Blue Balls for Babbt BBE's


New member
This is my first real post - I kinda like the fact that I am categorized as a Junior member - up in the air, junior birdmen! Anyway, my question is about that mystical unit known as the sonic maximizer. Right now I'm an analog slogger, and compared to most here I'm feeling like a neandertal (without the big muscles, but I do have a nice sloping forehead). OK, here goes. What I'm using is an SM57 into a little dbx MC-6 compressor into my Tascam 414 tape multitrack. I use an Alesis nanoverb on my effects sends, and am mixing down to a Sony TC-WR565 dual cassette deck. That is the sum of my equipment, put together flying blind prior to finding this funtabulous site, and used to record my own self on vocals and acoustic guitar. Now: the info I have gathered from various postings, Dragon's tutorials, and reading a bunch of recording books have whetted my appetite for the sonic maximizer, allegedly better than sex but perhaps not as messy (unless applied to liberally to the mix?) As you can see from the above I'm doing this on the cheap. So I am considering the BBE 262,($139 at a little bitty unit, kinda reminds me of my nanoverb. But I see in the Musician's Friend catalog the BBE 264 (99 bucks! exclusive!) looking very similar. The catalog description says that the 264 has independent controls for each channel, but the catalog picture does not seem to bear this out. On the other hand, the 264 is billed as having RCA ins/outs, which makes me visualize the little bugger plugged in between my 414's stereo out and the mixdown cassette ins. Or would a maximizer, no matter which model, be "put into the mix" at the effect send/Aux stage? Am I making sense? I guess I'm asking: for a system such as mine (don't laff to hard), what would be a good enhancer/exciter/maximizer unit that is cheap, and how would such a legendary beast be plugged into my system for mixing down? I assume that to enhance/maximize a single track I would use it in the effects send. p.s. I checked on the BBE website, but they don't even list the 264. But the 262 looks neat.
Ah ha!!! The $100 box that is going to make your setup "Professional" and you a "Great Engineer"!!! Boy, I wish a $100 box could do that for me.

Let's see, where do I start with this. Well, first, don't take my comments wrong. They really are not directed towards you. You claim to know little about recording, so you really can't be expected to know that a sonic maximizer is a REALLY BIG OVERRATED HUNK OF JUNK!!!

Here is the theory. That box will enhance you lows and highs, at set frequencies, without adding any more volume. Your high's will be higher, and you low's lower. Or so the advertisement say's. Well, they are right. The problem is with what happens to the overall fidelity and integrity of your mixes that concerns me about that box.

Long ago I played around with one for a day. Boy! When I first applied it to a mix, it sure made everything so cool sounding. What an enhancement it made. So, I ran a mix with it. I also ran a couple more mixes with more processing. I figured if a little was good, well, a lot would be better.

Let me tell you. When I took those mixes and compared them to the unprocessed one's, the one's with the enhancer sounded horrible on ANY consumer playback system. The high's were too high, and the low's were too low. That was the case with processing it at the least that I could hear a difference. The mixes that I applied even more of the processing were unlistenable!

Here is the deal. You seem like a good kid. Go find yourself a nice girl and get married.....oh wait, wrong website.... :)

Don't waste $100 on something that you are going to have to sell for $50 later (in about 2 months when you figure out that I am right about this). Spend that money on something useful, like a decent microphone. These boxes that promise to make your recordings "come alive" usually kill everything that is good about high quality recordings. They are not really worth the money.

So, save some bucks and maybe get a preamp, or a new mixdown deck, or a digital recorder, or an AT-4033. These are all things that will make your mixes "come alive" because they are things that will move you closer to "professional" recording. A sonic maximizer just is not going to deliver that to you.

Good luck.

Ed Rei
Echo Star Studio
Yo Raj of Taj & Ma-Hall!

I agree with Echo Star-man; forget the "sonic maximizer" which usually turns out to be a sonic minimizer.

Your basic set-up is similar to my older set up using a Tascam 488; [I now am into digital stuff] so, I would spend the cash on a BETTER REVERB unit, one that is programable. The better reverb rooms will give more life to your stuff & vocals. Can't agree more about a good mic. And, you might also consider a quality mic. [You might try to find a deal via 800 who leases or rents mics; that way, you can "try before you buy."

Anyway, you are no longer a junior member. Scope out your by-line.

Keep twiddling those dials.

Green Hornet
Geez... I thought I posted a reply to the replies but it doesn't seem to be here. Anyway, thanks for the honest feedback (and to Sonusman) for the rib-tickling tongue lashing. I just wish that I'd found this whole discussion site about 18 months ago. I'm sure based on the advice found throughout that I'd have spent more on system components but been happier with the equipment and, more importantly, the results. Financially I'm stuck with what I have for a while, but as is often heard, I'll just try to push it to its optimum performance and look at it as a good learning tool for the multitrack process.

Plan B at this point will be to obtain a condensor mic and a preamp. Given my budget, I'll probably get an ART Tube MP, and am considering the AT 4033 or Rode NT1 in a large diaphram, or an AT 3528 or AKG C1000s in a small diaphragm. I'll be using the mic to record my thin high little squeeky voice, and my fingerstyle attack on acoustic guitar would barely damage shredded wheat. Any reccommendations on a mic that can adequately capture such pathetic sounds? I'm leaning toward the AKG C1000S as I've hear good reports and it seems affordable.
It's true that no box will replace careful mixing, but I beg to disagree a bit. My praise for the Sonic Maximizer is mainly for its ability to restore the "lost ends of the spectrum" to cassette dubs in a way that just boosting things at both ends cannot do. Raj, the rest of your ideas sound fine too...

And yes, I use it directly between the source (multitrack) and mixdown decks.

Maybe (assuming I ever get back into my studio) I'll post some before-and-after files...