Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Pedal Review
Pros: This is a unique effect with many uses waiting to be discovered. The price is quite reasonable too.
Cons: The Freeze lacks some functionality, such as finely adjusting fade speed and separate dry and wet outs. Also, the foot switch is not well suited for its intended use.
Overall: An amazing new effect for guitarists with pianist envy – much like a sostenuto pedal for guitar.
The Electro-Harmonix Freeze is a sustain pedal, but not a compressor. It is actually a delay-based effect that can be used to create drones or imitate a grand piano’s sostenuto pedal. To my knowledge, the Freeze offers a completely unique effect (though it is included in some of the larger EHX pedals). In most settings, the pedal takes a very short sample of your signal when the foot switch is first depressed. This sample is repeated until the foot switch is released. The Freeze seems to smooth out the edges of the sample too, producing a very clear singing sustain of every note that was sounding at the time that the foot switch was first depressed.
The possibilities offered by the freeze have yet to be fully explored. Its easiest use is as a drone pedal. Laying down drones to play over is a snap with the Freeze’s latch function. In this setting, you do not have to hold down the foot switch to maintain the sustained loop. Alternately, the Freeze can be used to sustain chords while the foot switch is depressed in its momentary settings. Organ style drones are also easily achievable with the Freeze, especially if a chorus or some other churning modulation effect is placed after it in the signal chain. Separate dry and effect outputs would be nice for this use, but the Freeze has only one blended output.
A fade-in and fade-out of varying length can be applied to the Freeze’s drone, with two fade speed settings available by default using a toggle switch on the pedal’s face. The length of the slow fade setting can be adjusted when the Freeze is powered on by holding the foot switch and toggling the toggle switch. This is a nice function to have, but a dedicated pot would be a much nicer interface. The chassis is a standard small MXR type, and the controls are minimal. The Freeze does not run on battery power. I found the foot switch to be noisy and difficult to press. Electro-Harmonix could serve its customers better by providing a higher quality foot switch, though it wouldn’t be a difficult modification to add a switch with better action. The Freeze is currently without competition, so if you want the effect it provides, this is the pedal you need to buy.