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Hardware And Software Reviews


WAVES Software Boosts Your Bass Even Bigger:
A Software Review by Read G. Burgan
Published In RADIO WORLD April 1, 1998


Read Burgan

Back in the early 80's I acquired a dbx 120 Dynamic Subharmonic Synthesizer. I was looking for something to add organ pedal notes to an accordion/synthesizer. It worked beautifully. It also added missing or deficient pedal notes on many pipe organ records in my collection. I've kept it in my arsenal of analog audio hardware ever since.

Now WAVES has announced a new software module designed to do the same thing: MaxxBass will work with any software capable of using DirectX Plug-Ins. Like the dbx 120, MaxxBass samples your audio file at a given set of frequencies and then creates a set of bass harmonics based on the original music content.

How well does it work? Very well. One of the problems with the old dbx 120 was that it could create odd effects with male voices. Not so with the MaxxBass. Regardless of the type of material I chose, the bass was always clean, deep and realistic with Maxxbass.

Looking for a way to add an octave or more of bass to your announcing voice? MaxxBass may be your answer.

The harmonics created by MaxxBass are clean and deep. Because they are fundamentally related to the original audio material, they are virtually indistinguishable from the source. There is no artificial quality to the added bass harmonics.

Most of LP's rolled off their low frequencies beginning at 60 Hz or even higher. For pipe organ recordings, this left an unacceptably wimpy sound. When I transferred an E. Power Biggs LP to my hard drive and ran MaxxBass on it, the low end came alive with room shaking bass.

With MaxxBass you can either use the harmonically generated bass as your sole source of bass, or combine it with the original bass material, controlling the amount of each that you include. If you have a lot of hum and other problems in the low frequency spectrum of your original recording, you may be better off using just the MaxxBass. But if your bass is okay but only needs some augmentation, then leave the original in and just add as much MaxxBass as necessary to provide a solid punch.

How hard is it to use? The onscreen interface is so intuitive that it takes only a few minutes to master all of the controls. Three faders control the input level, original bass level and the artificially created bass. A three-way button lets you listen to the processed audio, original bass or the newly created MaxxBass.

A frequency control slide selects the crossover frequency at which the software samples the sound file and creates the subharmonics. Anything above the crossover point is left untouched, while the frequencies below it are used to create the subharmonic bass.

A high pass filter toggle switch allows you to selectively increment the low frequencies created by the harmonic generator. A decay button provides a means of blending the harmonics. A ratio button allows you to apply compression to the harmonics and a response button controls the attack and release time of the harmonic generator.

Once you understand what each control does and have played with them for a few minutes, you're ready to use MaxxBass. Your ears and a good set of monitor speakers are your best tools. This is digital tool that does exactly what it promises and can add a rich bass to virtually any recording.

MaxxBass is a product of WAVES and has a list price of $300.

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US Waves, 6716 Central Avenue, Pike Suite 8, Knoxville, TN 37912 (423) 689-5395 E-mail:

Read Burgan is a free lance writer and a former public radio station manager who can be reached at (906) 296-0652 or through e-mail at rgb@up.net.