Can You Use A TV Aerial To Connect To A FM/ DAB Radio?
If you have a TV aerial and wanted to know if you could use this listen to radio or connect directly o your FM or DAB radio tuner. Read this for tips and advice. In this blog I discuss possible ways to access radio programmes via a conventional TV aerial. Before we start it helps to have a bit of basic knowledge surround TV, FM, DAB frequencies and aerials which will hopefully help you on your way. If you have the option, I would thoroughly recommend installing separate aerials for both TV and radio to maximise signal strength and quality.
TV & Radio Antennas Use Different Frequencies
The broadcasting frequencies used by TV aerials, FM and DAB radio are all different. Radio is broadcast in the Very High Frequency (VHF) band and TV aerials use the Ultra High Frequency (VHF) band. This means that the aerial type that you would typically use for TV and radio reception would be different and the higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength and element size that would be required on the antenna themselves. This also means that a lot of radio aerials can be considerably larger than TV ones.
This doesn’t mean however that when you have a TV aerial installed that you won’t pick up “unwanted frequencies". What I mean by this is that by simply placing a conductive material at a high place, typically on the roof of your house you will naturally pick up some frequencies that are beyond the scope of the aerial you installed. This means that if you install a TV aerial and there are some radio frequencies nearby, there is a good chance that some of these will be picked up by the TV aerial, albeit at a lower level than would otherwise be received by a specified designed radio aerial.
For your reference the frequencies used by the following are:
FM – VHF – 88-110Mhz
DAB – VHF – 174-240Mhz
Terrestrial TV – UHF – 474-800Mhz (soon up to 700Mhz)
TV/ Radio Aerials Often Need To Point Different Directions
Most TV aerials that are installed are what’s called directional TV aerials, the TV aerial alignment is done to increase the signal strength by pointing towards the TV transmitter or where the signal received is strongest. A lot of the time TV aerials and radio aerials need to be aligned indifferent directions for maximum signal so you may find that although a good radio reception is possible in your location, your TV aerial might not be up to the task.
That being said, as radio is broadcast on frequencies that are lower these have a larger wavelength which is less directional and can travel further than higher frequencies so it’s not as important to get antenna alignment absolutely spot on. It has become common when installing radio aerials for FM & DAB to not use directional aerials at all and instead install Omni directional or FM/DAB dipoles. These pick up signals in all directions and no alignment is required.
You may not be aware but depending on what type of antenna that you’re installing and what transmitter that you’re using may require you to mount your aerial for either vertical or horizontal polarisation. If the TV/Radio transmitter that you wish to receive a signal from is broadcasting in a horizontal polarisation for instance the aerial will need to be mounted on it’s side with elements pointing out sideways and if it is broadcasting vertically the antenna will need to be rotated 90 degrees with the elements pointing up. To get this right is very important as to mount the aerial incorrectly will see a big reduction in received signal. You should be vigilant when doing this though so that you do not mount the aerial upside down as it’s likely to fill with rainwater which will water-log the aerial and water-log the coax cable. For your reference the following polarisations are used:
FM Radio – Horizontal
DAB Radio – Vertical
Terrestrial TV – Horizontal & Vertical, depends on the transmitter. As a rough guide, most main TV transmitters use Horizontal and relay transmitters use Vertical. There are exceptions to this, most notably the Rowridge transmitter which uses both.
There are other types of polarisation that exist but are not commonly used for TV/ Radio. These are circular polarisations and elliptical polarisations. The reason I have included this is that if you have a TV aerial mounted on a vertical polarisation you might find that DAB reception is good but FM reception is poor and vice versa with a horizontal mounted aerial.
Amplification Might Help Radio Reception
You might find that adding an amplifier to your TV system may help any received radio reception. If you want to try this it’s important that you purchase an amplifier that passes the radio frequency bands as if it doesn’t it’s likely that the amplifier will just filter out any radio signals that you do have and could actually make the signal worse. You also run the risk of overloading your TV tuner/ TV distribution equipment with too much signal if you do not otherwise need an amplifier which could cause poor TV reception and make the picture become blocky & pixelate.
TV/ Radio 2 Input Amplifiers
Some amplifiers have 2 separate coax cable inputs for TV and radio signals. The intention of these is to connect two separate aerials into the amplifier itself which will then be delivered to the output cables. At each point you could install a diplexed wall plate which will separate the signals again or a two way splitter which will allow you to connect both a TV and a radio tuner off the same cable. By adding a radio tuner to one of the outputs of these types of amplifiers with no separate radio aerial connected, you may find that you will not be able to get a signal as one of the purposes of the amplifier is to filter out the radio frequencies from the TV input and the TV frequencies from the radio input. In situations like this you may find that you could have some success by installing a TV aerial splitter before the amp and connecting the aerial to both inputs. You should be careful though however as the signal losses associated with the splitter could cause your aerial signal to drop beneath the minimum if you live in a weak signal area.
Digital Radio on Freeview
It is possible to get some digital radio stations on your TV with your existing TV aerial. If you go into your Freeview TV guide beginning at channel 700 you will find some digital radio. You may find that this is perfect for what you want and no need to purchase a separate radio tuner altogether. The downside to this is that you will need to listen to the radio through your TV/ TV speakers which are not always the best quality on some of the modern flat screens. To resolve this issue you could connect your TV to a soundbar or separate speakers/ surround sound. There is no one way to do this as it depends on the audio output connections that you have on your TV and audio input connections that you have on your sound bar/ speaker system. You may find that you need an audio adapter to be able to do this.
Unfortunately you can’t get FM local radio stations through Freeview so this may not be suitable if you’re wanting to receive local radio.
All In One Aerial
There are some aerials on the market which can be used for TV and radio, these often come will the option to add a power supply to boost the signal strength. An example of this is the Televes DigiNova Boss. I'm personally not a fan of these types of aerials as the TV signal is usually compromised, but if you only have the option of installing one aerial or only want to install one aerial, this might be just what you’re looking for.
Indoor Aerial Might Be Fine For Radio
A lot of radio tuners come with what can be mistaken as a piece of wire, which is in fact actually an aerial. You might find by positioning this in a different position that you can improve your radio reception without having to connect an external antenna at all. Again, lower frequencies are more forgiving so you might find that this is suitable for FM but not DAB. If you’re not receiving all the stations that you wish or the stations that you’re receiving are poor quality, you might be forced into connecting an outside aerial to improve the situation. Or you might find if you’re happy to listen to radio in a different room it might work better on a higher floor in your house. The ground floor, or even worse basement is usually the work areas in the house for indoor aerial reception.
Connecting TV Aerial To Radio – Plugs & Adapters
To actually connect your TV aerial to your radio it’s likely that you will either need to change the coax plug on the end or purchase some form of adapter plug. You might also need to install a splitter to connect both the radio and the TV at the same time. The following links may help you with this task.
Will TV Aerial Work on Radio Tuner?
In short, it might do, It might not. It might work fine on some stations and not at all. It depends on your current set up and the area you are in. There is no exact answer to this question I’m afraid. I recommend just connecting your TV aerial to your radio, tuning it in and just seeing (and hearing of course!). If it sounds fine and picks up all the stations don’t worry anymore about it, you’re fine to go. I wouldn’t obsess over any on screen signal strength displays as these can be very misleading.
I hoped that you liked this blog, as always if you have any questions please feel free to POST THEM IN THE BLOG COMMENTS SECTION and I will get back to your ASAP. I appreciate your patience when doing so as I reply to all of these personally. Please also be aware that we are a small business that operates in Sussex & Kent only so we will not be able to help you with an installation if you’re outside of this area and we do not sell parts and components. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT CALL OUR TELEPHONE LINES as these are INTENDED FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY. We honestly do not have the resources to help you with the over the phone technical help and advice. Please also DO NOT FILL OUT OUR WEBSITE CONTACT FORMS OE E-MAIL PRIVATELY for the simple reason that you are very likely to not receive a response. The website contact forms are again intended for customers only and it’s too difficult to manage all the questions and comments by e-mail. By posting your questions in the blog comments section you give me a central location to answer these and also everyone reading the blog at a later date will get the benefit of the question asked and the answer given. Thanks.
Until next time,
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