Analog Delay vs. Digital Delay – The Difference Between

What is the difference between analog and digital delay

Delay is a word commonly used in music and is related to the production of the sound effects. This is especially with guitar music. A delay is a device that takes the input sound and after a time gap, replays it to produce an echo effect in the sound. You can even play the sound many times to reinforce the echo. There are two types of delay that are used – analog and digital. Both are popular, but since they are intended for different uses, you should know how they differ from each other in order to choose the correct one for your needs.

During the 1970’s when guitar playing became really popular with bands, the need arose for an inexpensive device that was portable and that could produce an echo effect. The way in which the device worked was simple – it just took the signal that it received and then replayed it at a designated time. A digital delay, on the other hand, converts the input sound into a binary code using a repetitive series of two numbers – 0 and 1. It then replays the signal.

In analog delay the echo is of the original sound, but in digital delay, the original sound is replayed digitally. Digital delay costs a lot less and produces better sound quality. It takes up less space than analog delay.

Many guitarists prefer analog over digital delay because they like the softer sound it produces. This is because the frequency loses some of its strength and this tends to soften the sound of low bass. Digital delay does not lose any of its strength and therefore produces an exact replica of the original sound.

Then there are those that prefer digital delay because they like the longer durations. In analog delay the duration is in millisecond, but the digital delay can be as long as a few seconds in duration. This allows the guitarist to have more control over the sound effect. In digital delay, as well, the settings are automatically set, but in analog they have to be set by hand.

The decision to use either analog or digital delay is a matter of personal preference, but more and more musicians are choosing to use digital over analog.


  • Analog and digital delays are two methods used to create an echo effect for guitar music.
  • Analog replays the original sound after a few milliseconds, but digital delay changes the input sound into digital signals and then replays it. The time lag can be a few seconds in duration.
  • Analog delay produces a softer signal because it loses some of its strength.
  • There are more options and settings available on a digital delay.