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FM Sensitivity

Car Audio, Video, & GPS

Car Audio, Video, & GPS
Talk about stereos, navigation, amps, subs, and all things car audio

FM Sensitivity

  • The FM Sensitivity of some HU's is as low as 9 dBf and some HU's have it as high as 15 dBf. As far as I know, lower the value, better it is. If I buy a HU with higher FM Sensitivity, can I improve the radio reception by connecting the HU to a power antenna?

  • Okay this is hard to explain.

    A power antenna is merely an antenna that goes up and down.  If it is longer than your current antenna it could help, or you could get an amplified antenna or an antenna booster.  These will help in providing a stronger signal to the tuner but some people say they just make the signal louder (including the static), so I wouldn't personally buy a poor tuner and assume that the signal booster would compensate for it.

    I take the FM sensitivity specs with a grain of salt in general lower is better, but I have seen/had:

    JVC - lackluster specs (usually around 11), lackluster FM reception (this was in the early 80's and they have undoubtedly improved since then, though)

    Blaupunkt - Awful specs (usually around 18).  Never owned one, scared of them b/c of this, but have talked with people that had them and said they worked just fine.

    Kenwood - Had a cd deck in the early 2000's - specs were around 9 - worst tuner I ever had, worse than the factory HU it replaced (might have just gotten a lemon with that particular one).

    Alpine/Sony - Both around 8 or 9 - Both generally seem to do pretty well.

    Pioneer - Usually around 8 now.  Had a Pioneer cassette in the late 80's, which was likely around 10 or 11 - Best FM reception I ever had (to date, not counting my current HD setup, which really isn't a fair comparison).  Not so much in how it was in the driveway or the showroom, but the way the S/N and signal state pretty much constant as you were driving around with the unit).

    Not the simple answer you wanted, but hope it helps! 

     

     

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Well, you answered my question bang on. If I understand correctly, power antenna or boosters may provide assistance while driving at locations that have poor signal but are not going to bridge the gap if the tuner has poor FM Sensitivity.

    And that sampling of different HU's is the xtra mile. Thank you so much.

  • akbaree:
    Well, you answered my question bang on. If I understand correctly, power antenna or boosters may provide assistance while driving at locations that have poor signal but are not going to bridge the gap if the tuner has poor FM Sensitivity.

    In my experience that is correct.

    Also, another thing to consider is sensitivity is the ablility of the the tuner to pick up and lock onto a distant signal.  Unless you are in a really rural area, that is rarely what you are trying to do.  The are other specs like channel separation (the ability to cleanly keep the left channel and right channel stereo signals separate), selectivity (the ability to lock onto a weak signal in the presence of neighboring strong signals (97.5 is 100,000W and 25 miles away, but you want to listen to 97.3 with is 50,000W and 40 miles away - much more common in urban environments), RF rejection/Multipath rejection (which I think basically means the ability to pick out the direct signal from a signal reflected off a building - also important in an urban environment), but these specs are barely even published anymore, much less compared.

    More than you wanted to know, probably. 

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs