10 July 2013

Analog versus digital

From the Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange: Why does digital equipment have more latency than analogue?

As an electric guitarist who likes digital gear and who is watching things move seemingly inexorably in the digital direction, the inherent latency of digital signal processing is something that’s been on my mind. So, I was pretty interested in this response.

The thing that I hate about analog is the careful balancing of signal levels throughout the signal chain. That always drive me nuts because my OCD kicks in when it comes to these things. I hate that I can’t know that all the trim pots are set exactly the same way all the time. I hate even more that setting them exactly the same isn’t what you want. They need to be set for the environment they’re in. And even if it is the same place at a different time, that’s a different environment.

Once you’ve digitized the signal, though, you can call up the exact stored settings and highly reproducible results in any environment. You only have to deal with the analog issues at the ADC and DAC ends.

For me, the upshot of this is that I’m good with analog for simple signal chains, but complex signal chains benefit from going digital.

Digital single-effect pedals—like BOSS’s new MDP line—are perhaps the worst case scenario. You go through ADC/DAC for each pedal. It’d be cool if the pedals could detect that they were connected to another MDP pedal and use a digital signal between them.

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