Electro Harmonix HOG2 Review – Best Guitar Synth Octave Pedal?

Review of: Electro Harmonix HOG2


Reviewed by: Rating:5On October 4, 2014Last modified:October 7, 2016


Summary:

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The Electro Harmonix HOG2 is “an Octave and Harmonic Generator/Guitar Synthesizer that can simultaneously generate multiple octaves and harmonics from your input signal.” Like an EHX POG2 on steroids, the HOG2 can create octave intervals from -2 to +4(!) with a couple 5ths and a 3rd in between. The HOG2 features improved algorithms and sound quality than the original Harmonic Octave Generator and now offers complete MIDI control of every single editable parameter. Improved sound quality is always a good thing, but the unprecedented MIDI control may allow some seriously unique possibilities for guitarists who want to plunge deep in the HOG2. Here’s quick rundown of the pedal’s feature before we launch into our Electro Harmonix HOG2 review.

Features:

Sophisticated new algorithms improve the quality of the ten generated octaves and harmonics as well as the Freeze function.

Full MIDI control over all parameters and presets.

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A Master Volume for added control and convenience. Volume levels are saved as part of a preset.

10 Controllable harmonic intervals and 7 Expression modes.

Freeze modes holds a note or chord so you can play over it or slide to new notes like a keyboardist playing portamento.

Amplitude envelope controls your attack or decay speeds.

Dedicated resonant filtering with sweepable frequency control.

Separate lower and upper harmonic amplitude envelopes.

Save and recall up to 100 preset programs with the optional Foot Controller (sold separately).

External expression pedal included.

Standard 9VDC 200mA power supply included.

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Sound & Performance:

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the EHX HOG2 as it’s a seriously inspiring pedal and one I’ve had very high expectations for since its announcement. If you’re a fan of the original HOG or the POG2, you might have an idea of what to expect. But don’t be fooled. The HOG2 really stands alone, not only among other guitar synthesizers or octave pedals, but among any other guitar effect period. While it draws some obvious comparisons to the POG2 (with a nod EHX’s own Freeze and Superego pedals) thanks to its multiple octave voices and sliders, the HOG2 takes this concept above and beyond with some interesting sonic possibilities that cannot be achieved with any other pedal or guitar processor.

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The HOG2 has a total of 10 voices which may be used together in any combination. These are -2 Octaves, -1 Octaves, Original, +5th, +1 Octave, +1 Octave + 5th, +2 Octaves, +2 Octaves + 3rd, +3 Octaves, and +4 Octaves. The HOG2’s voices are created by an impressive use of DSP power and are triggered instantaneously with no noticeable latency. Even when playing fast runs it’s amazing how smooth the HOG2 sounds, and the tracking is impressively stable. It’s only when using several voices and playing some pretty complex chords that you may notice a little glitched-out warble, although performance is top tier in most situations and certainly improved over the original HOG. The sheer amount of pristine musical voices the HOG2 can create from a standard mono guitar signal trumps anything else I’ve heard from an octave/synth pedal. The higher range voices are shimmery and ethereal while the -1 Octave and -2 Octaves are smooth and organic sounding. Suspended 4ths, 5ths ,and added 9ths sound especially pleasing with higher voices while the lower octave voices can pull off some authentic bass guitar tones from a standard 6-string guitar.

The Original voice is interesting in that it doubles the Dry Output signal with a digital recreation of the signal. While it may seem redundant at first, the Original voice and Dry Signal each have their uses. You can use the Dry Signal to blend in an unaffected guitar signal to retain the most pure, unprocessed tone. Using the Original voice is primarily for when you plan to pitch shift the voices via an expression pedal (or MIDI control) or affect the voices with the Envelope or Filter section. You can also use the Dry Signal with the Original voice for a doubling effect. Detune the Original voice slightly for a chorus-like, modulated sound.

Electro-Harmonix-HOG2-Review-Best-Guitar-Synth-Octave-Pedal-04And speaking of pitch-shifting, this is where the HOG2 really starts to get interesting. Plugging in the included EHX Next Step Expression Pedal (or any compatible expression pedal) with Exp. Mode set to Octave Bend or Step Bend allows you to achieve some incredibly smooth pitch bends. Step Bend lets you bend one whole step while the Octave Bend sends your pitch soaring up one f