Test Drive: The Eventide DSP4000B Production Ultra-Harmonizer

The idea of banks is a good one, especially since they can be named. For example, the first factory bank is "Utilities" which contains some useful programs such as an oscillator and a white noise generator. The next bank is titled "Commerce" and offers some fun programs like "Airplane Background" which puts you in the seat of an airliner with a Bong control to call the flight attendant and a Throttle control to change engine sounds. It sounds incredibly real. A program called "Fries With That" accurately simulates the cheap fast food intercom. A bank titled "Communication" offers programs that simulate everything from bullhorns and cell phones to CB radios and helicopter traffic reports. And the "Traffic Report" program even includes a parameter that controls how much the traffic reporter (the VO talent) is shaking in the chopper. It sounds pretty authentic.

There are programs to simulate an old record player, complete with scratches and poor quality. Never could quite get that "TV in the next room" effect? It's in the "Entertainment" bank, program 8. There are sound effect programs that simulate windstorms, locomotives, thunder, various alarms and sirens, and a UFO take-off that brings back memories of every old film and TV show that featured this classic sound. Press the Take Off soft key again to land the UFO. The "VR Backgr01" program creates eerie, out-of-this-world background effects. It works well with the UFO program and is ideal for sci-fi type stuff.

Run that muddy agency dub through the "Brightener" program to add second harmonics to the signal. The "Long Distance" program simulates not only the noise common with long distance phone calls, but also includes a parameter to adjust the amount of crosstalk on the line. As you talk, you hear a faint voice in the background, though you can't make out what it's saying. That's because the crosstalk signal is the input signal delayed, pitch shifted, and reversed. Again, nice result. And you'll love the humor scattered throughout. On the "Long Distance" program, there's a parameter for the Telco service provider. Choose from Splint, EmCee Eye, AT$T, and FlubboFone, each offering different combinations of line noise, crosstalk, sidetone, etc.. Need that loud, obnoxious phone "off the hook" tone, but don't want to wait several minutes for your phone to finally blare out the warning signal? Select "Off Hook!" for an instant and authentic off-hook alarm. The "Shortwave Radio" program is excellent. If you've ever played around with a shortwave receiver, you know this strange vocal effect. I've never needed this effect for anything, but after hearing it, the creative juices began to flow and several ideas came to mind. This is something that happens a lot with this box. As you scroll through the programs, you think of neat ways to use the sounds and effects.

How many times have you selected an effects program and had no idea what the effect was supposed to do or how to modify it properly? You're given a title like "Dry Paint" and parameters with abbreviations like "SKdly,", "LftOEn," "RtQ1F," etc.. YOU will love the DSP4000B! Each program comes with an "About" or "Info" soft key that brings up a help screen with useful information about the program. The information is put in plain English and is quite comical on some programs. And if there's more info than will fit on one screen, the data wheel can be used to scroll through the text. Very nice.

Of course, the Harmonizer has always been acclaimed for its pitch shifting and delay programs. The new DSP4000B doesn't forget where it came from. The pitch shift is the most glitch-free I've come across and boasts an eight octave range! Of course, there are many programs utilizing the pitch shift algorithms, programs that do everything previous Harmonizers can do and more. (Speaking of previous models, there's even a bank of programs emulating twenty-seven H3000 programs.) The delay programs are also extensive and impressive. How about a "Long Mono Delay" program with TEN seconds of delay! This much delay RAM allows for some very nice multi-tap delay effects. There's even a nice collection of dynamics programs including gates, compressors and duckers. There's a pretty nifty 4-band compressor that splits the input into four frequency bands and includes a de-esser.

There are several programs utilizing the unit's high quality reverb algorithms. What's helpful to radio producers are reverb programs with names like Big Church, Classroom, Kitchen Reverb, Tile Men's Room, Small Club, and High School Gym. Rather than picking a Room or Hall reverb and tweaking for a while, just select the room you want and press the Load soft key! Speaking of rooms and reverbs, there are close to a hundred reverb programs, many with names not quite so self-explanatory but great sounding nevertheless. These are the best reverb programs I've heard from an Eventide Harmonizer. A bank titled Alternative Verbs contains a nice collection of multi-effect programs good for special effects on the voice as well as instruments.

One feature that's new to the 4000 series is the ability to "morph" or crossfade from one program to the next. This is a feature showing up in many effects boxes these days and is most helpful to the performing musician. However, it can make for some interesting special effects for radio production, especially with the ability to set a maximum crossfade time of sixty seconds! Due to limited processing power, only certain programs can be crossfaded with each other, as indicated with a cross next to the program name.

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