- Eventide finally came up with a sequel to its incredible H9 guitar pedal.
- The H90 is like having two pedals in one box.
- It costs $899, which in Eventide terms is a steal.
Eventide, the trailblazing audio effects company that invented many iconic sounds, just announced a sequel to its most forward-thinking effects pedal ever.
One of the biggest criticisms of Eventide’s years-old H9 Harmonizer pedal was not its amazing array of effects or its build quality but the fact that you could only use one effect at a time. The H90 explodes that limitation, adds powerful new hardware, and—with a bright OLED screen and an array of knobs and buttons, it looks a lot easier to use, too.
“They had created algorithms that combined certain effects, but you were limited to them and couldn’t just combine your favorites. Now, with the ability to run two algorithms in series or parallel, you can select your favorite effects and use them together. There are no more limitations,” guitarist, musician, and electronics engineer Don East told Lifewire via email.
The H90 is essentially two H9s in one box, with a bunch of other improvements. The H9 was launched in 2014 and sold as a guitar multi-effects pedal. This format has resilient switches that let you control it with your feet while playing. Still, thanks to the fact that it included so many of Eventide’s historical effects, it became just as common to see it on the desks of electronic musicians. This was helped by the full-stereo signal path, which wasn’t really necessary for guitars back then.
However, the H9 had a few shortcomings. As mentioned, it could only run one effects "algorithm" at a time. In practice, many of these algorithms combined several effects—ModEchoVerb, for example, contained chorus, delay, and reverb.
The other limitation was the H9's interface. It was mostly controlled with one big knob in the middle, with a few buttons to back it up. You could adjust all parameters from the unit, but in practice, it was often easier and faster to use the companion app via Bluetooth. The problem with that was that the app itself was capable but clunky.
Eventide has fixed all of these problems with the H90. It has more buttons and a UI that is completely redesigned to make this a standalone unit rather than a hardware processor with an app to control it. There is a new app if you prefer that, but at first glance, it is equally opaque.
And now you can use any two algorithms together, thanks to the powerful ARM-based processor that runs the whole show. You can run them in parallel or series, and you can even swap the order of effects inside an individual algorithm—the order of tremolo and reverb can be switched in the updated Spring Reverb algorithm, for example.
“It opens up new possibilities for sculpting your tones as a guitarist,” musician and music producer DKTA Paul aka Paul Agwa, told Lifewire via email. “It also gives more opportunities to the mixing engineer to be even more creative. For instance, panning the different parallel signals can give the guitar a big sound on the soundstage. I would love to experiment with that myself.”
The hardware has also been improved. The H9 inexplicably left out the ability to use line-level inputs, which is the standard signal for most electronic instruments. That's been fixed in the H90, and some cool LEDs around the back let you know exactly which ins and outs are set to line, not guitar, level.
Finally, Eventide has left the amazing MIDI capabilities intact. This is less important to guitar players but makes it easy for studio musicians to control every parameter from a computer or sync it to other hardware.
And, of course, the H90 comes with a bunch of new effects in addition to all the originals from the H9. These include a very neat polyphonic pitch shifter, which can take your played chords and seriously mess with them.
These effects build on Eventide’s forward-looking heritage. While some classic guitar effects are here, including a great-sounding vintage tape-delay effect, you don’t really buy Eventide devices for digital recreations of old effects. You come for the weird, the new, and the sound-sculpting possibilities they afford.
As a guitarist, I’m excited about this. But as a guitarist who likes to chop up and experiment with their guitar sounds, this looks like an utter must-have.