Eventide H9

GM_AwardEventide’s audio effects have been long been considered objects of desire by musicians, engineers, and producers. Going back to their first harmonizer, these units have been employed on dozens of classic recordings, as well as live—by the lucky few who could afford them. Their stompbox series, though still not cheap, made these effects accessible to a much wider range of sonic explorers. Avant-guitarists like Noveller, Eivind Aarset, and Stian Westerhus soon began exploring the tonal possibilities of the self-explanatory Pitch-, Mod-, and TimeFactor pedals, as well as the reverb-centric Space stomp. For me, the problem remained that, while each pedal has numerous incredible sounds, there are way more than I would be likely to use. To assemble the particular effects I want would require purchasing the entire set, an outlay of $2000—the same price that puts even their budget rack unit, the Eclipse, out of my range. Enter the H9…. There are plenty of great demos on YouTube, but here is one that concentrates on using the iOS control for experimental sounds. I’ve Got (algo)Rhythm Eventide’s new H9 pedal let’s you access algorithms from all the stompboxes in a solid housing half the size of the Factor pedals. It comes with four choruses and two tremolos from ModFactor; legendary harmonizing effects from the original H910 and H949 rack units and the classic Eventide Crystals effect, from PitchFactor; Tape Echo and Vintage Delay from TimeFactor; Shimmer and Hall from Space; and an H-9 exclusive—a 64 tap delay called UltraTap. Alan at Eventide demos some of the many classic sounds. Additional algorithms can be purchase ala Carte for $20 each. This may seem a bit pricey but the H9 comes with a free coupon for any other single algorithm of your choice. And, if you act now!—that is, by December 31, 2013, you can download the new Resonator algorithm, an expanded version of an effect in the H-8000, for free.  Keep in mind, it will be quite a while before you have explored all the sonic possibilities of the fifteen you start with—especially when you discover the amazing amount of tweaking available. If you bought all the currently available algorithms it would cost you $740, which, with the $499 (street) for the H9 would still bring you in under the price of an Eclipse. But, unlike with cable TV, you don’t have to pay for things you don’t think you will use. You can hear examples of every algorithm and/or download a trial version at the app store, making it easy to decide which ones you need. H9ControlAlgorithms Control Freak Eventide has made programing the H9 as simple as possible, given the limited pedal real estate. Pressing the small Preset button on the right lights it up and lets you scroll through presets using the big black scroller/switch. No need to load the preset when you get there, it loads automatically when you stop scrolling. X,Y, and Z buttons access three parameters for instant adjustment with the scrolling knob (you can program different parameters if you choose). Holding down any one of these buttons accesses further parameters. The Hot Knob button turns the big scroller knob into a switch that will toggle between two entirely different sets of parameter programs. The Active footswitch engages and bypasses the effect, while the right footswitch, labeled “Tap” works as a tap tempo switch if you hold it down for a couple of seconds. Otherwise it steps through the programs, which you then have to load through stepping on the Active switch. H9side small I won’t bore you with a complete manual of hardware control procedures. As good a job as Eventide has done in thinking all this through, and as helpful as it might be in an emergency, we all know it is a pain in the ass to seriously program a complex multieffect like the H9 through buttons and screen levels. Fortunately, Eventide offers a software app for Mac or Windows so you can program all your effects easily on your computer screen through USB. You can then load them into separate set lists. This way if you are off to a gig that requires vintage effects, like tremolo, reverb, and tape delay, you can load them into a set and program the footswitch to cycle through only those three effects. (All your other effects will still be in there). If your next gig requires ambient washes of Chorus, Crystals, Shimmer and Ultra Tap delays, you can program them to your liking in another set list and load them in a cycle-able group that ignores all the other presets. For some users it gets even better… . H9ControlPresetLists Phoning It In Lucky iPhone and/or iPad owners can download an app that allows them to program and/or control the H9 directly from their mobile device through Bluetooth. This is where the fun truly begins, especially for modern guitarists. For one thing, you can access any preset or algorithm pretty quickly on the gig, without a bulky MIDI pedal (yes, the H9 accepts MIDI in, out, and through). Any H9 owner can control multiple parameters with an expression pedal, but iOS device owners can do it with a swipe of the finger across a simulated ribbon controller on the effects GUI. And only iOS users get to control two sets of parameters with a cool, pulsating, simulated x/y pad screen (see below and the first video above). H9ControlXYPad Yes, I know, guitarists typically need both hands to play, but of course we modern players are not typical. We often put the instrument on our laps or tables and throw an EBow on it. Imagine then being able to manipulate the sound through various pitch, delay, and/or modulation parameters by moving your finger around on your iOS device. Actually, I found I needed only to engage some distortion for more sustain and I could get really cool effects by modulating two pitch controls with they x/y pad. Conclusions Despite all the technology involved (and there is much more than covered here), I was able to get up and running with minimal reference to the manual (thanks to helpful Eventide videos by the lovely and articulate Adrienne Humblet. Are there downsides to this device? In certain circumstances the power supply added some digital trash to the sound. You may need to find a way to isolate it from the power sources of your other effects. This can be true with many devices and clean power is always important. Also, you can only run one effect at a time, but should you choose to circumvent this by purchasing a second H9 (or a third, or fourth…), any additional algorithms you buy can be run on up to five units. H9ControlPresetsScrn Overall, I was gobsmacked by the fabulous sound, creative potential, and ease of use of the H9. I have reviewed the Factor series, and as impressed as I was with the some sounds in each, I couldn’t bring myself to spring for $2000 to have all those sounds by buying all four. Now I don’t have to. For its innovative, inspirational sound, ease of use, and forward-thinking control options, at a reasonable price point, the Eventide H9 garners the first Guitar Moderne Great Gear Award

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8 thoughts on “Eventide H9

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  4. this is sorta a weird question, but i’m interested to find out if the h9 can emulate the type of synthy sounds st vincent gets out of the eventide pitchfactor in her live version of “surgeon”. you guys seem to be the only demoers interested in more experimental uses of this thing, i’m hoping you might be able to help.

    • Not Weird at all. That is what Guitar Moderne is all about. If you are talking about her solo at the end of the 4AD Sessions version on You Tube, the H9 can certainly help you get that sound. If you can’t seem to find it in any of the included algorithms, you can sample other PitchFactor algorithms and purchase the one you need. Hope that helps.

  5. great review Michael. thanks.

    can you comment on the patch change lag on the H9? interweb chatter suggests it might be noticeable. not particularly a deal breaker for me but still annoying if it’s apparent.

    thanks

    • I would be amazed if processing this deep allowed instantaneous changing of patches. Still, I didn’t notice any serious lag time between patches. Using the switches to step through requires scrolling with the right switch and loading with the left. Using the iPhone by tapping on the patches in a set was a one step operation, albeit requiring a free hand. I didn’t try it with a MIDI pedal so I can’t speak to the timing of that. But as soon as I get time I want to try it with the SoftStep

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