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Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by EBMan, Jan 16, 2008.
Is the Boss LS-2 analog or digital? And does it matter?
EDIT: It's been clarified by the following posts as an analog pedal. But my defense of digital pedals remains.
A lot of people criticize digital because there's an elitist preference for analog. This used to make sense; back in the day, D/A and A/D converters weren't as great, and the sound quality in general was miles away from where it is now. Nowadays, a lot of amazing digital devices exist, although there's still a lot of "bad" ones, too. If you want an example of where digital has greatly surpassed the abilities of analog, just take a gander at digital delay pedals - no analog pedal can pull off what a modern feature-filled digital delay can do (IMO).
IME, some of the best pedals I've ever used are digital - heck, I have two digital pedals on my board, along with two analog ones.
The LS-2 is surprisingly flexible and does its job well. There's nothing that feature-packed in its price range. While some other loop pedals can do some of its functions better for the same price (or a cheaper price), they're not going to be as feature-packed.
The major complaint about most Boss pedals is about the bypass, which really has nothing to do with the digital/analog question. IMO, though, the bypass isn't even bad - but it tends to bug those who are sensitive to even the slightest nuances of their clean sound.
Wait- their line selector runs your signal through A/D convertors???
Boo, what did you mean by some loop and blender pedals do things better at the price?
I am seriously looking at getting an LS-2 to blend 2 separate signals together. The barge unit is a little bit more expensive and has a useless (for me) feedback loop.
I don't think so. I was actually thinking of the mode selector switch. Most likely digital.
...yeah, I'm making an educated guess on that one. I don't think it's pure digital, either.
But most modern Boss pedals are digital...
...perhaps I need to go back and do a little research.
I'm pretty sure that it's digital, how else would the blend be achieved without actually using a cable on the second loop.(Though I'm no electronics expert, so tell me if this is wrong)
Honestly though, it really doesn't matter, especially if you use it as a clean blend. Instead of going through several converters it'll only go through one when the fx loop is off.
The other thing about it that makes me suspect it's digital is that the function of the footswitch changes in each mode; sometimes it's just a bypass, but it's also used to cycle through both loops and the bypass. Combine that with six available modes, loop level knobs, and a compact enclosure... and one wonders how they fit it all into a pedal that small.
Wouldn't surprise me if it was digital... but if I'm wrong, then I never said anything.
I know nothing, but if I were making the LS-2 to have all that functionality, I would use IC switches. I can't remember the exact part right now, but I have a few at home. The control would be digital, but your signal is never run A/D D/A. There's no reason for it.
You could easily get the clean blend functionality by using a closed circuit jack on the loop. If no cables are connected, the signal would got through the wire (trace) in the pedal to be the "clean" signal.
I would seriously doubt that the signal is digital at any time within this pedal. If you look at when it came on the market, digital parts were way too expensive to use for something like this. There is no substantial processing that would be going on in the digital hardware. It would be a lot of cost for not much reward.
If I had to guess, I'd say there is some basic digital control logic used to switch between loops in the different modes, but that the analog signal switching is done using a 4053 or other similar integrated analog switch.
It's really not that complicated. Likely they used a PLD or something instead of discrete logic, but the rest of the stuff would be basic analog processing.
So at least the mode changing is digital. makes sense.
That'd make the LS-2 quite an exception to the rule among Boss pedals.
Makes me wonder why they went digital on most of their other pedals...
Well, again in this simple application there is no cost-benefit improvement going from a couple of IC's containing "analog" switching/buffering VS. a DSP chip with convertors.
Thank you everyone for your responses.
Now that you mention ICs... I think that's where my own personal confusion comes in.
Would an IC be "digital" by nature, or is it still "analog"? I know if DSP is involved, it's digital, but would a simple IC still count?
There is a grey area. An IC can perform a wide range of functions, depending on what is stuffed into it. Some functions, such as buffering or amplification, can be fully analog. But switching is an inherently digital process: things are "on" or "off". However running audio through an on/off switch does not require that the audio be converted into data.
Absolutely not. Analog means the signal is continuous in time and has infinite levels. Digital requires a sampled signal and discrete levels. (There is also a middle ground called discrete time. This uses sampled signals with infinite levels. It's the mathematical basis for DSP, but isn't realizable. BBD chips like the so called analog delays come close, but have limitations)
IC just means integrated circuit. Op-amps are analog integrated circuits (originally used in "analog computers" if you really want to wrap your head around that). There are tons of others too, including the analog signal switching chips mentioned above.
You can even use a "digital" IC to modify an analog signal. The Way Huge Red Llama is based on an Anderton design that does just this.
I'm not sure where you got that most Boss pedals are digital... Some obviously are, like the DD series (digital delay), and the PS series (pitch shifting pretty much requires digital delay and manipulation), but there are plenty of old designs that aren't like the DS-1, the SD-1, (actually most of the overdrives/distortions), etc.
I think alot of the newer stuff may be digital because the cost is so much lower and they can re-use the board designs. I haven't taken alot apart to look.
The Line6 Tone Core pedals are all digital. The A/D DSP and D/A is in the base, and the module just contains the program code for the DSP.
Thanks for the clarification, guys!
I remember working with one of these in a high school electronics class, when building a simple audio amplifier. It's the only time I was ever hands-on with an IC in the circuits I built:
Building an analog circuit and reading schematics are no challenge for me, but throw a few ICs into the mix, and watch me get lost with the tracings for the pins.
The LS-2 is NOT digital at all. It's 100% analog.
The signal is fed into some analog buffers (transistors and OpAmps), and is switched using JFETs.
Even the logic which controls the behavior, depending on the rotary switch position, is analog. It's a flip-flop and some logic functions.
I got the schematic I drew some times ago. If someone is interested I would happily share it.
I'd love to see the schematic. Thanks! I looked around online before, but couldn't find one.
Although the signal is not digital, and I wouldn't call the pedal "a digital pedal", Flip-flops and logic functions pretty much imply digital . In this case it is just for the switching (which is be expected with any pedal other than a manual switch pedal).
Boolean logic isn't defined over an analog signal space. It only makes sense over the digital abstraction of signals.
Anyway, I think that's a minor point, and gets away from the original question, but hopefully everyone is clear now.
Saying it's "100%" analogue gives the wrong impression. There would be some digital logic involved, but the signal path would most likely be analogue.
I'm glad we didn't wait for the digital era to get logic functions working. The two have nothing in common.
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