Antennas Direct DB8e Review

By Greg Martinez / November 4, 2019

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If you live somewhat outside of an urban area, you might be looking for a high-gain antenna that picks up stations within a wide reception angle.

In that’s the case, the Antennas Direct DB8e might be worth considering. Coming in at a whopping 17.4 dBi, this has one of the highest gains of any antenna I’ve reviewed.

It’s comprised of two 4-element panels that can be individually oriented towards different transmission towers, increasing its reception width.

Offering a stated range of 70 miles, its bowtie design means it receives television signals on UHF frequencies only. For receiving VHF, Antennas Direct offers a special element for picking up VHF signals (see below).

What’s Included?

Although this antenna is multidirectional and picks up stations within a wide beam angle, you’re still going to need to correctly aim it during installation.

It comes with neither a mast nor a preamplifier, so you’ll purchase these separately as needed.

The DB8e has a weatherproof, sturdy frame that offers a low wind profile. The plastic components are UV resistant, and its two external coaxial cable connectors are protected by “rubber boots.”

Both large reflector panels — basically the aluminium mesh comprising the antenna’s surface area — focus the antenna’s reception power for added range while minimizing multipath interference.

Notice that the panels are attached to a central cross bar allowing for individual tilting of both panels.

As a multidirectional antenna, the DB8e should pick up surrounding towers within an arc of up to 180 degrees.

Frequency and Channel Types

The antenna provides broad-spectrum reception of UHF channels. It’s also compatible with many HDTV and converter box types, and supports full HD 1080p picture quality.

If a television station near you broadcasts on a high or low VHF frequency (47-68 MHz, 174-216 MHz), you may consider purchasing Antenna Direct’s VHF-1 Dipole Kit, which you can attach directly on the antenna.

Installing the Antennas Direct DB8e HDTV Antenna

Assembly

Assembly is rather involved and requires tools, but isn’t onerous for the average user.

The antenna uses three coaxial cables. Two of these (for attaching each of the two panels to the central signal combiner on the cross bar mount) are supplied with the antenna.

You must purchase the third cable (which runs from the antenna to your TV) separately. Alternatively, if your home is already wired for satellite TV, you can use this existing coaxial.

As previously mentioned, antenna assembly requires some tools, namely a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench for assembling the elements and attaching them to the central cross bar mount.

For the average user, I’d estimate assembly time for the antenna to be around 20 minutes.

Installation

The antenna also comes with a heavy-duty U clamp, which allows you to attach the antenna to a mast of up to two inches in diameter. Due to the antenna’s size, you should secure both it and the mast firmly to prevent swaying (which can affect reception) during wind gusts.

The antenna itself is sturdily built and doesn’t break or bend easily.

Antennas Direct recommends its own 30-inch universal J mount as a mast (a 40-inch J mount is also available).

If mounting on a mast make sure the mast is perfectly vertical, using a carpenter’s level tool, or with the level feature of software like the iPhone Measure app.

Orienting the Antenna

The antenna is line of sight, meaning you must properly orient it towards transmission towers. On TVFool.com, you can use the magnetic azimuth heading of towers to aim the antenna with a compass or compass smartphone app.

Don’t forget that you must aim the front of the antenna — the side with the black plastic elements — towards towers.

Signal Reception

Once correctly set up, run a channel scan to “import” received channels into your TV or set-top box’s memory.

The channels received will depend on your local reception conditions and it may be necessary to reposition the antenna to increase reception.

You can also check out my article on boosting your TV antenna’s signal for more information.

The antenna doesn’t come with a preamplifier but you may need to install one separately in case reception is poor due to:

  • Tower distance (greater than 20 miles)
  • A long coaxial cable (longer than 50 feet)
  • Usage of a splitter to hook up more than two televisions

If you’re installing a preamplifier, you should place it as close to the antenna as possible, if not directly on the mast.

Keep in mind though, that a preamplifier isn’t a magical solution to receiving all channels. It just enhances the gain of the signal along the coaxial cable and may increase the number of channels by 10-20%.

Pros

  • High antenna gain and broad reception of UHF signals (470-698 MHz)
  • High antenna gain and broad reception of UHF signals (470-698 MHz)
  • Doesn’t need a preamplifier in most situations

Cons

  • No VHF reception (separate element for receiving VHF available)

Summary

The Antennas Direct DB8e is one of the most impressive I’ve seen in terms of reception power and beam angle.

The fact you can swivel and aim each of the two panels separately is a big plus in my eyes, and may increase your stations somewhat more than what you may otherwise get with a rigidly designed frame.

I definitely like the sturdy, weatherproof design that provides stable reception even during winds and rain. Antennas Direct is a reputable company and the support materials on their website are among the most thorough you’ll find.

NOTE: For a comparable product that’s similarly multidirectional and from the same manufacturer, you might want to check out the Antennas Direct 8DXB.

Antennas Direct DB8e Manual

Here’s the installation manual in case you want more information about the antenna and how it’s set up. The manufacturer’s website also contains interesting information such as technical specs and an instructional video.

Specs

Design

Direction

Multidirectional

Coaxial cable length (feet)

 

Dimensions in inches (H x W x L)

48 x 36 x 6

Preamplifier

 

Our rating

4.5 / 5

Reception

Antenna range (miles)

70

Channels

Full HD (1080p)

Frequencies

UHF only

Help & Support

Warranty

Lifetime

Email support

 

Phone support

 
12comments
Amy Schlamp - June 6, 2019

I’m planning to buy an antenna but Im deciding between the wineguard, clearchoice or bowtie antennas. any advice?

Reply
    Greg Martinez - June 6, 2019

    Hi Amy, the right antenna for you and will depend on the local strength of TV signals, the locations of nearby broadcast transmitters, and at what frequencies your TV channels are coming in. Have a look at this article for more info. Good luck!

    Reply
Stephanie B. - July 1, 2019

We live in an area where we get a lot of thunder storms and lightning. Is it advisable to install this antenna outdoors? Sadly, I don’t have enough space in my attic.

Reply
    Greg Martinez - July 1, 2019

    Of course! As long as you ground it.

    Reply
Aizrec - July 12, 2019

Will this work for me even if I live on the bottom floor of an apartment, surrounded by other apartments? Any advice?

Reply
    Greg Martinez - July 12, 2019

    Hi Aizrec, I would say not because of the other buildings blocking reception. It might be you get a few channels but not as many as are available. Outdoor antennas should generally be installed at a height of 10 to 20 feet. In your situation, I would try first with a cheap rabbit ears antenna and see what reception you get, before splurging on a bigger antenna.

    Reply
Jhaddic Garber - August 3, 2019

Will snow get hung-up in the antenna and cause interference if I install it outside?

Reply
    Greg Martinez - August 3, 2019

    Hi, I wouldn’t worry too much about snow. The antenna’s profile doesn’t lend itself to excessive snow buildup. Long, heavy icicles may eventually bend elements however, and freezing and refreezing of water within joints might loosen them, so I’d advise to check or have the antenna checked once a year (if you live in a cold region).

    Reply
Kodee - October 27, 2019

I bought this last month but I have lost some of the public broadcasting channels. Can you give me some tips on how to resolve it? Thanks!

Reply
    Greg Martinez - October 27, 2019

    Hi Kodee, can’t say for sure. Are they on VHF and did you get the VHF add-on element for this antenna? Try to rescan channels on your TV and see if you get them back.

    Reply
Beth - July 23, 2020

Which antenna would you recommend for a residence 45 miles NW of Chicago?

Reply
    Greg Martinez - July 24, 2020

    Depends on some factors – whether signal is VHF/UFH, geographic obstacles in line of sight between your home and tower, local interference factors. Based on your information, an outdoor antenna would be a safer bet than an indoor one. The DB8 is great for UHF but not so reliable for VHF.

    Reply
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