Heh.. we have an _exclusively_ Linux household here!Err, ok. Do you know of a PCI ATSC Tuner card that works under Linux that has a better front end?
My favourite Linux ATSC tuner is the HVR-950Q USB stick. But others in the HTPC forum here swear that the HVR-1250 and HVR-2250 are its equal or superior. And Stampeder has his own recommendation there!
I got into the pre-amp biz by wanting to receive WNPI-DT here, which was just "over the cliff" with my "5th generation" ATSC tuners, despite having a UHF-only (think.. "VHF/FM trap") RC preamp.
Then I got a Viewsonic TV that could pull it in _almost_ good enough to watch. So then I went to Staples (30-day try-and-return warranty) for the HVR-950Q. Bliss!
My suggestion to you, is to try the same -- get an HVR-950Q from somewhere (Staples?) with a return policy, and try it.
I do adore my two RC pre-amps, but they really only add less than 1dB over the cheaper Kitz pre-amps, despite their far more extensive circuitry. So unless you have money to burn, hold off on those until you've tried a modern ATSC tuner.
On the other hand -- if you are splitting the incoming signal with no amplification, then.. yes.. get a good pre-amp. Absolutely, definitely, no hesitation.
The Kitztech ones are good, the RC ones are great! If you have a lot of FM energy in the spectrum, then get a ChannelMaster instead (they have FM traps). Or if you don't give a willy about VHF, then absolutely get the RC 9254 (UHF-only) pre-amp. It rules that segment!