The idea for the Omnipressor was prompted by a conversation between Eventide cofounder Richard Factor (RF) and a former colleague, Mark Weiss, who by 1974 sat on a committee investigating anomalies in the Watergate tapes. They didn’t crack how Nixon had the tapes doctored, but it sparked fresh thinking about side chain compression. “I don’t usually get musical ideas; I get technical ideas that turn out to be musical,” Factor has said. Around two years in, engineer Tony Agnello (TA) joined the business, and he remains Managing Director of the company.
Eventide – audio creativity, since 1971 Two of Eventide’s founders, Richard Factor and Tony Agnello, were awarded the 2018 Technical Grammy: PHIL WARD rewinds the clockworks
t became AES folklore that the Eventide booth would have coveted bars of chocolate in generous supply: ‘reverb so sweet you can taste it’ being the hook. The vibe was casual, the brand a hit with every professional involved in recording the sound of music. Here’s a typical piece of conviviality, even in the user manual: ‘Your Omnipressor loves you and wants to be your friend. If you don’t understand it, if you don’t fondle its controls properly, it will cause you hours of confusion, and tempt you to dash it on the rocks or put it in a sack and drown it.’[Actually true: a small adjustment could cause wild, unanticipated results — it was a diva! — Ed.] With plenty of hair and a Robert Crumb approach to marketing graphics, Manhattanbased Eventide put the audible counter-culture in a box and fast-tracked mind-expanding techniques that it took most of the ‘60s to cultivate. Thanks in part to planet-saving recycling of the psychedelic muse, the products have never gone out of fashion and today dominate both the vintage hardware emporia and the software emulation supermarkets in equal measure. 46 / Digital • April 2018
You’ve used the name Eventide since 1969/70: what the hell does it mean? RF: Back in 1970 when we started making stuff the question came up: ‘what shall we call the company?’ I had a list of ten names, derived from science fiction stories, which were methodically and unequivocally rejected by the others. Finally, from a previous avocation — building digital clocks in the evening while actually working for a living — I suggested Eventide Clockworks. When we moved from our original home in New York City to our current factory in New Jersey, we dropped the ‘Clockworks’. As a partnership, what are your relative strengths and weaknesses and how do they complement one another? RF: Tony is Beatles and Bob Dylan. I’m more Byrds and Beau Brummels. Several sidelines to studio technology have come and gone, less or more related to the original Ampex tape cue locator product. Which ones survive today? RF: We continue to make a good business with anti-profanity delays, and our logging division has grown immensely — although the focus has changed from radio to public safety such as 911 centres and airports. We discontinued aircraft map displays and computer memory and hardware quite some time ago. The first commercially available digital delay (DDL 1745 from 1971 — “EVEN I DIG A LAY”, according to Stephen Stills’ puckish adaptation of the marque on his model) featured ‘shift registers’ — 980 bits each representing 100 milliseconds, discovered in early ICs you used pre-Eventide. What was it about these things that caught your imagination and why did you think of audio? RF: Shift registers caught my attention when all you could get was 256 bits. I built a delay line of only a few milliseconds from cast-off parts from my day job. I was always into audio from my previous life — broadcasting and ham radio — and heard some interesting effects from a device we were working on that had an entirely different purpose. It was only when the 980-bit
Audio for broadcast, post, recording and media production