Price paid: $ 190
Purchased from: ebay
Sound — 7
This is a bass preamp, but I'm actually using it with guitars. I have the BMAX plugged into the effects return of my Randall head, bypassing its preamp section entirely, that is hooked up to a 4x12 cab. I have an Ibanez delay in the effects loop, and in the front I have a metal distortion pedal, a wah, an Ibanez chorus, and a Boss NS-2. I'm using an Ibanez RG-7321 with a DiMarzio PAF7 in the bridge as my main instrument here. There really isn't a flat setting on this thing. Turning your knobs to 12 o clock, with compression and the maximizer on, will give you a loud, bassy sound. With distortion, it is possible to shake the house.
Overall Impression — 10
I play rock and metal, with a little bit of improvisation. Originally I was looking for a Sonic Maximizer, but when I found out the BMAX had that and a bag of chips, I had to get it. Soon I plan to experiment and combine it with my other preamp, the Rocktron Gainiac 2. I'm pairing it with pedals I've acquired over 8 or 9 years and it seems to take them well. EQ always needs adjusting so that my distortion doesn't sound like a muffled mess, but with this I've found that my distortion is a tad bit livelier.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Since it is solid state, I expect it to last quite a while. Plus I don't know of any music shops where I live that can fix BBE stuff. I would use it in a gig definitely. My only wish is that there was a GMAX. BBE, get on that! Since I'm using it for guitar instead of bass, I've been putting it through its paces while adding it to my sonic arsenal. I keep it in a rack and have it plugged into a power conditioner for protection, so hopefully the only thing I have to worry about is scuffs from the rack in the highly unlikely event I were to resell it.
Features — 9
This is the BBE BMAX preamp. It is a solid state preamp with a class A/B front end, which emulates tube sound. On the front panel you have two inputs, a bright switch, a gain knob, three eq knobs (treble,bass, mid). Next there are two knobs that adjust the midrange frequency and level. After that is a soft knee compressor, which can be activated by a little switch, and a Sonic Maximizer, also switchable. Then there's the volume knob. There's only one channel with this thing and it doesn't really distort. It is rather loud. On the back you have an effects loop, an XLR out, and an out that can be used for plugging into a poweramp or the return of another amp.