Eventide ClockWorks Legacy Plug-Ins

Jul 1, 2003 12:00 PM, BY KEVIN BECKA

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It would be hard to find anyone who's worked in and around pro studios during the past 30 years who hasn't used an Eventide product. It seems that there has always been some kind of Eventide product currently in vogue, but unless you've collected some choice pieces, the older gear is often relegated to some dusty corner. The result is that you seldom get to play with the audio toys of the past, especially since DAW's rise in popularity. That is, until now. Eventide has given new life to some golden oldies by porting five of its legacy effects for Pro Tools. The new ClockWorks Legacy plug-ins (list price $795) are accurate representations of the Instant Phaser, Instant Flanger, Omnipressor, H910 Harmonizer and the H949 Harmonizer.

The plug-ins operate in either Mac OS 9 or OS X, all at up to 96k, but only the Phaser and Omnipressor operate at up to 192k. Installation and iLock authorization were a breeze, and I was up and running quickly without any problems. Although some of the plugs will require a quick read through the manual to master, the interfaces are intuitive and mouse-friendly, allowing either broad, mouse-only adjustments, or fine-tuned tweaks using the Command key and mouse. The well-written user's guide is handy in a pinch, and Eventide has even included the original owner's manuals; both are in .pdf format. All of the plug-ins checked in at a measly six samples of latency and include a number of importable presets for those who want to see what the creators could come up with.

OMNIPRESSOR (1976-1984)


By far my favorite of the bunch is the Omnipressor, partially because I own the hardware version and mostly because there's nothing like it. It takes compression/expansion to a new level and adds a load of fun in the process. The unit's versatility has allowed me to inject dynamics into lifeless loops, expand my way out of noise problems, put lead guitars right in the listener's face and much more. This is a great utility compressor that can create a wide variety of interesting dynamic effects.

Basic controls include the expected Threshold, Attack and Release, but what's unique here are the Function, Atten Limit and Gain Limit knobs. From full counterclockwise to full clockwise positions, the Function control takes the unit between gating, expansion, limiting, extreme compression and, most interestingly, dynamic reversal, where +10 dB of input results in a -10dB output and vice versa. Atten and Gain LEDs, situated on either side of the meter provide the user with feedback as to what exactly is going on dynamically. Input control is achieved by the Input Cal buttons, resulting in -10 dB, -20 dB or, if both are pushed, -30 dB of attenuation. The Bass button is a switchable highpass filter across the sidechain input (frequency response is not affected), and the three Meter Funct buttons switch the meter between input, relative gain and output readings. Lastly, the Output Cal buttons allow a gain boost of +10 dB, +20 dB or, if both are pushed, +30 dB.

For the test, I took my hardware Omnipressor and put it across a track insert in Pro Tools and called up the plug-in version on a copy of the same track in the Mix window. The track I used was a trashy loop that had the dynamics squashed right out of it. I set both Omnipressors to the same settings and compared them. They were close, but quite different. However, this was more the fault of the hardware box being quirky and old than a mismatch in functionality. After a bit of tweaking, I was able to match the tracks perfectly. I then fiddled with the Attack, Release, Gain and Atten Limit controls and got similar results from both units. Simply put, Eventide has nailed the functions of the Omnipressor in the software version.

INSTANT PHASER (1971-1977)


One of the two mono-in/stereo-out plugs in the bunch is the Instant Phaser. The main controls include Manual, Oscillator, Envelope and Remote. These functions can be accessed manually from their individual sections on the front panel or you can switch between them using the Function button on the far right of the unit. Manual does what you'd expect it to do: It lets you manually control the phasing effect. The Oscillator takes the phase sweep from a slow 0.1 Hz up to a vibrato effect at 10 Hz. The Envelope button is an envelope follower that triggers phasing from the input signal and is controlled by threshold and release knobs. The Remote button — as with any of the other plug-ins that have this ability — is an upgrade from the original version, letting the effect be externally controlled by a MIDI Mod Wheel. The Depth control takes the effect from a 50/50 mix up to 100%. Sonically, the Phaser was fun to play with, although not a knockout by my standards. This is a purely subjective opinion, but phasing as an effect is just not something I'd use or that I've heard of as a retro trend. Of course, your applications may be different.

INSTANT FLANGER (1976-1984)


The Instant Flanger is the second mono-in/stereo-out plug-in that provides a nice range of effects. Controls include Feedback, Bounce, Depth, Oscillator, Manual, Envelope and Remote. Feedback adds output back to the input, giving the user the ability to create interesting, if not out-of-control, effects. Bounce simulates the effect of a servomotor changing speed. The remaining controls operate the same way that they do in the Instant Phaser and can be switched in and out individually. The Depth control is different from the same control found on the Phase. However, here the full left and right positions swap in- and out-of-phase signals to the two channels. When the control is placed in the center (Doppler), there is no flanging effect until the frequency is varied by a control change. I used the Flanger across a number of tracks including guitar, vocals and keyboards and was able to create a nice array of flanging effects, although not as wacky as I'd like.

H910 HARMONIZER (1975-1984)


The original H910 was not only one of the first digital studio tools, but also the first in the Harmonizer line, whose progeny still graces the racks of studios around the globe. It was glitchy and had the ability to drive you to madness, but when set up properly, it provided some degree of usable and interesting time-based effects. Controls include Input Level, Feedback, Manual, Remote and Anti-Feedback. Input level, as you would expect, sets the amount of input signal and has an accompanying LED that lights just short of full-scale. Feedback adds output back into the unit determining the decay times of the delay, and if taken to extremes, can send the unit into oscillation. Manual gives the user the ability to dial in up to one octave of pitch change, either up or down, with the degree of change reflected in the Pitch Ratio window at the center of the box. Anti-Feedback adds some amount of frequency shift to the output signal, serving to decrease room-resonance peaks. The Manual, Anti-Feedback and Remote controls are switched in and out using the three Pitch/Control/Select buttons at the bottom of the unit. The unit doubles as a limited delay-only device, providing various delay times by pushing a combination of the 7.5, 15, 30 and 60 millisecond buttons. This was my least favorite of the plugs, and in my opinion would have limited use because of its glitchy and troublesome nature. There's a reason why Eventide improved on it with the H949: Time marches on.

H949 HARMONIZER (1977-1984)


In 1977, H949 reflected a leap in Harmonizer function and usability with groundbreaking features such as three octaves of pitch-change with micro and random settings, reverse effects and time compression and expansion (when used in conjunction with a tape machine). Another first was the Repeat button that captures and repeats up to 400 ms of non-triggerable audio (Cro-Magnon sampling). The controls are numerous and include Input Level with a five-segment LED meter and pitch, which can be controlled either manually or via MIDI. Compared to the H910, feedback control is greatly expanded: The main signal controls the system output to system input, delay feeds back delay outputs in the Delay/Reversal modes, and a fixed-frequency hi and low EQ provides boost/cut EQ control over the feedback signal. The Function button acts as a Shift key, switching between either the red or green labels below and above the four buttons to the right. The red labels reflect “norm,” which is normal pitch shift that is operated manually, and “extend,” which permits an extension of the length of the audio segment over which pitch change will be affected, up to 400 ms. The last is the Micro Pitch-Change mode, which operates as advertised. The green labels reflect delay, which adds gangable amounts of delays by combining the six fixed-value delay buttons. Random causes the delay to vary between zero and 25 ms at a constant rate and pitch. The pitch is adjustable using the Manual dial. Flange drops the unit into Flanging mode, and Reverse plays the captured audio in reverse. Another nice feature is the Algorithm Select, which gives you the ability to de-glitch the audio, depending on the source material and pitch change used. By using the six dedicated delay buttons on the left of the unit, the H949 can be used in delay-only mode.

This plug is worth exploring. It is easy to get lost in (I mean that in a good way), but just as easy to find unique and usable effects. Of course, unlike the original, whatever you dial up can be saved and recalled for future use.

IN CONCLUSION

Eventide has created a winning bundle of plug-ins that accurately represents classic effects of the '70s and '80s. Each plug, in its own right, is an artful and accurate representation of the original, although some will have limited use. The value of the individual plug-ins is strictly up to the user, as some of the effects have been far surpassed in newer gear, such as the Eventide Orville. The ability to automate the plugs — and on some, include Mod Wheel control — certainly makes the bundle more usable for 21st-century production. The Flanger and H949 were contenders for my favorite, but the one plug that stands strongest is the Omnipressor, which is worth the price of admission itself. Can you tell that I'm a fan? The bundle is certainly unique and would be a nice addition to the plug-in palette of any Pro Tools user.

Eventide, 201/641-1200, www.eventide.com.


Kevin Becka is a technical editor at Mix.

Hearing is believing: Want to try all five plug-ins for free? Download a fully functional, time-limited demo.
www.eventide.com/plugins/plugdemo.html.






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