Resources for the Recording Musician
October 26, 2009

BBE Sonic Maximizer

Question: I have a 2 channel BBE Sonic Maximizer (the rack mounted version). Theoretically, it claims to "realign the frequency or frequencies" that get "bent out of shape" when being reproduced out of a speaker.

When recording with a DAW, is there any reason to use it? Can it improve the formation of a digital signal? If used when recording a signal, can it improve the quality of my recorded signal? Or is it only useful on the output side? Are these things being used in professional studios?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

The way I remember and understand it, Sonic Maximizer basically has two functions.

The first thing it does it split up the frequencies into 3 bands -  lows, mids, and highs - and then uses small amounts of delay on a couple of the bands to adjust the phases relationship of the bands, which they claim adds clarity and punch to the mix by making those frequency ranges more defined.  Something along those lines anyway... that part of the process is actually fairly subtle.

The second part is what you really notice, which is the low end and high end "enhancement" which you adjust by the knobs (they vary depending on the model).  Basically you're just adding a lot of low end and high frequency EQ when you start tweaking those knobs.  So, it's kind of like a "loudness" curve process, where the bass and treble are boosted.  Louder and brighter sounds "better" to the untrained ear, so people start cranking those knobs thinking it sounds good, when it's really just beefing up your low end and high end, it not necessarily a very good way at all.  If I remember correctly, though, they aren't "static" EQs... they are program dependent (at least the high end anyway), so the amount of EQ added changes as the input signal varies.

In general, though, I'd stay away from those boxes.  Certainly not needed in the modern days of digital recording since you aren't losing high frequencies by recording to analog tape and playing the tape over and over (even in analog days, I don't think too many people liked the BBE units either).

Do some Google searches, and you'll find a lot of opinions about them.  I'd personally not use the box, unless you use it on just one instrument or track as a kind of special effect.  Certainly not something you'd want to record every track through!!  It's not going to do anything to "improve" your digital signals, and many would say it does much more harm than good.

Certainly not a box you're going to find in many, if any at all, high end professional studios.

Subscribe via Email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get Help!

Got a technical question for the Ask MusicTECH blog?
Submit your Question

Need more personal help or consulting?
Contact Me

Buy me a coffee?

If you find this site helpful, please consider leaving a tip/donation to help cover the server costs and encourage me to write more.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram