Eventide’s latest effects processor is not just for the guitarist. Marcus Leadley discovers a lot more with the H9…
Price £369 to £429
Contact Source Distribution –
020 8962 5080
Eventide has been producing pro studio kit since the 1970s , the H910 Harmoniser, in particular, being a classic that’s associated with artists such as David Bowie. It’s easy to assume that stompboxes are for guitarists, but the combination of sound quality and editability makes them ideal for any instrument player and, just as importantly, the producer or engineer.
What makes the H9 special is that it can run any of the algorithms from the company’s pedals. It comes loaded with nine – delay (3), chorus, tremolo, pitch shifts (2) and reverbs (2) – and you can purchase more for £13.99 each. This makes the cost seem reasonable; as the individual pedals cost between £369 and 429 each. And you can have everything you need in one box. If you want to start customising with different algorithms straight away, you can buy the H9 Core for around £100 less; this comes with just one algorithm, a pitch shifter. Pairing the H9, via Bluetooth, with an iOS device take editing, archiving and control capability to a completely new level.
The H9 can be used as both a mono and stereo input/output device and it’s clever enough to configure itself depending on how you connect it. The enclosure is beautifully engineered. There’s USB, MIDI in/out and expression pedal sockets in addition to the necessary audio connectivity, but no XLR/balanced or digital options. For these you’ll need something like the Eclipse V4 rack unit.
The simplicity of the control layout hides a powerful interface. There are just five buttons, a rotary encoder and two footswitches. The design is such that it encourages you to do all your editing, setup and studio work with it on your desk, before switching to hands-free operation (if you need it) on the floor. For example, you can use the Hotknob to set the rotary to work like an expression pedal and you can access any of the 99 presets by simply pressing the Preset button and scrolling – then they load automatically. Alternatively, you can go though them using the right hand footswitch, but they only load when you press the left hand switch.
For live work you can also limit the number of presets available, so if you only use say, ten, you can streamline the interface. The X, Y and Z buttons are automatically mapped to the most common parameters for each preset. Press the button and adjust them using the rotary – this has a light ring around it which shows the initial setting and responds as you make changes. It’s a neat solution, but not always that easy to read if you’re off to one side. In Expert mode you can map these buttons to other parameters, so the scope to edit and customise effects is huge.
The H9 Control app presents you with a clear interface for each preset: parameter controls are presented as virtual knobs. There’s also a ribbon controller that lets you swipe parameters in an intuitive fashion. You can edit and upload changes to your H9 or you can work on the hardware interface to make changes. Everything works in real time so you can manipulate effects while playing or mixing. There’s also an X/Y pad function which turns your touch screen into a controller. Should you be old school enough to only have a laptop, there’s an appropriate software version to download that gives you access to all the same features.
The H9 sounds excellent. With the exception of signature sounds, it pretty much renders all of your budget effects obsolete. Both the input and output gain are adjustable so you can set the unit up for low output pickups or tweak appropriately for use with synths or for connecting into an effect loop, mixer auxiliary or interface. The clarity of sound and the super low noise level are especially pleasing in all modes of operation. I used it with electric guitar, piano and as a hardware insert with Pro Tools in a home recording situation where the H9’s stereo capability was put to very good use. There’s no real logic to the ordering of factory presets and most seem maximised for wow factor, so some DIY reprogramming will almost certainly be essential.