Eventide has represented the pinnacle of effects
processors to just about every musician I know for as long as I can
remember. They’ve been in business since the early 1970s, and the sound
of their processors has shaped the tone of countless records and live
performances, beginning with their groundbreaking harmonizers,
transitioning into state of the art reverb and multi-effects units, and
most recently bringing their signature sound to software and effects
pedals. A while ago, they introduced the H9, which housed algorithms and
a “best of” set of programs from their popular TimeFactor, PitchFactor,
ModFactor, and Space pedals. Now, they’ve unveiled the H9 Max, which is
jam-packed with every algorithm and preset from all of those pedals,
and a bunch more. I can’t wait to fire it up.
Externally, the H9 Max is no different physically from the
original H9. The interface is centered around a six-character
alphanumeric LED display and a large combo encoder/switch surrounded by a
light collar that indicates values and settings. The encoder (which can
be toggled between coarse and fine modes) is used to select, load and
name presets, edit parameters and system settings, and can also act as
an expression pedal if you don’t have one plugged in . . . but you
really want to have an expression pedal plugged in! Menus are navigated
using five small buttons labeled Hotknob, X, Y, Z, and Preset. The X, Y
and Z buttons each load the most frequently used parameters of a preset
into the encoder for quick real time adjustment. Each of these buttons
can be set to Normal mode (only one preselected parameter), or an Expert
mode that lets you step through all of a preset’s parameters by
repeatedly pushing that button.
The Hotknob button provides access to any customizable
combination of the parameters, and the Preset button does exactly what
you’d expect: it lets you select and manage presets. Four LEDs to the
right of the display indicate signal status (present and peak), as well
as Bluetooth status (On and paired). The left footswitch
bypasses/engages the unit and loads presets, while the right footswitch
is used to tap tempo, increment presets, or toggle between modes.
Stepping on both switches simultaneously engages the unit’s built-in
Lifting the Lid
The H9 Max is capable of so many things, I’m not even sure where to start. Obviously, any time-, modulation-,
or filter-based effects you can think of are in there; a whole slew of
reverbs include halls, rooms, plates, and even springs. A seemingly
endless assortment of delays, including vintage bucket-brigade, tape
echo, multi-tap, ping-pong, and the deeply trippy UltraTap algorithm
(which can do up to 64 taps). Choruses, flangers, phasers, rotary,
vibrato and tremolo effects, envelope filters, ring modulators, touch
wahs—all present and accounted for.
On top of that, add Eventide’s world-famous Harmonizer
algorithms that deliver all manner of pitch shifting and harmonies (up
to four voices), classic Eventide model H910/H949 emulations,
octave-dividing, dual 16-step arpeggiators, a really cool function
called PitchFlex that lets you pitch bend the sound being processed (man,
that’s fun with a Hammond or a Rhodes!), the ethereal Crystals effect,
and a nasty little feature called Synthonizer that can track a tone and
generate either an additive or subtractive synth tone.
But wait, there’s more! The Resonator algorithm adds
motion and depth using four staggered resonant comb filters that can be
set to ring out based on specific harmonic content. A compressor and EQ
are available for leveling dynamics and sculpting tone. There’s even a
Looper function that allows instantly captured audio loops to be heavily
manipulated and mangled in real time. About the only thing the H9 max
can’t do is cook dinner, but that’s okay, as you’ll be having so much
fun exploring it effect that you’ll forget to eat..
I tried the H9 Max with a bunch of keyboard
sounds—acoustic, electric and synthesized—as well as plugging one of my
guitars and one of my basses into it (with the addition of a distortion
pedal). I ran it both directly inline and patched in to in the effects
buss of one of my keyboard submixers (engaging the H9’s “Kill Dry”
parameter to get a 100-percent wet signal). While it seems pretty clear
that the majority of sounds in the unit were programmed with and for
stringed instruments, most of them work really well with keyboards,
especially electromechanical sounds like organ, Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav.
Synth sounds, especially those with a percussive attack, also take on a
new dimension when pumped through the H9 Max.
Almost all the testing I did was in the studio. As a
keyboard guy, almost all my live boards have effects programmed in that
would have taken too much time to duplicate on the H9; but, when I
plugged one of those boards into it in the studio and turned off the
internal effects so I could hear it through the H9, I enjoyed it so much
that I found myself wondering how long it would take me to reprogram
all that stuff to replace my onboard effects. It even looks really cool
sitting on the end of my keyboard.
I also brought it with me to a live jam, and at least two
different grooves were started as a result of presets I called up on the
H9. I have very little doubt that both the bass player and guitar
player who were there that day are going to be adding one to their
As mentioned earlier in the review, the use of an
expression pedal is recommended with the H9 Max. Pretty much every
program I dialed up had something interesting going you could control
from a pedal, from obvious things like wah and filter sweeps to
real-time control of pitch-shifting, increasing delays, fattening mod
effects . . . you get the idea.
Looking to customize any of the H9 Max’s presets, or roll your own?
Download the free H9 Control software (click image at left), which provides editing at the
deepest level, program selection menus, librarian functions, and more.
H9 Control can be run on any Mac or PC, and is also available as an iOS
If there’s a single stand-alone effects pedal on the
planet with more capabilities than H9 Max, I have yet to find it. It’s
easy enough to be used quickly and creatively by any beginner or
intermediate player, while the deep feature set combined with the
imaginative, interesting, and useful set of
presets will certainly intrigue and inspire even the most serious
tweaker. The flexibility and power of the H9 Max are formidable
(especially when fully unlocked and presented graphically via the H9
Control app), and the high quality of its sonics make it worthy of use
in the studio, not just for live applications. We happily award the H9
Max a Key Buy award.
Killer presets. Stellar sonics. Elegant interface. Deep control via desktop or iOS app.
Display can be a bit cryptic.
An amazingly powerful, fabulous sounding multi-effects pedal loaded with a ton of creative presets.
$799 list | $699 street | eventide.com