BBE SONIC STOMP MAXIMIZER PEDAL
Price: $100 US
Sorry, to do an all "10" but when something is at that level I cannot see rating it less especially in this case where there is no similar product to rate it against, as it is not an aural exciter psycho-acoustic effect which is not a "10" compared to this pedal. This is just a "10": pedal in every sense of the rating categories.
When I first discovered this rather unique technology from BBE it was using the more classic rackmount 482i unit on my stereo/CD system. The result was amazing, so much a difference in the overall quality, range and dynamic of the sound it really was just like taking a blanket off your speakers. That was my comment concerning it before I ever knew BBE made this statement in their ads and info. That is just what it sounded like. It was not an artificial “exciter” or compander gate unit which I had used as well years earlier processing cassette tapes. This was something different. At the time I never thought about using it on my guitar rig, for some reason, I thought it was meant for final reproduction enhancement of the sound, and indeed I knew of sound guys who were using this in their PA and studio rigs.
The Sonic Maximizer processor if used correctly is a very natural sounding transparent effect which just opens up the music source not by mere EQ or a false sense of compression or companding. It is in technical terms a sonic phase correcting technology which deals with the sonic physics of frequencies as they process and emanate from the speaker. The speed of sound frequencies causes a natural effect of phase distortion in the sound, you may think you are hearing the sound as a unified whole but the frequency bandwidth is reaching your ears at different times. We usually do not notice it, until that is, we hear the phasing corrected then the result is immediate and apparent.
I first heard of using the Sonic Maximizer unit on guitar upon reading of about Dave Mustaine of Mega using it in his gear rack. I decided to take my rack mount unit and try it out. The results were a “wow” factor of improvement to all tones from clean to gains. More punch in the bass, just more clarity, presence, and a sparkle of headroom to the high end and more fidelity punch and tone to the cleans and gains. The beauty was it sounded natural to the overall sound, it did not sound like you had an “effect” on which was treating the sound or really altering it. This was not an effect but an enhancement of the real tones which just made any tone better.
Mine just stays on all the time as I see no need to turn it off and “blanket” my tone quality. I used my rackmount unit for some time (the unit was at least 10 years old) one day it just quit on me. I immediately began looking for a new one. Much to my delight I saw they had come out with a guitar pedal model to put on the board. The even better news was the price, a mere $100, which is really low for a guitar pedal in my arena. I love it, and I am pretty confident it a guitarist tries one out and uses it properly, they will not be without one on their rig.
I am sure some might use this unit wrong, place it wrong, or use it like an effect pedal and turn it up too much. Again, it is to be noted this is not an "effect pedal" per se'. I have heard some recording guys love it for a final treatment to the track print and some did not like it, perhaps again, not using it in an optimum manner. Hard to imagine it not improving the sound quality of anything. It is merely a sonic phase correction of the natural order of frequency ranges coming out of a speaker.
pretty much repeats what I had learned and knew of sound engineering, keep the controls minimal always around 12:00 do not over use it and place the unit at the last possible sonic point in the rig before it hit the power amp out to the speakers. That meant ideally last in chain in the amp loop. Using it anywhere else of in front of anything is not proper for this device and turning up the processor levels is probably why some are hearing too much and artificial artifact. Less is more, and so true with this unit, we want to merely phase correct the final sound result not treat it like as effect trying to drastically alter the sound. This is simply not an “effect pedal”, do not use it like one. Set it and forget it, it sounds so natural to your tone enhancing your cleans and gains with more punch and clarity you will not realize it is on until you turn it off and hear the difference. If you do not like what this puppy does for the sound of your rig then it is likely you have it set too high or placed wrong. Listening to the playback of recorded material sounds so much better using the maximizer perhaps the trick is getting that enhanced quality recorded into the master so that it comes out in a system not using the maximizer, might also be a problem if the studio is using it pre and post production.
Controls are simple, no tweaking, no dialing it the optimum, simply an on/off pedal switch, “lo contour” for the bass, and a “process” contour which is the high end. Set both around 12:00 and forget it. Works on bass guitar as well offering the same clarity and punch.
The above additional info link for the pedal has several demo vids for guitar use of the pedal.
Technical From BBE website:
“Loudspeakers have difficulty working with the electronic signals supplied by an amplifier. These difficulties cause such major phase and amplitude distortion that the sound reproduced by the speaker differs significantly from the sound produced by the original source.
In the past, these problems proved unsolvable and were thus relegated to a position of secondary importance in audio system design. However, phase and amplitude integrity is essential to accurate sound reproduction. Research shows that the information which the listener translates into the recognizable characteristics of a live performance are intimately tied into complex time and amplitude relationships between the fundamental and harmonic components of a given musical note or sound. These relationships define a sound's "sound".
When these complex relationships pass through a speaker, the proper order is lost. The higher frequencies are delayed. A lower frequency may reach the listener's ear first or perhaps simultaneously with that of a higher frequency. In some cases, the fundamental components may be so time-shifted that they reach the listener's ear ahead of some or all of the harmonic components.
This change in the phase and amplitude relationship on the harmonic and fundamental frequencies is technically called "envelope distortion." The listener perceives this loss of sound integrity in the reproduced sound as "muddy" and "smeared." In the extreme, it can become difficult to tell the difference between musical instruments, for example, an oboe and a clarinet.
BBE Sound, Inc. conducted extensive studies of numerous speaker systems over a ten year period. With this knowledge, it became possible to identify the characteristics of an ideal speaker and to distill the corrections necessary to return the fundamental and harmonic frequency structures to their correct order. While there are differences among various speaker designs in the magnitude of their correction, the overall pattern of correction needed is remarkably consistent.
The BBE Process is so unique that 42 patents have been awarded by the U.S. Patent Office.”
“The 482i Sonic Maximizer restores natural brilliance and clarity to an audio signal by the use of two integrated functions. First, it adjusts the phase relationships between the low, mid and high frequencies through adding progressively longer delay times to lower frequencies, creating a kind of mirror curve to neutralize the effect of loudspeaker phase distortion. Second, the Sonic Maximizer augments higher and lower frequencies as loudspeakers tend to be less efficient in their extreme treble and bass ranges. The end result is a dynamic, program-driven restoration which reveals more of the natural texture and detail in the sound without causing fatigue that is often associated with exciter effects, psychoacoustic processors or excessive use of equalizers.”
“The Sonic Stomp is a stomp-box version of our ever-popular Sonic Maximizer. The Sonic Stomp was carefully designed to deliver the same sonic improvement as our rack-mounted 482i Sonic Maximizer, adding clarity, definition and punch to any instrument.”
BBE: Lo Contour +12dB @ 50Hz
Process +12dB @ 10kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: BBE on Max 94dB, BBE on Min 104dB, THD: 0.02% at 1kHz
Noise: BBE on Max -87dBu, BBE on Min: -97dBu, Max Signal Level: +7dBu
Input Impedance: 1MEG Ohms, Output Impedance: 1K Ohm , Hardware Bypass:
There is some odd conflict in the matter of power feed for the box, my unit came with a supply of 9.6v 200mA, with a warning not to use a mere 9v brick supply feed or anything higher than the 9.6. The manual and website info has only “+9vDC min, 200mA” I recommend using the 9.6 wart they provide and take no chances with damaging the unit or not using it to its full potential. I plan to contact BBE about this issue and see if I cannot get a hold of a tech to ask about this issue. Battery life rated at 15 hours.
What can I say, I love this pedal and the BBE process, it just stays on all the time on my board just sounds natural and once heard to its transparent enhancement of clarity and punch, why would you want to not use it?
(As for "pro" I am not sure what that means, I have been playing 35yrs and have seen my share of idiot players who do really dumb things. BTW, manufacturer says loop, if you have one, end of chain, phase correction needs to be the closet point to the power amp else maybe that is why more are not using them. Sounds better with it than without it, Put one on 12s and A/B it, if you think it does not improve the sound, must be my ears.)