Better, faster, higher – it seems folks are always wanting more in everything they do. Peavey’s kosmos ($299) gratifies the desire for more in yet another direction, lower. This processor uses the lowest frequencies in your signals to synthesize new subsonic content an octave lower. It will also enhance high frequencies with equalization and stereo width enhancement.
Product PointsApplications: Sound reinforcement, studio, DJ,home theater
Key Features: Subharmonic synthesizer; dual sub center frequencies; high-frequency EQ/stereo width expansion; dedicated sub output, balanced I/O
Contact: Peavey Electronics at 877-732-8391, Web Site
The Peavey kosmos is a single rack-space processor designed for stereo operation. Stereo inputs and outputs are on balanced XLR or 1/4-inch connectors, and a dedicated sub output is carried on a balanced 1/4-inch connector.
The kosmos has a striking blue faceplate with humorous control names such as Quake and Sub-Terranean Shift. Starting on the left side, the processor offers a bypass switch with indicator LED. This bypass comes after the input section’s level knob, which eliminates abrupt changes in volume if you are using the kosmos for level-matching as well as enhancement. Red and green LEDs next to the level knob flash at 0 and +10 dBu respectively.
In the Seismic Activity section of the kosmos sit the Cut Sub Bass From Main and Sub-Terranean Shift buttons, as well as Quake, Thud and Xpanse knobs. These knobs are the primary controls for the kosmos. Quake adjust the level of the synthesized bass signal, and a nearby “act” (activity) LED flashes to indicate signal in the range affected by the sub-sonic circuit.
The Thud knob controls a simple peaking EQ that boosts higher-frequency bass from the main signal. Peavey engineers rightly recognized that subbass frequencies can shake things but do not really carry impact. The Thud knob boosts bass frequencies that add definition and impact to the sub signal. With some program material, there is also a perceived gap in the bass when sub frequencies are added in. Thud helps fill this in.
The Xpanse knob engages a shelving high-frequency boost that appears to start in the 8 kHz range. Other processing is going on as well with this control, reportedly expanding the stereo field and enhancing definition between instruments
The Cut Sub Bass button removes enhanced bass from the stereo signal (as synthesized or boosted by the Quake and Thud controls), sending them to the sub output only. The processor’s sub output has a 90 Hz low-pass filter to remove all but the lowest bass frequencies. The kosmos processor does not offer a true crossover, however. The original bass frequencies are always passed intact to the stereo output regardless of the setting of this switch.
The Sub-Terranean Shift button changes the frequency range.
Other than the power switch, the last control on the kosmos is the Sub Woofer level knob. This knob adjusts the level of the sub output, which always carries the sum of the original signal, synthesized Quake output and boosted Thud output. When the kosmos’s bypass switch is engaged, this output carries just the original bass signal.
After you patch the kosmos into your PA, studio mixer or DJ rig, start looking around the room for things that are not securely bolted down. This little box cranks out obscene amounts of that deep, pillowy bass that rattles your internal organs and shakes objects from their perches.
The kosmos excels at what instruments and microphones do not do very well, generate sub-bass energy. The recording process generally does not do justice to ultra-low frequencies, and what you do capture is often muddy and indistinct. The kosmos process takes good, solid fundamentals and drops them down an octave. Unnatural? Wonderfully so.
Setting up the kosmos is very simple. Plug it in, turn it on and raise the Quake knob until the lowest octave of your music is rumbling. Peavey’s documentation says that the 12 o’clock position is a good place to start. I found 9 o’clock to be more than ample for most input sources.
Changing the processing frequency with the Sub-Terranean Shift button makes for a subtle change in the kosmos’s sound. With most speakers and sound systems, the higher setting just appears to make more low bass. You would probably need bass cabinets flat down to 30 Hz to really tell that one setting is lower than the other. Peavey recommends the lower position for 12-inch speakers and larger, though there is no direct correlation between speaker diameter and low-frequency extension.
The Thud control comes in handy, especially when the new sub frequencies seem almost “disconnected” from the main signal. Bringing up the Thud control ties the low end back together; and adds nice definition to the bass sound.
Least impressive to me is the kosmos’s Xpanse control. Whether through a PA or high-quality headphones, I could never hear Xpanse doing much more than just boosting the treble (which it does quite nicely). Only in rare cases did I perceive any widening of the stereo image, and that could have been due as much to the high-frequency boost as any other processing. Unless I needed a broad, shelving-style treble boost (almost never), I left the Xpanse control off.
I noticed a slight loss of transparency when passing signals through the kosmos, making me question its use in a mastering-type application. That said, I did find the kosmos to breathe new life into some bass-challenged mixes I had laying around.
If you are concerned about transparency through the kosmos, you can always wire it in as a sidechain effect. Run it off a live sound mixer’s aux send, for example, to process a blend of kick drum, bass and floor toms. Run the sub out of the kosmos back into the board, or send it directly to a few dozen sub cabinets. Plug in a good reggae band, and you are in low-frequency heaven.
For recording, you can do something similar to capture the kosmos’s output back to tape (or onto a hard drive track). Then, just blend the sub track in at mix time. You will want to watch phase very closely any time you are splitting the kosmos’s signal by using sub output independent of its stereo outputs.
I definitely prefer the kosmos on full mixes instead of individual instruments. It’s not that the kosmos does not do great things for electric bass, deep synth pads and other sounds; I simply want the kosmos to perform its magic on all the bass energy in a song, not just a single instrument. Call me greedy.
DJs hoping to rattle dancers onto the dance floor, whether they want to be there or not, will have a field day with the kosmos. Though not necessarily needed for techno, trance and other forms of electronic music, the kosmos can add lots of bump to older recordings. The same principle applies for home theater – most modern movies already have enough low-frequency energy. But some older movies on DVD or VHS could really benefit from an extra octave’s worth of bass.
Word to the wise: the kosmos generates incredibly low frequencies, which are the hardest for any speaker to reproduce. They require the greatest excursion of your bass drivers, which can have your speakers maxxed-out at surprisingly low volumes. Use the kosmos with care, and keep an ear open for the tell-tale distortion of a speaker at its excursion limit.
To say the kosmos is a lot of fun to have in the rack would be an understatement. Being able create low-frequency thunder with the twist of a knob is gratifying indeed. But like any effect, the kosmos is best used in moderation – the constant drone of ultra-low frequencies can actually detract from many styles of music.
For situations and musical styles that could use a strong foundation of sub energy, the kosmos will truly take you lower.