Eventide: From Studios to Stompboxes

Over the past four decades, Eventide has consistently pioneered unprecedented methods of bending and layering sound. Their highly coveted Harmonizers created an industry standard that has ruled the multi-effects landscape, and few brands can claim as indispensable a position in the world of studio effects.

As technology advanced, Eventide’s drive for exploration saw them move to a more portable format for their world-class effects: the stompbox. With their hit TimeFactor, PitchFactor, ModFactor and Space units, Eventide brought their legendary studio effects within reach of working musicians while pushing the boundaries of digital effects pedals.

Their latest creation, the Eventide H9, takes that progression to the next level. The H9 combines their renowned delay, pitch shifting, modulation, filtering and reverb algorithms along with brand new saturation effects into a single sleek unit.

Co-owner Tony Agnello talked us through Eventide’s journey from their earliest devices to packing 40 years of innovation into a pedal you can toss in your gig bag.

Studio Roots

Richard Factor

Eventide didn’t initially set out to invent sounds the world had never heard before. Tinkering in the basement of a recording studio, their first product was a utilitarian tape recall device built by co-founder Richard Factor and financed by co-founder Orville Greene, who owned the studio. The success of the unit led to further product development, culminating in the revolutionary Eventide Instant Phaser and 1745 Delay Line. These effects were far more stable and advanced than anything else produced at the time, leading to impressive market success. As the company was poised to expand, Tony Agnello, a talented young engineer and musician, would be their first hire.

Tony Agnello

“I was finishing my Masters and studying signal processing when I met Richard Factor in late 1972”, related Tony. ”I was lucky to start my career exactly when the very first digital audio products appeared, and to meet Richard Factor and work at Eventide, where ‘The Next Step’ was our mission.” Still working out of the same studio basement, Tony spearheaded a huge step forward: the H910 Harmonizer.

H910 and the Rise of the Harmonizers

Before the H910, experimenting with pitch shifting and delay required multiple effects, tape machines and a lot of hands on effort. Utilizing the growing potential of digital processing, the H910 put the power of all these tools into one unit. This made creating and combining these effects possible in ways few people had envisioned, opening up a rich new palette of sounds. To implement these groundbreaking effects, Eventide built completely new components to match their vision. “Things we take for granted today, like commercial analog-to-digital converters, simply did not exist”, Tony explained. “Eventide developed our own custom techniques for conversion with audio fidelity paramount. Our products have always sounded great; even those very first delay lines.”

From Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen to producers like Tony Visconti and Brian Eno, the H910 won thousands of ardent devotees throughout the ‘70s. While Van Halen used it to create double-tracked guitar tones and Visconti to trigger snare effects for David Bowie, musicians still didn’t utilize all the possibilities Tony designed. He originally built it with an attached keyboard for creating harmonies and “envisioned musicians using it by playing the keyboard..the only musician who used that prototype was Jon Anderson of Yes. We flew the unit to London where he was recording his solo album.”

Following the success of the H910, Eventide turned their attention to the fresh terrain of digital reverb. Their initial delay lines had been used to add more realistic predelay to devices like EMT plates, but Eventide wanted to make their own realistic reverbs based entirely on DSP. In 1981 the SP2016 was born, offering a plethora of now classic reverb algorithms in addition to new effects like Band Delays, vocoding, comb filters, shimmer, time scramble, looping, reverse delay and reverse reverb.

The SP2016 proved so enduring that many are still in use today. Tony told us he had even “done some soldering recently to repair Peter Frampton’s.” Unlike anything before it, the unit’s preset effects were expandable via ROMs that the company prophetically called plug-ins, decades before the rise of VST. While working on Frampton’s, Tony discovered several new banks of effects even he hadn’t heard before.

Eventide established themselves as the pinnacle in digital effects, but were not content to rest on their past success. “By the mid-1980s DSP microprocessors became available and gave us the ability to take the next step after the SP2016 and develop the H3000,” Tony explained. Two new engineers, Ken Bogdanowicz and Bob Belcher, were brought on to design the unit and it’s legendary presets. The additional power and programmability made it a studio standard and fixture in the stage racks of players from the Edge to Stanley Clarke. Four decades later you’d still be hard pressed to find a major studio without an H3000 or one of its modern iterations in their rack.

As the size and integration of components improved, Eventide continued to add more advanced features to their rackmounted units, developed plugins for in-the-box production and made an entrance into the world of effects pedals. Now, in keeping with their mission, they’ve taken the next step to bring everything together.

Eventide H9: One Pedal to Rule Them All

Shop for New and Used Eventide H9 on Reverb

Always pushing to give musicians more power and better performance, Eventide has now distilled four decades of multi-effects trailblazing into a single pedal, the H9. As Tony put it, “all I've ever wanted to do was build stuff that gave artists new and creative control of audio. Back in the day, you needed a rack full of electronics to do what the Harmonizer did.” Only major studios, producers and “top performers could afford the thing. In today's dollars an H910 would cost close to $10,000!” Now, Eventide can fit “an entire pedal board in a single pedal. The H9 packs all of our algorithms covering every class of effect - delay, pitch change, reverb, filtering, looping and more into a ridiculously small footprint.”

Even after the incredible evolution of Eventide, from their first digital delay lines to the compact power of the H9, their drive to go further is undiminished. Discussing the future, Tony revealed “there are all kinds of things that I'd still like to do to sound. There are many things that I've been itching to try but the hardware doesn't yet exist. I’m always excited about taking the next step.”

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