Eventide Stompoxes were introduced in 2007,
beginning with the TimeFactor delay pedal, followed by the ModFactor,
PitchFactor, and Space pedals (reviewed in the 12/07, 8/08, 9/09, and
9/11 issues of GP respectively). These four pedals boast effects algorithms
derived from those found in the company’s high-end studio processors,
making dozens of delay, modulation, pitch, and reverb effects—and hundreds
of presets based on them—available to musicians in a less-expensive
and pedalboard-friendly form. The caveat, of course, is that to have
all four collections of effects, you must acquire four pedals, which requires
an appreciable investment both in terms of cash and ’board real estate.
The H9 Harmonizer ($579 retail/$499 street) provides an elegant and
ingenious alternative. Smaller and lighter than its siblings (even its external
power supply is considerably less bulky than those supplied with Eventide’s
other pedals), yet packed with equivalent processing power and
some great new features, the H9 comes loaded with eight effects algorithms
culled from the three Factors and Space plus the new UltraTap
Delay algorithm exclusive to the H9. (Note: a second exclusive H9 algorithm,
Resonator, was released moments before press time, and is being
offered free until the end of 2013.) You get Tape Echo and Vintage Delay
(from TimeFactor), H910/H949 and Crystals (from PitchFactor), Four
types of Chorus and two types of Tremolo (from ModFactor), and Hall and
Shimmer (from Space)—and a Tuner algorithm is also included. Dozens
of additional algorithms may be purchased online for about $20 each,
and you get the first one free. The algorithms provide the core engines for
crafting specific effects, which are then saved as presets. Currently the H9
can accommodate 100 factory and/or user presets.
The H9 also differs from previous Eventide pedals in that it communicates
with iOS devices wirelessly via Bluetooth (Android support is in the
works), allowing you to interact with it in various ways using Eventide’s
free H9 Control application. There’s also a version of H9 Control that runs
on your Mac or PC, which you connect to via USB (more on this later).
The H9’s front panel controls are streamlined yet powerful. There are
two standard footswitches, a large encoder
knob with a light ring (that also functions as a
switch), and five buttons that control what the
knob does. Additionally, there’s a six-character
LED, which displays (abbreviated) preset names,
parameter values, and other information, along
with LEDs for Signal Present, Signal Clip, Preset
Edited, and Bluetooth status.
On the H9’s rear panel you’ll find stereo
inputs and outputs (that automatically switch
between mono and stereo depending on what
cables are connected), an expression pedal (or
triple-footswitch) jack, a mini-USB jack, and
a connector for the included power supply.
MIDI In and Out/Thru jacks reside on the side
of the pedal.
There are two ways to select and load a
preset. You can press the Presets button and
use the knob to scroll through the preset menu
until you locate the one you want, and it will
immediately load and become active. Alternatively,
you can use the right footswitch to
step through the presets incrementally, without
automatically loading them, and once you
get to the one you want, stepping on the left
footswitch loads it. Then, once the preset is
loaded, stepping on the left footswitch again
toggles between Active and Bypass status. If you
would like the right footswitch to step through
the presets decrementally, press the knob and
it changes direction. Additionally, you can set
the range of selectable presets. For example,
if you’ll only need the first ten presets on a gig,
simply set the H9 to cycle through presets 1-10,
and ignore the other 90.
Once a preset has been loaded, pressing the
Hotknob button transforms the knob into the
equivalent of an onboard expression pedal, and
it sweeps the range of whichever parameter was
pre-assigned to the optional external expression
pedal. Similarly, pressing the X, Y, or Z buttons
accesses three more pre-assigned parameters.
Of course, any of these assignments may
be changed if you’d prefer to access a different
parameter or parameters. Additionally, holding
down the two footswitches simultaneously
puts the H9 into Tuner mode. Both the LED display
and the light ring indicate whether you are
sharp or flat, and the light ring goes dark when
you are in tune. (The Tuner is also available in
the H9 Control application.)
As you might imagine, there’s a lot more
concealed under the H9’s hood, and detailing
its many features is beyond the scope of
this review—but they include adjustable input
and output levels (with up to 18dB of gain on
the inputs), a choice of three types of Bypass,
a Killdry setting for using the H9 in a parallel
effects loop, a versatile Tempo function (including
Global Tempo), and relatively robust MIDI
implementation (including transmitting and
slaving to MIDI clock).
I tested two versions of H9 Control: the
Mac version on my Mac Pro desktop, and the
iOS application on my iPhone 4. The Mac version
is a thing of beauty, allowing easy access
to algorithms, presets, and individual effects
parameters, along with all pedal programming
functions, and a few nice extra touches, such as
the X/Y Pad controller (sort of like other popular
control “Pads”) and a Randomize Parameters
function that pulls wild sonic rabbits out of
the algorithmic hats. The iOS version is essentially
identical, just reconfigured for the iPhone’s
smaller screen and touch-screen capabilities.
I found it to be a tad cramped but still workable,
and I’m sure that it would be the perfect
size on an iPad. H9 Control also includes a
user-friendly store where you can audition and
purchase additional algorithms.
H9 Control’s user interface in either version
resembles that of the Eventide Blackhole plugin
(reviewed in the 10/12 issue of GP). There is
an array of virtual knobs, buttons, switches,
and a Ribbon Controller that functions like an
expression pedal for your finger (or mouse if you
are using the Mac/PC version). Navigating the
numerous features—which also include preset
librarian and effects management functions—is
fast and intuitive. Edited presets may be saved
to either the library or the pedal, and the brilliant
Preset Lists function allows you to save collections
of presets for specific uses. For example, if you play
in a jazz-fusion band, a Beatles cover band, and
an acoustic trio, you can save unique collections
of, say, ten presets for each type of gig, and load
them into the H9 before each show or rehearsal
via your computer or iSO device.
As for how the H9 sounds, suffice to say
that the audio quality is superb, and the effects
from the Factor and Space pedals sound every
bit as spectacular within it as they do in those
pedals (see the individual reviews for specifics).
The new UltraTap Delay algorithm is fabulous,
providing up to 64 taps and parameters
such as Slurm, Spread, Taper, and Chop. Its 20
associated presets have names such as Ghosthunter,
Ultraswell, and Glitchtrigger, so use your
imagination. Resonator looks equally intriguing,
combining multi-tap delays, reverb, and tunable
resonances—though I wasn’t able to hear it in
time for this review.
The H9 is a unique and fantastic-sounding
device that’s chockablock with forward-thinking
features, and the ability to program and control
it remotely opens up nearly unlimited performance
possibilities. Naturally, it receives an Editors’
Kudos Super-flexible architecture. Superb sound.
Excellent H9 Control wireless/USB software.
Concerns Can get expensive if you purchase lots
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