Positive Grid, www.positivegrid.com
stunning graphics/ infinite range of customisable sounds
no play along facility from iTunes library/ factory presets biased towards distorted sounds
I’ve just taken a test drive with the newly released BIAS FX, the latest offering from San Diego outfit Positive Grid. This is a state-of-the-art guitar amp and effects processor, which builds on the company’s previous products JamUp Pro and BIAS (now known as BIAS Amp). I’ve been rapt with the way these two have added a full range of professional sounds to my live gigs.
The first thing that hit me with BIAS FX was the look. The graphics of amp heads, effect pedals and racks have a stunning level of reality I haven’t seen before in a guitar app. And I’ve reviewed quite a few.
To access the 32 factory presets I’m using the Live View function, which shows me the rigs four at a time with comfortably large buttons – very handy for doing quick switches on stage. The presets showcase a wide range of sounds and setups from gentle acoustic through clean pop to raucous grunge. Many of them are a little bit too heavy for my repertoire, but there are two quick fixes for this: 1. Modify one of the presets 2. Log into ToneCloud and choose from a range of presets in 12 genres from acoustic to rock. Let’s check out option 1 first.
With each factory preset the lower half of the screen shows a realistic amp head with rotating dials, which I can use to change volume and tone. The upper screen shows a traditional signal chain with effect modules in place on either side of the amp. I can drag these to different positions in the chain, drag them out of the chain and drag in others. But it doesn’t end there. Each module is fully customisable, exactly like the real thing, with rotating knobs. If I can’t get the sound I want, then I just ain’t trying. I actually spent five minutes with one particular pedal and came up with a whole range of different sounds.
At the time of writing, the ToneCloud option for BIAS FX had only been opened to users for a few days, but it already has a variety of interesting setups. Based on my experience with the Share function in JamUp Pro, it shouldn’t be long before I’ve got more choice than I need, as users upload their lovingly crafted presets. Once again I look for something approximating a sound that I’m after, download and then fine-tune to suit if necessary. If I’m really happy with my efforts, I can upload it with a different name to ToneCloud to repay the favour.
There is even a third option. Full integration with BIAS Amp means I can go back there and build a fully customised amp from the ground up, which I can then use as the basis for a new preset in BIAS FX.
And there are the sounds. Just as BIAS Amp added to the capabilities of JamUp Pro, BIAS FX takes things up to a new level. Having cut my teeth in the music business in the 1960s with valve amps and crude FX pedals, this gear is rock nirvana. Delay, distortion, modulation and reverb never sounded so authentic to my ears. And the new dual amp setup complete with splitter and mixer is something I really need to explore.
For the more technically minded, BIAS FX offers the following:
- 25 high quality effect pedals with new sound-processing algorithms
- five professional rack processors
- 12 classic amps, with option to import amp models from BIAS Amp
- dual signal path and dual amp processing
- Live View mode, which selects presets with a single tap and allows toggle on/off of all included effects
- Pedalboard View, which shows all the effects and amps in the currently loaded preset, and
- Inter App Audio compatibility, which allows insertion of other Inter App Audio apps in any place in the BIAS FX signal path.
When I think how all of this gear would have cost thousands of dollars and filled the stage in the old days. Now it all bursts out of my iPad.
If you don’t already own a guitar/FX app, then BIAS FX is worth your serious consideration. There’s nothing better around.