Eventide H9 Max: Big Effects in a Small Package

Mike Lawson • Technology • April 10, 2019

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Eventide has a long history of innovation and quality. In the mid-70s, they were the first to bring a digital effects device to market with the H910 Harmonizer. By the 1980s, the H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer added intelligent scalar harmonization and became standard equipment in top studios around the world.

In recent years, they’ve turned their attention to high-end guitar effects. Alongside the four single function pedals, they also released the H9, a unique combo-effects pedal that could utilize any of the algorithms from the others, though only one at a time. The original H9 came in two versions: the Core (which included two algorithms) and the Harmonizer, (which had 10).

The new addition to the line is the H9 Max. It comes with all of the algorithms (50 at this point), ten each from the TimeFactor, PitchFactor, ModFactor, and Space Reverb pedals, plus ten unique to the H9.

You essentially have five pedals in one, though you can only use one at a time. Once you have an algorithm, you can share it with any other H9 you have, including the base Core model. Max owners also will receive any new algorithms – six have already been added since the Max was released – for free.

The pedal comes with its own programming app, the H9 Control, which runs on all flavors of computer or mobile and connects via Bluetooth or USB cable. The Bluetooth connection worked well once the devices are paired, though I did have to pair them more than once. The interface for the app looks just like the Factor pedals and is easily programmed. The H9 itself holds 99 presets, while the app stores an unlimited number of presents, and they pass to the H9 with a single tap quickly enough to use in a live setting.

Sound Advice

The presets are a great place the start and range from standard delays and modulation effects to otherworldly. Those of you who are familiar with Eventide effects will not be surprised that the H9 delivers exceptional sound. Most stompboxes are pretty lo-fi and noisy – that’s not the case here. The sound is clean and crisp with a shimmer that defines the Eventide sound. The harmonizer is everything you’d expect, and for those who like vintage (is there such a thing as retro digital?), you’ll appreciate that the algorithm for the H910 is included. The delays, reverbs, and modulation effects are all studio quality as well.

The unique H9 algorithms are a nice bonus. Eventide isn’t known for distortions, but they’ve added a CrunchFactor module, and one of my favorite presets was Drive. It’s full and meaty, but amazingly quiet. There’s also a cool UltraTap delay, some multi-FX, and the HotSawz algorithm, which turns your guitar into a monophonic synth.

Not Your Run of the Mill Stompbox

It’s pretty obvious that Eventide created this to be more than a stompbox. Most of the controls are hand-operated, and the stereo in and outs suggest it’s not just intended for guitar. In fact, this one has yet to hit the floor. The first thing I did was hook it up in my studio and use it as an outboard effect on a fingerpicked guitar part for my new album.

Next, I hooked it up to my laptop running Logic and started playing with some synth patches from Alchemy. I can see why this has found its way into many DJ booths. The three programmable buttons each give instant access to one parameter of the effect, and the HotKnob button can be programmed to control any combination of parameters. Then I added in the H9 control app, which took it to a whole other level. The XY pad is a programmable surface made for the multi-touch interface of a tablet. You can select various parameters for each axis. I combined this with the X-Y pads on Alchemy and had a wild time creating all sorts of sonic adventures.

The Educated View

To my mind, the thing that makes this an excellent tool for education is the versatility. As an outboard effect, it provides access to sounds for which you would pay thousands more. It makes for a great creative tool for live performance with synthesizers and computers. (The students in your electronic ensemble will be fighting over it). The H9 control app makes programming it easy and has a clean interface for teaching. Oh yeah, it makes a pretty good stompbox, too.

Final Thoughts

The H9 MAX is a great effects box. With 50 algorithms and unlimited presets, it offers endless possibilities, and it has uses well beyond the standard stompbox. While it’s not inexpensive and would be a purchase that requires some thought and planning, it’s also somewhat of a bargain as the sound quality isn’t usually available at this price point. If you run any sort of audio production or electronic performance program, you want this device.

George Hess is a professor of music teaching audio production and music technology at Sunway University in Malaysia.

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