Freeze Sound Retainer Review

manufacturer: Electro-Harmonix date: 03/07/2012 category: Guitar Effects
Electro-Harmonix: Freeze Sound Retainer
The Freeze is pretty cool. It's small, relatively inexpensive, and can provide all sorts of new, different sounds that might be hard to recreate otherwise.
 Sound: 8.5
 Overall Impression: 8.5
 Reliability & Durability: 8.5
 Ease of Use: 8
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reviews (2) pictures (2) 11 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8
Freeze Sound Retainer Reviewed by: UG Team, on march 07, 2012
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 100

Purchased from:

Ease of Use:

The Freeze consists of 1 button, 1 switch, and 1 knob. There are 3 modes: Fast, Slow and Latch. In the first 2, the effect will only be activated while the user is depressing the button, so you have to stay on top of it to trigger the sustain. In Latch mode, click it on to grab your sample and it'll loop until you click it again, which will then loop the most current sample. To turn the effect off in Latch mode, click it twice consecutively. The other modes refer to the speed of the decay. For example, in Fast mode, the effect will be to immediately loop the sample the instant the footswitch is engaged, and conversely, drop the loop the second you release the switch. In Slow mode, there's a little bit of a Buffer time that you have a small amount of control over to fade in and out of your sampling. You can fade the loop in at either 200 or 800 milliseconds and fade out at either 400ms, 1.0 or 3.2 seconds depending on a power-on procedure. Unplug the power supply, hold down the footswitch, plug it back in, click the switch into the up (fastest decay), middle (middle decay) or down (slowest decay) position, then release the footswitch. The Freeze will now be calibrated and will retain these settings even through power cycles until you change it. When you're in Latch mode, the decay behaves as if you have it set to Fast. Actually getting the loop to sample the exact moment of the note or chord will take a little bit of practice. It captures such a precise amount of time that the results may surprise you sometimes because the margin for error is so small during faster progressions. You can use this to your advantage and generate a lot of interesting drone/ambient sounds. For example, say you're sliding down a string and engage the loop during the slide. Since you're capturing a movement and not a static note or chord, it'll playback a seamless sample of motion from a small window of time, generating a pretty cool effect. // 8

Sound: The Freeze doesn't technically alter your sound at all. The dry signal is passed through the circuitry at full volume and when the effect is disengaged, there's no noticeable change in tone. The resulting sound of the effect is really up to when and where you decide to use it. That being said, it's difficult to get a good sound out of it if the effect level is dialed in too high. It sounds its best when you're either sustaining a chord or using it as an underlying complement to your playing, at least from a guitar standpoint. It works well with different effect pedals and a lot of people use it for a variety of other applications, including looping small parts of prerecorded samples. // 8

Reliability & Durability: You've got to love the EHX Nano series pedals. They're all quality, American-made stompboxes that barely take up any space on your pedalboard. It takes a standard 9V center-negative power adapter and there's really not a lot to it, thus less opportunity for malfunction. The only problem I could foresee is the mode selector switch. For whatever reason, I take great pride in being able to do things with my feet that I probably should be doing with my hands. Changing the mode selector is no exception. Hypothetically, one could change the mode switch by gently kicking it with one's foot if one were too lazy to physically kneel down and flip it. In this hypothetical situation, it wouldn't be unheard of for the tip of the switch to break off. This is all purely speculation, as far as you know. // 8

Overall Impression: The Freeze is pretty cool. It's small, relatively inexpensive, and can provide all sorts of new, different sounds that might be hard to recreate otherwise. On the other hand, it's hard to really say it's a must-have for any kind of style or sound. It has just enough control and flexibility, and the different techniques and tricks lend itself to more than a novelty. It's not for everybody, but to the right player, it could really make an impact. // 8

- Sean Daniel (c) 2012

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overall: 8.8
Freeze Sound Retainer Reviewed by: UG Team, on march 07, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 120

Purchased from: Online EHX Dealer

Ease of Use: The EHX Freeze is a nano' pedal released by Electro-Harmonix, which means that this pedal is very small being approximately 2 inches wide and 4 inches long in a stout metal enclosure. There is one button, one switch an LED light and one knob. The knob labeled Effect Level' just controls the volume of the sustained note or chord. The switch has three settings Fast', 'Slow' and Latch'. The button is a little different than a normal stompbox button as you can depress the button partway while the switch is set to Fast' or Slow' in order to sustain the note as long as the button is depressed, or you can click the button on Latch' mode and the note stays sustained until you click the button again. This pedal will not run off of a 9 volt battery, but instead comes with an AC adapter included. Your existing pedalboard power supply should also work. The only trick in the use of the pedal is the fade out speed, which is signified by the Fast' and Slow' settings on the pedal. The Fast' setting will cause the note to fade out pretty much immediately, but the fade in and fade out Slow' setting can be changed by a process of holding down the footswitch while you plug in the power jack, then the LED will blink and you move the switch to your preferred setting for the Slow' fade out. Set on Fast' in this mode sets the fade in at 200 milliseconds and the fade out at 400 milliseconds. Set on Slow' in this mode sets the fade in at 200 milliseconds and the fade out at 1 second. Set on Latch' in this mode sets the fade in at 800 milliseconds and the fade out at 3.2 seconds. After doing this, you release the footswitch and your settings will stay until you repeat the process to change it again. There is a manual in the form of a 5" x 8" card folded in the box with the pedal that explains the features and how to set up the fade in/fade out speed for the Slow' setting. The only other thing to consider is setting the Effect Level' control at where you want, because I found that I have had to be careful to have the knob set where it needs to be so that the sustained note is not overwhelming or underwhelming. If you are using it as a drone you want it set slightly below the normal volume of your guitar. If you are using it to sustain chords to solo over, then you might want to set it almost at the normal level or your guitar signal, or tweak it until it is the same level as your guitar signal. // 8

Sound: The EHX Freeze is a true bypass pedal and I want to state first of all that when engaged or when bypassed I can hear no effect on my tone whatsoever. What this pedal does is simple, it sustains whatever note or chord, whatever sound your guitar is making, when you hit the pedal and it sustains until you disengage it. During this time it frees up your hands to play anything else along with the sustained notes/chords. Some of the first things I thought to do with the EHX Freeze showed me just how valuable and unique this pedal is. You can play the root of a scale, then sustain it and play the different degrees of the scale in order to train your ears to recognize the intervals. You can play a chord and sustain it then solo over it, when the next chord change comes you play and sustain the next chord and then go back to soloing. You can create a drone using the pedal that lasts as long as you want and freeing up your hands and strings to play whatever you want over it. Something else I have done with the EHX Freeze, and that I plan to spend more time with is messing around with weird chord voicings. Basically, you can play chords that previously were impossible due to the number of fingers on your hand or simple physics. You can play part of the chord, sustain it, and then move your fingers where they need to be to play the second part. Unfortunately, this use isn't something you can really use in a live environment but I thought it was worth mentioning. I have a friend who plays and records his own samples for his synthesizer and I told him about this pedal and this usage, as this would be valuable to record some odd voicings in order to sample them. // 9

Reliability & Durability: The EHX Freeze is a small simply made pedal with a metal enclosure. There isn't a lot to go wrong. If I had any concern about the durability at all it would be the button is a little different than a normal pedal, as it works with two phases, an engage/disengage by clicking it, and the engaging of effects with the partial depression of the button. While I am pointing the button out as the weakest part of the exterior engineering of the pedal, I do not think it is especially fragile, and I think if I dropped the pedal or even maybe threw it against the ground that it would still be functional. I trust this pedal to be functional and in good working order for years to come. If not, the pedal does come with a one year warranty. // 9

Overall Impression: To be honest, I really bought this pedal out of curiosity after watching a few demos of the pedal on the EHX website. I normally play overdriven blues or thrash metal depending on my mood. I also play a lot of covers around my house, and really just play guitar for the sake of music in general. This pedal wouldn't necessarily fit one specific genre over another, unless your music is really heavy with drones, and if so then this pedal will probably change your life. If you are in a three piece band then this pedal would be valuable for sustaining chords while you solo, and just help in general in filling the sonic space. For a solo performer this pedal would be valuable for the same reasons. For someone who gives lessons or is trying to learn intervals or odd scales, then this pedal would be valuable for the learning process. There may be an effect like the EHX Freeze Sound Retainer on the market somewhere, but I'm not familiar with it. As far as I can tell this is the only pedal of its kind. What it does is both unique and useful. If you put some effects in the signal before this pedal, such as a ring modulator, different envelope filters or a Wah pedal you can get some really gnarly otherworldly sounds out of this pedal. I have noticed that it takes a little time to get used to using it, and after getting used to it I've found myself using drones much more in my music. If this pedal were lost or stolen then I would replace it as it has slowly become one of my favorite effects to play around with. I have also found myself messing around with memorizing more scales and using the pedal as I do this to also memorize the intervals in the scale. Personally, I think the EHX Freeze is great no matter what genre you play or your skill level. I love this little pedal. // 9

- Brandon East (c) 2012

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