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Article from One Two Testing, February 1985

delay/chorus/flanger in one

ALL-IN-ONE effects units occasionally meet with the big frown because somewhere, something down the line has been compromised in order to squeeze the lot into a single case.

The alternative is to put three or four completely isolated units within one rack, and that does you out of the price saving. There has to be an intelligent mid-point, and the American company ADA might have found it with the 2FX.

In a standard, 1½in thick, 19in wide, rack mounting package they've squeezed a digital chorus/flanger and a digital echo. Both halves are good quality, and quiet, and though there might be some individual shortcomings, they team up as a conclusive bargain.

ADA have rightly labelled it the 2FX because you can have the digital delay plus EITHER the chorus OR the flanger — not all three, though each section does have its own patch of controls on the panel.

A row of seven slim, grey pushbuttons do most of the selection work. The first determines the direction of the chain — do you want echoed chorus or chorused echo — the second bypasses the ADA to give a direct signal at the output, then come the flanger, chorus and delay switches, followed by a repeat/hold to keep the last echoed signal going forever. Completing the row is a phase inversion option which does demonic things to the flange as we shall see later. A remote footswitch carries out similar functions.

The remaining knobs lack the glamour of modern, pressure sensitive, incrementable delay lines, and owe more to floor standing pedals, but they do the job and they don't come off... manual sweep, depth, rate and regeneration for the flanger; depth and rate for the chorus; mix, feedback and multiplier for the delay. This last control ties in with the remaining three, grey, push-buttons at the end of the panel which select the three maximum echo times (64, 256 and 1024 milliseconds) and the multiplier then... any guesses at the back??... multiplies them?? no, divides them actually, to generate all the delay times inbetween.

Students of the aural canal may tell you that digital effects aren't as sweet or 'human' as their analogue counterparts. An analogue delay line keeps the signal it hears as a voltage and puts off its eventual arrival at the output by constantly shifting it from one storage space to another. A digital delay line converts the initial voltage to numbers, a microprocessor sits on them for the required amount of time, then returns the numbers to the circuit so they can be used as instructions to recreate the original voltage which has now been suitably latened.

With less of the interior shifting around (and resultant 'spillage') of the analogue variety, the result should be cleaner with the high frequencies intact and less hiss.

This the ADA does and I was impressed by the quietness of the delay section, in particular. Swinging from 100 per cent 'dry' signal to 100 per cent 'effect' produced barely any increase in noise, and neither was there the peculiar breathing and sonic constriction you sometimes get with analogue units that contain a compression/expansion circuit to improve the signal-to-noise ratio.

The 1024 millisecond maximum delay is not gargantuan by today's standards, but it's more than adequate for all but the lengthiest special effects. You lose out on the modulation controls often found on other DDLs, but then they're generally included to produce flange and chorus sounds which you're already blessed with, elsewhere. No way of triggering the 'held' echo by a remote footswitch, microphone or drum machine, however, and that is falling behind the expectations of '85.

Why do delay line builders never include an instant cancel for the memory so that if you are trying to load a chord or short riff into the repeat-hold facility, and get it wrong, you don't have to wait one or two seconds for the delay to come round and wipe its own backside clean? One strange side effect I stumbled on with this DDL (maybe it occurs with others) is that lengthy echoes left to die away over a long time will eventually break up into audible steps as the 'numberness' of the technology takes hold.

The chorus is rich, and magnifies the sound of your guitar/synth/bass without tampering with its pitch. Okay if not exceptional. Did like the flanger, though. Unusual to hear one this strong and yet very smooth not cramming all its effect into one end of the sweep.

It, too, could do the chorusy, double-tracking effects at one end of the scale, and vast, jet plane wooshes at the other WITHOUT getting a bout of the metallics as cheaper flangers can do, imitating the world's largest bathrooms. Recommended. The phase inversion switch reverses the polarity of the flanged signal, which acoustically seems to change the emphasis of the harmonics from high (woosh) to mid (yeow). Another versatile sound change.

Swapping the direction of the chain makes noticeable differences on the very slow, deep flanges, for example. Putting the delay after the flange loses that circular sweep effect as it's chopped up by the echo. Placing the flange after the delay preserves the swoop as it's the last section the signal sees.

Spec-wise, the ADA boasts a 20Hz to 17kHz range for the delayed half of the signal and a dynamic range of 90dB — a pretty set of figures. In all, three useful gadgets in one box, two of which you can have on at once, without suffering a strange sense of loss somewhere down the line.

ADA 2FX delay/chorus/flanger: £529

Contact: Music Lab, (Contact Details).

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

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One Two Testing - Feb 1985

Gear in this article:

Studio/Rack FX > ADA > 2FX

Gear Tags:

Digital FX

Review by Paul Colbert

Previous article in this issue:

> Editorial

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> Problems Problems

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