Analog Vs. Digital: Does the Classic Synth Still Reign Supreme?

In the world of music production there are two main paths you can go down: The analog route, which is to say the non-computerized route, and the digital route, which is run by and on computers.

Of course, many people use a combination of the two. A real guitar patched into a computer for recording and mastering, or an analog synthesizer with a digital modelling pedal.

But in the world of Synthesizers and keyboards, there is a very clear divide between the two; and as technology progresses, those who advocate for the digital over the analog are saying the sounds are catching up.


A quick rundown of the situation would be this: There are two types of keyboards you can buy if you want to play keys. There are analog synthesizers, which are huge and cumbersome things, consisting of hundreds, sometimes thousands of transistors, resistors, and analog mechanical wiring that create polyphonic notes. They are easily manipulable to give any number of sounds via the electronics. They work by vibrating electricity inside circuits and using that to create sounds – much how an acoustic guitar vibrates strings to create sounds. Digital synths are similar, except instead of transistors and resistors manipulating the sounds, it’s a computer chip, and instead of generating the sounds through vibration, they generate them through simulation. Another big difference is that for the most part, digital synths are facsimiles of analog synths: they were designed after the fact, to copy the sounds of analog synths. In fact, the earlier digital synthesizers literally just played recordings of analog synthesizers back when the coinciding key was hit. in modern times they can generate sounds themselves to a greater degree than they could before, but for years the defining characteristic of the analog synth was that it generated the sound.


Bob Moog, creator of Moog Synthesizers and the de-facto godfather of the modern Synth, said that the analog synthesizer was better suited than digital synthesizers thanks to how they worked – their internals.


Interview Courtesy of Keyboard Magazine.


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