We’re huge fans of Eventide over here at High Bias Recordings. Eventide units have been an integral part of the sonic fabric here both on the front end with the Rose [Tape Op #133], Blackhole [review in progress!], and H9 Harmonizer [#107], then at mix with the H3000 [#95], Factor Series pedals, and the H9 again. I’ve gone on and on about Eventide’s lineage in the pages of this magazine, and while I firmly believe there is a theme all through the story, there are definitely divisions, not unlike acts in a play. To me, the first act starts in ‘71 with the Instant Phaser, then ended with the last H3000. The second act would be the DSP series through the mid-2000s, and the third act would start with the Factor series pedals and runs through the present and into the future. I love all of these eras, and I use my H3000 and H9s the most out of any other effects, so when these heroes of modern sonics sent me the H9000 to demo, I was beyond excited to check out a device that represents all the eras of the Eventide legacy.
Back when bands played gigs, I had some Canadian shows with the crushingly talented and ultra-vibrational enviro-jazz outfit BadBadNotGood on the calendar. I thought this might be a smart opportunity to take this Encyclopædia Britannica of effects processors out for a test drive. Upon opening the box, the first thing I noticed was that it’s sturdily built. I’d definitely take this thing anywhere I would normally take any piece of Eventide gear, with zero reservations. I patched it in for a demo before I left and was glad I did. This thing is deep; a literal Grand Canyon of possibilities and gorgeous effects, and the interface reflects this, making the user responsible for these new environs in a way that can initially be befuddling. Being a modular synth guy I like a challenge, so thankfully Eventide’s Emote software was there to guide me, and within minutes I was granted access to this enchanted forest of top-shelf digital manipulations. I took the H9000 along and used it on these dates, sharing its majesty for the first time through a PA. It really added a plush vibe and translated especially well from gig to gig. Not the most conventional use for a processor like this, but a trial by fire nonetheless!
Once I returned to the studio I was faced with a routing decision, and like everything else in this box there are many options, ranging from stereo analog XLR, digital AES/EBU, S/PDIF, to 8 channels via DB-25 or ADAT, 16 channels over USB, and all the way up to 32 channels per slot (3!) over MADI/DANTE – everything you could want. This is the theme of the H9000. I used the analog ins and outs, both XLR and DB-25, and did some “aggregate-devicing” for the USB party. Having all that I/O on tap is gratifying and brings this powerhouse to life.
Pros and cons? This box can do anything, and the routing capabilities and processing power are staggering, not to mention that it sounds gorgeous, but all of this comes at a price and requires a bit of labor from the user. It’s the fucking Matrix though, but the investment is well worth it. You wouldn’t buy a Buchla synth then complain about the lack of presets, would you? Of course not. You’d be too busy ordering banana cables. The H9000 presents a similar learning curve as you’d have going from a regular effects pedal to the H9. It takes a second, but it’s not that big of a deal. The whole box is designed around ARM-based processing, which makes for a more open development environment than standard DSP. The internal effects architecture is structured around Sessions, which contains all of your settings including algorithms, routing, effects chains, and pretty much every micro dimension of your effects scene. These scenes are then instantly recallable, making this box SUPER flexible and portable for those of us who studio hop, or the growing number of engineers who have a mix room at home. You go MADI at work, but may want to go ADAT with your RME at home? No worries – all of this is available to you via the Emote software and plug-in instance in your DAW. Some algorithms are easily automated from this plug-in, and the few that aren’t contain function knobs that can be assigned to anything in the algorithm. Note: Presets can also be restored and recalled via external USB thumb drive.
The H9000 contains nearly the entire legacy of Eventide effects. The aforementioned ARM chips make it possible to code over some of Eventides plug-ins (2016, Instant Phaser/Flanger). The entire H8000, Eclipse, H9, and Factor Series are all inside as well, and I get the feeling this is just the beginning. You get 16 instances of algorithm spread across four effects chains, each of which has 32 inputs. All of this is easily accessible from the Emote software. The environment of this box is immense, and Emote has a pop-up feature that gives you tips and pointers with features of the algorithms. I preferred the Emote standalone to using it as a plug-in instance as I like to use hardware and record it, making the app more useful for me. However, if I were doing crazy recall work, I would go for the plug-in just for convenience. Having the option is comforting.
The H9000 sounds incredible. It has that “thing” that an OG H3000 has, where it’s classy and new yet familiar. The ample headroom at the converters in both directions makes it feel downright burly. The effects are lush, to say the least, and if you’re an Eventide fan it’s all there. If you’re familiar with the H9, or any of the above units, scrolling through presets and seeing old and new favorites stacked together is the audio version of the first time you had a club sandwich; the gestalt far outweighs the individual ingredients. Presets with pedestrian names like Shoe Gaze Guitar are actually a vast expanse suitable for any material, and once you get your sea legs with the H9000 you can make intricate and palatial landscapes fairly easily by combining algorithms from different eras and machines. Using Emote allows you to dive deep and zoom in on details and settings, while at the same time seeing the big picture of your wonderland of processing. I pretty quickly found myself taking a certain ultra tap setting I love on a vocal, then stacking it with the Instant Phaser and Blackhole through The Resonator. Sounds my subconscious knew separately somehow started making appearances together. Having the ability to mix dry and wet and having series/parallel routing options available at a snap was refreshing. I totally dig the H9000, and the learning curve of the box was well worth having an entirely new way to process audio, opening the door to a new realm of wild sonics. I’m barely scratching the surface of what this thing can do and it’s mind-blowing! There’s a palpable feeling of wide-open possibility with the H9000. You sense that what this box does now is but a fraction of what it can do. Eventide has supported the H9000 flawlessly and has been super open about issues and bug fixes. Updates seem to happen quickly, and LAN or WiFi connectivity provides for network control and software updates. The H9000 accommodates live controls via MIDI, Expression Pedals, Auxiliary Switches, and USB controllers. My only gripe is that I’d love to see an H3000 menu in there somewhere, but for a box where “entire galaxies lie waiting to be discovered” (No Man’s Sky), that’s saying something!
-Chris Koltay highbiasrecordings.com
Eventide’s flagship multi-effects processor packs so much inside its two rack space enclosure, it can be a bit overwhelming. This box has been designed to cover a lot of users’ needs and workflows – with just one H9000 and an analog console, you can handle a great deal of mixing needs. Last year I helped Ty Segall as he mixed his album First Taste on an API 1608 [#81]. One of his rules was that we had to limit ourselves to Eventide processors only for all time-based effects (reverb, chorus, delay, etc.)! If you know what a wide range Eventide covers, you’ll see how that’s hardly limiting, but if we’d had access to this H9000 then, it would have really opened up the possibilities for us.
For my review, I was not mixing on an analog desk, but working from my in the box mix room here in San Francisco. The H9000 comes with eight analog ins and outs, but I started out by running audio over the built-in USB port. When working over USB with Mac OS, the H9000 presents itself as a 16-channel audio interface. I used the Mac OS built-in Audio/MIDI preferences to create an “aggregate audio device” that included both the H9000 and the Focusrite interface I have connected to my monitors. In Pro Tools, I simply assigned the 16-channels from the H9000 via USB to Hardware Inserts, then I was in business. Eventide smartly includes three expansion slots on the back of the unit for Pro Tools DigiLink, Dante, and MADI connectivity (32-channels each).
I ended up dedicating the first eight channels to effects that I know and use regularly on mixes: A MicroPitch shifter, a Flanger, the Blackhole reverb, and a ShimmerVerb. For the remaining eight channels, I leave them available for whatever I need in the moment. It’s fun to create your own effects chain recipes. The effects sound incredible, and nothing was left out of their Emote software, so you can control the box from the faceplate or your mouse. The Emote software runs as an app, or within your DAW as a plug-in. To be clear, even though you might be running many different effects on different channels, you only use one instance of the plug-in to control everything.
How does the Blackhole effect compare to the standalone Blackhole plug-in? Well, to my ears they sound close enough to be functionally identical. Using the standalone plug-in is nice because you can control and automate any parameter with your mouse or control surface. Loading the Blackhole effect into an effects chain on the H9000 takes a couple of extra seconds, and your DAW won’t have direct access to each parameter. You can assign them to the eight Function knobs, which can be seen by your DAW (and therefore available for automation and to your control surface). On the other hand, by using the H9000 you obviously gain some CPU power back, which can help out a lot if, like me, you tend to always be pushing the limit of your CPU.
Where this gets fun is when you use the H9000 while recording! I plugged a few synths in and dialed up some pretty amazing stereo effects. One of my favorite presets was called “Arkham Distortion”; a combination of nasty distortion, stereo delay, and chorus. You could feed any old sine wave and get back the largest, most magnificent soundscape! It’s easy to record your dry signal alongside the effected signal, and monitoring extreme effects without latency is pretty awesome. It’s not hard to assign Function knobs to your MIDI keyboard’s mod wheel (or other controller knobs/sliders), and then your performing with the effects!
One issue I had was with the Emote interface for in the box mixing. By having all your functions controlled from one plug-in, they’ve crammed a lot into a single window, which has the result of making it pretty cluttered and tiring to navigate when you’re trying to be creative quickly. I hope some of these small issues might be improved with firmware updates. This is an inspiring multi-effects box, and it really does enable powerfully imaginative sound crafting. The number of useful effects chains in the presets list is incredible – with sounds that range from frightful to gorgeous. If you want low-latency monitoring with super complicated FX chains (or have an analog mix session where you want to retain a few digital mix tricks), this box becomes an invaluable problem solver, and you’ll appreciate the flexibility it offers. The H9000 has both the sounds and options to cover your needs now and into the future.
-Scott McDowell fadersolo.com