Hi guys this could be a very popular question/debate but what do you feel are the pros/cons of analog and/or digital audio in relation to one another? To start the ball rolling one of the first pros of digital over analog is: Analog needs large fx/eq/compressor physical racks whereas with digital audio all of the above mentioned "racks" are digitally built into a system/program...


3 Answers 3



+Easier to design
+Low cost
+Infinite replication (in software)
+Total recall
+Often easier and faster to use
+More bandwidth/channels in a smaller form factor
+Better S/N performance in hardware
+Does stuff that cannot be (at least reasonably or cheaply, or at all) done with analog electronics
+Usually implements visual feedback of the processes. GUIs are customizable

+/-Usually works/sounds always the same (random variation in sound has to be implemented separately)

-Distortion mostly sounds harsh, but it has its uses
-Opinion: Quality doesn't necessarily correlate with price


+Can sound better in particular cases
+A physical knob/fader/other for almost anything

+/-Can have poor S/N performance and can sound "lo-fi"

-No memory, no recalling of parameters, has to be done by hand, no undo
-Often cumbersome to use, especially when it comes to routing/patching, moving the gear around and recording
-Takes space
-Can wear out
-Can show changes in sound because of worn out components, room humidity etc.
-Harder to design, some stuff impossible to design, more expensive to manufacture
-Large price range, quality usually correlates with price (not necessarily in cult gear though)

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  • I'm not so sure about the "easier to design". Over the years I have designed both analogue and digital systems and there are challenges associated to both.
    – Bit Depth
    Feb 9, 2013 at 22:51
  • For example, digital is less prone to burn/break and it's less messy :) It's cheaper (and thus easier) to manufacture and replicate as well. Scientifically both are reasonably heavy areas. Anyhow, it's a fairly irrelevant notion for an equipment user, rather than for a designer/builder, eventhough even something accessible like Max/MSP is still a lot easier compared to designing circuits. Jun 8, 2013 at 9:10

I rely on a lot of digital tools when making sound. For instance, I often put an EQ on every channel, have a lot reverbs running and some compressors too. All automated, so I can get the most out of them (to my abilities) all of the time. I run a large number of tracks and busses. And I must say the noise reduction technology of today is way better than it was in the old analog days.

But when it comes to designing the sounds that go into the tracks, I often use analog sources for that. I love the interaction with analog gear. The knobs and cables and so on. As well as the lack of automation. It helps me to stay in the moment and play with the gear like playing an instrument, improvising, knowing I will never be able to make exactly the same sound again.

So I record what I do when working in the analog domain, bringing it into the controlled digital digital domain, where I will edit it, use the good parts and edit it again and apply effects and automation.

I try to use the best of both worlds.

  • Morten

I edit music cassettes to make stories and sounds as a hobby. Went from analog recording to then add digital editing. Analog is more natural, you'll mistakenly create sounds that you where not expecting(ex broken wire) and they sound great. Then you can go to the Digital PC and play with the sounds to create more impressive sounds or for better continuity, or transitions, or to fix artifacts that showed up during analog recording. Digital will always be too stringent for/in the creation of sounds. But digital is great once you have the sounds to edit and to play with the sounds.

If you would take a high quality digital recorder to record a low quality sounding sound, it would be a high quality recording of a low quality sounding! sound. Not a low quality sound, only sounding low quality. So tapes and records have their sound that CANT be reproduced with stringent digital equipment. Digital is always clean(too clean). Its not natural for us to ear music and then absolutely nothing, its weird.

I can take a analog tape, break it and produce 20 new sounds in 5 minutes. Try to do that with a digital sound your looking at over 24H+ of work making sure every wave behaved like in nature and flowing. Analog will naturally sound musical and logical flowing. You can record! an analog created sound(ex hitting a pan) sound digitally right away and the sound QUALITY of the bad sounding sound will be HIGH and wont degrade in quality, ever!. So go from analog to digital as fast as you can.

Its just a bunch of sound waves so what is quality really. What kind of sound would you use to represent the 70's years sounds. You'd still be recording it in high quality now but you'd give it a feel. That feeel is what you get from cassettes and records. So basically analog for new sounds, Digital to edit. Making a sound with either digital or analog is ok. Use the sound that FITS! BETTER TO YOUR PRESENT THEME(ex 70's).

Its a fitting game. ex club feel=analog cassette(why=sounds like a real club=not perfect). ex classical music=digital(want perfect,won't tolerate imperfections, silence between songs is welcomed).

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