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Review: Eventide H90 Part 1… How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

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Review: Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

A review of the Eventide H90…

Review - Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

You remember the first time you looked at a smartphone and realized the game had changed? You looked into your bag that had a cell phone (Moto Razr for life, fam!), a camera, an iPod, etc.. and realized that the thing you held in your hand rendered everything else redundant.

Folks, it’s with that in mind that I introduce you to the H90, the next generation of harmonizers from Eventide. And, while I feel the term is overused, the H90 is truly worthy of being called a game changer. 

DISCLAIMER

This isn’t a review on the amazing algorithms that Eventide offers. As the original 52 algos from the H9 are included in the H90, we’re already familiar. Plus, we know the new 10 algos will kill, hands down, and they deserve a separate forthcoming review.

This review is about the new features and how the H90 got me to cut my pedalboard in half and achieve more flexibility with it.

THE PRE-H90 PEDALBOARD – Pedaltrain Novo 16

Review - Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

My pre-H90 board contained two H9s, a handful of analog pedals, a MIDI controller, an expression pedal and a whole lot of cords. The H9 allows you to run effects pre/post in an effects loop, which was handy, although I’ll admit that it got confusing sometimes figuring out WHERE the best placement was. That said, I spent a lot of time wiring everything up to the point where I felt I was the operator on a switchboard back when my folks were growing up and wanted to place a phone call.

 Typical setup was H9 running a distortion into a tube preamp into another H9 for chorus/ambient effects out into the Rose Delay, or the MicroPitch. The MIDI controller was the “stage manager,” using its hours of programming to make sure everything changed at once. It also allowed me the option of momentary switching, so I could turn on effects just for a second or two, without needing to stomp on/off.

All that was about to change.

DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE

Review - Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

First thing you’ll notice about the H90 is its size. Only about 2” wider than the H9 (other measurements are the same), it also supports the use of two algorithms simultaneously. And with the addition of 10 brand new algos (including some iconic additions), you’ve got so much more to dive into and explore. This was that first “aha” moment when I realized that perhaps I didn’t need two H9s anymore. A moment that my wife, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist herself, was eager to capitalize on as she grabbed one off my board. 

ROUTING OPTIONS

The H90 has four ins/outs on the back of the unit, allowing you several external routing options, one of which is two inserts for external pedals. I threw the tube preamp into INSERT ONE and checked into putting it between effects. 

And this is where it got fun. 

Review - Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

The effects in the H90 themselves can be routed in series or parallel. That automatically opens up the options past the two H9s on my board. It also gives you plenty of new options for routing the effect inserts. If you choose parallel, you can choose pre/post effect 1, effect 2, or master. OR, run the insert parallel with the other effects. 

I could set it up in series operation (like the current board) but found out parallel with the tube preamp running post on only the dirt channel was a clearer tone. The distortion was still slamming into the tube pre, but now the chorus sound was running independently. This allowed me a much clearer sound that retained all the character from my old setup but sounded better, cleaner, more precise. 

ALL THE STOMP BUTTONS!

What also helps in the navigation is the Select/Perform buttons on the top. By holding down the Select button for two seconds, the stomp switches turn into your typical bank up/down (hold both to tune) and active/bypass. If you hit the Perform button, you now have access to 6 user-determined commands. Use a tap-tempo, set up different hot switches, turn one of the effects into a momentary pedal, you name it. It even offers you the option of turning on/off the different inserts. 

So many options at your feet that while the H90 is fully MIDI programmable, you might not need a controller for this. It’s going to handle the “stage manager” role just fine.

BANK MODE

Review - Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

Another great organizational feature is Bank Mode. Your program settings are grouped in threes, in a bank. If you don’t need a specific hot switch to press during a song chorus or a momentary switch that you need, you can call up the Bank Mode and then tap between the three programs in the bank, although you can go from Bank Mode to Perform Mode and back with ease.

I didn’t realize how nice this option was until I was in the theatre pit for Footloose. I had three different programs set up and was scrolling back/forth between them. Just doing this was easy enough, but by utilizing the Bank Mode I was able to much more quickly go between the programs with just one tap.

UI FEATURES

At the time of writing, there is no Bluetooth app for Android/iOS (it’s forthcoming) but I did get familiar with the desktop software. I organized my effects, rebuilt my signal chain, played with some of the new algorithms (I’m digging the Weedwacker), and so on. 

The usability of the program is very intuitive and made it easy for me to figure out how to set up banks, save presets, recreate some of my former H9 presets and organize it in a simple way. The H90 has a USB-C out, which is the new standard and I’m happy to see it. 

Even the Quickstart Guide was easy. I can only imagine that Eventide spent an exhaustive amount of time making sure the H90 was more user-friendly than its predecessor (which was still very easy). Within five minutes of reading the guide, I felt I had a firm grasp on how to start using the H90. In fact, I felt like I knew more about the pedal than the H9s that I’d been using for years. 

THE POST-H90 PEDALBOARD – Pedaltrain Metro 16

Review - Eventide H90 Part 1... How I Cut My Pedalboard In Half

It still needs some tweaking, but I have the H90, my tube pre and the Rose Delay (another Eventide masterpiece) running into the Inserts of the H90. I’ve spent enough time with the desktop app to have all my old effect chains running digitally, without the need of extraneous cords or pedals.

That’s why it’s a game-changer. I can do more with less. 

With all the features that the H90 offers, it is much more than just two H9s put together; it is your control center for the entire pedalboard chain, which can change at the press of a footswitch. I’m looking forward to diving into more of the new algorithms (stay tuned!), as I search out new and interesting ways to make sounds. 

The Eventide H90 is available online at sweetwater.com or eventideaudio.com/pedals/h90/

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

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Gear Review: Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass Review…

Throughout the evolution of music, bass players have sought tools to sculpt and enhance their sonic landscapes, and one indispensable ally in this pursuit has been compression. Origin Effects, a name synonymous with premium audio craftsmanship, introduces the Cali76 Compact Bass Compressor, a pedal that pays homage to the legacy of compression and brings forth a new chapter in bass sonic mastery.

As we delve into the world of the Cali76 Compact Bass Compressor, we’ll explore how Origin Effects seamlessly weaves together the heritage of compression and contemporary bass demands, promising a pedal that not only honors the past but propels your bass playing into the future. Join us on this sonic expedition as we dissect the nuances of the Cali76 Compact and uncover the secrets it holds for bass players seeking the perfect blend of vintage warmth and modern versatility.

For Starters, the Cali76 is a studio-grade FET compressor pedal, based on the classic Urei 1176, but with some features optimized for bass guitar. For those of you who are not familiar with it, a FET (Field Effect Transistor) compressor is essentially a solid-state tube compressor emulation that allows for fast and precise control over the attack and the release parameters; allows for extreme compression ratios; and finally adds the typical 1176 color and character to the sound.

Together with the common controls we see in most compressor pedals – Ratio, Attack/Release, input (just like the original 1176, the threshold in this pedal is fixed), and output (makeup gain). The Cali76 offers two more controls dedicated to us bass players.

A Dry control – This allows us to mix in our dry, uncompressed signal to the pedal output. This is great for when we want to add back some of our playing dynamics to the compressed sound or for when you want some volume back in situations where the compression starts taking away the volume.

A High Pass Filter control – Low frequencies on a bass guitar signal normally overwhelm compressors. This high pass filter allows the compressor to only react to higher frequencies, which helps preserve the natural dynamics of our playing while keeping the low end intact.

Metering on this pedal can be a bit hard to get used to at first. There’s a single LED light on the pedal, that not only serves as an On/Off light, but it’s also our meter. It glows red when no compression is applied and orange for active compression. The brighter the light, the greater the amount of gain reduction. Yellow signifies that the gain reduction reached 27dB and maximum reduction occurs around 38 dB.

In practical terms, it’s all about working with the input and the LED to find the sweet spot (turn the input to zero, start playing and slowly increase the input level until you start seeing the LED glowing orange, which means there’s reduction going on).

With 6 highly interactive knob controls, this pedal implies some degree of compressor knowledge and also some amount of tweaking and experimentation to find the perfect settings. The good news is that it is very hard to make this pedal sound bad…

It can go from very subtle compression settings to very extreme, and it can do everything in between. Also, the team at Origin has been kind enough to add a couple of sample settings in the manual to get players started and to help us understand better how the pedal works.

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Dynamic Control is a setting that provides natural compression, balancing dynamics between various playing techniques. It is a subtle compression that will work almost out of the box almost all the time. Having a medium setting for the High Pass Filter ensures an honest translation of the lower string dynamics.

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Parallel compression is a popular studio technique, where both compressed and natural signals are blended. We get the sound and feel of hard compression while retaining the natural playing dynamics.

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Percussive, lively & Fat is a setting that uses a slower attack time to accentuate the start of any note. Then using a fast release allows the compressor to recover between notes so that the phrases sound more percussive. Ideal for slapping and other percussive techniques.

Finally, I would like to mention the classic 1176 tonal coloration. It’s not a secret that engineers all around would sometimes use the 1176 compressor, without applying any compression, just to get the tonal coloration into the instrument sound.

And the Cali76 compressor is no different, it has such a rich, warm, and full coloration that’s super pleasing to the ear and makes you want to have it ON all the time. So be aware, that if you want a transparent compressor, this pedal is not for you!

All in all, it is easy to understand why this pedal became a favorite of so many bass players around the world. The Cali76 Compact stands as a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship and thoughtful engineering that Origin Effects is renowned for. It seamlessly navigates through the rich history of compression, offering bass players a gateway to the soulful resonance of the past while empowering them to sculpt a contemporary sonic future.

Whether you’re a seasoned bass maestro or a budding virtuoso, the Cali76 Compact invites you to embark on a sonic journey where every note is held in a delicate balance between tradition and innovation. As we bid farewell to our exploration, we do so with the realization that the Cali76 Compact is more than just a pedal; it’s a sonic companion that elevates the artistry of bass playing

For more information, visit online at origineffects.com

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Gear Reviews

Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass Review

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Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass Review

Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass Review…

Not long ago, I did a review of the Spector NS Dimension HP 5 Bass and I have just been given the honor and privilege of reviewing the Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass. I have to say, another great bass from Spector that is hard to put down! While there are some similarities between both basses, there are also some noticeable differences which is why I believe having both is essential to any bass arsenal.

Spector, widely used by many rock and metal bassists like Ian Hill, Alex Webster, Colin Edwin, Doug Wimbish, and many more, just to name a few, has a long-standing in these genres. Well, that’s about to change! The bass I used for the review, didn’t see any of those genres, matter of fact, I used it on a few classic country gigs and at church too! However, when at home in the studio, I let the funk out. The NS Ethos HP 4 Bass is an all-around great bass for any genre and will not disappoint.

Let’s get into the specs about the bass, and here we will find the differences between the HP 5 Bass and the HP 4.

Forget that one is a 5 string, while the other is a 4, while that is a difference, that’s not one that I feel needs to be noted as both models are available as 4 and 5 strings. The Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass has a 34” scale, 24 fret, 3 piece maple neck through construction with solid alder wings, ebony fingerboard along with centered and side dots and the 12th fret Spector logo inlay with a brass nut.

While the pickups are different as the NS Dimension HP 5 Bass uses the EMG 45DC and the NS Ethos HP 4 Bass sports the EMG 35DC pickups, they are the same pickup configurations, the difference being, one for 4 string, the other for 5 string. The electronics are the same, consisting of a Darkglass Tone Capsule preamp which consists of +-12dB @70Hz for Bass, +-12dB @500Hz for Mids, and +-12dB @2.8kHz for Hi Mids. Controls for Spector NS Dimension HP 5 Bass consist of Master Volume, Blend, Bass, Mid, and Hi Mid controls. The electronics are powered by a 9-volt battery.

The bridge is a Hi-Mass locking bridge with intonation screws and the tuners are sealed die-cast. All hardware is black. Same as the Spector NS Dimension HP 5 Bass, the HP 4 Bass is available in 4 different finishes, White Sparkle Gloss, Gunmetal Gloss, Plum Crazy Gloss & Black Gloss. The bass also comes with a very nice and well-padded gig bag.

Check out the Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass at a Spector Music Retailer today near you or visit online at spectorbass.com/product/ns-ethos-hp-4/

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Gear Reviews

Review: Italia Leather Straps

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Review: Italia Leather Straps

Italia Leather Straps…

Whenever I get a new bass, I like to get a new strap to christen it and I also like to find one that is “color coordinated” to my new instrument. I recently had a 6-string fretless bass created by a local luthier named Frank Brocklehurst, which started my search for a new strap.

There are a few points that I always look for when searching for a new strap. 

1-Comfort 
2-Width
3-Great color
4-Price

My most recent quest put me in touch with “Italia Leather Straps.” Italia has been in business in California for about 20 years and has been selling factory direct for the past 18 years.

When you order your strap it begins its “made to order” build process and after shipping more than 50,000 straps they certainly have it well in hand!

To answer my 4 questions regarding comfort, Italia uses some of the most comfortable and luxurious leather in a wide variety of colors. I was able to match almost perfectly the color of my bass and the color of the leather.

You can order it in either a 2.5” or 4” width as well as a standard and long model for tall players. I prefer the 4” for all of my basses. 

I received my strap and I must tell you, the leather was soft, supple, and truly comfortable when I attached it to my bass.

I must commend Italia Leather Straps for their attention to detail and beautiful selection of leather. I would say that when you go looking for a new strap, these guys should be on your shortlist.

Call or visit Italia Leather Straps online:
831-324-4277
www.italiastraps.com

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Bass Videos

Review: The Fuchs FBT-700 Bass Amps

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Review: The Fuchs FBT-300 and FBT-700 Bass Amps

Fuchs FBT-700 Bass Amps…

Much like our original ODS amps were initially inspired by the legendary Dumble amps, the new Fuchs FBS-1 bass amps have found their inspiration from the iconic Walter Woods © bass amps, but with Andy’s own enhancements.

Andy tapped his years of experience as a working musician, as well as servicing and tweaking guitar and bass amps for many famous clients as diverse as Carlos Santana through jammers like Jimmy Herring, including jazz legends like Dave Stryker for over 40 years as inspiration for our new bass amps. Fuchs’ 20-year list of reviews and endorsers is truly impressive to say the least.

Not unlike the iconic Walter Woods © amps the FBS-300 and FBS-700 amps are designed for maximum power at minimal size and weight. For years, the rare and coveted Woods amps have built a following amongst industry professionals. They were literally the first switch mode class-D style lightweight bass amps ever. Due to Walter being reclusive and now retired, these amps found their way to Andy’s shop to be repaired. While servicing them Andy was able to reverse engineer the preamp and power supply. Mated to a modern lightweight ICE power digital power module we have produced an amp that Woods owners agree, is equal (if not better) than their predecessors.

The FBS-1 bass amps (and our FBT tube bass amps) share identical panels and chassis and are available in 300 and 700-watt models, they feature a solid-state preamp inspired by the infamous Walter Woods © amps, but with improvements like a steep-slope subsonic filter and a DI output using high-speed audiophile op amps and a regulated power supply. The DI output is electrically balanced pre/post switch, ground lift, DI Phase, and a global mute switch.

Small and light, (downright diminutive) at less than 5-lbs and 12 x 3 x 9, they are loud and clean. Want some dirt? Raise the input gain and lower the master volume. Want total clean, lower the input gain and raise the master. They are super easy to operate, and the FBS-1  amps will easily fit in a gig bag, run ice-cold, and feature a well-thought-out, simple configuration for the working musician. A Fuchs gig bag designed for all models is coming soon.

These amps feature an input gain control allowing both passive and active bass use, Baxandall (shelving eq) high and low controls, a parametric rotary midrange control with level and frequency control and an output master volume. With the midrange pot in the ‘0’ position the circuit is flat. In this mode the bass and treble pots emulate the classic Woods and B-15 style amps we know and love. Use the mid circuit for boost and cut of up to 20 db at a fully adjustable frequency.

All models use the industry-standard Ice power modules, which are known for their rock-solid reliability and excellent cool-running, audio performance. These amps feature a buffered patch loop between the preamp and power amp. All amps offer worldwide automatic line voltage selection. Wherever you are, they automatically set their own line voltage. All amps are CE and RoHs compliant.

FBT-300 6 lbs 12 x 3 x 9 chassis. FBT-700 6 lbs 12 x 3 x 9 chassis.

FBT-300: 300W at 1% THD+N, 4Ohm • 260W at 0.1% THD+N, 4Ohm • 380W at 10% THD+N, 4Ohm • 450W at 1% THD+N, 2.7Ohm (Approximately ½ half this value at 8-ohms).

For more information, visit online at fuchsaudiotechnology.com

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Bass Videos

Review: Ampeg V12 Bass Amp & VB 115 Cab

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Review: Ampeg V12 Bass Amp & VB 115 Cab

A video review of the Ampeg V12 Bass Amp & VB-115 Cab from the new Venture Series.

For more on the Venture series, visit online at ampeg.com

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