If you are a music lover and fond of playing guitar, you would know about delay pedals. It is actually a machine that plays back music that is fed into it. We use delay pedals to make a sound more compelling, add depth to the tunes, and make the solo sound more impactful.
There are two types of delay pedals used for these effects: analog and digital pedals. Here we are going to cover bases on each type of pedal and the difference between analog and digital pedals.
Difference in Sound
When you are recording a sound in an analog pedal, then the sound comes out more or less as it is. As you play the music, you will not notice much of a difference from its original version. An analog pedal usually uses a bucket bridge device that makes the sound signal go through a series of capacitors.
However, in the case of sounds played by digital pedals, the music is more transformed. You can safely say that the notes sound more ”digitalized.” The signal is converted from analog input into digital and then back to analog again before the pedal delivers the sound. Hence the sound that is produced is not quite the same. If you play an analog pedal and a digital pedal side by side, then you can notice the distinct differences in the sound.
Also, many people point that the sound that comes off of the analog delays are way warmer than the digital delays. And we agree with this fact. Because of all the processing that digital pedals do, the sound isn’t quite as warm as it sounds on the analog units. Also, because of the analog delays kind of loses the signal strength in the high-frequency notes, which makes the sound come off as warmer without the addition of that extra bass.
Read more – How to use a digital delay pedal.
Difference in Noise
The BBD or the bucket-brigade device used in the analog delays has its limitations. In the case of analog delays, the sound is more broken up, which allows more noise. This is the reason behind the warmness in the sound that comes out of the analog delays. In digital delays, the sound is not as warm and can come off as a little tech to people (however, they sound lovely!), but there is no noise in this type of delay. So, in this aspect, we have to agree the digital delay pedals are perhaps better.
Difference in Duration
Wouldn’t you love it if a delay pedal can play the repetitions to your demand and without any hassle? Yes, Right?
This is one of the reasons most people tend to lobby with digital delay pedals. Technically, a digital delay is way ahead of its analog counterpart.
The main purpose of a delay pedal is to record a sound and play or repeat it afterward to add depth to the note. This is what digital delay pedals excel at. In the case of an analog pedal, the time delay is at most 600 milliseconds, which is fine, but not quite good enough when people have other better options available.
In this context, the digital delay is way superior. You can input a rhythm into it, and it can cut you a time slack of two to three seconds!
If you are a novice and reading it, you will probably think that it isn’t a big deal, but a real guitarist will understand what we are talking about here. The time delay in the case of the digital pedals is almost 4 to 5 times more than what that analog version can give you.
This is the reason that the professional recording studios mostly have digital delays for audio effects. However, we are not saying that they don’t have analog delays. In fact, many professionals prefer analog delays because of the freshness of the sound, but the delayed effect is best given by the digital pedals like the Boss DD 200, Boss DD 500, Boss DD 8, Dunlop Carbon Copy, TC Electronic The Prophet, etc.
Other Technical Differences
We have already told you that analog guitar delay pedals rely on the bucket brigade device chip for sending the signal. It uses BBD or bucket brigade chip that has a circuit within a circuit. It is not really a high-tech thing. Most of the physics related to the analog delay pedals are pretty simple. Also, it does not have as many settings, and hence, you will not be able to tweak the sound as much on a digital pedal.
A digital pedal, on the other hand, is a bit more complex than the analog guitar pedals. It uses distinct algorithms for producing a sound. When you fine-tune its settings, this pedal does some calculations based on the algorithm, and that is what creates the varieties of delays and reverberations.
Also, it uses a digital signals processing chip (DSP) to put together the echo effects that we all are such great fans of. Some good digital delay brands even have the MIDI control, features available on the machines. Frankly speaking, analog delay pedals will offer you more flexibility than the digital ones arranged on your pedalboard.
However, you should remember that these costs more too. And being a serious guitarist, you should certainly have one digital delay unit in your music case for all the effects that it can add to your notes.
Which Guitar Delay Pedal is Better?
Which delay pedal is better depends on several factors, and of course, your choice. But if you ask us, we think that if you are looking for something that will produce a purer sound that will be closer to the original version, then the analog delay pedal is perhaps the better one. It does not have much flexibility, but who needs it when you are rooting for the echo of the original sound?!
But if the time delay is your preference and you want to add more effects to your guitar notes, then digital delay pedals for lead guitar looks like a better choice. It is more flexible and has a number of settings that you can use to create a myriad of delay effects. Also, while choosing a delay pedal, you might like to keep the cost factor in mind.