Eventide has a 30-year history manufacturing state-of-the-art processors for the pro audio industry. What has set them apart over the years is the sheer horsepower of their equipment. Programming features, for instance, often allow users to build their own DSP algorithms from the ground up. This technology is a different ball game than simple preset editing. However, many users do not need this much power nor do they have the inclination to delve that deeply – not to mention the cost of such equipment.
According to Eventide, many people have requested a compact, affordable effects Harmonizer. The company listened, and the result is the stylish Eventide Eclipse ($2,995).
Unlike previous Eventide processors, the Eclipse is a one-rackspace box. While the interface has been streamlined, there is no compromise in audio quality. The Eclipse sports a dual-processor architecture, a signal-to-noise ratio exceeding 104 dB, 24-bit digital conversion and up to 96 kHz sampling rate (unfortunately, not for all programs). In perspective, the unit is 10 times more powerful than the company’s venerable H3000, yet is priced in the upper project studio range.
The front panel has an attractive heavy-gauge metal faceplate. Standard features include: seven-step level meters, sample rate indicators, a generous display screen with corresponding soft keys, a very smooth data knob, tap tempo button, CompactFlash memory slot, a 15-button numeric keypad and several other parameter/edit/setup buttons. Also interesting is an auto-dim function that reduces the brightness of the display after a user-defined time period. All in all, the front panel has a simple and elegant design that is easy to navigate.
Flipping the box around displays the back panel. The Eclipse offers a plethora of connections to cover most any circumstance. Digital I/O includes S/PDIF, AES/EBU and ADAT lightpipe; analog I/O come balanced and unbalanced. Other features include word clock in and out; three standard MIDI ports and foot pedal jacks for real-time MIDI control; and an RS232 serial port to transfer information to and from a computer (or another Eclipse).
The Eclipse’s input connectors may be configured in mono or discrete stereo. In the case of mono, either input will route to both DSP channels. This box also offers input and output level metering at eight different signal path locations. In addition, the meter’s decay time can be changed from 0.1 to 10 seconds and the hold time set from 0.1 to 20 seconds. As for optimizing the signal level, Eventide provides five different points to adjust the gain structure. This adds up to a lot of control when monitoring and adjusting the system’s analog and digital signal flow. One thing I did notice, the Eclipse is sensitive to any transient spikes in the audio. Therefore, having this much control is helpful in taming occasional overloads.
Within the DSP engine are two separate effects processors. These may be connected in five ways. Feeding a chorus into a reverb, for example, would use Series mode. As the name implies, one effect is routed directly into the other. In Parallel, the two stereo effects are summed together at the same time. In other words, both engines are fed simultaneously. With Dual mode, each effects block takes its input from a single source and the two are summed at the output. This might be handy for two vocal tracks that use the same reverb effect. Dual Mono is like Dual mode, however the outputs are kept separate. Plug a guitar into one input and the voice into the other and assign different effects. The last mode, stereo Xfade, enables a smooth glitch-free transition from one program to another. It is ideal for changing effects within a piece of music.
As for editing, the Eclipse’s hot keys provide access to eight of the most common parameters in each program; the user may customize these. For extensive editing, Parameter mode accesses all available parameters within the program. While not as comprehensive as other “high-end” Eventide processors, the Eclipse’s editing options will more than accommodate the vast majority of users. Also worthy of note, this box has extensive modulation routings. Up to 16 parameters per program can function as a modulation source or destination. For instance, select an LFO to modulate the low-pass filter cut-off frequency. Or maybe add a hot key to control the wet/dry mix of the effect. Believe me, the possibilities seem endless!
Another useful feature is the Tap Tempo button. The user manual states, “The Eclipse’s tempo feature is your ticket to a good time… Almost all the time-based parameters (LFO, rates, delay times, etc.) in the Eclipse are synchronized to its tempo.” In addition to the Tap button, tempos may be controlled by foot switches, an external MIDI clock or MIDI continuous controllers. To check the currently assigned tempo, just hit the Tap button once.
Building programs in the Eclipse is easy. Eventide provides 100 algorithms to start with (these reside in presets 100-199). Choose one or two algorithms, pick a DSP connection, assign the hot keys and tweak to your heart’s content. That’s it! The choice of algorithms is extensive. There are 20 delays, 12 pitch shifters, seven reverbs and other categories such as dynamics, filters, preamp emulations, combinations and utilities. Once these algorithms are sculpted into programs, they cover a lot of territory. Expect to find vibratos, backwards delays, gates, tremolos, compression, multipitch shifting, panning, loops and much more. In addition, there are handy utility presets such as a 440 kHz oscillator tone, a guitar tuner and dither options. Also cool is a search function to sort the Eclipse’s programs based on various criteria within 10 “user groups.”
The reverbs in this box are wonderful. So are the pitch shifters (of course), delays, filters and most of the other effects. I was least impressed with the distortion, fuzz and overdrive. These are clearly aimed at the guitar market (yes, I am a guitarist). While there are many utilitarian effects, expect to find esoteric presets like Aliens, BlackHole, Aarrhh, EchospaceOfGod and AcidReign. Eventide also includes popular programs from its other processors. How can you say no to a greatest-hits collection from the H3000, DSP 4000, DSP 7000 and the top-of-the-line Orville?
The Eclipse is sure to please most any audio connoisseur. Users who especially like the Lexicon PCM 81 and TC Electronic FireworX will gravitate to it like fish to water. This is one processor that is not boring. I found its programs worked equally well on acoustic and electronic instruments, voice, effects and creative sound design. However, I rarely used any preset without editing it first. Sonically, the Eclipse has a very smooth, rich, warm sound. And it is bound to improve any audio signal thrown at it.
Panasonic DA7 digital board; True Systems Precision 8 mic preamp; Neumann 184 mics; Audio-Technica 4050 mic; Kurzweil K2500; Oberheim Matrix 12; Novation Nova; Taylor and Steinberger guitars; Genelec 1031 monitors; Sony PCM-R500 DAT; Pro Tools Mix system; Lava Lamp.