Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big radio antenna test 2021. Here we present all the radio antennas we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best radio antenna for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a radio antenna.




The most important facts

  • Radio antennas take the reception of your device to a whole new level! Whether it's for TV, radio or radio, you'll definitely notice the difference and won't want to do without the additional device.
  • An important question that you should answer for yourself before making a purchase decision is for which device you want to use the antenna and which models are therefore suitable for you.
  • Depending on your needs, there are models for indoor or outdoor use. While some units can be placed in a convenient location for you, some need to be attached directly to the main unit.

The Best Radio Antenna: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a radio antenna

Which antenna is suitable for which application?

A big factor in choosing the ideal antenna is, of course, the main device you want to use it for.

You can find out which receiver is suitable for which device primarily from the product description or the operating instructions.

However, there are some technical standards you should be familiar with before making a choice.

DVB-T

The name DVB-T stands for Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial. You could translate this term as "digital video transmission" or "antenna television". It is a variant of radio transmission of digital radio and television signals via earth-bound paths.

This means that DVB-T-capable antennas are suitable for the reception of both radio and TV stations.

DVB-T2

Only a few years ago, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute introduced the successor to DVB-T under the term DVB-T2.

With this, it should now also be possible to receive stations in high-resolution quality or to transmit several programmes. This technology is also suitable for both radio and television broadcasting.

DAB+

The term DAB+ is also an abbreviation and stands for "Digital Audio Broadcasting", which means "digital processing of audio signals via antenna".

The "+" is intended to indicate the strong improvement in sound quality as well as the display of additional information, such as background knowledge on music titles or traffic data.

As the term "audio" in the name already suggests, DAB+ is exclusively for the transmission of radio and thus only suitable for radio devices.

Did you know that the first radio programme was broadcast on Christmas Eve?

The first radio programme began on Christmas Eve in 1906 with Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden. This was the first radio broadcast in history.

Which radio antenna is suitable for my car radio?

Before buying a radio antenna, it is always a good idea to read the operating instructions for your car radio to find out whether the device has to meet any special requirements.

Before buying a radio antenna, you should check the manual of your car radio to see if it has to meet any special requirements. (Image source: pixabay.com / 3dman_eu)

If you cannot find any information on this in the manual, you still have the option of reading up on the Internet and possibly asking users who own a similar model.

Normally, however, you are on the safe side if you choose an antenna from the same manufacturer as that of your car radio.

It is also always very helpful to watch YouTube tutorials that explain which antenna is suitable for your car radio and how to mount it.

Where should the radio antenna be mounted?

Where exactly the receiver is best placed depends entirely on the model and, of course, the device with which you want to use the antenna.

If you are looking for an antenna for a conventional radio or a television, the question is relatively easy to answer.

Most devices have an input for a so-called coaxial connector. This means that the antenna can either be plugged in directly or connected to your main unit from a distance of several metres using a longer cable.

This means that you are basically free to decide where to place the antenna, as long as the length of the connection cable allows it.

We recommend that you try out several locations until you find the one that gives you the best reception.

If you plan to use the antenna for a car radio, you must distinguish between the following types with regard to installation:

Rod antenna:

The so-called rod or whip antenna was often used, especially in older vehicles.

The ideal position depends on where the car's engine is located, since most of the current flows from it. If the drive section is recessed in the front of the car, the antenna input is in the rear.

Short rod antenna:

Because these receivers are no more than 50cm long, their name is probably very appropriate. Short rod antennas are always located on the roof of the vehicle and can be retracted and extended at the push of a button.

A major disadvantage of these mini antennas is that reception is often inadequate, resulting in unpleasant background noise.

Shark antenna:

The name of the model is also quite understandably chosen, as the shape is strongly reminiscent of a shark fin, in English "Shark".

This receiver is also attached to the car roof. The possibility of attaching several radio antennas at once eliminates the biggest disadvantage of the short rod antenna.

Windscreen antenna:

With this type of radio antenna, the heating rods of the rear window are used for transmission and reception.

The necessary electronic components are usually attached to one of the rear windows of the car. As a result, these models are usually barely visible.

Decision: What types of radio antennas are there and which is the right one for me?

Basically, a distinction is made between three different types of antenna:

  • Omnidirectional antennas
  • Directional antennas
  • Sector antennas
  • Antenna systems

Since each type of antenna has different functions and thus advantages and disadvantages, we will explain in the following section what exactly is involved so that you can decide on the right antenna for your purchase.

What are the characteristics of an omnidirectional antenna and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Omnidirectional antennas, or simply omnidirectional antennas, radiate electromagnetic waves in all directions. This gives them the advantage of not having to be pointed in a specific direction of a transmitter.

Advantages
  • Flexible
  • Suitable for the car radio
Disadvantages
  • Interfering signals are received more easily

It is therefore particularly advantageous for handheld radios or other mobile radio transmitters or receivers such as the car radio.

An omnidirectional antenna must be mounted vertically. Known omnidirectional antennas are, for example, the rod antennas.

What are the characteristics of a directional antenna and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Directional antennas radiate electromagnetic waves in a specific direction.

Due to the strong bundling of the energy in a single narrow beam, the antenna has a high antenna gain and is able to receive even distant transmitters.

The specific directivity attenuates interfering signals that lie outside this direction. The directional antenna can be mounted horizontally or vertically.

However, if the antenna is mounted horizontally, make sure that the opposite pole, i.e. the other transmitter to which the antenna is directed, is also mounted horizontally. Otherwise there may be interference with the reception of the broadcast.

Advantages
  • Less interference signals
  • Many transmitters can be received
Disadvantages
  • Inflexible
  • Unsuitable for mobile locations

The best-known directional antennas are for TV and radio equipment in the home, for example the parabolic antenna, known colloquially as the "satellite dish".

What are the characteristics of a sector antenna and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Strictly speaking, sector antennas are directional antennas. Nevertheless, they have the special feature of a larger aperture angle. Sector antennas are also oriented towards horizontal polarisation.

Advantages
  • Larger beam angle
  • Long range
Disadvantages
  • Rather unsuitable for mobile locations

Usually several sector antennas are mounted on a mast so that they illuminate in different directions. This means that such antenna constructions also have a long range.

What distinguishes an antenna system and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Nowadays, there is often the problem that the network or radio can't quite keep up when we are on the road with the car. That's why there are antenna systems for the car. They can be easily installed in any plastic roof.

If, for example, you are going on a long drive, the passenger wants to surf the Internet, the radio should be on or you just want to make a quick phone call while you are on the road, you need good reception.

Advantages
  • All network and data services
  • Installation in almost any car roof
  • Connection for mobile phones
Disadvantages
  • Installation quite complex
  • Relatively expensive

To find the right radio antenna for you, you should know in advance the location you need it for and how many stations you want to receive. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and find out which antenna suits your location.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate radio antennas based on these factors

Is it worthwhile for me to invest in an antenna in addition to my main set? If so, which one is right for me?

To make it easier for you to answer these questions, we have listed the most important buying criteria below and described them in more detail.

Before making a decision, you should research these points in particular:

  • Item weight
  • Antenna length
  • Length of connection cable
  • Mounting location
  • Mounting type
  • Frequency range
  • Power supply
  • Suitability for DAB+, FM and AM

In the following article, you can read what is meant by these criteria and what you should pay attention to when evaluating the product.

Weight of the item / length of the antenna / length of the connection cable

When it comes to the dimensions of a radio antenna, it is not primarily the functional but rather the aesthetic aspects that are important.

The reason for this is that most of them have to be fixed or placed in such a way that they are quite obviously visible.

Besides a design that appeals to you, however, there are a few small things that you should pay attention to before buying.

The antenna length, for example, is definitely one of them. To a certain extent, the quality of the reception depends on it.

The smaller and more inconspicuous it is, the more the signal usually leaves something to be desired.

With some very short models, however, it is possible to install several antennas at the same time, so that this side effect can be counteracted.

You should also consider the length of the connection cable when deciding on the perfect product.

Depending on the recommended location of the antenna, you may need a longer cable or a relatively short one may be sufficient. For this, it is best to read the operating instructions or contact the manufacturer.

Mounting location

The place where and the way you mount the radio antenna also play an important role in the purchase decision.

If you want to use the antenna to receive a large number of stations on your radio or television, there are basically two options for mounting it.

Radio antennas that are intended for outdoor use are usually mounted on house roofs.

This variation has two major advantages. Because they are placed relatively high up and are not restricted by thick walls, the quality of reception is usually many times better.

The antenna would also be out of sight and you wouldn't have to worry about a fancy design or undecorative cables.

Large radio antennas work just like the small ones. (Image source: (pixabay.com / ResoneTIC)

However, most models are designed for indoor use. The practical thing about these antennas is that you can easily take them off and put them back on again at any time, so they can be used for many different devices.

If you plan to use the antenna for a car radio, you must again distinguish between outdoor and indoor installation:

By far the most common location for a radio antenna is on the roof of the car. The big advantage here is that the reception is usually much better and it does not take up any space inside the driver's cabin.

Many models should be placed as close as possible to the car radio itself, i.e. in the front area of the vehicle interior. The disadvantage, as already described, is that reception can suffer and it takes up space inside the cabin. However, the antenna is not visible from the outside.

So-called windscreen antennas are becoming increasingly popular. As the name suggests, they are attached to the rear window of your car and therefore neither take up space in the interior nor disturb the overall appearance of your vehicle.

A major disadvantage of these practically invisible radio antennas, however, is that reception is very poor. The general rule is: the smaller the antenna, the poorer the signal.

No matter what you want to use your radio antenna for, it is always worthwhile to mount it outdoors, as this guarantees better reception and is not impaired by walls or obstacles.

Mounting method

There are many different ways to mount radio antennas. There are models with a screw thread, magnetic base or double-sided adhesive foil with which you can attach the receiver directly to the radio.

A common variant is also the coaxial connector. This is used for the detachable connection of different cables.

Frequency range

The term frequency range refers to a specific sequence of the spectrum of electromagnetic waves. These are mainly used for technical communication.

The modulation type FM (frequency modulation) is used for ultra-short wave radio, where the waves are in a range between 30 MHz and 300 MHz.

FM enables sound signals to be transmitted with less susceptibility to interference, as it is less sensitive to atmospheric effects than the AM modulation type.

The abbreviation AM stands for amplitude modulation and is used for signals in the long, medium and short wave range. The waves move in a range between 0 Hz and 4.5 KHz.

Power supply

Conveniently, most radio antennas only consume passive power and therefore do not require their own power supply.

You can find information on this in the operating instructions of each device or, usually, on the Internet without much searching. However, if this is not the case, the power supply is provided by a separate cable or a battery.

Is the radio antenna suitable for DAB+, FM and AM?

The terms FM (frequency modulation) and AM (amplitude modulation) have already been explained in more detail above. FM is used for broadcasting via ultra-short wave. In Europe, this is the most widespread variant because the signals are less susceptible to interference.

AM, on the other hand, supports the reception of short, medium and long waves. DAB+ is short for Digital Audio Broadcast, with the "+" indicating the more advanced standard of transmission technology.

The introduction of this digital form of radio reception has made it possible to broadcast more programmes over a wider range. You must decide for yourself which of these functions are important to you and should be fulfilled by your radio antenna.

Summary

To make your purchase decision easier, we have summarised the most important purchase criteria that you should consider before buying a radio antenna in the following table:

Criteria Why is this important?
Article dimensions This is not only about aesthetic aspects. Above all, the length of the antenna is decisive for its quality. Longer antennas usually have better reception. You should also consider the length of the connection cable.
Installation location Whether for the radio in the car or for a radio or TV in the house - the following applies: The higher and more unrestricted an antenna is placed, the better the reception. House walls or other obstacles can reduce reception.
Mounting method There are, for example, screw thread, magnetic base or double-sided adhesive foil with which you can attach the receiver directly to the radio. A common variant is also the coaxial plug.
Power supply Radio antennas only consume passive power and therefore usually do not need a power supply. However, there are also antennas that work with a battery or a power cable.
Frequency range A distinction is made here between the modulation types FM and AM. FM is the most widespread variant in Europe and basically enables sound signals to be transmitted with less susceptibility to interference because it is less sensitive to atmospheric effects.
Suitability for DAB+, FM and AM These functions always involve the reception of programmes. DAB+ is a more advanced standard of transmission technology that broadcasts more programmes over a greater range. Not all antennas have this function.

Image source: unsplash.com / Daniel von Appen

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