Eventide H9 Harmonizer Review – Best Multi-Effects Pedal?

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One After 909

Eventide has come a long way since pioneering pitch shifting in the 1970’s with their first Harmonizer rack units, the most famous being the H910 and H949. Their innovation continued with the release of such gems as the H3000 Harmonizer in the late 80’s which many guitarists may recognize for its appearance on Steve Vai’s Ballerina 12/24 from Passion and Warfare. Fast forward to the 21st century, and Eventide finally brought their legendary studio quality effects to the guitar playing masses with the release of the TimeFactor and ModFactor Stompbox delay and modulation guitar pedals. Then came the PitchFactor Harmonizer Stompbox which gave gigging guitarists access to classic and contemporary pitch shifting without the need to lug around thousands of dollars worth of rack gear. The Space stompbox continued with some of the finest reverb algorithms available in any format.

And thus concludes the pre-H9 era. With their entry into pedal based effects processing, Eventide went from being a renowned studio recording heavyweight to one of the world leaders in stompbox effects in only a few short years. Now they’re set to revolutionize the way the world thinks about effects all over again with the H9.

To The 9’s

The H9 has an immediate eye-catching effect with it’s sci-fi relic exterior gleaming with a glossy white glow. And like an alien artifact, it packs unimaginable power within. Compared to the Factor and Space pedals, the H9 is shockingly minimal with just 2 footswitches, one giant knob/button flanked by a few more tiny buttons, and a much smaller footprint than its predecessors.

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-05The H9 delivers 8 of the most popular algorithms from their Factor series and Space pedals, 2 from each pedal, and also comes with 2 algorithms exclusive to the H9, UltraTap and Resonator (UltraTap is pre-installed, Resonator is available upon downloading the latest version of the H9 Control app for iOS), for a total of 10 different algorithms covering the range of delay, reverb, modulation, pitch-shifting, and several unique combinations that you won’t find anywhere else.

While the incredibly wide range of sound-shaping possibilities the H9 offers is impressive, the most interesting aspect of the Eventide H9 Harmonizer is its full integration with Apple’s iOS and various touch-screen devices including the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad via the H9 Control App. This offers an unprecedented level of control over creating and organizing presets as well allowing for some interesting real-time control possibilities via touch-screen. And of course the ability to audition and download new algorithms and their accompanying preset banks through H9 Control ensures that there will be plenty of expanded playability and features for years to come.

“Stompbox Re-Thunk”

The H9 Harmonizer is one of the most ambitious undertakings in the history of guitar effects processing. Eventide have been using the tagline “Stompbox Re-thunk” in their association with the H9, and they’re certainly pushing farther into the digital frontier than any other company has before. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the H9 since its unveiling, and everyone wants to know if it lives up to its lofty expectations. One thing is for sure, if any company can execute such a product successfully, Eventide certainly has the knowhow and experience to do so. In our Eventide H9 Harmonizer review, you’ll find out if the H9 is the best multi-effects pedal/processor available. But first, let’s run down the features of the H9 before we dive in.

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-02Features:

2 presets from TimeFactor: Tape Echo, Vintage Delay.

2 presets from ModFactor: TremoloPan, Chorus.

2 presets from PitchFactor: H910/H949, Crystals.

2 presets from Space: Shimmer, Hall.

2 presets exclusive to H9: UltraTap, Resonator.

Chromatic Tuner.

Stereo Inputs and Outputs.

Midi Input and Output.

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-04Expression Pedal/Auxiliary Switch Input.

Two foot-switches control preset changing, tap tempo, and engaging/bypassing of effects.

The H9 offers True Relay Bypass, DSP Bypass, and DSP+FX Bypass (effect trails spillover after disengaging the H9).

H9 Control, a free editor/librarian, can be downloaded to a Mac, PC, or iOS.

H9 Control App for iOS allows live editing, creating and managing presets, and changing of system settings via Bluetooth.

Additional effects/algorithms for the H9 can be auditioned and purchased from with the H9 Control App. All of Eventide’s stompbox algorithms and their associated presets are available for in-app purchase.

Visit Eventide for more info about the H9 Harmonizer.

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Sound & Performance:

The scope of what the Eventide H9 Harmonizer offers far exceeds much of what has become standard fare in the world of guitar multi-effects. While I intend to write as comprehensive of a review as I can in reasonable length, I highly advise you to read into Eventide’s other stompbox effects units including the TimeFactor, ModFactor, PitchFactor, and Space pedals as the H9 is capable of producing all of the sounds from Eventide’s entire stompbox collection. In this Eventide H9 Harmonizer review, I am going to give you an account of the H9’s included algorithms and functionality and then cover the H9 Control App.

The H9 offers a total of 10 algorithms as a sort of “best of” collection to get you started (and a coupon to download 1 free algorithm of your choice!). The 10 included algorithms are by no means shorting you of functionality and give you an incredibly wide range of ultra high-quality sound-shaping power even if you were to never purchase another algorithm. Here’s my thoughts on what you get out of the box. Let’s start with what’s new as Eventide is breaking new ground with the H9 exclusive effects.

Eventide H9 Harmonizer: UltraTap & Resonator

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UltraTap is a multi-tap delay algorithm that can create all kinds of rhythmic delay sounds, comb-filtering, pad-like effects, and unique reverb sounds. Upon powering up your new H9, you’ll notice that the first preset is called ULTRATAP. This preset gives you your first taste of the new original sounds the H9 is capable of. It’s definitely worth scrolling through all of the H9 factory presets for each algorithm as these give you excellent starting points for getting a feel for what each algorithm as to offer. I really enjoyed the rhythmic ambience of the UltraTap’s BATMAN and DISAPPEARING HALL presets. Also, being able to change the spacing of the taps by off-setting them and having them speed up or slow down is very interesting. The BOUNCING BALL preset provides a great example of this while capturing the sound of its namesake very well. UltraTap provides plenty of versatility for more traditional-sounding delay effects as well as otherworldly rhythmic annihilation that is unlike any other delay pedal you’ve ever heard.

Resonator uses 4 staggered resonant comb filters to create ambient, arpeggiated, or reverberant sounds. The Resonator algorithm became available with an H9 Control App update that was released just as I received the H9 for review. All that was required was a simple H9 Control App update and syncing of the H9, and voila, the new Resonator algorithm was available with plenty of accompanying presets. I find the Resonator very interesting for creating ambient soundscapes with additional harmonic coloring and movement. This is the kind of effect previously available in various forms as software plugins for producers and electronic musicians. Thanks to the H9 and the Resonator algorithm, guitarists can now produce very musical, comb-filtered, resonant sounds and etherial sound effects no other stompbox pedal can achieve.

Eventide TimeFactor: Tape Echo & Vintage Delay

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-07The Tape Echo and Vintage Delay algorithms offer 2 different variations of classic delay effects. Tape Echo gives you the warmth of tape echo complete with wow and flutter effects. I even find the Tape Echo effect useful as a vintage-flavored preamp by setting the Wet Mix to 100% with no Delay and using the Saturation and Filter controls to dial in some very warm tones. Vintage Delay offers a range of analog and lo-fi digital delay style effects with or without modulation. Try the same “preamp” trick with the Vintage Delay, only use the Bits knob to reduce the Bit Depth for some instant Bit Crushed distortion effects. Tweak the Filter to taste or assign it to an expression pedal for even more lo-fi fun. While there are plenty of traditional effects to be found in the available algorithms and presets, the H9 truly rewards those who approach it with an “outside-of-the-box” mentality. Creative musicians and sound designers will discover a veritable treasure trove possibilities within the H9.

Eventide ModFactor: TremoloPan & Chorus

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-08TremoloPan delivers plenty of tremolo and panning effects to add some subtle or choppy rhythmic pulsing to your sound. There are even secondary modulation functions to add further rhythmic variation to your tremolo sounds. The H9’s Chorus algorithm offers some of the warmest, analog-sounding digital chorus I’ve ever heard. As with Eventide’s other modulation effects, there is plenty of parameters to tweak to sculpt your perfect chorus sounds. While you can create complex chorus effects, if you want classic and simple, the Chorus algorithm covers it all.

Eventide PitchFactor Harmonizer: H910/H949 & Crystals

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-09My first impression of the H9 after having owned a PitchFactor for several years is that it accurately produces the sounds of the included Crystals and H910/H949 algorithms. It would be silly to assume that Eventide would take a step backward. The H9 perfectly produces Eventide’s previous award-winning algorithms including the H910/H949 and Crystals while forging ahead with new H9 exclusive effects. The second preset of the H9 is called Ballerina and perfectly captures the sound Steve Vai used on Ballerina 12/24 from Passion and Warfare. The H910/H949 will do chorusing, harmonized sounds, and delay effects. You can even get some massive +/- 1 octave effects.

Crystals is one of the classic Eventide Harmonizer pitch effects, and it’s presented in the H9 in all its glory. Crystals uses dual reversed pitch-shifting delay lines to create mesmerizing, shimmering ambient effects. It’s a classic sound that still offers many possibilities worth exploring.

Eventide Space: Shimmer & Hall

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-10The Shimmer algorithm is one of my favorite Eventide reverbs. It allows you to add dual pitch-shifted voices to your sound for some very ethereal reverb effects, great for ambient, experimental, and soundtrack work. The Hall algorithm covers big hall-type reverbs and can even do some slap-back and delayed reverb sounds. Eventide’s Space stompbox already had some of the best-sounding reverb algorithms available for stage and studio use. Now you have access to 2 of their standout algorithms right out of the box with the rest available to download.

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-11As always experimentation with the H9 yields very rewarding results. Start with presets you like and get tweaking to reveal what each algorithm really has to offer. The H9 is one of the few ultra high-quality digital multi-effects units that is virtually future-proof thanks to the incredibly wide range of effects on offer and plenty of potential expandability via new available algorithm downloads. The Resonator algorithm which was made available after the H9 product launch provides a glimpse of just how easy it will be for Eventide to continue releasing exciting new algorithms for download.

One of the most fantastic benefits to the download model is that you don’t have to pay for algorithms you don’t want. If you’d like a only a few of the algorithms from each of Eventide’s various stompobox units, you can easily pick and choose which ones are most relevant for your needs. This could potentially save you a lot of money in the long run if you’re the kind of player who likes to make the most out of a few standout effects that you really like. Of course for the guitarist that must have it all, there’s also the temptation to buy all of the algorithms and have every single one of Eventide’s effects available in one compact stompbox.

UPDATE: H9 CORE

After our review was published, Eventide released the H9 Core. The H9 Core features the same technical specifications as the original H9 and includes one algorithm, the H910/H949. The H9 Core is a more viable solution for some guitarists on a budget, allowing you to save some money up front and pick and choose your additional algorithms as you need them. (You also still get a store coupon when you download H9 Control to get an additional algorithm of your choice.)

Even more beneficial for professional guitarists is that the H9 Core allows you to add extra H9 units to your rig and save $100 per unit while still being able to use all of the algorithms registered to your Eventide account across all of your H9 stompboxes. This is a benefit to those who want to get the most out of their collection of Eventide effects by using multiple effects as once. You can have up to 4 H9 or H9 Core units registered per Eventide account, and many pro guitar players have already been adding multiple units to their pedalboards.

H9 Control App

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-12While it is possible to access all of the H9’s features via the unit itself, the H9 shines at its best when used in tandem with the incredibly useful H9 Control App. I’ve played various digital multi-effects units and modeling software since the 90’s, and nothing has ever come close to matching the ease of use of the H9 Harmonizer paired with the H9 Control App. I tried it with an original iPad, an iPad Air, an iPhone 3GS, and an iPhone 5 with great results. If you don’t have an iOS device yet (seriously? Get with the times already!), you can still use H9 Control for Mac or PC. But I highly recommend picking up an iPad even you simply track down an old second-hand model. Only the most stubborn, un-tech-savvy, or old-school players will scoff at this setup. For the rest of you, get ready to be treated to the new standard in digital multi-effect programming and preset management.

The H9 Control App gives you full control over the H9, allowing real-time preset recall and performance tweaking. You can save presets to the iPad, save them to the H9, copy, rename, email backups, and more. I find it incredibly useful to be able to drag and drop a series of presets to a list that coincides with your live setlist. Then just sync the preset list to your H9, and you’re ready to perform. The H9 allows you to limit the range of presets to your list (it even prompts you to do so when syncing), so you can scroll through a small assortment of presets in live situations.

And of course there are possibilities for real-time control of effects parameters via touch-screen. Imagine having your guitar tech tweaking your effects for you beside the stage. How about making a custom enclosure for your iPad and passing it to the audience for real-time control via the X-Y screen? The H9 and H9 Control App make the wildest real-time sound-mangling possibilities a reality.

Eventide-H9-Harmonizer-Review-Best-Multi-Effects-Pedal-Processor-14The H9 Control App even offers exciting new possibilities of algorithm-specific interfaces. If you tap the “Note Grid” button on the Resonator interface screen, you can adjust the Notes, Rhythm, and Length on an easy-to-use custom graphic interface. Eventide seems to be testing the waters here, and it’s really exciting to imagine the possibilities on the horizon for further integration between the H9, its algorithms, and the H9 Control App. The H9 inspires so much creativity for the end-user and developers alike. It’ll be interesting to see what comes along down the pipeline. I’d recommend that dedicated H9 users voice their opinions in Eventide’s forums. You never know what wildly creative ideas may take form in future H9 exclusive algorithms and control interfaces.

And while I’m being whisked away by my imagination, I couldn’t help but speculate on possibilities after noticing a blank spot on the algorithm storefront. Imagine if Eventide were to release something like a “GainFactor” or “AmpFactor” stompbox to bring their digital expertise to stompbox distortion effects (finally!). Well, one could further speculate that Eventide could then incorporate those algorithms into the H9 as available downloads.

Aside from speculation about what may come, what’s most important is what the H9 offers right now. Truth be told, the Eventide H9 Harmonizer is simply one of the most impressive multi-effects units available. That so much processing power is available in such a small, pedalboard-friendly enclosure makes it even better. Add in the full library of available algorithms and H9 Control App iOS integration, and it takes “mind-blowing” to another level.

The Eventide H9 Harmonizer is beyond amazing in the full scope of its current capabilities and future possibilities, making it one of the best modern guitar pedals available today. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-5.0

The Eventide H9 Harmonizer is one of the most ambitious and brilliantly executed musical instruments ever released. The H9 is more than a simple effects unit and will become an invaluable creative companion for guitarists, performers, producers, DJ’s, and anyone else who makes music… period. If I were to be trapped on a desert island and could only choose one piece of audio processing gear, I would more than likely pick the H9 – just give me a WiFi connection to download more algorithms! Creative musicians from all backgrounds will find sounds covering the history of recorded music along with plenty of cutting edge algorithms to craft the sounds of the future. If you want the best multi-effects pedal/processor, it’s hard to imagine anything else being able to hold a candle to the Eventide H9 Harmonizer. Until Eventide raises the bar again, the H9 is the one to beat and a must-have.

That concludes our Eventide H9 Harmonizer review. Thanks for reading.

 

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