NICE AND EASY: What is a headend?

In old train jargon, a “headend” is where all the trains go to, and where they all come from. When it comes to television, a headend system is very much the same thing. Let’s take a look at the term “headend” and what a headend system is.

A headend is a system that collects the signal from antennas, cable or satellite receivers, and then gets it ready to be sent over a single wire to a bunch of different places. Think about a hotel where you get about 15-20 channels and they are all tuned using the TV. That’s a headend system — somewhere in the hotel is a rack full of equipment, making all that happen.

The key part of a headend system is the modulator. A modulator is a bigger, fancier version of the device that used to be in VCRs or videogames that let the signal show on channel 3 of your TV. A modulator is a little fancier than that because it has to build several channels into what’s called a QAM (pronounced “kwam.”) This system lets you control the quality of the channels as well as how many there are. The better quality you want, the fewer channels you get.

A good HD headend system can be costly, but once installed it is very reliable and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. If you’re looking for a headend system, call Signal Connect at 866.726.4182.