Analog vs. Digital

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by amz-fx, Dec 2, 2019 at 7:50 AM.

  1. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2013
    Vancouver BC
    Since I started building pedals I haven’t bought any analog pedals. I have bought a few digital though - like an EHX K9. May buy an FM3 ...
    willc68 likes this.
  2. stanshall

    stanshall Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    in the back of a dream car twenty foot long
    I've got two old digital Ibanez delays among my pedals, almost all the other 40 or 50 are analog, I like the older tones best, with the vintage guitars into the funky old analog pedals into the old tube amps I know for sure I'm getting authentic vintage tones

    I don't like internal mikes or pickups on acoustic guitars either, I just like the sounds of the old-fashioned way better

    but: when I had my POG I liked it for years, until I moved on, and still my favorite all-time pedal was the Boss PS-2 digital pitch shifter/delay on long delay with feedback cranked

    and I do want a Boss DD-7 and a Dunlop Echoplex delay and an Electro-Harmonix Attack Decay, but I always find other analog pedals to jump their places in the queue

    there will always be new and better digital pedals and I can get to them whenever

    digital pedals with memory banks and presets and software updates don't get me going, too much work and not enough fun for me, but I'm very limited technologically, I love one-knob and no-knob no-brainer pedals, I'm not a tweaker, I'd rather switch the pedals themselves than scroll through settings

    which is not to imply that my way is better or that analog is superior or that there is anything at all wrong with digital pedals, I am interested in digital stuff and if somebody were to give me some good stuff I would definitely find a way to use it

    or trade it for some analog stuff on my list haha

    I'd rather have my Jerry Jones electric sitar back than any digital pedal in the world

    but the second-to-last pedal I bought, almost a full year ago, was a Boss MZ-2 Digital Metalizer, just remembered that one, I love it, even the digital chorus stuff I was supposed to not like

    and one more, my Boss DC-3 Digital Dimension, that is a great one for stereo fun

    but those are vintage pedals and fit into my scheme

    but for sure I'd use any good digital pedal I was given, I enjoyed the hell out of this DD-20 I borrowed last year and I tried to buy it from my friend, but the f*cker decided to keep it
  3. Handmade Music

    Handmade Music Member

    Oct 11, 2017
    Columbia River Gorge
    I've managed to put together an entire Source Audio ecosystem and I love it.
    My drive is still purely analog... for now.
    I would be willing to give digital dirt a try, though.
    Any recommendations?
    Jack DeVille likes this.
  4. lefort_1

    lefort_1 Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 4, 2012
    I've heard that, the things one finds entertaining offer a window into the soul.
    If that's true, I fear that the joy I experience whilst watching complicated all-wheel-drive vehicles and their algorithms go bonkers on wet, sheet ice on a windy day most likely does not reflect well upon my mental makeup.
    I-84 at the mouth of the Sandy River on January 1 is always good for a few inelastic collisions.
  5. Joncaster

    Joncaster Member

    Apr 12, 2018
    South Africa
    I'm busy building a spring tank reverb, in the tuning phase now.
    It's a great project, fascinating and totally worth the time and effort purely from an interest point of view.

    But, I've come to realize that:

    This particular method of creating an effect to mimic an actual space is extremely inefficient.
    It takes up lots of space, uses a lot of power, requires tons of gain in places, and is very sensitive to the outside world (not very robust in an engineering sense)
    Also, the parameters one can affect in order to arrive at a truly beautiful sound are limited (due to its mechanical nature).
    I am embracing all this though, because why not, I can. And springs are cool.

    I'm busy tuning it and wondering where the magic sauce is, what the values are, where the changes need to be made, that will give it it's final voice.
    I'm pretty damn close, it sounds great...but i'm not there yet. It gets really subtle.
    I want all my builds to have something happening, where they allow me to express, add to my textures, etc.

    So after I finish a few more analog builds, I want to start in digital.
    The palette seems to be infinite there, such an open expanse of possibility (setting aside the constraints of the hardware and coding abilities, etc).
    My question to myself will be:
    With all that choice, how do you find the magic sauce?
  6. Stikoun

    Stikoun Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    Exactly my experience, your whole post. I actually bought my Boss CP-1X to push the boundaries of my open-mindedness. A digital compressor? The very idea makes me sick to my stomach. Well, actually, not anymore. I was actively trying to listen for "digital artifacts" or any undesirable tone coloration. No luck. The thing just sounds awesome.

    If the OD-1X is as good, I can imagine one in my future (and that will be pushing my mental boundaries even further - I'm mostly with the "I like my dirt analog" crowd)

    You mention the Whammy - I used to have the not-so-popular IV version and still kicking myself for selling it. Lots of expressive stuff can be done with it (Gilmour in "Marooned", anyone?).

    Finally, my H9 is not going anywhere, in spite of being PITA to power and having no analog dry-though. Sonically, there is very little I don't like about it, even the less than popular modulations in it sound good to me. So many great sounds from a relatively small footprint. Don't know anything on the market that could replace it, so I have no trouble living with its quirks.

    To me, it has been paying off to let go of my preconceived notions of "digital cannot sound natural".
    Riffa likes this.
  7. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    dunno about basing my aesthetic judgment on the metric of "poor tracking" (of a pitch-shifted delay-line), but hey:
    Chase Bliss Thermae pretty much rocks!.
    "digital brain, analog heart".
    ymmv, natch.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 8:09 AM
    lefort_1 and songtalk like this.
  8. songtalk

    songtalk Member

    Sep 13, 2014
    Let's get one thing straight.

    Soul exists in the ideas of creative people being brought to life.

    It has nothing to do with the circuit of the tool they are using.
    Tom Von Kramm and Riffa like this.
  9. chunky48

    chunky48 Member

    Oct 6, 2018
    Dunwich, UK
    The 2 digital ring modulators I have, simple one-knob one built into Nord Electro2 and full-featured one in Eventide ModFactor, just don't 'do' what the analog MF-102 moogerfooger does to a sound.
  10. Riffa

    Riffa Member

    Mar 29, 2017
    Indeed it is. I was skeptical, but very curious. I decided to bite the bullet and don’t regret it at all. It’s unlike any of my analog pedals in terms of responsiveness to pick attack.
  11. Mungi64

    Mungi64 Member

    May 31, 2018
    Up on Cripple Creek
    I really like the saturation side of the Deco. Usually set it for slight hair, but I enjoy it cranked as well. It also stacks nicely with my analog dirt pedals, primarily a Snouse BB2 or Looking Glass.

    Check out Eric Haugen’s recent YouTube video on Deco vs. Lightspeed....
    vmann likes this.
  12. Squatch57

    Squatch57 Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    Blue Mountains near Sydney
    Mostly analog front end for me, before the Timefactor and Big Sky
    Exceptions are, Tender Octaver, Superego and lofi delays like the Echobox and Tap-A-Delay
    Sometimes I like the TC Corona for end of chain stereo widening
  13. scott58

    scott58 Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Northwest, indiana
    Got both, like both. If I like the pedal I don't care what it is.
  14. chadmo1

    chadmo1 Member

    Jun 26, 2014
  15. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    First off, I have to say, I love threads where Jack Black comments on Jack Orman's thread or vice versa, don't know why, it just makes me happy! Oh, and Jack (Orman), why would you buy drive pedals when you wrote the book (literally) on drive pedals? Whose work did you respect enough to actually pay for the privilege (if you don't mind saying)?

    There's no question, to me, that digital CAN do really good things. Think of all the great stuff that's been done with an H3000, a 2290 or a PCM40/70/80 that would be impossible to do in an analog environment. That said, there are two parts to any digital device: the analog signal preparation and the actual algorithms. It's clear from the differences in clarity, that pedals do (and may always) lag behind the space (full sized components?) and voltage rails of the vintage digital uber-processors. You're just not going to get the same performance with a 9v rail, although it'll be interesting to see what happens with the 27v swing that JHS is now advertising for the Colour Box V2. But well designed analog will give you a quieter and clearer signal to work with. Then the guy programming the device is critical. Compare one of the Spin based pedals from China (for example, one of the multiple algorithm mod devices) to one of Jack Black's modulation pedals and the difference in how good it sounds is immediately obvious.

    It gets really interesting on the edges: a really well done analog device like the Lovepedal 5 Knob Vibronaut vs a really well done digital device like the Lovepedal 4 Knob Vibronaut-a collaboration between a pair of great designers (Alf Hermida and Sean). There are people who like one better, and others who prefer the other.
    ThinPaperWings and amz-fx like this.
  16. peter_heijnen

    peter_heijnen Member

    Oct 7, 2008
    I love all my analog pedals best but none of it is on my main board since i just don't like what all those pedals in series do to my guitars' clean audio signal.

    So i use my H9 as dedicated volume pedal/wah/tremolo/phaser/flanger/chorus/swell delay/tuner, simply to avoid all the different buffers, patchcables and mechanical switches that i'd have to go through if using the pedals. I made presets trying to match the sounds of the analog originals and though the digital presets will never be like the real thing, this is how i like it most since the audio signal remains all nice and clean.

    I have a Cali CD into a Xotic RCv2 feeding the H9 that goes in the front of the amp and a Boss DD200 in the amp's fx loop. Chainwise it's still a more or less minimal setup, but it can do anything that i want.
  17. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2005
    I got a new DDR drive pedal recently but it was gifted to me by Robert Keeley. The drive pedal I got before that was the Keeley Oxblood, but I helped design it so it probably doesn't count. :)

    The last distortion pedals that I bought were a couple of EHX Big Muffs, but that was research for updating my book on modding them. I bought 3 analog drive pedals in 2019 but I didn't count them because they were for a project... two Boss Metal pedals and a Behringer metal pedal. I also bought several analog compressors, but again for testing of compressor types... Robert gave me a Compressor Pro for use in the tests and it has turned out to be the best compressor that I have ever used. It's now my go-to pedal for compression. I also built a couple of compressors for the tests including an Orange Squeezer (which is a very flaky design that takes a lot of tweaking).

    I also built a new Tweed Stack 2 (my own AIAB design) for a future article, and an op amp fuzz that will either be great or a flop; we'll see!

    There are lots of talented builders who make drive pedals, but I have more than I will ever use, so I never buy one.

    Best regards, Jack
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 2:56 PM
    awallace and ThinPaperWings like this.

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