Eventide Clock Works H910 Harmonizer - the legend begins
Today, we take digital effects multiprocessors for granted. Whether they’re hard or soft, these jacks-of-all-trades offer up two or more effects, often with the ability to route them in either series or parallel. In the early 70s, most effects were sold à la carte, and the menu offered somewhat slim pickings. Studios were generally stocked with the basics – compressors, EQs, spring or plate reverb, and tape delay. Guitarists had a few more options to go for, but there were too few pedals around to warrant something like today’s pedalboards.
It’s understandable, then, that Eventide’s H910 would make a splash when it was released in 1974. Combining a delay line with high-quality pitchshifting and feedback, this brushed black beauty could do the impossible: create instant, accurate harmonies from any incoming signal. A software-free, logic-based digital process, it was stuffed full of primitive RAM, but much of the machine was, in fact, analogue. This included compander, filter and feedback circuits, resulting in a distinctive sound that you can’t recreate with modern digital pitchshifting alone. The H910 (a nod to the Beatles’ song One
After909) instantly endeared itself to music’s luminaries. Producer Tony Visconti famously declared that it “f**ks with the fabric of time!” and slathered it all over Bowie’s Low, Heroes and
Lodger LPs, most notably using it for the unusual snare sounds heard throughout. The Residents, too, embraced the H910. Their
DuckStab LP is rife with it, most blatantly on the ultra-creepy HelloSkinny, virtually a demo record of what the H910 can do.
Though modern software like Melodyne can repitch vocals with ease, they lack the H910’s quirky character. Thankfully, Eventide themselves offer virtual versions of the H910 that meticulously mimic even the original.
The original of Audio Damage’s Discord4 was inspired by the H910, and the current version still does a fine impersonation, and will only set you back $59.
Tony Visconti joked that the Harmonizer appeared to be doing something unseemly with the fabric of time…