Well...I wound up buying an HDHomeRun Dual. After playing around with it, I'm not really sure if the tuner is better than the one in my old HVR-2250 or not, but the included utility does seem to be more useful than the one that came with the Hauppauge card, and that made it easier for me to discover that the HDHomeRun was getting too much signal.
I have a big Channel Master outdoor antenna up about 20 feet. I'm only about 18 miles from the main transmitters, but this area is heavily wooded. The trees are 60 feet high, so the antenna is looking into a lot of trunks. The big antenna helps to narrow the pattern and reject noise off the sides. I also have an antenna-mounted preamp, mainly to offset line losses and minimize ingress into the coax. It all makes sense at some level, but it does result in a lot of signal, even after tapping and splitting for distribution.
I became aware early on that the Hauppauge tuner was more sensitive to overload than most of the other receivers that I had, but their monitoring software is less useful than HDHomeRun’s. I spent a lot of time fiddling with it and eventually wound up settling on a 10 dB attenuator. I’ve had sporadic problems with dropouts/freezing on the local NBC channel, and lately, it has seemed worse. I just assumed that it was because the aging Hauppauge card just couldn’t handle the multipath associated with all of the trees, so had the idea that maybe tuners had gotten better in the last five years. I thought maybe I could just throw a newer tuner at it and solve the problem that way.
After reading about the questionable results with the new HVR-2255, I just bought the HDHomeRun instead, since everyone seemed to be raving about it, and also because it was said to work with SageTV. Well, when I first hooked it up, the signal monitor was very revealing. All of the channels of interest were showing 100 percent signal, but some had quality percentages down in the fifties and sixties. Remembering my earlier experiences with the 2250, I got a handful of attenuators and started adding them in the line to the HDHR. As the signal levels started to fall below 100 percent, the quality scores started to rise. With most of the channels at 98 percent signal, the quality scores were also in the nineties. Admittedly, it is a trade-off because the very weak stations disappeared, but the majors became very solid.
I don’t have the equipment to do any definitive testing, but my sense is that these chip-based tuners just lack the selectivity and dynamic range that is needed to deal with widely varying signal levels from one station to the next. If SageTV had the capability, I might consider attenuating one tuner for the strong stations and using the second one (with less attenuation) for the weak stations. But AFAIK
, there is no way to get SageTV to use some particular tuner for a given station, so unless I find better server software (and thin clients to match), this may be the best I can hope for.
Anyway, I thought it might be worth mentioning that too much signal can be just as bad as not enough.