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This article was originally published in issue #25
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Maxon has been in the pedal business since not long after pedals first started to appear - and that's a long time! Nisshin Onpa Company (the company that trades under the Maxon name) is an audio electronics manufacturer that has been in business since the mid-1960s. In the early 1970s they developed a line of compact guitar effect units and marketed them in Japan (these models are currently available as the Maxon Reissue Series) and they were soon noticed by the giant Hoshino Trading Company (aka Ibanez) who licensed the designs from Maxon for distribution around the globe under the Ibanez brand name. From that time up until early 2002, Maxon was responsible for the design and manufacture of many Ibanez products, including the legendary TS808 and TS-9 Tubescreamers, the rare and collectible Flying Pan, and the popular SoundTank series.
Over the years the companies did less and less business together, until the only Ibanez unit being built by Maxon was the TS-9 Reissue. In early 2002 Maxon ceased manufacture of the TS-9 Reissue for Ibanez and began marketing several of the original Nine Series models under its own Maxon brand name. Quite a history, and no surprise that you find many guitarists owning an array of Maxon pedals!
In this review I'm looking at three pedals on offer from Maxon: the AD10 Analog Delay, ASC Chorus and Dual Booster. All three come as part of Maxon's new Compact series, all are made from sturdy materials, the controls felt solid and smooth. the standard protocol of 9v battery or power supply applies across the three, and all are true bypass.
Maxon AD10 Analog Delay.
The AD10 delivers up to 600 milliseconds of 100% pure analog (or 'analogue' as we call it in the UK!), organic delay that doesn’t get in the way of your original guitar tone. Delay repeats are tuned with a subtle, yet distinct, distortion and none of the high-frequency whistle associated with over-clocking of the delay circuit. The AD10’s minimalist control interface makes it easy to dial in a variety of usable delay effects including double-tracking, faux reverb, tight rhythm slapbacks, and longer delays for solos. Just three knobs do it all; Delay, Repeat and Blend. It's claimed to work equally well in the front end or the FX loop of an amp. I would normally run a delay pedal through an FX loop, but in our video review it was running through the front of the amp, and with other pedals in the chain, handling it all well and sounding top notch.
This pedal excels at the runaway feedback self-oscillation that everyone now expects from an analogue delay and features a low-impedance buffered bypass, allowing it to drive long cable lengths or other effect units without loss of signal. Its looks and styling may not be to everyone’s taste, but just close your eyes and let your ears guide you! A great musical pedal.
Maxon ASC10 Ambient Stereo Chorus.
Once again, simple controls are at the heart of this pedal with just Rate and Depth knobs to deal with. A handy LED flashes to show you the speed you have the chorus set at. As with the delay pedal, the ASC10 features a low-impedance buffered bypass and is at home in front, or in the effects loop of an amp. The extended operation range of the Rate and Depth controls conjures up everything from gorgeous 12-string simulations to punch-drunk rotary speaker spins. Dual, phase-inverted outputs allow for panning of the ASC10’s effect between two amps or tracks, or run mono from output B for a more dramatic chorus effect, allowing you to run this pedal in a stereo or mono set-up.
The ASC10’s chorusing effect is set especially wide in the stereo spectrum, offering a lush tonality that actually sounds like two guitars playing at once. I personally prefer a few more options on my chorus pedals, such as tone and FX level. However, great sounds were achievable with the simple set up on the ASC10, and makes it a much more user friendly “plug in a play” pedal.
Maxon DB10 Dual Booster.
Too many boost pedals on your board? Looking to save a little space? Then this could be the pedal for you! A unique concept in booster design, the DB10 features two completely independent boost circuits in a single compact housing. The Clean (left) channel offers up to +20 dB of clean boost with a completely flat frequency response. It works well as a little boost to your rhythm playing or for a little extra punch to lead lines.
The Vintage (right) channel is Maxon’s take on the classic Treble Booster circuit. It offers up to +20 dB of boost, but with a subtle high-frequency roll-off that increases as the Level is turned towards maximum. This is a great sounding boost ideal for bluesy lines with a tone that cuts through without taking your head off. You can also have both on together and in my opinion this achieved the best tone. Cutting through nicely and allowing you to achieve subtle boost to a more saturated lead sound. Each circuit has its own input and output jacks, allowing them to be cascaded into one another in any order. Place an overdrive or distortion in-between the channels for additional tonal options – super-saturated overdrive that can then be level-boosted for solos, etc. Independent status LED’s indicate which channel is engaged and both channels feature True Bypass Switching using a 3PDT switch. The Maxon DB10 is very transparent, clear, crisp pedal that responds well to the player's dynamics. You need to run a fairly complex cable system to make it work, but no more than you would for two pedals. Will it do everything and more than your current two pedal set up? Well you will have to go try one out and make that difficult decision!
These Maxons were three great pedals on offer from a legendary company. There's nothing really ground breaking here, although the Dual Booster is a new concept, but if you're in the market for great sounding high quality, professional pedals, or an up-grade, then defiantly give these a try!