Eventide PitchFactor Harmonizer Pedal
Originally published in Guitar World, September 2009
If you've always lusted for the inimitable pitch-shifting effects of an
Eventide Harmonizer but couldn’t afford one, the PitchFactor is the pedal you’ve been waiting for.
For many years Eventide processors were the exclusive dominion of the rich and famous, offering breathtaking sounds at outrageous prices that only pros could afford. With the introduction of Eventide’s Factor Series stomp boxes in 2007, the company’s A-list studioquality effects became more accessible to capital-challenged musicians. The TimeFactor and ModFactor are cool and extremely useful processors, but the product most musicians have been waiting for is the one that features Eventide’s legendary Harmonizer effects, which are like no other pitchshifting effects on the market.
With the introduction of Eventide’s PitchFactor Harmonizer pedal, the wait is finally over. The PitchFactor packs 10 of Eventide’s best and most popular pitch-based effects into a compact, affordable stomp box that combines studio-quality sound and the power of a full-size rack-mounted processor with live-performance flexibility.
The PitchFactor has the same basic format and layout as the TimeFactor and ModFactor pedals, with three footswitches, 11 control knobs and a large, scrolling “billboard” dot-matrix display in a box that’s the size of a small book. The footswitches perform a variety of functions that correspond to the mode and effect that is selected, such as bypass, various effect functions, accessing banks and presets, and tap tempo. The knobs provide instant access to parameters like dry/wet mix, pitch ratio, delay, feedback, modulation and tempo. The rear panel has 1/4-inch stereo input and stereo output jacks, input and output level switches (for matching levels of gear plugged into the pedal), an aux switch, expression pedal jacks and a USB input for downloading software upgrades. MIDI in and out/thru jacks are located on the side. (USB is class compliant and can also be used as a MIDI interface for your computer.)
The PitchFactor has 10 basic types of effects: Diatonic (two independent pitch shifters for three-part harmonies), Quadravox (four pitch-shifted voices), HarModulator (two chromatic pitch shifters with modulation, including a preset that recreates the setting from Steve Vai’s “Ballerina 12/24”), MicroPitch (fine-resolution pitch shift for fat, chorus-like effects), H910/H949 (emulates Eventide’s classic Harmonizer units), PitchFlex (a “whammy”-style effect), Octaver (simultaneous -1 and -2 octave pitch shift with optional fuzz), Crystals (twin-reverse pitch shift with delay and reverb), HarPeggiator (a 16-step pitch and rhythm sequencer à la the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”) and Synthonizer (analog synth-like tones). The pedal’s memory has room for 100 modified presets, which are saved in 50 banks of two presets.
Professional features not commonly found on stomp boxes, like selectable bypass types and peak LED indicators, make it easy to incorporate the PitchFactor into any live or studio setup and help you maintain optimal sound quality. A built-in tuning function is also included, eliminating the need for a tuner in your pedalboard.
The PitchFactor's effects are, in a word, spectacular. Eventide’s rackmount Harmonizers are esteemed for their exceptionally fast tracking and incredibly accurate, natural-sounding pitch effects, and this pedal lives up to those units’ reputations. The Diatonic and Quadravox effects sound almost indistinguishable from real multitracked guitar harmonies, and the Crystals and HarPeggiator effects have that elusive “expensive” quality that defined the signature tones of many well-known pro guitarists that had H3000 Harmonizers in their racks. The Octaver creates convincing baritone and bass sounds, and the HarModulator and Synthonizer effects offer almost endless creative inspiration for players that want to make their guitars sound like keyboards.
Programming even complex effects is surprisingly simple, thanks to the abundance of front-panel knobs and a well-written user manual. The scrolling billboard-style display is very easy to see onstage, but the info that it displays—effect type, bank and so on—is pretty basic. The display cannot be programmed to save preset names, so you’ll need to memorize details, like the bank and preset numbers for favorite effects and specific presets that you use for particular songs in your set. An external MIDI foot controller is highly recommended for players who like to improvise and need fast access to random presets during live performance. The pedal lets you limit the amount of banks that are active, allowing you to group commonly used effects together and access all of them quickly instead of scrolling through all 100 presets. Scrolling Banks via the encoder knob will be available in a new software release. The software also adds new scales for the intelligent pitch-shifting effects.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you've always lusted for the inimitable pitch-shifting effects of an Eventide Harmonizer but couldn’t afford one, the PitchFactor is the pedal you’ve been waiting for. Even better, it’s much easier and more convenient to use in live performance than a rack processor, and simple to program.
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