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BBE Sonic Maximzer

Hi all,

Can somebody explain what exactly a BBE Sonic Maximizer does? On their website they talk about phasing and the like. I take it that it is different from a preamp.

Also, I am a nubbie, so I am not sure why I would want a balanced as opposed to unbalanced unit. They make a model that is also a preamp. If anybody has any experience with this, I would appreciate it.



AudioGaff Mon, 06/12/2006 - 11:22
Think of the BBE and Aphex units as Eq effects. They use freq phase and delay tricks. They were much more usefull in the analog tape recording days of yester year. They can add high end sparkle and low end oomph. Most people have a hard time using them because they tend to over use or over process and then you get thin, brittle and harsh sounding results.

Reggie Mon, 06/12/2006 - 14:38
In fact, don't even recommend you attempt to put it on a full mix at this point in your nubiness. Unless you have an acute ear and a good monitoring environment, you are likely to do ugly things to your music. I hear people do it all the time and not even know how bad it is to other people. Fooling around with it in a guitar rig is OK (that is probably what the unbalanced one is for); but it is no magic Goodulator®.

RemyRAD Tue, 06/13/2006 - 01:00
Again the subject of balanced versus unbalanced comes up.

Single ended or unbalanced systems are frequently easier to deal with than their balance counterparts in that, you are dealing with 50% less connections that need to be connected. The single ended circuit or unbalanced circuit utilizes a grounded shield that works in concert with the positive or hot connection. The problem with single ended unbalanced equipment is that generally the wires need to be under 10 to 15 feet otherwise external electrical and radio frequency interference along with " ground loops" can cause unusable sound. In a sense though, a single ended or unbalanced circuit can actually be a simpler and cleaner signal path.

Balanced circuitry as needed for most microphones does not use the ground/shield as part of the actual signal! That's right, most balanced equipment (except for microphones requiring phantom power, where the shield is used as the negative part of the DC power) can be wired without ever connecting the shield/ground! Balanced lines actually require 3 wires as opposed to their unbalanced brethren that only requires 2 wires. What makes balanced circuitry different is that the signal which is on the 2 wires (not the shield) are carrying the signal 180° out of phase from one another. This means that anything that is common like buzz or hum, that is picked up by those 2 wires, magically cancels out because that stuff is in phase on those 2 wires. So balanced circuitry actually requires "phasing magic" with additional transformers or electronically balanced operational amplifiers. It is a more complicated signal path since balanced transformers or active balanced circuitry must be used to encode and decode the balanced signal, thus creating "electrical noise reduction" (not to be confused with "hiss" oriented software restoration oriented noise reduction, which can also be utilized to repair affected unbalanced signals but is not desirable thing to do). Because of the way balanced circuitry works and its impervious nature against commonly injected noise, balanced cables which include microphones and other line level devices can be run off to hundreds of feet long without fear of KILLER NOISE. You can't run cabling that long with unbalanced circuitry no matter what you do.

In a way balanced circuitry defies the old saying of "garbage in equals garbage out". With balanced circuitry that old phrase would change to "garbage in equals gold out".

The audio alchemist
Ms. Remy Ann David

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 06/13/2006 - 19:27
Great answer. If more college professors could explain their subject matter like that, more kids would make the honor role. Thanks. So, it sounds like a condensor mic that has phantom power is unbalanced (or is it balanced). If I am doing recording in a home studio five feet or less away from the recorder, I don't think it matters which I use, right?

RemyRAD Wed, 06/14/2006 - 01:40
Thanks to both of you for your kind words. I have considered applying to some of the Independent recording schools throughout the country as an instructor but I have gotten busy enough again engineering and I would rather be engineering than teaching. Although in the end, I'll probably end up teaching some point along my existing timeline on this planet?

In answer to your question regarding 1/4" TRS connectivity, when you are dealing with a line input or line output such as on the Mackie product line, most of their mixers include balanced input and output's on 1/4" TRS jacks. This is contrary to many mixers insert patch on 1/4" TRS jacks. Those are unbalanced connections since they are carrying both inputs and outputs on only 2 connections. If you are using a condenser microphone that is powered with a battery, you can frequently short pin 3 to pin 1 for the ground, from the XLR connector and the tip as high to a 1/4" mono TS connector when phantom power IS NOT USED OR REQUIRED. Phantom powering a microphone absolutely requires a balanced 3 pin connector/connection. I've never seen a microphone preamplifier that features 1/4" TRS balanced inputs with phantom power. They don't exist.

If you are close enough to your recording equipment and are using a cheap Radio Shaft battery-operated condenser microphone with only a 1/4" Mono plug as its output, you can probably plug that into your inexpensive 1/4" Mono microphone input on and extremely cheap toy mixer. However I don't recommend that. I generally don't recommend ANY UNBALANCED MICROPHONES, they are generally not very good. You would be better off with a lower end battery-operated condenser microphone with a balanced XLR output connector that may not require phantom power? It is only that kind of microphone that you could put on a XLR to 1/4" mono plug adapter that could then conveniently plug into the microphone input of your 1963 Wolinsak reel to reel tape recorder. Again not my recommendation.

Balanced microphones are really the only way to go since most mixers feature 3 pin XLR balanced microphone inputs and only the line inputs are on balanced 1/4" TRS or unbalanced 1/4" TS jacks. In this respect, the 1/4" balanced TRS inputs can have cables that are up to 1000 feet in length whereas the 1/4" TS unbalanced inputs should be kept within 10 feet in length. Is this make any sense? Although many people here do not think very highly of some of the Mackie mixer product line, I found that they have more 1/4" TRS balanced inputs and outputs than many of the other brands of mixers? That offers more versatility than mixers that only feature unbalanced 1/4" TS inputs and outputs. It costs a few dollars more to manufacture a mixer with all balanced inputs and outputs as those types of inputs and outputs require additional operational amplifiers i.e. extra integrated circuit chips as differential input and output amplifiers for balanced applications. Don't get me wrong here, careful attention to wiring and wire length makes for fine and reliable unbalanced oriented equipment. That kind of equipment just is not as versatile as more balanced oriented equipment is.

In older audio times, professional recording consoles were quite expensive as all inputs both microphone and line level were balanced with expensive and heavy transformers. Today, with the introduction of higher-quality integrated circuit chips that feature both inverting and noninverting inputs, those little chips can be used to simulate a transformer. In a sense, audio on the 2 "balanced" wires have the same signal but are 180° out of phase with each other. What that does is a cool mathematical trick. The transformer input or the integrated circuit input can take the two 180° opposite phase signals and combine them to create a higher energy signal where any ground loop/electrical interference/RF interference that is picked up by those 2 wires electrically cancel out any interference. So any signal that is common to both wires are mathematically canceled and the signal that you want to keep are not common since they are both 180° out of phase to one another, they are combined and reinforced by the circuitry within the transformer or integrated circuit chip. It's really a cool thing! Now my explanation is rudimentary at best since you don't quite have the working knowledge to fully understand the why and wherefores of how it works. A balanced circuit can be more simply stated like this: +2 plus -2=0 Both 2's are equal but opposite and therefore cancel out. However, in a sense their energy equals 4, if the -2 is converted electronically to a +2 within a transformer or integrated circuit chip, so to speak.

Whew! I think it's time for bed?
Ms. Remy Ann David

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 06/14/2006 - 04:22
The MOTU 896 provides phantom power on its TRS inputs. Pretty cool if you are using a patch bay with it, so you don't have to make a bunch of 1/4"TRS to XLR male adapters.

Remy has the balanced/unbalanced topic covered. As far as the BBE goes, if you can get one for cheap (sometimes they go for 20 bucks for an oldie) you might want to try it and just be sure you arn't over doing the processing.