The Advantages of a Crystal Oscillator

Do you prefer a quartz watch or a mechanical watch? You might hear some watch aficionados say that quartz watches have no soul or artistry. But one thing that they can’t deny is the superior accuracy of quartz watches.

The secret to the accuracy of quartz watches is none other than the quartz itself. The quartz is the centerpiece of a crystal oscillator inside the watch.

This electronic circuit produces precise electrical oscillations from the quartz’s piezoelectric property. This handles the clock’s timing signal.

There are other types of electronic oscillators such as the RC and LC oscillators. In timing circuits, crystal oscillators have the edge. Learn more about the advantages below.

advantage of crystal oscillators


Stability is one of the most important requirements of any oscillator. This refers to the oscillator’s ability to generate a constant frequency under different conditions.

Several factors affect the stability of the frequency. These include variations in temperature, power supply voltage, and load.

This is where this type of oscillator shines. In LC and RC, you can improve the stability by careful selection of the circuit components.

Yet, frequency stability is inherent in the crystal itself. This is due to the great mechanical strength of certain crystals like quartz.

Temperature and other factors can still influence the frequency of oscillators. We use several designs to reduce these effects. Some examples are oven-controlled (OCXO), temperature-controlled (TCXO), and voltage-controlled (VCXO).

High Q

The Q factor or quality factor describes how ‘underdamped’ oscillators are. Oscillators with a high Q factor are slower to die out. This means that you need less energy to maintain a constant signal frequency.

The high Q factor demonstrates the superior efficiency of these oscillators.

Frequency Customization and Range

You can customize the frequency at which the crystal vibrates. This is done by precise cutting of the crystal to a specific thickness, size, and shape. The frequencies can range from a few kilohertz to well over one hundred megahertz.

Low Phase Noise

The phase noise is another important feature of an oscillator’s performance. Phase noise is random, short-term fluctuations in the frequency domain. In communications systems, phase noise can reduce the signal quality.

Phase noise is generated by the amplification of the general noise in the circuit. This will produce several tones in different phases.

A crystal mostly vibrates in one axis and thus only one phase is dominant. This is the reason why a crystal oscillator can have very low phase noise.

A Crystal Oscillator Is Compact and Inexpensive

Good luck finding a mechanical watch as accurate as a quartz watch that will not empty your bank account. The compact size and low cost of crystals are reasons why they are used in various industries.

Any product that requires precision timing and measurement can take advantage of these oscillators. We see them in consumer devices such as smartphones and personal computers. They also have applications in the military, aerospace, medicine, and research.

Contact us if you have general inquiries, or if you want to request a quote or samples.