The Best TV Antenna Preamplifier VS Amplifier

The Best TV Antenna Preamplifier VS Amplifier

If you have decided to cancel your cable TV subscription in favor of buying yourself a TV antenna, then you already know that you will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year on monthly bills. First, you need to settle on an antenna. After that, you will need to figure out if you will need an amplifier for your antenna. 

There are two types of TV amplifiers to choose from: a preamplifier or a normal amplifier (also known as a distribution amplifier). The difference between the two is this: the preamplifier is to be used with an outside antenna, while the distribution amplifier is meant to be used with your inside antenna. 

A preamplifier is usually a two-part unit. You have the amplifier itself that you mount to the antenna, and then a power supply that is usually mounted in your house or vehicle. The distribution antenna, however, is one piece and is meant to be used indoors. Both are meant to overcome signal loss.

A few other factors that also play an important role in choosing the best amplifier for you are as such: gain, supported frequencies, warranty, and noise levels. 

Here, we are going to be looking at these aspects as well before offering you some final tips that will help you to figure out which will be the best option for you. So, let us get started!

Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks in advance for your support! 

1. The Channel Master Ultra Mini 2 TV Antenna Amplifier

This amplifier will boost the TV signals, increasing the overall signal strength, and will add equal signal distribution throughout your home if you are using multiple TVs. You will be able to connect at least two TVs to the amplifier without a splitter and without having to worry about losing signal strength or quality. This amplifier will work with any kind of TV antenna apart from satellite antennas, as it is not compatible. 

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You will even be able to use this signal amplifier with analog and digital RF distribution applications where high performance and reliability are required. 

It should be noted that while this amplifier can be used for more than two TVs, signal degradation may occur with each subsequent TV or other device. 

The amplifier does not produce noise by itself.

Specifications

  • Weight – 1.05 pounds
  • Dimensions – 5.75 x 8.5 x 2.25 inches
  • Noise levels – Less Than 2dB and Isolation 24dB
  • Gain – 11.5dB
  • Supported Frequencies – 5-42 / 54-1002 MHz
  • Warranty – 90-day standard warranty

Pros

  • Heavy duty design, waterproof and weather sealed (can be used outdoors)
  • Easy installation and user friendly

Cons

  • Not intended for more than two TVs
  • Warranty only lasts 90 days

If your outdoor TV antenna suffers from poor signal quality and limited channels, then a preamplifier might just be the answer to your issues. These amplifiers are able to increase signal strength and channel count while providing you with crystal clear resolutions. 

Built in also is a low pass filter that protects your antenna’s reception from cellular and wireless interference. It also offers maximum signal noise reduction for clean and clear signals. When you purchase this preamplifier, everything that you require for installation is already included. 

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This preamplifier is only intended to be used with a single TV. You will need a splitter to hook up additional TVs.

Specifications

  • Weight – 0.95 pounds
  • Dimensions – 5 x 2.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Noise levels – 1.89dB
  • Gain –17.5 dB VHF / 19dB UHF
  • Supported Frequencies – 54 - 1000MHz
  • Warranty – 90 days warranty on parts

Pros

  • Easy installation 
  • Water and weatherproof/perfect to use outdoors 

Cons

  • Needs additional hardware to be used with multiple TVs
  • Somewhat expensive

The Eagle Amplifier is another quality amplifier on this list that does not carry a bloated price tag. As a distribution amplifier, it is better suited for indoor antennas. Additionally, this simple amplifier is ideal for use with only a single TV. While a splitter can be used with this amplifier, video and audio quality may suffer. This is especially true if there is significant cable difference between TV sets. 

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Otherwise, this super lightweight distribution amplifier is perfect for casual users. It is also small enough to make it convenient for a camper or boat setup. 

Specifications

  • Weight – 1.28 pounds
  • Dimensions – 7 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches
  • Noise – unclear
  • Gain – 25dB uHF/VHF/FM
  • Supported Frequencies – 25dB gain 25MHz - 215MHz and 22dB gain 475MHz - 800MHz
  • Warranty – Information unclear

Pros

  • Setup and installation are easy
  • Great to use when long cables are used from antenna to TV 

Cons

  • No improvement on channel quality and quantity 
  • No improvement on reception 

This is a great little amplifier that you can use in your house and what sets it apart from other amplifiers is the smart switch. You simply switch it on to boost a weaker signal or switch it off when the signal is already strong, to avoid amplification overload. But do keep in mind that this amplifier is not recommended to be used with an already-amplified antenna. 

It also is equipped with a 4G LTE filter that blocks 3G,4G, and other cell phone signals as well as WI-FI networks. This will ensure that you experience noise-free digital TV reception. 

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It also comes equipped with a USB and an AC/DC power adaptor, so you can choose the one that works the best for you. As a bonus, the USB functionality makes it modern TV friendly and can even be used with PCs if the relevant software is downloaded first.

Specifications

  • Weight – 4.8 ounces
  • Dimensions – 5 x 2.68 x 1.81 inches
  • Noise levels – High gain with low noise
  • Gain – Switch off 12.5dB and switch on 29dB
  • Supported Frequencies – 87.5 - 700MHz
  • Warranty – 12-month warranty

Pros

  • Easy to switch between long and short distance reception 
  • All-in-one design
  • Exceptionally easy to use and modern
  • USB functionality out of the box

Cons

  • Provided coax cable is only three feet long
  • Doesn’t work as well with an outdoor antenna

This digital amplifier can be used to boost your digital or analog signal of your television, giving you a clearer picture. It also manages to enhance the performance of passive antennas in areas where reception is difficult due to location. It also has a very low-noise ELN that helps to preserve the signal and reduces disturbance. 

However, this amplifier is almost exclusively designed for use with indoor antennas. 

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Otherwise, to use and install this amplifier is super easy. You simply need to connect your indoor antenna to this amplifier via a coax cable, then run another coax cable (and adapter, if applicable) between the amplifier and your TV set. You then run a signal search (usually found in your TV’s settings) and within no time you will be watching your favorite local channels. 

Specifications

  • Weight – 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions – 3.9 x 2.9 x 6.1 inches
  • Noise levels – Extremely low-noise (ELN)
  • Gain – Information unclear
  • Supported Frequencies – Information unclear
  • Warranty – 12-Month limited warranty

Pros

  • Ideal to use with antennas in challenging areas
  • Crisp, clear reception 

Cons

  • Build quality is questionable
  • Does not work with outdoor antennas

Buyer’s Guide: TV Antenna Preamplifier vs Amplifier (Distribution)

Simply put, the biggest difference between a preamplifier and a distribution amplifier is whether your antenna is rated for indoor or outdoor use. Preamplifiers are ideally suited to outdoor antennas and vice versa, though some setups may bend these rules. 

You also need to keep in mind that when you are selecting your amplifier that it might not improve the quality of signal that gets transferred to your TV. In some cases, an amplifier may only cause more problems. One solution is to have a look at the gain offered by your amplifier of choice. 

For added help, consult the owner's manual of your TV antenna (some are only available online) and then look to see what amplifiers are most compatible with your specific device. 

Finally, check to see if your amplifier offers more than one output option. If not, you will need to buy a separate splitter to use it with more than one TV. 

Conclusion

We hope this guide has settled the debate between a TV antenna preamplifier vs amplifier. In most cases, the difference comes down to whether the amplifier is intended for indoor or outdoor antennas.

If this guide was helpful, please feel free to check out our other guides for more information on other products. 

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