A very basic topic but we sometimes miss out what does it mean at all? There has been an ongoing debate on analog and digital gears over years or even centuries , but let us know what they are first,your long awaited and requested article.
A digital signal means 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 – Binary codes/machine language , The codes that computers understand.
Analog is all the natural things we hear by ear, nothing to do with machine language.
What does it have to do with instruments?
Well, when you plug your guitar into a multi fx , your original guitar signal/sound is converted by Analog to digital tech which is done by complicated computer chips and processed. In simple word, your guitar signal goes through a lot of changes and brought out to the output.A digital signal is not continued on a single flow. The below is a sample picture of a digital and analog audio signal paths:
As you see in the reference picture above, original sound wave stays as it is when it goes through a analog signal path, it is unchanged, uninterrupted and continues till the output. And digital signals are broken into small nodes and continued till the end of output.
In terms of guitar pedals, the analog pedals are made of analog circuits , which is made of capacitors and resistors that gives you the natural sound . The digital units convert the guitar signal in a set bit rate which might be closer to the original but never the 100% original sound.
Here is a more precise comparison of a same signal going through an analog and digital unit.
It totally depends on the user what to go for, it is your preference if you want to stay bone original , or go on the flow of digital.