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difference between spectrum analyzer and network analyzer

Both spectrum analyzer and network analyzer inside use tuned receivers which operates over same or similar frequency range. The difference between spectrum analyzer and network analyzer mainly lies based on the measurement applications as described below. This page describes difference between spactrum analyzer and network analyzer.

Spectrum Analyzer basics

The figure-1 depicts spectrum analyzer using super-heterodyne architecture.
Refer Spectrum Analyzer basics for more.

Network analyzer is used to measure reflection coefficients, transmission coefficients, insertion loss, return loss, S parameters and more. It takes care of measurement of components,devices and sub modules.

Spectrum analyzer is used to measure carrier power level, harmonics, spurious, sidebands, phase noise and more.

Network analyzer is mainly designed to take care of measurements related to phase such as group delay which is not possible with spectrum analyzer.

Spectrum Analyzer helps discover unwanted signals and network analyzer helps measure known signals.

network analyzer inside

The figure-2 depicts network analyzer inside modules.
Refer Network Analyzer basics and types for more.

Spectrum Analyzer is just a receiver which displays the signal fed to its RF input port from any RF transmitting device through cable or with antenna. Modern real time spectrum analyzers even decode and display complex broadband RF signals emitted/acquired using various wireless devices which for example include WLAN,WiMAX,GSM,Zigbee,LTE and more. To do so additional baseband circuitry is incorporated in the spectrum analyzer. Spectrum analyzer do not have source incorporated.

Network analyzer consists of source and multiple receivers and measures broadband frequency signal using techniques such as power and frequency sweep.

The spectrum analyzers usually will have wider range IF bandwidths compare to most of the network analyzers.

Network analyzer provides higher measurement accuracy compare to spectrum analyzer due to vector error correction feature.

While doing measurement with spectrum analyzer, it is easy to place a marker on the display, but interpretation of results are difficult.

While doing measurement with network analyzer, it is hard to place a marker on the display, but interpretation of results are very easy.

RELATED LINKS

Spectrum Analyzer basics
SNA vs VNA - Network analyzer basics and difference between scalar network analyzer and vector network analyzer.

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