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BBE Sonic Maximizer- the horses mouth

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by judd levison, Jun 16, 2003.

  1. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003
    (this is also posted in the recording forum)


    i want to identify myself upfront...my name's Judd and i am the product manager at BBE.

    knowing that the Sonic Maximizer is pretty popular with bass players, i want to make myself available to anyone with questions about any of the products we manufacture.

    i don't want to sell you guys anything, i'll leave that to the retailers. i just want to make sure that the info about our products is accurate.

    we've recently released new direct boxes and bass preamps...if you're a BBE fan, they are probably worth giving your ears a peek.

    Here's a place to see the new stuff: http://www.bbesound.com/home.asp

    i hope you will enlighten me with your questions or concerns.

    happy fwapping!
  2. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Cool, Welcome! I like my 362 :bassist:
  3. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003
    thanks jon, i've gotten some great feedback already.
  4. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Thanks for coming here... I love my BBE. Got it from our resident filter junkie here in effects, Mad Subwoofer.

    Your information will be well appreciated here :D
  5. I recently added a 482i to my bass rig. The difference is incredible.
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Hi Judd ~

    Thanks for joining the forum.

    OK, I have one of the older BBE DI-100's. I used it a couple of times, then it went in the drawer. Why? Noise. While the effects of the maximizer are pleasant and useful, the thing hisses very audibly with no signal applied. It drove me halfway nuts before it went in the drawer, but the damage was done. Ask anybody.

    Anyway, the noise ... is that why they stopped making it? I mean, mine's brand new with less than an hour of playing time on it. Eek.

    ~ Munji
  7. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003
    well...i will take partial responsibilty for that piece.

    i was the pro audio buyer at guitar center at the time and BBE came to me and asked what other products they could make with the Sonic Maximizer. i suggested DI's and they came back with the Di-100 and Di-10.

    the flaw in those pieces was that the pro version of the BBE chip (the one in the 482i and 882i) would not run on a 9 volt supply so they used a "consumer" grade BBE chip which was being used at the time by the side of the business that licenses consumer guys to put BBE in tv's and car stereo's. not a great chip but is was the best they could do at the time.

    the box sounded pretty good but was noisy.

    the good news is that now we have a new Di, actually two, and they are rippin'.

    we have a new chip with all the specs of the 482i/882i chip but will run on a 9 volt supply.

    this time i got to be in the middle of listening and taking it to players around LA and so on.

    i had two "models" when we designed these boxes...JDI/JDV from radial and the passive boxes i used at Record Plant many years ago as an assistant engineer.

    you can check out the DI-100X and DI-1000 here: www.bbesound.com/home.asp

    Bass Player will be doing reviews in next months issue i think.

    i hope we can win you back!

    thanks for the input
  8. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Cool info! Just so you know, nobody really trusts the BP reviews. They give good info, but are more like advertising than bench testing. BP is invariably positive. Personally, I read reviews here at TB, at bgra.net, and at Harmony Central. TB is the best because usually someone who actually has the unit can respond.
  9. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Hi djnylonpants, thanks for joining us.

    I have an early 401 which I like a lot and use whenever I pick up my bass, do you know something about it, chip etc.?

    Thanks in advance.
  10. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003
    wow! a 401...that's a few years ago. mid-80's. i had hair! actually, so did the 401...

    the 401 didn't have great headroom. if your playing heavier types of music, the "crunchiness" probably works to your advantage.

    also, part of the process circuit was discrete so even though the headroom was limited, if you kept the levels under control, it probably has a fairly open top-end response.

    that was a very early version of the Sonic Maximizer process called Unimax.

    the main difference in the way the process works today is that we use "level detectors" that look at how loud the incoming signal is.

    this is cool because we can vary the amount of process based on the dynamics of the incoming signal. also reduces the chance of overdriving the chip.

    thanks for the support, JMX.
  11. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    How does the compressor in the BMAX-t Bass Preamp compare to the compressor in the old model BBE 383 Bass Preamp.
    I purchased the 383 in the early 90's and the only thing I did not like was the compressor - it was very harsh (sounded more like limiting than compression).
  12. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Yeah, that coincides with my observations, sometimes you get some "compression" in the sound, depending on the input.
  13. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003
    red (i can't bring myself to call anyone a redneck unless i know fer sure that they are),

    we are using the same optical element but we have tweaked it's characteristics so it's a little more sensitive.

    the problem was before that you had to crank it fairly well open to get it to respond (the first bmax proto's reacted the same way).

    i had our engineer make it more sensitive so that it will start reacting a little sooner but because you don't have to crank it so hard the response will be more subtle gradually becoming harder and more limiter-like as you open it up.

    i hope this answers your question
  14. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003

    i always say if it works for you then it works...

    we've really advanced the technology since though.
  15. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    The gain on the 383 would have to be cranked to get a "smoother" compression sound which would occur at a lower threshold so the sensitivity adjustment would probably help.

    I would think that the Preamp Tube section will probably produce a slight amount of warm compression also.

    Do you know if any Memphis area dealers carry the BMAX-t Bass Preamp for demo purposes?
  16. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003

    i really appreciate the interest.

    unfortunately other than the GC we don't have a BBE dealer in memphis. GC will be carrying the piece but it might be a few months before they actually appear on the shelves.

    as a suggestion, Bass Northwest in seattle is a great dealer of all things bass and our BBE BMAX/BMAX-T. those guys will find a way for you to demo one if your are interested.

    you can find them at www.bassnw.com

    thanks again for the interest.
  17. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas

    I am interested in the two preamps you make. [I wanted to try a 383 for years and never got a chance.]

    Side note: I've been hoping someone would send basstasters.com a couple of units to record and post audio clips of (hint, hint).

    I was just wondering if you did any subjective comparisons with some of the more popular bass preamps around. If so, that might be a way to attract more potential buyers. I suspect there are a lot of bassists on TB who are familiar with the sound of Aguilar, Alembic, Ampeg, and Demeter. So, for instance, if you described the sound of the BMAX-T as "the lower bass is similar to the Alembic F-1X, but a little bit tighter and punchier; the midrange is similar to the Aguilar DB659, but a tad bit cleaner; & the high frequencies are very much like that of the Dem VTBP-201S", people would get a feel for whether it might have the particular tone they are looking for and might be more willing to go out of their way to check it out.

    Like I said, just checking.
  18. judd levison

    judd levison

    Jun 2, 2003

    Thanks for the input. I will pass along the Bassmasters.com suggestion to the marketing cats here.

    Regarding the comparison issue. I think you actually nailed it in your example.

    The fact is that the Alembic F1x and the Glockenklang Soul were the benchmark.

    The comment I hear over and over again is, "I've never heard anything with so much bottom", so it will be really very close to the Alembic down there...we probably go a little deeper and we certainly offer a lot more control.

    Of course the "tightness" of the bottom is really a function of your chosen set-up on the BMAX-T and your cabinets. Remember that different cabs have different resonant frequencies. But, with the three band eq and the "Para-mids" eq, you should be able to tweeze it anyway you like.

    The BBE Sonic Maximizer onboard allows for a really opened-up sweet top end. No one else has that Process so it's hard to compare.

    The Glock has a very open top and that probably is the closest. Of course, it is all solid state, not tube.

    The response to fast transients is very different with the solid state BMAX. It is lightening fast, it doesn't have the "roundness" in it's response that the BMAX-T does, as you would expect. The tonal qualities are very similar between the two but the BMAX is just so friggin'fast.

    I can't think of anything else to add at this point.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for the support!
  19. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I had a 383 (still do, in fact), and I have to agree that the compressor really left a lot to be desired. I kept trying to find a good use for it, but eventually abandoned it and picked up a PreSonus compressor, which really worked a ton better. All in all, I thought that preamp was a great bang for the buck. The variable crossover was really nice, and the EQ section was well thought out for a fixed frequency type EQ. One thing that I did notice, though, was that you pretty much had to play with the "punch" engaged. That pre just did not sound very good set flat, with no punch, no EQ, and no BBE process. But, once you hit punch, dialed in your process and lo contour, and tweaked the EQ for room and cabinet anomolies, it was quite nice.

    My main beef, though, was the DI. That sucker ran so hot, that even with padding it at the board, it was too much for most sound guys to handle. I ended up splitting the 1/4 signal out between the PA (via direct box) and my amp.

    With some higher quality materials and especially with a tube in the pre, I would be very interested to hear the new preamp.

    One thing that I have noticed about the BBE process in general is that it seems to be more beneficial for gear that isn't quite "there" on its own. While on the flip side, if you have a kicking signal path, gobs of headroom, and precise, clean, bad-@$$ cabs, it doesn't improve things as dramatically.

    Just my ramblings.

    Later, Tom.
  20. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Well, you definitely got ME more interested.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to audition a Glock yet.

    How does the SS model compare in the low end (besides "fast" which I think is an excellent quality) to some of the other preamps?

    P.S. That's "BASSTASTERS.com".