- Made in Japan
- (Discofreq’s Effects Database page.)
This pedal is full of quirks, so I'll start by running through the features.
Like most delay pedals, it has the usual 'Delay Time', 'Repeat' (feedback) and 'Level' (effect volume) controls, but in addition, it has 'Input' (gain for the tube section) and a Mode switch; 'Mode I' being a single delay line, 'Mode II' a double tap delay line.
There is a single input and dual outputs; unconventionally, when using both outputs, Output 1 (which carries the effect signal) is only active when the pedal is engaged - Output 2 carries the direct sound. This - plainly - isn't the most useful implementation of a dual output system; it would have been better had the pedal been equipped with a buffering system allowing both outputs to be used constantly, regardless of whether the delay was on or off.
When used in a mono, one-in/one-out arrangement, Output 1 is a mixed output.
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The first thing that strikes you when using this effect, is that the available delay time is so short, with much of the range on the Delay Time dial being pretty much useless. Up to about 7 on the dial, the echoes are imperceptible and the resulting doubled, comb-filtered effect may not be to everyone's taste. There is a definite sweet spot around 8 on the Time control; this is a good slap-back echo setting, and is the longest delay length before the repeats start to degrade too much and generate too much noise.
Noise? Yes, this thing can get noisy. Perhaps due to the lo-fi analogue technology, the AD-X can be quite noisy. With the delay time above 8, things quickly deteriorate with an increas in background noise and audibly distortion of the echoes. Also, if you set the Delay Level control too high you will fell like you're swimming in a pool of hiss and hum.
It is a balancing act to get the Level and Time controls just right; you have to compromise on either or both to get close to the desired effect.
Increasing the 'Input' level - which drives the tube section - can lead to the repeats getting very overdriven. The extreme settings don't seem that useful to me, but from around 5-7 on the dial, the tube gives the echoes a little edge lacking from other analogue delays; it's a subtle difference, but it's a difference nonetheless. Subtlety seems very much to be at the heart of this pedal.
A few sources I've read regarding the Flip Series pedals suggest swapping the stock tubes. This isn't something I've tried myself and I'm honestly not sure how much difference it could make with this pedal anyway. Still, the option is always there.
Uses for this pedal?
It's good for slap-back echoes - if you play muted notes or in a staccato fashion, but in most cases the effect will be lost behind what you're playing. And you can forget about using this for any kind of rhythmic delay effects.
What I will say though, is that as subtle as the AD-X can be, it does add a lovely fullness and richness. It doesn't come across very well in the video I made, but it is definitely apparent when using the pedal. It's almost as if your tone is breathing.
Much the same as the Danelectro FAB Echo I reviewed a while back, the AD-X is at its best when used to provide a touch of ambience and depth to your sound.
Like many delay pedals, the AD-X oscillates very easily when you max the Repeats, and the oscillation sounds VERY different in each Mode. (See the end of the video, around 3:56.)
* * *
The Flip AD-X is an enigma. Put this in the hands (or at the feet) of someone wanting a 'delay' pedal and they're likely to be very disappointed. The tube factor is no doubt an enticing proposition for many guitarists, but in all honesty it adds very little - except for noise - and comes across as quite a gimmicky add-on.
Yet, dial it in just so, forget that it's a delay pedal at all, and it'll add a touch of fairy dust and life to your sound.
* * * Notes about the video * * *
- Guitar - Epiphone Casino
- Recording set-up - Award-Session JD10 as a preamp (DI'd) through a Palmer PDI-09. Recorded to Cubase on PC (via a MOTU audio interface) with no additional processing.