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How do I Choose the Best AM Antenna?

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  • Written By: John Kearns
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2016
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Choosing the best AM antenna means first doing a bit of research on your options. Many factors affect AM radio reception, and choosing the best AM antenna can be a matter of experimentation. The quality of an AM antenna is more important than the quality of the AM radio with which it is paired when trying to receive a signal, and the antenna also needs to be in the path of the radio signal or even a good antenna will be worthless.

Many buildings built out of brick, concrete and metal cannot receive an AM signal inside. In such instances, your best bet in choosing an AM antenna may be a twin-coil AM antenna, which picks up the signal from outside your building and transfers the clear signal through your building via coax cable. A tuner box is used to connect to the coax cable, which will increase the signal to the AM radio. If you don't wish to run a cable through your building, the external element can be positioned near a window. This type of antenna is best to choose when building reception is an issue, and an external antenna works best when aimed in the direction of the broadcasting station.

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Another thing to consider is that an AM antenna can be active, which requires power to operate, or passive, which requires no electricity to work. Before buying, you need to know where the antenna will be used and whether a power source will be available there. The perfect antenna for your bedroom radio may not be the best one to take along on a camping trip.

While a camping trip may create special considerations for an AM antenna search, staying home may do the same. Many electrical devices — computers, fluorescent lights, power lines, hair dryers, etc. — can interfere with an AM signal. An appliance’s ability to interfere with your AM signal can be identified with a simple test: Turn off the power to these devices one at a time and note any that may cause a significant change in the quality of your AM signal. Plugging your AM radio into an electrical outlet that is not in use by the electrical device causing the interference can be a big help in determining if you really need a better AM antenna. A radio noise filter also can improve the reception of your AM station around electronics.

An AM antenna works best when it is directional so you can point the antenna toward the signal. The best AM antenna will also have a tuning knob to fine-tune the signal for the specific station you are trying to receive. This helps by eliminating other stations while increasing the signal of your chosen station.

The station you are trying to receive must be broadcast toward your AM antenna or you likely will not pick up a signal with even the best AM antenna. The antenna must also be positioned correctly or the signal will be weak. Be aware, however, that even after you’ve considered the various options and think you’ve picked the best AM antenna, your problem with receiving an AM radio station might persist because of your physical location or other issues that an antenna just can’t control.

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