Having a radio antenna does not guarantee a desirable broadcast signal. Many forces at work fight constantly against radio reception, especially analogue. In particular, these include the physical obstacles that lie between a transmitter and receiver, and a radio's proximity to interference-causing appliances. Although digital radio is less susceptible, it too needs some protection from interfering signals. Audiophiles seeking optimal sound clarity can make minor adjustments to their home environment before taking more drastic measures.
Assessing a Signal Problem
Before taking radical action on a radio antenna to overcome transmission issues, radio listeners should first rule out the possibility that the radio receiver may be causing the problem. Faults in radio receivers are commonplace, and no amount of tinkering with the antenna will fix it. Users can easily test their receiver by removing it and replacing it with another receiver attached to the same antenna.
Types of Interference
AM radio is particularly prone to electrical interference from power-line arcing, street lighting, and electrical appliances. FM radio is less affected, but nevertheless needs a strong and unhindered signal to deliver the best sound quality. A typical urban environment ensures constant signal deflection and electronic hindrance. Other signal obstacles include an unfortunate location in relation to offending mountains, hills, or buildings that get in the way of the transmitter.
The strongest radio signals come from external antennas. Customers should ideally install an external radio antenna on their roof, or failing that, connect their radio to their external TV aerial. Radio listeners can find a good deal of radio equipment on eBay, such as both analogue and digital radio antennas. For optimal reception, users should point their external antennas in the direction of the nearest transmitter. In the case of a TV antenna, however, this could cause a problem with reception.
Although modern FM indoor antennas are often compact and small in scale, many people experience the best results with two fully rotational and extendable antenna arms that protrude outwards to at least three feet. This is because FM signal transmits on a path approximately six feet wide. These antennas, commonly called rabbit's ears, are a traditional format still hard to beat and impressively retro. A listener should also place their radio and antenna close to a window for optimal reception. Additionally, a user can bolster their connection with a radio signal booster. This is particularly beneficial for in-car use.
Despite the many external obstacles to perfect reception, listeners can eliminate much of the interference generated in their own homes. Whenever possible, they should switch off appliances such as microwave ovens and other kitchen appliances, as well as televisions and hair dryers, but it does not stop there. Even computers and phone chargers, along with halogen, LED, and fluorescent lighting, can compromise their antenna's effectiveness in delivering static-free reception.