Analog and Digital Transmission

30/04/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

An Analog signal is any continuous signal for which the time varying feature (variable) of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying signal. It differs from a digital signal in terms of small fluctuations in the signal which are meaningful.

A digital signal uses discrete (discontinuous) values. By contrast, non-digital (or analog) systems use a continuous range of values to represent information. Although digital representations are discrete, the information represented can be either discrete, such as numbers or letters, or continuous, such as sounds, images, and other measurements of continuous systems.

Analog versus Digital comparison chart



Signal Analog signal is a continuous signal which represents physical measurements. Digital signals are discrete time signals generated by digital modulation.
Waves Denoted by sine waves Denoted by square waves
Representation Uses continuous range of values to represent information Uses discrete or discontinuous values to represent information
Example Human voice in air, analog electronic devices. Computers, CDs, DVDs, and other digital electronic devices.
Technology Analog technology records wave forms as they are. Samples analog wave forms into a limited set of numbers and records them.
Data transmissions Subjected to deterioration by noise during transmission and write/read cycle. Can be noise-immune without deterioration during transmission and write/read cycle.
Response to Noise More likely to get affected reducing accuracy Less affected since noise response are analog in nature
Flexibility Analog hardware is not flexible. Digital hardware is flexible in implementation.
Uses Can be used in analog devices only. Best suited for audio and video transmission. Best suited for Computing and digital electronics.
Applications Thermometer PCs, PDAs
Bandwidth Analog signal processing can be done in real time and consumes less bandwidth. There is no guarantee that digital signal processing can be done in real time and consumes more bandwidth to carry out the same information.
Memory Stored in the form of wave signal Stored in the form of binary bit
Power Analog instrument draws large power Digital instrument draws only negligible power
Cost Low cost and portable Cost is high and not easily portable
Impedance Low High order of 100 mega ohm
Errors Analog instruments usually have a scale which is cramped at lower end and give considerable observational errors. Digital instruments are free from observational errors like parallax and approximation errors.

Properties of Digital vs Analog signals

Digital information has certain properties that distinguish it from analog communication methods. These include

  • Synchronization: Digital communication uses specific synchronization sequences for determining synchronization.
  • Language: Digital communications requires a language which should be possessed by both sender and receiver and should specify meaning of symbol sequences.
  • Errors: Disturbances in analog communication causes errors in actual intended communication but disturbances in digital communication does not cause errors enabling error free communication. Errors should be able to substitute, insert or delete symbols to be expressed.
  • Copying: Analog communication copies are quality wise not as good as their originals while due to error free digital communication, copies can be made indefinitely.
  • Granularity: For a continuously variable analog value to be represented in digital form there occur quantization error which is difference in actual analog value and digital representation and this property of digital communication is known as granularity.

Differences in Usage in Equipment

Many devices come with built in translation facilities from analog to digital. Microphones and speaker are perfect examples of analog devices. Analog technology is cheaper but there is a limitation of size of data that can be transmitted at a given time.

Digital technology has revolutionized the way most of the equipments work. Data is converted into binary code and then reassembled back into original form at reception point. Since these can be easily manipulated, it offers a wider range of options. Digital equipment is more expensive than analog equipment.

Comparison of Analog vs Digital Quality

Digital devices translate and reassemble data and in the process are more prone to loss of quality as compared to analog devices. Computer advancement has enabled use of error detection and error correction techniques to remove disturbances artificially from digital signals and improve quality.

Differences in Applications

Digital technology has been most efficient in cellular phone industry. Analog phones have become redundant even though sound clarity and quality was good.

Analog technology comprises of natural signals like human speech. With digital technology this human speech can be saved and stored in a computer. Thus digital technology opens up the horizon for endless possible uses.

Advantages of Digital Communication

As the signals are digitized, there are many advantages of digital communication over analog communication, such as:

  • The effect of distortion, noise, and interference is much less in digital signals as they are less affected.
  • Digital circuits are more reliable.
  • Digital circuits are easy to design and cheaper than analog circuits.
  • The hardware implementation in digital circuits, is more flexible than analog.
  • The occurrence of cross-talk is very rare in digital communication.
  • The signal is un-altered as the pulse needs a high disturbance to alter its properties, which is very difficult.
  • Signal processing functions such as encryption and compression are employed in digital circuits to maintain the secrecy of the information.
  • The probability of error occurrence is reduced by employing error detecting and error correcting codes.
  • Spread spectrum technique is used to avoid signal jamming.
  • Combining digital signals using Time Division Multiplexing TDM

is easier than combining analog signals using Frequency Division Multiplexing FDM

  • The configuring process of digital signals is easier than analog signals.
  • Digital signals can be saved and retrieved more conveniently than analog signals.
  • Many of the digital circuits have almost common encoding techniques and hence similar devices can be used for a number of purposes.
  • The capacity of the channel is effectively utilized by digital signals.

Elements of Digital Communication

The elements which form a digital communication system is represented by the following block diagram for the ease of understanding.

Following are the sections of the digital communication system.


The source can be an analog signal. Example: A Sound signal

Input Transducer

This is a transducer which takes a physical input and converts it to an electrical signal (Example: microphone). This block also consists of an analog to digital converter where a digital signal is needed for further processes.

A digital signal is generally represented by a binary sequence.

Source Encoder

The source encoder compresses the data into minimum number of bits. This process helps in effective utilization of the bandwidth. It removes the redundant bits unnecessary excess bits,i.e.,zeroes

Channel Encoder

The channel encoder, does the coding for error correction. During the transmission of the signal, due to the noise in the channel, the signal may get altered and hence to avoid this, the channel encoder adds some redundant bits to the transmitted data. These are the error correcting bits.

Digital Modulator

The signal to be transmitted is modulated here by a carrier. The signal is also converted to analog from the digital sequence, in order to make it travel through the channel or medium.


The channel or a medium, allows the analog signal to transmit from the transmitter end to the receiver end.

Digital Demodulator

This is the first step at the receiver end. The received signal is demodulated as well as converted again from analog to digital. The signal gets reconstructed here.

Channel Decoder

The channel decoder, after detecting the sequence, does some error corrections. The distortions which might occur during the transmission, are corrected by adding some redundant bits. This addition of bits helps in the complete recovery of the original signal.

Source Decoder

The resultant signal is once again digitized by sampling and quantizing so that the pure digital output is obtained without the loss of information. The source decoder recreates the source output.

Output Transducer

This is the last block which converts the signal into the original physical form, which was at the input of the transmitter. It converts the electrical signal into physical output (Example: loud speaker).

Output Signal

This is the output which is produced after the whole process. Example: The sound signal received.

This unit has dealt with the introduction, the digitization of signals, the advantages and the elements of digital communications. In the coming chapters, we will learn about the concepts of Digital communications, in detail.