What kind of building are you in? Some steel and concrete buildings kill the signal. Try an antenna you can put outside somehow.
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I've heard that NYC may have the most congested radio bands in the world so some suggestions may help your situation but may not cure it. If you are not trying to pick up stations from over 50 miles away, I would suggest a high quality dipole antenna such as the Fanfare FM-2G or the Magnum Dynalab ST-2. Either one can be mounted inside or in the attic, or if possible, mount it outside. An outside mount will increase the antennas effectiveness by 10-15%. Also, if there is any way to do this, before you decide on mounting it at the most convenient spot, move it to various locations in the room, checking your signal strength meter to see which area is best. You can purchase additional antenna cabling if you find the best position to be greater than 25 feet from your tuner. Your tuner also plays an important roll in FM reception. A quality tuner that offers better than average selectivity and that has a 'wide' and 'narrow' band selector may also be of help. Try calling Sound by Singer, located there in NYC. They carry FM products and may be your best source of info since their reception should be similar to yours. Good luck!
The use of a decent outdoor antenna and what we call a "pre-selector" in the RF field would probably take care of your problem. Magnum Dynalab's makes one of these and i think that they call it a "signal sleuth". It tightens the bandwidth of the received signal, filters out the junk and interference and then amplifies what is left. This type of product works best in situations like yours where there is a lot of interference, multipath, front end overload, etc.. Using this with a decent antenna should give you everything that your looking for. As to the sound quality, you'll never know what your FM tuner is capable of until you feed it a strong signal. The difference between a good outdoor antenna and the little wire dipoles that come with all tuners is rather staggering. Sean >
I own the Fanfare FM-2G and have been working with it the past few days connected my Fanfare ft-1a tuner. I also have a yagi style from radio shack that I'm going to dig out too and experiment with. I haven't had enough time with the FM-2G to tell you how I like it, off hand I'm getting 20 stations very clean under the scan mode with full signal strength. If I go into tune mode and do things manually I can get more. I don't know how many stations there are to recieve here in southern Missouri and I don't have to deal with as much pollution as you have up there. I'm hoping once the yagi style is up I kind get some stations out in Tulsa, Kansas City, and/or St. Louis. One thing you might want to do, and I don't know how much this matters, is get some nice heavy coax cable. The cable Fanfare sent me is about standard; however, I have some laying around that the cable company gave me free awhile back and it is considerably nicer- more material (dielectic) around the conductor (possibly larger conductor), better shielding, end terminations much stronger and tighter, especially good for outdoor environment. I'm guessing its still and RG-59 cable. But pay attention to you cable run (stay away from electric devices, pipes, etc.) so you don't pick up too much interference as the signal gets to the tuner.
If you are actually in NYC try the powered, tunable Radio Shack antennaes for $40 or less. They bandwidth limit the signal to the frequency you are seeking BEFORE it hits the front end of your tuner, thus giving a cleaner signal. You can also orient these directionally which MAY help with multipath.
I live on the other side of the Hudson about 12 miles as a crow flies from the City and was having the same experience you describe. I corrected the problem with a Magnum Dynalab Sleuth 205 and ST-2 Attenna. Start w/a good tuner and follow the instructions and advice in the manuals for the ST-2 and Sleuth. Worked great for me w/clear noise free sound, no drift, good analog sound. Both items can be purchased on-line, delivered to your door in 2days at www.audioadvisor.com. Good Luck