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BBE BMAX... What Can I Expect?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by IbanezATK, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    I just bought a BBE BMAX on Ebay to replace my Bass Pod. I love the idea of the Sonic Maximizer and Compressor built into the preamp, and they seem to get good reviews.

    I love some of the sounds I can get out of the Bass Pod, but I'm an old man and "programming" the Pod is just too much work for me. It took me an hour to make the Pod an SVT head and 8x10 cabinet, and I'm still not sure I've got it right. Sadly, I'm a network admin and you'd think I'd be able to "program" the Bass Pod!

    I'm gong to be running it into a Carvin DCM 1000 into an Avatar Neo 4x10 (and another Avatar Neo 4x10 or 2x12 down the road for bigger venues, in Orange Tolex of course!) In the effects loop will be a EH Bass Big Muff Pi, EH Clone Theory, and a Boss pedal so I can blend in some "clean" to the distorted signal so I can keep it fat. I have to basically cover the rythym guitar ground and the bass territory as well.

    I'm after a Muse like bass sound. Am I going to be happy with this setup? Or did I just make a "I just drank 4 24 ounce Miller Lite beers in an hour" mistake?
  2. I had the tube version and while it's a good pre I grew to dislike the Fender style EQ. If you can get along with that then I think you'll like the pre-amp. The whole thing had too many options for me. I never used the Maximizer and I really feel compression is a crutch so I never used that either. I like how my basses all sound as is so I like my EQ flat which was near impossible to do with that EQ. I'm back to using a full tube Pre based somewhat loosely on the B15. I like that the best.

    Your choice of power amp is my goto amp. Even though I have the DCM1500 and a couple of Mackie 1400W amps I like my DCM1000 the best.

  3. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    No. Good choice. There are lots of other good pre-amps, but this is a good place to start. Miles and miles better than a Pod in my book.

    I have and use a BBE BMAX. Is yours new or used? There are a few issues. The oldest ones were very touchy with hot signals, and there is a free factory mod to fix it. Also, the instruction manuals have assorted contradictory instructions about what is flat. Yes it is the Fender tone stack issue Paul was referring to....

    My experience is that all the features are useful. They take a significant amount of time to explore, but no programming is required (LOL). You will like this pre, I predict. The compressor is not bad. I found some useful settings, and for slap, you can get amazing "take your head off" tones.

    It can do dark and thick too. Just be patient with the mid controls. The Maximizer is a little mysterious to me, but I did find some settings that worked well with both my Jazz and my P-bass.

    I moved on to a tube pre, but still carry the BMAX in my 4-space rack as a backup and because you never know when you need a change, and now and then I do! :hyper:
  4. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    Sounds like I did OK :)

    The preamp is brand new in the box, so hopefully no issues.
  5. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
  6. I've had the solid-state Bmax since they first came out. I sent mine in for the factory input gain mod, since mine was overly sensitive. Customer service was fantastic, and the mod was done by the chief engineer of the Bmax. He told me that new units would be built to the modified input spec. Mine has performed flawlessly ever since.

    I like my sound big, smooth, clean and warm, and the Bmax delivers. Due to the less-than-intuitive EQ, you really need to read the manual on this one. I suggest you start with the EQ at 0-10-0, and then adjust bass and treble to taste. As you increase them, you'll get more of a scooped midrange. There's a ton of low end available. I usually leave my EQ at 2-10-2. I think of the semi-parametric mid control as "extra" tone shaping, and I rarely move it from 12 o'clock (flat).

    The compressor works great, as long as you don't go overboard. It does an esjpecially fine job of leveling the volume of my 5-string. The Sonic Maximizer just seems like an extra set of bass and treble controls to me. I do use it, but with the controls only turned up to about 9 o'clock.

    I'm still happy with mine after several years of use. It's an extremely high quality piece of gear that sounds great. :bassist:
  7. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    I can't wait to get mine in! I think I'm going to get a Tech 21 VT pedal to throw in the mix as well. "Big, smooth, clean and warm" as Steve put it mixed with my distorted sounds is exactly what I'm looking for.

    I shall report back!
  8. I've been wanting to try a VT myself. I use a SansAmp Bass Driver or a Sadowsky preamp (or both) in front of my Bmax, along with a Boss chorus and octaver. The BBE provides a great base to build on. It sounds great on its own, too!
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    nice pre. as noted B-M-T at about 2 - 10 - 2 is approximate flat. The RCA / Fender tone stack is a classic. Being interactive it does take some getting used to but once you get it, it's cool as heck. I generally find my sound, then use the semi-parametric mid to adjust for the room. If you like a fat but defined scoop somehting like 6-6-6 and then adjust B&T DOWN from there and M UP from there is a nice place to start.

    I'm not sure about running the effects loop with guitar oriented pedals. Most of those are looking for guitar like inouts not line. It might work but I would certainly try the chain ahead of the BMax as well and be prepared to accept which ever sounds the best.

    Just spend a few hours playing twith the tone stack - notebook in hand isn't a bad idea. From observation, the majority of the folks that hate the tone stack haven't logged the time to really learn it. There's your really, really happy Alembic users and then there's your folks that ran screaming. Same tone stack and same deal with the bMax. The BMax is actually a lot easier as the semi-parametric comes after the interactive stack. Stroke of brilliance that! Only thing I wish is that they had put in a crossover ...
  10. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Is it a good idea to either use the paramid by itself and leave the M at flat,or just use the M by itself ? I guess I don't understand the need to use both at the same time. Still getting used to my Bmax T with my 3 way Carvin LS1503.
  11. The first mid control is cut-only, so "flat" is all the way up. The semi-parametric mid control can cut or boost. Flat is at 12 o'clock, and the frequency center is adjustable, so you can be more precise in your cutting or boosting. I leave the first one all the way up (flat), and use the semi-parametric if I feel the need for a mid cut or boost (I usually don't).
  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I used to own one of these. While it was definitely a very nice pre, if you're going for a Muse type tone I'm not sure its going to be a winner. Clean, fat, clean, warm, squeaky clean, tight, clean, focused, oh and did I mention clean? Chris Wolstenhome likes a fair amount of dirt in his tone, especially live (at least the two times I've seen them) and I just couldn't coax that type of tone out of the BMax.

    I did really like the pre, I just think its tone is different than that of your tonal goal... Unless I'm missing the point on the Muse thing :p
  13. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    I'm going to be running 1 or 2 Bass Big Muff Pi's, a Tech 21 VT pedal, an EH Clone Theory, and a Boss LS-2 to blend some of the clean back into the effected sound.

    I know I won't sound just like Chris, and I don't want to, but that's the territory I'm going for. I kind of cover the bass and rythym guitar territory in my band.

    I think Chris plays 4 Marshall heads through 15's, a Marshall combo of some kind, 2 or 3 Pods, some other rack stuff, and numerous pedals on a couple of different pedal boards... one of which his tech dances on for him off stage.

    Honestly, I can nail the live sound on Hysteria with my Pod, it just took a LONG time "programming" the Pod to get that ONE sound. If I had the HOURS to put in I could probably get everything I want out of the Pod... but I'm a reformed guitar player, I like knobs and pedals and turning knobs to change sounds. The Pod is staying, and will be my headphone practice rig, and may wind up on my pedalboard at some point down the road when I have more fiddle time.
  14. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    If your dirt is covered elsewhere, the BMax will be a great platform for it.
  15. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    I can't wait for it to get here!
  16. dhomer

    dhomer Commercial User

    Apr 9, 2009
    Hickory Corners, MI
    Owner, Gigmaster Soundworks, Auth. greenboy designs builder, MI
    I have had the solid state Bmax now for about 4 years. That and a DCM600 were the replacement for an underperforming SVT3. Generally pleased with it, haven't missed the Ampeg for a second.. Yes, the controls are a bit touchy.. I set the eq's pretty much flat, boost the paramid about 6db @900. The Sonic Maximizer is very useful, just takes some trial and error in getting it right. I would strongly recommend using a 35Hz high pass filter. Before I did, just touching the strings would cause my speakers to xmax... Do a search on Harrison Labs, they make inline passive crossovers for autosound, and I have an FMOD-Sub in the effects loop. Could also be inserted between pre and power amp. Inexpensive and works..

    I have one issue with my unit, eventually I will have to replace the power supply capacitors. Mine had an internal fault causing buzzing and dropouts. My temporary "fix" was to take a hot glue gun and "solidify" the caps.. Hopefully my unit is a rare exception..
  17. Are you aware that the Bmax has a 5 year warranty?
  18. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

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