I TEND TO KEEP MY PEDAL SETUP simple: an envelope filter, compressor, chorus, and maybe a phaser. As such, I was excited to check out three of Maxon’s new Nine Series pedals, which include three of the four effects I tend to use. These three units demonstrate the benefit of not limiting yourself to “bass specific” pedals. As we all know, bass guitars require more power and headroom for proper frequency response, and the same is true regarding effects applied to the bass. In some pedals, low voltage tends to cut the bottom end a bit. Recognizing this reality, Maxon developed an electronic system that doubles the voltage in their pedals. Each pedal includes a stabilizing voltage converter that takes the 9-volt input power and bumps it to 18 volts. As a result, their pedals work for guitar, bass, and keyboard—basically anything with a wide range of frequency and power. This increase also allows the pedal to run through an amp’s effect-loop chain, giving you the ability to send the signal to the pedal post-EQ.
To test out these three models, I set up a listening station that consisted of a Genz- Benz Shuttle 6.0, a Boss looper (for keeping the signal going while I tweaked the pedals), and two basses: an active Spector Euro Lx 4-string and a passive Roscoe Beck Fender V.
Phasing works by mixing the original signal with a copy that is delayed by a tiny amount. The PT9Pro+ is a new take on Maxon’s earlier phaser model, made popular in the 1980s; it uses a ten-stage optical phrasing circuit (as opposed to four), an increase that translates into a more dramatic effect on the signal.
The Maxon phaser is straightforward in design, with SPEED, WIDTH, and FEEDBACK controls. Keeping it mellow, I began by lightly adding the effect to my signal, paying attention to the rate LED, which indicates the timing of the phaser’s modulation. The result was a lush, shimmery effect. I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet the pedal was. In tweaking the feedback knob all the way, I discovered that I could create a high-pitch self-oscillating sound to play along with. It was cool in short spurts, but keep in mind your bandmates might not appreciate it on a long-term basis.
PAC9 PURE ANALOG CHORUS
Like most chorus pedals, this one includes SPEED and WIDTH controls, but there is nothing else ordinary about it. With its celebrated CS505 pedal as a model, Maxon worked to expand the new version by adding a wider adjustable modulation rate (0.33Hz–8Hz), which makes for more possible rotaryspeaker simulations. For my part, I dug the way my Fender V retained its full and meaty tone with the effect on, and I particularly enjoyed playing chords with this chorus. Maxon added a noise-reduction filter to the PAC9, which makes the pedal notably quiet. I also enjoyed its stereo output, which allows you to hook it up to two different amps to get a strong stereo effect. The pedal also incudes two small pole switches, PURE and BRIGHT, that I found useful. PURE, when engaged, treats the chorus in a traditional fashion; when switched off, the delayed signal is boosted by 4dB, which produces a bit more tremolo effect. I preferred the PURE switch on and the BRIGHT switch off, perhaps because this setting produced a more traditional chorus sound.
CP9PRO+ COMPRESSOR/ LIMITER
The final pedal of the trio is one of the most beneficial for bassists, especially those who use several effects in a chain. [For more on compression, see Tech Bench, June ’11.] The CP9 offers a great take on the traditional aspects associated with this effect, but with a few bells and whistles that put icing on an already delicious cake. The typical THRESHOLD and RATIO knobs allow for normal compression adjustments, and a small LED monitors the extent of the effect on your signal. The unit does a great job of compressing a bass signal—and typically there isn’t much more to say about a compression pedal. But on the CP9, I discovered that the GAIN knob offers a bit of fun. Setting the THRESHOLD to 1:1, I could use the pedal as a clean boost. More interesting, however, was the incredible level of gain the adjustment offered. Maxing out the GAIN (+30dB!) really pushed the front end of my amp, providing a pleasant growl.
All three pedals sport quality sounds, clean signals, and easy-to-use features. They also carry hefty price tags. For that reason, many players will likely pass them by, but if you’re interested in high-quality phase, chorus, and compression, put the PT9Pro+, PAC9, and CP9Pro+ on your list of pedals worth checking out.
MAXON PT9PRO+ PHASER
Pros Increased phase-stacking provides super lush tones
MAXON PAC9 PURE ANALOG CHORUS
Pros Quiet, smooth, traditional chorus with modern options
MAXON CP9PRO+ COMPRESSOR/LIMITER
Pros Efficient, high-quality compression pedal that also functions as a clean boost
Switching system True bypass
Made in Japan
Warranty Three years limited