the combiner and both antennas, and install and check both antennae independently from each other when setting them up, before attaching them to the combiner.
The Final Solution
If everything we taught you fails, well, you’ll have to do it the hard way: call somebody who knows what he’s doing, also known as an expert or licensed technician.