Not all too long ago, I did a review on the BAE Audio Hot Fuzz guitar pedal. In that review, I spoke about how great pedals are for really taking your sounds to the next level. They come in all different forms, are generally extremely straight-forward, and can help you create interesting and unique sounds quite instantly. Whether they be for distortion, delay, reverb, or whatever. Some of the most iconic tones in music history are the result of little boxes you smash with your feet. Eventide, a company with a rich history in studio equipment and signal processing, is one of those such companies. For those of you who have been in the game for a bit, you may have heard of the Space pedal, or it's signature preset 'Blackhole', which originated on the legendary h8000 rack unit.
I'm one of those people who likes to watch Youtube videos of people playing on only hardware, which probably stems from watching "how to play" guitar videos back in the day. I just find it fascinating and inspiring to watch people create beautiful music without using a computer. Upon perusing the abyss that is Youtube, I constantly came across people using various synths through the Eventide Space pedal and was blown away by how dreamy and deep the tones sounded. One video stood out specifically because I already owned the synth that was being used in the video, the synth being the Korg Volca FM. In fact, these videos inspired me so much that I made my own video, but more on that in a bit.
While we were at NAMM a few months ago, I stopped by the Eventide booth to check out some of their products. They also make great delay and modulation pedals, as well as the H9, which is an all-in-one pedal that has been popping up in many a DJ booth as of late. Seeing all of their products got me even more excited to try it out, and after a bit of a headache with FedEx, I had one sitting on my desk, as well as a sweet Eventide shirt. The shirt was a nice gesture, but I can confidently say the customer service is top notch (thank you Nalia!). So, let's get to the review, shall we?
Inside the box, there are a few pamphlets, with instructions and a bit of history on the company, a power cable, and the unit. The pedal has a nice weight to it and definitely doesn't feel cheap. It a sturdy unit that can definitely take a beating. It's an all metal construction and has no loose parts you'd have to worry about losing. And to my surprise and elation, the foot switches are extremely easy to press. Some pedals you really have to put some pressure on the switches, and seeing as I'd only be using this in the studio, the easier they are to press with a finger, the better. There are 100 factory presets, spread across 12 different algorithms, and each one has its own flavor that is extremely fun to explore. The different types of reverbs are below:
- Reverse Reverb
Speaking of presets, the company called upon some serious talent to make them ie Richard Divine, Sigur Ros, and Vernon Reid from Living Colour, which is a fucking incredible band if you're unaware. Pardon the language there. Not really, but moving on! Each preset is extremely detailed and full of life. The fairly close and reflective spring patches give your sound a nice presence, and the Blackhole set takes you to deep space. My personal favorite is patch #12, which is called 'Shimmer'. This is also an algorithm, so there are different variations of it throughout the rest of the bank, but #12 is the sweet spot. Eventide describes it as having pitch shifted reverb tails that create a singing-like quality. Basically, it makes everything sound pretty. Below is another video that blew me away, and as they state in the video, there are few sounds more magical than a Moog Model D through a great reverb. The first 8 minutes are all about the Space pedal, and around 7:20 is where they demo Shimmer.
Now for my own usage. I have a couple synths, and a guitar, so I was fortunate enough to really put the Space to use. Sadly, I don't have a Model D, but I do have a Microbrute, which also sounds incredible through the pedal. One of my favorite sounds to make, was just a simple overdriven saw, slowly opening the filter while using a big hall preset. It's cinematic and incredible and makes me feel like Hans Zimmer. The other, as I stated, is the Volca FM. FM synthesis can sound a bit harsh, but running it through the pedal smooths the edges, and I got lost for hours playing simple arps. Playing my guitar was no different, and just simple riffs through something like one of the reverse reverbs creates otherworldly sounds. Basically, this thing is magic. Another great aspect I discovered, is that when you max out some of the settings, you can really almost play it like an instrument. This is extremely fun when using the unit as an external effect while DJing, but we'll go in depth on that another day.
As I've said a few times now, guitar pedals are such a great way to take your sound to the next level. The Space is such a great tool, but what if you can't afford it or just aren't interested in having a piece of hardware to connect to? Well, you're in luck! Eventide has made a plug-in version called the Blackhole for just such an occasion. I was a bit skeptical on how close it would mimic the actual pedal, but after dialing in the exact same preset on both, I will bet you anything that you will not be able to tell a difference. Maybe the VST sounds a touch more digital, as it's being processed through your computer and such, but it's so minimal that you'd never know which was which. In doing an A & B testing, I forgot which was the real thing.
So final thoughts. Overall, this is an incredible piece of kit. Hardware can become cumbersome, and quickly begin to collect dust if it's not intuitive, but you'll have so much fun using this, that it will always be within an arm's reach. The price is $499, and while that might seem a bit hefty, the sheer capability and flexibility of this unit makes it worth it. But if that's still not enough to convince you, there are dedicated MIDI in/out ports for even more expansion and flexibility, not to mention it also comes in the plug-in version for $199.
Extremely easy and fun to use
Final Score: 10/10
Bonus: Below is my own jam video I made, using my Volca FM, Microbrute, and the Space pedal, as well as some gear that will be reviewed in the near future. Expect more of these in the future.