What is a launch amplifier?

Not something the average person would buy… but an important part of cable TV headends, apartment complex systems, and anywhere that TV distribution happens over a large area. A launch amplifier is a specific amplifier that works in commercial rack systems to keep TV and internet flowing.

I’ve said it before, an amplifier is an amplifier is an amplifier. The gods of amplification will not come down and smite you if you use the wrong one for the task. However, there are some kinds of amplifiers that are designed for very specific things, and a launch amplifier is one of them.

There are two things that make a launch amplifier so good at its job, which is distributing signals from a headend or master antenna. First, launch amplifiers have ridiculously high amplification levels, along the line of 50dB. Amplifiers designed for your roof-mounted antenna are often 10-20dB, and we’re talking 1,000 times more powerful than that. You’ll pay a lot for this amplifier because of the high-quality electronics and construction.

Why such high amplification levels? It’s expected that where this amplifier is used, there are going to be a lot of splitters, a lot of wire (including some poor quality stuff in the walls) and nowhere to put any other amplifiers. So, you pump up the signal to fairly ridiculous levels in the rack and it can survive all of that other stuff.

The other thing common to a launch amplifier is the return path. “Return path” is very important when internet comes on the same line as television. Obviously you wouldn’t have a very good experience if your internet went only one way… you couldn’t even type in an address if that were the case. So, cable modems put out a really strong signal designed to get back to the main equipment closet. It may not be strong enough though, which is why launch amplifiers actually amplify the signal going back to the central internet connection. They’re designed to keep all that information flowing both ways.

You may not ever need a launch amplifier, but if you do, you’ll find the one you need at Solid Signal. We have the best selection of commercial equipment for every need!

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.