Bbe Sonic Stomp Review
Review by OzRob.
The BBE Sonic Stomp brings all the audio magic of its rack-mounted big brother - the 482i Sonic Maximizer - to the foot of the guitarist using pedals.
The Sonic is not an effect or tone manipulator. When a person hears an instrument live (with no speakers involved) the sound is organic and provides the particular timbre of that instrument. However, a sound played through speakers involves a phase delay between higher and lower frequencies, where the lower frequencies reach the listener earlier than the higher frequencies resulting in a 'muddier' sound than the instrument actually produces. This process also introduces amplitude distortion resulting in affected harmonics.
All of the Sonic Maximizer family (stomp, rack and digital - available as RTAS and VST plugins for your DAW) correct these audio distortions through delaying the frequencies on a spectrum, allowing the sounds to reach the listener as they would in a live environment, producing a more organic and tighter audio experience.
Price paid and where it was bought: I paid Australian $200 from an online vendor within Australia for the Sonic Stomp. I also bought the digital version - the D82 plugin - for use within my DAW and paid $129 USD through Nomad Factory as a download.
I initially downloaded the demo version of the plugin to try it out. The difference in sound was immediate, obvious and pleasing to the ears. The demo had a two-week tryout period and by day 2 I knew I would keep using it, so I bought the full license and also ordered the Sonic Stomp to use for live playing.
Own musical preference: I listen to a wide range of music but tend to play heavier styles such as gothic metal and am newly moving into a more industrial feel. However, I also play in the church band which is closer to pop in style.
Ease of use:
Both the pedal and the plugin could not be easier to use. The plugin's interface looks just like the pedal version but with the addition of an output level 'knob'. The pedal has two knobs and a switch. The Lo Contour knob allows the user to adjust the low frequency phasing and the Process knob adjusts the overall range, but it may be helpful to think of the knobs as Bass and Treble (though this is not an EQ device). The switch is true bypass and simply turns the Maximizer circuit on or off. There is one input and one output. For stereo, or multiple instruments, a rack version could be considered. The Maximizer should always be used last in an effect chain and be placed just prior to the amp/speakers. Another positive here is that it is set-and-forget. Whatever your environment (gig, studio, practice), dial in the adjustment you want and then leave it. The pedal runs off a 9v battery or adapter (it is meant to ship with adapter included but mine didn't so the store sent me a BOSS).
The Maximizer positively adjusts the overall sound quality without affecting tone. As already mentioned, it simply reorders the timing of different frequencies to allow a tighter, more natural sound. It reduces muddiness, improves clarity and harmonics, and is particularly useful after digital multi-FX units, though even analog effect users have noted the tighter, brighter experience.
This 2 minute clip has 3 samples each played twice - first time without BBE, second time with BBE. There is a slow, heavily distorted barre chord progression, then an acoustic run, then a lead run. Unfortunately, the clip lost 'something' in the Soundclick conversion (eg. the acoustic sounds fizzy and clipped) but it hopefully gives a basic reference point for sounds. Best to try one out in a shop or download the demo plugin for your DAW and judge for yourself.
The Stomp is in a well built metal case with a very solid switch and metal knobs. Should take as much abuse as any BOSS pedal, but because it's set-and-forget it will rarely be touched. I've had mine since December 08 with no problems so far.
The Sonic Stomp is highly recommended to tighten up overall sound, especially for heavier styles where muddiness can be an issue. It will help the guitarist cut through the mix (but can be used on any electric instrument). Especially recommended for digital multi-FX users but also adds brightness and clarity to analog and acoustic line-ups.