Author Topic: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser  (Read 38375 times)

seibertdr

What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« on: September 10, 2008, 07:46:10 PM »
I have heard of these pedals and I am confused as to what they do and where they should go in a guitar chain.  :icon_redface:

Any thoughts?

Thank you. Don
Mesa RK II
Ibanez RG570
Ibanez AR-300
Schecter Hellraiser
Gretsch G5120
Guitar>Bad Horsie wah>FullDrive 2>Boss OD-2>EHX POG2>Ernie Ball Volume>Amp
M9 in loop

calpolyengineer

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2008, 08:01:51 PM »
It supposedly corrects phase distortion by your speakers. I think it splits the signal into different frequency bands and delays them relative to each other dynamically. I have heard it and it sounds great but in a way that you really can't describe. It sounds sort of brighter, sort of more clear but just not really either of those.

Signal chain wise, it is supposed to go right before the amp. They have a rackmount version that you plug your guitar striaght into so that it can do its detection, then it goes to all your other effects, then the actual processing is done at the end of the chain. Its called the ProRack G and it is one of the next big purchases I will be making.

-Joe

CodeMonk

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2008, 08:07:33 PM »
Some people have described it as "Taking the blanket off your amp".

I can tell the difference with my Vox Valvetronix amps. With my Vox AC30 though, it has very little, if any effect (Its already pretty crystal clear).

Boogdish

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2008, 10:31:28 PM »
My understanding is this: Higher frequency sounds move through the air at a faster speed than lower frequency sounds.  The sonic maximizer slightly delays the higher frequency sounds so that they will theoretically line up when they get from the speaker to the ear.  It also has a low end roll off/boost knob (or my version does, it's an old simple version).  I use one in my synth setup between my mini mixer and power amp mostly for the low end roll off. 

It's been my experience that this is usually an effect that sounds good when you're playing by yourself but awful in a mix.  It can make you sound very thin and processed and give everyone a headache...but then again, I tend to overdo things and wouldn't be surprised if y'all had better results than me.

Also, if you want your amp to sound like a blanket has been pulled from it, a better way to do it would be to upgrade your speakers. 

cheeb

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2008, 10:38:21 PM »
It isn't for everybody. Boogdish has it right as far as the function. It works well for me...instead of thinning and processing the tone, it makes mine sound thicker and more pleasing to the eardrum. YMMV

As far as DIY-ing it, you can't do it perfectly. BBE has a clamp-down on the chip. You can only get it from them. However, there is a "workalike" called the BB&E from stm. Check it out. http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?topic=49860.msg379816#msg379816

Edited to add: My experience is based on the stompbox version which BBE claims to be the exact circuit from the rack versions.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 10:44:53 PM by cheeb »

seibertdr

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2008, 11:38:52 PM »
Thanks guys. It kinda was what I thought it was. I guess the only way to tell is to put it in my chain and hear how it sounds. Don
Mesa RK II
Ibanez RG570
Ibanez AR-300
Schecter Hellraiser
Gretsch G5120
Guitar>Bad Horsie wah>FullDrive 2>Boss OD-2>EHX POG2>Ernie Ball Volume>Amp
M9 in loop

sevenisthenumber

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2008, 12:31:51 AM »
I use them right before the amp. I have 3 of them and i just sit em on the amp and run from my board into them and then into the amp. For me it is a very pleasing result. I play strats/teles and a vast mix of fender tube amps and it really helps give a clear and strong low end that seems to not exist without the unit. It also works as a buffer of sorts to increase signal strength in my rig as I have a large board with many true bypass pedals. This is the best piece of gear for the money ive ever owned..

DougH

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2008, 07:07:10 AM »
It's probably more useful for mixing/mastering or applying to FOH to "correct" acoustic problems with a venue. IME- for a guitar amp it's a fancy tone control.
"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."

jacobyjd

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2008, 08:27:33 AM »
In my experience with these, I'd agree with Doug--

It IS a fancy tone control, but a really NICE one :)  I've used it in venues where the mass of the crowd is on the same plane as my amp (i.e. a coffee shop with no raised stage), and it helps the sound cut through some of the mud.

Lately, our bass player has been using it to bring out some of the highs in his amp--which is not that great, and he doesn't have the cash for a nicer amp or cab--and it does a great job.

In normal situations, I don't really feel that using a SM is necessary--let your amp sound the way it wants to...that's why you bought it :) It tends to make the highs a little harsh if you're in a room with really nice, bright acoustics.

Give one a try if you have problems cutting through for solos and whatnot, or if the other guitarist is always drowning you out :) Can't have that now, can we?
Warsaw, Indiana's poetic love rock band: http://www.bellwethermusic.net

JasonG

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2008, 09:07:40 AM »
There was a long thread about this a while ago. I think its worth having but its not at the top of my list.
Class A booster , Dod 250 , Jfet booster, Optical Tremolo, Little Gem 2,  mosfet boost, Super fuzz , ESP stand alone spring reverb red Llama omni-drive , splitter blender ,

NEVER use gorilla glue for guitar repairs! It's Titebond , Elmers, or Superglue

Mark Hammer

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2008, 09:36:06 AM »
You have two ears, and both of them are designed to receive all frequencies.  That frequency content comes from many simultaneous sources, and since few sound sources in the real world produce ONLY pure tones without harmonics, your brain has the unenviable (and constant) task of sorting the harmonics into the ones that (likely) came along with this pure tone, that pure tone, and that sort of modulated tone.  Imagine you had an immense crowd photo (billboard sized) of people without any facial features, and had a second pile of little photos of faces (eyes, brows, noses and mouths), and you had to sort the faces and allocate them to the empty space they went with.  That's pretty much what your brain has to do with harmonic content.  In some respects, your brain can sort these harmonics into different piles based on directionality (i.e., if it came from that direction then it goes with the other sounds coming from that direction), but often the principal rule of thumb it has to work with is the relative simultaneity of harmonics and fundamentals.

And therein lies the problem.  Not only do sound waves move through the air differently, but tweeters and woofers accelerate differently, may be located in a staggered manner from the listener.  Even well before the speaker, different aspects of the signal path may cause "group delay", which is a sort of staggering of broad ranges of frequency content due to an assortment of factors, including capacitors in the signal path  (this is why audiophiles prefer not to have caps in series with the signal).

Okay, lets take that little pile of faces and snip them up so that you cut diagonally across, splitting the mouth, nose and eyes in ways that make it even more difficult to pair them up together and figure out what face-space they go to.  That's what group delay does.  As a result it makes for exceedingly hard work for the brain when there are multiple sound sources, as in a band or orchestra, or something like a %^&*tail party scene in a film soundtrack.  All that harmonic content flying past you has to be appropriately sorted and assigned, and that's a phenomenal amount of mental work to be done.

Boy it would help a lot if there were some way to overcome at least some of that cumulative group delay.  Enter Sonic Maximizer and "the BBE process".  The general basis of the process is to "correct" the phase relationships between fundamentals and harmonics, such that the fundamentals seem more obviously associated with those harmonics, and the resulting sound more crisply defined.

I can't say much with authority about the inner workings of the process, except that it is something you should think of as a more complex and targeted phase shifter.  Will it provide improvement in all cases?  Given the problem that it tries to be a solution for, no.  It will prove to be more satisfying when there are multiple concurrent sounds, and when those sounds tend to have more harmonic content.  Again, with more work for the brain to do in sorting harmonics and fundamentals, whatever makes that workload lighter will prove satisfying aurally.  Can or does such a unit "fix" the problem? Well, since you can't know up front what the desired amount of "therapeutic stagger" needs to be in any given band that will restore coherence to the entire mixed signal, you might probably expect more success when applying it on an individual basis to individual instruments, as opposed to attempting to find a single stagger that works equally for all the signal sources being mixed to the PA.  That's not to say you can't use it on mixed signals and expect any improvement.  Rather, there is individually-tailored improvement and group-compromise improvement.

Is there anything you should not expect to hear improvements on?  I would imagine there are some things that wouldn't pay off much.  If you were playing a Hofner Beatle Bass with the foam mute on and flatwound strings, through 15" speakers, I wouldn't expect to hear much payoff in comparison to a Precision bass played through a cab with 10" aluminum Hartke speakers and piezo tweeters.

Also consider that, as much harmonic content as distortions produce, something like a BBE might be the exact opposite of what you're looking for.  Many people work very hard to produce a kind of sonic mess in which the sources are deliberately blurred - a sort of audio Jackson Pollock or William Turner.  In those instances, the clarity that a BBE unit can provide is antithetical to the sonic goals.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 10:16:28 AM by Mark Hammer »

cheeb

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2008, 10:08:27 AM »
Jesus, you're a library of analogies.

Mark Hammer

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2008, 10:12:37 AM »
That's what they tell me. :icon_wink:

I was hoping for "Geez, you're a veritable Adonis", but if I have to settle for "library of analogies", so be it.  They do the job.

DougH

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2008, 12:02:51 PM »
 :icon_mrgreen: :icon_mrgreen:

Cheeb, you had me falling out of my chair...


I've got a rack mount BBE I've used on occasion. I used it with my strat for a while to give it a nice little bass boost. But my rig started looking like the flight deck of the starship enterprise (and was almost as complicated to set up) so I started leaving the BBE at home. Then I tweaked the amp, which is probably what I should have done in the first place. So in that particular instance- problem solved. I never liked using it for tweaking high-frequencies or using a lot of the "process" control with the guitar as it started sounding...well...uh... "processed"... I can see why metal guys like them though as they are capable of extreme bass boosts and scooped sounds.

I don't know how much I buy into the BBE write ups about "the process", what it is, what it does, why it's necessary, etc. I will say that any of these kinds of products that supposedly fix phase relationships, compensate frequencies, throw in a little moon dust on the side, etc are going to have more apparent effect with high-harmonic wide frequency range program content like a mix or something. It's probably useful for clearing up a dead or muddy sounding p.a. and aiding in separation and so forth. Probably real useful for mastering too, although I haven't tried it yet.

But for a single electric guitar through a mono amp? Ehhh... IME the effect is fairly negligible. Maybe it's more useful when playing in stereo or full-range (like that jazz guy that plays guitar/bass parts at the same time on the same instrument). That said, if you use  it with your guitar and like "that sound", more power to you. I don't believe there's a whole lot in that situation that needs to be chopped, channelized, straightened, and frequency aligned, and the aggregate effect of it will be perceived as an EQ, but I won't argue if you think it does more for your sound. I maintain it's intended more as a studio/FOH tool, and because some guitarists liked the EQ when used with their amps they now offer it in pedal form.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 12:20:51 PM by DougH »
"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."

jacobyjd

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2008, 12:30:18 PM »
Yeah, the pedal form factor doesn't make much sense to me...most people that use it either have it on all the time...or off.

No need for switching.
Warsaw, Indiana's poetic love rock band: http://www.bellwethermusic.net

Mark Hammer

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2008, 12:56:20 PM »
Same thing goes for "exciters".  There are contexts where they do something tangible and beneficial, but a whole lot more contexts where the initial response is likely to be "Is this thing even on?".  You will note how many "exciter" pedals have come and gone, and been expunged from the product catalog, largely because, I imagine, they were purchased or tried out by folks who really had no likelihood of even being able to hear the thing in their typical rig, let alone finding its sound pleasing to them.

If you're a Les-Paul-into-MESA/Marshall kinda player in a power trio, I can't see the BBE "process" adding anything anywhere near as obvious as a mere bit of EQ-ing.  Indeed, the drummer may have more benefit from using it than the guitar player does.  If you play an electro-acoustic instrument, though, or something with a piezo pickup and lotsa top-end, or play guitar synth with complex timbres, I think it warrants checking out at least.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 01:04:30 PM by Mark Hammer »

seibertdr

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2008, 12:59:07 PM »
"Geez, you're a veritable Adonis"  ;D

I appreciate all the info. I had heard a lot about and wasnt sure what kind of situation you would use it in. I just received a new EH Metal Muff and played around with it last night. After some tweaking on the amp and the muff, I found something that I'm pretty happy with. I will have to see how it will sound in the theater next week.  :)
Mesa RK II
Ibanez RG570
Ibanez AR-300
Schecter Hellraiser
Gretsch G5120
Guitar>Bad Horsie wah>FullDrive 2>Boss OD-2>EHX POG2>Ernie Ball Volume>Amp
M9 in loop

Solidhex

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2008, 02:09:35 PM »
Yo

  I have the bass di/ sonic maximizer. Although I don't get the full benefit from it since I'm standing in front of 2 8/10 ampeg cabs cranked with a SVT my soundguy really likes it. The low end control can really add a lot with out just muddying up the sound.

--Brad

DougH

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2008, 02:46:33 PM »
Quote
The low end control can really add a lot with out just muddying up the sound.

That's true. It's a nice EQ for adding lows.
"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."

FlyingZ

Re: What is a BBE Sonic Maximiser
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2008, 04:54:36 PM »
When I ran sound on a system using old peavey mark II speakers and some CS800 amps the maximizer was absolutely essential. After several attempts using it with my newer EV/QSC PA it was designated useless and sold.

A long time ago I used two amps separated with a dd5 on E/D mode where one amp was delayed by milliseconds. It made an enormous difference like a maximizer with tighter low-end and clearer highs but much better overall quality. It did smooth out the sound a little which could be good or bad.