Analog vs Digital Signals: Difference and Comparison

Signals are a function that helps in transmitting information. It is a sequence starting an encoded message in a communication channel.

Different types of signals are based on different criteria, features, values, and so on. Analog and digital signals are two types of signals.

Key Takeaways

  1. Analog signals are continuous and can take any value, while digital signals are discrete and can only take on specific values.
  2. Analog signals are susceptible to interference and noise, while digital signals are less susceptible and can be easily processed and transmitted.
  3. Analog signals are used in applications like music recording and telephony, while digital signals are used in computers, telecommunications, and multimedia.

Analog vs Digital Signals

Analog signals are continuous signals that vary in amplitude, frequency, or phase over time. They can be represented by waves that have continuous values. Digital signals are discrete signals that represent data using a binary code. They are represented by square waves with only two values.

Analog vs Digital Signals
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Analog signals are the signal type represented in a continuous waveform. These values used for denoting the information are in a continuous range.

These signals are furthermore classified into simple analog signals and composite analog signals. Their waveform changes over a period of time.

Digital signals are the type of signal which is represented in a discrete or discontinuous waveform. They help in carrying information in a similar way to analog signals.

The information or data carried is in a binary form. A bit interval describes the time required for sending one bit.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAnalog SignalsDigital Signals
SignalIt is a signal that is continuous and helps in representing physical measurements.A discrete-time signal is generated using digital modulation.
WavesThese have been represented using the sine waves.These have been represented using the square waves.
RepresentationA continuous range of values is utilized for representing information.A discrete or discontinuous range of values is utilized for representing information.
ExamplesThe most common examples include i.human voice, ii. analog electronic devices.Most common examples include: i.computers, ii. CD/DVD, iii.digital electronicdevices.
MemorySound waves are recorded in the form of wave signals.Sound waves are recorded in the form of binary bits.
PowerThe power drawn by analog instruments is immense.The power drawn by digital instruments is negligible.
FlexibilityAnalog hardware does not display flexibility.Digital hardware showcases flexibility during implementation.

What are Analog Signals?

Analog signal refers to the type of signal which is represented in a continuous waveform. This means that the values used for denoting the information are in a continuous range.

The waveform, however, changes over a period of time. Here, Sine waves are used to represent the values. The signals are furthermore distinguished into- a. simple analog signals; b. composite analog signals.

The simple analog signals refer to the sine waves that do not allow further decomposition.

Whereas the composite analog signals are the sine waves that allow further decomposition into numerous sine waves.

The amplitudes, periods, frequencies, and phases are utilized for describing the analog signals. The maximum height of a signal is being marked utilizing the Amplitude.

The particular rate at which a signal changes is marked using the Frequency. And the position of the wave with respect to time zero is marked using the Phase.

The power drawn by analog instruments is immense, and the hardware is not flexible. The analog signal is susceptible to noises.

Therefore they are likely to face disturbance and distortion, which reduces the accuracy. An analog signal’s range value is not specified.

The processing of analog signal processing can be executed with lower bandwidth consumption and also in real-time.

What are Digital Signals?

Digital signal refers to the type of signal which is represented in a discrete waveform. These signals also help in carrying information in a similar way to analog signals.

However, the values used for denoting the information are in a discontinuous range. Therefore, it is a discrete and discontinuous time signal. Here, the information or data carried is in a binary form.

Which means the information is represented in the form of small bits.

It is possible to decompose the digital signal further into simpler sine waves. These waves are called harmonics.

Every simpler sine wave or harmonic comes with a different amplitude (height), frequency (rate), and phase (position). Bit rates and Bit intervals are used for describing the digital signals. 

A bit interval describes the time required for sending one bit. And the bit interval frequencies are described by the bit rates. Noise does not have much effect on digital signals.

Therefore, they hardly face any distortion. Digital signals are easier to transmit. Also, they have more reliability when compared with analog signals. Digital signals only have a finite range of values.

The digital signal consists of 0s and 1s.

Main Differences Between Analog and Digital Signals

  1. A signal that is continuous and helps in representing physical measurements is an Analog Signal. A discrete-time signal that is generated using digital modulation is a Digital Signal.
  2. Analog Signals have been represented using the sine waves. Digital Signals have been represented using square waves.
  3. In the case of Analog Signals, a continuous range of values is utilized for representing information. In the case of Digital Signals, a discrete or discontinuous range of values is utilized for representing information.
  4. Most common examples of Analog Signals include i. human voice, ii. analog electronic devices. Most common examples of Digital Signals include i. computers, ii. CD/DVD, iii. digital electronic devices.
  5. In the case of Analog Signals, sound waves are recorded in the form of wave signals. In the case of Digital Signals, sound waves are recorded in the form of binary bits.
  6. The power drawn by analog instruments is huge. The power drawn by digital instruments is negligible.
  7. Analog hardware does not display flexibility. Digital hardware showcases flexibility during implementation.
Difference Between Analog and Digital Signals
References
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/5624500/

Last Updated : 26 June, 2023

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