Musicians have been debating the relative merits of analog guitar effects pedals vs digital pedals for over a decade. Analog pedals deliver instant response as well as unmatched sound quality. They are also easy to maintain and repair. Digital pedals are cheaper, more versatile, and easier to set up and use. Deciding which to buy often comes down to how many simultaneous effects you intend to use and how much you are willing to pay for them.
Many guitarists feel that analog pedals produce a purer, more genuine sound than digital pedals. A multi-effect unit coverts analog signals to digital ones for processing, then reconverts them to analog. A perceptible loss of smoothness, tone or quality may result.
The most cost-effective way to simultaneously apply multiple effects to your guitar sound is to purchase a digital sound processor. It can do the job of several individual analog pedals. If you want to experiment with different effect combinations to see which work best, you will definitely save money buy investing in one digital pedal rather than a whole collection of analog pedals.
The preset effects on a digital sound processor mean you can easily achieve precisely the same sound whenever you need it. With an analog pedal, you need to remember how to adjust the level, tone and distortion knobs for a particular effect. If you don’t get them just right, you won’t achieve the same sound.
Analog pedals continuously manipulate the voltage of the source signals. Digital sound processors have to convert the source signal to digital and then back to analog again. If too many effects are used at once, the analog to digital converter may slow down and some of the imputed sound information can be lost. Switching between presets can result in a brief but perceptible sound gap.
Setting up several analog guitar pedals on stage and manually adjusting each one can be a time consuming chore. With a digital processor, there is only one unit to deal with and preset effects combinations can be accessed with the touch of a button. A digital pedal can also help save space, both on stage an in transit.
Ease of Repair
If a digital sound processor stops working, you will probably have to replace it with a new unit. If an analog pedal stops working, anyone with a basic knowledge of electrics and a soldering iron can repair it. Often the problem is something as simple as dirty components, a low battery or a loose wire.
Guitarists who have found certain analog effects that they want to reproduce exactly are understandably wary about switching to digital and adulterating their sound. Those who like to play with a variety of different effects or frequently change their sound love the versatility of their digital pedals. But it’s not simply a choice of one or the other when it comes to analog guitar effects pedals vs digital. Many experienced guitarists get the best of both worlds by including analog pedals and a digital sound processor in their collection of gear.