Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars
Average:4.8 out of 5 stars

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Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Compression Guitar Effects Pedal


  • Not your classic compressor
  • Great sound
  • Easy to use and control


  • You cannot separate dry and “frozen” with individual outputs
  • One trick pony

Sometimes musicians get seek and tired of typical units that do not do anything new or innovative. When you spend so many years playing and exploring different effects pedals, you become more critical and judge the units very strictly. You always expect something that is out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, you don’t always get that and end up sticking with beloved classics. But sometimes we do get lucky and are left with effects pedals that take a new turn and force you to keep an open mind.

And today’s star of the show is exactly that. Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer is not exactly the compressor pedal we are all used to. Though its concept is new, the way it treats your sound is a bit different. If you are looking for a compressor pedal with its classic features, then you might want to skip this one. But if you are open to such extraordinary devices, you have to stay with me. I left its functionalities a bit vague on purpose so that I can explain them in depth below. Let’s begin our journey and see what Freeze Sound Retainer has in store for us. After all, this bad boy has a peculiarity or two!


Electro-Harmonix did everything it could in order to provide its customers with an amazing pedal that would look at signal compression in a new light. What this means is that its Freeze Sound Retainer operates in a strange way – it has certain features of loopers and delay pedals but all of those are mixed with a compressor. To be technically correct, this is more of a sustainer rather than a compressor. It listens to the note you play, catches it with its circuitry and then emits it as a background sound, which can last interminably. That is exactly what you get. It has three different modes of operation (Slow, Fast and Latch), which means you get diverse flavors of sustained notes. Each set has its own dedicated rate, however, you have the ability to set the speed of Slow mode.

The manual has all the info about that so I won’t bore you with step-by-step instructions. It is worth mentioning that Freeze Sound Retainer can only be powered with an adapter, so keep that in mind. It has a distinctive design that makes you shiver from coolness. Light blue lines create the illusion of ice, which is fancy in my opinion. The chassis feels very durable and will probably last you through many years of utilization. Though EHX is renowned with its true-bypass pedals, this one requires buffered bypass. As you can see, Freeze Sound Retainer is not a jack of all trades. Instead, it offers one simple effect and delivers it perfectly.


When it comes to the control section, Electro-Harmonix created very intuitive layout that anyone can figure out easily. And to be honest, they did not need anything else, since the device itself is very straightforward. Regardless, it is still necessary to get specific in order to fully understand what can be worked out here. After all, simplicity does not mean the same thing to everyone. On that note, we shall take our time, dig deep and figure out the properties we can alter here.

There are only two controls here. The lonely knob mounted on the surface is labeled as Effect Level. It modifies the volume of your sustained notes and allows you to blend them into the rig. This way the effect won’t be separate from the whole thing but mix with the chain perfectly. The other control here is a toggle switch that moves between three different modes: Slow, Fast and Latch. All three of them modify the rate at which sustain starts to operate. How exactly do they change your sound? – you might ask. Well, I have to leave it a secret for the time being and discuss it later. As of this section, I will complete it by saying that though I find the simplicity very pleasing and convenient for my personal use, some might lack the ability to tweak further and maybe actually compress their sound.

Electro Harmonix Freeze Sound

As I mentioned above, Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Sustainer does an amazing job at emitting the effect it promises to create. The different settings chosen by the toggle offer different sonic outcomes. In slow mode, the footswitch will sustain the input signal and keep it on as long as you hold your foot down. Here, the sustained sounds kind of fade away gradually, which is perfect for those who do not like harsh effects. Fast mode allows you to freeze the signal as soon as you press the footswitch and it disappears as soon as you release it.

While the latch mode keeps the sustained signal way longer and keeps it playing even when the footswitch is not depressed. This mode allows you to sustain different notes one after another, which means you can create beautiful layers of your cloned sounds. The ways of diversifying this unit are completely up to you. You can employ it merely as a sustainer or get creative, pair it with other devices and achieve interesting sonic results. Either way, Freeze Sound Sustainer does not have any audible clicks or impurities, it is pristine and transparent, which is all we ask for, am I right?


On the whole, though Electro-Harmonix is not exactly a compressor pedal, it is an amazing sustainer that can elongate your notes beautifully. It can add a distinctive character to your performance and really let your playing shine through the mix. Its sonic capabilities cannot be substituted by anything else, which makes it an indispensable asset to your pedalboard. If you are not sure what to expect from it, there are countless demos online that you can explore. If you like what you hear, then we can assume that you have found the one. Good luck on your wonderful journey and let music submerge you in its breathtaking power!

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