REVIEW: Eventide H9 MAX

“The H9 is that rare sonic tool that is capable of inspiring your entire musical direction.”

Eventide has been a part of the musical landscape since the 70s: David Bowie and Brian Eno famously used the hell out of an Eventide harmonizer starting from the Low album and that’s good enough for me! In the guitar world, Steve Vai practically created an entire genre of psychedelic progressive shred wackiness through his use of the H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer. But you’ll find Eventide’s family of harmonizers all over the place: recording studios, sound design, radio production… the company’s footprint is all over the last four decades plus of sonic history. Eventide doesn’t cut corners, so it can be a pretty costly proposition to add one of their rack units to your arsenal. Thankfully there’s a range of great stompboxes available in the form of the TimeFactor (delay), ModFactor (modulation), PitchFactor (pitch shifting), and Space (reverb). Each is a dedicated unit with plenty of controls and functions and they’re all serious stuff, but Eventide has found a way to cram every one of those pedals into a small, pedalboard-friendly unit called the H9 MAX.

The H9 gets away with this Tardis-like approach to effects management by placing the controls not on the pedal itself but on your computer or smartphone screen via the H9 Control App which gives you instant access to over 500 presets and practically endless editing capability. There is a degree of control available on the surface of the pedal itself in the form of a Hotknob and three assignable parameters, but this is a pedal designed for those who are comfortable dialling in their tone on their screen. 

Get Connected

Connections include stereo inputs and outputs, an expression pedal jack, Mini USB and MIDI Out/Thru (plus the 12v DC jack for the included power supply). It’s important to note that the H9 is not a multi-effect pedal – that is, you can’t combine multiple effects in a chain – but many effects include delay or reverb capability alongside their main function. And you’re not forced to commit to using it just in your amp’s effects loop or just through its front end. The stereo inputs and outputs can be treated as two totally different signal paths to select between, allowing you to send, say, a chewy-sounding vintage phaser preset to your amp’s front end, then switching to a delay or reverb preset that goes through your amp’s effects loop. It’s a really ingenious system that allows you to get the most out of the H9’s stunning range of capabilities as the song demands. 

Variations On A Theme

There are actually three variations on the H9 available, which differ only in the pre-loaded effects: the base H9 Core which comes loaded with the PitchFactor’s H910/H949 settings; the H9 Harmonizer which has two algorithms each from Space, PitchFactor, ModFactor and TimeFactor plus the H9-exclusive UltraTap Delay; and the full H9 MAX which is loaded with 50 effect algorithms and 99 presets, with over 500 presets available via the H9 Control app. You can upgrade the H9 Core or H9 Harmonizer to H9 MAX specs online for an additional cost using the MAXOut Program, so even if you don’t have the spare bucks to get the MAX up-front, you can get in on the ground floor with the H9 Harmonizer or Core and upgrade as you’re able. And it’s worth doing because here’s what MAX comes loaded with:

H9 Exclusive:

UltraTap Delay

Resonator

EQ Compressor

CrushStation

SpaceTime

Sculpt

PitchFuzz

HotSawz

From Space:

Shimmer

Hall

Blackhole

Spring

Plate

Room

MangledVerb

Tremoloverb

ModEchoVerb

DualVerb

DynaVerb

Reverse Reverb

From PitchFactor:

Crystals

H910/H949

Diatonic

MicroPitch

Quadravox

PitchFlex

Octaver

Harpeggiator

Synthonizer

Harmodulator

From ModFactor:

Chorus

Phaser

Q-Wah

Flanger

ModFilter

Rotary

TremoloPan

Vibrato

Undulator

RingMod

From TimeFactor:

Tape Echo

Vintage Delay

Digital Delay

Mod Delay

Ducked Delay

Band Delay

Filter Pong

MultiTap

Reverse

Looper

Some of these are pretty self-explanatory. Others are really unique. For instance, Sculpt lets you split the audio signal into high and low frequency bands and then apply different levels of gain and filtering to each, then add compression either before or after the distortion. In stereo if you want to. PitchFuzz combines fuzz, three pitch shifters and two delays for some truly filthy sounds. CrushStation is a stereo distortion that can do anything from blues tones to ultra pissed-off. And HotSaws is a pitch-tracking monophonic synth with modulation sources including LFO, Envelope Follower and ADS Gate, with four assignable destinations (Filter Cutoff, Volume, Pitch and Oscillator Depth), with each modulation source able to be assigned to any destination at any time. 

In Use

And that’s just the new stuff available only in H9 MAX: there are also plenty of classic Eventide effects that you’ll recognise from either the ‘Factor’ series of pedals, or earlier devices such as the H3000, H949 and H910. For instance, y’know Steve Vai’s classic ‘Ballerina 12/24’ pitch-shifted delay setting? That’s in here. The pitch shift preset from ‘The Animal’ is in here too, as are various EVH ‘1984’-inspired sounds (and I’ve been able to dial in a perfect replica of Eddie’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge-era chorus-like subtle doubling sound). In fact, the huge number of sounds in here from previous Eventide products like the H3000 really hits home just how innovative that classic rack unit was. The DigiTech Whammy Pedal? It’s basically just a particular H3000 mode with a built-in expression pedal, and you can do it with the H9 and an expression pedal too. Dynamic reverb, chorus and delay effects that respond to your picking? That’s all here just like it has been since the H3000. Extensive looping capability? Ditto. But there’s other stuff in here that has been criminally overlooked. Frank Zappa was a fan of using dynamic flanging effects, and Eventide gives you this capability (which works especially well as an ‘into-the-front-of-the-amp’ effect); trigger a flanger-sweep every time you pick a note, or deeper sweeps the harder you pick. Or assign the flanger resonance to an expression pedal. The signal-processing possibilities are endless, and that means your creative and expressive options as a musician are endless too. The H9 is that rare sonic tool that is capable of inspiring your entire musical direction.

The sound quality is so great that you can get away with using the H9 as front-and-centre feature effects in a recording environment – as you’d expect from a company whose gear is in every serious studio in the world – but what really impresses me is how utterly clean and noise-free the sound is when used with my roaring Marshall. I’m used to battling against hiss and hum in outboard gear and I’ve figured out various ways to get rid of it over the years but the H9 is so damn quiet. The dynamic range isn’t unnaturally squished, there’s no buzz, no hum, no white noise. And this becomes really apparent when using delay and reverb effects. 

The MIDI capability is also extremely handy. Although the H9 has become my go-to reverb and delay unit, I’ve been connecting the H9 MAX to my trusty old BOSS GT-8 Multi-Fx floorboard so I can use the GT-8’s delay and reverb effects when the H9 MAX is otherwise occupied with another algorithm through my amp’s front end (eg: Octave, Flanger, Wah or PitchFlex effects). This also lets me add H9 presets with my GT-8 presets, and also to use the GT-8’s expression pedal to control H9 effects. In a perfect world I’d have an Eclipse V4 sitting in a rack to take care of delay and harmonizer effects in my amp’s effects loop and an H9 on a pedalboard to look after front-end effects like fuzz, distortion, wah, flanger, phaser, pitch and whammy. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and dig into some serious editing on a smartphone, tablet or computer screen, the H9 will do absolutely everything you can ever think to ask of it. (If you’re a little put off by the control method but you still want some great Eventide delay and modulation effects – from the natural to the freaky – check out the new Eventide Rose Modulated Delay). The H9 is a serious piece of kit, which is why Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish had four of the dang things on his pedalboard when I saw the band live recently! 

GUEST POST: Top 10 Best Electric Guitar Players off All Time by John Anthony

By John Anthony of Guitar.Listy

When it comes to rank the musicians it is always tough. Different people have different choice and there will always be a controversy about who should be number one and who should be at ten. Still in this article a list of the top ten best electric guitarist is done keeping in mind their fame and the enigma they have created with their music. There are so many electric guitar players who have won hearts of millions over the years. Here are few of them who have left a lasting impression. 

1. Stevie Ray Vaughan

When Stevie Ray Vaughan comes with guitars in his hands even God will take some time to listen to him. He may be deeply rooted to the blues idiom but he had taken music especially electric guitar to another level that is purely original. He is inspired by other guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, B.B King and Albert Collins but he himself have influenced many others during his time. Among different styles his lighting fast double stop and triple string bends are something that are unforgettable. He has sprinkled his art in many songs that includes ‘pride and joy,’ ‘rude ‘mood’ and others but ‘Texas flood’ is something that took him to new heights. 

2. Jimi Hendrix

Considered as the great instrumentalist in the history of music Jimi Hendrix became active during the late 60s. He was something that was not seen before whether that be his volume use or wah pedals. He was the one who had blurred and radicalized the lines that had been demarcating rock and roll from the psychedelic experiments. His music piece ‘bold as love’ makes his audience awestricken and his guitar seems to be a part of him, such was his integrity was guitar! After Eric Clapton saw him he considered that it was the end of his career! Technically, it may be possible to find many other guitarists who are impressive than Jimi but when it comes to spirit very few comes near him. 

3. Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry is considered as the God of Rock and Roll and why shouldn’t he be? It was his amalgamation of blues with the hillbilly guitar that has pioneered the music famously known as ‘rock and roll’ now. He stands apart from other guitarist for the skills he had shown in synthesizing blues, rhythm, rock, country and jazz. His technique was sharp and perfect and the tone was very melodic. The back and forth bends by Berry on carols has been inspiration for many and is imitated by numerous electric guitar players round the world.  If you want to learn how to play an electric guitar then follow this article about how to play electric guitar for beginners on GuitarListy.com

4. Duane Allman

Duane Allman was always brilliant. He had shown his performance while playing as musician at Muscle Shoals studio or while as one of the lead guitarists of the Allman Brothers band. Whether it was his standard playing or the slide playing, the music was something that was smoothest and of course the most adventurous that the world has listened to. There are many pieces that has been mesmerizing music lovers but “the Allman brother live” will surely make one fall in love with him again, especially the one at the Fillmore East. 

5. Eric Clapton

Eric was mainly a Blues guitarist and it was his impressive blues playing that has made his fans making spray paints on the walls of London. Once John Mayall’s ‘Beano” album was released with his blues rock playing he was considered as the God of electric guitar. It was his solo, ‘while my guitar gently weeps’ in the Beatles that made him popular and inscribed his name in history of music permanently. He is also known as ‘Slowhand’ and he has been in the hall of fame of music three times. He had played with Derek. Cream and the Dominos and with all these music along with his solos has earned him the supreme position in the world of music. 

6. Chet Atkins

For those who had not heard Chet Atkins before are missing something in their life. He was a rockabilly player and loved playing his songs himself. He was a skilled instrumental guitar player and loved to play his music himself, without any support from other musicians. “Mr. Sandman” is a great example of his talent. He have created many other pieces that have made him popular and have given him this position. Still he is more famous for his syncopated melodies and alternating thumb rhythm that shows his precision while handling the instruments. 

7. Slash

Slash has rendered innumerable solos and among them ‘Estranged,’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ or ‘November Rain’ are worth mentioning. Saul Hudson, or famously known as Slash was lead guitarist of the band, Guns N’ Roses. He was an iconic guitarist who had played solos as well as group performance that had kept music lovers mesmerized. He has even performed with Michael Jackson on the stage and that was an experience indeed. “Black and white’ had fulfilled the wishes of the masses when they had seen two maestros performing together on the stage. His mountain top grandeur solos and blues have taken the music lovers to climax many times. He gradually turned up the intensity of the music making things more intense. 

8. Charlie Christian

Many music lovers considered him as the first master of the electric guitar. He was an excellent jazz player and the stellar improvisational skills shown by Charlie Cristian was exemplary. He has created some of the most innovative and inventive jazz of all time with his fluent run down through the fret board. “Swing to Bop” will give an example how he has impressed his followers for ages. 

9. Prince

Prince is included in this list for his extraordinary solo on “let’s go crazy.” He is a guitarists who has shown his supremacy in blues, rhythm, funk and Minneapolis genres. He may be more famous for his frenetic style but there are ones like “while my guitar gently weeps or “just my imagination” that shows that he had ability to play under control. “While my Guitar gently weeps” has been a heart rendering piece that had made every guitar lover fall to knees. 

10. Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was not only an electric guitar player but had many other qualities in him. He was a writer who wrote hilariously satirical lyrics. Apart from that eh has composed many brilliant music pieces and of course he is included in this list because of his inventive and innovative guitar playing. He has made many guitar improvisation with his lighting hands fretting. 

Def Leppard – Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick

So I was just in the car with my son and a Def Leppard song came on Spotify. And he goes “Def Leppard? Isn’t that the band you have a setlist for where all the songs are like ‘Rock Rock Til You Drop’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ and ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’?”

So now I really want to know what a Def Leppard song called ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’ sounds like. I mean you could probably get it to work to the tune of ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me.’ But I’m issuing a challenge to Def Leppard. Let’s hear it! Actually write ‘Let’s Throw A Rock At A Dick’! It’ll be an instant classic! Let’s go-o-o-oo-o!