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HDTV via antenna with digital cable box

Last response: in Home Theatre
December 24, 2009 6:48:29 PM

So I just got digital cable yesterday and a bit disappointed. Before yesterday I was running everything with an antenna in my attic. I pulled in all my local stations in great clarity with most in HD. Now I have my local stations via cable but everything in standard def.

My setup was a 1-in 4-out splitter, so the antenna in, then the 4 outs to my 4 tvs. They yanked off the antenna input and replaced it with the cable input. One of the 4-outs now goes to a digital box, that box then goes to the coax input on my tv. I tried putting a 2-in/1-out splitter in front of the 1-in/4-out splitter, and hooked cable in and antenna in then it's output to the 1-in/4-out splitter. but that doesn't work.

Not sure what to do, anyone have any suggestions? I really loved the quality of HD I was getting with my antenna, and I don't want to pay the cable company even more money to upgrade to their HD package.

One other thing, my digital cable box has a port labled "RF in" and another labled "To RF in", these 2 are connected with a little 4-5 inch coax cable. Not sure what that's all about.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Best solution

December 29, 2009 9:21:20 AM

Hi Mr. S.,

I don't know how old your TVs are, or how many inputs they have, so some of what I'm about to say is conjecture.

The "RF in" / "To RF in" ports are for really old TVs that only have one coax input. In other words, TVs that have neither S-Video, Component Video, Composite Video, nor HDMI inputs. The last resort is this coax connection. You probably don't want to use this coax connection unless you have no other way of connecting your TVs. It delivers the lowest quality video and sound signal of all options. The best sound quality you can get using this option is stereo (unless you also connect an audio cable using a different input port).

The reason why routing both your cable signal and your Over-The-Air [OTA] signal together didn't work is because the the OTA signal is ATSC and the cable signal is QAM -- they are completely different. They are both digital but they do not mix.

If you have modern TVs then your TVs should have multiple inputs. You should be able to hook _both_ a cable from your cable box and one antenna cable directly to back of each of your TVs. You would then change video sources by selecting a button on your TV remote. One press of the video source button would select cable, the next push would select OTA, and perhaps the third would select DVD, depending on how you have set up your entertainment center. Of course there are numerous ways of setting your equipment up, especially if you own A/V receivers.

BTW, I'm assuming your TVs all have High-Def tuners that are capable of decoding OTA [ATSC] signals. All late-model HD TVs do, and from what you've said I think that is your situation.

January 6, 2010 3:34:20 AM

Thanks for the reply vanekl. I have a new tv, bought it last year, a samsung 46" LCD. It has an ATSC tuner.

So that's a bummer about the QAM and ATSC not being able to coexist together, I was getting great HD programming over the air for free.

The compromise I've settled on is this: I had the cable box run to the coax input of my tv, I disconnected this and now run a component (the red,white and yellow) connection from the cable box to a different input on my tv. This now frees up my coax input which ties to my tv's ATSC tuner. So now I have hooked up an indoor multi-directional antenna (~$35 at Walmart) to the coax input and it works. The signal is weaker and I sometimes have to adjust the antenna to get different stations, but this was the best compromise.

Maybe I'll drop cable after my year is up and go back to my attic antenna. Unfortunately, the coax cable runs (from the attic antenna to basement splitter and from the splitter to other rooms in the house) were wired when the house was built, those runs are now used by cable. I have no good way to get the coax from my attic antenna to the main floor where my new tv is. :( 

Thanks for the info and help.
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