Maximizers, exciters, enhancers. They all live in the grey area in between snake oil, magic and fearless marketing. Let’s try to compare two classics, simply judging by ear…
In the red corner we have BBE’s Sonic Maximizer, and in the blue corner we have the Aphex Bass Xciter. They both share the same history in the sense that both core technologies have been used for many years in studio environments as rack-based effect units. Then at some point, someone came up with the idea that this type of processing might be suitable for the effect pedal market – and here we are.
Before We Begin…
Clearly, these pedals are in the same basic category, but they use different approaches to do their magic. The Aphex Bass Xciter applies two different types of parallel processing – one for the high frequencies (Aural Exciter) and another for the low frequencies (Big Bottom). Please see the chart visualizing this in the full Aphex Bass Xciter review.
The BBE Sonic Stomp uses what they refer to as “frequency-dependent time alignment with integrated amplitude compensation”. While the two companies explains their technolgy in different ways, there are some similarieties. The high frequencies seem to be treated separately and by using some kind of psychoacoustic approach. The low-end is shaped more with traditional tools such as EQ and compression.
The controls of the Bass Xciter offer more flexibility as you can tune the frequencies to be affected when you blend in the effect. The Sonic Stomp pedal simply offers PROCESS and LO CONTOUR knobs. Often it would make sense to add, say, 60% low-end and just 30% high-end – or vice versa. But to avoid having to create hundreds of sound clips and possibly more confusion than help also, I have decided to simply do 3 basic settings of each pedal: 25%, 50% and 75%.
Since the Bass Xciter offers the ‘tune’ setting that the Sonic Stomp doesn’t, I have decided to simply fix those controls at 50% throughout this shootout. Partly because it would make it more transparent and comparative, but also because that this is where I would leave the tune setting most of the time anyway.
Now, let’s get ready to rumble! Click the links below to begin the shootout.
Overall, I think they both have something to offer in the ‘tone-magic’ department, and at the same time, they are kind of similar, yet very different. They both tend to scoop the tone, but still have their own unique character.
Which one is the best then? It’s so subjective and the answer is completely up to you – there are no right or wrong in these cases. My favorite? Probably the Sonic Stomp…