Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

To Thom Moon,

I have a 7.1 Sony home-theater speaker system, Sony STR-DN 1000 A/V receiver, and want to install a good FM antenna in my attic above the receiver. I live about 25 miles northwest of midtown Manhattan. Do you have any suggestions and reviews?

Steve Wolff

So long as you don’t have foil-faced insulation in your attic, that will be a good place to install it. However, before you mount the antenna permanently, move the antenna around the attic (both vertically and horizontally) to find the best reception -- FM signals are odd creatures that can vary in strength by 50 percent or more over the distance of two or three feet. Multipath interference also can vary greatly over a short distance.

At your distance from Manhattan, you have a number of choices. You probably can get away with a simple omni-directional antenna such as Winegard’s HD-6010 or Antennacraft’s FMSS. You'll need about 5.5'-diameter clear to mount either unit. Each antenna is between $25-$30 plus another $10-$20 for mounting hardware. With these, you'll also need to purchase some RG-6 coax and F connectors.

If your space is limited on the horizontal plane, but you have a rather tall attic, you could go with one of the vertical omni antennas such as the Magnum Dynalab ST-2 or Fanfare FM-2G. Both require little room around them; they do need some vertical space, though, as both are about 56" high. However, each runs about $110, so they are a lot more expensive. On the plus side, both appear to come with 25' lengths of terminated RG-6 coax.

Less satisfactory than either of the above types is the passive “antenna in a box,” typified by the Godar FM-1A. Its trapezoidal shape is compact: 17” x 9.5” x 1”. It’s not as sensitive as the dipole or vertical types but it takes up very little room. According to the map, you location seems to be about 140’ above sea level and appears to have a shot to the transmitting antennae on the Empire State without any obstruction, so the Godar might work. It costs about $60; you'll also need RG-6 coax. . . . Thom Moon