My new digital storage oscilloscope
Towards the end of 2017 I thought it´d be the time to get me a contemporary oscilloscope. My Budget span up to 1,000€ . My search began of course(?) at the well known brands. Well, the choices were few and the result quite disillusioning. Tektronix-Keithley offers only one, out-dated series below 1k€. With a tiny unprecise display, the scope obviously sourced from a chinese OEM and meagerly 2.5k of memory, I aks myself wether Keithley just shows a very special kind of Tek-Humor when they describe that thing as digital storage(!) oscilloscope.
At Keysight (former Agilent/HP) its not alot better. rebranded GWInsteks, only 2-channel, 100k memory. Not even to talk of Rhode&Schwarz or Teledyne LeCroy. For R&S´s honors sake it should be remarked though that it looks as if their entry level series is no cheap OEM stuff, and that they offer 10Bit resolution and large displays for comparatively low money. If my budget span 2k€ to 3k€ the RTB2000 series would probabely be my thing. So I had to look at other manufacturers offers.
First were Rigol- their 2000 series is on the marlet for quite a while, has got some decent critics and was only slightly above my budget limit. On their website they also offer used and refurbished or presentational devices. With a bit of luck You may be able to fetch a good device for less ... I wasn´t lucky. On the other hand the cheaper and also quite successful 1000 series seemed to me too compromised. OWON (e.g Voltcraft/Conrad) and UNI-T were sorted out quickly after reading the first reviews.
In the end and more like accidently Siglent entered my focus. Siglent is one of the younger but very ambitioned chinese manufactureres and they are represented in Germany not before 2013.
The brand new X and X-E series were just ahead of their market debut and promised alot ... on paper ... as everyone does .... and where everything works like a charm.
There were obviously good reasons for cautiousness. So I started googling and researching.
The 2-cgannel SDS1202X-E startet first and began to collect very good critics from the start. Several teardowns and reviews resumed very positive to almost exuberant. Quite quickly formerly costing options were added to the bundle for free. One could also recognize that Siglent listened to the people. That means that they send out devices to professionals for testing and that they got feedback from Forums and results from that went into the updates.Not at last I find it simpatico that the founder and CEO is a Tekki himself, someone who knows the matter, not a mean chandler´s soul only thinking in profits.
At the time this really excellently equipped device sells for 340€ VAT excluded.
Shortly after the appearance of the 2-channel SDS1204X-E Siglent brought two 4-channel scopes, the 100MHz SDS1104X-E (430€ ex.VAT) and the 200MHz SDS1204X-E (660€ ex.VAT). They differ in Hardware slightly from their 2-channeled brother (apart of course from the added frontends). Between them there is only the difference in Bandwidth. The SDS1104X-E can be software upgraded to a SSDS1204X-E (or hacked).
As a special it should be noted that they are rather 2x 2-channel (utilizing 4 identical frontends) scopes because they are fitted with two A-D concerters of 1GS/s each. Due to this You can measure with 1GS/s in 2-channel mode equivalent to a 2-channel scope with a single 2GS/s converter.
Only when measuring in 3- or 4-channel mode drops the sample rate to 500MS/s. But that rate still suffices for signals up to 100MHz and only way above that limit may aliasing artefacts occur. The probability to have to measure 3 or 4 channels at the same with signals beyond 150MHz is very low.
the scope comes with 2x 14MB of memory (resp. 3x or 4x 7MB), so that long sequences of the signal can be recorded. The waveform capture rate is among the best in its class and isn´t generally reached or bettered in higher classes.
A fast webserver runs on the scope so that when connected via LAN you can control the device from Your computer and large monitor almost in realtime.
It´d lead far too far to mention all the functions and features of triggering and mathematical alogorithms supplied, but for Audio the following two are quite useful. In combination with a signal genearot the scopes are able to generate Bode plots, hence the amplitude- and phase response over frequency of the DUT. With Siglent´s own signal generators this works especially easy.
Also they feature a really useable 1Mpoint FFT that´s bandwidth (Nyquist again) spans up to 500MHz with 1GS/s. Of course won´t You achieve the same neither the resolution nor the dynamic range nor the bandwidth of a true spectrum analyzer, but for many applications it suffices to be able to locate and to limit to the critical frequency range.
As one can see from the picture the arrangement of the knobs and buttons appears logical and easy to recognize. The scope can be dealt with easyly and intuitively. Of course are there certain points which might have been done easier or better, but in the face of the huge amount of functionalities it´d be a rather hard task ... possibly even above the capabilities of this device- and price-class. And Yes, no man is going to lose one´s face when reading a manual every now and then ;-)
Compared to an older LeCroy 64X Waverunner and a R&S RTH1004 I almost always got the measurement result faster and easier with the Siglent. The rate of success using just the Auto-Setup is astonishingly high. And if required there are another 8 trigger modes left.
So my resumee is a absolutely positive one. A great scope with a huge potential, very worth it´s price. I´d buy it again any time.
As a final side note .... Siglent is OEM for TeledyneLeCroy, BK Precision and others.
The identical TeledyneLeCroy scopes are named:
T3DSO1102 (580€ ex.VAT), only a 100MHz version of the SDS1202X-E (340€ ex.VAT)
T3DSO1104 (710€ ex.VAT) = SDS1104X-E (430€ ex.VAT)
T3DSO1204 (880€ ex.VAT) = SDS1204X-E 660€ ex.VAT)