Test Drive: The Eventide DSP4000B Production Ultra-Harmonizer

Once a program is loaded, its Parameters page appears on the screen. Press the PARAMETERS button to access additional parameter pages (if any). The parameters screens are some of the easiest to read and use I've seen on any box. Perhaps this is due in part to the large display. There's plenty of room to display parameter names and values, and if you need some help, there's always some available by pressing the Info soft key. The unit takes advantage of the graphics capabilities of the display and provides meters, knobs and faders on many screens which makes adjusting parameters easy and even fun. Not enough can be said about how the large display makes using the DSP4000B an effortless and painless procedure. One program where this is very evident is "Multitap Delay." This program has forty taps! Each one is represented on the screen as a vertical line. The taller the line, the louder the tap. The further to the right, the longer the delay. This is the first multi-tap delay program I've seen where you can actually see the taps graphically.

Speaking of easy, setting parameters up for external MIDI control is a breeze. Each program has a "Remote" soft key. To set up a parameter for external control, simply put the cursor on the parameter and press the Remote soft key. From the next screen, simply scroll through the different available controllers. When your choice appears on the screen, it's active. You're done. It's fast. It's easy. Yes...fastest and easiest I've seen.

I must admit, I was shy when it came to creating my own programs on the 3000 series Harmonizers, but the Patch mode of the DSP4000B eased my fears. Once again, with the aid of the extra large display and helpful graphics, programming the unit was easier than expected. Now, don't get me wrong. You will need some time with the manual to get a grip on creating your own programs. But the programmer's life is made a little easier. Press the PATCH button to enter the Patch mode. The display shows graphic representation of the modules that make up the current program. Use the cursor keys to highlight any module. Use the data wheel to scroll through the graphic of long, complex programs. Use the soft keys to modify modules, add and remove modules, make connections, and so on. Though easy to use, the DSP4000B is still an elaborate effects box, and programming the unit can get pretty tangled, especially with ninety effect modules to play with! Fortunately, there are enough factory programs that most users will probably use existing programs and make modifications to them rather than start from scratch. Either way, you'll find the DSP4000B a programmer's friend if given a little time, and if you want to get deep into it, there's plenty of room to get lost in.

Pressing the SETUP button accesses several system parameters. This is where display contrast and brightness are set. Press the MIDI/Ext soft key to set up the MIDI configuration. Press the Audio soft key to select the I/O (digital or analog) as well as the sample rate. (Choose the sample rate for analog signals between 32kHz, 44.056kHz, 44.1kHz and 48kHz.) Press the Dump soft key to perform MIDI dumps. Press the Segue soft key to set the program crossfade time. Other soft keys include Service which displays information about system ROM and RAM. Format internal memory and external memory cards as well as fix problems with internal memory or memory cards.

I was genuinely dazzled with many of the factory programs. There were several effects I had never heard before. The fact that there are so many factory presets and so many useable ones makes the DSP4000B an attractive box for the radio producer on the go. And organizing effects is very easy. Set up your own banks with your favorite effects or effects you've built on your own. Each producer can have their own personal bank which will keep other producers from altering YOUR favorite programs.

Perhaps one reason I found so many of the factory presents remarkable, from a radio producer's point of view, is because production veteran Jay Rose [RAP Interview, March 1996] wrote about 100 programs for the DSP4000, most of which were specifically for the "Broadcast/Production" version, the DSP4000-B. In fact, most of the programs mentioned in this review were written by Jay, and they are all available on the Broadcast/Production Preset Library memory card ($395) for 4000 series Harmonizers without the Broadcast/Production presets. Jay can also be credited for the welcome humor found on many of the "Info" screens on the programs he wrote. Nice work, Jay!

One thing that hasn't changed about the Eventide Harmonizers is the lofty price tag. The model used for this review came equipped with the $1,000 digital I/O option which brought the grand total to $4,995. In a day when effects boxes are selling for as little as two and three hundred bucks, it seems odd to consider spending five grand on one when there are digital workstations out there for less, some of which come with built-in effects. But there's something about the Eventide box that makes it special. It's probably a combination of a lot of things that make it special, like that long ten-second delay time that's so much fun to play with, and that huge display that could probably double as a second monitor for your computer. Perhaps it's the attention given to the pitch shift programs, something Eventide has always taken pride in. Actually, it seems they've taken pride in all of the programs. Whatever it is that makes this box special, one thing is certain. Eventide continues to improve upon the Harmonizer series. Plug one into your production studio, and you'll always use it. It's difficult to find any shortcomings with the DSP4000B. The Eventide Harmonizers just keep getting better and better. If you're a die-hard Harmonizer fan...it's time to upgrade.

Reported specs include S/N >96dB ("A" weighted), THD+Noise at 87.5dB, and frequency response 5Hz to 22kHz. The unit occupies two rack spaces and weighs 12 pounds. Options include internal Sampler Boards providing 22, 87, or 174 seconds of sample time at $995, $1,995, and $2,995 respectively. Additional preset libraries, the GTR Guitar Presets and DSP Studio Presets, are available on memory cards for $495 each. Please note that factory programs may differ between models in the 4000 series. This particular model is specifically called the DSP4000B Production Ultra-Harmonizer and contains custom "production/broadcast" presets in ROM versions dated April and May of 1996.

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