The Differences Between Analog VS A Digital Oscilloscope

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

An oscilloscope is an instrument that allows you to see the electrical signal of a circuit. The two most popular types are analog, which uses moving lines on a screen, and digital, which captures the data in binary code. Here are some things worth considering when deciding between these two options: Analog oscilloscopes have better accuracy for lower-frequency signals than digital ones do. Digital oscilloscopes can be more responsive to fast-moving signals than their analog counterparts can because they don’t need time to show what’s happening on the screen. Many people prefer digital oscilloscopes because it’s easier and faster to read their display without having to translate from one type of signal representation (lines) to another (numbers).

Analog and digital oscilloscopes are two different types of instruments that measure the waveforms of electrical signals. The differences between them can be confusing to many people, so we will discuss some key points about each type to help you decide which one is best for your needs. 

An analog oscilloscope captures a continuous signal on an X-Y display and allows for viewing or recording on paper through a pen recorder. Digital oscilloscopes capture the signal at specific points and then convert it into numbers before displaying it as a graph on the screen. They also have powerful tools for analyzing data such as triggers, cursors, measurements, markers, and more. 

Comparison between Analog and a Digital Oscilloscope

Parameters of Comparison  Analog OscilloscopeDigital Oscilloscope  
ExpensiveMore expensiveLess expensive
MeasureThe analog oscilloscope can be used to measure the frequency, amplitude, and time of an input signalDigital oscilloscopes usually can’t measure time
SuitNormal suitBetter suit
UseAnalog oscilloscopes use a cathode ray tube (CRT) to display the signaldigital oscilloscopes use an electron beam.  
ShowAnalog oscilloscopes display the amplitude of wavesdigital oscilloscopes show their frequency.  

What is Analog Oscilloscope?

An Analog oscilloscope is a type of instrument which allows you to visualize electrical signals. It was developed in the 1920s and it has been improved since then. Analog oscilloscopes are mainly used by scientists, engineers, technicians, and hobbyists for research purposes, signal analysis, and fault diagnostics. In this blog post, we will discuss what an analog oscilloscope is, how it works, and its advantages over digital ones.

Analog oscilloscopes are often used in laboratories to measure electrical signals. Analog oscilloscopes allow the user to see a graph of voltage over time which allows for easy measurement of frequency, duty cycle, and other important parameters that come with an AC signal. The design is based on the cathode ray tube found in old TVs and computer monitors. They use a beam of electrons hitting a phosphorescent screen instead of an electron gun firing beams at a fluorescent screen like modern TV’s do which makes them more difficult to calibrate but they can be made very sensitive with high bandwidths allowing for close inspection of small changes in voltage levels from AC sources such as power lines, motors or light fixtures.

Analog VS A Digital Oscilloscope

What is Digital Oscilloscope?

A digital oscilloscope is a device that is used to measure electric signals. It can be used to analyze the function of either analog or digital circuits and systems. A typical oscilloscope consists of a cathode ray tube (CRT) with an electron gun, a phosphor-coated screen, and a high voltage power supply. The CRT usually displays time on the x-axis as well as amplitude on the y-axis. Digital oscilloscopes are gaining popularity because they provide more accuracy than their counterparts and many models offer features such as triggering, storage, multiple channels for simultaneous display, math functions such as integration and differentiation, persistence mode for viewing changes in signal over long periods without refreshing the screen every few seconds like most CR.

Analog VS A Digital Oscilloscope

10 Differences Between an Analog and a Digital Oscilloscope

1. Analog oscilloscopes use a cathode ray tube (CRT) to display the signal while digital oscilloscopes use an electron beam.

2. The analog scope has a sweep that is controlled by the user, whereas, in a digital scope, it’s automatically generated.

3. In an analog scope, there are two types of vertical controls – one for amplitude and one for time; in a digital scope, both controls are combined into one.

4. Digital scopes have more features than analog scopes such as memory storage and mathematical functions like integration and differentiation.

5. Analog scopes can take up to 20 minutes before they start displaying data whereas with digital scopes you can see results immediately after turning on the power source.

6. Analog scales only go from 0-10 volts or milliamps while with digital scales you can measure voltage or current in amps.

7. Analog oscilloscopes display the amplitude of waves, while digital oscilloscopes show their frequency.

8. Digital oscilloscopes can measure frequencies up to 1 GHz, while analog scopes are limited by the bandwidth of the input signal.

9. The vertical axis on an analog scope is calibrated in volts per division, or V/div; for a digital scope, it is in volts per second (V/s).

10. Analog scopes use cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which require high voltage supplies and produce electromagnetic radiation that may pose safety risks; digital scopes use liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that do not emit any harmful radiation but require higher power consumption.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Analog Oscilloscope

1. Analog oscilloscopes are used to measure voltage, current, and waveforms.

2. The first analog oscilloscope was invented by Vannevar Bush in 1931.

3. Analog oscilloscope is a type of electronic test instrument that displays the varying voltages or currents on an often linear graph.

4. An analog oscilloscope can be used for troubleshooting electric circuits and tracing the path of electricity within them.

5. The word “Analog” means continuously variable as opposed to discretely variable digital.

6. A typical analog oscilloscope has two channels but more advanced models may have up to four channels.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Digital Oscilloscope

1. Digital oscilloscopes are used in a variety of fields, including medicine and engineering.

2. The first digital oscilloscope was developed by Tektronix in the 1950s.

3. A digital oscilloscope is an analog-to-digital converter that converts an analog signal into a digital representation of the waveform.

4. Digital oscilloscopes can be used to measure frequency, amplitude, and other parameters such as pulse width or duty cycle. 

5. Analog signals can also be converted to digital form for storage on computers or analysis with computer software.

6. There are many different types of oscilloscopes available today – from bench models to portable units designed for field use.


The analog oscilloscope is considered to be the best type of scope when it comes to viewing amplitude, frequency, and their phase relationship. It’s also much less expensive than a digital oscilloscope which makes it an excellent choice for students or hobbyists who want to save money. But if you need high accuracy measurements then you’ll have no other option but to purchase a digital one due to its more accurate readings at various frequencies. The cost difference between these two types will make your decision easier. All that being said, an analog oscilloscope can still provide some great information for users with basic needs while maintaining affordability.


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