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BBE Sonic Maximizer Software

Manufacturer: Virsonix
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided DigiFreq with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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Okay, so you've recorded all the tracks to your new song. You've done some editing, processing, added some effects, and you've mixed everything down to a stereo WAV file, which is ready for CD burning. But there's something not quite right. Why doesn't your tune sound like the ones you've heard on professionally recorded CDs? Your tune is missing that finished quality. Well, the BBE Sonic Maximizer DirectX plug-in may provide the quality that you're listening for.

The Sonic Maximizer plug-in from Virsonix is a replication of the famous BBE 4th Generation Processing Engine found in the analog hardware-based BBE 482 and 882 Sonic Maximizer processors. The BBE technology gives your audio more presence, making the high frequencies clearer and more detailed, and the low frequencies more defined.

With the Sonic Maximizer plug-in, you can get the same processing provided by the hardware-based units, but pay much less. The SM plug-in provides 16- and 24-bit processing and sampling rates up to 96kHz. It's also quite easy to use with only three main controls - Lo Contour, Process, and Output Level - as well as a bypass button and real-time signal meters. Of course, you're probably asking yourself, "But does it really work?" The answer is yes, but there are some things you need to look out for when using this product.

I tested the SM plug-in on a number of different projects in a number of different situations, and what I found is that the plug-in is useful not only in mastering an entire stereo mix, but also for bringing out individual tracks in a mix. For example, you can apply it to bass, vocals, guitar and other instruments to bring them more clarity and definition. As a matter of fact, the plug-in comes with a number of presets specifically creating for individual instrument processing. Some of these presets apply a bit too much processing though, so I opted for making my own adjustments so that the SM effect would be subtler. Another thing is that if you're going to apply the SM to individual tracks or instruments, don't apply it to your overall stereo mix as well. It's one of those situations where too much of a good thing is actually not good. You've also got to be careful about how much processing you apply to material that contains a lot of high frequency content. Too much, and you can make your audio sound too shrill. Like with all audio processing, moderation is the key here.

Besides the caveats I mentioned, the Sonic Maximizer plug-in makes quite a nice addition to your audio processing toolbox. Will it make your dull mixes sound more brilliant and professional? When used correctly, it will definitely give your audio that professional touch you'll only get from BBE processors. And at a fraction of the cost of the hardware-based units, you can't beat the price.
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