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Eventide PitchFactor Harmonizer Quick Pick Review

By Jon Chappell | October 1, 2009

The PitchFactor Harmonizer delivers Eventide's trademark studio effects in a roadworthy stompbox form.

The PitchFactor Harmonizer delivers Eventide's trademark studio effects in a roadworthy stompbox form.

The PitchFactor Harmonizer ($499) is Eventide's third release in its stompbox series, a trio of effects that get their DNA from Eventide's high-end studio processors. It retains the Time Factor and ModFactor's user interface and housing: a heavy-duty, cast-metal case sporting 11 knobs, 15 LEDs, three footswitches and a healthy complement of inputs and outputs. The PitchFactor should satisfy live performers and studio types who favor world-class sound and extensive real-time control.

Ten pitch-shifting effects include Diatonic (an intelligent pitch-shifter), MicroPitch (for chorus-like effects) and eight Eventide trademarks: PitchFlex (whammy-bar simulation), Quadravox (four-voice harmonizer), Octaver (dual selectable octaves with optional fuzz), HarModulator (twin chromatic pitch-shifters with modulation), Crystals (dual reverse pitch-shifter, delay and feedback with reverb), HarPeggiator (16-step twin pitch-shift sequencer), H910/H949 (classic Eventide gear emulations) and Synthonizer (pitch-tracking twin synths). The unit comes with 100 presets and operates in two modes: Bank (for loading complete setups and stepping through them with footswitches) and Play (for toggling a single effect's parameters on and off).

Pitch-shifting may be its raison d'être, but the PitchFactor features delay and feedback as additional sound-sculpting tools. The two effects lines (A and B) can be delayed, either for thickening or for discrete rhythmic repetitions that produce interesting arpeggiated effects. Feedback adds an additional modulation-type quality. For producing auto-wah effects, an envelope control with adjustable sensitivity causes modulation to track your attack velocity.

DIGGING DEEP

I began my explorations with the Diatonic effect, creating full-sounding harmonized lines with two-note harmonies and using subtle amounts of delay and feedback to produce a thicker, more complex sound. You can select from 13 scales and musical modes — great for creating diatonic harmonies in some novel settings. Changing keys instantly is as simple as pressing the middle footswitch and playing a new tonic note.

Quadravox lets you create full-sounding harmonies and provides terrific opportunities for arpeggiated sounds. I separated PitchFactor-generated notes into rhythmic subdivisions to produce textures that ranged from techno-robotic randomness to sparkling cascades of diatonic chord tones (see Web Clip 1). When you engage Tempo, the time display changes from milliseconds to beat divisions, allowing you to, say, quickly dial up discrete eighth-note-triplet repetitions. This shortcut to producing tempo-synched loops encourages experimentation within a groove, and frequently yields useful (and delightful) results.

I used Synthonizer to create some bizarre synth sounds that were a cross between a Theremin and a Minimoog. Web Clip 2 shows two examples of a creepy melody given a sci-fi treatment while retaining a foothold with the real-world sounds of a trombone and human whistle. Also in the synthetic category is the Crystal algorithm; its dual reverse pitch-shifting lets you build haunting, multi-tiered pads that, while not rhythmic in nature, shimmer with intensity (see Web Clip 3). The HarModulator and HarPeggiator offer the greatest potential for creating step-sequenced patterns of impressive complexity.

The PitchFactor also produces equally classic and utilitarian sounds such as filter sweeps and electric bass emulations (see Web Clip 4). Of course, you can also use pitch-shifting for silky chorus-like effects using the MicroPitch algorithm.

THE PEDAL FACTOR

To really appreciate the PitchFactor's real-time possibilities, assign an expression pedal to control one or more parameters, and calibrate the pedal's travel to sweep any predefined value range. Virtually all presets assume you're using an expression pedal and are mapped to the most logical parameters for that setup. Programming the pedal is done entirely by moving the pedal and twisting knobs in an intuitive routine. Additionally, you can add footswitches to kick effects in and out or to operate system-related functions.

The PitchFactor's depth and versatility become apparent when you blend the dual effects lines, employ delay and feedback, and work the expression pedal to morph sounds in artful ways. The results range from liquid and flowing to hard-charging and rhythmic. But even the bread-and-butter effects that produce diatonic harmonies and octave effects — including a great bass guitar emulator — reveal the PitchFactor's core processing power.

PITCH PERFECT

Eventide may have streamlined its high-end technology and shoehorned those qualities into a stompbox form, but the PitchFactor is as complex and powerful as any time-based multi-effects unit that resides underfoot. You can invest a lot of time exploring its depths without finding the bottom. My only minor disappointments were the outlet-hogging wall wart, the lack of a dedicated editor/librarian and the absence of preset naming. None of these shortcomings affect the unit's deep programmability nor its versatile and stellar sound.


Overall rating (1 through 5): 4
eventide.com

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