The quest for the perfect delay pedal can leave you in a tailspin considering all the options – digital, analog, modeled, functionality, and price are all common factors to consider.
If you’re looking for a true analog delay that has the look, feel and warmth of a vintage delay unit, you’ll want to explore the Maxon AD9Pro Analog Delay. The purity, warmth, and cleanliness of this effect pedal may be well worth some of the other options you’ll forfeit. Then again, if you’re looking for a studio application-specific pedal, you won’t miss those other options and will love this pedal for its simplicity of operation and killer tone.
|Documentation & Support||10%|
|OVERALL RATING = 3.5
3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended
Speaking of tone, the bottom line for us typically comes down to the sound. All the bells and whistles are irrelevant if a product messes with our tone in any way we don’t want it to. That said, we loved the sound of Maxon’s analog chorus pedal reviewed recently (see here), and this analog delay pedal lives up to the great praise we bestowed upon its sibling. Rest assured that if vintage analog delay is what you’re searching for, the Maxon AD9Pro’s tone is worthy of any boutique amp you throw at it.
Modeled after a vintage pedal, or keeping with tradition, the Maxon AD9Pro Analog Delay features a very simplistic layout with only the most important controls available.
The AD9Pro contains the following features:
- Standard size pedal, die cast metal construction.
- Input / Output / Dry Output.
- Mini toggle switch for Single or Dual delay operation. The Dual operation enables effects like tape echo and ping-pong.
- Three control knobs: Delay Time / Feedback / Delay Level.
- 9V Battery operation (easy access latched battery door) or optional AC.
- True Bypass
While the purple metal case retains the look of an early ‘80s pedal, it’s the guts that are especially beautiful. There are four bucket brigade chips inside (proprietary Maxon chips) and dynamic range that is 18 dB wider than the original AD9. Maximum delay time is only 450 milliseconds, though. This one spec could make all the difference as to whether or not this is the right delay for your rig. Classic analog delay pedals didn’t have the lengthy delay times of modern digital delays, but if you require longer delays, the AD9Pro may just not be the right option for you.
The Maxon AD9Pro Analog Delay is extremely simple to operate. Aside from making your connections to the amp (in front of it or in the effects loop), all you need to dial in is your Delay Time, Feedback and Delay Level settings.
The AD9Pro provides basic quarter-inch input and output connections with the addition of a Dry Output connection – excellent for bypassing the delay and going to another amp or front of house mix. The pedal also features True Bypass on both outputs when the pedal is disengaged.
The mini toggle switch allows selection of a Single or Dual delay settings. The Single Delay setting provides normal delay effects while the Dual setting provides an effect similar to that of a multi-head tape echo unit.
On/Off operation is simple via the large latching foot pad and the LED at the top of the unit letting you know if the pedal is engaged or not. Because the pedal requires a large 20 amp inrush of current to supply a constant 9V DC, not all power supplies will work with the AD9Pro. Maxon recommends some Maxon power supplies and the Godlyke PA-9 Power-All. Other power supplies may invalidate the warranty if they damage the pedal. If you’re going to use the popular Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus, you’ll need to use one of the Line 6 power jacks, but we didn’t have an opportunity to confirm its functionality/compatibility during this review.
We’re really picky when it comes to pedals and their operation. Tone comes first, but we can’t turn a blind eye to the usability of the unit. The Maxon AD9Pro is an excellent sounding analog delay pedal, but if you decide on this pedal, you may find it better suited to studio use than live use (as we did).
Since it’s a vintage delay pedal, the AD9Pro lacks popular features like Tap Tempo and/or Delay Time readout to identify your settings. While these features would completely change the character of the pedal, if you need to sync your delay time with a drummer, an analog delay pedal isn’t going to be your best option.
As tube amplifier snobs, we have a big heart for analog effects, and in the tone department, this pedal shines. The Maxon AD9Pro Analog Delay delivers the warmest, transparent delay effect we’ve ever experienced. With older vintage analog delays, you can typically hear the clock noise associated with the delay. Not so with the AD9Pro. The effect sound is clear and pure while retaining a well-balanced tone within high and low-frequency ranges.
We ran the AD9Pro through a Bogner Ecstasy amp (both in front as well as in the effects loop) using a Music Man Steve Morse SM-Y2D, and we also tested it with a Fender Stratocaster in front of a Fender Super-Sonic tube amp in its Bassman voicing. In every scenario, the pedal sounded great, including maxed out with the extreme settings for delay times and levels. Between the Strat’s Fender Vintage Noiseless single coil pickups and the whisper-silent pedal operation, it was almost like we had “fake” vintage sound in that we had all the tone and none of the noise, but yet it was all tubes and analog circuitry. Nice!
We can’t emphasize enough how warm the effect sound is from this delay pedal. To get such pure analog delay without the noise characteristics of classic analog delays really puts the AD9Pro in a class by itself.
Documentation and Product Support
Maxon provides all the necessary documentation to get up and running. The User’s Guide provides an excellent description of the pedal features and functionality. And best of all, it provides sample settings to illustrate what the pedal is capable of producing. Also included is a connection diagram for those of us who love great tone but are otherwise clueless about hooking up pedals to amps. Need more info? Check out the website for plenty of product support information.
The Maxon AD9Pro Analog Delay (MSRP $375.00) can be found for around $340. Though many musicians will find this pedal a bit pricy, for the fantastic audio quality delivered, it is a fair price. And when you compare the price with other boutique pedals, the price is definitely in the same ballpark.