Top producer / engineer, George Shilling, also takes time out to review interesting audio equipmentGeorge Shilling reviews:

Eventide DSP 7000 Ultra Harmonizer



eventide dsp 7000 ultra harmonizerEventide's Orville is a Rolls-Royce effects processor, with 96kHz/24-Bit capability and multiple audio connections enabling surround-sound usage. But it will be some time until we all work exclusively in a surround format: for many, two-channel stereo is adequate, preferred, stipulated or more cost-effective. So more than a year after Studio Sound brought the first review of the Orville, here is the DSP7000, a two-channel, single DSP unit, as opposed to the Orville's four channels and two DSPs. Not only is the 7000 much cheaper than the Orville, but, remarkably, it is also cheaper than the similar looking DSP4000 it replaces, yet with four times the processing power of that model. The internal clock can be switched to 48kHz or 44.1kHz, and by selecting 'High Speed' mode one can select the 88.2kHz or 96kHz rates. However, entering this mode warns you that it disables some of the presets that require more processing - roughly a third of the Programs. High Speed compatible Programs are displayed with a lightning flash adjacent to their name in Bank/Program mode. If externally clocked, there is a display on the selection page to measure the exact sample rate, and a front panel LED to indicate this mode.



Eventide Eclipse Harmonizer Studio Effects Processor


Buy the Eventide Eclipse Harmonizer in the studio shop.


Construction is similar to the Orville. The case appears to be fairly thin (bare) steel, but the whole package is very weighty. The rear panel is crammed full of connectors and blanking plates. Stereo analogue input connectors are combination Jack/XLR sockets, enabling you to plug a guitar straight in, whilst analogue outputs are XLR only. Digital connectors are on AES-EBU XLRs and S/PDIF phonos; (the signal always appears simultaneously on analogue and digital outputs). It appears that the outputs dither to 24-bit unless using the Dither Program, which cannot be loaded simultaneously with any other Program. Word Clock In and Out BNCs are provided. There are two footpedal control jack sockets, and a Relay jack output, which contains two separate connections that can deliver up to 1.0A at 30VDC to control external equipment.


There is MIDI In, Out and Thru, the In optionally accepting a seven-pin plug to provide power for a pedalboard. MIDI messages can effect Program change, real-time parameter adjustment, or entire Program dumps. For computer communication, there is also an RS232 serial connector, and on the review model, a gaping hole where there should have been an 8-pin RJ45 connector to enable hook-up to the optional EVE/NET remote control, which comes as standard with the Orville. This is a well-featured remote controller in the style of the Lexicon 960 LARC or tc M6000 remote. For Program creation the VSigfile editor is available from the Eventide website, which enables graphical editing on a Windows PC via the serial connector or MIDI. There are blanked panels for further inputs and outputs, and a large rectangular blanked Options panel, which is not mentioned or referred to at all by Eventide.


Switching on the DSP7000 starts a number of relay clicks and test routines. I once encountered a bug with an early DSP4000, but there are no problems here. Once the Contrast adjustment (within a menu under the Setup key) is correctly set, the large front panel display is bright, clear and easily readable, accompanied by the four familiar Soft Keys. LED input meters are clear, and at the opposite end there is a dedicated Levels, key which accesses multiple menus for making adjustments to enable matching any equipment, analogue or digital. There are no dedicated front panel level controls, but the Bypass button can be setup in a menu to Relay or Internal bypass or Output Mute for panic situations. One of four LEDs shows the currently selected sample rate. A PCMCIA memory card slot is on the front panel, (DSP4000 presets can be loaded), and a blank card was supplied. There is also plenty of internal capacity for storing user Programs. These appear in the Program list with a letter U adjacent to their name.


Programs are arranged alphabetically within named, categorised Banks. Card Banks appear after the internal Banks. As you wind through these with the large data knob, you can see the first few Program titles and the number of Programs in each Bank. With 43 Banks, each containing between three and 31 Programs, it seems to take forever to scroll through the lists with the wheel, which is geared very slowly. You really have to get used to winding it round and round. Although it feels quite loose, flicking it round only skips one or two increments. However, using the keypad you can type in a number (if you know it) and press Enter to jump straight to another Bank or Program within, although you are blocked if you enter a non-existent number. And the keypad still looks like it was sourced from a home-build electronics catalogue. Upon arriving at the desired Bank, the Down arrow key takes you into the Program list, where the knob scrolls down the list.


The implementation of the arrow keys here is a little odd - you press the Left key to get back up to Bank selection. Upon highlighting the desired Program, press the adjacent Select key, or the Load Soft Key. The Program Delete function shared the same Soft Key on the DSP4000, this has now been sensibly moved to the opposite end. After a brief 'Loading…' message, the display continues to show the list. Personally, I would prefer the machine go directly to the Parameter page, as the old faithful H3000 does. As the Program is loaded, any remaining reverb or delay tails are unceremoniously cut off, and the unit momentarily passes through Bypass before the new Program starts. Pressing the Parameter key takes you to the editing area.


Parameters are selected using the arrow keys and adjusted with the knob (which generally works faster here than in the Program selection), or directly entered with the keypad, and further pages of parameters are reached using the four Soft Keys under the screen; further pushes on the Parameter key usually reveal more options. A 3-D effect on a Soft Key label indicates 'stacked' parameter pages where multiple button pushes reveal further pages of settings. Most Programs have a helpful Info screen on one of the Soft Keys, with a brief text description of the program, or a few hints and tips which can be scrolled through with the knob. Unfortunately there is no printed version of these Info pages, which vary in length from a line of text to pages of scrollable instructions. Oddly, there is not even a Programs list in the manual, although you can print one out from the Eventide website, or load the very first Program which simply contains this list.


The first Bank, Favourites, starts off with just the Program list, and Mute and Thru presets. However, this Bank automatically stores Links to the last eight loaded Programs, a useful feature for backtracking. Linked Programs display an L by their name: this feature enables the same Program to be accessed from multiple Banks without the need for re-saving the whole Program. The next three Banks contain selections to get you started - 'A Taste' contains Links to some impressive demonstrations of the unit's capabilities, an Artist Bank contains some wonderful user-created settings, then the Basics Bank gives the user some simple effects. There follow plenty of Delay-based Programs, from the bizarre and complex down to easy to use simple delays. There is also a whole bank of dedicated Tap Tempo programs, tucked away in Bank 40, which also include such secondary effects as filters, panners, vibrato and more.


The Dynamics bank includes a number of compression types including multi-band plus a few noisegates, while the Equalizer Bank contains mainly Graphic EQs, which can be a little fiddly and slow to set up using the knob. A Filters Bank contains some terrific unusual synth and wah-type effects. The Fix Tools Bank contains the surprisingly good Auto Pitch Correct, plus some presets for manually 'whipping' the pitch with the knob. Inst Clean and Inst Distortion contain a number of preamp settings with assorted effects, often with delay. Irritatingly, many of these are silent when loaded as they are expecting a Volume Pedal control input, and the parameter for this is often buried three layers below a parameter Soft Key. Some surprisingly good valve emulations are available here, and I particularly liked 'Big Muff W/Dead 9V'.


For a unit labelled Harmonizer, the pitch shifting Programs are oddly tucked away in Banks 36-39. Most of these work at all sample frequencies, and include a number with unusual implementation of delays, a few with a BPM setting, some fine-tune and special scales and modes Programs, and a collection of spectacular unusual programs for some outstanding special effects. Not especially usable in most music production, but great fun for creating something amazing from a very simple input source. There are separate banks of Phasers and Modulation Delays


Banks 28 to 34 include a huge palette of reverbs, which are clear, rich, warm, and easily editable. For a box labelled Harmonizer, this is a remarkably good reverb unit, with a rich flavour of its own. The reverb Programs are subdivided into categories, so there are such Banks as Halls, Plates, Small, Unusual and so on, and finding what you want isn't too difficult.


The nature of the modular Program construction means that all sorts of 'optional extras' crop up in Programs, leading to unusual parameters and possibilities. In the Bank labelled Percussion, all manner of modules are combined together for some terrific beat-enhancing Programs using filters, delays and reverb. The Vox Bank includes smooth compression effects designed for insertion. Two Banks are devoted to MIDI controlled effects. Some of the more bizarre effects are found in Banks labelled Manglers, Film Atmospheres and Multi Effects. A Utilities Bank includes useful test signals, a Chromatic Tuner and a Spectrum Analyser. Mastering Suite contains some useful and clever presets - and with 96kHz available on all of them the 7000 becomes a superb mastering tool.

Even if you've never encountered an Eventide before, it is easy to locate, load and edit Programs, and get on with the job in hand. However, the system for designing one's own programs is extremely complex. As well as the 80-page User Guide, the ring-bound manual folder also includes two further sections. The first is a programming guide, and the second contains a description of each of the 177 modules used to build Programs. The Programming guide contains an extensive introduction to the concepts involved, then in subsequently divided into two sections: 48 pages regarding VSigfile programming, and 33 pages regarding the front panel patch editor. Although the procedures are roughly similar, obviously the different mouse clicks/button pushes and displays are vastly different. For serious programming VSigfile is essential, including as it does features such as the construction of 'Supermodules', which can be stored and re-used, and of course the opportunities to save and email Programs. No doubt, the EVE/NET controller makes programming easier, but the display on the remote unit looks to be no larger than that on the front panel of the DSP7000.


The Modules manual consists of a description of each of the 16 Module types, such as Filter, Oscillator, Reverb, Detector, Control Math, Nodes, etc. There then follows an alphabetically organised series of chapters describing each module, and listing its available parameters and ranges: Specifiers, Control Inputs and Outputs, Userobjects (for parameter display on the DSP7000 panel) etc. To me this seems to take you nearer the deepest innards of the machine than is generally necessary. Fairly advanced maths and computer programming concepts are involved, perhaps beyond the average musician and even many recording engineers…


The DSP7000 lacks some of the elegance of some other studio units. The user interface is slightly clunky, the design looks dated, and it is very difficult to create Programs. Despite the foregoing, the instant gratification available from the many fantastic sounding presets, and the indisputable signal quality make this is a terrific machine, and there is nothing else quite like it.


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