The 9 Best Spectrum Analyzers

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1. Oscium WiPry 2500X

2. RF Explorer ISM Combo Plus

3. Anritsu MS2721B

Editor's Notes

February 07, 2021:

One thing that has been improving in the spectrum analyzer/VNA market recently is the level of sophistication of portable models, especially with regard to display technologies and newer models like the Seesi TinySA offer a much clearer and sharper picture compared to the older RF models. I’ve still kept the RF models because of their range, and because the compact SA(Spectrum Analyzer) market is fairly limited, though I’ve decided to introduce a couple of newer compact models too. I’ve also added the Aursinc Nano as a VNA (Vector Network Analyzer or Vector Signal Analyzer) – technically and historically different from SAs, but more or less classified today as a sub-category of them. In contrast to the SA market, there is a plethora of compact VNAs on the market. The lines between SAs and VNAs are blurring, especially with regards to benchtop analyzers and newer models from companies like Siglent don’t even seem to make separate models anymore.

This isn’t so much the case with Digital Oscilloscopes, and despite many looking very similar to their SA cousins, the two types of instruments have fairly different capabilities – fundamentally, oscilloscopes analyze a signal in the time domain, whereas SAs/VNAs analyse the signal in the frequency domain. We do have a separate list for mainly benchtop digital oscilloscopes, as well as handheld digital oscilloscopes, which deserves its own list.

Focusing again on compact SAs, it was high time that I updated the older Oscium WiPry to the 5th and latest iteration of the award-winning model, the Oscium WiPry 2500x, which supports newer Android and IOS versions, as well as the latest Windows and Mac systems. It’s more or less the same as its predecessor, just slightly larger to accommodate for external charging and provide full functionality for newer IOS devices.

December 11, 2019:

For this update, I wanted to prioritize ease-of-use. Spectrum analyzers can generally be divided into 3 types: non-DIU’s (non-display interface units) or units that have no display unit and upload data onto a device with a display unit (laptop, tablet, PC) for analysis -these look like hard drives and include the Tektronix RSA306B, Oscium WiPry 5X and Instrustar ISDS205A; standalone units that look like microcomputers and have built-in display interfaces and on-board analysis and tracking generator features - these are the units that look like big microwaves and include the Rigol DSA815-TG Tracking, Siglent SSA3021X, Anritsu MS2721B and Siglent SSA3032, and; portable units that are handheld devices with display units and can also be plugged into a PC for analysis using compatible application software.

For ease of use, I wanted to prioritize portable units because of the obvious benefit of being able to carry them around. I removed the overpriced TTi PSA II and introduced 2 new models – RF Explorer ISM Combo Plus for VLF (Very Low Frequency) to UHF (Ultra High Frequency) bands, and the RF Explorer 6G Combo for the popular 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz (6G) frequency bands. While these models may not have the large range that some of the more expensive models have, these are ideal for job-site professionals who work within these specific and populated frequency ranges, and they’re so cheap.

I wanted to highlight standalone units next, because, while they’re not portable, all analysis features are on-board without the need to access external application software (which you often have to pay for if you want to access more advanced features). I’ve introduced the Siglent SSA3021X as a ‘tapered-down’ version of the Siglent SSA3032 (i.e. the SSA3021X is a cheaper option with a smaller frequency range).

Special Honors

Rohde & Schwarz FSW43 Manufactured in Germany by a company that specializes in making electronic test equipment, this standalone unit has a sizable detection range of between 2 kHz to 43.5 GHz a maximum real-time bandwidth of 800 MHz and an internal analysis bandwidth of 2 GHz, allowing for the characterization of wideband components. It can accurately measure signals with a duration of down to 0.46 microseconds.

Siglent SVA1000X Siglent has always made state-of-the-art spectrum analysers, denoted by ‘SA’, but technology advances have made it possible to combine capabilities into one instrument, and their SVA1000X series is a testament to that, providing the convenience and flexibility of having a single model that perform signal characteristics as well as amplitude and phase measurements.

4. RF Explorer 6G Combo

5. Siglent SSA3021X Tracking Generator

6. Rigol DSA815-TG Tracking

7. Aursinc Nano

8. Instrustar ISDS205A

9. Seesi TinySA

Kaivaan Kermani
Last updated by Kaivaan Kermani

Kaivaan grew up in a little town called York in the north of England, though he was whisked off to sunny Jamaica at the age of 14, where he attended high school. After graduating, he returned to the UK to study electronic engineering at the University of Warwick, where he became the chief editor for the engineering society’s flagship magazine. A couple of uninspiring internships in engineering later however, and after some time spent soul-searching and traveling across Asia and East Africa, he he now lives and works in in Dubai.

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