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Old 09-01-2005   #1
 
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Default My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

Hi everyone,

I finally managed to get my hands on a maxxbass 103 processor when it started retailing here in australia a couple of months back. I thought i would include my impressions because reviews of this device are a little hard to find and there has been some pretty controversial debate about it in other forums. I decided to post it here cos i love this forum and because all the smart guys browse this forum and will definitely come across this. werewolf and dang, this means you.

First some background reading:

http://www.wavescaraudio.com/htmls/products02.htm
http://forum.elitecaraudio.com/showt...hreadid=109732
http://forum.elitecaraudio.com/showt...hreadid=104270
http://forum.elitecaraudio.com/showt...hreadid=110669

How it started:

It started off innocently enough. I heard of a electronics/car audio retailer nearby who stocked the unit. Fair enough, i dropped by for a demo. It was a noisy and crowded store, but they had a unit hooked up to some ghetto nasty car audio speakers on soundboards. I brought a couple of cds with me to test out. It was hard to judge, but i did what i could and my initial impressions when playing the music whilst going back and forth bypassing and activating the maxxbass processor was "my goodness, it really works." I could easily hear basslines an octave lower (maybe more) with the maxxbass unit activated on the minimum setting (set to 'door' and not 'sub'). I tried the sub setting and did not notice a difference but there was a large difference on the 'door' setting. There was just a lot more presence, and notes which were clearly inaudible or close to it suddenly appeared just as large in intensity as everything else in the spectrum. Some have said it before, hooked up to standard 6.5 inch speakers, if i didnt tell you the maxxbass was being used, and i just turned it on, you would think that i activated an additional subwoofer somewhere.

So i thought to myself: "Alright, this thing passed the first test, now i'll buy a set and do some more testing at home and see if i REALLY think this unit is a keeper". They ordered in a unit for me, and i just picked it up today.Here are the results

I should state from the onset that i have a severe lack of equipment right now. my scope and DMM are no longer in australia so my impressions are divided basically into 2 parts: Performance using test tones, then how they performed subjectively with music. I used 2 seperate sets of equipment, the first a high-resolution pair of headphones with a dedicated headphone amp (my choice of musical reference, i have yet to hear any car audio system come close to the sound quality my headphones possess, and in the headphone world, they are only middle tier at best). The headphones are Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pros. Then i repeated the listening tests on my home mini hi-fi, a standard 200 dollar boombox with a 3 way bass reflex setup.

With test tones, i began at 250Hz, listening to frequencies in 1/3 octave steps all the way down to 30Hz. i would enable/disable the maxxbass repeatedly and observe the difference. The same back-and-forth methodology was also used with music, but more on that later.

Starting at 250Hz, and activating the maxxbass, i did not notice a single difference in the tone itself. The signal itself appeared marginally louder, but no different in tone. I noticed the same effect as i went lower in frequency. Up till about 100Hz, i noticed a slight increase in volume with no difference in the tone itself, which leads me to believe there was no (audible) introduced distortion at 100Hz and above. So far, so good.

Below 100Hz though, things started to change. Starting at 80Hz, there was a dramatic rise in the percieved volume. Again, no difference in the tone, so no audible distortion. This effect persisted and the difference became larger and larger as i went lower in frequency because my headphone's response was starting to rolloff and the maxxbass was restoring it to flat faultlessly. At 50Hz-80Hz, the percieved difference was almost shocking. Huge amounts of clean tone, with no signs of stress or distortion to be found anywhere.

Below 50Hz though, although the level was still being 'fixed' by the maxxbass to intensity levels seen at higher frequencies, there was an audible change in tone when the maxxbass was activated. You could audibly pick up on the upper frequency harmonics. This continued all the way to 30Hz.

Just to re-iterate, the maxxbass was on 'door' setting the whole time, meaning it kicked in at 70Hz according to the manual. I tried it with the 'sub' setting and noticed almost no difference anywhere, at any frequency. Differences were slightly audible at lower frequency but the difference was tiny and hardly consequential.

Moving on to music, the impression i have is consistent with my test tone results. I could hear a very audible bass extension. I listen to my headphones a lot, and the music i used, i was very familar with. I can safely say that despite the maxxbass working, it was not introducing any kind of change in the way the music is presented or adding unrecorded information in. Imagine a speaker's F3 is 80Hz. With this thing activated, it was absolutely no different from suddenly changing the speakers F3 to 40Hz and keeping the frequency response shape exactly the same other than that. Thats the best way to describe how it sounded. Again, hardly any difference on the 'sub' setting.

I moved on to my boombox and basically got the same results.

Other points to note:

I did not notice an audible decrease in the preamp output voltage levels of the maxxbass unit when hooked up to my headphones or boombox. There might have been some loss, but if any, it was not noticable or significant. i was getting the exact same volume to my ears as if the maxxbass unit was not introduced in the signal chain. The clip indicator on the maxxbass unit never came on during testing.

When listening on my headphones, i could hear audible hiss being introduced when the unit was activated and no music was playing. This hiss would disappear when the maxxbass processing was disabled. When hooked up to speakers, the hissing was almost completely gone and i would never have noticed it if i didnt hear it on my headphones first. There is also an audible 'click' in the music when the maxxbass processing was activated but this is not a big issue if you dont bypass/activate the unit repeatedly when listening to your music. I did not detect any turn on/off pops from the unit. At all times, i never noticed much audible difference when using the 'sub' setting on the unit.

Overall i would say that i am very optimistic about this unit. Controversy aside, i can definitely say that this unit does work the way it claims. I did not hear any kind of distortion except at very low frequencies, and even then, only with test tones, and not music. No other part of the musical spectrum was affected by the unit except the midbass frequencies and below i.e. no difference in the midrange and treble. I personally think that this unit will work incredibly when used on door speakers with a highpass at 50Hz or higher. I doubt that one would obtain a large enough difference to make it worthwhile if used on subwoofers. Used on door speakers to make up for the lack of a sub or to bring that upfront-bass presence without introducing audible distortion, i doubt anyting in the car audio world (short of getting a much bigger/better/more expensive speaker) beats it. The only thing that would stop me using this unit in future is if the hiss i talked about earlier becomes audible in my car audio setup. If it was, this unit is as good as ruined

Hope this helps, and sorry if it was a little long to read

Last edited by blackreplica; 09-01-2005 at 02:32 AM..
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Old 09-01-2005   #2
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

I used to use the MaxxBass in mastering Demo's for Techno music that was to be handed out at "events" as demos.

I too noticed the same as you, on a large scale system the effects were not as pronounced as they were on the kid's parents, stock, Honda speakers for the drive home.

It really seemed to me to make a huge difference in a recording on smaller, under-powered systems because it did not increase cone travel or eat up recording headroom.

The plug-in was indespensible for making out recordings "bang harder" than the other artist's thus getting them listened to more.

I have never used a hardware version but soon want to try out the Maxx BCL on the band's PA, I'll let you know if it's any different. I did notice that in the plugin it was easy to over do it, making it sound like poo. I wonder if they set limits on the hardware versions?

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Old 09-01-2005   #3
 
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

hey chad,

I noticed the same thing myself with the maxxbass software plugin. It sounds like absolute crap. I was lucky i demoed the car audio unit BEFORE i used the software cos if i heard the software first i would never have bothered to try the car audio unit. The software plugin for WMP 9.0 is just a distortion machine with a limiter which kicks in wayyyy to early muting the midrange and treble horribly!!

The car audio unit doesnt have the limiter, and definitely doesnt introduce any kind of audible distortion to my ears. I was listening to it the past hour or so, revisiting all my familiar music. It just sounds great. I typically have a bass boost circuit activated on my headphone amp, i bypassed it and tried the maxxbass instead...there was a definite difference in the sense that the driver wasn't stressing audibly anymore at higher output levels and the bass was therefore a whole lot cleaner (in terms of output and extension the maxxbass was giving me about 90% of what i got with the bass boost, and the built in bass boost on my headphone amp is pretty strong). Tonally, it sounds like a wide-frequency-range bass boost circuit (or an additional sub), just without the 'over-stressed speaker' sound you get from massive EQ boost in the low end.

Oh yeah on another note, i forgot to mention in my first post, i think some of the other reviews i linked to might have overhyped this unit's performance just a little bit. There is a definite audible improvement, but its not a "OMG THAT IS DA SHIZNIT. IT POUNDZZZZ" type of difference. Used on a good 6 inch speaker in a leaky door install, i would expect the result to be something like running a decent 8 incher (nothing stellar mind you) in a reasonably well tuned vented box. The difference i believe gets smaller as your speaker gets larger but i havent had a chance to try this thing out on anything larger than 6 inches in diameter. I think the real magic would be if someone were to use this on a subless 5 inch set of component speakers up front. That situation is probably where the most gains will be realised even though i think that even those with higher end setups stand to gain a fair bit.

P.S Funnily enough, its impossible to overdo the maxxbass effect with the car audio unit. To my ears, there is absolutely no difference between the 'barely activated' setting and full maxxbass processing. Kinda strange, but there you go.

Last edited by blackreplica; 09-01-2005 at 07:52 AM..
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Old 09-02-2005   #4
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

The maxxbass is essentially a distortion generator, which adds harmonic distortion products to produce an increased perception of bass. The only difference is that it generates this distortion without the associated mechanical noises you would normally get from overdriving your woofer. So you kind of are listening to distortion, but you aren't

I like some of their other plugins as well, like the linear phase eq. If they could put that in a car unit, I'd buy it for sure.

A speaker is only as good as the room you put it in.
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Old 09-02-2005   #5
 
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

hahah dang, you are the voice of reason, always. You should try to get your hands on a unit for yourself and test it...would be really interesting to see how it turns out, perhaps go one step further on ding's distortion/output voltage measurements.

Just checked out that linear phase eq does, looks great....wouldnt mind having one of those myself. too bad it's only in software
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Old 09-02-2005   #6
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

I have Ding's unit right here... I'll post some measurements so you can see what I'm talking about.

A speaker is only as good as the room you put it in.
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Old 09-02-2005   #7
 
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

Cool! Thanks!
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Old 09-02-2005   #8
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

Quote:
The maxxbass is essentially a distortion generator, which adds harmonic distortion products to produce an increased perception of bass.
Oh, kinda like a tube amp then?
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Old 09-04-2005   #9
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

Not like a tube amp - more like an Epicenter... but where the Epicenter has an easy algorithm of creating a tone [that doesn't really exist in the music] exactly one octave lower (which means simply dividing the frequency mathematically in half), the MaxxBass has a more complicated algorithm... although one that's been in use since way-back-when, renaissance church pipe-organ days.

IMO, it's easier to understand what this thing is for [its intended use] when you understand what it does:

Pipe organs are simple things (on the surface, anyway) - they have different sized pipes that resonate to play different notes. The lower the note, the longer and larger the pipe needs to be (and more air fed through it).

...note this is very much analagous to the physics involved with speakers playing different notes (which is why MaxxBass was created):

With speakers, the lower you make your speaker play a note, the greater the excursion that it needs to reach to play the note. In our case, this is a simple side-effect of feeding a speaker a given amount of power at all frequencies, but at lower frequencies, the cycles are slower and slower... and simply, when you have the same amount of force pushing the cone (power), and you apply that power for a longer duration of time to push the cone (slower cycles per second), the cone will travel farther each cycle.
...and this works out nice for us - this means that we get more actual speaker displacement at low frequencies, which we need to produce the same dB level at those lower frequencies.

But little speakers have excursion limitations... I'm sure you've been in a friend's car (or yours?), where you try to crank the volume up, and the speakers start to bottom out. They aren't distorting everywhere... they are bottoming out on those low frequencies that they probably can't even play anyway [due to the factory location].
We'll return to this... this is what the MaxxBass fixes..

Way back when, some pipe organ guru learned that if he resonated three of his higher frequency pipes, the resulting natural harmonic actually played a lower frequency note. A little research and science later, and the pipe organ world was changed forever... now, pipe organs are most often built so that the higher frequency notes are played through single pipes, but the lower frequencies don't require gigantic, room consuming single pipes - the notes are produced through combinations of the higher frequency pipes.

What the MaxxBass does is first filter the bass from your speakers (at least in the 'door' setting), filtering away the stuff that they would choke on.
This is not a new trick - we all do this to let our front speakers get loud.
But then, of course, the challenge everyone faces - if our front speakers aren't playing the bass, what is? Time to add a sub, right?
Wrong - the MaxxBass uses the harmonic trick to take that bass that it filtered away, and does the pipe-organ trick by playing that bass using harmonics of higher frequency notes that it synthesizes.
And therefore, your little front speakers can play the bass that it would have choked on before.

And someday, if a sub is desired, the MaxxBass can be used to make that sound bigger and fuller too, but I don't think that's its best use, although it can help a choked tiny box sound better.

The best application for this is to augment a simple (even factory, with an amp added) system that is either thin and weak, or can't get loud because it starts to choke on the low stuff.
...great for professional types who think that 'car subwoofer = teenage immaturity', they love that they don't need to add a subwoofer.

I've honestly been surprised with the number of people that I've talked to (definitely the majority of normal people out there) who specifically state "I'm not looking for bass that can be heard outside my car" - which is good, because there's definitely no SPL factor here... it's nicely proportional to the music, and you definitely can't feel it.

My observations in using the MaxxBass processor is that you don't want that level control set anywhere near full... although I'm sure this is somewhat dependent on the speakers being used.. but still.

With the level control set just hardly ticked into the "on" position, the effects are usually just right.
Turn the level control too far, and it gets big, fat, boomy sounding - even though there's no actual SPL going on.
At CES last year, I found they were demoing the unit too aggressively - and the SQ suffered from it, I thought. But then again - they were trying to pitch the product to laymen largely with tin ears, I'm sure.

This is a very unique, and very useful product - for the right target audience.
I don't think it has many uses for most people on an enthusiast forum... that's definitely just the wrong sort of person - either a SQ tweaker who wouldn't even entertain the concept of artificially synthesized sound... or an SPL guy who would be disappointed because it didn't help him get any more SPL really.
But for the average joe who really just wants to make an improvement to his stock (or stock-like) system - I'd rather sell one of these to most of them, than an actual subwoofer, 9 times out of 10. It adds bass without adding SPL, and doesn't eat up trunk space that is valuable (or perceived as valuable) to most people out there.

It's neat to hear what it does... although in the same sense, being an enthusiast, is quickly something you see potential in for your mom, your dad, your uncle.. but not for you personally.
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Old 09-05-2005   #10
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

the processor does what its supposed to.
...but there are limits too.

in my obvservations, there's no free lunch. more power is used by the driver when the processing is on and it does cause a drive to reach max excursion faster.

it does help bring out the lowend in a system without a sub better than any parametric/graphic eq.
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Old 09-05-2005   #11
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

You definitely can overdrive the unit - and "more" at any frequency results in more excursion. So too much of those overdriven harmonic frequencies, and the perception of greater excursion can certainly be there. But it's not the same excursion - it's not even the same frequencies doing it. And you're well past the dB level that the original tone was at (or should be at)... that's what I mean by 'overdriving' it.

I seriously found that my normal setting for this thing was only somewhere around 1/4, or less. The improvement was well audible as soon as you clicked past the "off" position - and IMO, SQ and reality were best preserved with the unit well, well before you got into the range of having the thing cranked for 'too much' bass.

But it does come with a remote knob to mount at your dashboard, so you can control the effect level from the front seat...
...which IMO is best used as a control to simply A/B compare how it sounds "off", to whatever predetermined 'reasonable effect level' you arrive at.
Believe me, it'll be before you get it turned up even 1/2 way.

If I ever lease a car, and/or don't want to put a sub in something, this thing is going in. It's a great bass solution when SPL isn't desired at all.
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Old 09-28-2005   #12
 
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

Sorry to bring this thread back from the dead.

geolemon, your comments are very nice to hear. Thanks for the long and informative series of posts. If you still browse this forum and come across this thread, i was wondering if you could comment on if you encountered any noise issues like the one i got when using them on headphones. Do you notice a kind of latent warbly hissing in the background in your car audio setup? If you have access to a zero-bit silence track give it a go and see if you hear anything with the maxxbass activated. You dont have to increase volume, it doesnt get louder when volume increases for some reason. Based on earlier reviews no one has mentioned this problem. maybe it's not audible in the car, its barely 'ear-straining to hear' audible on my boombox in my otherwise completely silent room. Its a lot more audible with headphones though it disappears once music starts playing and masks it.
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Old 09-28-2005   #13
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

I was going to bring it up this weekend because Friday night I will be using a Maxx BCL in my live rig as a demo. I'm excited to hear what it will do!

Chad



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Old 09-28-2005   #14
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

I've seen the PPI version of this device on e-bay......are the exact same thing just re-labeled or is this one better?
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Old 09-28-2005   #15
 
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

I think the PPI units work at a different frequency...i think it would be a far better idea to get the maxxbass units instead unless the PPI or Orion units were really dirt cheap?

Chad, please post your opinion of the unit here after you've tried it out...might wana listen for noise issues too
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Old 09-28-2005   #16
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

I was just asking b/c I saw a PPI unit on ebay. Anyone konw where to buy one of these at a discount?
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Old 09-28-2005   #17
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

ha yeah i used this a long while ago and did one of the reviews that sort of overhyped it.
With stock speakers, this thing ROCKS. With speakers that can already produce good midbass and low end it does alot less for. But with my stock speakers in my last car (2002 altima with base system not bose) the difference was shocking. I won't use it again unless i use it on a stock system where it REALLY shines. I couldn't believe the low end bass i was hearing from my crappy stock speakers that had NONE before. Sounded like i had some 8" subs in the back. SOld it a long time ago now though.
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Old 09-29-2005   #18
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Default Re: My MaxxBass 103 Processor Impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackreplica
I think the PPI units work at a different frequency...i think it would be a far better idea to get the maxxbass units instead unless the PPI or Orion units were really dirt cheap?

Chad, please post your opinion of the unit here after you've tried it out...might wana listen for noise issues too

Will do! Please keep in mind that this is the Pro version and also includes the L1 level maximizer and a limiter. This will be strapped across the mix bus via the inserts, soooo noise should be kept to a decent level. If I have the opportunity I may switch it over to the main outs and run it's outputs unbridled. Might do this first as I don't plan to use the comps till later in the night. Tomorrow is the day, I have the unit in front of me now on the bench with my iRiver MP3 player piped thru it. It's making My vintage KLH model 38's on my bench sound pretty darn good! Hopefully it should be quiet as it is designed to be the final stage in a hardware based mastering system and high end sound reinforcement!

Here's a linky to the unit:

http://www.waves.com/content.asp?id=1600

Chad



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