AM Radio Reception – How to boost your reception

A 5 minute lesson on how you can dramatically increase your AM Radio’s signal, get rid of that horrible noise and static, and a look at what could be causing your problems.
RadioLabs has multiple ways to simply increase the receiver signal on any portable or home receiver, with our AM Radio Antenna, and killing the source of your noise.
By Chris Justice – Chief Engineer – RadioLabs
Old Time Radio station - The beginning of AM Radio!

Original AM Radio Broadcast station showing transmitter

AM Radio Reception Problems? – Boosting the reception on any AM Radio

Increasing the reception of your AM Radio seems like it’s an old topic, especially now with internet  here. Why not just listen to the internet? Because AM Radio is easy, the oldest form of radio transmission, doesn’t require dragging a computer along with you and consumes far less energy than that big desktop or notebook computer. AM Radios are portable and with the right AM antenna, you can listen to long distance radio stations, especially at night!

AM Radio Booster Antenna - Increases the signal on all AM Radios

This AM Radio antenna, Boosts the signal of any portable or home receiver. Incredible increase in range and clarity.

AM Radio signal is weak – How do I boost my signal?

You hear the advertisements for the high performance radios all the time, but in reality, any small radio, even low performance portable radios can benefit from just a simple antenna, reducing the noise of your radio, or getting the radio into a better location. In fact, a $30 antenna can increase your radio even more than with the highest end AM Radio receiver. That’s because the gain of the antenna is more than the radio itself can possibly receive in the first place.
As the design engineer for one of the most advertised radio on the market you hear on the radio all the time, RadioLabs’ engineer designed that radio, and can tell you that simply adding an AM Radio Antenna to any portable receiver and tuning the antenna, then simply placing it behind ANY portable radio, will improve the signal far more than the larger ferrite rod antenna inside of those portable radios. So, before you spend almost $200 on a radio, that’s advertised as the best, you can increase your signal far more, by using our AM Radio Antenna shown to the right! In DB and engineering terms, our AM Radio Antenna booster, either the AN-200, or the AN-100 (lower priced for portable receivers only) will increase the signal approximately 6x more than that radio you hear advertised all over. I know.. because I designed that radio myself and know it very well. So, for under $40, you can have more reception than the old radio I designed and is still advertised world wide.

What Causes AM Radio Noise – How do I increase my reception?

Let’s look at the first culprit. Radio Noise! Radio noise is horrible, because if you put a large antenna on your radio, it not only increases the signal, but it increases the noise generated by manmade devices. So, that computer, the monitor, your high definition TV, or fluorescent light bulbs are some of the first culprits to look at. Previously, I wrote an article on Radio Noise Problems , so I won’t cover that topic in this article in depth.. but the best AM Antenna in the world will not reduce the noise from electronic devices, so this must be solved first! Read my other article, then come back here if you need to. Go to Radio Noise article

Point your radio towards the signal

Portable Radios are directional – Point the receiver’s back, or front, towards the AM Radio Station you plan on listening to. Adding our AM Radio Antenna, radically increases the range and signal of any portable or home receiver.

Relocating the radio is the best solution if you insist on keeping that Plasma TV running. Try listening to the radio in the back of your house, or your garage. If this simply won’t work and you can’t relocate, I would simply suggest an AM Radio Antenna to bring the incoming signal of your radio up to a suitable level. Most AM Radio antennas are inexpensive, simple to operate and will radically increase the power of your radio to levels you never imagined.

Antennas for AM reception are either active, or Passive, requiring no power at all. Our AM Radio Antenna is Passive (not requiring a battery or power). Because the way they are designed, they are usually directional and you can physically point the antenna towards the signal. The best type of AM antennas have a tuning knob like the AN-100, so you can simply tune the antenna to the desired station you are trying to receive. This not only increases AM radio signal because you are tuning the properties of the look, but it also creates a a tuned signal that will actually help eliminate offending signals (overlapping stations) because it tuned the signal to the station you are listening to and reduces the other stations in contrast. Nice to get those two benefits at the same time with one product!

Fine Tuning Your AM Antenna’s Reception

Besides tuning the antenna to the desired station, the second and probably most important thing is pointing the antenna directly at the station. Let me explain – Most (but not all) AM Radios have a ferrite rod, usually located towards the top of the radio. It is a strange antenna, because it has properties in it that pick up the signal and surrounding noise very good. (Don’t believe me, take your TV remote control and hold it up to the back of the radio… push a button, you will hear the small diode inside of the remote causing noise Inductively through the radio.) This effect is created, because the AM Antenna in the back of the radio is just a large coil of wire, basically a signal magnet. The same thing that creates this field, also makes the portable radio directional and you can point it directly towards the radio station to increase your signal. So, the AM Antennas work the same, but by placing this antenna at the back of your radio, tuning the antenna to the desired station and then, turning the antenna towards the station, you will get unbeatable reception! Look at the diagram below for examples of how this is performed.

Directional AM Antenna - Pointing it

Ok, if you have a good AM Antenna, you have the antenna tuned to the station, you have it pointed directly at the AM station and you still have noise, well, that’s because most likely you are pointing the radio, the AM antenna, or both, directly at the source of the noise.

AM Radio noise - don't point it at the source!

Last, find yourself a good radio, with even better filters. This is important, especially if you have radio noise. Wait Chris, you said that the radio doesn’t matter… now you’re talking in circles.. what gives? Well, sorry, this is the special hidden factor (the radio). If everything else I wrote above somehow doesn’t seem to improve your reception and you’ve isolated all of your noise, you should purchase, obtain, rent or pilfer a good quality AM radio. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE GOOD FILTERS, this is the most important thing. Just don’t go spend your money and purchase another radio, because you have basically wasted your hard earned cash. RadioLabs | ATS-909X ClearMod has special filters, which reduce the incoming noise on not only AM, but Shortwave as well. The small ceramic filters inside of radios do a lot to prevent or dramatically reduce the ambient noise coming into your radios antenna. RadioLabs purposely developed the radio, with special, higher performance filters, to reduce the noise and help eliminate buzz, static, pops and whines. Only buy a radio as a last resort when trying to increase your AM Reception. If you simply want to get a new radio, because your old clunker just doesn’t work as well as it used to, I would suggest seriously looking at the following (listed in terms of cost, reception and filter capability)

Sangean ATS-405 (Excellent reception. Great for daytime or nighttime listening. Works better than all advertised radios, when using our AM Antenna)
RadioLabs 909X ClearMod DSP Receiver! (really cool because we modify it and it has the best filters of all the other radios listed.… oh, and we modify it.)

The best sounding, most Hi-Fi radio in the world is pointless without proper AM reception. After all, what good is it to have the best sounding radio in the world, when all you can listen to is High Fidelity noise? Don’t buy a radio for it’s sound quality, if you are addicted to AM Radio listening. It’s like putting gold-plated wheels on a 1978 station wagon! Pointless!

That’s about it for now. If you have any questions, as always, please feel free to contact us below on the chat form. We answer our incoming chat, 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

Until next time…. Take Care….. Chris


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