FM & DAB aerial performance reports
These reports are roughly * in order of the number of elements the FM or DAB aerial has, starting with the single element dipoles. For each aerial size (elements wise) FM aerials are listed first and DAB second except where the report includes both types of aerial.
* I say roughly because a few involve more than one aerial…..
Also see FM / DAB aerial tests
G Davies - Australia (FM Half Wave Dipole)
Thanks for the great service. Aerial arrived on Friday (to Australia!?! ). Which is the quickest delivery ever. All installed (very easy thanks to the info on your website) and working great. Now getting full & clear 5 bar stereo reception.
Great Aerial & Service. Thanks & Rgds.
I was particularly pleased that this aerial got there OK and worked fine, because our Australian cousin had (unsurprisingly) paid a big carriage surcharge!
P Hoare (FM Half Wave Dipole and DAB Dipole)
The site is a fairly poor reception area for both FM and DAB. We originally had one of those round FM Omni aerials which we fed into our amplifier then split back into TV and FM/DAB with a diplexer. This set up gave mediocre reception on FM but when we tried a DAB tuner we didn’t get anything at all. It subsequently transpired that the diplexer would not pass the DAB frequencies and changing it for a DAB compatible type resulted in a signal, but the quality left much to be desired. We then swapped the Omni aerial for a vertically polarised FM half wave dipole and the signal quality on both FM and DAB was significantly better. Unfortunately the DAB still gave problems at certain times of the day so about a year later we added a DAB dipole diplexed with the FM dipole. Finally we got decent FM and DAB!
Most people don't need separate FM and DAB aerials, an FM Half Wave will work fine for both. Assuming access to the aerial(s) isn't as big problem we'd advise trying just an FM Half Wave first, and only if that proves problematic then add a DAB dipole (using a dipexer) as an "add on".
P Walsh (FM Half Wave Dipole)
I was given a DAB radio for my birthday several years ago. Unfortunately the reception in our kitchen is absolutely awful - we couldn't listen to one station without numerous Norman Collier impressions. The radio went into the loft, and was forgotten. A couple of weeks ago I found the radio and wondered if an external antenna could be used. Good old Google returned your website in it's search, and to be honest, I made the decision to spend my money at ATV based on the sheer quality of the information you have put together.We finally had a dry weekend, so yesterday I spent an hour assembling the mast and wiring up the antenna. BINGO! I now have 87 DAB channels at my fingertips, of which the vast majority work absolutely fine. The FM reception is stunning too.I can certainly vouch for the 1/2 wave dipole for DAB use.
M Barden (FM Half Wave Dipole)
Purchased an open half wave fm aerial from you. Mounted it in the loft. OK fm reception, nothing on dab! Took amplifier out of line, and dab came in fine, but fm still only ok. Rearranged the aerial so that the rod connected to centre core pointed upwards rather than downwards and the signal improved and is now perfect on fm and very good on dab. The elements are half wave for fm and not that far off full wave for 220mhz (dab). Philex amps are pants, they don't pass dab, even though they claim to pass vhf up to 230mhz. The electricians fitted it, so I'll be in contact soon to find out what you can supply. I am listening to the hi-fi via fm now, and the sound is cd clear. If only dab was at a quality bit-rate here in the UK it might sound good as well! Excellent website, has kept a middle aged anorak happy for hours.
An exceptionally useful report I think. We'd be interested to know of other customers experiences re centre core to which element.
Newer Philex amp may well pass DAB, my advice is to check before purchase.
I Smith (FM Half Wave Dipole)
My old FM aerial was a round Omni type and it didn't work too well, though to be fair the dipole terminal box was full of water which probably affected its performance a bit! I asked the retailer where I bought my FM tuner to recommend an aerial installer to come and put me a new one up but he didn't seem that interested, in fact said it'd be more likely I had a faulty tuner. So I decided to do it myself and fitted an FM Half Wave dipole. As recommended for omnidirectional performance I installed it vertically though I did find a significant difference in the performance according to which side of the pole it was installed. Once I'd optimised the position it picked up loads of stations I'd never even heard of before including a community radio station. I was impressed with it but unfortunately FM Radio 2 was a bit intermittent so I phoned up ATV for advice. Justin recommended I tried polarising the aerial horizontally and then peak its direction up to get the best Radio 2 I could, and this worked fine.
Whilst messing about with a Half Wave on my roof at home I also found a significant difference in signal level according to which side of the pole the aerial was mounted though I think this may well more to do with reflections off the roof than the position of the aerial in relation to the pole. The reason I recommended trying horizontal polarity was to give the aerial a bit of directivity in case the problem was co-channel interference, but the improvement could just as well be due to the fact that Radio Two's frequency at this location just happens to work best if it's horizontally polarised (it's actually transmitted in mixed polarity). Don't forget that if you've unsuccessfully tried horizontal and vertical polarity this particular model of FM Half Wave allows you to try diagonal as well!
I think it's interesting that even an aerial installer recommended by the radio supplier wasn't that bothered about doing an FM aerial install, and that's despite the aerial trade experiencing a post switchover slump at the moment! Having said that we have actually had reports of this from other customers and I suspect it's due to the installers not having much experience in FM aerial installs, particularly if the customer doesn't want an Omni which is the only aerial many installers have ever fitted. As it happens this particular install was a bit of a buggar and needed time farting about to getting best out of it, thus it's distinctly possible that the customer actually ended up with a better signal having done the job himself !
R Holmes (FM Half Wave Dipole v amplifed indoor FM aerial)
Excellent website & sales purchased a panasonic hifi with fm/dab radio hoping to be able to receive radio manchester to listen to the match reports when city were playing. it came with a pathetic ribbon type aerial that would not pick up dab & very poor fm. then tried a nikkai indoor 20dBgain aerial (maplins) this received good dab and fair fm but very poor radio manchester. followed your advice & purchased from yourselves an fm half wave dipole aerial excellent dab very good fm & good radio manchester so can listen to the matches as we win the premiership once again thanks (and this was before they'd won in 2012......)
Once again we see that an amplified indoor aerial does not equate to a decent aerial, and, particularly a decent aerial outside (or in the loft)....... Incidentally, amplifying FM is rarely needed (even when splitting), and it's often counterproductive. Just get a decent signal in at the front end, then go from there.
M Shuker (FM Half Wave Dipole)
We were suffering quite a bit of interference with the ribbon type set back aerials on our FM radios so I fitted an FM Half Wave Dipole outside on the TV aerial mast. It clears the roof where it's installed but not the ridge which is higher up. Installing the FM Half Wave resulted in a big improvement to the signal over the set back aerials but it still wasn't perfect and had some annoying hiss. Originally I used one of those plastic Y splitters to combine the FM and radio signals, then sent the signal round the house using various amps and splitters. There were two points requiring TV and FM, for one I installed a wall plate type diplexer but for the other I used another Y splitter (because I didn't know about set back type diplexers at that time). The next step was to get rid of the two splitters (one used as the initial combiner and the other as a splitter) and replace them with 2 set back diplexers. That made a significant difference, so now we finally get clear reception on all channels!
However, that wasn't quite the end of the story, by changing the splitters for diplexers and changing my old cable for your satellite stuff, I've been able to get rid of the amplifiers in the system. I originally needed them for decent reception off Emley, even after the switchover, but now I'm OK without them.
The above aerial report is particularly interesting in that it covers not only the aerial but the diplexers as well. Coincidentally the report came in (November 2011) just as I was doing some crude tests on the differences in loss between splitters and diplexers. I arranged two diplexers back to back (i.e. to combine then split out the signal) then checked the signal levels relative to each other and also "straight through" (i.e.with no combiners in use).
Loss using two diplexers was around 2dB, i.e. each one was losing about 1dB. For loss the CoAx set back diplexers was no higher than for the F conn mast head types. The downside of the CoAx set back diplexers is they're not screened and the CoAx plugs can pull out more easily than the Fs.
Loss using two splitters (one as a combiner) was 7 to 8dB (i.e. each one lost about 3.5 to 4dB). And that's a very significant difference. However, that's not to say that using splitters won't work if your signal level is high enough,
or you're flukey enough. Also see these tests of splitters v diplexers losses.
NOTE The quoted loss figures are for UHF (TV). Losses for VHF (FM/DAB) would be slightly lower, FM having a little less loss than DAB (as the latter's frequency is higher).
Whilst I had the splitters on the bench I also took the opportunity to check whether using the CoAx splitter "incorrectly" (i.e. with an "output" as an "input" and vice versa) made any difference to its loss figure. This is relevant because the layout of CoAx splitters encourages some people to plug the male "input" into the TV then plug the aerial into one of the female "outputs". Somewhat surprisingly using the splitter in this way did make a difference, though some frequencies were rather more affected than others. For some frequencies there was minimal disparity, but for some others there was up to double the normal splitter loss of 3.5dB. So be warned !
[link to this report]
J Taylor (FM Half Wave Dipole)
Found your site very informative. Chose half wave dipole for optimum FM/DAB reception, works a treat.
Brevity is indeed a skill, and has a beauty all of its own.......
A Hood (FM Half Wave Dipole)
I originally had an FM Omni aerial mounted on the roof along with my TV aerial, but I wanted them in the loft, so purchased an FM Half Wave Dipole (and an XB10B TV aerial) to fit indoors. The half wave dipole inside the loft works better than the FM Omni outside ! Interestingly I can remember that when I installing the Omni a few years ago it seemed a bit directional and actually needed aligning to get the best signal off Llangollen FM transmitter, therefore it could be that some of the other signals weren't being received optimally. The half wave (vertically mounted) seems to be truly omnidirectional. The FM half wave's DAB performance is not needed here because the setback aerial supplied with the radio gives 100% reception here ! May I thank you again for all the advice on your website which enabled me to get a good result. Incidentally, my experiences confirm that RF reception is indeed a dark art!
A Turner (FM Half Wave Dipole v FM Omni)
I had an FM Omni on the same pole as the TV aerial mounted on the chimney but I was keen to see if I could improve the signal to my Denon 1800 DAB/FM tuner and Fatboy valve amplifier. All cabling is satellite quality, and the site is SW Nottingham. I installed the Half Wave dipole on the side of the house and then compared the signal to the Omni, which was higher up on the roof and also had an all round view.
- On FM I chose six channels and gave them marks out of ten, 0 for nothing to 10 for perfect. The Omni averaged 5.6 out of 10 and the FM Half wave 7.7, which is a significant improvement.
- On DAB I compared the Bit Error Rates given on the tuner. Of the six channels I tested the Omni gave no signal on two of the programmes and BER between 250 and 4000 on the others. The Half Wave gave perfect BER readings (i.e 00000) on four out of the six. On the two that the Omni failed to receive any signal from at all the Half Wave failed to receive one and picked up the other but with a BER of 7200.
My conclusions are that as ATV say, a Half Wave beats an Omni any day, and if the Half Wave was fitted to the main mast I think the performance difference would have been even greater.
H Dell (FM Half Wave Dipole)
I had an old 3 element FM aerial in the loft, which I have to admit was a bit rusty from when it'd been outside, but the signal wasn't that good with large amounts of background hiss. I also found that if I took the aerial off the end of the cable I still got a signal of sorts but still with loads of hiss. I installed an FM Half Wave dipole and the signal improved with significantly less hiss. I also thought it was well made and easy to install.
C Noble (FM Half Wave Dipole)
I had an FM omni before but its performance wasn't as good as I wanted. I swapped it for a half wave dipole and it definitely works better. It has got rid of most of the FM “hiss” which the old aerial suffered from.
B Clough (FM 3 element)
Just to let you know Aerial is all installed and what a difference it has made from the old [round/halo] Omni (which was hopeless). I can now receive the transmissions properly - very pleased. Kind Regards.
Y le-deroff - France (FM 3 Element)
Hello, I installed the FM 3-element antenna this morning. I am very satisfied, on the radio stations I listen to the reception is excellent. One [station] that I did not arrive [is now] received, yes, but with a little breath [hiss? ]. I am really delighted!
But I have a question for you: There’s one thing that resonates with me. On my tuner is a LED level display for the reception signal. Previously on one radio it was 60%, now 40%. On another it was 65%, now 45%. Why now, is the reception excellent, but the LED level display shows less signal? Best regards.
Basically most tuner / TV signal level readings should be taken with a large pinch of salt. In your particular case, if you had an omni before, the aerial may have been picking up interference and/or a co-channel signal which was being detected by the tuner as “signal”. That , of course, is a complete guess.
D Bond (FM3 v Ron Smith Galaxy 5)
You requested a report from me regarding the installation of the FM3 aerial. I am 15 miles from Pontop Pike. My original installation consisted on a Ron Smith Galaxy 5 mounted on a 30ft mast supported by 9 guy wires. The signal strength on my Magnum Dynalab tuner was 96/97%. The replacment FM3 (from you) has had a height reduction down to 20ft but this made no difference to the signal strength.
I am very pleased to say I have the same signal strength with the FM3 aerial as with the Galaxy 5, despite it being 10ft lower.
[link to this report]
A Gransden (3 element FM + 6 element FM + radios without aerial sockets)
My original FM aerial was a round Omni type mounted just below the TV aerial approx 8m from the ground. This was able to pick up a signal from the main BBC transmitters (Knockmore, Rosemarkie and Rumster Forest) but only in mono because stereo had hiss on it. Unfortunately the Omni would not pick up Classic FM which is transmitted at lower power from Mounteagle so I put up an FM 3 element for this transmitter though this aerial was only mounted about 5m above the ground. Even so the 3 element still picked up the Classic FM signal though the stereo did have hiss on it so we usually listened in mono. Then the trees in front of the FM 3 grew and started affecting reception so I swapped to a 6 element and found a step change in the received signal, on my Yamaha RXV795RDS the signal went up from 4 to 6 (clear mono but hissy stereo) to 8 to 10 (clear stereo). I did change the cable at the same time as the aerial but the old low loss CoAx was in reasonable condition.
I also have a DAB dipole aerial and that is combined with the FM6 using your triplexer then into the VHF input of the 8 way Proception mains amp. In addition to the standard outputs I also use the full output of the latter via a 6 way splitter located at the far end of my cottage to feed which simplified the cabling.
The poor DAB reception at my location is exacerbated by the thick stone walls of my house. As such I need an external DAB aerial but I then get the problem of connecting it to various DAB radios some of which have no external aerial socket, bedroom radio alarms being a particular problem. I have found that an improved signal to the radios can result if the bared centre core of the coaxial downlead (from the external radio aerial) is attached to the built in telescopic aerial or trailing wire aerial [with its insulation removed] with a crocodile clip. I strip back and insulate the CoAx cable braiding (i.e. this is not connected to the radio in any way). I find this method works for both DAB and FM signals.
A very useful aerial report I'm sure we're all agreed. We get loads of people asking about connecting an FM or DAB aerial to a radio without an external aerial input so a read of this could be helpful.
I have to say I'm surprised that swapping from an FM3 to an FM6 produced such a significant increase in signal but then again RF is a black art I suppose. I wouldn't necessarily expect such an improvement at every location though! (Link to this aerial report)
S Howell (FM 3 Element & 3 element DAB)
As requested, some feedback. I fitted the 3 element fm and dab aerials I ordered from you in our loft and using the supplied triplexer cabled them to our new hifi unit (a high-ish end CD/tuner/streamed music player, the Naim Uniti) which uses a single f-connector for radio inputs. I pointed the antennae at the Wrotham transmitter, about 14 miles away. As a comparison, on our portable radios we get good DAB and FM reception but the DAB sometimes drops perhaps partly because the built-in aerial is temperamental. The reception on the Naim Uniti is marvellous though - especially on FM - with no interference or losses to my ear.
Thanks for the kit. It all works fine, bodger that I am (we're sure you're not, you wouldn't be buying from us if you were….). If we had a telly we'd order an aerial from you for it too.
J Fairbrother (FM 6 element)
The aerial arrived, & I was so pleased to find it was a decent sturdy aerial from a decent make! & at a very good price! its all installed now ( with a fm mast head amp ) because im after the London FM stations , & im quite away outside the Croydons catchment area, all the main London station show up with RDS, only radio x 104.9 is weak, but im told its very hard to get outside of London. I even get a French station called inter on 103.7! brilliant am very pleased 🙂
J Marsh (DAB 5 Element)
We live in an old farmhouse with thick stone walls which is located in a bit of a valley. We get poor FM, no mobile phone signals and no terrestrial or DAB if we try set top aerials. You advised a DAB 5 element aerial and I purchased one and fitted it in the loft. It worked fine into one radio but I wanted the signal through four points throughout the house so plugged the aerial into the four way amp we already had (note that some amps, particularly some older ones, will not pass the DAB signal). We now have perfect DAB reception throughout the hose when we were previously unable to get any DAB signal at all. Thanks to your thoughtful advice and efficient service, much appreciated.