What is the difference between a frequency response analyzer and an oscilloscope?
A major difference between Venable Frequency Response Analyzers (FRAs) and oscilloscopes is that FRAs evaluate circuits as a function of frequency, while oscilloscopes evaluate as a functions of time. FRAs stimulate a circuit with a signal and evaluate the response. Oscilloscopes evaluate circuits passively.
FRAs function in the frequency domain, so they have a striking advantage over oscilloscopes in evaluation of parasitic elements in circuits. Parasitics are electrical values that do not appear on schematics. Internal resistance and inductance of capacitors, gains of switching circuits, lumped series losses of power circuits and leakage inductance of transformers are a few examples. Every component and circuit that is designed has some degree of these hidden elements. In fact, about half of the essential elements of a circuit are parasitic elements.
In modeling of analog circuits, power electronics, and feedback loops, accurate parasitic compensation is critical to peak performance. FRAs are essential for these design tasks because they accurately identify and measure parasitic elements in circuit models. Passive measuring devices such as oscilloscopes are overwhelmed by the task.