Analog Vs Digital Synths -Which One Should You Pick?
Since the early 80s, synthesizers have been split into two- analog and digital. Despite that period, many individuals, especially beginners, are not quite certain about the difference between the two and how the variance can help make an informed buying decision.
What’s an Analog Synthesizer
In the most basic explanation, an analog synthesizer ‘synthesizes’ sounds by sending waveforms in different shapes through a circuit board. There are various different shape forms, including sine, saw, triangle, and square. For instance, a sine wave is smooth sounding while a saw one gives out a buzzy sound.
These are the raw waveforms, and everything you do on a synth basically filters these waveforms. You can achieve this in an array of ways, like adjusting the resonance and cutoff filters or by playing with the length of your notes through attack, decay, release as well as sustain envelops.
Essentially, using an analog synthesizer entails envelops and filters, which make up most of the sound variations in music and other sound applications.
Analog Vs. Digital Synthesizers
Analog synthesizers utilize real circuits to create sounds or music, but the digital variants emulate the physical ones. So, basically, digital synthesizers are copies of analog synthesizers.
This can be an issue for people, particularly those who feel like digital synths cannot completely offer customizability like their counterparts.
It is easy to understand the analog lovers as the sound and feel of real hardware tend to feel warm, thick, and vintage. On the other hand, digital synths can give better results as they have prepackaged presets of synth settings, ready to use.This is certainly subjective, but analog synthesizers tend to be better at customizing sounds. Of course, you will come across many digital synths that allow you to scroll a wide array of tweaking options, especially those from renowned sound design companies.
The MicroKorg, for instance, is an excellent digital synth, but it can get challenging when you need to adjust a pitch envelop and have to assign that function to a knob. On the other hand, in an analog synth, you’ll have a knob pitch for detuning and adjusting, which makes your workflow more comprehensive. On the contrary, digital synthesizers have the advantage of creating clean user interfaces. For example, a digital synthesizer might just feature a few knobs, and you can easily scroll between parameters before picking the one you need to adjust. Also, you can assign effects to various knobs in some digital synths, something that’s impossible in the analog variants.
So, if you are into hands-on customizability and adjustability when it comes to raw waveforms, analog synths might prove to be the better option. However, some people like the powerful presets featured in some digital synthesizers, assignable knobs, or simply the features that these programs have to offer.
When it comes to the discussion of which one is better, it all boils down to your preferred style. There are both amazing and mediocre analog synths, just like the same applies to digital synths. Sit down and do your research while keeping your needs in mind. Also, do not shy from experimenting with various products to find out which one best suits you.