We sat down to learn about the development process behind the H3000 Mk II Factory and H3000 Band Delays Mk II plugins.

Attack: Let’s start at the top. Could you introduce yourselves to our readers and explain your role in creating the H3000 plugin updates?

DB: Hi! I’m David, a Software Engineer and Project Lead for the H3000 Mk II plugins. I helped steer the direction of the plugin and worked on all its facets, from UI implementation to backend features. Basically, anything code-related that needed to happen that wasn’t in the depths of signals processing—that’s more Woody’s wheelhouse.

WH: Hey there. My name’s Woody, and I was the DSP engineer in charge of finishing up our work modeling the analog sections of the H3000. I say finishing because an intern named Champ Darabundit started the work several years ago. You could say that I took the Lego blocks he gave us and ensured they were put together correctly.

David Baylies (left) & Woody Herman (right)

What is your background before this role? And were you involved on the Mk I versions of both plugins?

DB: I actually started at Eventide working on hardware prototyping for the now-released H90 and dot9 pedals, so I suppose it’s fitting that I’m now making hardware emulations. I also spent a year or so working on the H9000, so it’s been very rewarding to learn about the roots of the rackmount Harmonizer® line.

I wasn’t involved with the original H3000 plugins – that was well before my time at Eventide. However, I have occasionally reached out to Dan Gillespie, who now runs Newfangled Audio, to ask one question or another about his time working on them. The original plugins were beloved, but I’m sure that even the original developers would agree that they were due for an overhaul!

WH: The original H3000 plugin was before my time as well, but at this point, I feel like an Eventide old timer. I’ve been here for about 9 years now (10 if you count the summer I was an intern!), and in that time, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve done DSP research and sound design for several plugins and hardware effects, including some of the most recent H90 algorithms. For a brief minute early on, I was even in charge of developing our automated quality control software and test system for the hardware products. 

Where did you see improvements could be made to the emulation that previously were not there in the H3000 Factory Mk II?

DB: The original plugins made no attempt to model the analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog converters present in the hardware unit. Many folks who love the H3000 hardware have attributed the unique H3000 sound to these converters, and so we knew that a plugin reboot would need to include them. There were other touches as well, but capturing the nuances of the converters was our greatest priority with both Factory and Band Delays Mk II.

WH: Like David said, I think the converters were probably the most obvious choice. I have multiple memories of being at trade shows and hearing that the H3000 converters were magical so we’re really happy we got the chance to dive into that and capture some of that magic. Beyond that I think making sure all our preset values matched the hardware, and that our filters moved in the same way, were a couple of other nice finishing touches.

The Band Delays press release says ‘more accurate recreations’ of presets on the original. What did you think was sonically missing from the original presets?

DB: When I compared the plugin’s presets to their counterparts on my H3000, I was surprised at how far off many of them were. In every case where the sound differed greatly, the hardware version of the preset sounded more dynamic and useful.

By digging deeper into the plugin’s features and leveraging the improved emulation, we could dial in all of the presets to much more closely match their counterparts. My goal is for folks to feel a surge of nostalgia as soon as they pull up a preset in the plugin that they remember from the box.

Brian Eno was a fan of the original. So much so that he wrote to Eventide to tell them!

Can improvements be made as technology has improved, or were some things deliberately left out previously?

DB: I think the original plugins did the best they could with the time and resources available. I don’t think much was deliberately excluded. Although the improvements we’ve made feel clear in hindsight, we’ve had over a decade to listen to users and take a long look at the plugins ourselves. While our development tools have improved, the Mk IIs have benefitted the most from years of reflection and R&D.

WH: To add to what David said, I think the first time you do anything is the hardest. Just turning those H3000 algorithms into plugin code itself was a massive undertaking, and I imagine, although I can’t say for certain, that the focus was on making sure those algorithms were recreated correctly.

This time around, we had the luxury of not needing to do the bulk of that work and could focus on what sort of final touches we could add. We got the structure of the algorithms right; now, what else made this unit special?

As you say, it’s been over a decade. Has it taken this long to get to a point where you were happy with it?

DB: We wouldn’t be releasing these plugins if we hadn’t done our due diligence in modeling the original unit’s converters, and that took time. It’s not just the R&D that accounts for the timing of this release, though—over the past few years, folks have been asking for improvements to the original plugins, to the point where their feedback has finally boiled over. It’s due time for us to tie the ribbon on the Mk II.

WH: We’ve been quite busy over here at Eventide since the original H3000 plugin was released so I don’t think we’ve been thinking about a new Mk II for the H3000 that whole time. But I do know that even in my early years here, we began to focus on refreshing the plugins of the early Eventide hardware units.

My first plugin project here was doing the Mk IIs of the Instant Phaser and Instant Flanger plugins. I think the H3000 was always the most intimidating because it’s the most complex. It took us a while to pick it up, partly because of that complexity but also because of the exciting new things we’ve been working on (H9000, H90, Physion, SplitEQ, etc). At some point, as David mentioned, we decided it was time. From there, there was a decent amount of time and a lot of listening before we decided we were happy. 

What always interests me about developers is their choice to develop what they do. Do you do much market research, or is it a hunch for what people want? Or perhaps user feedback?

DB: Given the success of the original H3000 unit and the original plugin emulation plugins, it’s always been clear that there is a desire for this product. And that’s been constantly proven to be true by the voices on our forums and across the internet praising the original Factory and Band Delays plugins and requesting improvements. I spent much more time figuring out what things folks would want improved rather than whether they’d want them at all – that much was a given.

WH: It’s certainly a balancing act. Coming from the signal processing side of things, one of the things I’ve loved about Eventide, and I think this has been true for its entire history, is that Eventide is more interested in creating something different or interesting than meeting demand. We have a lot of freedom to think of things that would sound cool, and then try to figure out how it would be helpful or interesting to people. At the same time, though, user feedback is a huge source of inspiration, and for the H3000 plugin, refresh was a huge motivator. Hearing how many people felt the original unit was magic started to get the ol’ engineer gears turning. What was that magic? How do I capture that?

Emulation legalities? For me, I think it comes down to the very fine line of - did you set out to capture the essence of the thing you wanted to make because you love a certain sound, or did you really copy and paste to benefit from a brand name?

When emulating, are there certain aspects of hardware sounds that are impossible to recreate or perhaps harder to capture? 

DB: I think this is exactly the sort of problem we have aimed to solve with the Mk IIs. The subtleties of the hardware’s input and output sections are exactly what make accurate hardware emulations so elusive. We’ve dug in and done the impossible to capture that sound.

WH: Honestly, I think one of the hardest things to capture is feel. I firmly believe that our interaction with music, whether making it or listening to it, is as much an emotional and sensational as a sonic one. I have a record player, but I do not believe vinyl is “better.” I like the sound, but I also love how it makes me interact with listening to music. The same goes for hardware products.

When we were doing a lot of listening towards the end of the project, I kept thinking, “Man, it’s so satisfying to spin this big knob and hit these buttons.” That part of the equation may be impossible, but hopefully, we got the sonic part so that people don’t notice as much. One specific thing I always find tricky when doing these emulations is the interaction of different circuit parts. We can break it up and say this section is that filter, that section is this filter, but in truth, they’re all interconnected. This means that sometimes you can model the individual pieces correctly, but the sum of all the parts can be off. 

Are you able to talk us through the process of emulation?

DB: I will defer to more apt minds than mine to explain the finer details, but I was present for much of the process. Most of my time was spent figuring out consistent test setups, receiving electrical shocks from our H3000, and coaxing it into behaving. While I don’t have the best grasp on the math of the emulation, I can attest to the arduous nature of the process itself.

WH: I can try to run through how I approach these projects quickly, although everyone’s process may differ. The first step is always getting a feel for the thing itself. Take the time to listen and decide what you’re hearing. How do you hear the LFO moving, for example? After that, there is a ton of research. Study the schematic and break it into bits and pieces you understand. If you’re lucky enough, maybe you can even get a chance to talk to some of the people involved in creating the original – thanks, Tony (Agnello) and Richard (Factor), for the help on the Phaser/Flanger.

From there, I like to start with the parts of the circuit that I think are most important to the sounds I was hearing. You never know if you’ll end up in a time crunch, run out of processing power, etc. For some of those parts, usually the simple ones, you can perform a circuit analysis and end up with mathematical equations describing that particular filter or part of the circuit. Those are the easy ones.

For some, that analysis might turn into a math problem even a supercomputer couldn’t solve. In this case, you start measuring. Maybe you’re able to isolate parts of the circuit and measure them, or maybe you can take measurements of the whole unit and try to figure out what’s left to do after you consider the parts you know. And this whole process probably repeats many times – Math, Model, Measure, Math, Model, Measure, Math, Model, Measure.

At some point, you end up with something that you think is right, and then you listen to it and decide it’s missing something or not right, and you repeat. And then you get to a place where you can’t decide if you’re hearing a difference or your brain is inventing one. At that point you’re usually done. Not the most technical answer but I hope that gives you an idea of the process!

One specific thing I always find tricky when doing these emulations is the interaction of different circuit parts. We can break it up and say this section is that filter, that section is this filter, but in truth, they're all interconnected. This means that sometimes you can model the individual pieces correctly, but the sum of all the parts can be off.

Could you talk with the original H3000 creators and lean in on their insight?

DB: I have tremendous respect for the original creators – the box they were able to make is incredible. They’ve all since gone off on their own ventures, and I haven’t had contact with them, but the brilliance of the H3000 hardware speaks volumes on its own. The way the unit responds to whatever you throw at it is something I hadn’t experienced before. The way it somehow maintains a workflow that gives you access to so much while not overwhelming you is impressive and has given me insight that will stick with me. I’m proud that we’ve captured that in software for folks to experience.

Do you ever wonder about the legality of emulations?

DB: As a relatively young developer, I might approach this issue with some naivety. Whether I’m the one doing the emulation or I’m the one being emulated, I think that it comes down to communication of intent between both parties. There are plenty of legal nets to throw if it comes to that, but it all starts with real folks, and if you can come to a friendly agreement prior to making the emulation, I see no need for trouble.

WH: It’s certainly an interesting question. I think it’s no big secret that even in the world of analog pedals, there are a lot of emulations. People clone circuits they love and add their little tweaks to them to make a new pedal all the time. For me, I think it comes down to the very fine line of – did you set out to capture the essence of the thing you wanted to make because you love a certain sound, or did you really copy and paste to benefit from a brand name?

It’s a tricky question and one I think we’re constantly trying to figure out. 

Do you feel plugins can have the same cultural impact that hardware has had/does have? 

DB: Absolutely. Just because the art comes in a different form doesn’t mean it’s limited in impact. The resources developers have to work with are different, and the way musicians interact with the tools is different, but that doesn’t mean one is worse or better. It’s just a different landscape. 

WH: I’d agree. I’ll probably always enjoy the interaction with hardware personally, but it’s impossible to deny that plugins have really elevated what people can do with sound. UIs can be more intricate, processing power on modern computers is astronomical, and they’ve expanded the music-making audience.

What is one thing that is overlooked by the industry as a whole with regards to plugin development and emulations?

DB: Some may not realize how close it is possible to get to the sound of the original unit. While we can never capture the process of physically interacting with original hardware, meticulous emulation can capture the sound astoundingly accurately.

WH: Sometimes, I think there’s more room for us to be creative. Sure, we can make a plugin sound like a bucket brigade delay. But what if rather than seeking to make that plugin sound like a bucket brigade delay we used that emulation as part of a larger effect. Something that would have been totally impractical with the original hardware. 

Do you ever wonder how often other developers, especially Multi FX plugins, look to the H3000 for inspiration?

DB: I should hope they do! The H3000 is an incredible display of interface design. We are flattered if the Mk II plugins can offer similar insight.

With H3000 Band Delays Mk II, you’re offering a wide-ranging delay unit, but it’s not as wide-ranging as the Factory Mk II. How do you see it fitting into a market that’s now more crowded than ever? In other words, “Why should a producer buy it?”

DB: While it’s tempting to view Band Delays Mk II as a subset of Factory Mk II, it is a world of its own. It explores a depth of filter design that Factory simply cannot offer and emulates a whole other algorithm from the H3000. I’d recommend they try a demo and see for themselves.

Do you think we’re in danger of reaching a point where very few original ideas are left to explore?

DB: No. I’d get too bored to let it stand if we ever reached such a point. As with any complex artistic medium, there are always unexplored avenues.

WH: It can feel like that sometimes, but I’d be surprised if we hit that point. Clothing styles, music trends, all these things sometimes feel circular to those of us who have been around long enough to see them fade out of style and then return. I think a better way to look at it is that just because something is old to one person doesn’t mean it’s not new to someone who’s never experienced it before. Someone who’s just getting into music production can hear a flanger for the first time and love it. It’s an old effect, but it’s new to them.

What’s the next big thing in the world of plugins? 

DB: As a trumpet player, I am very invested in live performance tools, particularly for improvisation. I would love to see more expressive tools for live performers, and I think there are acres of fresh soil in that area. I expect to see great things grow in that space.

WH: I’d probably second the live performance tools—plugins as instruments themselves, maybe. I think that falls generally into another category, which is thinking about how we interact with plugins. Is there something else besides just clicking and dragging parameters? Is there another way to display people’s audio that they can interact with?

The H3000 Factory Mk II and H300 Band Delays Mk II are out now.

For Anthology XII owners, this is a free upgrade included in the 1.2.0 installer. Find out more on Eventide.


  • H3000 Factory Mk II – $199/ $99 crossgrade
  • H3000 Band Delays Mk II – $149/ $69 crossgrade
  • Bundled – $248

Follow Attack Magazine

Author Eric Brünjes
3rd May, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You currently have an ad blocker installed

Attack Magazine is funded by advertising revenue. To help support our original content, please consider whitelisting Attack in your ad blocker software.

Find out how