Instruction Manual
Models 1401 - 1402 - 1403
Acoustic - Bass - Guitar
Phantom Powered
Instruction Manual
Aphex P/N xxx-xxxx
Models Covered:
1401 Acoustic Xciter™
1402 Bass Xciter™
1403 Guitar Xciter™
All models have similar controls and features. The
range of adjustments and the internal parameters
are individually optimized for the different classes of
musical instruments.
1. Hook-up ............................
2. Controls ............................
3. Tune-Up.............................
4. Theory................................
5. Specifications....................
6. Limited Warranty...............
7. Service Information...........
Copyright 2002 Aphex Systems Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.
Models 1401 through 1403
Instruction Manual
1. Hook-Up
on or off by inserting or removing the plug from
the input jack. Simply removing the plug from
your instrument does not turn off the Aphex unit.
Active (In)
Passive (Out) Grounded(In)
Lifted (Out)
D.I. Balanced
150Ω Output
Mic Level
a. Direct By-Pass
When the unit is switched “off” (no effect) your instrument is routed directly to the output jack and does
not pass through any electronics.
b. Input
When plugging in, make sure you set the input
active/passive switch to match your instrument’s
pickup. This assures the optimum level and impedance match. The power is automatically switched
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c. Instrument Output
Connect this output to your amp’s input jack using
a good quality guitar cord. Use the same jack and
active/passive settings on your amplifier as you
would use if plugging the instrument directly into the
amp. That way, you’ll get normal volume and tone
when you switch the effect off, and your instrument
passes directly through the box to your amp’s input.
d. D.I. Output
Yes, your Xciter™ comes with a super quality balanced D.I. output! Pin 2 of the XLR is hot while pin 3
carries a balancing impedance to set up a true balanced line. Pin 1 is grounded through the groundlift switch. The D.I. output can be connected to the
microphone input of any preamp or sound mixer and
runs a level of typically -50 to -60 dBu depending on
your instrument’s volume setting. You can switch the
D.I. output to either wet (with effect) or dry (without
effect) buffered balanced output. The D.I. output
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Models 1401 through 1403
should normally be grounded. Don’t lift the ground
unless it actually eliminates hum or buzz.
e. External Power
When external power is used, the internal battery
becomes disconnected and will not experience a
power drain. A wide range of both a.c. and d.c.
supply voltages is acceptable for power (see specifications) and it does not matter whether the center
pin is positive or negative. Almost any existing foot
pedal or stomp box power unit will work as long as
the plug fits the jack. The power jack fits a standard
6MM x 2MM power plug as used by most
popular stomp boxes.
Instruction Manual
connector. You can use rechargables, but the Aphex
unit does not supply a charging circuit. You must
remove the discharged battery to recharge it with
an external charger. We recommend using long life
alkalines. The internal battery is replaced by removing 4 screws holding the bottom cover. You can
expect from 100 to 150 hours of continuous use from
a fresh alkaline battery. Useful life is ended when the
battery voltage drops below 5.5 volts.
To extend battery life, always unplug the input
when the unit is not in use.
Battery Location
f. Phantom Power
With all pedals built after February 2004, phantom power applied to the D.I. will supply reliable power. Do NOT operate the ground lift switch
when running on phantom power. It makes a horrendous click like plugging in a mic!
f. 9V Battery
You can use any type of 9V battery that fits the snap
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Models 1401 through 1403
2. Controls
Instruction Manual
warmer tone that makes the instrument sound bigger
and fuller. For guitars, it gives you another dimension
of expression at the lower end of the scale. It’s not
a synthesizer of any kind. It takes what is there and
enhances it intelligently.
Lo Tune
Sets the upper frequency limit for bass enhancement. Enhancement occurs for all frequencies below
this point. The operating range of this control is optimized for your Xciter model.
Lo Blend
Mixes in the amount of Big Bottom effect you want
from zero to the maximum available.
a. Big Bottom® - What It Does
For bass instruments, it dynamically enhances the
low end by deepening and expanding the bass tones
according to an adaptive process. It’s not just boost.
The effect protects speakers while it extends their
bass producing capability. For acoustic instruments
it “brings out the box“. In other words, it adds a
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b. Aural Exciter® - What It Does
This is the real and original Aural Exciter especially
optimized for musical instruments. It can variously
be described as adding “air”, “bite”, “definition” or
clarity to the sound by smartly creating and manipulating the harmonics of sound waves. As you will
experience, no other “Exciter” has the musicality of
the true Aphex Aural Exciter.
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Models 1401 through 1403
Hi Tune
Sets the lower frequency limit for treble enhancement. Enhancement occurs for all frequencies above
this point. The operating range of this control is optimized for your Xciter model.
Hi Blend
Mixes in the amount of Aural Exciter effect you want
from zero to the maximum available.
c. Foot Switch
Turns the effect on or off. When the effect is off, your
instrument is patched directly through to the output
jack. In other words, it’s a straight bypass. No electronics are in the line at that point.
d. LED
Glows when the effect is on. Dark when the effect is
off. If the LED does not operate, then the battery is
dead, or no plug has been inserted into the input
jack to turn on the unit’s power.
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Instruction Manual
3. Tune-Up
Note: For most applications the Xciter pedal
can be used either between the instrument and
the preamplifier or in a serial insert loop. When
using other effects, high gain and/or modeling
amplifiers, the Xciter pedal should be used after
the other effects or, ideally, in an insert loop just
before the power amplifier. This will bring your
instrument and all the other effects back to life.
a. The Rules
There’s just one rule: Setting up your Xciter is very
easy and intuitive. Much more so than many other
effects units.
Use the Big Bottom and the Aural Exciter as if they
were separate enhancers. After that, it is all up to
experimentation. Bear in mind that your amp and
speaker play a part in the overall tone of your instrument, just as your pickups do. What settings are
great for one rig or instrument might not be perfect
for another.
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Models 1401 through 1403
b. Setting Up Big Bottom
Turn up the Lo Blend to at least 12:00 so you can
hear the effect. Rotate the Lo Tune control to hear
how the effect changes. Look for the sweet spot as
it seems to you. Everyone will find a different sweet
spot depending on their instrument’s tonality and
their personal preferences. Readjust the Lo Blend
until you feel the effect is just right.
You will notice that, within a fairly broad range, the
Lo Blend will cause a special kind of balance where
it does not bloat the sound, but it does extend and
deepen the tone. For bass instruments, this is where
the Big Bottom is doing what no other processor can
Big Bottom
Instruction Manual
do: giving you more effective bass power without
overloading your amplifier. This is also where you are
getting the most playable enhancement for acoustic
guitar, or other non-stringed amplified instruments.
It won’t seem like compression or straight EQ. It will
feel natural, and you will be in love with it. On either
side of that blend range, you still get useful effects,
and may often choose to go there as well.
c. Setting Up Aural Excitement
Turn the HI Blend up to at least 12:00 so you can
hear the effect. Rotate the Hi Tune looking for a
sweet spot. This can be anywhere in the control
range depending on what you are looking for. If you
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Models 1401 through 1403
just want air, tune it higher and use more blend. If
you want the tone to be more penetrating, tune it
lower. For bass, a lower tune gives you more buzz
and slap. For non-stringed instruments like accordions, horns, or synthesizers, mid settings may bring
you the vibrance and definition you are looking for.
It’s important to experiment and find all the various
ways you like to set up the Aural Exciter.
4. Theory
It you are reading this, congratulations! Not everyone will find their way here to learn exactly how the
Big Bottom and Aural Exciter work. We’ll keep this
description light and not too technical, however. We
want as many musicians as possible to get a basic
grasp of the technology. If you want more than we
offer here, then you can find detailed white papers at
First - The History
In 1975, Aphex introduced the first Aural Exciter® and
won U.S and foreign patents. Very soon, the magic
of Aural Excitement was discovered by recording
and touring artists all over the world. It didn’t take
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Instruction Manual
long for competitors to elbow in, but they never created anything as good as a real Aural Exciter. With all
the Aural Exciter improvements made by Aphex over
the years, that is still true today.
In 1990, Aphex introduced the legendary Big
Bottom® to balance out the benefits of the Aural
Exciter. Big Bottom is now as sought after as Aural
Excitement and is renown in its own right. Still,
Aphex offers both effects together because, as
powerful as they are alone, they are doubly powerful
when used together.
The Aural Exciter - What Is It?
Once sound is recorded, mixed, and reproduced it
has lost something vital. We all sense that, especially
when we are working at playing or producing music.
Part of what gets lost is harmonics.
We can sense the slightest loss of realism when we
listen, even as our ears lose acuity with age. That’s
because our brain is constantly interpreting and
adapting to our hearing. It’s a process called “psychoacoustics”. When small sonic details are lost,
we can still interpret the sound, but it gets harder
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Models 1401 through 1403
as more sonic “cues” (tiny embedded harmonic
details) are lost through electronics or other media.
The Aural Exciter convincingly recreates minute
harmonic details of sound. It’s true, other manufacturers are now offering harmonics effects that are in
some ways similar to our original Aural Exciter of the
1970’s, but only Aphex has the patented “Transient
Discriminate Harmonics Generator”, a giant leap forward in psychoacoustics processing. The difference
is that the Aphex Aural Exciter is natural and automatically adaptive to every sound while the others
are harsh, and, frankly, just sound like distortion
most of the time
So, what can it do? In extreme cases, the Aural
Exciter can bring back lost intelligibility to voice
recordings and sound reinforcement systems. In
milder cases, it can make a the sound seem more
vibrant and present - more “real”. For musical instruments, the Aural Exciter can create musical effects
not obtainable any other way. It can make your
instrument project better off the stage or give you
a richer, more realistic feeling. It can help you play
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Instruction Manual
better because you are psychoacoustically more in
tune - and the audience experiences the same effect.
They start getting your message!
OK - now here is the real tech stuff. The audio input
splits to a main path and a side chain. The side
chain comprises an adjustable highpass filter (the Hi
Tune) followed by a transient discriminate harmonics generator. The highpassed frequencies coming
out of the side chain contain added harmonic details
in varying amounts depending upon the dynamics of the sound. The phase and timing of the side
chain audio signals are also altered in a certain way.
The main path mixes the unaltered sound with an
amount of the side chain sound. The mixed amount
is set by the Hi Blend control.
Hi Tune
Hi Blend
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Models 1401 through 1403
The Big Bottom - What Is It?
Low frequencies are the most difficult to reproduce
well. That is because of many problems involving
acoustic mass, standing waves, and acoustic interference. It takes huge amounts of power to project a
strong bass note. Those of you who are bass players know that. Simply giving bass frequencies more
power can heighten the volume level, but at some
point it is impractical to go any further. Big Bottom
was developed to get an extended and stronger
bottom end with existing amps and speakers.
Whereas the Aural Exciter clarifies and projects the
sonic details mainly carried in the upper frequencies,
Big Bottom improves the low end reproduction.
In certain ways, Big Bottom behaves like a bass
compressor, because it extends and sustains the
notes. But, unlike a compressor, it does nothing
to stop the leading edge of transients. It does not
reduce or diffuse the snap, pluck, or punch. And,
because it uses a dynamic, constantly changing
kind of boost, it progressively augments the deeper
tones as they decay, making the notes more solid
and allowing your amp and speakers to develop
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Instruction Manual
their maximum output more safely.
Now, it may come to mind that this is obviously a
good thing for bass instruments, but what about
others? Why do I need the Big Bottom for acoustic
guitar, for example? The answer is this. We have
discovered, by making the Big Bottom’s range of
frequencies adjustable, that the specific process is
musically adaptive to upper bass areas as well. It’s
all about tone. The “box” of the guitar can be warmly
accented without making it thuddy. The richness of
chords can be improved. Amplified horns receive an
exhilarating reach to the lower notes. Of course, not
all instruments can benefit. We doubt whether Big
Bottom does much for a Cornet, for example. But,
you never know until you try! We have been pleasantly surprised many times.
Now the tech stuff again. Big Bottom starts by splitting the unaltered input signal to a main path and a
side chain. The side chain comprises an adjustable
lowpass filter (Lo Tune), a frequency dependent
phase shifter, and a peak limiter. The output from
the side chain is added to the unaltered signal in an
adjustable amount set by the Lo Blend. The characPage 19
Models 1401 through 1403
Instruction Manual
teristics of the phase shifter and peak limiter have
been highly refined though extensive research.
The result of this combination of processing is a
variable amount of low frequency equalization that
slides through a range of shapes and frequencies
Lo Tune
Lo Blend
Big Bottom
continuously as the note is played and decays. The
manner and direction of this dynamic EQ enhances
the note’s apparent depth while limiting the peak
energy level to what is about equal to the unaltered
sound. That means your amp and speakers are not
overloaded even when the sound is greatly magnified.
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5. Specifications
Input Z
Active: 50KΩ
Passive: 10MΩ
Active: 50KΩ
Passive: 1MΩ
Active: 50KΩ
Passive: 1MΩ
Output Z
Instrument: 1KΩ
D.I.: 150Ω
Instrument: 1KΩ
D.I.: 150Ω
Instrument: 1KΩ
D.I.: 150Ω
Lo Tune
Hi Tune
Input Level
Passive: 0.6V RMS Passive: 0.6V RMS Passive: 0.6V RMS
Active: 2.4V RMS Active: 2.4V RMS Active: 2.4V RMS
+/- 1dB
+/- 1dB
+/- 1dB
Aphex reserves the right to continually improve our products. All specifications
are subject to change without notice.
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Models 1401 through 1403
6. Limited Warranty
One year from date of purchase
All defects in workmanship and materials. The following are not covered:
a. Voltage conversions
b. Units on which the serial number has been defaced, modified, or removed
c. Damage or deterioration:
1. Resulting from installation and/or removal of the unit.
2. Resulting from accident, misuse, abuse, neglect, unauthorized product modification or failure to follow instructions contained in the User’s Manual.
3. Resulting from repair or attempted repair by anyone not authorized by Aphex
4. Occurring from shipping (claims must be presented to shipper).
This warranty will be enforceable by the original purchaser and by any subsequent owner(s) during
the warranty period, so long as a copy of the original Bill of Sale is submitted whenever warranty
service is required.
We will pay for all labor and material expenses for covered items. We will pay return shipping
charges if the repairs are covered by the warranty.
No warranty is made, either expressed or implied, as to the merchantability and fitness for any particular purpose. Any and all warranties are limited to the duration of the warranty stated above.
Aphex Systems’ liability for any defective unit is limited to the repair or replacement of said unit, at
our option, and shall not include damages of any other kind, whether incidental, consequential, or
Some States do not allow limitations on how long an implied warranty lasts and/or do not allow the
exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitations and exclusions may not apply to you.
Instruction Manual
7. Service Information
1. If it becomes necessary to return this unit for
repair, you must first contact Aphex Systems, Ltd. for
a Return Authorization (RMA number).
2. Pack the equipment in a strong carton containing
at least 2 inches of padding on all sides. Be sure the
unit cannot shift around inside the carton. Include a
letter explaining the symptoms and/or defect(s). Be
sure to reference the RMA number in your letter and
mark the RMA number on the outside of the carton.
3. If you believe the problem should be covered
under the terms of the warranty, you must also
include proof of purchase.
4. Insure your shipment and send it to:
Aphex Systems, Ltd.
11068 Randall Street
Sun Valley, CA. 91352
PH: (818) 767-2929 FAX: (818) 767 -2641
This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from
State to State.
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Aphex is a leading manufacturer of products for
recording, broadcast, and sound reinforcement. Be
sure to ask your dealer about professional Aphex
products or visit for more information.
“Bass Xciter”, “Guitar Xciter”, and “Acoustic
Xciter” are trademarks of Aphex Systems Ltd. All
rights reserved.
Aphex Systems Ltd.
11068 Randall St.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
Tel 818-767-2929 |
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