Author Topic: Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?  (Read 7390 times)

Offline alexibm

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« on: February 26, 2006, 01:13:30 PM »
Hi !
I was going to buy MKHC but after reading that it needs constant battery recharging(battery last only for 16 hours and I do play often) I have changed my mind. I will not buy it. (Or Am I wrong about the battery ?)

I see that there are other BBE products on the market: stompboxes, rack units.........in the same pricerange or close to the price or MKHC.

Question is
What difference  will it make to use MKHC versus using external BBE box with existing Rhodes Mark 1 Pre-am ?

Thank you.

Offline andi85

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2006, 07:51:59 PM »
I guess hardly anything, because the electronics should be the same.
The only difference is that the MKHC takes the signal directly from the harp, which a normal BBE-box doesn't as long as you use the input jack.
But as you surely know there are several possibilities to bypass the stage piano controls - so the only difference is elimininated.
Tuning instruments makes the band sound thin!

Offline alexibm

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2006, 08:57:09 PM »
I guess I am sord of confused about the ways the existing pre-Amp will effect the sound if I would use external BBE box.

Offline BJT3

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2006, 02:57:31 AM »
I have the BBE DI-1000. I do not have a MKHC to compare it to. I did notice on Major Key's website it says "The MKHC-1 is based on a BBE chip that has been custom-programmed for the Rhodes piano's frequency response". It would be interesting to hear from someone who has both to see if there is an audible difference.
     The BBE DI-1000 has a wal-wart type power adapter. I've read of people using a DC 9v power adapter to power their MKHC.
     That said, my opinion of the BBE DI is that it can help clean up the Rhodes sound a bit, but I'm not sure it's a "must have". I heard a recording of a guys rhodes coming straight off of the suitcase preamp and I prefer it to the sound I'm getting (MarkII Stage Piano harp output>BBE DI>ProTools Ren EQ plug-in). Just my 2 cents,
-Ben-
1978 Mark I Stage Piano 88
1970 Wurlitzer 200
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1961 Hammond A100 Organ
1977 Fender Twin Reverb (Blackfaced)

Offline daswans

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2006, 09:24:44 AM »
Just get a 9 volt wall wart from Radio Shack. Problem solved. I have the MKHC and love it. The original electronics are pooey to say the least. The whole thing installs in about 3 minutes and can be put back to stock in 3 minutes if you want to (I doubt you would). IMO, it's a no brainer. A wall wart will probably run you 10-15 bucks. If you want the option of getting the pure tone, you can always go off the harp with an RCA cable when the mood hits you (It hasn't hit me yet. I like the MKHC).

Offline Matt Doran

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Major Key Harmonic Clarifier with BBE full frequency focus
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2006, 12:48:52 AM »
I have had nice results with my Major Key McClaren Harmonic Clarifier. I ran it mono into a cheesy little digitech RP50 into stereo(or simulated stereo)...with the auto panner,slight reverb  and maybe a bit of chorus(all from RP50)

i am playing a Mark I 73 stage with the above configuration
www.myspace.com/mattdoran
listen to "Manhattan" track....it may be bright for some tastes...but it is adjustable by trimming the "process knob"

Offline andi85

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2006, 03:12:14 PM »
Yes, very bright. But also very cool - sound and playing. Thanks for sharing!!
Isn't there some phasing effect on it?

Oh sorry, forget it, I listened to Senorita. Manhattan is nice, too - and without phaser :)
Tuning instruments makes the band sound thin!

Offline Spookyman

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2006, 05:28:20 AM »
Wow...I'm loving the sound of your Rhodes with the MKHC ! Really bright sounding but perfect for your music style.

I made a precommand of the MKHC in germany, but i have to wait for a while...
1975 Stage Piano 73
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Offline toddague

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2006, 01:07:56 PM »
Check out the BBE Acoustimax preamp:

http://www.bbesound.com/products/stomp_boxes/Acoustimax/index.asp

 I was debating about whether to go with the Major Key Harmonic Clarifier or an external box, and decided on the Acoustimax instead.  The BBE rep wasn't sure when I asked him if the Harmonic Clarifier had a "better" (more Rhodes-specific) tuning  than the Acoustimax preamp, but the thinking was that it was probably the same.  

Here's why I went with the Acoustimax instead:

1) Small, well-built;
2) More tone controls than the Clarifier.  The Acoustimax has EQ with  bass, treble,  mid (with notch/frequency settings) -- in addition to the familiar BBE process and low end controls;
3) Acoustimax will work as a preamp for your Rhodes with the BBE enabled or disabled.  Turn BBE on or off during performance as needed....
4) Acoustimax has an XLR (direct) out, in addition to 1/4" outs.  Both outputs can be used at the same time -- XLR for the house, 1/4" for your stage amp.
5) No batteries (although the Acoustimax does need a wall wart
6) Acoustimax can be used for other things (acoustic guitars, for example, or other acoustic or passive electric instruments) -- so it's more flexible
7) No need to modify (drill, etc.) your increasingly rare vintage Rhodes.
8 ) Acoustimax cost, at just under $200, is comparable to the Major Key Harmonic Clarifier, but to me offered more flexibility.
9) Acoustimax BBE chip is confirmed to be the 4th generation (higher resolution) chip.  Not sure what the Harmonic Clarifier chip is (could be third or possibly fourth generation).
10) included mute switch -- for tuning or just cutting sound output for whatever reason.

The only downside is that the Acoustimax isn't built in, so it's another box to haul along.  The nice thing is that the box is fairly small, is made of durable metal, and can be placed either on top of the Rhodes or on the floor underneath it.
Rhodes 1976 and 1978 Mark 1 Stage 73s, Speakeasy Vintage and BBE Preamps, Bose LP1 and MotionSound amps

Offline toddague

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2006, 01:18:42 PM »
I forgot to mention an important item -- this preamp makes the Rhodes sound great!  Very little (if any) added noise, and musical EQ and BBE processing that makes a big difference in the sound...

Quote from: "toddague"
Check out the BBE Acoustimax preamp:

http://www.bbesound.com/products/stomp_boxes/Acoustimax/index.asp

 I was debating about whether to go with the Major Key Harmonic Clarifier or an external box, and decided on the Acoustimax instead.  The BBE rep wasn't sure when I asked him if the Harmonic Clarifier had a "better" (more Rhodes-specific) tuning  than the Acoustimax preamp, but the thinking was that it was probably the same.  

Here's why I went with the Acoustimax instead:

1) Small, well-built;
2) More tone controls than the Clarifier.  The Acoustimax has EQ with  bass, treble,  mid (with notch/frequency settings) -- in addition to the familiar BBE process and low end controls;
3) Acoustimax will work as a preamp for your Rhodes with the BBE enabled or disabled.  Turn BBE on or off during performance as needed....
4) Acoustimax has an XLR (direct) out, in addition to 1/4" outs.  Both outputs can be used at the same time -- XLR for the house, 1/4" for your stage amp.
5) No batteries (although the Acoustimax does need a wall wart
6) Acoustimax can be used for other things (acoustic guitars, for example, or other acoustic or passive electric instruments) -- so it's more flexible
7) No need to modify (drill, etc.) your increasingly rare vintage Rhodes.
8 ) Acoustimax cost, at just under $200, is comparable to the Major Key Harmonic Clarifier, but to me offered more flexibility.
9) Acoustimax BBE chip is confirmed to be the 4th generation (higher resolution) chip.  Not sure what the Harmonic Clarifier chip is (could be third or possibly fourth generation).
10) included mute switch -- for tuning or just cutting sound output for whatever reason.

The only downside is that the Acoustimax isn't built in, so it's another box to haul along.  The nice thing is that the box is fairly small, is made of durable metal, and can be placed either on top of the Rhodes or on the floor underneath it.
Rhodes 1976 and 1978 Mark 1 Stage 73s, Speakeasy Vintage and BBE Preamps, Bose LP1 and MotionSound amps

Offline andi85

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2006, 01:20:53 PM »
Cool, sounds like it's very similar to the DI-100x, only with amplification.
Anyway, great stuff!
Tuning instruments makes the band sound thin!

Offline axg20202

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Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2006, 08:13:35 AM »
Slightly off-topic here......I managed to get hold of a supply of the BBE chips, so I redesigned the MKHC board on a much smaller PCB and made a guitar pedal version of it complete with 9v DC socket. The board sold by MK is quite large because it has been designed to accomodate the PCB-mounted pots. I have posted on this forum before about making a load of these boards to sell but can never find the time. If anyone wants to build their own BBE-based preamp I can hook you up. I have BBE chips and can produce my scaled-down PCB (pre-drilled). All that would be required would be to source the remaining components (resistors, capacitors, common-all-garden op-amp IC, die cast box etc from Mouser or wherever) and solder the components in.

Andy.

PS. the schematic for wiring up the BBE chip is public domain. All that remains on the MK board is a typical op-amp style amplifier, the hookup of which is also common knowledge. My layout is different to the MKHC board (to make it much smaller) but it is the exact same circuit. I don't mass produce the board and wouldn't dream of treading on the toes of MK.  Just in case anyone starts wagging a finger!

Offline axg20202

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Stage piano preamps now available - limited numbers
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2006, 11:36:47 AM »
Hi all,

I hope people don't mind me posting a bit of an advertisement here, but I have finally managed to make some more of my BBE-based preamp boards for Rhodes stage pianos. If there are people on the list that would like one, let me know. I can only make them in batches of 2 at a time - I have 2 boards ready now with more to follow if there is enough interest. They are the same circuit as the MK harmonic clarifier but on a small PCB, allowing you to mount it in a guitar-pedal enclosure if you wish and therefore retain your lovely original faceplate as nature intended. In addition to retaining you paino's good looks, the major benefit of the preamp is that it boosts the weedy output level of the Rhodes, boosts bass if required, and also reduces muddiness and increases definition by way of the on-board BBE processor.

Once upon a time I sold a couple of these to friends here on the list, ready built in painted aluminium guitar pedal enclosures with DC power connectors etc, but I don't have time to do all this extra work these days, sorry.

The boards I have are just the board itself, the only external connections provided being the 9v battery connector. If you want to use my boards, you will need to add the following cheaply-available bits:

Some hook-up wire
3 x 50K linear potentiometers
2 x 1/4 jack sockets (or whatever IN and OUT audio connectors you wish to use)
A suitable enclosure (optional, assumes you don't wish to mount it inside your piano.
DC mains power connector (optional)

Note that mounting inside you piano will require an extra hole to be drilled in your face plate for the 'input' jack (Rhodes terminology here - it is of course the output of the keyboard!) since the preamp board has an extra control pot compared to the standard stage piano controls.

You will also need access to a soldering iron to connect everything up, so the boards are being offered as a project really, but with all the hard work done for you. I can of course provide guidance and tips on some useful wiring options for hooking this up e.g. battery power auto-disconnects when mains power present; power only suppled with input jack inserted etc etc. By supplying the board only, you get total freedom on how you want to use it, package it etc. Because of the time and effort involved in making these by hand in small quanitites, in addition to cost of parts, I think a fair price to list members would be £40 plus postage costs. Postage in the UK would probably no more than £5. Other countries, please ask. I can provide photos if required.

Cheers,

Andy.

PS. I started making these for my own pianos, so I'm only offering these up to people here that might benefit from my work. If I wanted to go into mass production to make lots of money, I'd be flogging them on e-bay.

Offline RM

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Re: Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1) Versus external BBE box ?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2017, 08:52:41 AM »
Hi there i'm keen on this Harmonic Clarifier (MKHC-1), are you still doing the boards or have any available?
Much thanks for your time..