Delta modulation (DM or Δ-modulation)is an analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog signal conversion technique used for transmission of voice information where quality is not of primary importance. DM is the simplest form of differential pulse-code modulation (DPCM) where the difference between successive samples are encoded into n-bit data streams. In delta modulation, the transmitted data is reduced to a 1-bit data stream. Its main features are:
the analog signal is approximated with a series of segments
each segment of the approximated signal is compared to the original analog wave to determine the increase or decrease in relative amplitude
the decision process for establishing the state of successive bits is determined by this comparison
only the change of information is sent, that is, only an increase or decrease of the signal amplitude from the previous sample is sent whereas a no-change condition causes the modulated signal to remain at the same 0 or 1 state of the previous sample.
To achieve high signal-to-noise ratio, delta modulation must use oversampling techniques, that is, the analog signal is sampled at a rate several times higher than the Nyquist rate.
Derived forms of delta modulation are continuously variable slope delta modulation, delta-sigma modulation, and differential modulation. Differential pulse-code modulation is the super set of DM.