A very common debate when it comes to synthesizer keyboards is the discussion of which is better – analog or digital? Though there are perks and negatives to both options, they are both fair to use in 2018. The factor which comes into play the most heavily is person preference, as always. Generally speaking, a majority of instrument manufacturers have chosen to completely abandon the analog variations and go all in on digital synthesizers. Most high end synths on the market these days are digital, so what is the reasoning behind this and which is better?
How do they differ?
Basically, it all comes down to how the synthesizers actually produce their respective sounds and also how they look and feel when using them. The main point to make is that analog synthesizers use real circuits in producing their sounds while digital synths try to replicate this ability through software, and they’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years to the point where it is nearly impossible to differentiate. Does this make analog synths obsolete? Absolutely not, as analog synths will almost always provide more customizing capabilities. Long gone are the days when digital synths were distinctly different from their counterparts in terms of sound. They also differ in that analog synthesizers have physical knobs and buttons while digital synthesizers capitalize on touch screens and buttons – rarely do they have knobs. Other than those differences, they are more or less the same. Because of the fewer knobs on digital synths, the layout and interface is usually more clean and clutter free. Since you’re removing a few things, you’re freeing up real estate on the board and this makes for a more enjoyable experience.
Which is better?
Neither is definitively better than the other. Asking a question like this is like asking if a coupe vehicle is better than a sedan; it is all subjective and there are pros with cons to both. Sometimes it benefits an individual to choose one over the other when they have a certain sound or style they want to produce – then you can say one is superior. For example, if you want to create deep vintage sounds, then most people will probably tell you to choose an analog synthesizer, and they would usually be right for doing so. If you want more presets and less clutter on your interface, or if you’re a very digital person and like to work with software and computers, then you might be better suited for a digital synthesizer.
No matter which synthesizer type you choose, it’s in your best interest to research all of the different options and do things like read reviews. Again, in certain scenarios one would be a better fit over the other, but nine times out of ten an analog synth can do the same things as a digital synth and vice versa. You won’t be limited in one way by choosing one over the other. Check out this article to dive deeper into how you can make the best decision possible.