Is it my tuner or my antenna?

I have been using a Tablo 2 for about 4 months, experimenting with different (indoor) antennas and placements within our condo but always ending up with unsatisfactory reception on two channels. We should get very strong signals from our local network affiliates. The details about the transmitter location and power for the channels of interest are here

I am only interested in the first 6 channels on that summary: two (NBC and CW) are off a tower 1.8 miles away on which we have line of sight. The other 4 (CBS,PBS,ABC and Fox) are off a tower 4.2 miles away on which we also have line of sight. Our building is on the top of a hill and our condo is on the top floor of the building. The towers are both fairly close to due west of our building. If I went down the hall to my neighbor’s unit I could see both towers from their window. The closest wall on which I could put an antenna is about the middle of the building.

My television, a two-year old Vizio E-series, is connected to an RCA ANT1450B antenna with amplifier that is located in the middle of the building. It pulls in 5 of the 6 channels flawlessly. For some reason it does not pull in the ABC channel (real 26, virtual 27.1).

I have experimented with several different antennas and locations for the Tablo. Currently I am using a Cable-Cutter Mini on an exterior wall. All our exterior walls run east-west so the orientation is not optimal but I understand that this antenna is omni-directional. In any case, things don’t improve if I move it to an adjacent north-south wall.

Typically when I run a scan on the Tablo I have trouble with the CBS and PBS stations, getting one dot or three dots for them and 5 dots for other stations with transmitters that are much further away. And the scan strengths are reflected in the quality of recordings. Most of the time, recordings on the PBS and CBS channels are so noisy as to be unusable. Sometimes they fail entirely because of low signal strength. I have tried about 5 different antennas and several different locations without any joy.

The only thing I can see about those channels is that they both have adjacent channels. The PBS station at 20 could be masked by the nearer NBC channel 19. However I don’t understand the behavior of CBS at 50 and Fox at 49. They are broadcast from the same tower with the CBS station having a stronger signal but on the Tablo the Fox station is flawless and the CBS station is unwatchable.

Other than adjacent channel interference, which would be a property of the tuner, I can’t think of a reason for getting poor reception on such strong signals. I am willing to try a different antenna but I am restricted to an indoor antenna and, as I said, the only exterior walls run east-west. I have the suspicion that the problem is the tuner, not the antenna, in which case I have devoted a fair amount of money and effort to something that will not work satisfactorily. Most of the shows I would want to record are on PBS and CBS.

Does anyone have suggestions on how I could further diagnose or attempt to repair the situation? Is adjacent channel interference a known difficulty for the Tablo 2?

Have you tried a Winegard FL5500A and put it in the window? That is what I ended up doing.

You shouldn’t need an amplified antenna for the channels you want and the amplifier is probably doing more harm than good. Can you try completely removing the amp (not just it’s power source) and connect the coax from the antenna directly to the tablo? Then run a channel scan and see what happens.

I should have made it clear that I don’t have an amplifier on the antenna for the Tablo. The amplifier is on the antenna connected to the TV.

That antenna is crap. Try a winegard freevision, available at your local home depot.

Are the channels coming in ok on the TV? If so, you might try adding a splitter on your RCA antenna to feed both the TV and the Tablo. You’re close enough to the transmitters that you shouldn’t need an amplifier, although the composition of the building might be causing some signal loss.

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I have tried the RCA antenna without the amplifier on the Tablo and didn’t get better results. That’s why I think it is the tuner rather than the antenna.

I appreciate the suggestions of better-performing antennas. A Winegard antenna could be better. An article in the tech section of the New York Times today talked about the Antennas Direct Clearstream antennas and how they were considered one of the best indoor antennas. I’m fine for going out and spending some more money on antennas but I don’t see why I should expect another antenna to do better. I have four stations transmitting from the same nearby tower with roughly the same power. Two stations are fine; the other two are unwatchable. How would switching to a different antenna fix that? I’m sure the sensitivity of the antenna on channel 50 is not that much different than on channel 49 broadcast from the same tower at approximately the same power.

As I say, I appreciate the suggestions but I have the impression that buying and trying more antennas isn’t going to fix the problem if I can’t work out why same tower and same power does not produce similar results.

Stations sharing the same tower may be at different heights on the tower. They may be coming at your location from different heights (the azimuth may differ). I had a similar problem in receiving stations from the same tower and had to tilt my antennas at a certain vertical angle to account for the different heights from which transmissions originated.

Even if it is the tuner, its not an issue of “Tablo in general has trouble with this” as your signals are quite strong. Your problem is a rarity, an anomaly. File a ticket and ask for help. There is nothing we can do to help you if you are convinced its the Tablo that is having an issue.

I highly suspect your problem is multipath distortion.

You are way close to the transmitters for any antenna to pickup a great signal. If I was at your location, I would be using a wire hanger.

Since I don’t know what the terrain is like where you are at, it’s hard to say what would be you best solution.

Best guess as what to do at this point is a low gain antenna pair of rabbit ears.

Good luck

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I doubt that multipath distortion caused by other buildings would be a problem. Ours is the tallest building in the neighborhood and our unit is on the top floor. Most of the nearby buildings are houses.

If I were on the west side of the building I would say there should not be a multipath problem because there would be nothing for the signals to bounce off of. I’m actually closer to the east side of the building so may be getting some multipath interference from within the building. But would multipath interference be different for different channels from the same tower?

If you have a 2 or 4 way splitter available, try putting that in between the antenna and the tablo. That would help if the signal is overpowered since you are so close to the towers.

The tablo also has an internal amplifier to help with its internal splitter so this could be contributing to overpowering the signal. Just a thought.

That theory goes out the window as soon as you read that he gets the channels just fine on his TV with built in tuner.

How about something like this? I can receive the close stations with this but nothing real far away. is a great website to reference info

Again, you appear to not have read his first post. His TV fool report is linked there.

@Douglas_Bates If you haven’t already, feel free to reach out to our support team. We can run some more in-depth diagnostics on your Tablo’s tuners via a remote session.