Best OTA Tuner Card? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 01-21-2013, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I saw a similar thread on OTA DVR tuner boxes but I didn't want to hijack it since I'm primarily interested in tuner cards for my HTPC. I live in a deep fringe area and need a tuner card with very good tuner sensitivity. My Samsung 51D800 Plasma TV does a great job of locking onto stations. (Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a signal strength meter on this unit.)

I recently purchased and returned a TiVo Premere unit due to poor receiption and decided to build a HTPC for about the same cost as the TiVo, extended warranty and lifetime subscription. My initial tuner card test with the HTPC is a Win TV HVR-1250. I intentionally went with a singe tuner card to avoid signal splitting losses found in multiple tuner cards. The HVR-1250 has similar sensitivity as the TiVo, maybe even worse so I'm still looking for a better card.

Of Course I can start throwing antenna arrays at my system (and I most likely will) but it makes sense to start with the most sensitive tuner first. I'm located in the San Emigdio mountains (93222) and from my home I almost have line of sight to the transmission tower that is about 55 miles in the foothills of the the Southern Sierras mountain range. The antenna is a single 91XG. It will lock on most stations most of the time but the weaker ones (at a different tower) are very intermittent. My original plan was two tuner cards each with a seperate 91XG aimed at the appropriate tower.

Sorry for the long post. Does anyone have a suggestion for a tuner card with great sensitivity like my Samsung TV?
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post #2 of 21 Old 01-21-2013, 10:31 AM
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I don't know the deep fringe performance since I don't use it in a deep fringe situation, but the HDHomeRun would let you put the tuner near the antenna, and works well with MythTV.
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post #3 of 21 Old 01-21-2013, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I thought about the HomeRun but it has a dual tuner which spits the signal internally. Any time the signal is split (externally or internally) about half the signal is lost. Also, when I contacted Tivo regarding the Premiere's reception, they claimed that internal spitting caused poorer reception than my single tuner TV.

My hunch is that most new tuner products are using a lower quality tuner hybrid modules to keep the BOM cost down. They are selling on features like dual tuners which are great if you don't live in a fringe area. I am hoping that some manufacture may have a high-end product with a higher sensitivity tuner module.
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post #4 of 21 Old 01-21-2013, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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The "HomeRun Tech" looks interesting. Although it is a dual tuner it looks like it may have a professional level tuner module.

Anyone with direct experience using the HomeRun Tech?
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post #5 of 21 Old 01-21-2013, 04:46 PM
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Check the HTPC forum, too.

Walking the fine line between jaw-dropping and a plain ol' yawn.
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post #6 of 21 Old 01-22-2013, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I Will do some more digging over at the HTPC side of the forum DrDon. Guess I was thinking that most folks were using PCs for OTA these days with only a handful of DVR products out there. Tested the dual single tuner cards today and they aren't working out so well in WMC. A couple of HomeRuns might still be a solution..
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post #7 of 21 Old 01-22-2013, 01:51 PM
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I've been using the HDhomerun for a while now in a deep fringe situation. I bought it after I read somewhere that it boosted the signal before splitting it.In anycase it seems to be on par with the single tuner
in my LG tv.I'm also using the 91XG with a YA1713 for VHF. I receive nearly all the Washington D.C. & Baltimore stations from across the Chesapeake Bay,many of them are 2edge.
Two pluses for the HDHR is the signal strength meter & signal quality meter in their software & since it's a networked device you may be able to take a laptop up to your antenna for aiming.

Good luck with whatever you decide, DDK.

P.S. I just this week purchased a second HDHR.
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post #8 of 21 Old 01-23-2013, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply DDK. I picked up HDHomerun yesterday and started doing some testing. The signal strength seems similar to slightly lower than a single tuner HVR-1250 but its not as bad as expected. This weekend I'll try a DB-8 antenna for comparison with the 91XG at my location. The two towers are only 6 degrees appart but a mountain seems to split the signals into two paths about 20 degrees apart. Perhaps the wider front lobe of the DB-8 will handle both signals better from a single aiming angle.

What HDHomerun software are you referring to that shows signal strength and noise levels? The WinTV software has this but I can only find signal strength in HomeRun dual utilities and WMC setup. Do you have the HDHomerun Tech or consumer level Dual?
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post #9 of 21 Old 01-23-2013, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abit Distorted View Post

What HDHomerun software are you referring to that shows signal strength and noise levels?

You can get the latest software here and install in on any computer on your home network.

http://www.silicondust.com/support/hdhomerun/downloads/

hdhomerun_config_gui.exe has the signal meters.
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post #10 of 21 Old 01-23-2013, 03:02 PM
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I was referring to HDhomerun Config, It's on the installation CD.

DDK
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post #11 of 21 Old 01-23-2013, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Will check it out.
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post #12 of 21 Old 11-09-2013, 08:02 AM
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Have you installed a TV signal pre-amplifier?

 

Reason I ask, I'm set up similar to what you discribe with that exception. And I'm pulling in a great signal from 66 miles direct line of sight. I had to install a TV signal preamp, otherwise nothing. By the way I'm using a "Direct 91XG" UHF TV Antenna mounted about 25 feet in the air, RG-6 cable running about 180 feet to a signal splitter that connects to a Hauppauge WIN-TV HVR2250 that is installed in my HTPC running Win 7 Home and WMC.

 

Its been running with absolutely no problems attributable to the antenna system for over three years.

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post #13 of 21 Old 11-10-2013, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
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F.S.
Yes. I'm running a pre-amp and two horizontally stacked DB-8 arrays. The HDHR won hands down over the Hauppauge with the best rejection of unwanted reflections.

A single DB-8 slightly outperformed the 91XG but the DB-8 horizontal stack blew it away. You would think a yagi or vertical array stack would be best but it wasn't due the mountains and deep fringe location.

A basic a Channel Master pre-amp provided the best performance. I tried an expensive Antenna Direct pre-amp and two different units were both junk.

This set-up is about as solid as anyone could expect (90% reliable) under the mountainous fringe conditions. If my house were another 500' higher in altitude it might be rock solid.

If you know anyone that wants a 91XG yagi send them my way.
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post #14 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 06:13 AM
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A lot of good information here from the tried and true method.

I would never have thought the DB-8 would outperform the 91XG. I'll give it a shot if/when I replace my antenna. 

The HDHR, I never even thought of. Of course I never had the issues you had to push me to find out. Same with the pre-amp. 

I'll tuck this all away for next time...

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post #15 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 09:58 AM
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Esp. on low-mid band channels, the SWR, Raw Gain and Net Gain for A-D's NEWEST (UHF Only) DB-8e is MUCH BETTER than 91XG (UHF only with new PCB Balun)....however, that's BEFORE subtracting out the Loss in the DB-8e's RF Combiner, which could be in the range of 0.5 to 1.5+ dB....so not all that different from a raw specs perspective:
http://www.antennasdirect.com/cmss_files/attachmentlibrary/Technical%20Data%20PDF%27s/DB8E-TDS.pdf
http://www.antennasdirect.com/cmss_files/attachmentlibrary/91XG-TDS.pdf

BUT in REAL MULTIPATH conditions, some of the Bowties will tend to pickup good signal strength while the signal on other Bowties fades away....this Space Diversity form of Multipath Combining Gain could be quite high, depending on conditions, explaining how 8-Bay's can outperform the 91XG.

Note that there are TWO EARLIER versions of the DB-8...but with Gain problems on low channels:
http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ANTENNAS/TemporaryPage.htmlof
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post #16 of 21 Old 11-16-2013, 09:57 PM
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What is the difference between a preamp and a RF signal amplifier? Does the preamp sit very close to the antenna, and amplify the signal to "push" it over a distance of wiring en route to the tuner, but the amplifier sits close to the television/tuner and tries to "pull" or boost a signal that may have been weakened by the signal's journey from the antenna? If this is an apt description, how does one figure out which of these devices he needs, if any?

 

If this is the wrong thread, please point me in a different direction, thank you.

 

Edited to add: I have the Hauppage 2250 card plugged into a PCIe slot, running Windows7 Media Center. Works great for me. But this is irrelevant as, for now, I plug cable into it (not OTA antenna signal). 

 

But if you plan on, at some point, having a NAS setup, where you don't need a big computer to process signals and work as a DVR and bluray player, etc., you may consider getting one of those inline tuner hardware options. I now have a DiskStation NAS box, and I may consider, in the future, hooking up an inline tuner (coax screws into device, device plugs into USB input of NAS box), and then letting 1 central, low-power computer be my household DVR server (plus music, ripped DVD, and photo server).

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post #17 of 21 Old 11-16-2013, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Pre-Amp/RF amp is really the same thing, at least at the consumer level OTA products. Yes, it's mounted close to the antenna to increase signal level before the coax run to the receiver. The amp also amplifies noise to some degree or another so it best to amplify the signal prior to line losses.

You should look into the HDHR which works through an Ethernet connection. Either way you will still need a PC.
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post #18 of 21 Old 11-17-2013, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
 Either way you will still need a PC.

Agreed, but I forgot to explain that I'm dreaming of very small, low-powered, and inexpensive client PCs next time I overhaul my HTPC setups. I've got a pretty Lian Li HTPC case, and a supposedly "quiet" PC fan, but I still feel like I've got a big ol' noisy energy hog sitting on my entertainment center. But it has to run so often of course, to record TV programs - even if we're not watching TV.

 

I'd like to put all the DVR and media storage responsibilities on a central server (my NAS) and then have something like little RaspberryPi boxes running their custom XBMC platform as the client computers. I suppose I would still have to have a discrete bluray machine then, which messes things up a bit, but maybe that's also the only way I could have Netflix streaming, since I don't think you can do that on RaspberryPi's XMBC? Well, still thinking it all through....

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post #19 of 21 Old 11-17-2013, 07:34 AM
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I like the way you think, hope you keep thinking out loud.

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post #20 of 21 Old 12-09-2013, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abit Distorted View Post

I saw a similar thread on OTA DVR tuner boxes but I didn't want to hijack it since I'm primarily interested in tuner cards for my HTPC. I live in a deep fringe area and need a tuner card with very good tuner sensitivity. My Samsung 51D800 Plasma TV does a great job of locking onto stations. (Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a signal strength meter on this unit.)

I recently purchased and returned a TiVo Premere unit due to poor receiption and decided to build a HTPC for about the same cost as the TiVo, extended warranty and lifetime subscription. My initial tuner card test with the HTPC is a Win TV HVR-1250. I intentionally went with a singe tuner card to avoid signal splitting losses found in multiple tuner cards. The HVR-1250 has similar sensitivity as the TiVo, maybe even worse so I'm still looking for a better card.
 

Hi, I'm very interested in this, as I have a similar situation.  Just cut my cable, and am trying to get OTA with a Radio Shack ANT1650R.  I get great reception on the tuner in my Sony TV, but my HTPC with Hauppage 2250 card is much more finicky.

 

Would I really do better with a 1250 card due to 'downgrading' to a single tuner?

Would updating my windows drivers for the 2250 be of any help?

Would plugging in a second antenna into my 2250 card help?  If so, what kind of antenna would best complement the one I already have?

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post #21 of 21 Old 12-09-2013, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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vrad,
I wish there was a simple answer but, there is not. My logic at one point was that a single tuner would perform better single it doesn't have the loss of signal splitting. I tried a 1250 single tuner and in the end I abandoned Hauppage all together and tossed them in the junk drawer. The Win TV tuners (single or dual) did not handle multipath reflections very well. Signal strength was good but the signal quality was poor. The HDHR dual tuner rejected the multipath much better and this resulted better signal quality. The 2250 may work good for you with careful antenna selection and tuning, this really depends on your situation.

What worked for me may not work for you. I'm not an expert on the subject, just too stubborn to give up. After a lot of digging around the web and a lot of trial & error, I decided that high gain and a wide front lobe was necessary. I landed on two horizontally stacked DB-8 arrays and the HDHR worked best with this antenna combination. The HDHR also provides some diagnostic s/w to help you tune the antenna and the dual tuners do come in handy.
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