BBE MaxCom: This is a two-channel line-level rack compressor featuring a gate and a "Sonic Maximizer" function. There are versions with black or red face plates, but as far as I know they hve no differences other than the color.
It sounds quite clear and uncolored, with no loss of highs or lows except at heavy gain reduction. I did find that at high ratios, or when sending in a big signal spike, the highs could become muddy and the lowest lows get attenuated. It's not a problem at moderate settings. The Maximizer function can make up for that to a certain extent by brightening the highs and bringing the lows up, but it can sound noticeably processed if you use too much. Also note that higher settings of the Maximizer scoop your mids heavily, so bear that in mind when EQ'ing your rig.
The noise level is very low, really amazingly quiet. However there is a tiny "tic" sound when your signal crosses the threshold. It's mostly noticeable at higher ratios, but it can sometimes be heard at lower ratios too. The Auto attack/release setting is awful. Some comps such as dbx or Symetrix have auto functions that work really well, so auto in general is not a bad thing, but in this case it's no good. The noise gate function sounds and works basically OK, but it's prone to stuttering at the threshold.
It's powered with a detachable IEC standard AC cord. There are both balanced and unbalanced inputs, but since there is no input gain stage in the Maxcom, you will need to be sure to feed it a line level signal either way. A non-boosted instrument signal will not work well by itself. The knobs feel terribly wiggly and flimsy--it seems like you could break them by sneezing. The other plastic switches and jacks are "OK", but overall this comp probably can't take heavy gigging usage. On one of the two units I tested, the "link" button was non-functional. The bypass is not "true bypass", but it is clean and unaffected by the gain stages in the processor. My review here is not all bad: for studio/home use, and for light/moderate compression, with light settings of the Maximizer, the MaxCom can sound really nice.
Price in USD: new $200-250, used $80-$140.
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