The 10 Best TV Antenna Amplifiers
This wiki has been updated 12 times since it was first published in November of 2018. Having a channel drop out midway through your favorite show can be frustrating. These TV antenna and distribution amplifiers can help prevent that. They are also capable of improving picture quality on channels that come in steady, but have some unwanted fuzz or pixelation. Most are easy to install, even by those with no technical knowledge, and all are cheaper than monthly cable subscriptions. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 13, 2020:
As stated by our previous editor, there are two types of amplifiers, and prior to my update, this list had a healthy mix of both distribution amplifiers and preamplifiers. However, I suspect that if you’re looking for an antenna amplifier, you are almost certainly going to be needing a preamplifier and not a distribution amplifier, so I’ve taken this opportunity to remove all distribution amplifiers from this list, and introduce some high-quality preamplifiers in their place.
A Preamplifier vs. A Distribution Amplifier
To quickly reiterate what the previous editors note has already expressed in some detail, A preamplifier is basically a low-noise amplifier, and it’s designed to amplify the signal while reducing the signal-to-noise ratio. A layman’s way of saying this is that, it amplifies all the ‘good parts’ of the signal, while trying to reduce the ‘bad parts’ – the noise, distortion, fuzziness, etc. – that typically accompany longer transmission distances, or come as a result of weather and other forms of interference. When shopping for a preamplifier, look for the words ‘low-noise’.
On the other hand, a distribution amplifier amplifies everything equally – the signal as well as the noise. A distribution amplifier is typically what you’d look for when you have a cable television setup, and I’ve included some excellent distribution amplifiers in our selection of the best cable amplifiers – though, do look for a passive return amplifier, and not an active return one.
Do You Need Both?
You may need both a distribution and low-noise amplifier, in which case, you’ll want to connect the preamplifier first – closest to your antenna - followed by the distribution amplifier. Also, you can’t use an amplifier if you have an active antenna – which is basically just a passive (regular) antenna that already has an amplifier.
Models That Have Remained
I’ve left in a couple of units like the Skywalker Signature Series SKY38323 – which has a variable gain – as well as the EEEkit 108901 and Channel Master CM-7778HD Amplify+. Channel Master also makes some of the best and most hardy distribution amplifiers.
New Entries To The List
Many of these newer options that I’ve added like the Antop Low-Noise and Pingbingding Outdoor have built-in 4G LTE filters, in order to mitigate interference from cell phone towers, since 4G operates on the same VHF/UHF frequency band as many FM radio and TV channels. It’s likely that something similar will happen with 5G in the near future.
I know that it’s already happening in the UK, and across Europe, with UHF channels using the 700MHz frequency band being reassigned to new frequencies in order to make way for 5G, but, like with the 4G filters, many aerials in the future will undoubtedly come with built-in 5G filters in order to attenuate those specific frequency bands. You can also install your own bandpass filter. The good news is that 5G penetration is fairly low and therefore expensive to roll out, so it’s very likely that there won’t be any widespread infrastructure for the foreseeable future, and even then, only in densely populated urban areas.
February 21, 2019:
Picking out the right TV antenna amplifier for your needs can be tricky, mostly because companies market a variety of different types of products as antenna amplifiers. For example, it is not often to find distribution amplifiers sold as antenna amplifiers, even though they have two very different functions. Adding to the confusion is the fact that some people who may think they need an antenna amplifier, actually need a distribution amplifier and vice versa, which is why we included both styles on this list.
To put it simply, if you need to make your amplifier more powerful because it is having trouble picking up a single, perhaps because the broadcast towers are too far from your house, you need an antenna amplifier. These are generally connected as close to the antenna as possible. Since they increase the strength of your antenna, they also help ensure your television is getting sent a strong signal. On the other hand, distribution amplifiers are designed to be used with antennas that are able to pick up signals from the broadcast towers, but boost that signal so that you can send it through far runs of cable or split it to multiple outputs without causing loss of quality.
Antenna amplifiers should increase the number of channels your antenna receives, though this isn't always the case. Sometimes they just make channels you are receiving come in more clearly or eliminate periodic dropouts. Distribution amplifiers won't increase the number of channels your antenna receives, though because of the way they boost the signal coming from the antenna, they may allow your television to display channels that were previously too weak, so in a roundabout way, they too could potentially increase the number of viewable channels. If your antenna is having trouble picking up signals, then your best options are the Channel Master CM-7778HD Amplify+, Winegard LNA-200 Boost XT, EEEkit 108901, and Winegard LNA-100 Boost.
Your choice will be partly dictated by whether your are working with an indoor or outdoor antenna. If your antenna is picking up signals well, but you want to ensure that you won't lose transmission due to splittage or extended cable runs, then you should consider the Channel Master CM3414, PCT MA24PN, PCT MA22PN, PCT MA28PN, Skywalker Signature Series SKY38323, and RadioShack Inline.