Analog Man’s ARDX20 ($265) is the epitome of boutique production on a global scale, handsoldered in China, before heading to Japan where pedal designer Ohbayashi San and his team calibrate, tune and engrave each one.
Unusually, the ARDX20 is a two-channel delay. Each channel gets three knobs, delay time, feedback, and delay level. It’s the sort of design people who read instruction manuals find intuitive and wouldn’t be necessary in a digital pedal, which could store presets for each channel. But hey, this is analog, man. The left footswitch turns the pedal on and off and the right toggles between channels.
As with the aquiline, enigmatic but decidedly odd Citroen DS, such design idiosyncrasies abound in the ARDX20. You can pick up a wet-only signal out of the effects loop jack and it’s possible to control delay time by plugging in an expression pedal. Alternatively, plug the expression pedal into the effects loop and you can modulate the intensity of the effect relative to the dry signal. Or you can opt in an external tap tempo, something that’s becoming pretty much standard on modern delays at this price point but that Analog Man offers as an add on.
All those homegrown, mad-professor antics fall by the wayside when you plug it in, however. A/B’d against other delays, the ARDX20 definitely colors the sound, but that color is awesome. Dime the controls and feedback swells ominously, threatening to drown out the dry signal–and everything else–in a glorious cacophony. Sure, it’s only got a hair over half a second of delay, but that feels like plenty of power when you’re skittering around the track. Ultimately, what the ARDX20 lacks in features and ease of use it more than makes up for in soul, something sorely lacking in many modern delays. – Howard Stock