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Aria FX

Article from One Two Testing, October 1985

five go whoosh etc

APPEARING FOR THE FIRST TIME in this country, we are pleased to announce the British stage debut of a band of five new pedal effects from Aria. Just relax and enjoy the fancy footwork inspired by their delicately sprung switching mechanisms, marvel at their aura of indestructability and gasp with wonder at their unusual knobs.

These pedals certainly look as though they were built to be booted. Their cases are all metal, completely covered on the underside with a layer of antiskating rubber and are topped off with a set of strange looking knobs. The shape of these knobs is somewhat similar to the inflatable life raft in which James Bond rock and rolled his way through the closing sequences of one of his assignments. They are smaller, however, and don't float so well, but what they lack in life saving capability they make up for in suitability for use as effects pedal control knobs. Why so? Well, on initial inspection these domed protruberances look a little fiddly for efficient operation. In use, however, they turn out to fit the finger very well and provide a good answer to improving the accessibility of closely spaced pots. They also have no corners to knock off when miss-kicking the pedal.

Battery changing can often be a damned nuisance with effects pedals and may be the only time you end up wishing you had bought the mains adaptor like the man in the shop suggested. With these Aria pedals, however, battery access is made simple by a little catch which allows the front half of the pedal to be hinged up to reveal said flagging battery before it has had a chance to corrode. That old winker, the LED, provides effect on/off indication, and D.C. Sockets are fitted to allow external powering from the DP-240 9 Volt AC-adaptor (£15) if required. So, full marks for visuals, now down to aurals.


If you have trouble staying in tune on stage but are otherwise happy with your sound then the answer could be to ditch your chainsaw in favour of a guitar and a DT-5. Apart from-the obvious fuel consumption and weight advantages you would also then have control over level, distortion and tone. By judicious use of the distortion and level controls, a subtle distinction can be made betwixt felling a sapling and a Redwood. On top of this the tone control does actually give a much wider variation in sound than is usual with this type of pedal and would thus make it suitable for the more discerning amongst the exponents of a hard sound.


Heads down, after four... go!

This has a creamier sound than the distortion pedal and is more musical. It again has distortion and level controls enabling the degree of iron filings and molten honey to be either matched to, or contrasted with, your untreated sound. A pair of tone controls are provided and could quite justifiably be referred to as an EQ section as they are active, offering 20dB of boost or cut at both 100Hz and 1kHz. These are well chosen frequencies for the guitar as boosting at 100Hz gives a very full sound and at 1kHz can give a very forward sound. The highest frequencies, where the string click and harmonics live, seem to be unaffected by the tone controls and using a bit of cut at 1kHz and then boosting the overall sound with the level control can have a very pleasing effect.

A nicely tailored sound for this type of effect.

CH-5 CHORUS: £65

Take a delay of about 10ms or so, move it backwards and forwards in time a bit and then mix it back with the signal it was originally taken from. Hey presto — chorus! Why is it then that one chorus pedal can sound so different from another? I know not nor care particularly except for the fact that I was hoping for something a little richer. The CH-5 is not a bad chorus, although it may sound a little derogatory to say that I found it pleasant. What it may lack in depth, though, it makes up for in ease of use. It does not require such critical setting up as some chorus pedals I've come across where a touch too much depth can have you wondering if you caught your machine on something on the way to the stage.

Controls are provided for rate, depth and intensity. The rate will adjust the sweep speed from 0.16 secs to four seconds, while the depth controls the width of the sweep and the intensity determines the degree of treated signal which is added back to the original. A second output is also provided which offers a phase-inverted version of the treated signal for pseudo-stereo operation.

Effects available from the CH-5 range from a gently folding chorus to an easy singing vibrato.


The accompanying leaflet informs us that the FL-5's standard effects are pitch bending, short delays and swooshing. I can vouch for the fact that it will certainly give you a darn good swooshing! Unfortunately, the swoosh is enhanced by the noise which the FL-5 produces. This is no problem if you want to use your flanger as a dedicated swoosher but it's a bit of a shame if you want to use it for anything else. Luckily, a manual control is provided which will set the centre time delay around which the sweep will occur. As the pedal is noisy only at the longest end of its delay, the manual control can be used to keep the sweeping down at the short end. In this way the FL-5 can be used to produce a passable chorus effect without too much noise. A quick twist of the feedback knob and spikes start dancing around in the characteristic flanging manner, and then a lean on the depth control and we're swooshing off again. All this activity can also be enjoyed in pseudo-stereo.


The DD-X10 offers over a second of good, clean delay. It has a frequency response up to 7kHz and a quoted signal-to-noise ratio of 95dB. You can often read a spec sheet and then wonder if the thing you're listening to is actually the thing you've been reading about. In this case though the specifications are reflected in the performance of the pedal. Its delayed sound is bright and there is very little noise evident, even when used with a bass guitar.

The delay time is switchable over four ranges between 4ms up to 1024ms and can be fine-tuned to anywhere within these two extremes. A delay level control dictates the balance between dry and delayed signal and a feedback control is provided to set the level of repeats.

There are two output jack sockets on the DD-X10: if only the main socket on the side of the pedal is used then both the dry and the delayed signals will be presented here. However, by taking outputs from both sockets the dry and the delayed signals are separated allowing them to be routed and treated independently.

The most outstanding feature of the DD-X10 is the way in which its hold feature can be operated. The hold control is a three-position switch labelled "Off", "Unlatched" and "Latched". In the unlatched mode the signal in the memory will be recycled without loss in quality for as long as the footswitch is held down. During this time it is still possible to play directly through the pedal whilst using the held signal as an accompaniment. In latched mode the signal is repeated until a subsequent press of the footswitch. If the feedback control is set near to maximum it is then possible to overdub separate lines into the memory between pressings of the pedal. This choice of latched and unlatched operation is a jolly good idea and should suit both guitarist and keyboard players alike.

The only drawback of the DD-X10 seems to be its 50mA current consumption. At this rate you are only likely to get one set's worth of juice from a standard manganese battery. The dry-cell-gobbling capabilities of this pedal are not limited to the DD-X10. It is a problem common to all makes of digital delay pedal. An alternative is to use alkaline batteries which may give you up to 10 or 11 hours so long as the pedal is not used continuously, or you can resort to the aforementioned AC adaptor.

Don't let the current consumption put you off, though. This is a good delay pedal. Shame it doesn't have a facility to take an LFO input as it would be able to chorus and flange then.

This range of pedals from Aria could survive years of knocking around in the bottom of your kit bag. They are physically very well designed and sonically they are reasonable value for money despite the odd weakness already mentioned. The Digital Delay gets high marks for performance and also the Metal Pedal for its wide tonal range.

So as the curtain falls on this British premiere, I rise and make my way steadily towards the exit sign. Casually attempting to conceal a couple of pedals inside my programme, I leave the muffled swooshing of falling Redwoods behind me.

Series 5 effects: £see text

CONTACT: Gigsville, (Contact Details).

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Publisher: One Two Testing - IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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One Two Testing - Oct 1985

Donated by: Angelinda

Review by Martin Sheehan

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