Author Topic: analog and digital  (Read 7650 times)


analog and digital
« on: July 01, 2004, 07:54:17 PM »
a stupid question but....

how can we differanciate an analog pedal between a digital pedal?
just by listening to the sound? obviously we could tell the analog distortion from the digital distortion..

but a chorus? delay? flanger? phaser? tremolo? and other....

used to own a jet flanger by guyatone, and today i read it on ebay it was a digital...guess it is not that important, but i was just wondering.

oh yes by the way, i was looking at the TONE LOCKS from ibanez, sounded alright, are they digital or analog?, because some digitals are just alright sounding, but i don't want to take risk of playing live with it.
i haven't given up just yet!


« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2004, 08:38:13 PM »
Digital, you need A/D and then D/A converters
  A/D= Audio... the sound of the guitar or source as 'mimiced' by electronic components] being converted to Digital [basically just I's and O's so the *processor can read the code].
  D/A usually after processing in the coded format of digital I's/O's that the processor reads and modifies content of [what use would A/D and D/A's be if you didn't mess with the signal > recording] anyway D/A is basically the opposite of A/D converters.
  Analog is basically representing a waveform [or reproducing] into an electronic signal 'pulse' mimicing the pressure waveforms...soundwaves pressure pulses in the air into electronic voltage swings at that same frequency that swing pos and neg at the same rate as the air pressure soundwaves do.
  A mic element when vibrated converts pressure differences [caused by soundwaves] into electronic impulses. This converted to electronic signal, when processed digitally is represented. the pos an neg swing of the wave is recorded as I's and O's [the same way  computer records] the coded messages are then processed digitally by changing the codes of the I's and O's then converted back into a electronic pulse signal [analog] to be amplified by analog amp or what  not.
  Ed: I'm sure there's a more concise explanation around, I think the bottom paragraph might be the best of the three...I guess I felt like typing...hope this helps.
Convention creates following, following creates convention.


analog and digital
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2004, 08:47:04 PM »
Digital and anologue are fundamentally different, but the sounds they make do not *have* to be different.  Many people here like analogue circuits, but in many cases there are advantages to digital processessing.

To start with, ALL sounds are analogue.  But transducers (?) such as pickups and mikes convert sound and mechanical energy to analogue electrical signals.  Pedal circuits can process those signals by (1)modifying the electrical characteristics (eg limiting) (2) converting the electrical signal to numbers, changing the numbers, then converting back to electricity, or (3) both.  Analogue pedals do (1) only, while digital usually do (3).

*Some* digital pedals have done a poor job of (2), especially changing the numbers (to simulate limiting, etc), so they have got a bad name.  But the problems are not INTRINSIC to digital.  There's good and bad digital just like there's good and bad analogue.  Perhaps one reason why digital continues to have a poor reputation is that lots of effects can be simulated very cheaply, so *cheap* digital is capturing the cheap end of the market.

Anyway, lots of people will have opinions on this.....

Oh yeah, the Tone-lok pedals are analogue and IMO good quality.
RE: but a chorus? delay? flanger? phaser? tremolo? and other....
All can be done digitally or analogue.  Echo/delay is mostly digital these days, but in the old days....
Brett Robinson
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. (Mao Zedong)

Mike Burgundy

analog and digital
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2004, 08:48:11 PM »
Basically, you can't just by listening to it, if all is well and it's a well-designed pedal. True, good digital distortions are at least very rare, but they're winning ground. True, often digital sounds sterile to a lot of people, but there are examples of other possibilities out there.
There's a particular (digital) delay out here that sounds *very* analog - by introducing MISTAKES and distortion to the (analog)output of the DDL.
Would you have known the Guyatone was digital when you heard it? Would you have loved the pedal thinking it was analog *after* hearing it? Would it sound any different once you knew it was digital? Actually, to you it probably would, as it would to me. That's psycho-acoustics for ya. The pedal didn't change though.
That said, why are you afraid of playing live with a digital pedal?
There's more digital stuff out there of a certain reliability nowadays than analog. That's not a problem. what is? Sound? If you can't hear a problem up close, or worse,. in the studio, there's no way ANYONE is going to notice live.
I just went through a rather painful mixing process getting HUMMM out of a kick microphone (live recording) - sure enough, it was completely inaudible at the gig, but it's way too nasty to put on record.
Live is one of the safest environments you can have, especially with a good engineer at the desk.
Don't write off digital until you know why, how and what the damn thing sounds like.  Don't accept analog (or tubes, for that matter - and don't get me wrong, I LOVE tubes) as a-okay either.
If you want to know what  technology a pedal uses and can't find the info, all you can do is open it up and see - if you have the experience to recognise what's what. If you don't - don't bother. There's electronics out there that will *literally* self destruct if you touch it in the wrong place - no joke.
Hope it helps


« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2004, 09:00:31 PM »
Draw a 'curve' [like a sine or other wave] using only straight lines...the shorter you make the lines and the farther you stand back, the less you will see anything looking like a straight line. If you were going to rep a line going straight up it would be a series of up up's...going across would be ------diaginal would be up over up over up over...then the inbetween angles would be up over up up over up up over up up up over up up up over up up up up over...etc.
  Digital records the waveform in such a way. The shorter the 'lines' [or more times the digital item takes, and codes a reading, the higher the resolution...modern or higher end digital items which take more readings per unit of time, sound less harsh as a result.
  There is a timelag factor with using A/D, then D/A converters that enable a processor to be used, just so small as to possibly be noticed, they say and IMO, that doesn't exist in analog units...does this matter?...judgements of digital units vs analog abound.
  I really like these digital echoes, the inputs seem sensative to overload sometimes, but the extreme low maintanance compared to tape echoes or better performance than =$ analog echoes makes me say I like these digital echoes. The 'best' of mine is a Roland SDE-1000.
  I but these factory made echo units, and use Cakewalk to record on PC, also very very convenient and hard to beat [in my bracket anyway], other than that I'm preferring transistors IC's and Tubes for processing, but tha'ts just me, after seeing and hearing it most many times [can't say Ive heard 'everything' there is].
  So being not the abso expert on digital, all I can tell you is find a real digiguru...see what that does...I dunno but to tell what I know exept that opens the big 'VS' digi/analog Can of Worms...
  I use tube amps, loved the clean on a Behringer Modeler combo, tried and heard many Line 6's etc. had an RP100 [blech for live use anyway]
Convention creates following, following creates convention.

Mike Burgundy

analog and digital
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2004, 09:20:14 PM »
rest assured - I love analog, and hands-down prefer analog, and perferably tubes, while were at it, in the studio. Live, however, well, if it's good stuff, and used well,  I don't think there's much of a difference. Well, there IS, but, um, it's just different. Talk about talking oneself into a corner. Not necessarily better or worse, and not neccesarily audible. That's the point.
So the point was NOT to judge ;)
By the way: there IS a time-lag in analog. Go figure.


analog and digital
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2004, 09:41:38 PM »
Another 2c worth.
I'm can't see that the D/a and A/D conversion technology is a big factor in this.  Otherwise CDs would sound bad.  
But the data processing software is probably ordinary.  I don't see that distortion can be well simulated by simple formulae like "IF signal>200 then Signal =200" (where 200 might = 1V).  So simple digital limiters will never make very good distortions.  But if you wrote a hundred lines of code it might be a good effect and 10 thousand lines might get you a fuzzface soundalike.  So will digital distortion stay "cheap and dumb" in the future?  Hmmm...
Brett Robinson
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. (Mao Zedong)


analog and digital
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2004, 10:25:35 PM »
true true

i knew the guyatone was an analog before i bought it (tested it)...
but during using it, it sounding too whiney and sharp, i suspected this as a digital, and today i read that it was infact a digital, but i 'm sure it's an analog....

you guys put way more infomation that i could think of, i guess the mechanical and scientific side of the differential between analog and digital stompboxes,

i'm just worried about live performances, if digital was little more organic and could handle live performances without having a crazy steve vai sound tech level sound guy around...

it would be just as good as analog pedal

i haven't given up just yet!

Mike Burgundy

analog and digital
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2004, 10:54:41 PM »
without having a crazy steve vai sound tech level sound guy around...

it would be just as good as analog pedal

Good point. But what if we have digital equipment that doesn't just exploit the cheap way to access all kinds of parameters, and analog gear having everything adjustable?
What if we have (and we do, they do exist) digital equipment that is truly plug-and-play with one or two dials? Microshaft shame on you!
I admit a lot of analog equipment works, well, easy. Why? 'Cause we're used to it, and because it has less knobs.
So, what if we have say, a chorus, with just rate and depth. But it's bloody quiet, and offers a lot more options, but only if you want'em. And it sounds nice and warm, organic almost.
Keep in mind a certain sound is often a result of carefully orchestrating frequency response and harmonic content of every stage.
A clean MOSFET stage (I dare you to hear the difference with a *well designed* digital stage *with a good analog pre- and post amp* (most people forget about that - all about this-and-that A/D or D/A, but they forget the real amps) is VERY nice, but once impedance issues are sorted and were not into distortion at all.... Give me a setup in which you can reliably hear the difference in a blind A/B test, and I'll give you one where you won't. Bet?
Um. I didn't mean to get all worked up and type like a landslide.. Point was: digital DOESN'T have to mean bad sound, nor does it mean lots'o'knobs.
I've had analog gear that wouldn't work unless you got all the (many) knobs in exactly the right position. I must say though that Z-Vex exploits this to maximum effect, but he IS somewhat unique in that (and don't you forget it)
I've had digital gear crap out on me because of lack of knowledge on my part, and I've seen units sound crappy no matter what I did. I've also had this with analog.
Do not forget that the Vai-type tech you asked for also switches, tweaks and manipulates  ANALOG amps and channels and whatnot (on marshalls - and he physically walks up to them, goes "1...2...3...NOW" and changes whatever needs to be done. No pedals, no midi, no digital. Well, digitalis. His finger. For Slash, in this particular example, but I've done it, and many with me, for a plethora of bands and musicians.)  Works his butt off too.  Or that guy who used to manipulate the delay timimg for.... Oh well. You get the point.


analog and digital
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2004, 12:44:24 AM »

the green colored (4 knobs) digitech synth master's(?) soundclips.. today i heard, the first and the second samples of the product was 100% like analog sound, it was very organic and true.

would love to see some descent digital effects come into the markets..i had a rp200, which i'm not madly fond of, but i can get some descent sound (even distortions) out of those thangs..and pull off some complicated & insane Tom Morello inspired spacey reverb echos with quadriple octave synthy wah sounds in one product...

and it seems the highly graded (made) analog expensive products gives us (well me) extremely hard time getting good sound out of it, then a digitech rp-200 or GNX4 (most famous and well made multi-fx?), where this thing has the right sound on it, and we can just manipulate it to our desires.

i'm guessing you are right, the pre-amps(?) cabs..head or combos (digital or analog) and micings, (and them sound guys) have MORE contributing factors towards our instrument's sound deliverance than a 500$ analog

however, the "thing" everyone hear might agree is, that digital amps, or digital gears of today's technology, (that i've seen) fails in live situations..(but certainly not in studio i might add..), and since we cannot even dare dreaming of affording a famous sound-technician heh. i guess for now better off being stuck with them good ol' analog stompboxes?

i don't know.. i am just caught up in the "analog wave" from the people around here and there and i've heard from on the net...

until the "what if we have digital equipment that doesn't just exploit the cheap way to access all kinds of parameters? and they are actually good?" time comes around..i prefer just simply _guitar into ds-1 into tube marshall and just rocking out.

 :oops:  8)
i haven't given up just yet!


analog and digital
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2004, 01:30:57 AM »
I haven't been into effects long enough to know why digital effects got such a bad name, but I'd imagine that it has something to do with the fact that digital technology isn't as old as, say, the fuzz face. We're stretching it, but there are people around who can probably recall the first electric guitar, and the whole of modern rock history. Then there are tons of players whose musical careers began and ended when digital multi-fx weren't even a dream. Digital is the new kid on the block, relatively speaking, and he's got something to prove, especially with the whole "vintage is better" mentality going on.

That said, there are a few places where I feel that digital approximation just isn't there right now... namely distortion modeling. I haven't tried a digital distortion modeler that sounded as good as an overdriven tube amp (to my ears), but simulating physical tubes is going to be much harder than doing a tremolo. I haven't tried some of the top-of-the-line Line6 stuff, which I've heard sounds great, but I can tell a difference with 'common-man' amp sims. Also, a few digital distortions tend to tire my ears out after half an hour or so, but that could be unrelated.

Digital technology has its applications, however. I own a V-Amp 2, and it's excellent for practicing or plugging into the computer to record without a mic. It allows me to get 32 'in the ballpark' amp tones in something that's only a couple of pounds and can be tucked into the side of a gig bag. Many people who are listening won't be able to tell that you're using an amp simulator. Many people here might be able to, but we build effects as a hobby :).

Once, I recorded guitar with a friend's band at our music technology building which is about 1/3 mile from my dorm room. The first night, I lugged my 4x10 Peavey Classic 50 amp to the studio and back (don't have a car at school). We got all the first takes recorded with everyone playing together. The second night, I was a little late due to a midterm, and just showed up to see if they were there (didn't want to haul the amp for nothing :)). The other guitarist had brought his Pod 2, and since we were redoing individual tracks and layering, we just alternated with the Pod. The finished product sounded pretty nice, and honestly if I didn't know what we did each night, I'd be hard pressed to tell what was a tube amp and what was the "fake." For $100-200, these things have a ton of uses. I still use a tube amp when possible, but in a pinch, these things save the day.

You'll also note that I used the phrase "digital approximations" when discussing limitations up there. In many, many applications, companies are pushing products that declare their digital products to be "just like analog!" or "sounds tube-like!" Hey, they'll even go as far as to throw a tube in the box, just so they can say it uses one! Rarely does a company focus on things digital technology can do that are not so easily done in analog stompboxes. Suddenly, you have millions of transistors to work with, and all you can do is an "almost-there" replication of what players already have? Line 6 multieffects have an advantage in putting a range of -good- effects in a small box, and I've heard some good stuff on the Boss effects, but all the 80's digital gear I've played with sounds like it has a plastic sheet over it (not sure how to describe the quality of the sounds, but think earlier Digitech stuff). If you instead try to do something else, you have things like the Whammy or a Bitcrusher. You can try to do those in analog, but they lend themselves much more to digital technology.

Whoo, that was too long... I guess what I'm trying to say is that digital effects don't necessarily have to be considered the evil twin of their analog counterparts. They each do different things well, and so long as you don't always expect digital stuff to do exactly what analog stuff does and nothing more, they can coexist peacefully :)

Paul Perry (Frostwave)

analog and digital
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2004, 04:09:01 AM »
Think about it.... everything you hear on a CD has been digitised. :D


analog and digital
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2004, 04:14:24 AM »
that's why it doesn't sound live  :lol:
i haven't given up just yet!


analog and digital
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2004, 12:08:08 PM »
Quote from: Paul Perry (Frostwave)
Think about it.... everything you hear on a CD has been digitised. :D

That's why I still keep my turntable and about 2500 vinyl albums.  8)

Also, I think the Digital / Analog thing comes down to *feel* as often as tone when talking about guitar FX. A digital amp emulator might provide a "close enough" waveform and be very useful for recording, but may not provide the same feel and response to the player as a tube amp. The audience and listener may not be able to tell, but the player can, and therefore may play differently. Still handy to have around though.

Kerry M

Peter Snowberg

analog and digital
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2004, 02:54:15 PM »
Digital got a bad wrap because nobody bothered to differentiate between low quality and high quality digital.

Digital is capable of lower noise performance than analog can ever be just because of the way the universe is. Doing digital processing at that level has been expensive until just very recently.

Digital is fantastic for some things, but when it comes to distortion, I still love tubes, diodes, transistors, and opamps.

Take care,
Eschew paradigm obfuscation