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EVENTIDE H7600 Ultra-Harmonizer

April 1, 2007
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Click here for a PDF of the specifications for the Eventide H7600 Ultra-Harmonizer

The H7600 is the latest edition of the Ultra-Harmonizer multi-effects processor from Eventide, a leading name in high-end professional effects technology since the 1970s. Building on its predecessors (the H3000, DSP4000, and DSP7000 series), the H7600 boasts greater processing power, expanded effects building blocks, increased user-memory storage with CompactFlash cards, and a new operating system that includes a search engine to help navigate its vast library of more than a thousand presets.

FIG. 1: The H7600''s front panel houses a large LCD, soft key and cursor buttons for navigation, and a data wheel and 10-key pad for data entry.

The H7600 faceplate colors have been given a makeover with the same burnished silver look as Eventide's flagship model, the H8000FW (see Fig. 1). The H8000FW is an 8-channel, dual-processor unit, whereas the H7600 is a single-processor stereo unit. With approximately 25 percent more processing power than the DSP7000 series it replaces, the H7600 is Eventide's most advanced stereo Ultra-Harmonizer to date.

The H7600 does lack the H8000FW's FireWire connectivity. That option, although a convenient computer interface standard, is less essential because the H7600 is not routing eight channels of I/O as the H8000FW does. The H7600's rear panel offers a versatile selection of 2-channel connections: analog (XLR combo jack input and XLR output) and digital (AES/EBU and S/PDIF) that you can mix and match as needed. The rear panel also has word-clock I/O; MIDI In, Out, and Thru; pedal jacks; a port for Eventide's Eve/Net remote controller; and a 9-pin RS-232 serial port for accessing software upgrades over the Internet (see Fig. 2).

Up Front

The front panel sports the same user interface as earlier Ultra-Harmonizers, with meters and a bypass button, a large LCD with four corresponding soft key buttons underneath, function and cursor buttons, a large data wheel, and a 10-key numeric pad. When the Program button is selected, the LCD shows a list of presets, with four presets visible at a time. You use a navigation wheel or cursor-up and down buttons to scroll through presets. If you know a preset's number, you can recall it directly with the 10-key pad.

The H7600's Search feature provides a new time-saving method of navigating presets. It sorts them according to various criteria and categories (effect type, intended use, banks, user groups, recent use, location, and so forth). With more than 1,000 factory presets arranged in 85 banks along with additional user-preset banks, the search engine is a powerful means to quickly locate the right effect.

Presets can also be selected using MIDI. You can organize your favorites in User Groups and use the MIDI Map function to create banks of 128 custom programs that you can recall with MIDI Program Changes. The H7600's 85 banks respond to MIDI Bank Select commands, and I was able to create a Mac OS X “.midnam” patch list file and select any of the factory presets by name using pop-up bank menus within my sequencing application. The patch list works with MOTU Digital Performer, Digidesign Pro Tools, and Steinberg Cubase, and you can adapt it for Apple Logic. I've made the patch list available to Eventide to post online.

Parameter Editing

Once a program is loaded, the LCD changes to Parameter mode, in which essential functions are immediately available for editing. Four soft keys call up additional screens for editing lesser-used parameters. Many presets have a handy Info soft key that brings up a text description of the preset and how to operate it.

FIG. 2: The H7600''s rear panel provides XLR jacks for analog I/O, several forms of digital I/O, MIDI In, Out, and Thru jacks, and an RS-232 port.

Although I do most of my tweaking in software these days, I found the H7600's front-panel interface quite user friendly. Screens are well organized, and there are enough dedicated controls and options to keep most functions easily accessible. Very little paging through screens is necessary. Naming patches, always the Achilles' heel of front-panel interfaces, is the only tedious part.

You can dig more deeply into the H7600 DSP architecture with Vsig (Windows) and VsigX (Mac) editing software. Microsoft Vsig lets you create completely new algorithms through custom construction of some 230 effects-module building blocks. Vsig is much more than the simple editor-librarian you might expect. It offers a flexible flowchart-and-wire graphical interface, and you can even program in code if you're so inclined.

Software integration is more important than ever these days, and this is one area where the H7600 could stand some improvement. VsigX, the Mac version of Vsig, is not officially supported by Eventide; it was adapted from Vsig by a generous Mac user in his spare time. Although Vsig does provide far deeper programming power than most software editors, its interface will prove daunting to users who simply want to perform common tasks such as tweaking, renaming, and organizing patches.

Those Spectacular Presets

The H7600's generous complement of presets covers any conceivable signal-processing need. You'll find more than just the top-notch pitch-shifting effects that gave the Ultra-Harmonizer its name. You get rich reverbs; a full range of chorus, phaser, flanger, and filter — modulation effects; EQ and dynamics processing; ring modulators; vocoders; panners; samplers; distortion effects — the list goes on and on.

There are banks dedicated to specialized production techniques such as mastering, remixing, postproduction, and broadcast collections. You will find audio environments to make your signal sound like it is coming from a walkie-talkie, a bullhorn, or a TV in the next room; sound effects to simulate everything from scratchy records to UFOs and mortar shells; and advanced pitch manglers to make you sound like an evil alien or a cartoon character. The H7600's range of resources is so extensive and compelling that no matter how long I worked with it, I felt I'd barely scratched the surface. Here are just a few highlights.

Eventide's famous pitch-shifting engine is used in many of the most exciting presets. Effects range from micro-pitch-shifting to add thickening (an effect heard on countless records) to precision shifting for correcting tuning errors to completely wild special effects that can morph a voice into a different age, gender, or species. You can even turn a single voice into a whispering crowd. The UltraShifter is Eventide's most advanced formant--correcting pitch-shifter. As you would expect, the H7600 Ultra-Harmonizer is capable of a full range of chromatic, diatonic, and custom scales (see Web Clip 1).

I was also immediately drawn to some of the extreme vowel-like wah filter presets, such as Kill The Guy and Mouth-a-lator Two. These patches allow you to specify filter-sweep parameters as vowel sounds using onscreen phoneme choices. This is filter modulation taken to a whole new level (see Web Clip 2).

I loved the liquid textures found in multi-effects patches such as Easternizer and the haunting motion of patches like Flange Echoes. Others that caught my ear were Hiccup Chorus, which fuses eight chorusing delays into a stuttering tremolo effect, Stratospherics, which provides strange modulated delay oscillations, and ReverseTetra, which bathes your signal in four reversed shifters. Even old-standby effects like flanging are far from ordinary in the H7600. Drew's Throatflange took my everyday synth pad and gave it a business-class seat on the next flight to Mars (see Web Clip 3).

Himalayan Heights is an excellent example of the many sound effects available. It uses noise generators sprinkled with bell-like tones to sculpt a windy Tibetan landscape. Ghosties will summon spirits from a haunted chamber. Other patches seem to have minds of their own. Feed Genesis II a few guitar notes, and watch it warp them into an entire atmosphere of crystal orbs and Frippertronic-style pad washes (see Web Clip 4).

The H7600 is one serious signal-processing machine, with a price tag one decimal place to the right of all but the most serious professional budgets. A lot has changed since the days of the first Harmonizers, and you do have to consider how time-honored hardware boxes fit into today's software-dominated world. But a software--leveled playing field makes it all the more important for the pro studio to reach for that extra edge. Eventide continues to fill that niche. The H7600 is a powerful and imaginative audio toolbox that can add subtle sparkle and sheen to any project as well as produce mind-blowing multi-effects that send your signal to another galaxy.


Babz is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and music-technology writer based in New York City.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

EVENTIDE
H7600 Ultra-Harmonizer

multi-effects processor
$4,495

FEATURES 4
EASE OF USE 3
AUDIO QUALITY 5
VALUE 3

RATING PRODUCTS FROM 1 TO 5

PROS: Powerful multi-effects of supreme quality and exceptional character. Search function greatly aids preset navigation. Hundreds of evocative and truly useful presets.

CONS: Editor software is powerful but not user friendly. Expensive.

MANUFACTURER

Eventide
www.eventide.com

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