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Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Pedal Review

Capture a moment of your playing and extend it indefinitely.

Download Example 1
Latch Setting, Effect Level 2. Gibson SG, neck pickup.
Download Example 2
Slow Setting, Effect Level 1. Fender Strat, bridge pickup.
Download Example 3
Slow Setting, Effect Level 4. Gibson SG, neck pickup, drive from an Electro-Harmonix Germanium4 Big Muff Pi.
 All clips played into Diamond Positron into an Emperor 4x12" loaded with Weber C1625s and recorded with an SM57.
Electro-Harmonix has never been constrained by what people think a stompbox should do. Take the Freeze Sound Retainer. Simply put, the Freeze sustains any note or chord you play—a little like an eBow, a piano’s sustain pedal, or even a looper, yet not quite like any of those. The Freeze is designed to capture a moment of your playing with a tap of your foot and extend it indefinitely. With one 3-position switch and one knob, the Freeze is dead simple to operate, but the sonic possibilities are more than you might expect.

While this sound-retaining effect is amazingly innovative, Electro-Harmonix first developed the technology for their HOG guitar-synth pedal. Specifically, the Freeze is derived from the HOG’s Freeze Gliss function.

A Cool Breeze
The Freeze is an intuitive, what-you-see-is-what-you-get unit. For starters, there’s a 3-position switch for selecting Fast, Slow, or Latch mode. In Fast mode, the Freeze will begin sustaining your signal the moment the footswitch is pressed and hold that sound until the footswitch is released. In Slow mode, the captured signal fades in gradually and then sustains until you release the footswitch, at which time it slowly fades to silence. Following a simple process described in the manual, you set the length of this fade by selecting one of three preset durations.

In Latch mode, the captured sound sustains even when the footswitch is released, allowing you to capture and sustain additional sounds. A double-tap on the footswitch kills the effect. This mode is particularly useful for creating seamless and sustained chord progressions.

The pedal’s last control, the Effect Level knob, sets the volume of the sustained signal. While most Electro-Harmonix pedals are true bypass, the Freeze’s circuitry requires a high-quality buffered bypass. And unlike most compact stompboxes, the Freeze does not offer the option of 9-volt operation—it’s power supply or nothing.

Feeling the Chill
I started in by using a humbucker-equipped Gibson SG to sustain a simple chord on the Freeze’s Fast mode. As the mode suggests, the effect is immediate and it is also strikingly cool. EHX has designed the effect so that there is no digital popping sound when the effect engages and there are no repetitive undulations or audible loop points while the effect remains engaged. The sustain is steady and constant, like a constantly bowed cello. Having an interest in computer-based sound design, I can say that this effect wouldn’t be easy to reproduce, even on a sophisticated sound-design platform.

Locking a single note into the pedal in Slow mode produces a musical swell and an even more gradual fade out. This mode is really going to appeal to slow jammers, shoegazers, soundscape-building balladeers, and psychedelic junkies seeking spacey lead textures.

The Verdict
From subtle to radical, the Freeze is a device that inspires creative playing without being gimmicky. The performance possibilities—from filling naked space in a band arrangement to hardcore freakouts—are intriguing. But even if you don’t intend to record or play live with the Freeze, you’ll find it’s a great tool for composing music and harmony by yourself. EHX has executed this effect with such simplicity, it’s bound to appeal to players and tweakers of all genres and abilities.

Buy if...
you haven’t yet figured out a way to clone yourself.
Skip if...
you prefer not to use cool effects to enhance your playing.

Street $120 - Electro-Harmonix -

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