|Submited By: Todd Vandussen on 10/19/2009|
I think many people purchasing this amp may not understand how it works, and may not be very patient with trying out a few setup options. I own a small computer and electronics shop, and have just recently started installing products from antennas direct. In the installation instructions it says to point your antenna first for an ideal signal BEFORE installing the amplifier. This is very important to getting satisfactory results. Also, if you understand what factors reduce signal strength (cable quality and length, connectors, splitters, etc), you can better diagnose what may be going wrong. I brought this amp to a customer s home, along with several different models of antennas to test out and swap parts to see what results I got. [...] gave them no results for stations servicing their area, and they lived in a hole in the middle of the woods. They had a very large, old broken aerial antenna sitting on a wood pile that they had been using, which got in most VHF antennas, and some UHF. For this antenna, the amplifier did absolutely nothing, and actually cut reception in half on the signal meters on 3 different TVs. For a roof mounted DB4, it improved all the UHF stations, but reduced the signal on all VHF stations to the point where none of them came in. With the ClearStream C5 roof mounted, all VHF stations came in above 80% with no amp, and when the amp was added, it brought them up to nearly 95%. The UHF stations were diminished. With the DB4 and C5 both connected using the diplexer included with the C5 and NO AMPLIFIER, all available stations came in clearly and with no pixelization. However, this setup needed to service 3 televisions with a splitter. Once the third run of cable was added to the splitter and total cable length of the entire system exceeded 120 ft., the signal cut enough to cause some stations to break up. Adding the amplifier back in solved this problem, and gave them all available stations at above 80% signal strength. I could not ask for much more at a house out in the sticks in deep woods 30-60 miles from any towers, Another benefit to adding the amp is that the signal is not only higher, but it also stabilized it. Before the amp, the numbers and meters were jumping all over the place, with blowing trees, etc. After the amp, the meters didn t vary more than 3% up or down.
Overall I m impressed, but it did take some work to get the right combination. I wish there were more noticeable gain. An 18dB gain should be enough to take a 75% signal and turn it into 100% as seen by the TV or tuner, but it didn t. It seems that reception was as good without the amp until the third split was added, and that s the step that made it obvious it was needed. Until then, it was looking as if we could do without the amp. So sure, it does the job and stabilizes reception, but it looks like if you re using no splitters and within 30 miles of all your local stations, you can get the best reception with the right combination of antennas and no amp. 5 stars for the C5. It brought the whole package together, a great antenna with an effective bonus diplexer.
Build quality is average. I d like to have the ability to remove the AC adapter from the power injecter (to run power through small drilled holes, etc.). Although I d say it s pretty cheap feeling and looking, it s not overpriced in my opinion. A lot of other more expensive products are less effective.
Get a more powerful antenna than you think you should, and only plan on using an amp to overcome splits and long runs. Getting a smaller antenna and beefing it up with an amp isn t likely to have the same effect as a larger antenna by itself.