New Gear Review: BBE SM500 Sonic Maximizer

BBE-SM500(1)BBE’s now offers their unique Sonic Maximizer in a single channel module for the 500 Series rack units. I’ve been a long time user of both the single rack space BBE 482i and 882i Sonic Maximizer two-channel signal processors and always had at least two channels inserted into my mixes or recording signal chains. Now as 500-series modules, I can freely add as many channels as I require—just plug additional modules into my API Lunchbox®.

The SM500 units retain the overbuilt design of the rack units with stylish red faceplates, knurled aluminum control knobs and true bypass switching. The BBE Sonic Maximizer processor brings clarity and presence to your music mixes or individual instrument and vocal tracks using two simple controls: Process and Lo Contour. It does this by splitting the audio into two separate bands, adjusting their phase relationships and augmenting high and low frequencies.

I evaluated a pair of SM500s patched directly after a stereo limiter I was using for a special compression effect. Many times under heavy compression, the overall sound of the audio is dulled—there is a loss of high frequencies. The SM500s worked great to restore this loss and the Lo Contour let me “carve” the low frequencies exactly. It adds an indescribable “polish” and extra clarity to mixes, stereo pad tracks, brass sections, and overly thick and dulled, drop-tuned guitar tracks.

The BBE SM500 Sonic Maximizer is an excellent addition to any studio’s 500-rack and sells for $499.99 MSRP.


Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs, and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. http://barryrudolph.com