ClearStream 4 Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna Review

ClearStream 4 Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna

Do you want to be able to pick up TV signals from far-away towers that are widely spaced apart? If your answer is yes, then you should have a look at the ClearStream 4V.

It’s a long-range receptor offering high gain and an aesthetic design that won’t subtract from the curb appeal of your home.

Its patented loop design is typical of the ClearStream series, and provides outstanding multidirectional reception of both VHF and UHF frequencies.

Features

In terms of form and compactness, the ClearStream 4V certainly stands out among other antennas.

Not only are its antenna loops distinctive, but its signal-enhancing reflectors (the mesh wire behind the loops) focuses antenna receptive power for increased range and minimizes the effects of signal multipath interference.

If you’re looking for something even more compact, there’s also the ClearStream 2V by Antennas Direct. It’s a one-panel version of this antenna.

Antenna Range

This long-range receptor picks up TV signals from up to 70 miles away. Keep in mind however that the range you’ll get may differ slightly from this figure — depending on signal strength at your your location.

Examples of some local variables that affect single reception include:

  • Trees, landscape topographical features, etc., which are in the line-of-sight path to the towers
  • Local electromagnetic interference (e.g., nearby streetlights, electrical interference from household appliances in homes with older electrical wiring, etc.)
  • A metal roof or radiant barrier (the latter especially if installing it in the attic)

Gain and Amplification

As is typical of long-range antennas of its kind, this antenna isn’t amplified so doesn’t come with a built-in preamplifier.

You’ll need to purchase a 75-Ohm coaxial cable to connect the antenna to your TV. I recommend RG6-type cable, making sure it’s of the tri- or quad-shielded variety to protect against electromagnetic interference.

Some good cable I recommend is Mediabridge Coaxial Cable.

The antenna gain of the ClearStream 4 is 12.25 dBi — or decibels relative to isotropic radiator, which as a consumer you can treat as plain old decibels.

The beam angle is 43 degrees for the UHF frequency spectrum (470 – 700 MHz).

It also comes with a 75-Ohm transformer (Balun) to reduce impedance along the antenna to the coaxial cable.

The company claims this transformer allows 98% of the available broadcast signal to reach the cable with minimal attenuation possibly resulting from impedance mismatches on the antenna.

Frequency and Channel Types

This antenna is designed to pick up high VHF (RF channels 7-13) as well as UHF (RF channels 14-51).

“RF channels” are not the TV channels we normally think of, but are the broadcast channels (i.e., allocations of spectrum) used by stations.

Each station in your surrounding area will be assigned a single RF channel that you can look up in your signal report on TVFool.com.

The element that allows VHF reception on the ClearStream 4V is the black horizontal bar at the top of the antenna, which is included in the package.

It also supports OTA broadcasts of up to full HD (1080p) picture quality.

Installation

Assembling the ClearStream 4V

The ClearStream 4V doesn’t come preassembled and so you’ll need some tools to put it together.

You’ll assemble the frame, the reflectors, and loop elements together, both by hand and with a Phillips screwdriver and an adjustable wrench.

Customers typically report an assembly time of around 20 minutes.

Setting Up and Installing

Next you’ll mount it in the appropriate place in your home, and at only 6.85 pounds, this is considered a lightweight antenna and easy to move around.

It also comes with two U clamps and a 20-inch J mount mast.

When installing, you should ensure the antenna mast is perfectly vertical to maximize reception.

You can use a carpenter’s level tool, or the level feature of software like the iPhone Measure app to accomplish this.

Many users report also successfully using it indoors, whether in a room or in the attic.

Remember that due to interference — metal roofs, thick walls, home insulation, radiant barriers, etc. — you can lose up to 40-50% of your signal.

Also, don’t forget to properly ground the antenna, using either a coaxial grounding block or lightning arrester (if you live in a lightning-prone area).

See my guide on grounding antennas for more information.

With permission from Antennas Direct

Aiming the Antenna

The antenna is multidirectional but keep in mind the two panels are rigid and non-adjustable. You’ll need to aim the front of it (the side with the metal loops) towards transmission towers.

Nevertheless this antenna should pick up signals from towers less than 180 degrees apart in relation to where you’re at.

To find the nearest towers, you can use a website such as TVFool.com or DTV/maps. On TVFool.com, you can use the magnetic azimuth heading of the towers to aim the antenna with a compass or compass smartphone app.

Receiving Signals

If you’re not satisfied with your channel reception you many consider re-orienting it or moving it to a different location in your home altogether.

Some customers decide to purchase a second antenna, such as the ClearStream 5, and stack these together on the same pole.

This latter antenna is mainly VHF (but also picks up UHF channels). If you stack antennas on the same mast, make sure to keep 2-4 feet vertical separation between them and use a signal combiner to merge signals from both antennas.

You can also install an antenna rotator to re-orient the antenna’s aim.

Using a Preamplifier

In some situations a preamplifier such as the Winegard LNA-200 may be a good idea if:

  • Your antenna coaxial cable is more than 50 feet long
  • You’re located farther than 20 miles away from transmission towers
  • You intend to purchase a splitter to run multiple TVs from the antenna (in this latter case you would need a distribution amplifier)

Preamplifiers should be installed as close to the antenna as possible, while distribution amplifiers should be installed right before the splitter.

Pros

  • Relatively compact in size for its 70-mile range and multidirectional reception
  • Constructed from quality, weatherproof parts
  • Doesn't need a preamplifier in most situations

Cons

  • Coaxial cable and preamplifier sold separately

The Verdict

The size and light weight of the ClearStream 4V allows you to easily reposition it to get optimal signal, and its multidirectionality provides a wide reception angle for places where transmission towers are spread relatively widely apart on the horizon.

The antenna comes minimally preassembled, so you’ll need some tools and a certain amount of time to put it together before mounting it.

Antennas Direct has a reputation for quality and offers a lifetime limited warranty for the product.

NOTE: For a comparable product that's similarly multidirectional, you might want to check out the  Channel Master CM-4228HD antenna.

ClearStream 4V Manual

For those interested in more technical details, here are the Assembly/Install Instructions.

Specs

Design

Direction

Multidirectional

Coaxial cable length (feet)

Dimensions in inches (H x W x L)

20.1 x 28.2 x 9.1

Preamplifier

Reception

Antenna range (miles)

70

Channels

Full HD (1080p)

Frequencies

VHF/UHF

Help & Support

Warranty

Lifetime limited

Email support

Phone support

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