Signal generators are testing equipment used in different applications. The most common ones include testing complex communication systems, measuring the frequency response of amplifiers, and aligning the frequency response devices. You may need a signal generator for designing, testing, and troubleshooting electronics circuits.
Unlike function generators capable of producing multiple waveforms, signal generators are limited in their outputs. They can only generate repeating or non-repeating electronic signals, which can be analog or digital.
There are two types of signal generators: audio frequency and radio frequency signal generators. The former produces an accurately calibrated signal with frequencies within the audio and microwave spectra. On the other hand, radio frequency signal generators are characterized by low harmonic content, stable operating frequency, and output amplitude.
Signal generators come in different shapes and sizes. They also have varying capabilities, depending on the brand and model. That makes it challenging to choose the best test equipment for your application. It is the reason we have put this post together. We will review the best signal generators and a buying guide to help you make an informed decision. Read on for detailed information and our recommendations.
Top 6 Best Signal Generators in 2023
Signal generators come in all form factors and different designs. Apart from the functionality and capability, you should decide on the design of the equipment you want to buy. In this review, we will present detailed information about each product and why it appears on this list as one of the best signal generators in the market.
1. Walfront FY8300 Signal Generator [Best Overall]
Walfront FY8300 Signal Generator is undoubtedly the best signal generator you can buy for different applications. This equipment has three independent channel outputs that can work synchronously and precisely adjustable phase differences.
FY8300 relies on direct digital synthesis (DDS) technology to generate accurate, stable, and low-distortion output signals.
Additionally, Walfront FY8300 Signal Generator has a powerful arbitrary waveform editing ability. You interface the equipment with your computer to edit the waveforms and then download it to this signal generator to produce it at the output. Other features include a powerful communication function, output short circuit protection, and arbitrary waveform storage.
Lastly, Walfront FY8300 Signal Generator is built to last. It features an ABS plastic casing that resists abrasion and wears. The circuits are also designed for reliability and long service life.
- Maximum Output Frequency: 60MHz (sine wave)
- Sampling Rate: 250MSa/s
- Vertical Resolution: 14bits
- Frequency Accuracy: 10-6 orders of magnitude
- Full Range Frequency Resolution: 1uHz (0.000001Hz)
- Output Amplitude: Maximal, 24Vpp
- Amplitude Resolution: Minimum, 1mV (0.001V)
- Phase adjustment range of the three channels: 0 – 359.99°with accuracy of 0.01°
- Reliable and durable
- Three independent signal output channels
- Multi-functional signal generator
- Produces and stores arbitrary waveforms
- Wide frequency range
- High resolution and accuracy
- Relatively expensive
- No modulation features
2. Tabor LS3081B 3GHz RF Analog Signal Generator
Tabor LS3081B is a 3GHz single channel radio frequency signal generator. It comes second on this list for its industry-leading performance and ease of use in different environments. This benchtop equipment has a fast switching speed, superior signal integrity, and purity. It also features all modulated signals needed for analog communication applications.
Tabor LS3081B 3GHz RF Analog Signal Generator comes with dedicated software for controlling its functions, modes, and features through its graphical user interface. Additionally, it has a set of drivers to make interfacing with a PC easy and write your application codes in your preferred programming environment and language. You can use LabView, Python, XCVI, C++, Visual Basic, and MATLAB.
This new Tabor Lucid benchtop signal generator offers four separate or phase coherent radio frequency output signals. This capability saves you space on the benchtop and money by buying extra equipment for the same function.
- Switching speed: <100us
- Phase Noise: -145dBc/Hz @100MHz and 10@kHz offset
- Frequency – Max: 3 GHz
- Signal Types: RF, Sine, Square
- Display Type: Analog
- Supply Voltage: 90 – 264V
- Resolution: 0.001 Hz
- Switching speed: 500 µs (standard), 100 µs (fast, option for series D)
- Fast switching speed
- Up to 4 signal output channels
- High signal integrity and purity
- Has all modulation schemes for different applications
- Easy to use
- Multiple ways to control the unit
- Relatively expensive
3. Koolertron GH-CJDS66 Upgraded 60MHz DDS Signal Generator
Koolertron Upgraded 60MHz DDS Signal Generator uses a dual-channel DDS signal and TTL electric level output to produce accurate, stable, low-noise signals. It is a versatile signal generator that produces different signal types. You can use it for generating sine, square, triangle, sawtooth, pulse, white noise, user-defined waveform, and other signals.
This signal generator uses an FPGA integrated circuit and a high-speed MCU microprocessor. It also adopts an active crystal oscillator to ensure the stability of the signal. For that reason, it has a wide range of applications in electronic engineering, production lines, laboratories, teaching, and scientific research.
Other functions of this Koolertron signal generator model include frequency measurement, period measurement, counting functions, and pulse width measurement.
- Sine frequency range: 0-60MHz
- Square & Triangle Wave: 0-25MHz
- Pulse & Arbitrary & TTL Digital Signal Wave: 0-6MHz
- Square rise time: ≤15nS
- Pulse width adjustment range: 30nS-4000S
- Frequency accuracy: ±20ppm×10-6
- Frequency stability: ±1ppm×10-6/3h
- Amplitude resolution: 1mV
- Amplitude stability: ±0.5%/5 h
- Amplitude flatness: ±5%(<10MHz); ±10%(>10MHz)
- High-frequency precision and resolution
- Multi-functional equipment
- Produces different signal types
- Reliable and durable
- Relatively affordable
- Relatively low build quality
4. Seesii DDS-15MHz Upgraded 15MHz DDS Signal Generator
Seesii signal generator is also dual-channel equipment that adopts large-scale FPGA integrated circuits and high-speed MCU. Additionally, it uses a crystal oscillator for stable signal generation. This signal generator is one of the best products for its additional feature, which is the storage of user-defined state parameters. These can be recalled at any time for reproduction.
Seesii signal generator has a high bandwidth of up to 15MHz and a sampling rate of 200MSa/s. Besides, you can create your own frequency and waveform combinations when you connect the unit to your computer.
The two-channel signal generator allows you to independently set parameters, including the duty circle of each channel. You can also use it to perform other measurements such as frequency, period, pulse width, and counting.
- Multi-functional signal generator
- Equal performance dual channel
- More variety of waveforms
- Lightweight, compact, and portable
- User-defined waveforms storage
- Affordable signal generator
- No signal modulations
5. Gwinstek USG-LF44 RF Signal Generator
The brand new Gwinstek USG-LF44 RF Signal Generator is a radio frequency equipment capable of a wide range of frequencies of 35-4400MHz. This is a pocket-size instrument designed and built for portability. It may look like a simple device, but a close review reveals its hidden ability.
The Gwinstek USG-LF44 RF Signal Generator has a built-in electronic attenuator. This feature allows you to adjust the unit and shift among its several operational modes, including frequency sweep, fixed frequency, and frequency hopping. It also provides a lower harmonic output performance.
You can interface this portable device with your PC. It is a USB-powered device, eliminating the need to recharge or worry about the battery running out. Additionally, it comes with external PC software that supports different operating systems.
- Frequency Range: 34.5MHz – 4400MHz
- Output Power Range: -30dBm – 0dBm
- Phase Noise: -107dBc/Hz @100kHz Offset
- Frequency Resolution: 10kHz
- Frequency Offset: -50 kHz to 50 kHz in 10 kHz steps
- Output Flatness: -1dBm~3.5dBm typical (at 0 dBm Output)
- Highly portable
- Has multiple operational modes
- Comes with external PC software that supports different operating systems
- No signal modulation functions
6. Seesii FG-100 DDS Function Low-Frequency Signal Generator [Most Affordable]
Seesii signal generator is a simple yet robust device with many applications. It is the last and the most affordable on the list of the best signal generators. You can choose it for your budget if you need a pocket-friendly instrument for research, testing, experimental teaching, repair, power communication, or industrial applications. You can use it to test and debug electronic circuits, check the audio and impulse response, etc.
Seesii signal generator is a mini and portable unit that fits your hand. It has all functions and is easy to carry around and use. Its interface also features a dual LCD screen to display signal type and frequency.
- Frequency Range: Sine wave is 1Hz-500kHz; other waveforms are 1Hz-20kHz
- Resolution: 1Hz
- Sine Wave Distortion: Under 1kHz < 1%, over 1kHz <0.5%
- DC Offset Range: ±10V (Can be closed)
- Output Range: ±10V(P-P)
- Output Impedance: 50 ohm
- Produces different output signals
- Easy to use
- Overly simplistic
- Not ideal for professional use
Things to Consider Buying A Signal Generator
Like all other products, you need background information about signal generators before you go to the market for one. In this case, you should understand all factors to consider to get the best equipment for the intended use.
This buying guide will enlighten you on these factors and the features of signal generators to help you make an informed decision.
1. Intended Use
A single-user high-performance signal generator is a good choice for DIY projects. But if you need it for scientific research or industrial use, choose a heavy-duty unit. These are more accurate, stable, and reliable. They also have multiple functions and a wide frequency range.
The budget or what you have to spend on a signal generator also determines the type of unit you buy. High-end or heavy-duty equipment is expensive and most reliable and recommended. However, there are cost-effective options if you have a tight budget. Regardless of the price tag, go for what gives you the best value for your money. Expensive products are not always the best.
3. Bandwidth or generation capacity
Most mid-range signal generators are within the 15MHz range, but high-end ones are capable of higher bandwidth. Once again, the intended application should guide you on the bandwidth specification of a signal generator. However, you should also consider future applications. If your future applications require higher generation capacity, consider buying equipment that will accommodate it.
4. Form Factor
The form factor of any equipment determines where it is used. You will find benchtop, handheld, and pocket-size units for signal generators. Usually, benchtop signal generators are bulky and mainly used in laboratories. Handheld or pocket-size may be the best option if you want what you can easily carry.
5. Signal Stability and Distortion
These two parameters define the quality of the output signal. High stability and low distortion are desired characteristics, which you can only find the best in famous brands and high-end units. If your budget fits, choose a signal generator with the most stable output signal and less distortion.
6. Interfacing Options
Automation and digitalization demand equipment that can be easily interfaced with others. Check if the signal generator you are about to buy has a USB, LAN, or other ports for networking or connection to other devices. These are more flexible and versatile.
Signal generators come in all shapes and sizes. What you choose depends on several factors. And using the buying guide provided, you can make an informed decision. However, we have a few recommendations you can check out. They include the following:
Walfront FY8300 Signal Generator is the most recommended for reliability and other features. It features three independent signal output channels for driving multiple loads or applications. You can also use it for arbitrary waveform generation.
Tabor LS3081B signal generator comes second on the list. Apart from signal generation, this equipment can produce modulated signals for analog communication applications. It also has drivers to interface with a PC and write your application codes in your preferred programming environment and language.
The last recommendation is Koolertron Upgraded 60MHz DDS signal generator. This versatile equipment produces different signal types, including sine, square, triangle, sawtooth, pulse, white noise, and user-defined waveforms. It is also accurate and relatively affordable.
Do the signal generators above satisfy your search? Why don’t you prefer function generator? It can cover the signal generator as well.