Amplifier Recommendations

Because of the heat wave here, a friend lost a good portion of his signal on two channels. His signal strength went down by 30% enough to cause excessive dropouts and pixelation (enough to get irritated and get in the car to do something about the problem). Since we thought this was a perfect time to install and test a preamp (exactly WHEN the problem was occurring), we went to two different hardware stores and bought two different preamps - the Winegard LNA-200 and the RCA TVPRAMP1R. Surprisingly both performed better than what I expected (given their price points - $30-40 less than other well-known preamps).

Each of them restored the lost 30% signal strength (each tested separately) and in fact later that evening his SNR zoomed up to 90-100%. He has an attic antenna 35 miles from the broadcast towers. Online, the Winegard is about $48; the RCA is $21 (really!). We kept both, one as a backup. The RCA at $21 is a bargain!

Another great amplifier (which I have) is the Channel Master distribution amp - the CM-3414 (4 port output) with only 2 db noise (great NF for a distribution amp) when a preamp is not needed but one doesn’t want to lose signal strength through splitter losses.

BTW both the Winegard and RCA have good overload protection for preserving level signal continuity between strong and weak signals across the band. Both preamps are good for rooftop and attic antennas since their power injectors can be placed within the home and power transmitted through the coax going from TV to antenna. The less costly LNA-100 is the in-home version of the LNA-200 (typically for outside or in attic).

The RCA is an interesting box because it has two inputs - one for VHF only, the other for a combination of UHF\VHF. If someone has two antennas - one for VHF, the other for UHF this preamp can be used as a combiner.

Recommend either for performance at a low price.


I recommended the Kitztech here previously but one can’t beat a $21 price tag. Pete Higgins has a great review of the RCA at several OTA forums and several techs have done in-depth studies and analysis of it with good results.

I purchased this unit off Amazon based off a friends suggestion, the reviews on Amazon and the price.

So far the unit has been running flawlessly with my system. I have 4 devices (3 TVs and the Tablo) connected to it and all get excellent signal.

I would recommend this unit to those seeking an amp/booster for their setups.

Normally an 8-way splitter loses about 10 db per output - a huge amount of signal loss. So that distribution amp is a necessity for feeding up to 8 devices. PCT is a good brand.

I also use this distribution amp (to feed five TV’s), also use the LNA-200 pre-amp mentioned above. Couldn’t be happier with the performance of these components. If you buy these, you won’t be sorry!

Kitztech 200 works great for me. I have tried and owned 4 preamps and it works best for me.

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Yes, I have a Kitztech 500 and it has been my best preamp in a decade of using preamps. The old Channel Master 7777 (not the new one) was my second best. The KT-500 has a whopping 36 db gain and a 0.85 NF. The KT-200 has a superb 0.4 NF (one of my neighbors has it and it delivers 100% SNR on most channels).


I use this one as well.[quote=“Spunky03, post:3, topic:8040”]
I purchased this unit off Amazon based off a friends suggestion, the reviews on Amazon and the price.

8-Port Bi-Directional Cable TV HDTV Amplifier Splitter Signal Booster with Passive Return

This amplifier provides 8 ports for multiple TV sets, cable boxes, or cable modems. It boosts signal strength by more than double (+4dB), Improves Analog, Digital & HDTV Picture Quality, and Improves …


I bought the original Kitztech 100 when it first came out years ago. I liked it so much I bought 2 more - one for a second antenna and one as a backup. At that time I was looking for a preamp that had 1 or less db of noise. The only one on the market then was from England from Research Communications Ltd. for $200. Still have the original KT-100 but have also gravitated to the KT-500 because it has an overload indicator, variable gain control and an FM trap (FM can play havoc with VHF signals).

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I may need to order the 500. I believe the missing FM trap is problematic for my VHF channels. Tough to beat for the long range distant UHF networks.

Or you can order an FM trap\filter for a few bucks. Radio Shack used to sell them for $6.

very true…thought about that. the extra gain would be my biggest motivation.

I know someone who uses the KT-500 to get signals from two different markets. One is 70 miles away, the other is 50 miles. That extra gain comes in handy!

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If I may ask, what type of antenna do you use for VHF? My VHF reception was problematic so I built a loop antenna specifically for VHF which now comes in at 100% using my old KT-100 preamp. The loop was modeled after the Clearstream 5 which costs $140 but can be built for just $10 using copper refrigerator coil from Home Depot. I join my loop to a Gray Hovermen (UHF) antenna using a UHF-VHF combiner that costs just a few bucks. My KT-500 is used with the GH though I could have the KT-500 serve both antennas through the UVSJ. It took me just an hour to build the loop antenna. My VHF (two channels - 8 and 11) now come in at 100%.

Correct me if I’m mistaken but my understanding is that amplifiers do nothing to improve the strength of an inherently weak signal.
Supposedly they are meant to compensate for signal loss due to splitters and long coax lines. Any thoughts people?

No, preamps don’t just compensate for weak signals. The reason they originally were called “boosters” is that they did boost up the signal. The KT-500 increases the signal by an additional 36 db. That is almost a four fold increase in signal force. The amplifier uses the antenna signal to mold the electrical signal coming from the wall socket to send that down the wire. That is why the amp needs that source of electricity.

If the original antenna signal is too weak for the amp to decipher its form, the amp can’t do its job of molding a current to send down the cable to the TV.

But no, it isn’t just a compensatory device which is a myth that has been promulgated for years at forums by guys who prefer you break a leg climbing a roof with a honker of an antenna instead of getting a good preamp.

That is why it’s called an “amplifier” - it amplifies - just like a microphone amplifies a voice. However a microphone cannot amplify a voice that is not there - ditto for antenna amps. But a good preamp can work with weak signals just like a microphone can amplify a whisper.

Pseudo-experts who advise newbies not to get a preamp and repeat myths are not doing them a service! If you didn’t have a weak signal why would you need a preamp? One only loses 1 db per 100 feet of cabling anyway. Who would get an amp to not lose that one db?

Impressive. Thanks for the heads up.

Now there are two types of amplifiers as mentioned in this thread - the preamplifier and the distribution amplifier. The distribution amplifier is mean to cover splitter losses so its amplification per output is typically 8 db or so along the lines what a normal splitter would lose. The preamp can amplify a signal at the antenna by 4 times that amount.

Preamps typically have a lower noise level than distribution amps so can form a cleaner signal at the source before distribution of the signal to multiple devices. Some people have a preamp at the antenna and a distribution amp a hundred feet away where the receiving devices are. Those that are close to the broadcast towers generally don’t need a preamp given their strong signal but will use a distribution amp further down the line.

Thanks. Just wondered as there seems to be much differing opinion from the “experts”.
My personal experience has been some modest improvement using an amplifed mud flap antenna vs unamplified version but not enough to overcome apparently weak signal input from the getgo.

That’s not to say that antennas don’t play a role in signal reception (and it’s strength). Just as pipes do for water flow. I build my own antennas so I know what designs and implementations work for effective signal reception. A good amplifier cannot overcome a poor antenna just as a poor antenna can overcome a good amplifier.

As far as “experts” are concerned, I’m not sure there are “antenna experts.” There is an “OTA expert” at another well-known audio-video forum who is an absolute idiot! Yet he is worshipped as a god and people seek out his advice. Typically he tells 2 out of 3 people they cannot achieve good reception based on his “expertise.” Those people either accept his sourpuss outlook and give up or do something anyway and succeed despite him. But don’t call him an idiot because the admins at that forum kiss his ass and will ban you if you dare criticize him.

Here’s a story about an expert. The foremost antenna installer in my city told a friend that he would not install an antenna at his location because my friend had no hope in hell of getting ANY signal. This guy is well known in our city, is recommended by all and praised left and right.

So my friend asked me to look at his situation. Took a look, analyzed the situation, built him an antenna and voila - he gets reception from 80 to 90%. Not just borderline 50%. So much for that city-famous “expert” installer…

BTW regarding “experts” read this essay on “electrical circuits” to find out whether there are really “experts” on electricity and electrical circuits (and by extension signals) and the myths that have been promulgated regarding energy by past “experts:”

The only “expert” I recognize is someone who can understand a problem, devise a solution and successfully implement it - not an academic pontificator. Why are there so many differing opinions among experts, especially in the electronics domain? Perhaps because no one really and truly understands the phenomenon of electricity and energy. And it ain’t little fellers called electrons runnin down that wire huffin and puffin their way to the tele…

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