Analog vs Digital Synth: Similarities & Differences

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Most of us are often perplexed when the terms Analogue and Digital are thrown at us. In this article, I am going to try to give you as simple and detailed knowledge about which is what.

Analog vs Digital Synthesizer: In Brief

A digital synthesizer uses digital signal processing techniques to generate sounds, while analog synths produce sounds by manipulating electric voltages using analog circuits and signals. Generally, analog synthesizers are expensive as compared to digital synths. When it comes to sound quality, both digital as well as analog synths produce high-quality sound.

Difference between Analogue and Digital Synthesizer

The main difference between a digital synthesizer and an analog synthesizer is that a digital synthesizer use DSP, i.e. digital signal processing to make musical sounds. Digital processing is when a computer or a more specialized digital signal processor performs a wide variety of signal processing operations.

differenc between analog and digital

On the other hand, an Analog synthesizer uses analog electronics and samplers that playback digital recordings of electric, acoustic or electronic instruments.

How are sounds synthesized by analog synthesizers?

Sounds are synthesized by analog synthesizer by sending waveforms through the circuit board in different shapes. Saw, square, triangle, and sine are a few different shapes. There is a little difference in how each sounds. For example, if a saw wave is very buzzy sounding, a sine wave is perfectly smooth. The reason?

analog synthesizer

A raw waveform is pointy and sharp, whereas a sine wave is smooth.

Raw waveforms are filtered on a synthesizer. This can be done in a variety of platforms, such as by adjusting the cut off and resonance filters or by adjusting the length of the notes. You can adjust the length of the notes through the attack, decay, release, and sustain envelopes.

The majority of types of variations you can make on sounds are made up by filters and envelopes. These are the primary parameters. However, there are more.

While real circuits are used by analog synths to create these sound, emulation of analog synths is done by digital synths. Basically, digital synths are a copy of analog synths.

If you are a fan of real hardware, you can bask in the warmth and feel of the analog synthesizer. It’s vintage and it’s authentic. It reeks of traditionalism.

However, digital synths are no less at times as they feature presets of refined synth settings that are pre-installed and ready to use.

If you want to customize the sound, you better go for an analog synth. Digital synthesizer, however, gives a better user interface.

If you are a person who is more inclined towards customisability or adjustability, the analog synth is your go-to go option.

What features are found on both the synths?

Analog Synthesizer

  • There are raw waveforms
  • You have complete customizability
  • There are physical knobs
  • They produce a warmer, thicker sound

Digital Synthesizer:

  • These have pre-installed powerful Presets
  • Digital Emulation for Smoother Manipulation
  • There are only fewer knobs just sometimes.
  • They offer more assignability.
digital synthesizer

A digital synthesizer essentially looks like a computer often with a piano keyboard and an LCD as an interface.

On the other hand, sound generating circuitry and modulators are what that make an analog synthesizer.

Because of the rapidly advancing technology today, it’s easier to provide more features in a digital synthesizer than in an analog synthesizer.

Benefits of Analogue Synthesizer

The benefits of an analog synthesizer are as follows

  • You can create a rapport with a real hardware synthesizer. It’s easier for you to build a relationship with a physical instrument over time.
  • With time there is intuitive workflow.
  • It becomes possible to really feel the sound.
  • There are not many limitations as a software synthesizer sometimes present us with.
  • There are hardly any chances of crashing, unlike a software synthesizer.
  • It’s much easier and simpler to use a hardware synth as it does not have a

between the user and the instrument is way more intimate and direct.

  • As there are hardly any constraints and you can control the instrument as you want, it does not affect your writing process or recording.

Benefits of Digital Synthesizer

The word ‘digital’ today, has become a marketing buzzword for it has been pasted on so many things. And the psyche works in a way that anything digital automatically sounds high-tech.

  • Digital synthesizers are less expensive.
  • Digital synthesizers are more or less stable when talking about sound.
  • A digital synth could only have a few knobs, and between parameters when scrolled, you can select the one you want to adjust.
  • Effects can also be assigned to assignable knobs, which you can’t do on an analog synth.
analog synth vs digital synth

Final Words

This was in a nutshell about analog vs. digital synthesizer. It completely depends on the user to which he/she wants to work with. If you are a vintage lover like me, you will always go for a hardware synthesizer for the sake of the feel and liberty of working without constraints.

Now, you know the difference between these two types of synths. So, you can buy the best analog synth or the digital synth as per your further requirements.

There are great synths of both the types that come in various ranges. Both have their merits and demerits.

Hope this article was helpful in deciding the new addition to your musical family.

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