Waves make a lot of great stuff. So do others, but waves typically produce products that become standards because they are so well done and well thoughtout.
What is it? Maxxbass is a way to get more bass out of your productions. The problem is presented thus: small speakers cannot reproduce low frequencies. Maxxbass aims to remedy this by in a sense shifting the bass information up to where smaller speakers can reproduce them.
What I think is the wrong assumption to make though is that if you aren't concerned about playback on small speakers this plug-in is of no use to you. Actually this enhancer is very useful even on full sized speakers.
Maxxbass splits the incoming signal into bass frequencies and high frequencies. The high frequencies pass through untouched while the bass frequencies are analysed then also passed through untouched to the mixer stage. The analysed bass content is used to generate harmonics. This is the maxxbass product. These harmonics are then mixed with the original signal to give you your original signal + harmonics.
Since these harmonics are generated from the analysis of you original content it always sounds right (at least to my ears). You also have a few options which give you some control over this process. You can choose to hi-pass a certain amount of the bass frequencies and move them up and down the frequency spectrum. So if you are interested in capturing that deep sub information and bringing it up a little you can or you can capture a wider more general bass area and bring this up. The harmonics are also controlled dynamically. They can be upward expanded, giving them less dynamic range, they can be made to respond with fast attack and release settings or slower ones. This is a lot of control, the right kind of control I should add, over the end result. In my mind this allows you to it perfect.
It's a little hard to describe what it sounds like, but if you've ever had a bass enhance button on a stereo or walkman it's somewhat like that only more professional. The bass is just suddenly there, all of it. Maxxbass allows you to dial this in very subtle. You may not hear it as you add in the maxxbass but when you bypass it you hear the absence.
I use it in place of an EQ on the master bus. That way it generally adds more bass that you can hear rather than feel. It just gives everything more weight. I would think it could be roughly approximated with good EQ technique however I doubt it could be matched exactly. EQ tends to be either too much or too little whenever I try to get some nice bass extension. In other words I can dial in the right amount but it's never quite as weighty as I'd like but dialing in any more sounds very bad.
I haven't explored all the uses of this really. It could be a good idea to have an instance on the drum buss and an instance on the bass bus with different settings. And maybe again on a synth bus to give them some weight. It might sound like overkill but remember each on can have very tailored and very subtle settings. They just add up to a deeper more audible bass. I noticed on a video that Ken Lewis used this on 50 Cent's vocal to get it to come across as larger and bassier. I never would have thought of doing that but it worked perfectly.
The GUI is a little old looking but it's definitely a good usable GUI. It's very obvious what you are doing all the time.
To me this is a near essential plug-in. It's not that it's a quick and easier alternative to EQ, it's an entirely different effect to my ears. And very useful tool. The only complaint I can throw against it is the internal bit resolution. It's 24-bit which means it clips if you overload it so you do have to be careful about gain staging. This is where I knock 1 point off. Again going back to the good GUI it has a nice big clip light (that is actually labelled as clip) which lets you know when it's gone over.
For $40 I bought it for it's more than a steal. I can't believe I went so long without someone telling me how important it is to have around. I'd probably pay up to $100 for it.