Insights > RF + Microwave

A Breakthrough in High-performance Signal Analysis in the Most Compact Design

2021-06-28  |  10 min read 

Recent announcements by Keysight include the release of the N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer for mmWave applications in 5G and satellite communications. Our world-class N9032B PXA X-Series signal analyzer now takes the role of pioneers in the world of signal analysis. So, no matter what your wide bandwidth applications are and what frequency ranges you need, Keysight has you covered with N9032B and N9042B high-performance signal analyzers, right for your budget, workspace, and needs.

Featuring a wide analysis bandwidth, the N9032B PXA X-Series signal analyzer is configured for high bandwidth applications such as 5G carrier aggregation and amplifier testing, 802.11ax/be, satellite, radar, and other EW applications. It offers the best swept displayed average noise level (DANL), best error vector magnitude (EVM) performance, and sensitivity in a compact 4U-high form factor. Our Ready-to-use PathWave X-Series measurement applications and PathWave 89600 vector signal analysis software help you optimize your most complex designs and stay up-to-date on the latest requirements.


Spurs are the source of many potential problems. A false positive may be interpreted as an actual signal coming in over the air. In a radar system, spurs may obscure the system’s ability to see small return signals, and this can affect the credibility of what’s on the screen. For those performing sensitive field operations, self-generated spurs may betray their presence and location. Thus, when making a measurement, the key question is, “When I see a spur, is it real and how fast I can see it?”. A spur search is usually a matter of finding small signals in the presence of much larger ones. To measure these signals with confidence, you need a high-performance device, which is able to provide the high measurement speed required for spur search, and can also maintain measurement quality without sacrificing dynamic range for bandwidth, as signals get wider and more agile. When investigating spurs, the key specification is dynamic range. Because the frequencies of spurious signals are generally not known in advance, the process starts with a wideband spectrum measurement. The best setting for input attenuation depends on the magnitude of the largest signal in the widest span. With this combination of wide span and the likely presence of larger signals, many low-level signals will be missed due to limits on the analyzer’s effective noise floor and perhaps frequency resolution.

With much lower DANL for faster spur search than it did before, the N9032B PXA X-Series signal analyzer with outstanding DANL, faster spur search, and extended bandwidth reduces test time. By combining the exceptional dynamic range and the fast spur search capabilities, you will now be able to visualize wideband signals and agile signals even at 2 GHz bandwidth without complex or lengthy measurements. With the 4U-high compact design, you will no longer have to sacrifice performance for lab space.


As satellite systems move to wider bandwidths, the key challenges are in the characterization of the components and systems needed to meet requirements such as greater data capacity and throughput. Also, given the dramatic increase in the satellite population and the increasingly complex electromagnetic environment, detection of interference signals is emerging as a crucial capability for satellite operators and regulatory agencies. There are some significant challenges that come along with designing and testing wider bandwidth transponders. When many channels are sharing a single transponder, there is potential for interference between the channels. A significant contributor is a non-linear distortion within the power amplifier in the transponder. This can lead to a worse signal-to-noise (or carrier-to-noise) ratio, potentially resulting in increased bit error rates and decreased throughput.

The N9032B PXA is the only signal analyzer with a corrected analysis bandwidth of up to 2 GHz on models below 26.5 GHz. Also, it has the best sweep DANL in the industry and the best EVM in its class. In addition to increasing accuracy, U9361 RCal receiver calibrator (Figure 1) eliminates the need for complex test setups that tend to cause measurement errors and extend measurement times.

Figure 1. Using U9361 “RCal” Receiver Calibrator for calibration


WiFi has become an integral part of our daily lives, connecting people and entertaining them, and having contributed to an explosion of new technologies and industries. IEEE 802.11be, also known as Wi-Fi 7, is currently in development with the main goal to increase data throughput to tens of gigabits per second at low latency so it can keep up with ultra-high definition streaming video, virtual reality, or augmented reality applications. A higher throughput necessitates an increase in the analysis bandwidth so that devices can be characterized.

Several 5G systems are being rolled out around the world, bringing with them throughput speeds of up to 10 Gbps. A substantial challenge is the development of 5G chipsets, devices, and systems, which are subject to stringent testing. AS spectrum harmonization across regions is limited, for designers, it can be challenging to offer consumers the complete range of capabilities and coverage. 5G new radio (NR) FR1 is facing new challenges for designs in the new bands above 3 GHz, due to the complexity of test cases, coexistence issues, and validation of massive multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) designs over the air. A large part of the reason why we are moving to higher frequencies is due to the crowding of the radio frequency spectrum, which includes sub-6GHz Frequency Range 1 (FR1). These factors call for advanced technologies and over-the-air (OTA) measurement in 5G NR mobile networks and devices, to characterize device performance accurately. In testing 5G NR user equipment and base stations, OTA testing has become the norm. OTA testing, in addition to path loss and measurement uncertainties, creates additional test challenges which make measurement accuracy difficult. With the expected use of higher-order modulation schemes in 5G, components and devices require a better EVM measurement as the modulation density increases. Defining a measurement solution to achieve high-quality measurements of high bandwidth devices, requires a test solution with EVM performance that is better than the device under test (DUT). Flexibility to make spectrum measurements and scale to wider bandwidths is required as the 5G standards evolve.

N9032B PXA X-Series signal analyzer is an ideal compact solution with superior performance to meet your wide bandwidth requirements at low frequencies for your device characterization needs. All models are equipped with up to 2 GHz analysis bandwidth, including a cost-effective 8.4 GHz model. Its unique signal path front-end provides much lower DANL, better EVM (Figure 2), and higher amplitude accuracy, which ensures fully characterizing the DUT, more accurately and reliably. It supports both PathWave 89600 Vector Signal Analysis and PathWave X-Series Measurement Applications, which due to the new CPU, deliver 40% faster time to actionable insight.

Figure 2. Improved EVM after using RCal receiver calibrator, 16-QAM, 10 GHz, 160 Msym/sec, equalizer Off

Our PathWave X-Series measurement applications address evolving measurement needs for the latest communications standards. A full set of tools for demodulating and analyzing vector signals for PathWave VSA for 89600 hardware lets you investigate practically every aspect of your signal.

Visit our website to learn more about our PXA's newest signal analyzer, the N9032B