What Does a Sonic Maximizer Do? Explained in 10 Minutes

Audio loss, distortion, and delay can ruin the music experience for your audience. It is common to face this issue with average speakers while performing on stage. And to mitigate the distorted sound, comes the contribution of the sonic maximizer. 

So, what does a sonic maximizer do?

A sonic maximizer corrects the phases of audio to a better listening experience. It works between the phase and amp and lets the high tunes pass through. Maximizer delayes the lows and mids by 5 and 2.5 mili seconds respectively. This tweak avoid the phases from clashing and produces better sound. 

That was a gist of what a Sonic Maximizer does. We dove deeper into how it works in this article. 

Let’s proceed.

What Is A Sonic Maximizer?

Before describing what a Sonic Maximizer is, I first need to explain the phases. Let’s get to know – 

What is a Phase? 

A phase is the shared starting point of two identical cycles of sound waves. Cycles of sound waves start at a certain time. Out-of-phase is when one is at a different starting point. The wave shapes might get inverted (at 180 degrees). So, You will often be between 0 degrees and 180 degrees.

When it’s out of phase, the sound waves cancel each other out by clashing. As a resultyou’ll either hear a flat tune, or a muffled tune. Or distorted music coming out of the speakers. 

When two or more audio waveforms collide, phase cancellation occurs, causing destructive interference. This lowers the level at the precise frequencies where the issue is present. The amplitude can increase when the opposite takes place.

Depending on how out of phase the waves are, this might occur at different intensities. And how similar the amplitudes and wave shapes are, will create different waves. 

Different waves woven together can create a new sound. Which you can use to your advantage as you see fit. 

A Sonic Maximizer prevents the sound waves from clashing and causing a phase cancellation. The sonic maximizer was mostly used by rock, hard rock, and metal musicians.

So, what is a Sonic Maximizer? 

A Sonic Maximizer is a studio equipment that cleans up the sound output from the speaker. It sorts out the jumbled sound signals that come from the mixer. Then the neatly lined up signals go through the amplifier. Finally, it produces a clear sound for your ears to pick up.

The jumbled signals produce a really muddy and smeared sound without the Sonic Maximizer. Sonic Maximizer was really popular during the 80s and 90s. Back then, the speakers were not technically advanced enough to produce crisp sound on their own.

What Is A Sonic Maximizer Used For?

Take a look at the diagram below –

Sonic Maximizer Diagram
Sonic Maximizer Diagram

The jumbled sounds are sent into the mixer. The mixer then sends the signal through the amplifier for amplifying the signals. The amplified sound then goes for output to the passive crossover. 

As shown in the diagram, the maximizer is placed after the mixer and before the amplifier.

So, what is A Sonic Maximizer used for?

The maximizer is placed before the amp for re-arranging the signals. The signals are neatly arranged and put through the amp. The amp amplifies the signals. Since it’s done in order, the sound you will hear is crisp, loud, and clearer. 

When the sound signals are sent to the passive crossover, it passes through the high tunes. Then the mid tunes are passed through with a 5 milliseconds delay. Finally, the low tunes are passed through with a 2.5 milliseconds delay.

The process allows your ear to pick up distinct signals as sounds. You can hear the sound clearly because of the time delay between the signals. It eliminates the smear or distortion from the music.

What Does A Sonic Maximizer Do For Guitar?

A sonic maximizer works more like a harmonizer for guitars. Yet, the usability depends on the type of guitar you are plugging into the maximizer. 

Sonic Maximizer On Bass Guitar

Bass guitars produce a very low tune. Sonic maximizer on bass will produce the bass with more clarity on depth. Your bass will have more punch without the muddiness in mid-range.

Megadeth used a sonic maximizer on a regular basis. The result was the prominent bass notes in She-wolf, Symphony of Destruction, and many more. 

Sonic Maximizer On Acoustic Guitar

Sonic Maximizer On Acoustic Guitar is not a good idea. The acoustic guitar produces a general high-pitched tune. The re-arrangement of the tunes into 3 signal groups will completely ruin the sound. As a result, the acoustic guitar will sound smeared.

Sonic Maximizer For Vocals

If you’re a DJ with a PA system, the unit improves your vocals and instruments. With a maximizer, your system will have much more detail, depth, and clarity over the mix. 

What Does A BBE Sonic Maximizer Do? 

A BBE Sonic Maximizer prevents the audio from sounding murky and smeared. It processed the sound signals into high, mid, and low tunes. Then the maximizer passes the high tunes without any touch. Next, the low tune is put out with a 2.5 ms delay. Finally, the mid tunes are put out with a 5 ms delay.

The maximizer was really popular for producing music with more clarity among the hard rock musicians. This means maximizer isn’t essential studio equipment anymore. However, there is still demand for it in the market. Here’s the google trends snapshot- 

Which Device Supports Sonic Maximizer?

The SM500 Sonic Maximizer was built especially for 500 series racks. In general, you can use the sonic maximizer on individual tracks. You can also use it for on-stage live performances and for studio use. 

Sonic Maximizer With Subwoofer Control

The BBE 382iSW and 382SW maximizer come in with independent subwoofer outputs.

You can use this maximizer for mobile DJ rigs, nightclubs, and theaters. 

You will need a low-pass filter subwoofer to work with this maximizer. The range is 30- 120 Hz

Sonic Maximizer For Home Stereo

Any model of Sonic Maximizer is not for home theaters. The use of a maximizer is to mitigate distorted and delayed music. Which has use only in studio and live performances. 

You do not need this processor in your home theater system.

How To Hook Up BBE Sonic Maximizer To Amp?

You will need a quarter cable to hook up your Sonic Maximizer to your Amplifier. Look at the rear side of your maximizer. Plug in the respective input and output cables to the channels.

That is how to connect a BBE Sonic Maximizer into the audio system.

Rear Side of a sonic maximizer
Source: ZZSounds

How to Use a BBE Sonic Maximizer?

Use the sonic maximizer after the mixer and before the amplifier. It will then sort out the jumbled sound signals that come from the mixer. As a result, the output of music can be heard with more clarity. You can use the maximizer to clean up the distorted sound from your tracks. 

The same can be done during a live performance as well. 

Where Does BBE Sonic Maximizer Go in Signal Chain?

The BBE Sonic Maximizer in signal chain goes in the lowest position. It is connected after the mixer, before the equalizer, and the amplifier. It goes way down in the chain. Sonic maximizer in effects loop performs the best with bass and electric guitars.

Sonic Maximizer Before or After the Compressor?

The Sonic Maximizer works like the compressor. Theoretically, you don’t need a compressor if you use a Sonic Maximizer in your rig.

The compressor will assist in taming volume spikes. And based on the model you choose, they may also enhance the punch of your sound.

If you overdo it, Sonic Maximizers can scoop out all of your mids. And it actually make it tougher to cut through a mix. They will, however, give depth and clarity to your setup. But if you handle them carefully, they can be quite useful.

Is BBE Sonic Maximizer Worth It?

From today’s perspective, you don’t really need a maximizer. Because the speakers, amplifiers, and preamps are vastly improved in technology.

During the 70s and 80s, rock musicians used to rely on the maximizer. They’d use it for isolating the group sounds. The maximizer removed the distortion and delay of tunes to produce sound. The produced sound will come out with more punch and clarity.

BBE Sonic Maximizer is worth it if you are using an inexpensive setup. The Sonic Maximizer can make your sound crisper and clearer. The popularity is primarily divided between the 882i and 482i. The differences are-

BBE Sonic Maximizer 882i vs 482i

There are certain differences between 882i and 482i that divide the popularity. The table below points out the differences in a quick glance. 

Inputs and OutputsXLRRCA & ¼”
Check it out!Check the PriceCheck the Price

The BBE 482i is a competent dual channeled maximizer that is closest in specs to the BBE 882i. This causes a lot of confusion for the consumers.

However, the confusion goes away once the cost comes into play. The price difference between the 2 maximizers is only of about $35. For the higher feature set and headroom the 882i offers, it’s simply a no-brainer. 

So my verdict is the 882i wins without a doubt. I’d recommend you get that. 

Sonic Maximizer Alternative

As we have explained above, a sonic maximizer sorts out the signals into 3 groups. And adjust the timing of output for every group of signals to produce a clearer sound. 

As an alternative, you can use an EQ or equalizer. Equalizer alters the color of an audio signal. The vocal will sound more articulate. It boosts the treble and bass frequency. Which will result in a heavier, clearer sound. 

That somewhat mimics the function of a sonic maximizer. 

BBE Sonic Maximizer Plugin Alternative

The Aphex Aural Exciters is one of the most popular alternatives for BBE Sonic Maximizer.

An exciter manipulates the phase, dynamic equalization, and harmonic synthesis of high-frequency signals. It then decreases the distortion and produces a crisp, loud sound with more clarity.


Is Sonic Maximizer Like a Loudness button on a Hi-Fi Amplifier?

It might seem like a sonic maximizer being like and loudness button, but it is not. A job of a sonic maximizer is much more than just controlling the loudness. Sonic maximizer gives you fine-tuning control which you’ll not get in the amp. 

Is Sonic Maximizer a Must-Have in My Audio System?

These days having a sonic maximizer is not completely necessary. Modern amplifiers and digital audio signals are broad enough to carry more information. But a sonic maximizer will make the audio listening experience better. 

How Much Does a Sonic Maximizer Cost Around?

The bbe 882i sonic maximizer price ranges from $100 to $200. Most of the systems use BBE 882i. You can find a sonic maximizer to purchase online. Or you can get one in your local audio accessories store. 

End Note

That’s pretty much everything on what Does a Sonic Maximizer Do. The functions of this equipment is easy to understand. Although not a must-have component, it really adds dimension to your sound. 

Have a pleasant audio experience with your Sonic Maximizer!

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