Agilent NFA
Noise Figure Analyzer
Configuration Guide
Dedicated Noise Figure Analyzer
• Hard specifications to 26.5 GHz
• Works with N4000A SNS or 346 Series noise sources
• Noise figure measurements to 110 GHz with block downconverters
Noise Figure Analyzer Overview
Over 50 years of noise figure leadership
In order to make accurate noise figure measurements, engineers need proven
equipment that give repeatable results. To help meet that need, Agilent offers
the only dedicated noise figure analyzer on the market. One of the advantages
of a dedicated noise figure analyzer is the specified results, available up to
26.5 GHz, which outperform most traditional spectrum analyzer applications
while costing less than a network analyzer solution.
The NFA Series offers results similar to the obsolete 8970 noise figure meter.
Some of the new features the NFA delivers include a graphical view and
compatibility with smart noise sources—for more details on the NFA, refer
to the NFA Series Brochure, literature number 5989-0166E, available at
The NFA Series standard configuration prepares engineers to make noise figure
measurements immediately after instrument boot up as the preamplifier and noise
figure software are both standard. There are three different frequency ranges to
choose from:
10 MHz to 3.0 GHz
10 MHz to 6.7 GHz
10 MHz to 26.5 GHz
Frequency range for Agilent NFA noise figure analyzers
10 MHz
3 GHz
10 GHz
20 GHz
30 GHz
For more information on Agilent’s full portfolio of noise figure solutions see the
Noise Figure Selection Guide, literature number 5989-8056EN, available at
Following are the additional options available for any of the dedicated noise
figure analyzers:
High-stability frequency reference
ANSI Z540 compliant calibration with test data
Rack mount and handle kit
Additional front-panel cover
Calibration, performance verification, and adjustment software
Service Center
Helpful tip: The most popular
option for enhancing the dedicated
noise figure analyzers is Option
1D5, the high-stability frequency
reference. Option 1D5 can only
be purchased at the initial sale
and is not available as an upgrade.
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Block Down Conversion
Agilent offers the K-Series block downconverters, which extend the upper
frequency limit of the N8975A from 26.5 GHz up to 110 GHz. The downconverter
uses an internal LO to down convert the input signal to an IF that is within the
measurement range of the NFA. The K-Series is offered in 13.5 GHz bands. For
example, a customer that would like to make noise figure measurements to
52 GHz would order K40, K50, and K63 in order to bridge from the 26.5 GHz
end frequency of the N8975A to the 52 GHz required.
N8975AZ - K40
26.5 GHz to 40.0 GHz
N8975AZ - K50
36.5 GHz to 50.0 GHz
N8975AZ - K63
50.0 GHz to 63.0 GHz
N8975AZ - K75
61.5 GHz to 75.0 GHz
N8975AZ - K88
75.0 GHz to 88.5 GHz
N8974AZ - K98
86.5 GHz to 100.0 GHz
N8975AZ - K99
96.5 GHz to 110.0 GHz
Frequency range for Agilent NFA noise figure analyzers
26.5 GHz
40 GHZ
60 GHz
80 GHz
100 GHz
120 GHz
Note: The K-Series block downconverters can only be used with the N8975A and
N9020A MXA signal analyzers.
Find out more
Noise Source Selection
The other critical piece of equipment needed to make a noise figure measurement
is a noise source. Noise sources contribute to your total measurement noise
figure via ENR uncertainty and input mismatch.
The output of a noise source is defined in terms of its frequency range and excess
noise ratio (ENR). Nominal ENR values of 6 dB and 15 dB are commonly available.
A low ENR noise source will minimize error due to noise detector non-linearity.
This error will be smaller if the measurement is made over a smaller, and therefore
more linear, range of the instrument’s detector. A 6 dB noise source uses a smaller
detector range than a 15 dB noise source.
Use a 15 dB noise source for:
• General-purpose applications to measure noise figure up to 30 dB
• User-calibrating the fullest dynamic range of an instrument before measuring
high-gain devices
Use a 6 dB noise source for:
• Measuring a device with gain that is especially sensitive to changes in the
source impedance
• The device under test (DUT) has a very low noise figure
• The device noise figure does not exceed 15 dB
Agilent offers three different families of noise sources, and all may be used in
conjunction with the NFA. The smart noise sources simplify measurement set-up
and improve accuracy and reliability, automatically downloading electronically
stored calibration data to the instrument to save valuable time. The 346 Series
noise sources are the traditional and most cost-effective solution, offering the
widest range of frequency coverage. Lastly, Agilent offers high-frequency noise
sources for customers making measurements above 26.5 GHz. If one source does
not include both frequency ranges, a second source will be required. A second
noise source may also be necessary when measuring a non-frequency translating
device with low noise figure and high gain.
Helpful tip: Agilent’s most
popular noise sources are the
N4000A smart noise sources and
346B traditional noise source.
Noise source
Frequency range
Smart Noise
4.6 – 6.5 dB
14 – 16 dB
12 – 17 dB 1
10 MHz – 18 GHz
10 MHz – 18 GHz
10 MHz – 26 GHz
Noise Sources
5 – 7 dB
14 – 16 dB
12 – 17 dB
21 dB
10 MHz – 18 GHz
10 MHz – 18 GHz
10 MHz – 26 GHz
1 GHz – 50 GHz
High Frequency
Noise Sources
6 – 13 dB
10 – 13 dB
33 GHz – 50 GHz
26.5 GHz – 40 GHz
For more information on these noise sources see the Noise Figure Selection Guide,
literature number 5989-8056EN, or application note 57-3, “10 Hints for Making
Successful Noise Figure Measurements,” literature number 5980-0288E,
both available at
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Special Noise Source Options
In order to meet unique customer requirements, Agilent offers the following
special noise source options:
Helpful tip: One of the most
popular special noise source
options is 346C-K01, which allows
the 346C noise source to be used
to 50 GHz.
NPL calibrated transfer standard
NPL calibrated transfer standard
NPL calibrated transfer standard
NPL calibrated transfer standard
NPL calibrated transfer standard
NPL calibrated transfer standard
Standard lab calibration at 20 frequencies from the data sheet
(10 MHz to 18 GHz)
APC 3.5 (m) connector with 21 dB nominal ENR
Type N (male) connector with 21 dB nominal ENR
Type N (female) connector with 21 dB nominal ENR
DBS waveguide adapter and nominal ENR 5 dB
APC 3.5 (m) connector with 21 dB nominal ENR
10 MHz to 50 GHz 346 Series noise source nominal ENR 21 dB
Noise Source Test Set
The Agilent N2002A noise source test set is a standalone instrument that, as
part of a calibration system, enables fast, repeatable calibrations with minimal
levels of uncertainty. This test set is needed when making ENR tests on a noise
source. Low-cost and easy-to-use, the N2002A noise source test set ensures
accurate calibration results, increasing measurement confidence and allowing
the development of DUTs with tighter specifications. The N2002A noise source
test set operates over a frequency range of 10.0 MHz to 26.5 GHz.
• Reduces noise figure uncertainty to ensure accurate and repeatable results
• Delivers results traceable to national standard
• Performs full calibration of all Agilent SNS and 346 noise sources
• Provides manual control or remote operations using GPIB
For more information see
Find out more
A hard copy and CD version of the English language quick reference guide, user’s
guide, programmer’s reference, and calibration and performance verification
manual are included with the NFA. Selections can be made to change the
localization of the manual set which will provide the quick reference guide and
user’s guide in the chosen language, and an English language version of the
programmer’s reference guide as well as calibration and performance
verification manual.
Additional NFA series manual set (English version)
Additional NFA series user manual (English version)
Additional NFA series programmer reference (English version)
NFA series manual set for Taiwan -Chinese localization
NFA series manual set - Korean localization
NFA series manual set - Chinese localization
NFA series manual set - Spanish localization
NFA series manual set - French localization
NFA series manual set - Italian localization
NFA series manual set - German localization
NFA series manual set - Japanese localization
Delete hard copy manual set
Additional Service Options
Standard warranty is 12 months
Occupied bandwidth
For 3 years, order 36 months of the appropriate calibration plan shown below
Standard calibration plan
Standard compliant calibration plan
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Literature Resources
Noise figure analyzer
NFA Series Brochure,
literature number 5980-0166E
NFA Series Noise Figure Analyzers Configuration Guide,
literature number 5980-0163E
NFA Series Noise Figure Analyzers Data Sheet,
literature number 5980-0164E
Noise figure techniques
Noise Figure Selection Guide,
literature number 5989-8056EN
Noise Figure Primer (AN 57),
literature number 5989-6192EN
Fundamentals of RF and Microwave Noise Figure Measurement (AN 57-1),
literature number 5952-8255E
Noise Figure Measurement Accuracy: The Y-Factor Method (AN 57-2),
literature number 5952-3706E
10 Hints for Making Successful Noise Figure Measurements (AN 57-3),
literature number 5980-0288E
Noise Figure Measurements of Frequency Converting Devices (AN 1487),
literature number 5989-0400EN
Non-Zero Noise Figure After Calibration (AN 1484),
literature number 5989-0270EN
Practical Noise Figure Measurement and Analysis for Low-Noise Amplifier Designs
(AN 1354), literature number 5980-1916E
Noise sources
SNS Product Overview,
literature number 5988-0081EN
Agilent 346A/B/C Noise Sources: 10 MHz to 26.5 GHz,
literature number 5953-6452B
Q347B Data Sheet,
literature number EPSG084753
R347B Data Sheet,
literature number EPSG084754
Noise source test
N2002A Noise Source Test Set User’s Guide,
literature number N2002-90001
Using the Agilent N8975A Noise Figure Analyzer and the N2002A Noise Source
Test Set, literature number 5988-7229EN
Find out more
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Revised: March 27, 2008
Product specifications and descriptions
in this document subject to change
without notice.
© Agilent Technologies, Inc. 2008
Printed in USA, April 25, 2008