Need HD Radio AM & FM recommendation

dth71

DTVUSA Rookie
#1
My wife loves listening to talk radio on AM dial. However it often has that "whiney" sound associated with AM drift.

My current setup uses a heavy thick copper loop for the AM antenna.

I thought about going to HD Radio and running an antenna up to the attic from the basement. I would need some minor amplification as it will be a 60 foot run to the attic space.

I would prefer omni directional and an antenna that handles AM and FM. Most of the stations are 30->40 miles out to the east, north and south. (Although there are two local ones broadcasting HD)

The FM section looks like it uses a push on 75 Ohm F Type connector. The AM section it's a two wire loop type connector to ground.

Any advice guys? Once again there seems to be a dizzing array of choices.
 
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Lurker Lee

DTVUSA Member
#2
I like talk radio as well, and used to listen to AM. At work that became just about impossible because of poor reception. Sometimes I'd listen on line.

What worked for me was to get an XM radio. That works reasonably well at work, and works very well in my house on the occasions where I bring it home. I bought a boom box for my XM, but you can also use the FM modulator thingie. You might want to look up XM/Sirius online and see if the shows are ones that she likes. With the exception of one or two morning shows, I found that most of the people I liked listening to on the talk shows were also carried on XM. There is a monthly fee, but for me it was worth it to get the shows I want. (Out of curiosity I just checked the HD listings for my area, and don't see anything resembling regular talk radio).
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#3
Not to go off subject too much here, but a lot of the AM stations here in LA have been jumping to FM. Anyone been seeing that elsewhere in the country?
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#4
Lee's suggestion is a good one in that satellite radio is the only place where a single antenna can do it all. There is no one-size-fits-all antenna that can cover both the AM and FM broadcast bands because of the radically different wavelengths involved -- roughly 300 meters (AM) versus about 3 meters (FM). That's why most stereo tuners capable of receiving both bands have separate terminals or inputs for each band.

OT to Aaron: We've had one sports/talk commercial FM station here for several years now. Another FM station ditched a failed alt-rock format early this year for right-libertarian talk. Denver has yet to see a station's format migrate directly from AM to FM, though.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#5
As far as Over the Air HD Radio, there are only a few choices still. The one that keeps getting the majority of the good to excellent reviews are the Sony.

Sony XDR-F1HD HD Radio Receiver is just a tuner. No amp, no speakers and requires a home stereo system to hear the sound. I have one and it has exceptional sensitivity and selectivity.

Sony XDR-S3HD HD Radio is a radio with speakers. It's more of a table top or clock radio type radio though Trip owns one and loves it.

The actual radio part is about the same in both units.

As far as an antenna goes, one antenna can't do it as Don explains. You can use an omnidirectional FM antenna in the attic and probably work well.

As far as AM reception goes, it comes with a AM loop that works ok, for stations moderate to strong anyway. It's not a DX antenna (long range). But you can buy some pretty fancy AM antenna. In general an AM antenna will work as good behind the radio as in the attic. It probably work better closer to the radio because most of them are not designed to have long leads from the antenna to the radio.

Note to Aaron: We have had an FM here that was an oldies station. They didn't change format as much as they sold and were bought by Entercom Communications when they went around buying a lot of failing radio stations. No AM station has migrated to FM. So the Gainesville market has one talk radio FM and the rest are AM with little to no range since Gainesville never tried to be a big power house on AM back when you could get a high power license (when there was still room). All the new stations in our market have been music in the last 10 years. 2 of the oldies rock, one smooth jazz. Before that a high power country FM came on about 1988. All previous FM here has been around since the 70s. As far as I know all the AM that was on here in the 1960's or before is still on the air and no new AM stations have emerged. The only AM that even gets out of town a little is WRUF and only in two directions http://www.fcc.gov/ftp/Bureaus/MB/Databases/AM_DA_patterns/305494-3009.pdf and I happen to live about 120 degree radial, so I can hear it at night through some co-channel interference.

As a note, WRUF-AM was the 5th AM station in the state, signing on in 1928 and still serves as an aeronautical beacon on the flight charts.
 

dth71

DTVUSA Rookie
#6
Thanks Piggie, Don

Your advice is always appreciated.

And before I forget: Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas (if that's your thing) :-D

We had XM for a while. My wife likes it. But she likes the local broadcast as well that aren't offered on XM.

My manual says I can extend a copper wire covered in vinyl about 6 meters in addition to the AM antenna loop if I want to improve reception. Are there drawbacks to this?

I was looking at this for the attic:
The APS Attic InTenna
Antenna Performance

I was hoping to use the built in HD radio receiver in the Yamaha RX-Z11.
FM section
50 dB quieting Sensitivity (IHF) 2.0 uV mono/25uV stereo (17.3/39.2dBf)
Usable Sensitivity (IHF) 1.0 uV (11.2 dBf)
Selectivity (400 kHz) 70 dB

AM section
Usable Sensitivity 300uV/m


This is what my coverage looks like:


-Don
 
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#7
Not to go off subject too much here, but a lot of the AM stations here in LA have been jumping to FM. Anyone been seeing that elsewhere in the country?
-----------------------------------------------------
Aaron,
In Seattle (50 kw/ex CBS primary station here / I used to work there) KIRO 710-AM has had generally left-wing talk radio for many years.

About eighteen months back they migrated to their FM counterpart with some cutesy name instead of call letters and now AM is the ESPN sports channel.

They must have lost a lot of their audience because they continue to advertise their 'recent' move on competing AM talk stations! Fine. Their advertising dollars are helping to keep the stations I listen to alive ...
Jim
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#8
We had XM for a while. My wife likes it. But she likes the local broadcast as well that aren't offered on XM.

My manual says I can extend a copper wire covered in vinyl about 6 meters in addition to the AM antenna loop if I want to improve reception. Are there drawbacks to this?

I was looking at this for the attic:
The APS Attic InTenna
Antenna Performance
Merry Christmas back or what ever you like.
XM to me is good for two things. Long haul driving I think it would get old changing channels every town. I never did it that much and learned the stations but even then we would end up in places with no radio we wanted.

Or if there is some channel or talent you like and it's only available there.

But I too like to hear local stuff. So much of the "local" channels are not really local anyway. Their "DJ" may well be in Chicago or NY and satellite link. You can put up a transmitter and hire talent off site. There maybe rules that something during the week has to be local but Trip knows that stuff better.

That FM antenna I believe is way over kill. Plus it's only good in one direction. I notice that everything below the green on your FMFool list looks like it might even be difficult to receive consistently.

But the green stuff is pretty strong. And an omni antenna would receive it. Something like this in the attic will pull in all the local stations. Antennacraft FMSS "Turnstile" Omni-Directional FM Antenna (FMSS) - Antennacraft - FMSS - 716079001182 -

Note that if you buy this you need a balun to attach coax and enough coax to reach the receiver.

As far as adding 6 meters of wire to the AM receiver, it will probably help.
The best AM antennas are loops. I am not suggesting this as a good antenna but it's the type I would try and you can put it on top of the radio as you will need to turn it for each station most likely. TERK AM 1000 - Radio antenna - Indoor


I was hoping to use the built in HD radio receiver in the Yamaha RX-Z11.
FM section
50 dB quieting Sensitivity (IHF) 2.0 uV mono/25uV stereo (17.3/39.2dBf)
Usable Sensitivity (IHF) 1.0 uV (11.2 dBf)
Selectivity (400 kHz) 70 dB

AM section
Usable Sensitivity 300uV/m

-Don
Well if you already have an HD receiver by all means use it! But looking up that model I don't see where it does over the air HD FM radio, but I maybe wrong. I see it does XM and regular AM and FM.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#9
I also wanted to reply to this one earlier, but got called away...
That FM antenna I believe is way over kill. Plus it's only good in one direction. I notice that everything below the green on your FMFool list looks like it might even be difficult to receive consistently.
APS is the "Blonder Tongue" of FM antenna makers. They've got a great reputation. Everything is pricey because of their limited production runs. The specs tout the InTenna's low 1.5:1 SWR and how well its impedance matches that of the downlead throughout the FM band, but its 0 dBd gain figure means it will just noticeably outperform a six-buck twinlead FM dipole hooked up to a coax balun, and then only on a couple of more distant stations. Their big outdoor antennas are clearly worth those prices for serious HD Radio and DXing enthusiasts, but this one isn't.

Like Piggie, I looked up the FMSS... but that comes up at -3 dBd gain. OTOH, an AntennaCraft FM6 puts out positive gain; its size is such that an FM6 could be mounted in almost as many spots as an InTenna; and at about $40, it costs a tad more than an FMSS... but a lot less than the InTenna's $200+.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#10
I have used the FM6 and the FMSS (and those like it) for decades.

If you have a signal that is just not enough to fill the limiter on FM with an indoor twin lead or whip antenna, a FMSS at just above roof level with 20 ft of coax will make all the difference in the world. It's about location.

The FM6 whips the llama's ass. It is not the DXer's dream antenna, just just a darn good beam for the money. I have been using them since I first put on up in 1978 to listen to Tampa and Tallahassee FM from Gainesville FL. Stuff in the 100 to 130 mile range. Now don't expect that now, the band was MUCH less crowded in those days, though you might have the same results depending on adj channel and receiver specifications. Later in the early 1990's I bought another one to listen to a 5KW station about 30 miles away. Even on the FMSS it was usable but a little noisy by probably a few percent, just barely noticeable, how ever much that would be (what can a person just hear? 10%? I don't know in those terms). On a folded twin lead dipole up against the window it was 50% noise. On the FM6 it pinned the meter, and totally saturated the limiter circuit. Additionally I could hear the local full power stations about 20 miles 50 degrees off the main beam and even regardless of which way I pointed it except the back where it had a touch of noise. I even listened to a 5 KW about 20 degrees off the main beam at 20 miles, but with a much better transmit antenna than the one 30 miles out. I could turn it toward Jacksonville FL and hear all the 50 and 100 KW stations up at 300 meters fine also with was about 75 miles.

What I saw on his FMFool report were several very strong local stations in the green that just needed a receive antenna in the clear (even the attic probably enough).

However if there are out of town stations pointing the FM6 at one would probably work.

One could though in an attic build an FM beam in an evening. Construction becomes much less critical in a protected environment, so wood, wire and twin lead are all one needs. 3 Element Yagi
 

dth71

DTVUSA Rookie
#11
Thanks guys for all your help. It's appreciated.

Even having an engineering degree myself, I can still see why being an RF engineer is still considered somewhat a black art.

One more question: If I get two FM6 Yagi's pointed in NE and S, and hook
them together to the same lead, will I suffer the same -3dB loss that I would with a TV antenna Yagi?

And oh BTW: Happy New Year! :-D
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#12
Thanks guys for all your help. It's appreciated.

Even having an engineering degree myself, I can still see why being an RF engineer is still considered somewhat a black art.

One more question: If I get two FM6 Yagi's pointed in NE and S, and hook
them together to the same lead, will I suffer the same -3dB loss that I would with a TV antenna Yagi?

And oh BTW: Happy New Year! :-D
yes, the same -3db, because they are still EM Waves in the scheme of things nearly the same frequency when considering how big the EM spectrum really is (light, xrays, cosmic rays, etc). Additionally the only difference between FM radio and OTA TV is the modulation, the RF waves are identical.

With two antennas ganged together like that sometimes it all works as planned. Then sometimes you get mulitpath or unwanted adj channel from one antenna trying to listen to a channel the other antenna is pointed toward.

Any time you hook two antennas together pointed in different directions simply merged with a combiner/splitter, you are actually going past the black art into the nether world.

You want to keep them apart, but as much as possible, and at least vertically 5 to 6 feet with anything over 9 feet being a waste of time.

But the big question is are the stations you want to use 2 FM yagis with really that weak you need a moderate gain beam such as the FM6?

I think all the stations not at the top of your FMFool report are going to be a challenge where the top green stations should be a piece of cake.

I still think you could receive all the green stations easily with an FMSS omni.

At FM 60 ft of RG6 is only about 2 db of loss. Amp or not you can't make up the combining of 2 antenna -3db. So all an amp will buy you to a single receiver at 60 ft, even adding connector loose is about 2db.

Some good reading is here:Merging feedlines and the math says simple, algebra.

One more comment. If you feel you really need more gain than an omni and speaking only to the green stations at the top of the TVFOOL report I believe all really need are a pair of Winegard Model HD-6000. It has 4 elements but 2 of the are driven to broadband the antenna, so it behaves more like a 3 element beam. Two of them at solidsignal are $7 less than than one FM6, plus the HD-6000's come with a balun, saving another $5 or so to buy two of them.

If you combine them outside the Winegard CC 7870 holds up to weather very well even though it's about $12 compared to a cheaper combiner. In the attic just go with a name brand simple combiner.
 

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