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This article was originally published in issue #34
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Eventide released its diminutive H9 a few years ago now and it quickly became a staple effects unit on many pro and hobbyist pedal boards. In designing the H9, Eventide has taken the effects algorithms from its highly acclaimed Time, Mod and Space Factor pedals and squeezed them into a small footprint, single knob interface pedal format that is both easy to use and exceptionally powerful. Effects include all the classics such as Tape, Digital and Vintage delays, Reverbs, Choruses, Pitch Shifting, Harmonizers, Flangers and multi effects algorithms plus some unique sounds such as the Ultratap and Undulator effects.
The H9 is available in three variations depending on your budget and requirements, namely the H9 Core, H9 and H9 Max. The Core ships with a single algorithm on board and a coupon for another of your choice upon purchase, the standard H9 ships with nine algorithms and coupon whilst the Max version includes all 45 of the algorithms available. For our review we were supplied with the full fat Max version but both the Core and standard H9 can be upgraded via the included controller software that runs on OSX, Windows or iOS devices.
The unit itself is built like a tank, with a full metal enclosure and high quality switches and buttons. The display is easy to read on stage and whilst the H9 is designed so that all of its features can be edited from the front panel, most users will prefer to use the included controller software. A quick perusal of the manual makes editing from the front panel a breeze thanks to an intuitive and clever user interface and just the right number of buttons without over complicating matters. The front panel features bypass and tap tempo soft switches, a large central dial that doubles as a push switch and five function switches that have multiple functions depending on what is being edited at the time. The H9 is a true stereo processor so includes stereo ins and outs, expression pedal input and full MIDI implementation via USB or traditional MIDI ports. A huge number of parameters can be assigned to an external controller with up to three switch assignments at once allowing for massive creative potential, especially when combined with unlimited MIDI control assignments. The USB port can be used to connect a computer to the controller software, for software updates or Sysex dumps but Eventide has included a Bluetooth connection for wireless control via any compatible device, although Android devices are not supported.
Using the H9 controller software is simple to use and makes editing effects a very tactile experience, especially when using a touch screen device. The software gives a great overview of the pedal, showing all of your algorithms and presets in dedicated windows and a large pedal display with all of the controls relevant to the preset in use. The unit itself can carry 100 presets but the controller software can store an unlimited number of presets that can be loaded into the H9 with the click of a mouse of tap of a finger. With a unit as complex and versatile as the H9, Eventide could have loaded it with switches and knobs galore, but choosing instead to have a wirelessly accessible graphical interface is a stroke of genius and will very much appeal to any tech addicted guitar players out there.
Eventide has been in the effects business for over 40 years now with a proven track record for superb, professional quality effects units and the H9 is no exception to this. The A/D converters are very high quality and transparent and even though the unit converts both the wet and dry signal to digital your original tone is left intact and you get better sound quality overall with exceptional signal to noise ratio. In bypass mode your signal can be fed directly to the outputs for true bypass operation or set to pass through the converters for delay and reverb trails if required.
All of the 45 algorithms sound stunning with ‘best in class’ sound quality and a pretty much unlimited range of creative options for sculpting unique sounds. Particularly impressive are the pitch shifting options that have amazing tracking and sound quality, even at more extreme settings. The reverbs are also of particular note with the amazing Spring reverb being a standout that would fool any player into thinking they were using a vintage combo amp. A slight let down for some will be the fact that you can only use one algorithm at a time but it’s a testament to the quality of the effects on offer here that many players purchase multiple H9’s to circumvent this issue and many of the algorithms offer multiple effect types at the same time such as reverb, delay and modulation in a single preset.
The H9 is a hugely impressive effects processor, especially considering its tiny footprint. It’s certainly not a budget minded unit and costs a pretty penny if you want the full fat ‘Max’ version but it’s nice to see Eventide offering both the Core and Standard models for less money where the user can buy only the algorithms they will use and customise the pedal to their needs. If you simply must have everything the H9 offers, the Max version actually represents good value for money if you consider the sheer number of effects included and since you can register up to five H9’s to a single account you can buy a second ‘Core’ version at a considerable saving and load it up with the algorithms from your ‘Max’ version. In terms of effects quality you’ll struggle to find better sounds and since the build quality is also superb, I can’t recommend the H9 highly enough.