Antennas Direct New Clearstream Juice Preamp - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-27-2015, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Antennas Direct New Clearstream Juice Preamp

Antennas Direct has released a new preamp, Clearstream Juice. Moderate gain, 17-19db, LTE filter, and resistant to overload, according to description. Appears to be solid metal build, unlike Winegard LNA200 which is plastic. Although noise figure reportedly varies from 1.5db on VHF to less than 3db on UHF, so perhaps about the same as the Winegard. A bit pricey at $79, but perhaps worthy of consideration if indeed a good performer. Not sure if it will be sold at Best Buy or Walmart with other AD products. Still awaiting more info and reviews, and not sure if it has built in FM trap. Looks like replacement for CPA19.
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-27-2015, 08:58 PM
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Maybe ADTech can fill in the details. I'd like to know P1dB to see if it's really any different from other preamps.
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post #3 of 19 Old 02-28-2015, 05:47 AM
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ADTech posted a fairly comprehensive description of the newly released amp over at DHC about a month ago.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...&postcount=831 quoted below:

Quote:
Yes, the Juice is pretty much a re-done CPA19. We had to change manufacturers so we redid the name, the physical packaging (we kept the metal injection mold), the power supply and, internally, the filtering. The CPA19 had a filter that suppressed between 250 and 400+ MHZ, the Juice deleted that filter and replaced it with one that rolls in just above 700 MHz for 4G/cellular suppression. There was only enough circuit board real estate available for that one filter, so it's the only one in the Juice. FM filtering, if needed, can be done with one of our external full band filters.

Gain averages about +18 dB +/- ~1 dB across design band of 54-698 MHz.

Noise figure averages around 2.5 dB in low-VHF, ~1.75 in high VHF, and averages sub 3 dB on UHF. The gradual roll-in of the 4G filter slightly affects the top end of the UHF band. TANSTAAFL, as they say.

As far as IMD performance, it tests out to between +35 and +38 dBm TOI (Third Order Intercept), depending on the frequency at which it is tested. My personal observation is that this model is the most overload resistant amp that's come across my workbench so far.

For those who hate TOI results, I've tested a few other protocols. Frankly, testing this thing for overload is a PITA because my test gear doesn't readily produce hot enough signals and the dynamic range of the Rigol isn't all that wide. It is necessary to use attenuation on its input to keep the mixer input below -10 dBm so it doesn't introduce any IMD of its own which affects the ability to display weak and strong signals at the same. Depending on the RBW and attenuation settings, it's hard to achieve 70 dB of dynamic range. But, hey, it's a $2K piece of gear, several 10s of thousands of dollars.

A sampling of test results:
505 MHz with IP3 @ -46 dBc --- +61.9 dBmV (+13.1 dBm) fundamental output
505 MHz with IP3 @ -60 dBc --- + 7.7 dBm (TOI=37-38 dBm) fundamental output
DIN45004B 3-tone @~500 MHz --- 119.35 dBuV

Several notes: Samples from the same batch of amps will vary, sometimes by several dB. Also note that the Rigol's accuracy is somewhat limited in its precision (+/- 1 or 1.5dB IIRC). Far more accurate lab gear would reduce the results range for greater accuracy but that is outside my assigned charter. In general, the readings taken with the Rigol are very close to those obtained by our test lab engineer in his facility with his HP/Agilent gear.

P1dB test results usually ranged between +21 to just over +23 dBm depending on the individual sample and the test frequency.

I will be happy to try to answer any performance related questions that you might have.
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-28-2015, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectSHO89 View Post
ADTech posted a fairly comprehensive description of the newly released amp over at DHC about a month ago.
Thanks for passing that along. That's a very good P1dB and you wouldn't want more as you'd be in danger of blowing out the TV tuner.

I agree with his sentiments about the Rigol. It's great for the money but another 20 db of dynamic range would be most helpful.
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-28-2015, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Juice sounds like a good performer, especially in terms of overload resistance. And I guess the noise figure is about the same as the Winegard LNA200, which is supposedly a bit overstated. Although the LNA200 reportedly amplifies UHF and VHF separately to reduce intermodulation distortion, but I am not altogether clear on that. And with Juice you may need to add an FM trap. But what exactly is the significance of P1db? Is that referring to the noise figure?
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-28-2015, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
And with Juice you may need to add an FM trap. But what exactly is the significance of P1db?
P1dB is one of the measures of overload resistance. See http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclo...pression-point for an expanded explanation of P1dB.

You're not going to overload an amp with those performance characteristics with FM, you'll overload the tuner instead. Like he said, use an external FM filter if one is needed. I don't see any point in degrading an amplifier's performance with excessive filtering (like Winegard did) except, perhaps, to make it idiot (customer) proof.

Last edited by ProjectSHO89; 02-28-2015 at 02:23 PM.
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post #7 of 19 Unread 03-03-2015, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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The reported overload tolerance of the Juice amp is probably its best feature, and the moderate gain should be all that's necessary. And the noise figure is probably about the same as the current CM7778 or the LNA200 which may be overstated. And the build quality seems more solid than the plastic Winegard. But the RCA preamp also is resistant to overload at a much lower price, and has the dual inputs. So would be interesting to see an overload test between the Juice and the RCA. It could be the Juice outperforms in certain situations.
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post #8 of 19 Unread 03-03-2015, 07:18 PM
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I don't where the idea that the RCA preamp rates high in overload resistance is coming from. I measured its P1dB at only +10 dBm on UHF, one of the lowest I measured. The Clearstream Juice is over +20 dBm which is the highest I've heard of. P1dB and 3rd Order Intermods are the only tests one needs to run. A high output preamp in a strong signal environment may just overload the TV and make it look like the preamp is being overloaded when that's not the case.

The discussion of the ATSC spec that I have says that tuners should be able to handle 8 signals of -8 dBm. That's a total signal power of +1 dBm. If you hit that tuner with +20 dBm it most certainly will be overloaded but the preamp will be fine.
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post #9 of 19 Unread Yesterday, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calaveras View Post
I don't where the idea that the RCA preamp rates high in overload resistance is coming from.
I read about it here http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=13530
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There is a very, very substantial overload performance difference between the RCA, the LNA200, and the Juice, in that order.

I've been doing some comparisons. Use the file name to identify the DUT and the testing protocol. The RCA represented is one I bought about two months ago at a local Menards. The old one is about 3 dB better.

As for the magic jelly bean inside, it uses this RF Amplifier chip in the 17 dB configuration: http://www.macom.com/products/product-detail/MAAMSS0060
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweller View Post

This is what happens when you just do OTA tests. There are too many uncontrolled variables and it's easy to fool yourself. I've done it.

The RCA may very well be much better than the AP-2870 but that doesn't make it good.

There are two things the RCA has going for it; 1) Dual inputs and 2) Low cost.

I guess I'm going to start recommending the Juice where applicable, especially for locations with a combination of weak and strong signals. I wish they had given it a less marketing sounding name though.
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Overrated

The juice is the same preamp as direct antenna cpa19, I've used this amp before not impressed with its performance it would overload on my locals I'm about 10 miles from the esb Is not better than winegard ap269, which I still use, this juice I is just of lot of hype for average performer. Don't buy into this hype
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhfyagi View Post
The juice is the same preamp as direct antenna cpa19, I've used this amp before not impressed with its performance it would overload on my locals I'm about 10 miles from the esb Is not better than winegard ap269, which I still use, this juice I is just of lot of hype for average performer. Don't buy into this hype

The Juice is a replacement for the CPA19 according to ADTech and he can address the differences. I believe it has a different amplifier chip.

I never buy into the marketing hype and I'm always dubious of subjective claims by users. I go by lab measurements as often as possible. There are too many ways the end user can fool himself to put much stock in those claims good or bad.

I ran bench tests on the HDP269 which you can see here:

The Official AVS Antenna and Related Hardware Topic!

P1dB is +15 dBm on UHF which is a decent number but the Juice is +23 dBm as shown by the spec for the Macom amp that it uses. I don't know what P1dB was for the CPA19.

I don't know what your OTA setup is or how strong your local stations are but it's possible that the higher gain CPA19 was overloading your TV and the preamp was fine.
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Quote:
I wish they had given it a less marketing sounding name though.
I don't get invited to those types of meetings. If I did, I'd probably get tossed out for rolling my eyes inappropriately. Besides, both the names "Jolt" and "Boost XT" were already taken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uhfyagi View Post
The juice is the same preamp as direct antenna cpa19, I've used this amp before not impressed with its performance it would overload on my locals I'm about 10 miles from the esb Is not better than winegard ap269, which I still use, this juice I is just of lot of hype for average performer. Don't buy into this hype

Hmmm... Sorry the CPA19 didn't work out for you, but its use that close to the ESB with a high-gain antenna will assuredly overload the tuner, not the amp itself, as Calaveras correctly surmised. It can handle hotter signals than can an HDP-269 at the same IM level but, since the HDP-269 has about half the gain (and more than 2X the NF) as the CPA19, the HDP-269 didn't overload your tuner. The HDP also has half of an FM filter, so that might also help with preventing tuner overload. You'd have likely done just fine with a CPA19, a 10 dB attenuator at the output of the power inserter, and perhaps, an FM filter at the amp's input. This, of course, is assuming that you actually need a preamp in Queens which may be debatable.

No, it's isn't the "same" as the CPA19. In addition to the change in filtering described in the quoted post above, we switched the MAAMSS0060 (which was also used in the CPA19) from the 20 dB mode to the 17 dB (see spec sheet linked to above) thus giving it a 6 dB boost in top end dynamic range.

Hype? Overrated? Well, to paraphrase Cardinals Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean*, "It isn't hype if you can prove it". I've offered the lab test data above (and in the prviously quoted text from DHC) which substantiates our marketing claims.

Want some "overrated" "hype"? Here's a few for the aforementioned Jolt and Boost XT that cannot be substantiated in the lab in my tests:

Jolt** - Gain figure is way off, actually measures 18-22 dB, not the 15 dB printed on their packages. The newest version has only a sub-band filter (below 50 MHz), there is no other filtering, much less anything that would deserve to be called "Clean Peak". Their original version had an FM filter and what might have been a half-hearted attempt for one up around 930 MHz.

Boost XT*** - Ludicrous claims of signal handling capability (2 million micro-volts???), mis-stated noise figure (it's substantially higher than stated with very noticeable filter rolling in the expected pass band..

* St Louis Cardinal's pitcher Dizzy Dean was a member of the famous Gashouse Gang back in the 1930s. He was quoted as saying "It ain't bragging if ya can back it up". He won 30 games in the 1934 season, including two in the '34 World Series. The regular season was shorter and there weren't any division or league playoffs.

** The Jolt is on what appears to be it's third version. I found the first to be a respectably capable amplifier. Then, they got into Walmart and had to get the selling price of the Leaf and amplifier to 2/3rd of what is was before. The newest version of the amp is, in my opinion, a waste of materials. You can pick up an indoor amp from RCA from a nearby peg hook in the same 4' section in that aisle for about $17 that will run circles around the newest Jolt.

*** Not to be confused with the indoor-only Boost (LNA-100) which, like the original Jolt, is a respectably capable amplifier. Its 1 dB NF claim is correct, but it 1s a single-channel amplifier with no filtering to muck up the noise figure.

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post #15 of 19 Unread Today, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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The original Mohu Jolt amp performed much better than the current version. But the LNA100 from Winegard was the best performing inline amp.
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post #16 of 19 Unread Today, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Sounds like Juice amp may now be the best for overload and handling a mix of strong and weak signals. Which is ideal for those trying to receive both the local and distant markets. Which is what I was wanting to know. Only the Kitztech models may have lower noise, but may not handle overload as well. And they now have new KT-500 and 501 models to consider.
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Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post
The original Mohu Jolt amp performed much better than the current version. But the LNA100 from Winegard was the best performing inline amp.
Okay, so you've read my older reports and posts... although that wasn't exactly what I said.

Since you haven't done any technical testing or analysis on any of them, it might be best to leave the pronouncements to those who have.

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post #18 of 19 Unread Today, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADTech View Post
Okay, so you've read my older reports and posts... although that wasn't exactly what I said.

Since you haven't done any technical testing or analysis on any of them, it might be best to leave the pronouncements to those who have.
No analysis, just a consumer review. My report was based upon my own consumer experience, which may vary from location to location. No technical testing, just user experience. As I said, in my case, the original Mohu Jolt performed better than the newer version. But the Winegard LNA100 performed the best of all. Which may have somewhat supported your expert analysis, I don't know. But I returned both Jolts a while back and still have the LNA100. Although I was mainly seeking info on the Juice amp which sounds promising.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADTech View Post
As for the magic jelly bean inside, it uses this RF Amplifier chip in the 17 dB configuration: http://www.macom.com/products/product-detail/MAAMSS0060
Just as an FYI that you might be interested in, the current generation of Tin Lee preamps is using the RFHIC WL1008L:

http://www.rfhicusa.com/data/pdf/Hyb...015_WL2215.pdf

Their 16dB gain preamps use just the module and their 25/30 dB gain preamps add a transistor output stage.
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