A coaxial amplifier is a device designed to improve the strength of a weak television signal. It may also be necessary to use a coaxial amplifier where a user has split a signal from one antenna to cover multiple television sets. The amplifier should be placed as close to the antenna as possible, preferably at the point where it enters the home.
Another situation which might require a coaxial amplifier is where the user has a particularly lengthy cable run between an antenna and a TV set. One example might be somebody who has an antenna on the rooftop of a separate building such as a garage. Using an amplifier can counteract the degradation of the signal which occurs when it is carried over a long run of coaxial cable, which doesn't do a particularly good job of maintaining a signal.
It's important to remember that a coaxial amplifier merely makes the best of the existing situation with the signal. Before resorting to an amplifier, it is worth checking if the problem can be solved by other methods. These include checking the antenna for damage and making sure it is correctly positioned to pick up the strongest possible signal.
It's also possible for a home to be in a location which picks up a signal which is too strong rather than too weak. This can also cause interference, for example by one channel "leaking into" another. The solution to this problem is an attenuator, which reduces the power of the signal without distorting its waveform.
In most cases, a coaxial amplifier is only used for over-the-air signals received through a traditional antenna. In theory, it could also be used for satellite and cable signals. In practice these signals are less likely to vary enough by location to require amplification. There can also be problems using an amplifier on some cable set-ups, as this can limit or remove the ability to send signals in the reverse direction, such as when ordering a pay-per-view event via the remote control.
A coaxial amplifier should not be confused with the features available in a surround sound receiver. This is a device used to produce multi-channel audio for a variety of audio inputs. It does usually include some form of amplifier. It also usually has two types of audio connection, known as coaxial and optical. These terms refer solely to audio, whereas a coaxial amplifier deals with television signals.