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Eventide Blackhole review

Extra-terrestrial ambience from one of Eventide's most-loved reverb algorithms – now housed in a standalone pedal

  • $199
Eventide Blackhole
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

As those who own a Space or H9 will tell you, the Blackhole reverb sound is not of this Earth. To have it in a standalone pedal, with knobs to turn plus programmable presets, will have today's seekers of soundscapes all starry-eyed.

Pros

  • Incredible variety of weird and wonderful ambient sounds.
  • Easy to use.
  • You can perform deep edits via the bundled software.
  • Add an expression pedal for more control.
  • Latching or momentary switching.

Cons

  • Quite pricey, but then it is a premium reverb.

What is it?

The chances are you have heard this one before. The Blackhole is based on one of the more outré reverb algorithms in the Eventide galaxy, found in rackmounted units, in plugin form, and on the Space and H9 pedals.

The Blackhole takes this algorithm and houses it in one dedicated enclosure, offering manual controls over each of its parameters, plus the option to access and edit presets via MIDI or perform deeper edits via the Eventide Device Manager (EDM) software.

You can use the Blackhole as a mono or stereo unit. It has a single input that is compatible with both TRS and regular mono instrument jacks, and the unit is configurable for your guitar or line-level signal.

There are five onboard presets, with up to 127 via MIDI or the EDM. The enclosure has six knobs. There is a dedicated dry/wet mix knob, while the other five controls perform dual functions. Part of the Blackhole's appeal lies in its ease of use, forever, and to that end Eventide clearly lists the secondary function under each control.

To access the secondary functions, press down on a small button on the enclosure. An LED lets you know you are adjusting the secondary parameter. It couldn't be much more simple. The tones, however? Well, they're anything but straightforward.

Performance and verdict

It was most definitely the Size knob that Eventide was referring to when it launched the Blackhole, promising that with one turn of a control you could take your tone from "cartoonishly small room to a limitless universe." Aptly named, this is where you stake out how big a space you want your sound to occupy.

The Gravity control, meanwhile, is for defining the sonic character of the reverb's decay. Turn it clockwise for more dense and longer-lasting decay, anticlockwise for a reverse decay – i.e. a weirder decay. Note: you don't have to venture far with the dials until you find yourself in off-the-map reverbs.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Future)

Eventide Space
This contains the Blackhole and a lot more besides. For a one-stop reverb that'll take you from the sublime to the ridiculous, to infinity and beyond, this is unbeatable.

Strymon BigSky
This kind of quality doesn't come cheap, but reverbs don't get much better than this – a superlative stompbox in every way.

Strymon NightSky
The nocturnal sibling to the BigSky, this takes the multi-verb format into similarly astral realms as the Blackhole, offering a smorgasbord of interstellar tones.

You can also dial in up to two seconds of pre-delay. There's a Feedback knob for adding repeats to your reverb trails, with infinite repeats an option, whereupon your reverb is held in suspended animation while more and more sounds build on top of it.

Elsewhere, there are a pair of Lo and Hi filters which behave as you might expect, trimming some low-end mud off the bottom or boosting/cutting high-end sparkle. It affords you excellent control over the light and shade in the reverb.

The resonance is variable. You can take treble beyond brightness into something more artificial and metallic. Rate and Depth controls are on-hand for dialling in some modulation. Used sparingly, and it'll give your reverb a gentle chorus effect, while at more extreme settings you can send it through the floor with a supernova of detuning.

Where you take your sound is really limited by your imagination and what you need musically. Have you already have your conventional hall/plate/spring reverb sorted? If so, that's great news. You won't get any of that here.

Indeed, if reverb is all about adding a sense of space to your tone, the Blackhole is about changing how you think about that space and, indeed, how it can be represented sonically.

Eventide Blackhole

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The more your taste for the esoteric, the more you will love the Blackhole. With just a guitar, you can build soundscapes that shimmer behind your sound and hang in the air like the Northern Lights. It is great to have all this in a pedal. 

Equally, though, the power of the EDM software lies in its simplicity. Here you have all the parameters laid out, making preset-designing a cinch. By the way, the 28 Eventide presets offer a neat entry point into the Blackhole's capabilities.

There are two footswitches with dual modes on each. The bypass switch can be used as a latching or momentary footswitch, the latter very useful for performance and those moments where you want to step on something quick for a transformative effect. The Freeze footswitch is a latching number that takes the last bit of your reverb and holds it there as you play over it. 

Eventide Blackhole

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The Freeze effect can be a little bit sobering to hear the contrast of your dry signal and some intergalactic ambience but there is no doubt that some occasions and ambience settings will make this a very fun feature.

You can also access presets via the footswitches. Press down and hold the Freeze switch and you enter preset mode, where you can scroll through the five then hit the Active switch (bypass, on the left) to choose which one you need. An expression pedal can also be welcomed to the party – just assign it a parameter and it can warp your sound live. Just think what you could do with the Size control.

If you want external control of your presets, simply attach a triple footswitch via the Blackhole's EXP input. You can similarly use the EXP socket to set a tap-tempo for the pre-delay. What's more, this is more than just a guitar effect. Plug your keyboard into it, process your percussion with it, get creative. The sky is the limit, or at least it used to be.

MusicRadar verdict: As those who own a Space or H9 will tell you, the Blackhole reverb sound is not of this Earth. To have it in a standalone pedal, with knobs to turn plus programmable presets, will have today's seekers of soundscapes all starry-eyed.

The web says

"This pedal sounds nothing short of amazing on all form of keyboard instruments – I found that it even turns screaming analogue lead sounds into beautiful textures that can almost be used as pads with a bit of EQ."
MusicTech

Hands-on demos

Reverb

Sweetwater

Eventide

Specifications

  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Reverb pedal
  • FEATURES: Multiple Bypass options (Buffered, Relay, DSP+FX or Kill dry), MIDI, 5 onboard presets, software editor
  • CONTROLS: Mix, Gravity/Delay, Feedback/Q, Size/Depth, Lo/Rate, Hi/Output Level, mono/stereo switch, guitar/line level switch, secondary function button, Active button, Freeze button, Active (Bypass) footswitch, Freeze footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard TRS input (mono or stereo), standard outputs 1 & 2, EXP, USB
  • POWER: Included 9V DC adaptor, 200mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 178 (w) x 121 (d) x 71mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Eventide Audio