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Analog Oscilloscopes Review

LAST UPDATED: May 21st, 2020

Analog oscilloscopes have become antiquity of sorts. Most high-end lab tests demand that you have a digital oscilloscope now. That doesn’t mean that analog units don’t have a place in use anymore. Some of us want to see waveforms in their truest forms.

They are significantly cheaper than in digital units. They are also great for beginners who want to get the hang of what oscilloscopes can do.

However, it’s still hard to figure out what makes a good oscilloscope. That’s why we made this guide to introduce you to the best analog oscilloscopes out there.

There are a lot of details you need to know before you’re ready to buy. Oscilloscopes are inherently complex, whether they are analog or digital. So, make sure you read carefully, and you’ll know what to look for.

We’re reviewing multiple scopes and offering an extensive buying guide. This will give you everything you need to know to buy the best ones. So, let’s not wait any longer and get to the reviews!

Best Analog Oscilloscopes Review 2020

Best Analog Oscilloscopes

Out of all of our tests, we’ve narrowed the list down to 8 fantastic o-scopes. Each excels in their own way and suits different needs, whether its budget, power, or flexible use. Now, let’s take a look at what we found.

B&K Precision 2120B

To start off, we’ll go for an o-scope perfect for a beginner or a hobbyist, not too costly, nor weak. It’s built with everything you could possibly ask for a pristine starter experience. Easy to carry, set up, and repack, and it is more than capable of recording whatever signals you throw at it.

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at its specifications. This dual-channel set up offers a lot in terms of power at its price. It has a 30 MHz bandwidth that is capable of recording a wide range of signals with relative ease. This is a significant upgrade from the 20 MHz options its contemporaries offer.

The device itself is also very fast in recording and delivering the data as well. Usually, analog oscilloscopes tend to have some weight to them. Of course, this unit is as light as you’d want. However, it is still easy to carry. In fact, it utilizes a smart set-up system that makes it easy to carry.

It has a handle that can double as a stand to prop up your device, as well as carry it when you need to. The scope’s low-profile design bolsters this portability. As a result, it is, in general, a very compact device.

Also, the device comes with triggered switch options in the form of Auto/Norm to help you analyze the waveforms in the way that suits you best. Moreover, it has the added AC, TVH, TVV, and line coupling for added efficiency and precision based on what you need.

Overall, it is an exemplary analog option, especially for beginners. Since it’s a relatively cheap analog oscilloscope compared to its contemporaries, it’s a great start for those who want to get a hold of this technology. As such, we had to include this onto our list.

PROS

  • Impressive 30 MHZ compared to the price
  • Quality triggered switch options
  • The compact design makes it easy to carry
  • Delivers waveforms fast

CONS

  • Some might want a brighter display

Tektronix TDS2004C

You should get used to reading the name Tektronix. They have a long list of spectacular digital and analog oscilloscopes in the market. While their digital types are superb, their knack for high-tier analog models is on a whole other level.

That’s why this is just the first of many incredible Tektronix units we’ll talk about on this list. We must let you know that this unit is not for beginners. Its design caters to professional use. Everything from its build to its features makes it the ultimate device for your laboratory or workshop. As such, it is very expensive.

However, it more than justifies the price. It comes with smart features that automatically computes essential details such as pulse width, peak values, base delay, and so on. The device itself is capable of real-time FFT. Moreover, if you want to conduct real-time analysis, simply attach it to your PC with a USB cable.

It doesn’t fail to deliver tremendous power in its wake as well. We’re talking about a device that offers 70 MHz of bandwidth and 1 GSa/sec sampling speed. As such, it is both fast and has a wide range of analyzable frequencies.

This makes the most out of the complex mathematical features to help you conduct a thorough analysis. It even has four channels for you to work with, inputting signals simultaneously to make proper assessments.

The display is gorgeous, with its 5.7-inch TFT-LCD antiglare properties. As such, it is the ultimate device to help you get detailed waveforms for your research.

PROS

  • High bandwidth and sampling rate
  • Incredible build quality
  • A plethora of mathematical features for better analysis
  • High-grade display for better viewing

CONS

  • Quite expensive and unnecessary for beginners

Related Guide: Oscilloscope under $300

Tektronix TDS2014C

If we were to put it simply, we could just say that this is an upgraded version of the TDS2004C. However, it’s a lot more nuanced than that. For instance, because it’s a more recent entry from the TDS2004, it is more expensive. So, whether or not you should get this entry depends solely on two things.

Do you need the extra power, and are you willing to spend the additional money? The rest depends on you. However, this wouldn’t be a review if we didn’t examine and breakdown the qualities of this device.
For starters, it is a high-tier professional oscilloscope meant for demanding work and to make a detailed analysis.

It adds 30 MHz more bandwidth than the previous entry, rounding it out to 100 MHz. This offers extraordinary flexibility in terms of analysis since you can now analyze a much wider range of frequencies. To match that, the device doubles its sample rate.

That’s right; we’re dealing with 2 GSa/sec now. This makes this device take in a lot more signals in a second, generating well-detailed results in the process. Waveforms are generated in generally higher efficiency in terms of recording data.

Once you distribute this along its four channels, you can complete high demand tests with no issues at all. Like the previous entry, it also boasts a spectacular 5’7-inch color display with waveforms with pristine quality without any glare.

One of our favorite features is how it lets you store waveform data and images internally or through a USB. Additionally, it automatically computes key math functions you’d need for analysis. All in all, it’s a splendid device that offers way more than its size should allow.

PROS

  • Automated measurement functions to help analysis
  • Display system offers respectable clarity
  • Extremely powerful bandwidth and sample rate
  • The detailed manual makes every function easy to understand

CONS

  • Real-time data transfer may seem clunky on PC

Tektronix TDS2002C

We’ve already established that all these Tektronix models are brutally expensive. It’s meant for commercial use; after all, it had to be. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t blame you if you still wanted to get a taste of what Tektronix offers for yourself. So, that’s why we added the TDS2002C to the list.

It is a low-cost unit in the series, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold its own. This unit is a clear example that even a lower cost TDS unit has a lot to offer. Its price does not vary much if you want to compare it to the TDS2001C. However, it brings a lot more quality to the table.

For example, it has a higher bandwidth than the prequel unit. Instead of 50, you get 70 MHz to work with instead. If you’ve consulted our buying guide section, you already know how vital that is. It also doubles the sampling speed. That’s right, rather than 500 MSa/sec, you get 1 GSa/sec.

Since the price difference isn’t significant when you consider all these benefits, so, if you want to get Tektronix experience at the lowest price point, you should consider this unit the minimum.

Now, don’t let this get the impression that there’s nothing unique about this spectacular device. It’s superb in a lot of ways. For one, it has handy triggers with great functions that include pulse-width, rising and falling edge, and so on. Besides, its mathematics prowess is worth respecting.

The fact that this device manages to stay so small and compact while offering so much power is something truly astounding. It even has an impressive color display system that eliminates glares.

However, do keep in mind that while it is cheap compared to the other Tektronix units on the list, it is still considerably expensive.

PROS

  • A wide range of triggers
  • Comparatively cheaper than units of the same quality
  • 2.5 Kpts record length capacity
  • A clear display for easy analysis

CONS

  • A clear display for easy analysis

Tektronix TDS3014C

We swear this is the last Tektronix unit on the list. In stark contrast to the previous entry, this is a unit you should get if you want to get a feel for what Tektronix shows off its full potential. The o-scope is high-tier in terms of quality. As such, it’s justifiably a lot more expensive than all the previous entries.

Once you take a look at what this unit can dish out, you’ll realize that this isn’t just a good analog oscilloscope anymore. It’s a lot more than that. This device offers 4 channels, that’s impressive, but what really makes this special is how well the unit can utilize it.

This is due to the outstanding 100 MHz bandwidth, extremely powerful when you consider that this is an analog device. Such capacity is almost unheard of. Yet, the TDS3014C delivers. The 1.25 GSa/sec sampling rate utilizes this capacity to its fullest.

It captures all signals magnificently, giving you the most detailed and intricate waveforms you can ask for.

Furthermore, it has an outstanding memory. Each channel can record up to 10 Kpts. Subsequently, you get so many streams of data that large-scale laboratory tests and experimentation becomes immensely more viable. No one can deny the level of detail.

Since you have so much data to work with, you’ll naturally want to isolate pieces to examine more thoroughly. As such, the device comes with a handy isolation trigger to do exactly that.

The display itself is gorgeous, displaying waveforms in the most vivid colors. Its screen size is also larger than all the previous units, standing at 6.5 inches. This is easily the top analog oscilloscope on the list.

PROS

  • Extremely powerful bandwidth and sample speed
  • Gorgeous display that represents waveforms in the best way possible
  • 10 Kpts record length per channel
  • Highly convenient isolation trigger

CONS

  • Shouldn’t be bought without professional use in mind

Akozon Oscilloscope

We’re finally back to analog oscilloscopes that can suit a casual hobbyist’s wallet. Of course, it sacrifices in quality, but it doesn’t need it. It’s a superb option for those who just want to get a hold on how these devices work. As such, it’s suited for both beginners and hobbyists.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at what the device can exactly do. The unit starts off strong with a powerful display that is both bright and large. Usually, you’d have to worry about a lack of backlighting; however, this Akozon model does the opposite.

It provides excellent brightness to help your observations, no matter how dark your surroundings are. Additionally, the device itself is highly sensitive, standing at 1 mV/division for maximum precision.

Some analog units need some kind of compensation for direct current. It requires DC offset, a feature that’ll help you input high amplitude waveforms.

These kinds of features offer a ridiculous amount of utility, making inputs and recording much simpler. It also allows it to record a wider variety of signals.


You also get a 2-channel set-up for more comparative and in-depth analysis. This lets you input signals from different sources and create separate waveforms. As such, you can take the side by side information and make necessary comparison tests in case you need to.

For added benefits, Akozon utilizes TV synchronous separation circuit system; this lets you obtain TV signals. The unit also possesses a plethora of trigger modes for more freedom and flexibility. This includes triggers such as auto, norm, and TV.

All of these are easy to access and utilize, meaning this is a device that offers tons of features for a reasonable cost. It’s pleasant to use and perfect for hobbyists.

PROS

  • Easy to adapt to
  • Comes with many features for ease of use
  • Bright display makes viewing waveforms immensely
  • Compensates direct currents

CONS

  • The stand is reportedly unsatisfactory

What to Look for in an Analog Oscilloscopes

Now that we’ve gone over our top picks, we’ll give you all the information you need to know to help you choose. There are a few general qualities you always need to consider. So, let’s see what they are.

Bandwidth

If you’re even slightly informed about oscilloscopes, you know how vital bandwidth is. There’s a reason why every oscilloscope mentions their bandwidth front and center in their listed specifications.

They’re typically the first things you’ll keep in mind as you go through each of your options. They are just that important.

Essentially, bandwidth is the measure of what range of frequencies an oscilloscope can record. As such, if you want to conduct tests on highly volatile signals or high frequencies in general, this specification is important. In fact, it always helps to have more bandwidth than less.

Sample Rate

Sampling Rate, Bandwidth and Record Length

Next on the list is how fast an o-scope can receive signals per second. With more signals taken and fewer signals lost, you get detailed waveforms. This is essential if you want to examine anomalies and points of interest in a test. The more data scope can take per second, the more anomalies you’ll find.

Moreover, the waveforms become much more accurate in general as well, since fewer signals are lost. It becomes a more accurate representation of the true state of the signals. So, make sure you understand the value of the sample rate.

Trigger Modes

You can’t go anywhere with just a record of waveforms. Trigger modes are the tools that help you break down, isolate, and filter the results in ways that benefit your tests the most.

There are a plethora of different kinds of modes. Check what triggers each entry offers, and consider them based on the ones that would help your tests the most. There are many different types, so you should learn what each does.

Memory

For accurate data and analysis, you need to record waveforms for long periods. Examining a short period doesn’t represent the data accurately since you only get a portion of the information you need.
Memory allows you to record longer waves. As such, you can make proper assessments. So, do take memory under consideration.

Channel Numbers

The more channels you have, the more data you can record simultaneously. This lets you conduct tests faster and analyze and compare signals at the same time, saving money, boosting accuracy, helping in identifying similarities or lack thereof, and so on.

Usually, you should go for a unit with at least two channels. Luckily, most already have two channels.

Display

The display may be a bit shoddy for analog units. Some don’t have backlights, while some do. Screen size is generally smaller than digital units as well. Nevertheless, if you want to have an easy time going through the outputs, then you’ll want to have a better display system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the best analog oscilloscopes:

Are analog units still used today?

Yes, they are. They are usually an economical option for beginners or a powerful machine meant for commercial purposes.

Are analog units still used today

What separates an analog o-scope from a digital one?

Digital scopes take signals and convert them into a digital format, while analog units represent the signal in their original form without the need for conversion.

Why do trigger modes matter?

Trigger modes are essentially the tools to help you interact with the waveforms, whether it’s to have a closer look or filter out certain patterns.

Are analog scopes accessible?

Generally, yes. However, you’ll have a hard time looking for industrial-grade units.

What makes a good analog oscilloscope?

A good analog scope must have the right specifications to fit your needs. Each analog oscilloscopes review we have on the list are also exemplary examples of good scopes.

Conclusion

If you’ve been going through lists based on digital scopes, you’ve probably already noticed that there are several similarities and differences.

Nevertheless, you should now have enough information to analyze and scope out the perfect unit for you. The best analog oscilloscopes await!

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