How important is “perfect aim” for an antenna?

At Solid Signal, we get asked this question a lot. People ask how much time they should spend aiming, or what they can do if they can’t aim directly at all the stations they want. They may have realized there’s a building between them and the towers, or they may have stations that broadcast from different places. So how important is that elusive “perfect aim?

Not as important as you think. Here’s why.

One of the key measurements on an antenna is “beam width,” which describes how far off of that “perfect aim” you can be without losing signal. Even an antenna with a relatively narrow beam width like this top-of-the-line Televes DATBOSS Mix LR can still cover a 27 degree swath of sky, meaning that it can be up to 13.5 degrees off axis in either direction and still get satisfying signal.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to aim as best you can, but a TV antenna is expected to pull in signals from many different towers and unless you’re in a city where all the towers are in more or less the same place (like New York City or Los Angeles), you’re going to get good signal from some and bad signal from others. It’s going to be a compromise, and an antenna with a nice wide beam width is going to help.

If you’re looking for something that really helps you get signals from virtually anywhere, you can try an omnidirectional antenna which doesn’t need aiming. These antennas are generally only good for relatively short range, so if you want to really get distant signals from a lot of directions you’ll need something like this Xtreme Signal HDTV 8 Bay Bowtie Outdoor TV Antenna 60 Mile VHF/UHF (HDB8X) which can adjust to cover an almost 180 degree stretch of sky, and pick up UHF signals from almost 60 miles.

Fine-tune if you can

Of course you want the best possible result in all weather conditions. The best way to do that is to take a little time and effort to fine-tune. Most of the time you’ll be able to get great results. Not just on one channel, but with almost every channel with just a little bit of time spent. On the other hand, what if you’re one of those people who really chases the best possible signal numbers? Be prepared to work for them. On the other hand, you might realize that you really don’t need to spend all that time. Even with an imperfect aim, you can get good reception that doesn’t break up. I mean, that’s really what we’re all looking for, right?

Check out Solid Signal for the best antennas

You won’t find a better-curated selection of antennas. Shop at Solid Signal for the antenna you really need. If you’re not sure what you need, fill out this form. You’ll get a recommendation from a real tech (not a bot) or call use during East Coast business hours. The number is 888-233-7563. Yes it’s true you can buy antennas on other web sites, but why would you? This is the place where you’ll find the best, so why bother with the rest?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.