BBE Sonic Maximizer Yeh or Neh?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by madjazzbass, May 18, 2020.

  1. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    I was wondering just what the "general consensus" is here on TB as far as the BBE Sonic Maximizer (or the Aural Exiter) goes. I have a Gallien Krueger Fusion 550 and I Love the versatility and tones I can get from just this one amp head; BUT, no one amp can "do it all"; so I heard mention (somewhere here on TB) that the particular tone I was "chasing"/after SWR (SM400) could be had by simply adding in a Sonic Maximizer and it'll get me "in the ballpark" of that particular tone. They're really not that expensive, but I wanted to see/hear what some others here have to say about them Good or Bad. I figure if I came get close to that tone for ? $150 (or less used) it may be well worth it. Thoughts? Thanks.
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  2. BunchyMutt

    BunchyMutt Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Have you used the search feature in both the effects and amps forums? I don't see them pop up much and believe (for whatever reason) that they aren't used widely. There have been threads about it before. To generalize - lots of people think it's a glorified eq, some others who claim they've seen the schematic believe it's something different. I think others who have had good luck with using one use it very subtly

    BBE sonic maximizer - how are you using yours?

    Remember when every rig had to have a BBE Sonic Maximizer?

    Sonic Maximizer, is it worth it?

    sonic maximizer
  3. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Thank you very much, much appreciated.
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  4. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    The Sonic Maximizer is NOT a simple, preset EQ, nor does it (as their marketing material claims) "align different frequencies".

    It's a side-chain treble expander. It dynamically boosts treble based on the overall level of the input signal.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    "General consensus"... ha, this is the internet. :D

    Short answer: if you like it, you like it. I've seen bassists use them on occasion.

    Longer answer: I'm no techie, but I've read that the marketing hype differs from the reality. That said, that's true for a lot of gear... so, all that matters is your ears. FWIW, I used the Aphex Aural Exciter with Big Bottom (talk about marketing!) for awhile. The Aphex isn't the same thing as the Maximizer, but the end result is in the ballpark: gives the appearance of clearer highs and lows. I thought it was okay: sounded best when used subtly, but I eventually decided I didn't need to sacrifice a rack space for a subtle change so I got rid of it. Again, my experience is with the Aphex, not the BBE. Maybe the BBE is more effective.
  6. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I've found that it expands all frequencies and not just the high frequencies. I have one built into my BBE B-Max bass preamp. I've also experienced it's use in the studio. When used correctly, it can bring to life a very dull sounding track.
  7. SuperTbass


    Aug 29, 2010
    I used to have one and found that it made things sound a little better. But then when I would turn it off, things would sound MUCH worse. It’s one of those “don’t notice till it’s off pedals”.
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  8. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Man, I used to have one in my rack when people had racks. One of the only things i held onto was the BBE Sonic Maximizer. I use it with my home audio. Love it for that.
  9. I still have one but only use it when mixing drum overhead mics. It's pretty great for that.
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  10. DirtyDuke

    DirtyDuke Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 13, 2012
    guelph ontario
    Partner Southampton Pedals, Partner CCP
    I had one for a few years. Every time I turned it off I had to turn it back on.

    Then, at someone's, request I tried an experiment. I put it in its own loop and listen to my tone with it bypassed. Then with the loop on but the pedal turned off and felt that my tone suffered from going through the pedal when it wasn't on. Then off course I turned it on and my tone was back.

    Not sure how scientific it was but I felt like the pedal altered my tone in a bad way when wasnt on.

    Eventually I switched to a rack mount and still have that one. I use it on the Drums subgroup in some venues.
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  11. A friend of mine has a rack unit Maximizer, loves what it does for him, but I have to admit doesn't work in my rig alot of high end.
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  12. Remoman


    Mar 14, 2017
    I'm a big fan of the BBE Sonic Maximizer, have been for decades. I think as a bass pre-amp/effect, it has it's uses and really puts out a nice full tone. But for me, I've liked it best for EQ effect on stereo and live applications, used to use it doing live sound when I just couldn't get any bottom out of the system and the room. I have one of the mini 282R units currently here on my nano studio, in line for the the studio monitors. I can punch it out for flat response, punch it in for the EQ'd effect. Great for listening to music on the computer.
  13. I have a BBE BMAX-T tube preamp. It has a Sonic Maximizer built in.

    When I use the preamp for recording I don't use the Maximizer. When I use the preamp live, I usually kick on the Maximizer. I use very subtle settings. It also has a compressor built in which I only use in live applications.

    To me, the maximizer circuit isn't a "must have" item. It does sound good with the BMAX... but in my opinion it is just part of the character of the preamp.
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  14. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    from a previous thread:

    For the record, here's exactly what a BBE "does":

    It splits the signal into three separate spectral bands and applies different pre-determined phase correction to each band. Low frequencies (20-150Hz) are delayed 2.5 milliseconds and passively filtered. Midrange frequencies (150-1200Hz) are delayed 0.5 milliseconds and actively filtered. High frequencies are not delayed, but pass through a voltage controlled amplifier, whose detector monitors both the midrange and high bands to compare relative harmonic content. On a typical BBE unit the user has control over the amount of phase-corrected bass frequencies (Lo Contour), and the amount of phase-corrected dynamically-modulated treble frequencies (Process) in the mix.

    So you're both correct. Sort of.
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  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    I own a Sonic Maximizer and an SM400.

    I can confidently tell you that using the BBE Sonic Maximizer with a different head isn’t going to make it sound like an SM400.

    The Maximizer is an interesting device that does bring its own subtle something to the party. But it is a very much misunderstood effect that just does that one thing it does. It doesn’t work miracles or have the ability to emulate other amps. It’s more a presence enhancer and signal clarifier for lack of a better way to describe it. At least to my ears. And IMO it’s more suited for use in the studio than it is for live performance most times. But that may just be me.

    You can often find SM400s in good condition between $400-$500. I know it’s easy to say, but if you really want to get that SM400 vibe it may be smarter and cheaper in the long run to just save up and get the real deal rather than spend hundreds on pedals chasing a tone only to wind up being disappointed. I went through that for awhile trying to get close to an Alembic vibe. And I wasted a lot of time and money messing around with approximations and substitutes before I faced up to reality, bit the bullet and bought one of their F1X preamps. Problem solved.

    Like the saying goes: “Buy once, only cry once”
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
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  16. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    Years ago I bought one of the BBE 383 preamps because it was cheap and I needed a preamp. My impression is there is some deception involved because the bypassed signal is nowhere near flat; it seems to really roll off a lot of the high end. It does sound quite a bit better when you engage and max out the BBE process. However, IMHO a decent flat preamp sounds way better.
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  17. Adienn7


    Jan 26, 2007
    MY thunderfunks have an aural exciter.. And it's all the way up.. I believe it's a similar.. I could be wrong
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  18. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015

    I find that the GK MB series is about as close as you're going to get to an OG SWR, and the tops and mids are, indeed, pretty close. The very bottom, well...nothing does that like an SWR head. A 15Hz HPF just gives you that extra bottom in the bottom.

    I'd also point out that a used SM-400 is probably cheaper than a BBE exciter. Hell, I just threw away - literally, in the trash, because nobody wants it and nowadays I don't need any Covid Creepers coming around my house - both my 1990 Goliath I and SM400. I didn't have the room with my other two SWR rigs, and I don't ever want to haul that ungodly heavy cabinet out ever again.
  19. (Copied and pasted from yours truly, circa 2003 - ish)

    I have an old 422A, old-school styling which I dig :cool:

    Paid $50 for it, about 11 years ago.. Tried it briefly with my bass rig, didn't like it in that application. Tried it with a pro sound rig in my basement, utilizing an old-school pair of JBL MR802 monitors, for pre-recorded music playback. In that application, as long as the lo-contour and definition knobs were at lower (less than half or below) I actually liked the way it modified the sound. But, only if the effect is very subtle, it is way easy to over-do...

    It's hard to explain, but to my ears, it does something a bit different than an eq, an audiophile friend of mine had the same opinion.

    I don't care about the numbers, measurements, etc... I base my opinion on what I hear. Is it a magic box? No. Would I encourage others to buy one? No. Will I ever sell mine? No - I'll probably clean the scratchy pots and use it like I've stated above.

    YMMV / hope this helps
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
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