How to Use a Preamp

How to Use a Preamp
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If you’re antenna always gets poor reception, you may need a preamp to fix the issue, or else, you’ll have to deal watching choppy TV all the time. If you want to know how to use a preamp, you’ve come to the right page.

In this article, you’ll understand how a preamp works, what it’s used for, and why a preamplifier is needed. There are many reasons why you’d need or want a preamp. You may think it’s just some kind of an accessory, but it’s absolutely functional.

What Is a Preamp?

A preamp or preamplifier is an electronic device that converts a weak signal into a strong one before it’s supplied to other devices. It is designed to be used in many different ways, such as changing the tone, increasing the gain, and many more.

Preamps are low-noise amplifiers that are boomed to an outdoor or indoor antenna. Most preamps are composed of two units: the preamplifier device mounted nearby an antenna and a power supply inside your house.

To make it easier to understand, let’s say the source and destination are too far from each other. In this case, a preamp is used so that the noise that is collected on the line to the power amplifier is little compared to the signal itself.

How to Use a Preamp

If you live miles away from the transmission towers, using a preamp antenna can help boost the signal. So, how is it used, exactly?

First off, you would have to make sure that a signal is present before you start amplifying. You can check the strength of your signal by logging on to a certain website, and you’ll be provided with a chart. You’ll also be presented with how much signal strength there is in your area.

Once you’ve gotten the results, you shouldn’t rely on it alone as it may sometimes give you inaccurate details. However, if the report shows that you either have really strong signals or weak signals in your area, then you will know which direction you should go when trying to enhance your signal with use the of a preamplifier.

How to Install Preamplifier

The way to install a preamp is to directly connect it to the 75ohm impedance coax connector that comes out of the antenna. Although, not all antenna can always be connected like that. Sometimes, you may need to install a short length coaxial cable to allow attachment.

However, there is no need to put a cable down the side of your home to place the preamplifier closer to the wall plug. Preamplifiers use amplifier boxes, which are fastened at the antenna. Power is then supplied over the coaxial cable, while the injector can be laid down the line. In this way, it is easier to control or direct an attachment to the DC power source.

Do You Need a Preamp?

Before you purchase a preamplifier for your antenna, make sure you know what suits your antenna. You need to know that these devices are designed with different strengths for different purposes.

To help you decide whether or not preamp is needed, read through some of the following scenarios:

  • If you’re using a high-quality, strong antenna and you live within 25 miles of a high-powered TV tower, installing any size of an amplifier, especially if your current db is high enough, it will just overpower your tuner.
  • Let’s say you have a 10db antenna and a 20db preamp, but all your signals are below 40db or 30db. In this case, it is obvious that preamp is needed.
  • TV tuners can only accept signals with a maximum of about 90db. Once you get close to the borderline, it may cause a problem. In this case, there’s no need for preamps.
  • If you have multiple TV outlets at home that are sharing the same antenna, a preamp is going to be useful. The splitter may cause the loss of signal. Hence, a preamp is really needed.
  • Another potential need for a preamp is on installations of coaxial cable that measures 50 feet long or more between the TV and antenna. It can also provide an improvement in the signal.

To make it simple, preamplifiers are really for homes who have extremely bad signal in their area. However, you also need to make sure that you don’t over-amplify the signal.

Buying a Preamp

When buying a preamplifier, check on these qualities to ensure its efficiency:

  • Noise Figure and Connection Type

Noise is produced when an amplifier is added on the system. Of course, you would want something that does not produce too much noise.

When it comes to the type of connection, on the other hand, you would want to look for modern models that have 75-ohm connectors.

  • Dual Input

A good preamp should have two inputs that serve one for UHF and one for VHF. When these two are joined, you won’t experience signal loss. Well, almost. This would work best if your TV antenna is VHF and UHF too.

  • Gain

This is the most important feature that you should look for when selecting a preamp. When looking at gain, it should be greater than or equal to the signal loss.

Let’s pretend you have 100 feet of coax cable, which has 8dB of loss. Make sure that your preamp is at least 8dB or stronger. The amps range between 12 and 30dB.

  • FM Trap

FM traps work by strongly reducing FM Signal. It captures the signal level of strong FM stations that may be prompting obstruction to your TV stations.

Final Thoughts

All of the things that we’ve discussed here may have seemed too technical for you. It may also have looked so complicated and tedious to install and use a preamp, but it surely is helpful and useful.

Remember, a preamp should only be used when it is absolutely needed. As mentioned, it is only used for homes that really need help to strengthen the signal in order to get clear and good reception for their TV antenna.

When still in doubt or confused about how to use a preamp, just read through this article again, and you will never go wrong.

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