analog vs digital delay

THE Differences Between Analog Vs Digital Delay Guitar Pedals

If you are a music lover and fond of playing guitar, you know about delay pedals. It is 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.

The main difference between analog and digital delay is that analog uses a bucket-brigade-delay (BBD) chip to produce the effect, while digital works by digitizing the original signal to be replayed as a delay. 

There are two types of delay pedals used for these effects: analog and digital. Here, we will cover every pedal and the difference between analog and digital pedals.

Difference Between Analog Delays And Digital In Sound

When you are recording a sound in an analog pedal, the sound comes out more or less as it is. As you play the music, you will not notice much difference from its original version. An analog pedal usually uses a bucket bridge device that makes the original signal go through a series of capacitors.

However, the music is more transformed in the case of sounds played by digital pedals. 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, you can notice the distinct differences in the sound.

Also, many people point out that the sound that comes off of the analog is way warmer than the digital delays. And we agree with this fact. Because of all the digital pedals’ processing, the sound isn’t quite as warm as it sounds on the analog units. Also, the analog delays lose the signal strength in the high-frequency notes, which makes the sound come off as warmer without adding 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 has its limitations. In the case of analog, 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. In digital, the sound is not as warm and can come off as tech to people (however, they sound lovely!), but there is no noise in this type of delay. So, we have to agree that the digital pedals are perhaps better in this aspect.

Difference in Duration

Wouldn’t you love it if a delay pedal could play the repetitions to your demand without any hassle? Yes, Right?

This is one of the reasons most people tend to lobby with digital pedals. Technically, a digital delay is way ahead of its analog counterpart.

The primary 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 pedals excel at. In the case of an analog pedal, the delay time is at most 600 milliseconds, which is fine, but not quite good enough when people have other better options available.

In this context, digital 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 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 why professional recording studios mostly have digital audio effects. However, we are not saying that they don’t have analog. Many professionals prefer analog because of the freshness of the sound. Still, 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 guitar signal. It uses a BBD or bucket brigade chip with a circuit within a circuit. It is not 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.

On the other hand, a digital pedal is more complex than an analog guitar pedal. It uses distinct algorithms for producing sound. When you fine-tune its settings, this pedal does some calculations based on the algorithm, which creates a variety 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 brands even have MIDI control features available on the machines. Analog pedals will offer you more flexibility than the digital ones arranged on your pedalboard.

However, it would help if you remembered that these cost more too. And being a serious guitarist, you should certainly have one digital delay unit in your music case for all the effects 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 closer to the original version, then the analog 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 look like a better choice. It is more flexible and has several 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 between these two options.