Oscilloscope vs Vectorscope

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 20, 2021
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If you have even the slightest knowledge about electronics, then you would know that analyzing the signals is critical to understanding the functionality of any signal. Modern Oscilloscopes have made our lives easier to provide insight into electrical signals as well as analyzing their characteristics. But as we have stepped into the digital era, signals are the main focus of any digital device. So the functionality of oscilloscopes had to grow more. That’s why we have vectorscopes to deal with further deep analysis with signals. Let’s see an in-depth comparison of both the devices.


An oscilloscope is an apparatus that creates two-dimensional graphs for varying signal voltages as a function of time. You can display the electrical voltage signal with voltage and time as the Y & X axes respectively. Veteroscope is an instrument that allows you to display the plot of two signals with respect to time. But you can also do the same work using an oscilloscope, but viewing details about the relationships of the two signals can only be found using a vectorscope. That makes vectorscope a special type of oscilloscope.


While both the instruments work on analyzing signals, there is a difference in their main focus. Oscilloscopes focus mainly on the 2-dimensional presentation of the waveform whilst comparing it with time. Here you can also understand the characteristics of the waveform & even the values of the voltage signal. On the other hand, Vectorscopes have a different field of focus. It also analyzes signals, but that is mainly for video & audio signals. It would give you a visual pattern of the chrominance signal to detect the saturation, gain, amplitude & hue of the color signal.


Oscilloscopes are built for mainly troubleshooting malfunctioned electronic equipment. You can also probe between connections of circuits for expected results. The use of an oscilloscope is also in vogue nowadays to test sensors & outputs of signals of different systems. On the other hand, Vectorscopes have a more distinct application. Vectorscopes have a huge role in video applications. It can measure a television signal regardless of its format, leaving the technician to easily understand the characteristics of the video signal. It also has a graticule to visualize chrominance signals. Oscilloscopes lack this kind of deep feature. In the field of audio, Vectorscopes can also differentiate between channels of stereo audio signals.


Oscilloscopes are mainly used in the electronics field. You have to measure the waveform of the signals going through your circuits. You can also measure the frequency, peak value & timing through this apparatus. While basic oscilloscopes have their usage in educative purposes, the same can not be said to its modern version. Vectorscopes are nowadays widely used for audio & video applications. While other monitors & software may lack the calibration to display the color phases of the signal, vectorscopes show the color phase exactly right with all the  chrominance levels.


Almost in every circuit, students and researchers need to calculate the perfect waveform to create the proper output. Oscilloscopes are very important in the fields of electronics as students in academic need to study the characteristics of signals to understand the topics. But modern vectorscopes, despite being a type of oscilloscope, have found their importance elsewhere. With the emergence of the digital era, video & audio contents need to be perfectly analyzed. So vectorscopes give the opportunity for users to measure the exact data of the signals. In the TV & movie industry, this serves as a lethal tool for a perfect color grading or color correction.


Both the devices are capable of scoping signals for your job. They are continuously helping to analyze signals for your field of interest. You have to use the right one that is suited for your job. With the stride in electrical & computer fields, we are bound to get a more advanced instrument in the field of analyzing all sorts of signals.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.