Digital vs Analog Effects

By Inmyhands

I know there are a lot of old school players who swear by analog effects and for the most part I'm one of them. But,I must admit that digital has come a long way and in some types of effects I'm quite pleased with the sounds produced. For example, the digitech multi chorus and whammy pedals, the boss RV3 Reverb/Delay pedal, and the Line6 DL4 digital delay. The whammy still needs some work but I've got one and use the pitch doubling effects from time to time. The other three I mentioned I have no complaints about. The multi chorus and DL4 are excellent for my applications. The RV3 provides a lot of bang for the buck and has some very good ambient sounds.
For tremolo, phasers, flangers, wahs, overdrives, and most high gain applications I still prefer my older pedals or my tube amp gain channels.
It does seem though, at least to me, that for doubling or multiplying voices and for very crisp, clean delays the digital effects are really giving good results.


By MrFluffy

As far as I'm aware there are no true pitch shifters that are analog, (that includes whammies, and harmonisers), the only analog pitch devices that I can think of are octavers and octave doublers, but they don't provide true pitch shifting in the literal sense.
I always go for digital when it comes to pitch shifting of any kind.

When it comes to delay I go for digital 90% of the time.
I don't think very much of this much vaunted "warmth" that analog delays are meant to provide. IMO it's not so much that digital delays are "cold", so much as they coldly show up deficincies in other areas of the sound.
And I much prefer the clarity of reproduction that good digital delay provides.

Reverb, vibrato, chorus, and all other modulated spatial/delay/phase FX.................I have no preference.
I've heard damn good versions of both, and I quite often mix and match them.
The only real distinctive tendency that I have with these FX is where I use them in the signal chain. If I'm going to put an effect into the front-end I'll tend towards analog, whereas I usually put digital FX in the loop.

With overdrive, wah, compressors, and practically all other dynamic FX I go for analog 99% of the time.
I'll use overdrive as the easiest example of why.
IMO digital ODs suck the big one 99% of the time cos:
They have no warmth,
Their sustain is artificial,
At the top and bottom ends of the EQ range they seem to fade off into noise,
They don't respond to touch or interact with amps/speakers in anything like a natural/pleasing way,
They quite often "lag"!

Most other digital dynamic FX suffer from these problems quite badly, with the possible exception of digital fuzz, because if all you want is a f***** up square wave then digital is as good a way to go as any other.


When it comes to signals that have already been recorded, my view is totally different. I'm quite happy to mix and match all types of analog and digital FX because recorded signals differ from live signals in two fundamental ways.

1: a recorded signal has already been drastically attenuated/modulated during it's transition from live signal to recording media.

2: recorded signals exist within the context of a mix of sounds.

Factor 1 fundamentally changes the way that any given signal interacts with any given electronic device or chain.
Factor 2 fundamentally changes the way that any given effect is perceived by the human ear/brain.

So to sum up my approach to recording my own guitar:
The signal chain from the guitar right up to the recording media follows the preferences I outlined in the section headed "Guitar", but once the signal's recorded then my preferences switch to the section headed "Recording, mixing and mastering".