Introduction
Eventide have updated the popular Blackhole reverb plug-in which is part of its H9 Signature Series. The GUI has been updated and it is now NKS-ready — reconfigured to support Native Instruments’ Native Kontrol Standard extended plug-in format for use with MASCHINE and KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboards and software.

Blackhole is available as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+ at a promo price of $69.00 USD until 31 May 2018 (rising thereafter to an MSRP of $199.00 USD) from Eventide dealers and its website. A fully-functional 30-day demo version is available.

Eventide use PACE’s ilok.com licensing system, with or without an iLok hardware dongle, to license their plugin products.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Blackhole webpage.

Overview
Whereas most reverbs are constrained by the physics of the real world, Blackhole creates virtual spaces that could never exist in reality. It can turn a simple drum track into an otherworldly rhythm section. Capable of creating epic soundscapes, space-warping special effects and drones, Blackhole can cover spaces as small as a room and as large as space itself.

Designed for real-time manipulation, Blackhole features The Ribbon, an innovative control that allows anyone to program two settings for any combination of the controls to transition between them. The programmable HOTSWITCH helps push creativity further still by enabling users to instantly jump to an alternative setting at the push of a button. Other controls include PRE DELAY, modulation depth and rate, equalization, feedback and resonance as well as a proprietary GRAVITY parameter that reverses the arrow of time by inverting the reverb’s decay. This combination of controls is intended to make Blackhole as close as possible to the experience of tweaking real hardware.

In-depth Review
As well as making Blackhole nks ready, the update also brings the GUI up to date with their other H9 Signature Series effects – MangledVerb and Ultratap which I’ve previously reviewed. If you’ve used either of these effects then you’ll instantly feel at home.

Blackhole has a clear, well defined interface. The control knobs are large and allow easy adjustment of the controls to shape your sound as desired. There are 2 additional controls which give you further control over your sound. The ribbon allows you to program 2 settings for any controls and morph to any sound between the two. Hotswitch is programmable to instantly change to an alternate sound. This hardware emulation is an excellent feature Eventide have implemented in their H9 effects that Blackhole also handles seamlessly.

BH_Gui_top

The top part of the display contains the menu where you can load / save presets; compare current settings with the last saved or used preset; enable the ‘mixlock’ which locks the mix settings and uses this value for every preset you load and access the user manual.

BH_Gui_mid

The input and output levels are shown on the left and right of the display respectively. Each has a VU meter above and there’s a sticky overload indicator that remains lit when there’s an overload suggesting you need to adjust levels.

The controls are pretty self explanatory;

Mix is the dry/wet setting. This control has a non-linear taper which puts most of the knob travel in the most usable range.

Gravity is Blackhole’s take on decay time. On the right-hand side, the Gravity control sweeps through its forward reverb range from a very dense decay to a very long and smooth decay. On the left hand side, the Gravity control is in its inverse mode and sweeps through a range of reverse reverb-like settings.

Size determines the size of the reverb. This ranges from subtle to massive – on an interstellar scale.

Pre-delay is the amount of delay before the reverb section. With tempo sync off it ranges from 0 – 2000ms, with tempo sync activated it is set in beat divisions of the tempo.

Low / High controls the level of low and high frequencies in the reverb tail using shelving filters with a corner frequency of 350 Hz (low) and 2000Hz (high).

Resonance controls the resonance of the low and filters.

Depth / Rate – controls the modulation depth in the reverb tail that can reduce ringing and add some motion to the sound. The rate control sets the relative speed of modulation.

Feedback Controls the feedback around the entire reverberation structure, for even larger sounds. Turning clockwise to Infinite will allow for infinite reverberation time while still letting incoming signal into the reverberation structure. Turning further clockwise to Freeze sets the reverberation time to infinite and does not allow incoming signal into the reverberation structure. (Mod Depth or Mod Rate must be turned down to 0 in order for infinite reverberation time to be achieved).

Tempo sync has 3 settings. When off, the pre-delay is set in ms. When in sync mode, the amount will sync to your host DAW tempo or you can set it manually as required.

BH_Gui_ribbon

The bottom part of the display contains the performance controls.

The Ribbon is an innovative feature designed to emulate hardware. You can program left and right ranges and morph between them with the ribbon which looks like an electric arc.

It’s as simple as clicking on the white dot at the tip of any knob control and dragging it to the desired setting for the left hand side of the ribbon. This will program the knob and draw a blue arc from the initial knob position to the new, programmed knob position. To adjust the knob position for the right side of the Ribbon, click on the blue dot at the opposite side of the arc and adjust it to the desired position for the right side of the Ribbon. You can adjust the Ribbon programming by grabbing the dots at either end of the arc and adjusting them to the desired position. To delete programming, right click on either of the dots.

Alternatively, press the button on the left or right side of the Ribbon, and then move any knob to its desired Ribbon position for that side. The Ribbon programming can be cleared for all knobs by right clicking the button on either side of the Ribbon.

Additionally, the Ribbon is programmed to follow MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #1 messages so you can for example use the Modulation Wheel on a MIDI device to control the ribbon.

Kill this kills the input to the reverb section allowing you to hear the reverb tail fade out. This can be useful to help dial in the sound, or it can be automated for a more tremolo-like effect. Kill can be toggled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #2 messages. It will toggle when the CC goes
from low (value = 64).

Hotswitch allows you to adjust settings so that you can switch between effects. It’s easy to set up, long-press to enter programming mode and the button starts blinking. Make the required changes and then long-press to exit programming mode. When you press the hotswitch button you toggle between the two settings.

Freeze sets the reverb time to infinite, sets Mod Depth to Freeze (equivalent to Mod Depth at “0”) and mutes the input effectively freezing the audio in the reverb buffer. Making changes to some controls when Freeze is active can allow for interesting sound design. Freeze can be controlled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #4 messages. It will toggle when the CC goes from low (value = 64).

Conclusions
Blackhole is simply stunning. It is an awesome reverb that can create dense ambient drones, huge reverbs for impacts or more subtle ambiences for strings. It is the first effect I use, in fact I’ve used it on my last 10 releases, pretty much every single track. If you’re tempted it’s definitely worth purchasing at the heavily discounted introductory promo price.

As well as sounding stunning, it is also easy to use and get to grips with. It comes complete with more than 50 presets, including some by Eventide artists: Richard Devine, Vernon Reid, Flood & Alan Moulder, Jonsi & Alex (Sigur Rós), and John Agnello. They highlight the huge potential of the effect.

I could have chosen any of my recent releases but I’ve recorded ‘tangential memories’ embedded above to highlight some of the sounds that Blackhole can produce.

Tracks 1 & 4 – chord progression created in Scaler (Pluginboutique); Blue 2 (Rob Papen) processed with Blackhole; Blue 2 processed with Incipit (Inear Display) and Blackhole; Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolution (Spitfire Audio) processed with Blackhole; Glitchmachines samples processed with Cryogen (Glitchmachines), H949 Dual Harmoniser (Eventide) and Blackhole.

Track 2 – chord progression created in Scaler (Pluginboutique); Blue 2 (Rob Papen) processed with Blackhole; Blue 2 processed with Incipit (Inear Display) and Blackhole; Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolution (Spitfire Audio) processed with Blackhole; Sample from Urban and Suburban (BOOM Library) processed with Blackhole.

Track 3 – created using RapidComposer; 3 instances of Synthmaster One (one instance processed with Blackhole); Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolution (Spitfire Audio) processed with Blackhole; Palindrome (Glitchmachines) processed with Outer Space (AudioThing) and Blackhole.

All tracks mixed / mastered in MuLab using Ultrachannel (Eventide), Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).