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! 

REVIEW: Eventide TimeFactor


Eventide effects have always been something to aspire to for me. Eddie Van Halen uses their harmonizer to split his signal to two amps with a light detune effect, and Steve Vai’s ‘Passion and Warfare’ album was a virtual shrine to Eventide’s harmonizer and delay patches. Just check out ‘Love Secrets’ and ‘Alien Water Kiss’ for a hint of what you can do with Eventide gear when you put your mind to it. The TimeFactor moves some of the company’s high quality delay effects out of the rack and on to the floor for your stomping pleasure. Let’s check it out.

DELAY-LAY-LAY-LAY-LAY

The TimeFactor is that rarest of pedals that is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it, satisfying both plug-and-play philosophers and unstoppable tinkerers. It features 10 effects: DigitalDelay; VintageDelay; TapeEcho; ModDelay; DuckedDelay; BandDelay; FilterPong; MultiTap; Reverse; and Looper. DigitalDelay gives up to 3 seconds of delay, with independent delay time and feedback controls for two complete delay chains, allowing you to set up complex rhythms. VintageDelay is a more straightforward delay effect with a slightly rolled off top end. Tape Echo simulates all the lo-fi goodies imparted by vintage tape based delays; Mod Delay adds chorusy modulation effects; DuckedDelay lowers the level of the repeats when you’re playing, and turns them up to their normal level when you stop. Band Delay applies modulated filters to the delay; FilterPong bounces between the two outputs with filter effects; MultiTap allows you to set up to 10 delay taps with different time, diffusion, level and spacing; Reverse is a trippy, psychedelic backwards effect; and Looper offers up to 12 seconds of looping with dubbing and speed control, for wild sound-on-sound excursions.

Controls include delay time and feedback for both outputs; Depth, Speed, Filter, and a control labelled Xnob for controlling various parameters, such as crossfade in DigitalDelay and Reverse modes; simulated tape hiss in TapeEcho mode; and various filter parameters in some of the other modes.

The pedal has multiple routing options, including mono and stereo signal chains. There are inputs for an expression pedal, for realtime control of parameters such as delay level or speed, plus an auxiliary switch input for further control of parameters. There’s a USB output (you can download upgrades online), and MIDI Out/Thru and In.

STICK AROUND FOR THE AMBIENCE

I used the TimeFactor in a jam with a drummer (my mate Denis from high school – hi Den if you’re reading this). Although I was using an Ibanez Universe UV777BK 7-string guitar to reach a little bit into the range of a bass, the TimeFactor was indispensable in filling out the sound and keeping things from sounding too sparse. It also allowed me to clearly hear how the pedal performed at full volume.

I plugged the TimeFactor into my Marshall DSL50’s effects loop, while using a Roger Mayer Voodoo Blues and Vision Wah in the amp’s front end. The delays were lush and full, and never sounded too ‘digital’ – I’d rather my delays be organic and musical than clinical and robotic, or at least to have the choice! I especially liked the TapeEcho setting with quick cascading repeats for some Eric Johnson vibe – it’s a hard tone to try to pull off if the sound is too cold. The tap tempo function allowed me to instantly set perfect delay times for skittery electronic rhythms in the filter based modes. FilterPong sent us into a spacey, King Crimson style jam, as delays bubbled and swirled from nowhere then faded back again gracefully. DuckedDelay was great for slow, delicate single note melodies, and the Looper allowed us to build a rhythm bed to jam over.

Back home, I happened to be reviewing the Randall RM100 modular amp and a Hughes & Kettner TriAmp for Mixdown magazine, so I fed the TimeFactor with my DigiTech Bad Monkey overdrive then sent each output do a different amp (on their clean channels) for some wide stereo warmth. If you have the luxury of access to multiple amps, try it out for some awesome U2 textures. 

Scroll down for a couple of great demo videos by ProGuitarShop that will let you hear just what you can get out of this pedal.

THE TIDE IS TURNING

The TimeFactor offers a huge range of control over many parameters, but it never gets in the way of creating music. It might even inspire you to create something new. Eventide have scored gold with this one, whether you need to create U2-style chiming rhythm beds, Hendrixy backwards psychedelia or Vai excess. For those who always wanted some of that high quality Eventide delay sound, but couldn’t afford the stack of notes for an H3000 harmonizer or were put off by rack gear in general, the TimeFactor is a great little gadget.

 

NEWS: News for March 18, 2009

Eventide shipping PitchFactor Harmonizer
The Eventide PitchFactor Harmobizer stomp box is now shipping. The PitchFactor includes ventide’s 10 best Harmonizer pitch and delay effects featuring 1.5 seconds of stereo delay and simultaneous pitch shifting effects resulting in the most flexible stompbox in its class. PitchFactor features 100 stunning presets, USB for upgradeability, instant program change, true bypass, tap tempo, three footswitches for immediate preset access, a built-in Tuner and MIDI. Useable in mono or stereo, with line or instrument level inputs and outputs.
Source: Harmony Central.
Buy:
Tunnel Vision Music.

Chickenfoot studio photos
Producer/engineer and inventor of the ReAmp John Cuniberti has posted photos of some recording sessions of Chickenfoot, the supergroup featuring Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Chad Smith. Check the photos out at Cuniberti’s site.
Source: Blabbermouth.net

Parker MIDI Fly available for order
The Parker MIDI Fly, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, is now shipping. It includes MIDI, Piezo and magnetic pickups, and looks freaking cool.
Source: Parker.
Buy:
Parker Fly Mojo MIDI Electric Guitar Taxi Cab Yellow from Musician’s Friend for $3,999

Herman Li, Alex Skolnick added to National Guitar Workshop
Herman will appear to give a special clinic at the Rock Summit in Purchase, NY during July 19-24.
Alex will appear at the Rock Summit in McLean, VA during the week of June 27th through July 2nd
Source: Guitar Workshop.

New Placebo album
Placebo will self-release a new album on June 6. According to undercover.com.au, the album was recorded with Tool producer David Bottril, and was mixed by Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins). I went through a big Placebo phase back in the day, and they make great use of the awesome Fender Bass VI.
Source: Undercover.com.au.

NAMM 2009: Eventide Pitch Factor

Eventide, never one to shy away from making me want to hold up a bank in order to buy everything they’ve ever made, is adding the Pitch Factor to the series of pedals that already includes the Time Factor and Mod Factor.

The pedal offers up to 4 voices of diatonic pitch shifting and up to 1.5 seconds of stereo delay. It’s compatible with guitar or bass, has a built-in tuner, and is software-upgradeable via USB 2.0. And of course it’s MIDI controllable.

Stereo and mono pitch+delay effects include:

Diatonic
PitchFlex
Quadravox
Octaver
HarModulator
Crystals
MicroPitch
HarPeggiator
H910/H949
Synthonizer

Cheers to Kent for Tweeting about this!