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Way back in 1986 I owned a music store and we sold BBE Sonic Maximizer processors. They were quite popular. If you have high quality audio content (like an audio CD) and a high quality playback system the BBE Sonic Maximizer process can provide clarity and improved sonics in a unique way.
The Sonic Stomp is a dimuitive little processor meant for enhancing musical instrument sound for PA and recording applications. Some of the guitars I’ve tried it with include the Martin D-35, Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul and Line6 Variax. I used the Sonic Stomp inline with my guitars feeding tube amps and direct boxes for live recording.
WHAT IT’S NOT
The BBE process is not magic, it won’t turn awful sounds into diamonds but if you start with diamonds then they may shine brighter with BBE processing. When you’re using the BBE process it is EASY to use TOO MUCH! When that happens people cry fowl and slam this product with bad feedback. When used correctly the Sonic Stomp can improve sound in unique ways.
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WHAT IS THE SONIC STOMP?
A stompbox version of this product has been around in one form or another since about 1990. The one on review here was purchased new in December of 2021.
The latest iteration of the Sonic Stomp is a mini size stompbox with a single concentric set of control knobs, one footswitch and an LED to indicate when the pedal is active.
The two rotary controls are labeled the same as they’ve been since the very first units premiered back in the 80’s, “Process” and “Lo Contour”. Many users mistake these for simple bass and treble controls masquerading with different names and indeed you can certainly treat these controls that way. The Process knob will definitely make it sound like more treble and the Lo Contour will definitely increase the quantity of bass in the program but that is selling the BBE short of what it can really do.
Using the footswitch to A-B compare “with” and “without” BBE process you can find a “barely there” setting for the “Process” knob and it is here that you’ll find the magic. Likewise, the “Lo Contour” knob needs to be adjusted to a “barely there” setting. I am a fan of subtle differences so the BBE has always held a sweet spot in my kit of tricks.
The BBE process can really bring an acoustic guitar bridge-pickup system to life. My D-35 has the premium Fishman Aura pickup built-in, the electric sound from this instrument is dramatically improved with the BBE Sonic Stomp. In a similar manner the acoustic guitar sounds produced by the Line6 Variax are brought forward and made clearer with a hint of Sonic Stomp. The “Lo Contour” knob adds body and fullness to the sound when adjusted correctly.
After trying the Sonic Stomp in a variety of pedalboard configurations I found that I liked it best when it was the first device my guitar plugged into. Here, I could adjust it to the “barely there” way I like it best and it made my signal pass through the direct recording process in an improved sounding manner. I liked the BBE process best on acoustic guitar and clean electric guitar leads.
SONIC STOMP IS FOR BASS TOO
I plugged my Gibson SG Bass into the Sonic Stomp and two hours of my life vanished in a fun and imaginative jam session. The Sonic Stomp brought the 1.5 year-old strings on my bass to life, the highs sounded crisp and present while the lows sounded positively huge. Just like on guitar, it is easy to use too much BBE process but if you take the time to A-B with and without and adjust the pedal until it is barely there when it is ON you’ll find the gold that these little pedals can deliver.
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THE BBE PROCESS
BBE has done a good job of making their proprietary enhancement technology work in a compact guitar stompbox format. The Sonic Stomp is powered by a single 9-volt DC power inlet jack and it’s compatible with the Boss power standard scheme (2.1mm plug, negative on tip, positive on sleeve).
The BBE process is shrouded in mystery and I won’t try to over-analyze it here. Suffice to say that when adjusted “properly” content in the upper octaves steps out-front and becomes clearer without increasing power in the high frequencies. Likewise, properly adjusting the Lo Contour control means making the bass regions sound more authoritative and fuller without adding power like a simple equalizer does.
Compact stompbox pedal
Individually adjustable concentric control knobs
The Effect (though it is easy to overdo)
Easy to add too much BBE process
Does not run on internal battery power
The BBE Sonic Stomp can be a useful “color” in your palette of tones. If you’re playing clean electric guitar styles and like a big sound the BBE Sonic Stomp can be your friend. If you’re using a directbox interface like a Strymon Iridium, DSM Humbolt Simplifier or Sans Amp type product you’ll find a world of clarity awaiting when you add a Sonic Stomp to your guitar.
BBE makes a big brother to the Sonic Stomp. I’ve got one and we’ll have a review soon.
Good Music to You!
©2022 by Mark King for High on Technology It’s not ok to copy or quote without written permission.
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