Eventide H9 Review

I’ve been watching the Youtubes on the H9 for a while…and the demos have been cool but mostly gimmicky to me. I won’t bore you with what the H9 is…..essentially, it’s all of Eventide’s pedals in a single small enclosure. Those pedals include the Timefactor, Modfactor, Pitchfactor, Space, and a couple of H9 unique sounds. I’ve owned a Timefactor (replaced by an Strymon El Capistan) and thought the Timeline was an excellent delay regardless. The current board had an El Cap tape delay and a Flint trem/reverb but I wanted to make things even simpler but was GASing for other pedals. I figured the H9 should cover almost anything except dirt as I rarely use more than one effect at a time. So, I sold the Flint to partially fund it (kept the El Cap as it’s still my favorite delay pedal ever).

Out of the box, the H9 sounded wild as I expected. Flipping through the presets, I found them mostly over the top. 99 presets of stuff that was fun but not very usable for jamming or gigging. All the presets were mixed way too high with too much other “stuff” that showcased the capabilities of the algorithms.

I installed the iPad app to control the H9 and linked up via Bluetooth. It immediately and seamlessly downloaded and installed the latest H9 firmware. Using the iPad, I dragged tape delay, tremolo, and vibe patches into the first preset slots and got to work. Luckily, the app makes tweaking a breeze and within minutes I had tones that were more like my El Cap and Flint.

The important part first – the sound quality is jaw dropping. Really. Zeroing out any effect and A/Bing the H9 with a straight signal (in true bypass mode) shows that your tone is completely intact…no alternation whatsoever. Dialing up the mix on delay just adds the delayed notes but the straight signal is unaffected. Every effect is like that – your tone is still there and every nuance of the amp and guitar are preserved. It’s truly studio quality. Plugged into the JCM 800, Rivera-era Superchamp, and Swart STR….all sounded great. Surprisingly, the delays worked much better in front of the JCM 800’s lead channel than the El Cap. The H9 also solved one of the quirks of the Swart STR…at bedroom volume, the STR’s reverb is way too saturated….I just turned it off and used an H9 spring reverb effect.

As a stomp box, the interface is pretty simple. Moving from patch to patch is a quick – step on the up/down button and then hit the activate button. You set the range of patches that are cycled through….I picked 10. Patch changes are instantaneous – zero delay and no glitches. Once in a patch, you can bend down and adjust three of the most important parameters for the effect…..or more likely, just twist the H9’s giant knob that can change any of a number of parameters simultaneously (usually just mix). So, using the H9 live is really like using any other stomp box.

To add some fun, I pulled out an M-Audio expression pedal and plugged it in. I was able to quickly tweak the parameters that the expression pedal altered. Heel down, I set things to straight guitar signal…toe down the full effect but not over the top. That allowed a blend of any amount of effect as needed. On the tremolo and vibe, I set the expression pedal to adjust the speed. All very cool except that M-Audio pedal was too big for the Pedaltrain mini. I tried my tiny Nose expression knob but quickly realized it wouldn’t work as it had a mono ¼” plug rather than the required Tip-Ring-Sleeve stereo plug. A quick Google search showed that it was just a matter of swapping out the Nose’s jack for a stereo jack and pot for a 10K. Two minutes later with the soldering iron and the Nose was controlling the H9…and it fit on the PT mini.

Important H9 point: it *appears* that the H9 can only do one effect at a time….that’s not true. Many of the algorithms do multiple effects simultaneously. For example, there’s a ModEchoVerb that can do any mixture of chorus/flange+Delay+Reverb. Or…the TremoloVerb…or ModDelay. There’s a DynaVerb that has a studio quality compressor/limiter and a reverb – turn off the reverb and you have a compressor! Anyway, I hate to say “never” but because of the multi-effect algorithms I can see this as the last mod, delay, etc. pedal anyone would really need.

That said…..this pedal is an expensive investment. I used the Guitar Center $100 coupon to pick it up for $400. Yes, it can literally replace every pedal on your board other than the dirt. In the grand scheme of things, for a pedal hound, the H9 could save money. The unit comes with a ton of algorithms – enough to keep most people satisfied for quite a while. Eventide charges $20 a pop for the other algorithms in the catalog. While that may sound expensive to some, I think $20 is pretty cheap for a new “pedal”. With the app, you can also live demo all of the functions of any algorithm for five minutes to see if it’s worth buying. I ended up buying a couple of the Space algorithms (including ModEchoVerb) and the Univibe.

Is the H9 for everyone? No. If you aren’t a tweaker…this is NOT a pedal for you. Those that just want discrete knobs will find the H9 too complex. Also, without a computer or IOS device (Android is coming) tweaking would quickly become annoying. However, if you like effects and get GAS for different sounds….and can appreciate studio quality sound, the H9 is amazing.

Will the H9 replace any effect? I guess that depends. The Strymon El Capistan is kinda magical….it seems to blend into your tone in a way that allows you to use a fairly high mix without sounding over the top or getting in the way of your playing. I’m still working on getting the H9 to sound like the El Cap. It’s close but not there yet. But, the El Cap is pretty limited compared to the H9. On the Strymon Flint, the harmonic tremolo setting (like an early 60’s Fender) was amazing and reacted to pick attack. The trems on the H9 are amazing but there’s no algorithm for harmonic trems (yet?). It’s probably just a matter of time until Eventide comes out with algorithms that can do some of these sounds. BTW – they’re working on a H9 looper according to the support forums.

New Eventide H9 on the Pedaltrain Mini (with a modded Nose expression pedal)

12 thoughts on “Eventide H9 Review

  1. Dean

    Hey there, your review is helpful. I just bought this thing because I was looking to pick up some new pedals (delay, chorus, phaser etc) and my pal at the music store said the H9 is all I’d need. But like you said, out of the box the presets are practically useless. I couldn’t figure out how to “tweak” a new setting because it seems you need to hook up to the software via PC ( I don’t have any istuff), but then I’d have to register the device and if I didn’t like the thing I couldn’t return it.

    So my basic question is, (and your review seems to suggest this), is it safe to say that once I hook up to the PC and enable the software that I will have no trouble building presets that have all the basic delays, chorus, phase type effects with harmonizer function? The pedal sounds great for what the presets allow, so I’m not too worried about overall sound.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. ljholland Post author

      Hi Dean, I’m not sure the out of the box presets are useless per se, however, the mix setting for them is too high. Dropped down, they are really good. I will say that tweaking presets on the pedal itself is much more difficult than connecting the H9 to an iPad, iPhone or PC. I don’t even bother.

      I’m not sure registering the H9 will prevent you from returning it. What I don’t believe you can do is “return” add-on algorithms that you purchase. Once bought, they are associated to your user name.

      So – the answer is Yes – once connected, the H9 is a breeze to use. I’m not a big user of any harmonizer algorithms. I’m mostly using Modfactor, TimeFactor, and Space algorithms for your typical guitar effects. I don’t usually build presets from scratch, I start with one of the presets for the algorithm and adjust to my liking. For live use, I’ve set the H9 to cycle between patches 1 and 13 so that it’s easy to quickly tap to any of my presets. I’ve also added a small expression knob on my board to control the H9. It’s called a “Nose” (google “Nose expression pedal”). For each of my 13 presets, I’ve set the expression pedal to sweep between almost no effect to a fairly wet mix setting. Even that mix setting is FAR less than the maximum possible mix. The entire range of the expression pedal selects “musical” settings…nothing silly.

      Reply
      1. guitar rig

        hello ljholland, I found your post really useful too..Thanks for all your recommond…I did search Nose expression pedal on Google and I found my ideal pedal with that..Just want to let you know and thank you for that!

        Reply
  2. Harry

    I’m trying to decide between an H9 and Strymon Mobius. I’m looking for the one that has the best mod Fx like vibe, rotary, tremolo? Which sounds the most organic?

    Reply
    1. ljholland Post author

      Hi Harry – thanks for visiting. My experience with Strymon is the El Capistan, Timeline and the Flint with some store audition if the Möbius. Both units are quite amazing and versatile. When you specifically ask about “organic” it’s a toss up. When most people ask about organic what they really seem to be asking if if a device is digital sounding – in other words, does it have high frequency artifacts that scream “Digital!” With both units that’s really a matter of how much filtering you dial into the algorithms. Both can sound pristine or more natural by dialing off the high end frequencies.

      To me, the H9 is a far better value. With the Möbius, you’re only getting modulation. For a little more, the H9 offers delays, harmonization, and now even has a compressor/EQ. Soon, there’s also supposed to be a looper too. Yeah, the algorithms can add up but you only buy what you want and you can demo any algorithm for 5 minutes at time.

      In terms of live usability, neither will ever top discrete pedals. What I can say is that I really couldn’t bond with the Timeline live and sold it after a few weeks. The Möbius is really the same interface.

      Anyway – I’ve really come to love the H9. It’s truly an amazing machine.

      Reply
  3. Harry

    To me organic is more if it responds naturally to dynamics and having a great touch more like traditional mod pedals do.

    I already use an Axe Fx II which has pretty good delay, multidelay and harmonizer effects. I can’t seem to get great mod sounds out of it so I’m looking for a pedal that’s better in the mod area.

    I’ve read that most people think that the modfactor from Eventide is not the best in the mod department. Since the H9 uses the same algorithms and I’m focused on getting a pedal that is strong in the mod department I’m going for the Mobius. I don’t need the extremer delay and harmonizer effects since I can get those from the Axe Fx II. I do like the H9 control interface and I think that’s a big benefit of the pedal. You never know if I might end up owning both. 😉

    I’m still considering getting an analog photocell based Vibe pedal to get that specific sound. I do think that the Mobius has a great sound in that specific area, probbably close enough. What’s important is that it combines well with drive pedals in front or after and interacts well with my Axe Fx II via it’s effects loop.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  4. Tim Sharpe

    I’ve got an H9 and an El Cap as well. I think if you are really looking only for mods then the Mobius is a better choice. Personally I use a vintage Small Stone phase and a vintage Hartman flanger, plus a Drybell vibe. The drybell rather than a Vibe Machine strictly because the real deal is stupid expensive (and huge) for an effect that you just can’t use that often.

    I bought some of the mods for my H9 like trem, rotary, vibrato, but those are mostly for occasional frills. I need to investigate whether it fills my reverb needs. The reverb combos in the original post don’t seem to have very tweakable delays. The H9 takes a lot of familiarization though, and maybe I’m just not up to speed on how to tweak it yet. I could use a little longer than 5 minute demoes to try things out. I am grateful for the 5 minutes though.

    I’m thinking about just getting a Hall of Fame verb from TC Electronics just to put slightly in the mix. I like my H9 but I’m slowly single pedaling my way out of H9 usefulness. Maybe I just need to learn how to use it better. FWIW, on my pedalboard I do use more than one effect at a time. Also just as a shout out, my board was designed and built by the amazing David Phillips at LA Sound Design http://www.lasounddesign.net/. Check him out on YouTube if you are interested in getting the best tone from pedals. He does a lot of demoes (a lot of the stuff isn’t sold by him, he’s mostly does custom builds).

    Reply
    1. ljholland Post author

      All of my amps have reverbs so I tend not to use pedal reverbs. However, I almost always have the El Cap on and I have turned up the reverb option on that pedal so I’m not having to use the verb of the H9. Regardless, there are many patches that include reverb. For example, ModEchoVerb is an everything algorithm. To really explore the H9, you almost must use the IOS interface as it opens up all of the parameters. I tend to use my H9 for modulations like trem and chorus so it covers all of those needs when they come up. I’ve also got it set to cycle through 13 of my most used settings to make navigation easy for live gigs.

      Reply
  5. Jay Kay

    Hi, can you comment/feedback on the looper? It is really difficult to get the correct /accurate stop timing. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. ljholland Post author

      I actually think it works well in its basic setting and in the sound on sound mode. The controls are spot on. I don’t understand some of the other preset modes and why they might be useful. It would be great if Eventide released some demos on how to use them. The big issue I have is that it’s just too short a loop time to be very useful. I’ll stick to my Ditto for now.

      Reply

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