Keysight EXA Signal Analyzer / Spectrum Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar reviews the Keysight EXA Signal Analyzer / Spectrum Analyzer (N9010A). The X-Series Signal Analyzers and Spectrum Analyzers from Keysight are compared against each other. The EXA is a general purpose spectrum analyzer with extensive applications.

The full instrument block diagram is presented with focus on various signal paths and frequency planning. Several of internal modules (RF Front-End, Digital Baseband Processor and LO Synthesizer) are also presented and compared with the block diagram. In order to examine the instrument’s capabilities in a real-world situation, a complete superheterodyne wireless transceiver with a sliding-IF receiver is designed and examined. Each component in the system (LNA, mixer, PLL, etc.) is individually characterized by using the EXA Signal Analyzer. The complete system measurements are also presented.

Various chapters in the video can be found at the following time marks:

  • Introduction (0:08)
  • X-Series model comparison (0:50)
  • EXA block diagrams and principle of operation (4:27)
  • Various board teardown and examination (20:39)
  • Instrument front/back panel overview (37:05)
  • Wireless experiment setup description (43:22)
  • Doubler characterization with EXG as the tracking generator (45:31)
  • LNA and mixer gain and NF by using Noise Figure personality (57:31)
  • Signal-Hound VSG25A I/Q modulator characterization, OBW, ACPR, TOI (1:08:57)
  • PLL characterization with Phase Noise personality (1:19:49)
  • Full transmitter measurement with Keysight VSA (1:26:08)
  • Full wireless link characterization with Keysight VSA (1:30:28)
  • Concluding remarks (1:37:21)


  1. Kai says:

    HI, is the variation of EVM w.r.t Symbols is because of periodicity in data(bits) we are sending ?

  2. Ali Khosravi says:

    Dear Shahriar:
    I am very impressed by your know how.Would you please help me to find the problem that I have with my HP 8644B signal generator. The problem is with ALC circuit wich rf is not present when I first turn on the instrument but after about 3 to 4 hours of warm up time the out put is present and every thing works as it should. I would appreciate very much if you reply.
    Ali Khosravi

  3. Dan says:

    I will add this to my blog as well. Thank you for the information.

  4. Daniel says:

    Wow, that must have taken forever to set up and shoot – very, very nice video, both interesting and thoroughly educating. Thank you very much.

  5. tchicago says:

    On the second board from the teardown part of the video, the second large chip under the heatsink must be different from the first one. The configuration of bypass caps and pins looked very different on the flip side of the board, so this the second chip is probably something else. Could be something custom from Keysight, directly interfacing the high speed expansion bus at the connector.

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