Updating in-house cabling, did I miss anything big?

My current set-up is dead simple but as the cord-cutting seams to be going well (mind you it’s only me and the cat who have to approve things). currently I have:

Clearstream Antenna (unamped) -> 3m ish coax -> Tablo

The antenna is in a window (I live in an condo-apartment and we aren’t allowed to mount things on the outside of the building. To make matters more fun, I face north-west and all broacasters I pick up are south (mostly south-west but some almost due-south and a couple south-east-ish. I’m pretty sure the only reason this works is I’m getting a lot of bounce off the building across the parking lot from me.

About half the channels I get are at 3-dots and the rest are at 5-dots. I do get semi-regular pixelation issues. Plus I would like to re-connect the 2 TVs for live viewing.

Thus, my plan is as follows:

Antenna -> Antenna pre-amp -> passive splitter (1 into 3) -> 2 TVs and Tablo.

Here are the exact bits:

Clear Stream Antenna (got this back in January, it’s great):

Digiwave HDTV Digital Antenna Preamplifier (ordered):

Dynex 3-Way Coaxial Splitter (ordered):

Is there an inexpensive signal analyzer I can get? I’ve heard there is something for smart phones but I don’t understand how that would work unless there is some sort of adapter to connect to the cable.

Just a quick suggestion, if you ditch the splitter, Tablo will get a stronger signal, and you can then stream from the Tablo to each TV. I know a lot of people don’t like to do that, but my thought is it’s best, in most cases, to give as strong a signal to Tablo as you can (assuming you don’t overload its front end) and you can then take advantage of Tablo’s features such as the guide, rewind, pause, etc.

Or, possibly better, get an amplified splitter to mitigate signal loss. My antenna connects to a 8-way amplified splitter for distribution throughout our house.

The preamp you bought has a very high NF (5 db noise factor) which can undermine reception. Good preamps in the same price range these days have a 2 or even 1 NF. Gain + NF determines reception quality.

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IMHO, you wouldn’t pre-amp in your case but use an amplified splitter. Pre-amps I belive are most useful for cases where the distance from the antenna to your connection is quite large or for some other reason requries it. I don’t see that really being useful in your config. Others may know differently.

Okay, a couple of suggestions for skipping the pre-amp and going with an amplified splitter. Suggestions for an appropriate one and a good place to get it in Toronto?

I don’t plan on more than the 3 connections in the near future, but I suppose a 4 port might be a good idea for future expansion.

If you have any signal issues after the preamp and/or distribution amp with a splitter, my recommendation would be to get the Clearstream 4V. I had the 2V and upgraded to the 4V and the signal quality improved substantially.

My setup is Clearstream 4V -> RCA preamp -> 50 feet of cable -> Winegard HDA-200 distribution amp -> Tablo (as the Tablo has an internal 1x4 splitter)

Good quality preamp:

Distribution amp where you can put any splitter after it:

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I’ve also heard good things about this distribution amp which has the splitter function built-in

The ChannelMaster 3414 is also available locally at Angel Electronics for $45


Thanks. I’ll make a run out to Mississauga on the weekend.

Hoping I don’t have to go up to the C4 antenna. Although, also wishing I had got it first.

Is it a condo or an apartment? Condos you can mount outside regardless of what the association says, the FCC will back you up on that. I had a friend who fought with his HOA until he got the info from the FCC.

I’m in Canada. The FCC has no authority here. It’s the CRTC. AFAIK, we don’t have the same rights with regards to modifying the building. I could be wrong.

Oh man :frowning: sorry about that LOL or happy? hmmmm LOL

Distribution amplifiers are as likely to amplify noise as they are the desired signal, so the results may not meet your expectations (the amplifier simply applies power to all parts of the received power, with no regard to signal or noise in the power band being amplified). The best bet is to use a pre-amp, mounted close as possible to the antenna- this may be a challenge with an indoor antenna mounted in a window, but it can still be made to work.

You should also remember that distribution amplifiers, especially when used with integrated splitters, barely (and sometimes rarely) make up for the dB loss from the splitter. You would be better off to make sure that any split signals are fully terminated- either connected to a television antenna feed, or use a small screw in terminator to on the cable, as an open cable from a splitter further degrades the source signal, and save the money spent on a distribution amplifier.

I know. Which is why my original had a pre-amp to boost with a passive splitter. Although, according to others, the pre-amp I found was not a great choice.

Good of you to point it out, though. Other’s may not be aware.

In my case, the antenna is in the window in my den. There is a power outlet right beside it. So, my plan is/was to connect the antenna directly to the pre-amp and then run it to the splitter and from there to the 2 TVs and Tablo.

My actual plan is more complicated. First try it without any amplification (just the splitter). If that generally works leave it. If not, add the pre-amp or distribution amp. If I had a signal strength meter that I could check actual signal strength per channel, I would use that first to figure out exactly where and when I needed to amplify the signal(s) and/or add noise reduction (like the LTE blockers that we now need thanks to re-purposing).

I thought I should update my experience with this adventure. I ended up staying un-amped.

The cable goes from the antenna in the den window to an unpowered splitter. The splitter goes to the 2-tuner tablo and 2 tvs. After extensive testing (watching a lot of TV), I have found no noticeable loss of quality with this set-up.

When I connected the pre-amp(s), I tried both:

I performed this testing during the afternoon (well before sunset) on a clear day (almost no clouds visible). I checked the weather forecast as many of the towers are quite far away 30 miles or more.

Several channels disappeared during a channel scan. These were the ones that had the best strength to begin with. I expect the amp was over-powering them and overloading the tuners. One new channel showed up. I wasn’t going to watch anything on that channel anyway.

Most of the poor signal strength channels showed up and had stronger signal but were still showing corruption during testing.

Without the pre-amp(s):

With both TVs and the Tablo (2-tuner) connected, I lost one channel I wasn’t wanting to watch anyway. All the other channels, even the ones with mediocre signal strength, still come in and don’t seam any worse.

There is occasional signal corruption in the form of very short bits of images becoming blocky. It reduces when overcast but increases during bad weather, so I assume this isn’t related to cell-phone signal interference.


I’m sticking with un-powered. I’m keeping both of the pre-amps. The cheaper one I can’t return (I checked). Well, I could but the “restocking fee” is almost the same as the cost of it. The expensive pre-amp is a good one (channel master) I got on sale. When/if I move, I may need it.