In the latest instalment of Hardware Focus, we take a closer look at one of the world’s most iconic digital effects units, Eventide’s much-loved H3000.
Having brought the world’s first digital effect units to market in the mid 70s, Eventide have produced a wide array of units in the intervening 40 years. One model in particular seems to have struck a chord with electronic music producers over recent years: the H3000 was released in 1988 and spawned a whole series of models. More advanced than earlier models like the H910 but more affordable than the later models such as the H8000, the H3000 has become a cult favourite among dance producers.
[quote text=”like dating someone who is way out of your league, but just too gorgeous to resist… It just makes anything sound so glamorous”]
Andre Kelman of Oscilloscope Labs processes tracks with the H3000 via The Audio Hunt. He explains the enduring appeal of this vintage multi-effect unit: “The H3000 has been in service in studios all over the world for almost 30 years and heard on countless records. It easily sits in a class of its own. It’s been used by many artists and producers and has lent its sound to many iconic recordings. Its effects include stereo delays, reverbs, pitch-shifters, harmonisers, band delays, pitch-shifted stereo delays and reverbs, stutter effects, a vocoder, a string modeller, phaser effects and a sampler. All the settings are fully MIDI-controllable in real time, with every parameter being tweakable without any digital clicks being introduced into the signal.”
Oscilloscope Labs was home to the Beastie Boys before it was open to the public and, more recently, to the online community via The Audio Hunt. The studio houses a vast selection of classic and boutique analogue gear ranging from signal processors like the iconic Fairchild 670 compressor/limiter to large-format consoles and classic synths like the EMS VCS 3 or the ARP 2600.
The H3000 has been recommended by a number of artists on Attack over the years. Soo Wavey’s Vin Sol describes it as his “go-to for activating sounds”, while Romanian house trio Premiesku rate it as “one of the best effects out there”, saying that it “gets crazy” every time they use it. The unit can be heard on their track ‘Real’:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/170872540″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Techno producer Kevin McHugh, best knows as Ambivalent, raves about the very similar-sounding H8000, saying that it’s “sort of like dating someone who is way out of your league, but just too gorgeous to resist… It just makes anything sound so glamorous.” You can hear it on his track ‘Snowblind’, or creating the distinctive effects all over ‘Waves Of Grain’, released under his Amber alias in 2014:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/132899806″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Andre raves about the H3000’s “mind-blowing” presets: “All the combinations that the programmers have thought to include in every patch are truly incredible. They sound like nothing else before it. You can go searching for the right preset and end up loading something completely unexpected that gets your creative juices flowing.”
“Building a custom patch from scratch or recalling one of the presets can open up a floodgate of new ideas,” he continues. “We recommend trying the ping-pong delays on pluck-based sounds, phase-shifting and stereo delays on synth pads, gated reverbs on drums and auto-panners on percussion. We also recommend using the H3000 for creating transitions between parts. Send us a track which you’d like to sonically enhance and we guarantee you’ll find something interesting within the first five minutes of going through the presets.”
The H3000 has won over countless dance producers for its ability to add a uniquely musical layer of effects to just about any synth part you throw at it. By combining effects such as delays, auto panning, filters and pitch-shifting, it can create incredible sounds. “Let your imagination run wild,” says Andre. “The combinations are limitless!”