Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Maximizing FM sensitivity, 88-91

Last response: in Home Audio
Share
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 3:49:49 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, within range of
FM stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville. I
can get reasonable reception, usually, of WPFW 89.3 and WCVE 88.9,
if I try various permutations of my dipole antenna placement to
fit the current atmospheric conditions or whatever it is. Reception
of WTJU 91.1 is problematic, with usually at least a little static.
I'm wondering if I can improve this with a better antenna and/or
a better tuner. I read the great discussion in this newsgroup
on this subject (see:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.audio.high-end/...).

I am currently using an old Onkyo receiver (TX-36). I have an Adcom
tuner/preamp GTP-400 and Adcom poweramp GFA-545 II, but I couldn't get
as good reception and had to revert to my old Onkyo (which, though
digital, lets me tune to 91.2 for example, a necessity to have a chance
to bring in WTJU at 91.1 because of the bleed-over from the strong
signal of WETA at 90.9).

My two questions are:

1. If I get one of the tuners mentioned in the thread above, does that
mean I need to get a pre-amp (without a tuner) that will take the input
from the tuner? I assume I cannot use a separate tuner with my two
Adcom units.

2. If I get a directional antenna like the Winegard HD6065, will it only
be of use for one of my three target stations, depending on how it is
aligned? Might I do better with the FM-2G-C FM vertical dipole antenna
(the so-called college band antenna) that is specifically designed to
bring in stations in my target range, according to the info at the
fanfare site (www.fanfare.com)?

It may be obvious from this post that I am not the true high-end
audiophile. My primary concern is FM reception sensitivity, in the
specific range of 88.5 to 91.1. I see that if I am willing to spend
$400 or more I can get a used McIntosh MR-77 tuner from ebay; could
that really make a difference in the static that usually accompanies
my reception of WTJU?

These are three great radio stations, by the way.

Thanks for the help!

-David Cox
Syria, Virginia

More about : maximizing sensitivity

Anonymous
April 29, 2005 3:50:50 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

In article <d4p8et01922@news3.newsguy.com>,
dhcox@nyx.net (David Hamilton Cox) wrote:

> I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, within range of
> FM stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville. I
> can get reasonable reception, usually, of WPFW 89.3 and WCVE 88.9,
> if I try various permutations of my dipole antenna placement to
> fit the current atmospheric conditions or whatever it is. Reception
> of WTJU 91.1 is problematic, with usually at least a little static.
> I'm wondering if I can improve this with a better antenna and/or
> a better tuner. I read the great discussion in this newsgroup
> on this subject (see:
> http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.audio.high-end/...
> 0c83b4553a585d/cb3d134af10c6a93?q=mcintosh+mr78+group:rec.audio.high-end&rnum=
> 1&hl=en#cb3d134af10c6a93).
>
> I am currently using an old Onkyo receiver (TX-36). I have an Adcom
> tuner/preamp GTP-400 and Adcom poweramp GFA-545 II, but I couldn't get
> as good reception and had to revert to my old Onkyo (which, though
> digital, lets me tune to 91.2 for example, a necessity to have a chance
> to bring in WTJU at 91.1 because of the bleed-over from the strong
> signal of WETA at 90.9).
>
> My two questions are:
>
> 1. If I get one of the tuners mentioned in the thread above, does that
> mean I need to get a pre-amp (without a tuner) that will take the input
> from the tuner? I assume I cannot use a separate tuner with my two
> Adcom units.
>
> 2. If I get a directional antenna like the Winegard HD6065, will it only
> be of use for one of my three target stations, depending on how it is
> aligned? Might I do better with the FM-2G-C FM vertical dipole antenna
> (the so-called college band antenna) that is specifically designed to
> bring in stations in my target range, according to the info at the
> fanfare site (www.fanfare.com)?
>
> It may be obvious from this post that I am not the true high-end
> audiophile. My primary concern is FM reception sensitivity, in the
> specific range of 88.5 to 91.1. I see that if I am willing to spend
> $400 or more I can get a used McIntosh MR-77 tuner from ebay; could
> that really make a difference in the static that usually accompanies
> my reception of WTJU?

You didn't mention how far you are from those stations. As a very
general statement, if it's more than fifty or sixty miles, in
mountainous terrain, you may not be able to get rock-solid reception no
matter what you do. Atmospheric effects can just make the signal "go
away" from time to time.

A decent FM yagi antenna (from Radio Shack) could do a lot for you, and
there are ways to connect two or three pointing different directions if
you want. Or just switch between them when you choose a different
station. Or you could get a "rotator" to steer the antenna where you
want it. What you cannot do, is just hook two or three antennas up at
the same time without some kind of combiner.

Living where you do, I would be very concerned about lightning from an
elevated antenna on a tower -- which you should have to get the antenna
up above the trees.

Unless your existing tuner is *very* old, a new one with a new tuner is
probably not going to make much of a difference.

For the amount you're evidently willing to spend, have you considered
satellite radio?

Isaac
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 3:51:31 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

David Hamilton Cox wrote:
> I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, within range of
> FM stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville. I
> can get reasonable reception, usually, of WPFW 89.3 and WCVE 88.9,
> if I try various permutations of my dipole antenna placement to
> fit the current atmospheric conditions or whatever it is. Reception
> of WTJU 91.1 is problematic, with usually at least a little static.
> I'm wondering if I can improve this with a better antenna and/or
> a better tuner.

You'll always get much more improvement by putting money into
your antenna setup. Your big problem is that you're using a di-pole,
which is damn near useless.

I strongly urge you to invest in a good roof-mounted antenna, a sturdy
mast system and a good antenna rotor. All told, you could put together
a top notch system for well under $300.

The following is a site chock full of information.

http://pages.cthome.net/fmdx/mailroom.html

The Winegard HD6065 is a very good antenna. By using a rotor, you'll
be able to orient it for any station you wish. There are better antennas
than the Winegard, and cost proportionally more. But it's like the difference
between a Toyota Camry, a good reliable and comfortable car, and a Lexus,
which has the same frame and drive train as a Camry, but more creature
comforts. Think of your di-pole antenna as a skateboard with one wheel
missing.

Places to buy everything you need:

http://www.starkelectronic.com/
http://www.warrenelectronics.com/

Save money and build your own antenna!

http://pages.cthome.net/fmdx/FincoFM.html
http://www.siber-sonic.com/FM_reception/rooftop.html
http://www.ifwtech.co.uk/g3sek/diy-yagi/index.htm

If you put a great tuner on a di-pole antenna, it's like trying to get
NFL football players to perform on a diet of rice cakes and water.
A better tuner will work better of course. But either your Adcom
or Onkyo on a Winegard, with a rotor, would far outperform any
McIntosh tuner, a Marantz 10B, Sequerra, or whatever being
connected to a di-pole, or even one of the cheap omni-directional
antennas you mention.

Good luck!

Russ
Related resources
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 3:54:45 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

David Hamilton Cox writes:
> I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, within range of
> FM stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville. I
> can get reasonable reception, usually, of WPFW 89.3 and WCVE 88.9,
> if I try various permutations of my dipole antenna placement to
> fit the current atmospheric conditions or whatever it is. Reception
> of WTJU 91.1 is problematic, with usually at least a little static.
> I'm wondering if I can improve this with a better antenna and/or
> a better tuner. I read the great discussion in this newsgroup
> on this subject (see:
> http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.audio.high-end/...).
>
> I am currently using an old Onkyo receiver (TX-36). I have an Adcom
> tuner/preamp GTP-400 and Adcom poweramp GFA-545 II, but I couldn't get
> as good reception and had to revert to my old Onkyo (which, though
> digital, lets me tune to 91.2 for example, a necessity to have a chance
> to bring in WTJU at 91.1 because of the bleed-over from the strong
> signal of WETA at 90.9).
>
> My two questions are:
>
> 1. If I get one of the tuners mentioned in the thread above, does that
> mean I need to get a pre-amp (without a tuner) that will take the input
> from the tuner? I assume I cannot use a separate tuner with my two
> Adcom units.

It ought to be possible to do that. Most receivers have a spare
input.

> 2. If I get a directional antenna like the Winegard HD6065, will it only
> be of use for one of my three target stations, depending on how it is
> aligned? Might I do better with the FM-2G-C FM vertical dipole antenna
> (the so-called college band antenna) that is specifically designed to
> bring in stations in my target range, according to the info at the
> fanfare site (www.fanfare.com)?

You might, yes.

> It may be obvious from this post that I am not the true high-end
> audiophile. My primary concern is FM reception sensitivity, in the
> specific range of 88.5 to 91.1. I see that if I am willing to spend
> $400 or more I can get a used McIntosh MR-77 tuner from ebay; could
> that really make a difference in the static that usually accompanies
> my reception of WTJU?

The best advice for radio reception is always to fix the antenna
first, and only then to worry about the tuner.

Firstly, you don't say where your antenna is. Generally speaking,
high is good. If your antenna is not on the roof of the building in
which you live, make it so. You might be able to solve the problem
simply by mounting your antenna on a longer pole.

Generally speaking, directional is better than omnidirectional. But
as you perhaps know, an antenna that boosts stations from one
direction cancels stations from other directions. You might need a
rotator.

So, here's what you should do:

1. Move your antenna higher.
2. Try a good quality omni or try a directional antenna

and only after you've tried all of these

4. Get another receiver.

Andrew.
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 10:27:54 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

> > I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, within range of
> > FM stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville. I
> > can get reasonable reception, usually, of WPFW 89.3 and WCVE 88.9,

My suggestion is to try hooking up the vable TV if you have it,
to the receiver with a 300-75 ohm adaptor. Most older analog
systems carry FM channels as part of the service.
Anonymous
April 30, 2005 4:43:40 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Isaac Wingfield <isw@witzend.com> asked how far I am from the stations
in question. About 70+ miles from D.C. and Richmond, and 35-40 from
Charlottesville. So I suppose I should be grateful for what reception I can
get, and have a realistic attitude to living with atmospheric variances.
I tried several different models of indoor Terk antennae, which did not
work as well as the folded wire dipole. I think I will try a Winegard
or some similar outdoor antenna. My brother, an electrician, suggested I
consider mounting the antenna on a nearby tree to eliminate the risk from
lightning. That seems far-fetched to me, considering how far the trees bend
over when the wind blows hard. I asked if proper grounding wouldn't solve the
problem with lightning, and I think he said it would. My officemate at work
brought a XM satellite receiver/boombox in, so I have had a good
chance to evaluate it. It's not bad, but it cannot compare to an
authentic local station with a distinctive flavor. There's no real soul
in XM, for my money. YMMV.

-David Cox
Anonymous
May 4, 2005 4:09:04 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Hi David,
You can get much improved reception with a good, directional FM/VHF
antenna. You can mast mount it on the side of your house or use the
chimney, etc, where ever you get the best line of sight shot at the
transmitters. Since you are getting some reception on your dipole, you
should be able to get a much stronger signal and better selectivity to
reduce interference from the neighboring station with the directional
unit. You will probably need to get a rotator also to get all of the
stations equally well, but sometimes you get lucky and find that they
are near enough to get decent reception of all or at least optimise
one and get acceptable reception from the others. each situation is
unique there.
Grounding is done with a solid, heavy wire from the antenna mast
straight into the earth via a rod at the base of the installation to
create the shortest and lowest resistance path to ground. No need to
worry about climbing trees! The nice thing about using an antenna is
that it is a one time installation and one time expense. After that,
programming is free. Any indoor antenna, amplified or not will be
futile. You could try mounting the dipole in your attic to get it much
higher, but that can change the signal due to reflections, so it works
sometimes better than others. If you do or if you run an roof-top
directional, then you will need to use 75 ohm coax as a lead. You can
amplifier a directional antenna if needed at the antenna, but the
dipole will just have the noise that you already hear amplified by
using one in the home. As you have found, the "terk variety" are
pretty much useless.
-Bill
www.uptownaudio.com
Roanoke VA
(540) 343-1250

"David Hamilton Cox" <dhcox@nyx.net> wrote in message
news:D 4ukbs06ik@news4.newsguy.com...
> Isaac Wingfield <isw@witzend.com> asked how far I am from the
> stations
> in question. About 70+ miles from D.C. and Richmond, and 35-40 from
> Charlottesville. So I suppose I should be grateful for what
> reception I can
> get, and have a realistic attitude to living with atmospheric
> variances.
> I tried several different models of indoor Terk antennae, which did
> not
> work as well as the folded wire dipole. I think I will try a
> Winegard
> or some similar outdoor antenna. My brother, an electrician,
> suggested I
> consider mounting the antenna on a nearby tree to eliminate the risk
> from
> lightning. That seems far-fetched to me, considering how far the
> trees bend
> over when the wind blows hard. I asked if proper grounding wouldn't
> solve the
> problem with lightning, and I think he said it would. My officemate
> at work
> brought a XM satellite receiver/boombox in, so I have had a good
> chance to evaluate it. It's not bad, but it cannot compare to an
> authentic local station with a distinctive flavor. There's no real
> soul
> in XM, for my money. YMMV.
>
> -David Cox
May 17, 2005 5:01:51 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

David Hamilton Cox wrote:
> I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, within range of
> FM stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville. I
> can get reasonable reception, usually, of WPFW 89.3 and WCVE 88.9,
> if I try various permutations of my dipole antenna placement to
> fit the current atmospheric conditions or whatever it is. Reception
> of WTJU 91.1 is problematic, with usually at least a little static.
> I'm wondering if I can improve this with a better antenna and/or
> a better tuner. I read the great discussion in this newsgroup
> on this subject (see:
<snip>
> -David Cox
> Syria, Virginia

The answer is a yagi antenna.

Most "TV" antennas will work just fine, since the FM band is inbetween
channels 5 and 6, iirc.

Depending on your distance from the stations in question, you want an
antenna that would give you at least good quality reception from TV
stations radiating from the same area. Keep in mind that many FM
stations are *lower* power than the typical city based VHF TV station,
so you may need a bigger antenna = more gain.

A preamp on the pole with the antenna is fine, assuming you have a
signal to amplify. FM works on a principle called "capture ratio" (iirc)
which briefly stated means that if you get enough signal above a
threshold it is quiet and clean.

Use a good quality 100% shield coax down from the antenna.

The higher up the antenna is, the better.
The higher above surrounding solid surfaces (roofs etc...) the better.

Ground the antenna (mast) to a good outside ground for lightning
protection.

Use stainless hardware if you expect it to be around for more than 5-8
years...

There's also goo used by the cable and phone people (and sold in
electrical supply houses) that is sticky and like a sort of putty/tape
that works wonders for water/weather proofing of connectors and other
electrical junctions on an antenna.

The LONGER and bigger the antenna, the greater the number of elements,
the more gain it will have...

You can of course build a purpose build homebrew yagi antenna just for
the freqs of interest which will be smaller and have fewer elements, and
maybe more gain in the FM band... check the ARRL antenna handbook for
that data or any Amateur Radio Handbook for general antenna building
ideas... or your local ham radio club. :- ) (it will last longer too...)

Any yagi will have a good "front to back ratio" meaning it has gain off
the front, and a null off the back, but the sides are pretty much "0"
gain, about the same as a little vertical would be, so you should have
no problem with the much stronger local stations, unless there happen to
be fairly high power stations in the direction you are pointing, and the
ones locally off the back are not very strong in the first place... but
that is what an antenna switch is for - to go from ant A to ant B - your
local dipole to the yagi.

Unless merely getting up in the air will do the trick, then a silly
vertical is pointless. You can test the idea by going up on the roof
with a portable FM or to a nearby hill with the car... that should give
you an inkling if the stations you want will come in with just adding
some height to your antenna...

Oh, if the stations of interest do NOT come in with merely height being
added to the antenna, and they are NOT all in the same direction, you
will need either multiple antennas fixed at the locations or an antenna
rotator.

_-_-bear
!