Sunday, March 29, 2015

HD Frequency Aereowave Antenna

Good Things Come in Slightly Larger Packages

Newcomer antenna manufacturer HD Frequency introduced its first new antenna model of 2015, the Aerowave. The sophomore antenna is a mid-size follow up to the HDF lineup between the smaller CableCutter Mini and larger CableCutter, which we reviewed before.

We gave this newest entry a shakedown and here’s what we found:

Model: HD Frequency CableCutter Aereowave

Size: 9” wide by 11” high by ¼” thick (hardware) 

Package includes: Cable Cutter Aerowave antenna, one set adhesive mounting pads, instruction card
Output: One F-type connector (cable coax) on the antenna for RG-59 or RG-6 cable
Pros: Compact form factor, very lightweight, durable, solid construction and good weather resistance, can be used indoors or outdoors
Cons: Mounting options are somewhat awkward especially outdoors, regular price is a bit high for its performance

Build Quality
HD Frequency antennas are all made in the USA, and the build quality shows it. The main lattice is a thick gauge metal that is rigid, strong and nicely finished with beveled edges.
The HD Frequency Aerowave is the thinnest outdoor antenna that offers a die-hard rugged build quality. It can also be used indoors. 
The Aerowave features some upgrades over its predecessors that we reviewed: the balun mounting points are now countersunk screws which allows the antenna to be mounted perfectly flush to a window or wall using the included adhesive pads.
The antenna finish also seems to have been upgraded; it resembles more of a powder-coating and is extremely scratch resistant. The balun has a seat for placing a weather-sealed coax connection and the large gauge wires are well protected with heat-shrinked connections.   
With its industrial build quality and limited parts / connections, the whole thing looks like it can last maintenance-free for decades exposed to wind, snow and ice.

Assembling the antenna
The antenna comes fully assembled and is ready to go right out of the box.

As with all HD Frequency antennas to date, the appearance of the Aereowave is very industrial with its visible balun and connection points. As mentioned above, the finish has been upgraded from previous models and there are no visible logos on the antenna’s matte black body. There are very few cosmetic features or plastic covers; it is apparent the antenna is definitely built for functionality, not appearance.

The installation instructions are similar to the rest of the CableCutter family. The antenna can be stuck to a wall or window or hung from a hook or loop.  It can be propped upright on a shelf or table using the heavy duty wire gauge for the balun as a leg.
As we reported in our previous CableCutter reviews, the outdoor mounting method for the Aerowave also remains somewhat amateurish: there is no provision or otherwise evident way to attach the antenna to a mast (OEM recommends using ty-wraps). Although the antenna is lightweight and its profile does not imply a large windshear, we typically recommend tywrapping for cables, not the antenna itself.

The Aerowave requires a bit of DIY know-how for outdoor mounting: we were able to attach it to a J-mount using ty-wraps (as recommended by the OEM) and a small piece of foam to isolate the antenna from the mast.

Aiming the antenna
The antenna has a beamwidth similar to the smaller CordCutter of about 120 degrees, and can receive signals from front or back with equal ease. Best results were obtained with the Aerowave in a portrait orientation and aimed with its front flat surface facing the transmission towers. Signals drop off quickly past the 120 degrees beamwidth.

The Aereowave was tested for several weeks in an indoor suburban area against local OTA TV reception on VHF-Hi and UHF bands.  The table below is a snapshot of tests taken against a baseline antenna of similar size and similar price range from another manufacturer, and as a reference, its smaller brother the CordCutter Mini. The tests were conducted at the same location with antenna aim optimized to receive most channels. All tests occurred over the span of about 15 minutes.

Station (RF)

Distance (mi)

Baseline Indoor Antenna ($50)

Cable Cutter Mini ($40)





No Signal

























No Signal


 Overall, we can conclude that the Aereowave is an upgrade over the CableCutter Mini and is strongest in the lower/central UHF band. VHF-Hi performance (which is always a sour spot for compact antennas of this size) was fair and a much needed improvement over the Mini. An amplifier can be added if need be to improve its performance with weaker channels.

Prices and Where to Buy
The HD Frequency Aereowave is available from the company’s website. The unit retails at $60 USD while it can go as low as $50 USD during promotions. On the positive side, this price includes shipping to Canada which is good as currently there is no local Canadian distribution.

The Aerowave is a good option for people looking at the CableCutter Mini but want extra performance without going to the full-size CableCutter. The antenna does have its limitations and is recommended for best performance in areas where most OTA TV stations are within the lower and central UHF DTV band. Mounting options continue to be somewhat limited if you’re not handy.

The Aerowave (right) is essentially the bigger brother of the CableCutter Mini (left) in the HD Frequency antenna lineup.

One thing that sets this antenna apart is its rugged versatility – the design isn’t very complex, there are no reflectors or rods to bend or break and it can be used indoors or outdoors, and is extremely portable. The antenna is thin, light and inconspicuous when mounted outside which makes it a great option for renters, areas where balcony space is limited or there are restrictions on placing outdoor aerials. To be honest, neighbours or city inspectors would probably not even know it’s a TV antenna given its look.
The regular price is a bit elevated for its performance, so we recommend buying it when on sale as it is more comparable to antennas in the $50 price range. Overall, a good addition to the HD Frequency CableCutter lineup.

Cable Cutter Aereowave: 7.5/10

More information on HD Frequency and its products can be found on the HD Frequency website