Test Drive: Eventide H3000 "Ultra-Harmonizer"

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by Jerry Vigil 

Eventide harmonizers have come of age with the "Ultra Harmonizer". At a price much less than that of its predecessor, the H969, the H3000, at around $3000, is possibly one of the best buys around. The unit used for this test drive is the H3000B, which includes a tape controller board. More on that later. The H3000 is the same basic machine.

Pitch shifting is just the surface of this machine. The H3000 includes stereo inputs, a reverb section, a delay section, and a "Patch Factory" to play with. In a nutshell, what Eventide has done with the H3000 is taken the best of digital audio processing programs, combined them into one machine and then made all of the important parameters of each section available to the user for programming. This last item is the most impressive.

The unit comes with many factory installed programs stored in memory. Each of these programs is based on one of fourteen algorithms. Think of these algorithms as "master" programs that others are written from. Following is a brief rundown of the 14 algorithms.
Diatonic Shift: Pitch change for the musician. This one gets harmonies straight. If you're producing music, you'll like what this one does. There's not much use for it in commercial or promo production.

Layered Shift: This algorithm takes the left input and gives you two separate pitch shifted outputs. Each output has its own controls for pitch, delay, feedback, and mix level. Dual Shift: This algorithm offers two completely independent pitch shifters. The first uses the left input and output, the second uses the right input and output. Each has its own controls for pitch, delay, feedback, and mix level. This is just like having two separate pitch shifters. Stereo Shift: Like the dual shift but for use with true stereo inputs. When adjustment to pitch, delay, feedback, or mix is made, it affects both outputs simultaneously. Reverse Shift: This is a one-input two-output algorithm like the layered shift except the output is played backwards in segments as long as 1.4 seconds. You have independent control over feedback, pitch, mix, and the length of the sampled segment for both outputs. This is definitely one for creating weird effects.

Swept Combs: Delay heaven! This algorithm gives you six independent delay circuits, each with up to a 1/4 second delay and controls for feedback, left/right pan, mix levels and more. Much more! Use the left input to get six separate delays or use left and right inputs to get three separate delays for each. Introduce six independent sweep generators and you can spend a week playing with this one.

Swept Reverb: Much like the swept combs algorithm but with a reverb network added for greater fun! Again, six separate sweep generators with independent rate and depth controls add more than you'll have time to play with.

Reverb Factory: Simply put, this algorithm gives you access to the critical parameters that give a digital reverb its characteristics and enables you to create an infinite number of different types of reverb. There is a gate with a variable threshold that allows for two decay times. Soft sounds will trigger one decay time and loud sounds will trigger the other decay time. Each decay has its own parametric EQ.

Ultra-Tap: This is a one-input two-output Tap delay algorithm. Think of it as a delay program with a maximum 1.4 second delay time. The 1.4 second delay is the combination of 12 separate delay lines in series with each other. Each delay line has independent adjustments for level and left/right pan. These are the "Taps" to the delay. Now imagine panning the odd numbered taps to the left channel and the even numbered taps to the right channel. The first segment of the input plays back in the left channel, the second in the right, the third in the left, etc. This is just one of an infinite number of ways to use the taps. This is another algorithm that can keep you busy for a week just exploring the possibilities.

Long Digiplex: This is simply a single delay line. Maximum delay is 1.4 seconds. You can add feedback to this delay to get a 1.4 second loop going that will never end, and it is extremely clean. The H3000 has 16 bit resolution with a sampling rate of 44.1 KHz.

Dual Digiplex: Like the Long Digiplex, but this uses two separate delay lines with a maximum delay of .7 seconds for each. You can use one or two inputs. Left channel output is delay one, right channel output is delay two.

Patch Factory: Use this algorithm to create any number of different sounds or effects. You get a pitch shifter, two filters that can be lowpass, highpass, or bandpass, two delay lines, and a white noise generator. You are only limited by your imagination with this one.

Stutter: If you haven't figured it out yet, the H3000 is a sampler of sorts, with a sample time of 1.4 seconds. The Stutter algorithm creates the common effects that sampling keyboards are used for, but without the keyboard or a sequencer. With the punch of a key, you can have a sample played back with varying pitch changes. There are two sets of stutter parameters. The length of each segment can be up to 1/2 second long and each stutter segment can be repeated up to 16 times. You have access to several panning and pitch sweep selections that are already programmed in the unit. Approximately 40 adjustable parameters offer a wide variety of effects from this algorithm.

Time Squeeze: This is the algorithm available on the H3000B only. If you have a reel to reel that supports frequency controlled external vari-speed, the H3000B can automatically speed up or slow down the reel to reel and adjust the pitch accordingly to give you a 64 second spot in 60 seconds with nearly perfect pitch change. It makes the process simple with questions on the LCD readout like, "How long is your program?" and "How long do you want it?". Pretty nice!

The H3000B version 2.1 comes with 80 factory programs in addition to these 14 "master" programs or algorithms. Some of them are awesome and it's hard to believe they were created using one of the 14 algorithms. You are given plenty of memory to store well over 100 of your own programs. All of the programs that utilize the pitch shifter include access to a couple of de-glitching parameters that help to give this unit a very clean pitch shift.

The "Ultra-Harmonizer" will be around for a long time and shouldn't become outdated very soon at all. All of the parameters are fully MIDI controllable, not just MIDI program change. 
As for its uses in radio production, the H3000 offers more creative avenues than the average person will find time to use. If you're going to upgrade your Harmonizer or special effects processor, this is the unit to do it with. Give Eventide an A plus!

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