Eventide H9 Review

UPDATE

The iOS app works fine on iOS v.11.0, just not on the v.11.1 Beta. So it’s completely understandable that it’s not ready for 11.1 yet. 

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I was talking to a customer a week or so ago, and as is often the case with gear heads like him and I, we went down the effects rabbit hole. This isn’t like going into Guitar Center or some other big box guitar store that is just one washer/dryer set away from being a Best Buy. It’s more like an old barber shop where yes, people buy stuff (always a good thing!) but also have a sense of camaraderie amongst like-minded individuals.

He’s gone the route of the multi-effects platform, first with a Fractal FX-8, and now with the slick little Boss MS-3, which he ‘s quite happy with. While I could do that as well, and be completely happy doing it, at 41 years old I’ve decided to not only go down the pedalboard rabbit hole, but also do a switcher with MIDI control. Completely overkill for my uses, yes. But you only live once, and I want to see if I can get it all working together.

The H9

To that end, I was telling this gentleman how I was going to buy another Line 6 M5, due to it’s “jack of all trades” ability to be used for nearly any effect, from reverb and delay to chorus, phaser, to weird synthy effects.

“Man, you don’t want that. I mean, it’s decent, but what you really want that’s like that is an H9”

The Eventide H9, which is at minimum (if you actually want any included effects) a $500 pedal, or $700 fully loaded. Man, that’s a lot of dough for one pedal! So what does this guy do? He gives me his H9 that he’s shelved for quite some time, with the caveat that I agree I will actually use it, otherwise I’ll give it back. Hell yeah I’m gonna use it!! Such a generous dude, and completely unexpected. I’m still shocked he did that.

So the H9; what a pedal it is! Basically, it’s a multi effect processor that relies heavily on either a mobile platform (both iOS and Android supported) or desktop/laptop to both edit and update the device, as well as purchase new “algorithms”.

Algorithms

Algorithms are basically effects, like pitch shifting, delay, reverb, modulation, etc., however in many cases a single algorithm, such as “SpaceTime” for example, actually run multiple effects at once. So while you can only run one algorithm at a time, that algorithm could have two delays, a reverb, and a chorus. Very cool!

The first thing I did, being the IT guy that I am, is update the firmware. I want the latest and greatest! That went without a hitch, at which point I began a spin through the 99 presets currently loaded.

I could probably write a blog post about each patch, they are just that deep and rich. The Vintage Delay IS the delay from the 80’s; clear and clean, but rich and warm, never clinical. The reverbs are astonishing, with anything from a surfy spring sound to a sound that’s as if you’re getting sucked into outer space.

The pitch shifting, while something I can’t imagine I’ll be using a ton of, is the best I’ve ever heard. It makes other pitch shifters simply laughable, and might prompt me to actually experiment with it for the first time.

The real surprise to me, is that the modulations are really, really good. Normally, I’m a pretty big advocate of analog modulation. Digital is great for delays and reverbs, but don’t give me digital modulation. Well, the H9 hangs with the analog stuff, for sure. The chorus in particular is good enough for me that I’d consider using it in place of my Boss CE-2w or custom GTM CE-2 clone, the AquaNet. I still love and will of course keep those pedals, but the H9 is more than a competent stand-in.

The tremolo is rich and thick, and when combined with a spring reverb, really hits that classic sound. Overall, I’m super impressed with this pedal, more so than the Strymon pedals I’ve tried, and the Strymon DIG I briefly owned.

The Caveats

So, the Eventide H9 is the perfect pedal, right!? Well, no. It’s not. None of the issues are deal breakers for me (particularly the cost ;)) but they should be mentioned nevertheless.

  1. The pedal is expensive. $499 for the regular, $699 for the Max, which is fully loaded. However, if you buy a second one, like the $399 Core, you can use any algorithms you’ve got on the second one, up to five H9’s. Solid deal.
  2. The algorithms are $20 each. Not a lot, considering you’re essentially getting a new pedal for $20, but that does add up.
  3. Only one algorithm at a time. Sure, like I mentioned many algorithms actually run multiple effects at once, so it’s more versatile than it initially sounds. But generally you can’t select a delay and a chorus in one patch otherwise.
  4. Their iOS app doesn’t work right now on iOS 11, at least not for me. That’s an issue, given that the H9 is so heavily dependent on apps in order to edit the device. It does work fine on MacOS 10.13 High Sierra, however. Which brings us to……
  5. It relies heavily on apps for editing. I am still very much learning the device, but so far it seems like it’s either difficult to edit on the device, or impossible. Either way, the fastest way to edit the H9 is on an app. For some people, that’s a deal breaker. It doesn’t bother me though, because once it’s set up, I don’t think I’ll need to change things a lot, given that there are 99 patches available. Additionally, tweaking things like delay time and chorus mix is super easy right on the pedal.
  6. The app on iOS is, well, ugly. The user interface clearly hasn’t been upgraded for the larger screens of the iPhone, which has been out since 2014. They really need to fix that, because while it’s not crucial for actual use, it’s just cumbersome.

Overall, I LOVE this pedal. The sound quality is amazing, but when coupled with its tiny size, it’s definitely a winner for me. It’s certainly a brave pedal for Eventide to do, and I hope they carry forward with the idea, such as a two algo-slot version or something down the road.

 

Posted in Music.