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Built in a steel enclosure, the Aria ADD-100 is a digital delay that is from a specific era and shows it in nearly every aspect of its being. The delay is 12-bit with up to 1024 milliseconds of delay time divided up into four ranges with LFO-based modulation over the selected delay range. With Roland/Amdek inspired looks and a simplified vintage rack mount effect set of features, it is a neat device to setup near a synth or other more "tactile setup" for some interesting quirks and glitches at a potentially budget price.
Aria did make rack mount effects throughout its company history. From the layout of the controls, AC power, modulation, hold switch, to the push-button delay-range selectors, the ADD-100 is most likely of some lineage to Aria's rack mount models. Missing are the external footswitch jacks, more flexible input/output amplifier, dry/wet/mix outputs, and, possibly, some visual feedback via LEDS featured on other racks of the same vintage. But, due to the ADD-100 being a pedal, there had to be design edits and circuit simplification. Some of the choices are questionable, but, at the same time, very much of the time it was built.
The preamplifier, post-amplifier/mixer, and buffered-bypass signal of the ADD-100 comes off as pretty neutral without adding any real noticeable changes to the clean signal. Some extra headroom could be possibly be a result of the pedal's AC-powered design which could allow a higher voltage for the analog components to keep the digital processing as clean as possible. It is built using through-hole components and any noise issues from capacitors should not be too difficult to solve. The most glaring issue with the sound is in the delay/dry signal mixing and the use of outputs.
Wet and dry signals seem to be set where the wet is nearly half the volume of the dry at max delay volume. The two outputs act like a simple signal split which does not help the mixing situation with the dry versus wet signals. Further complicating the mixing is the input control which, instead of controlling the dry signal over the pedal, just attenuates the signal into the delay chip; the input control is only to potentially prevent an overloading of the chip and, at minimum, will result in no sound from the pedal. Even though the mix is fixed, this pedal still has a few amazing quirks about it that really make it a lot of fun.
The ADD-100 really shines as a vintage glitch machine. The hold switch automatically loops the selected delay time; the delay and delay range controls stay functional during a loop/hold which is a destructive blast of sample modification. With the way the delay range switches are setup as push-buttons (instead of the rotary like on most compact pedals), it is easy to take a 4 millisecond sample and stretch it to 256 milliseconds just by clicking a button. Once the hold switch is released, the normal delay function resumes and integrates the loop into the feedback of the delay. Using the ADD-100 as a live, quirky, hands-on device can quickly add some excellent layers of destructive loops and glitches below the signal. The pedal is a blast along with a drum machine, groove box, or synth bass as a playable effect; quick switching, hand-controlled time modulation, random-ish sampling are all very easy and quick.
As a normal delay, outside of the hold mode, the pedal is adequate. Some mediocre short delays and space filling effects are totally possible but the overall character as a regular delay is average. The feedback never goes into oscillation territory which is a pretty normal characteristic of these old digital delays but could have been pushed more like some Coron factory delays that go right to the edge of uncontrolled feedback. Modulation has a somewhat strange range compared to more dialed-in modern effects and always seems to ride on over-the-top rfor those cheesy-flanger-kind-of-wiggle sounds; if there is a middle ground for some nice, subtle modulation, it is very difficult to dial in with the knob.
Mechanically, the pedal has some flaws. The jacks would have been nice on the top where there is plenty of space, but the internal boards are split and placed vertically which probably blocks an easy jack placement. The foot switch actuators are very similar in design to Amdek pedals and have a tendency to stick to the case, but the switch is like most compact pedals and just a simple momentary button on a PCB (and should be easy to change to something else if needed). The bushing on the power cord, and other plastic, can also become extremely brittle and potentially shatter. However, the push button switches seemingly pulled off an old radio are excellent and never seemed to falter even during speedy range changes. None of the mechanical issues are deal breakers in anyway and these Aria pedals seem to have stood the test of time at nearly 40 years old.
As of 2022, the ADD-100 can still be found for prices under $150 USD. The delay in normal use is passable as a space filling effect, but it really shines with the hold mode. With a guitar in hand, the true character of the ADD-100 will be diminished, but, if used as a playable effect, there is a lot to love about this old Aria box.