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What are FM Antennas?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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FM antennas are designed to pull in the signal of FM radio stations. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor FM antennas available. The type of antenna that will produce the best result depends upon many factors including the distance to the broadcasting tower, intervening obstacles like mountains or buildings, and local interference.

For the average metropolitan listener, many experts assert that a common dipole wire antenna will provide excellent reception in most cases. Receivers often come with free dipole FM antennas. The 300ohm copper wire is encased in a pink plastic strip with leads running along both edges. The length of the vertical tail is unimportant but is commonly a few feet, ending at a junction with two perpendicular arms, forming a "T" configuration. The arms measure 2'4" (75cm) each, for a total crossbar length of 4'9" (150cm). This is the ideal length for receiving the FM band.

Generally, the higher FM antennas are placed, the better the reception. Some people choose to affix the crossbar to a lathe in order to keep it rigid and make it easier to mount to the wall. If your receiver is in an entertainment center, you may be able to hide the antenna by mounting it at the highest point on the back of the center. Check the reception before permanently installing it. If possible, the best angle is perpendicular to the direction of the broadcasting tower. For example, if the station is located due north of your position, the ends of the crossbar should ideally point east-west.

Many factors can cause interference in FM signals, particularly in suburban areas. This can lessen signal strength and cause crosstalk or static. Some indoor FM antennas are promoted as amplifying the FM signal, but commonly this results in amplifying interference as well, canceling the benefit.

If your location is rural or otherwise blocked, you may require a stronger antenna with more gain. For increased reception, FM antennas can be mounted on the roof. Outdoor FM antennas resemble television antennas, and some have multiple elements. The unidirectional multi-element antennas provide the best results, according to many experts. Some common names for these FM antennas are yagis, collinears and log periodics. These FM antennas are mounted high on a mast.

FM antennas bring forth the power and clarity of tuners for maximum listening pleasure. If you've been putting up with poor reception, see an expert to find out which FM antennas might be right for you.

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Discussion Comments
By MissDaphne — On Sep 25, 2011

How different are the different kinds of antennas? I used to have this little 14-inch TV/VCR from the standard definition, CRT era. For some reason, one of its features was an FM radio antenna; you could use your TV to listen to the radio, should you have some reason for wanting to do such a thing. It looked like the kind of antenna that comes on a small boombox, the silver telescoping kind that rotates from its installation point.

Later, though, I discovered that I could pick up strong TV stations using that antenna. If it wasn't installed, I just got static.

So is the basic idea of an antenna pretty much the same for all antennas? But then different shapes and materials are ideal for different purposes? For instance, someone else in the same house had rabbit ears and got better reception than I did with the FM radio antenna.

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