For The Love Of ADA
The engineers' dream? A dual effects unit for the price of one - the 2FX.
Tony Mills gets delayed by an all-in-one £529 effects unit.
If you're like me you'll find that the most frustrating thing about modern studio effects is that they only do one thing at a time. Some wonderful effects, yes, but what do you do if you're relying on one main digital delay unit for both echoes and chorus/flange effects and find that what you really want is both? You could add one effect on recording and one on mixdown, but you're likely to want something else again on mixdown - a reverb or deep echo perhaps. Stalemate.
The solution may well be the £529 (incl. VAT) 2FX from ADA, distributed in the UK by Music Lab. Quite simply, the 2FX mounts two digital delay lines in the same 19" chassis, assigning one to chorus or flange and one to echoes, without excessive cost. You could easily spend this much money on a single delay line of comparable quality.
The ADA has a patch switch to combine the two lines in either order - A feeding to B or B feeding to A. The first two controls on the left of the front panel are Input Level, with a peak Clip light, followed by an Output level control; then seven "mixer routing section" type buttons, two of which lock down. These are the patch and phase invert controls (the latter mainly to alter the nature of flanged effects), and the other five buttons are digital changeover types linked to LED status indicators. These choose Effect or Bypass; Flange or Chorus on Line A; and Delay or Hold on Line B. These fast-acting controls make it possible to move very quickly from no effect at all to a flanged echo sound, and then to an infinitely held chorus sound with inverted phase - pretty versatile.
The effects controls are divided into three sections for the Flanger, Chorus and Delay. The Flanger has controls for Manual Position, Depth, Speed and Regeneration (or resonance); it's a conventional but useful design, and can give everything from slow sweeps for thickening guitar wobbles or over-the-top feedback.
The Chorus section, also using Delay Line A but presumably in a simpler configuration, has just two controls, Depth and Speed. Unlike most chorus units, this one's pretty powerful and doesn't need to be put on full depth all the time. All the usual range of effects, from subtle thickening to detuned vibrato are available, but take note that you can't have flange and chorus at the same time as they use the same delay line.
The Echo itself is basic but of very good quality. There are three rotary controls for Mix (between the dry and delayed sound), Feedback (or number of repeats) and for fine tuning of the delay time (from 25% to 100% of the setting chosen). Then there are three mutually exclusive pushbuttons for delay range, selecting 64 ms (doubling), 256 ms (delay) or 104 ms (repeat echo). Lastly there's a flashing LED to indicate delay rate, which could be useful for playing timed phrases if you intend to jump into the Hold mode.
There's no modulation section on the delay line, simply because you've got chorus and flange effects close to hand. There are a few effects you're deprived of - exotic pitch shift echos for instance - but these aren't the sort of things you'd use often if at all. It wouldn't have been too difficult to add modulation inputs on the back panel, though, and it would also have been easy to add a pair of outputs (one from each delay line) so that you could use the two effects separately instead of permanently on top of each other.
What you do get on the back panel are jack sockets for input, direct out and effect out, and for a remote footswitch unit. Having linked everything up, the ADA was given a good test involving all sorts of synths, drum machines and other inputs. Some of the results can be heard on this tape, but the rough conclusions are as follows; the flange is good, versatile and silent in operation. The Chorus is unusually deep, very satisfying and effective. The delay is well up to scratch, very quiet in use but slightly compromised in versatility by the presence of the other effects. Overall, the ADA's well-built, good value for money, easy to operate and versatile, with a couple of unique features offered by its "quart-in-a-pint-pot" design.
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