Review: Electro-Harmonix Clockworks

The Creative Pulse of Your Hardware Setup
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Elec tro-Harmonix recently reissued Clockworks ($220.30 street), a four-channel pulse generator that is designed for triggering and synchronizing electronic instruments and is fully analog like the ’70s-era original. Each channel has an independent 1/4" output and selectable pulse divider based on the internal clock or an externally generated source. The divisions range from a pulse on every beat to a pulse every eighth beat. Want to hear to 3 against 4, 5, and 7? Now’s your chance.

Each channel has two sliders; one for setting clock division and the other for setting output level (0 to +10V). Use the level controls as you would a mixer’s faders to bring parts in and out, while building rhythmic complexity with the divisor control. An LED above the corresponding channel blinks in time with its clock division. Additional faders set the master tempo and output level of the internal clock. A single 1/4" jack does double-duty as pulse output when you use the internal clock or pulse input when accepting an external signal.

The internal clock’s tempo range goes from 50 to 2,400 BPM (that’s 40 Hz!). The device can track an external clock up to about 65 Hz before things get unstable—but even that area is musically useful. External clocking using randomized pulses adds further polyrhythmic potential.

Clockworks is housed in a rugged metal case, and the 18VDC power supply is included. The device pairs nicely as master or slave with EHX’s 8-Step Program sequencer and drives anything that accepts pulses—hardware drum machines, synths, and effects pedals—and keeps them all in sync.

Best of all, Clockworks is simple to use and surprisingly playable: Rather than take a set-it-and-forget-it approach, alter the divisors during playback to get unusual syncopations. Clockworks isn’t just a timing hub; it’s an instrument.