50th Flashback #4.3: H910 Harmonizer® —"Minds Blown" - Eventide Audio

50th Flashback #4.3: H910 Harmonizer® —”Minds Blown”

Minds. Blown. Good. Evil.

The H910 has rightly been described as ‘groundbreaking’, ‘iconic’, ‘mind-blowing’, and more. Looking back nearly 50 years, it’s hard to appreciate its impact and so we reached out to some of the earliest users and asked how they remembered their first encounter with pro audio’s first digital effects device.

Here’s a video of the early H910 users describing their first experiences with the ‘mind blowing’ device:

Film: Star Wars

The original User Manual predicted that the Harmonizer would be used to audioize BEMs (Bug Eyed Monsters).

And we were right!!! One of the first films to use Eventide effects was Star Wars. Here’s Eventide co-founder Stephen Katz turning up the H910’s mix while working on R2-D2’s ‘voice’.

Magazine Review

While audio pros and artists quickly discovered and explored the possibilities of this new toy, magazine reviewers took a bit more time to catch on. In an ‘early’ review from late 1976, the reviewers reached the inevitable open-ended conclusion: “We can think of so many applications for this device that space does not permit listing them…the Harmonizer has unexplored potential for both investigating and creating a myriad of possibilities.

Advertising

A Force to be Used for Good & Evil or Unintended Consequences

It seems that mankind has quite the propensity for using every technological advance, every truly new ‘tool’, in ways beneficial, detrimental and banal. The H910 was certainly no exception.

I Love Lucy

In the early ‘70s, the FCC loosened restrictions on how many minutes of commercial time could be aired during a half-hour TV show, and old episodes of shows like I Love Lucy were sped up to free up time for extra ads. Watching Lucy dash around a bit faster wasn’t particularly off-putting, but the raised pitch of her voice (and Ethel’s) was a problem. Broadcasters nationwide soon discovered that the Harmonizer could be used to lower their pitches to normal while playing the tape a few percent faster and they realized that, for today’s equivalent of $10,000, they could run three more minutes of commercials each and every night without subjecting their viewers to cartoonish screeching. The resulting revenue was both a surprise and a boon to our small company.

Taking It to the Extreme

“One of my personal favorite examples of Harmonizer (ab)use is “Duck Stab” by The Residents. Practically every song on this record uses Harmonizer feedback. Enjoy the following super creepy video while listening to the nifty pitch shifting tricks.” —Sean Costello, Valhalla DSP.

The Original Concept: A Keyboard Instrument

We were able to unearth a mint H910 and its optional keyboard and asked Patrick and Donavon to attempt to use it as Tony had first envisioned. Here’s a video clip of their performance, creating vocal harmonies in real-time:

That wraps up the story of the H910. Tune in next time for Flashback #5, the Instant Flanger!


In case you missed our first flashbacks: