Analog radios are one of the few things that still work (relatively) the same as they did 100 years ago.
Since the days of morse code, analog radios continue to be widely used. Why?
Because they work. And they work well.
Still, technology is constantly changing and improving.
Digital radio systems are expanding the abilities of two-way radios and paving a new path that may drastically change the future of two-way radios.
Before delving into the analog vs digital radio discussion, let’s first understand the basics of both.
What is an Analog Radio?
Analog Radios have been used to communicate since the 1930s to carry messages between military ops and business professionals.
Analog radios use either VHF or UHF carrier waves to carry a message. The carrier wave connects to a receiving radio that demodulates the frequency to play the voice message.
By very definition, an analog radio created an “analogy” of the voice across radio waves.
What is a Digital Radio?
Digital radios change the game entirely.
Rather than using waves, the information is translated into a binary format.
This creates a more exact and continuous segment rather than relying on the quality of radio waves.
With digital technology, the sound is either crystal clear or nonexistent. You don’t get the fading, cutting in and out, or breaking up like you would with an analog radio. It either is within range and works perfectly or will immediately drop off once it’s out of transmission range.
Analog vs Digital Radio – Comparing the Pros and Cons
On the surface, the analog vs digital radio debate appears to favor digital radios, but it isn’t that simple. Before drawing any judgments, let’s weigh the pros and cons of both systems.
Pros and Cons of Analog Radios
Older doesn’t necessarily mean outdated.
Today’s analog radios are a reliable option in today’s market with many advantages to commercial users.
- Cheaper: When comparing the cost of analog vs digital radios, analog radios are usually less expensive, which is perhaps their biggest advantage and makes them more appealing. Although some experts claim that this price differential will be null in a few years when digital products become more affordable.
- Inter-Operable: Because they have been around forever, there are several accessories and add-ons available to analog radios. Even new analog radios work with older equipment and accessories.
- Easy to Use: Analog radios are a popular choice for first-time users because of their simplicity and user-friendly interface.
- Coverage: For areas where users may be moving in and out of coverage, (search and rescue, wilderness, or outdoor pursuits) analog radios work better because they can provide more coverage options, even if the signal is weak.
- No Group Chats: Most analog radios are only capable of one two-way conversation at a time, meaning you can only have a conversation with one person at a time.
- Older Technology: Analog technology is the same as it always was and always will be. While devices can be upgraded, the technology cannot. Some device aspects of analog radio can be upgraded, at the end of the day, the analog radios still operate using the same simple technology.
Pros and Cons of Digital Radios
Professional radio communications made a big leap with digital radio options. The regulations and real-world needs have driven the innovation in two-way radio technology.
- Group Chat: Digital radios are capable of more than one conversation on the same channel allowing multiple people to participate in the conversation.
- Noise Canceling Technology: Background noise can be reduced to make communication on digital radios more clear.
- Evolving Features and Upgrades: New software upgrades are consistently offering increased performance and new features.
- Better Battery Life: Digital radios typically have 30-50 percent more battery life than analog radios.
- More Secure: Digital offers end-to-end AES 256 encryption to keep your sensitive communications secure.
- Interface Learning Curve: Digital products are more advanced than analog radios, and so they aren’t as user-friendly for first-time users. It may take more time to learn and get used to it, similar to getting a new cell phone and learning all the new features.
- More expensive: Digital radios are typically more expensive than analog options.
- Dropped Signal: Because digital radios aim to cut out and background noise, the signal may drop if there is too much frequency noise.
FAQs About Analog and Digital Radios: