BBE’s Sonic Maximizer system, now in its fourth generation, continues to be a well-received enhancer in recording studios, live sound setups and musicians’ rigs. BBE’s 482 is one of its lower-cost models ($349; street price less than $200), and is targeted at small studio owners and musicians.
Product PointsApplications: Studio CD duplication
Key Features: Integrated printer/CD-R and Control Center PC; Plextor 8X CDR drive
Price: $9,995 for the basic unit; $11,495 with the Perfect Print option; $2,000 more for the Control Center PC
Contact: Rimage at 612-944-8144.
+ Rock-solid reliability in robotics/replication
+ Simple, effective software
+ Cost-effective custom printing
– Printing color is finicky
– 300 x 300 dpi falls short of silkscreen quality
The Score: Perfect for studios looking to add value to their services and income on the balance sheet.
The BBE process restores the time alignment of the frequency spectrum, compensating primarily for delayed high frequencies. Our ears give special treatment to those sounds that arrive first. Delaying high frequencies makes for an indistinct sound. BBE gets the high- and upper-mid frequencies out front, restoring the openness and clarity of the audio in the process. The BBE process also offers some time-corrected low-frequency EQ.
The no-frills 482 offers the basic BBE control set, which consists of low contour and process knobs. Low contour boosts the level of the time-corrected low frequencies, while the process knob does the same for high frequencies. A BBE process switch engages or bypasses the processing.
In/out LEDs show whether the 482 is engaged; each channel has a four-LED signal-level ladder plus clip indicator as well. The lowest indicators (yellow) sit at -20 and -12 dB, with green indicators at -6 and 0 dB. The 482 is designed for -10 dBV operation.
The 482 has RCA and 1/4-inch I/Os in the rear, and will drive both outputs at once. An AC cable is permanently attached to the 482’s internal power supply and the processor has a front-mounted power switch (now nearly extinct on lower-cost processors).
The BBE 482’s simplicity is one of the box’s greatest strengths. A twist of the process knob adds progressively more high-frequency content, while the low contour knob fills out the bottom end.
The BBE process sounds best in moderation. Things are about right when you don’t notice it on as much as you notice it “off.” Since the ear quickly gets used to a given amount of processing, it’s a good idea to periodically toggle the BBE off.
The BBE process is good for adding a touch of sheen to a veiled or dark sound. My favorite applications for the 482 are keyboard submixes, background vocals and synth strings. It can also add nice sparkle to acoustic guitar, and will bring out the bite in electric guitars. I’ve used the BBE process in live sound applications, and found it effective in opening up the mix.
The two BBE controls offer wide latitude, making it easy to over-process a sound. The process knob boosts all frequencies above 5 kHz by as much as 12 dB. This dips well into the upper-mid range, which means the BBE 482 is entirely capable of making sounds harsh and edgy if not used in moderation.
The low contour knob has a stated knee frequency of 50 Hz with up to 12 dB of boost. In use, the BBE 482 seems to lift frequencies far higher than this. Push things too far, and boxy low-mids are accentuated.
When it comes right down to the mix, does the BBE 482 accomplish anything that well-applied shelving EQ can’t? Definitely. There’s a little something going on beyond simple EQ that helps the BBE 482 Sonic Maximizer breathe new life into murky sounds. This makes it a good choice when you want easy, twist-a-knob improvements in your live or recorded music.
Contact: BBE at 714-897-6766.