AM Reception Tips

The first thing to consider if you're getting poor AM reception is the building around you. Brick, cement and metal-framed structures can impede AM reception indoors. This includes signals you might easily be able to pick up in your car. If you're listening in a building that blocks reception or causes a lot of interference, don't despair. There are some things you can do - particularly if you have access to the area outside your listening space.

If you have a portable radio, install some some batteries in it and use it to find out where you get the best reception. Tune to a weak station and just walk around your listening area until you get the least interference. That might give you an ideal spot to set your radio. If that doesn't work, you can also try attaching an external antenna to your radio. Though some radios, like the CCRadio-2E, the CCRadio-SW or the CCRadio-EP come equipped with excellent AM antennas, many do not. Those radios, and even home stereos, might call for some additional hardware like an external wire antenna.

One of the easiest ways to improve your AM reception would be to get your hands on the Twin Coil Ferrite® AM Antenna. It has a twin coil ferrite inside the antenna, and it boosts reception enough to pick up stations you normally wouldn't receive at all. Still, even if you have a Twin Coil Ferrite AM Antenna, there are still things to keep in mind when trying to reduce interference.

Dimmer switches, computers, hair dryers, fluorescent lights of any kind, street lights and power lines (among many other electrical things) can interfere with your radio reception. To find out if your reception is being compromised by something plugged into your AC, you could try disconnecting things one by one, and seeing how much that reduces the interference. If you find a major culprit, you may just want to run our radio on batteries, or even plug it into another outlet somewhere in the room. If you have to keep the radio where it is, use a radio noise filter/surge protector to filter out some of the noise.

When trying to improve radio reception, you should also keep in mind some things about AM radio listening in general. The ferrite rod in your radio works best when it is perpendicular to the AM signal you're trying to capture. This means you can sometimes improve you're radio reception just by turning your radio on it's axis until you get better reception. You may also want to learn more about the station(s) to which you're listening. While AM reception, by nature, is much improved at night, some stations broadcast only during the day, while others are required by the FCC to reduce their AM power and/or to transmit their signal in a specific direction - i.e. from north to south, or east to west. That means sometimes you're location might be the biggest problem with receiving a station you could easily hear just a few miles away; either in your car or at a friend's house.

Finally, one of the best tools to use when trying to tune in to a specific station is a radio with a digital display. Unlike a radio with an analog dial, a digital display can tell you exactly which station you have tuned-in and it can also make it easier to fine-tune a very weak signal.

So you see, AM reception is situational and can call for a lot of trial and error experimentation in your listening area. This information is by no means exhaustive, and it's meant merely to give you some guidelines in how to improve your radio listening. If you have some suggestions that you would like to pass on to other readers, please send them our way. Well post them in a follow-up article sometime in the near future. We are especially interested in any home-made solutions you might have come up with for improving AM reception - stuff like running a wire from your radio to a tree outside your house (grounded for lightning, of course!).

As always, please contact us with any comments or article suggestions you might have.

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