A signal analyzer is a type of passive receiver that presents electrical signals to the user in an easier to read form. They display raw, unprocessed signal information such as voltage, power, period, wave shape, sidebands, and frequency. The analyzers can provide the user with a clear and precise window into the frequency spectrum. These electrical signals are sent from an electrical system or device and can be: voltage, current, power, time or frequency signals.
These analyzers are often used in cases where design, manufacture, field service or repair is important, so that fault finding can be done at a very early stage in the project. The output of the signal analyzer is itself a signal, which can be used to study and examine the performance and characteristics of the systems, detect any faults and then troubleshoot the faulty areas. Depending upon the application, a signal may possess several different characteristics. For instance, in communications, in order to send information such as voice or data, it must be modulated onto a higher frequency carrier.
A modulated signal has specific characteristics depending on the type of modulation that is used. When testing nonlinear items such as amplifiers and mixers, it is important to understand how these devices create distortion products and what these distortion products look like. If you understand the characteristics of noise and how noise signals look compared to other types of signals it will help you when using the signal analyzer system.
The form factor of a signal analyzer is a very important aspect to consider when selecting a signal analyzer. In addition, the type of signal analyzer is a crucial consideration. Portable, handheld and table mounted are some of the types of signal analyzers available, depending upon the applications. Other specifications that must be checked include: frequency range, accuracy, interference caused by spurious signals and any possible distortion that is caused by the analyzer to other devices. The number of input channels, output channels, signal to noise ratio, quality of the output signal and compatibility are also some parameters that should be taken into consideration when you are selecting a signal analyzer.