Meris has been on an awe inspiring profitable streak since their breakthrough debut in the pedal world solely two brief years ago. They launched a fast collection of hits with the Ottobit Jr., Mercury7, and Polymoon, resulting in an accolade for being crowned the Greatest New Pedal Builder of 2017. And as if that trio of stunners wasn’t sufficient, Meris followed up with the Enzo, a multi-voice guitar synthesizer that was extensively considered the most effective pedals released in 2018. Now they’ve released the Hedra, a “3-Voice Rhythmic Pitch Shifter” that’s arguably probably the most formidable and superior pedal concept the SoCal based mostly builder has bestowed upon the world to date.
Hedra draws some obvious comparisons to sure pieces of harmonizing rack gear, most notably the basic H3000 Harmonizer from Eventide. And I might easily listing off a half dozen or so notable pedals launched through the years that showcase commendable makes an attempt at harmonizing and pitch-shifting that have been spectacular at the time when these merchandise have been initially launched, pedals that at the moment are eclipsed by the realms of risk provided by Hedra.
As a very long time fan of pitch-shifting pedals, I’ve developed very high requirements for certain issues I anticipate to see in a top quality trendy pitch-shifter. I’ll cover those issues as we go, nevertheless it’s also essential to emphasise that Hedra is a singular pedal in its personal proper that also needs to be approached with a recent perspective. In the event you’ve by no means actually performed a pitch-shifter earlier than, you’ll be at the forefront of latest frontiers if you plug into Hedra. However even musicians with expertise utilizing pitch results will benefit from approaching Hedra with the child-like marvel of discovering one thing new for the first time.
Rhythm & Harmony
Hedra’s surface presentation focuses on its rhythmic pitch-shifting talents. The pedal has a dedicated Tap foot-switch that allows you to tap in a delay time, setting the foundational rhythm for the pedal’s sequence of delayed Pitch voices. The 3 dedicated Pitch knobs are your means for choosing totally different pitch intervals in your delayed voicings. Urgent the Alt button whereas turning any of these 3 knobs lets you select a voice’s respective delay Time Division. This can be a pretty straightforward and efficient association for shortly producing a sequence of as much as Four voices (together with your dry instrument voicing).
You possibly can select any of 12 keys for clever harmonies or set the Key to Chromatic for static harmonies. There are also 7 Scale settings out there as an “Alt” parameter behind the Key knob. You possibly can select from Main, Minor, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, Double Harmonic, Lydian Pentatonic, and Minor Pentatonic. And of course you may also entry any of the other 5 modes of the key scale in addition to the Ionian (major) and Aeolian (minor) modes depending on which Key you choose; the identical goes for accessing the Main Pentatonic scale through the use of the Minor Pentatonic scale with a Key setting 3 semitones under the actual key you’re enjoying in. If you already have Music Concept 101 information of scales and intervals, you’ll intuitively see many ways to stretch beyond the options which might be introduced. However Hedra is straightforward sufficient to make use of that even when you have limited information of scales and modes, you’ll be able to simply set the Key to the basis notice you’re enjoying in and choose a primary Minor or Major scale and still have the ability to discover all types of cool harmonized sounds by simply noodling around on the fretboard while sticking to enjoying notes that sound good to your ears. Music concept novices will possible study a thing or two alongside the best way.
Basic Chromatic Harmonizing
The Chromatic Key choice will get special point out because it provides you many choices for dialing in basic non-intelligent harmonized effects heard through the years.
Right here’s the best way to dial in 3 basic harmonized sounds from three notable songs utilizing Hedra with the Key knob set to Chromatic:
Steve Vai – Ballerina 12/24
Dial in Pitch 1 to a serious sixth (+9 semitones) at simply between the 5 & 7 on the dial. Set Pitch 2 to a fourth (+5 semitones) in between the three & Four setting. Set Pitch 1 to a ¼ observe Time Division and Pitch 2 to a ½ observe. (Depart Pitch three set to Off.) Set the Combine to three o’clock, and tap in a tempo just a little over 100bpm. There you go! You’ll notice that Hedra responds surprisingly nicely when enjoying sections of this music that have multiple notes ringing out, rivaling the tracking of the original gear the music was created with. (I’ll talk about Hedra’s polyphonic talents in detail in a second.)
Rage Towards the Machine – Know Your Enemy (intro & solo)
To realize a comparable model of Tom Morello’s pitch-shifted guitar sound from this RATM basic, use solely the Pitch 1 voice set to a perfect Fifth (+7 semitones) which is straightforward to dial in by setting the knob to level to 5. Use the Pitch 1 knob’s Alt perform to set the Time Division to minimum. Maintain the Mix around 3 o’clock. You now have a harmonized 5th that has extremely low latency, resounding instantaneously together with your dry guitar signal.
Steve Vai – The Animal (major riff)
Here’s easy methods to achieve another basic Steve Vai sound from Ardour and Warfare. For those who take the Know Your Enemy setting from above and drop Pitch 1 right down to a -Fifth under (-7 semitones), you will get an excellent heavy sound from single notes that’ll let you pull off an incredible interpretation of Steve Vai’s primary riff from The Animal. I’ve learn conflicting studies about how Steve initially achieved the sound. Some say he recorded a 7 string guitar individually to get the -5th layer. Hedra, nevertheless, can simply add this harmony whereas being incredibly aware of all of the nuances of guitar enjoying, including vibrato and pinch harmonics. And talking of that, let’s speak more about Hedra’s delicate capabilities…
Immediacy & Responsiveness
There are a number of areas the place pitch-shifters are sometimes judged with regards to how nicely they produce harmonies and/or change the pitch of a guitar sign. Basic monitoring and latency are widespread considerations, and how properly a pitch-shifter responds to monophonic and polyphonic source materials is one other. Let’s break down every of those features.
The flagship concept of the Hedra is its rhythmic pitch-shifting prospects, so delaying the 3 Pitch voices is what you’ll in all probability principally be experimenting with. However in case you set the Time Division of your Pitch voice(s) to minimal, you’ll achieve the least attainable delay for near prompt harmonies that may be heard alongside your dry guitar. This lets you create 2 to 4 part harmonies (“guitarmonies” anybody?) in any key, a commendable feat that surpasses another pitch-shifter pedal used for comparable functions. And in case you crank the Mix in order that only your wet sign is heard, you should use a single Pitch voice to vary the tuning of your guitar. I can confidently report that latency is a non-issue for harmonizing purposes and that Hedra is on par with the perfect in school for low-latency pitch-shifting.
The low-latency performance of Hedra goes hand-in-hand with its excellent tracking. In any case, the pedal should monitor exceptionally nicely to realize a near-zero latency response. But Hedra also appears to surpass its friends when it comes to how properly it could actually monitor the nuances of guitar enjoying. For instance, when you set Key to Chromatic, use one Pitch voice to re-tune your guitar, and crank the Combine to completely wet, you possibly can hit a observe and apply vibrato to listen to how incredibly properly Hedra tracks every delicate movement of your fretting hand. Then attempt applying vibrato when using all three voices together with your dry sign and have your thoughts blown another time at how properly it responds. And in the event you kick on some distortion and hit a ripping pinch harmonic, you’ll be shocked yet again that it could possibly re-pitch your guitar whenever you’re “poppin’ squealies”, something I’ve never heard another pitch-shifter pedal do nicely at all.
Now when using as much as 3 further harmonies, it’ll often make the most sense to play principally monophonic melodies so that each one the blooming harmonies will retain a more nice chordal voicing based mostly on the basis observe, but Hedra can still monitor some polyphonic enjoying pretty properly. In case you stick with enjoying intervals like octaves, 4ths, 5ths, and perhaps 9ths, you’ll be able to often get away with letting a number of notes ring out with out making Hedra’s monitoring get jittery. A great example of that is making an attempt the Ballerina 12/24 setting I mentioned above to hear how nicely Hedra can monitor when both 5ths or 9ths are ringing out. It’s very impressive. Yes, should you let 3rds and different intervals ring out together with your root notice, things can get jittery, however that is widespread with pitch-shifters. Luckily, Hedra’s “intelligent” harmonizing will let you generate those less simply tracked intervals from single notes. And that is the place having 4 complete voices and many ways to make use of them (either in unison together with your dry notes or delayed) is useful.
It must be apparent by now that Hedra’s clever pitch-shifting is extraordinarily powerful, letting you create cascading flurries of notes from single word melodies that retain the tonal signature of no matter Key and Scale you’re enjoying in. However let’s speak more concerning the precision with which Hedra accomplishes this as it relates to a singular facet of the pedal.
The Pitch Correction Alt choice behind the Micro Tune knob allows you to lock in the harmonized pitches both loosely or tightly. This facet is primarily for deciding how the pedal will respond if you bend notes, apply vibrato, or in case your guitar drifts barely out of tune. You’ll be able to have the pedal add harmonies in relation to the precise pitch you’re enjoying, which means you possibly can bend notes and have Hedra’s Pitch voices even be offset in pitch, or you possibly can have the voices rigidly lock in tune for precise harmonization. Should you bend notes with Strict Correction, you’ll hear them audibly leap to the subsequent pitch when your bent string pitch crosses the mid-point threshold in the direction of the subsequent semitone. All 3 Pitch Correction choices are value exploring depending on what a state of affairs calls for, letting you adapt the pedal’s response to your enjoying type. For fun, making an attempt setting it to Strict Correction, crank the Mix to completely moist, and use one Pitch voice with any Key and Scale; play a solo using any random notes and marvel at how each observe you hit sounds completely in key. It’s like Auto-Tune for guitar.
Except for the Pitch Correction options, there’s additionally a Pitch Glide perform that may let your Pitch voices “glide” to their harmonized pitch. This can be used to create wild pitch risers and clean legato like sounds. It’s also cool for experimental sounds and cinematic textures.
The dedicated Micro Tune knob detunes all three voices simultaneously. You need to use this to realize some wonderful studio fashion detuning results by setting a number of of the Pitch knobs to the basis interval with minimal Time Division and growing the Micro Tune to round 9 o’clock. It sounds corresponding to sounds associated with refrain modulation solely with out the modulation of pitch from an LFO. It’s a singular and sought after widening effect that few pedals actually execute nicely. The detuning also can get fairly warbly for those who crank up the Micro Tune knob, a enjoyable take on vibrato-like “seasick” sounds. However the extra delicate settings are what most users will gravitate in the direction of for adding a slightly more lush quality to the general sound. And I virtually didn’t think about this until watching Meris’ personal product vid again, however the detuning can be utilized with the onboard delays for a satisfying delay sound that recollects modulated type delay results. And speaking of delays…
Hedra has several options for delaying your Pitch voices, and these features shine once you need to showcase Hedra as the first impact in your chain when the pedal is activated. The Collection Delay choice adds a straight-forward delay with as much as 520mS of delay time. The Collection Delay + Pitch Suggestions mode is probably the most excessive setting, biking your pitched sign again into the audio path to be re-pitched many times. Assume spiraling fractal insanity; it will probably get fairly intense. Dual Delay mode has up to 260mS of delay time and creates a full stereo spread with the Pitch 1, Pitch 2, and Pitch 3 voices panned arduous left, middle, and arduous right, respectively. The Dual Delay + Cross Feedback mode sends the left and right delays throughout the stereo subject for an even more multi-dimensional delay sound. Simply describing these options doesn’t do justice to the extra versatility they offer, and I highly advocate exploring these points to actually expertise Hedra’s potential. Also, you’ll want to seek the advice of the guide sign movement diagrams to help wrap your head round visualizing how the delay choices impression your sound.
External Pitch Control
Like Meris’ other pedals, Hedra helps management of its numerous parameters and options by way of MIDI. However there’s another mind-bending surprise inside this pedal. Hedra responds to MIDI Observe On & Off messages, which means you’ll be able to primarily play your guitar with a keyboard or by sending Hedra sequences of MIDI notes from a DAW or sequencer. My first check was to ship Hedra a MIDI file of a Bach harpsichord concerto. I was shocked that I might feed a single sustaining synth word from the Meris Enzo into Hedra and generate three voices (with the Mix absolutely moist) to play the main themes of the concerto notice for word. Then I obtained extra formidable and performed a single notice rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir on guitar with Hedra providing a further 3 voices to create 4-part harmonies. There are some wild options right here. You would have your reside keyboardist take over your guitar or perhaps automate sequences of background melodies and harmonies to accompany your performed guitar elements.
Before we wrap up… I never mentioned “Whammy” type effects, however Hedra can do these, too. Simply use an expression pedal or the MIDI expression choice and shift the pitch from any chosen interval to another. It’s very best to make use of one Pitch voice with the Mix absolutely wet. This can let you get those basic +1 or +2 octave pitch bends. Use the Pitch Smoothing choice for a gliding pitch-shift. With Pitch Smoothing turned off you’ll be able to step by way of intervals to realize an instantaneous pitch-shift to the acute setting whenever you transfer the pedal shortly to the toe position. When you move it slowly, you’ll be able to step by way of intervals of a scale for a guide arpeggiation impact. And sure, you possibly can can use 3 Pitch voices directly for a triple “Whammy” effect or to make your root observe bloom into a chordal triad (when Mix is absolutely moist) or 4-note chord (together with your dry sign blended in). Numerous great prospects right here.
The Final Pitch-Shifter?
After spending time diving in deep with Hedra, it’s apparent that this pedal has undoubtedly raised the bar in terms of clever harmonizing and pitch-shifting, representing a new paradigm on this class of effects. The pedal’s greatness shouldn’t be solely because of the new issues it brings to the table however in how nicely it ties all its features together in what seems to be probably the most powerful self-contained pitch-shifter pedal any builder has released thus far.
In looking for something to criticize, Hedra shares two minor considerations I’ve with other Meris pedals: reliance on external hardware for preset selection and unlabeled Alt parameters. However since Hedra is a professional degree pedal that’s perfect for musicians who have a MIDI managed rig (or at the very least don’t mind making room on their pedalboard for the Meris Preset Change), utilizing external hardware for preset choice may be most popular anyway for customers who plan to take advantage of Hedra’s myriad choices. And Hedra’s Alt features are pretty straightforward to remember though you’ll have to blindly feel out a few of the Time Division settings and re-check the guide to see where the Scale options are situated. Also, whereas the output degree does remain pretty constant when pushing up the Mix, I do nonetheless wish there was no less than an non-compulsory MIDI parameter to set the general output degree. Utilizing three additional voices, particularly root notes, can improve the overall volume degree with no method to compensate for this apart from simply preserving the Mix set low. Fortunately, this hasn’t actually hindered my enjoyment of the pedal in use. So whereas I still dream about expanded MIDI parameters on this and other Meris pedals, there’s nothing actually missing that Hedra needs to be a considerably better pedal. Hedra appears to be Meris’ most full pedal, feature-wise, and I’d additional argue that it’s Meris’ greatest launch yet and exhibits that their creativity continues to be on the rise.
Hedra raises the bar for pitch-shifters and represents the present pinnacle of Meris’ achievements; it’s arguably probably the most thoughtfully engineered pedal Meris has launched up to now. With regards to intelligent pitch-shifting, the large potential of Hedra’s Key & Scale choices is just unequalled in a compact guitar pedal. Whether enjoying with instantaneous or delayed harmonies, Hedra replicates the source materials in several pitches with impeccable element and readability. The Rhythmic elements add plenty of artistic prospects and can encourage complete music sections. The Collection and Dual delay modes further add to Hedra’s standing as an unmatched pitch-shifting muse. And Hedra’s means to answer MIDI Observe messages opens up some artistic potential by no means earlier than seen in a pedal. For conventional and modern pitch-shifting that is on the slicing fringe of innovation, Hedra will get my highest potential suggestion.
That concludes our Meris Hedra evaluation. Thanks for studying.
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