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June 2017 Giveaway

Grace Design ALiX Acoustic Instrument Preamp / EQ / DI / Boost Pedal Reviews

5.0 stars based on 3 customer reviews
Questions about the Grace Design ALiX Acoustic Instrument Preamp / EQ / DI / Boost Pedal?

Questions about the Grace Design ALiX Acoustic Instrument Preamp / EQ / DI / Boost Pedal?

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  • from Elmsford, NY April 13, 2017Music Background:
    Acoustic guitarist

    A cut above other acoustic pre-amps

    This is an expensive unit, but I finally feel like I've finally found something that really translates pure acoustic tone from my guitars. I'm a real tone bug and have high end acoustic guitars. I use K&K Pure Mini's on all my guitars-- mostly because they are a non-invasive install that an be easily removed (no permanent alteration to the instruments). As such, this review only relates to how the Grace unit interacts with K&K passive pickups.
    K&K pickups can sound really good, but they have an impedance and construction that (to my ear) doesn't like a whole lot of the acoustic pre-amps out on the market (including K&K's own pre-amps-sad to say). In fact, my recommendation is that, if you can't afford this unit, a simple Boss 7-band EQ pedal is your next best bet with K&Ks (cut a lot of low mids using the Boss EQ and you get into the ballpark for a decent acoustic sound). I've discarded or sold off more acoustic pre-amps than I care to admit, but that "never-ending quest" for good acoustic sound from a pickup is now over with ---thanks to the Grace ALiX.
    From the get-go, the Grace ALiX sounded infinitely better than any other acoustic pre-amp I've tried--even before I began making adjustments. There was a quiet "roundness" and smoothness to its sound that is similar to that of a great old classic analog mixing board channel. Screams "high quality" design. I found, for my K&Ks, the primary "low-mid dump" typically necessary get rid of pickup muddiness is best achieved using the notch filter, dialed at about 800k (or the 3:30 o'clock to use a clock comparison). I actually would have liked to reserve that dial for use as a high pass roll-off (it can be used as either), but I found I needed to use the notch filter to "ground" the sound before finessing things further with the fully parametric mid EQ. Oddly, I ended up setting the parametric mid to boost highs/hi-mids a bit at what looks to be the 5k position, with the "Q" factor dialed all the way down (affecting a broad spectrum of frequencies) and the mid gain dial at 2 o'clock. I really expected to be more "surgical" with the fully parametric mids and using them to sculpt out quacky or tinny mids, but that's where I found the best sound. Highs were set at 2 o'clock position and lows dialed down to about 10:30. Master gain at 11:00 o'clock. It sounds fantastic and natural! I doubt I will get much benefit from supplementing my pickup with a condenser mic-which I often do. What will I find to grumble about now that my pickup sound issues are laid to rest!!
    A couple tips. You will have to find a short TRS insert cord if you want to keep things neat on your pedalboard and integrate effects. These cords are hard to find. I ended up first reconfiguring my pedalboard around the ALiX and then ordering a custom length TRS insert cord to avoid creating a crow's nest of extra cable on the pedalboard. Also, the tuner output is dependent on the "amp out" dial being turned up (a "Duh" moment till I realized this). Mute footswitch for tuning is dead silent (as should be on an expensive unit).
    Kudos to the Grace Design folks for putting out a quality product that for me was a real game changer in terms of achieving true acoustic guitar sound. The first time I used live it the club owner (a talented musician) wanted to know what kind of acoustic guitar I had --as it was "the best sounding guitar he'd ever heard in his club." I told him "it's this here box" and pointed to the Grace ALiX.

  • from Sacramenbto September 12, 2016Music Background:
    30+ Years playing fiddle and mandolin

    This is "THE" pre amp you want to own

    I play Violin, 5 and 8 string Mandolin, as well as Mandocello. Getting good tone, especially from the amplified violin up until now has been near impossible. I've used some of the best pre amps for acoustic instruments on the market. A small fortune invested for what seemed like a never ending search for a warm rich tone. The Grace Design ALiX is amazing. Beautiful rich tone right out of the box. Detailed instructions made it easy to find the right "spot" for the tone I wanted. When I first played through it my wife came into my studio and asked me what I did, she said she'd never heard the fiddle sound so beautiful. I'm very pleased with this pre amp and highly recommend it to any acoustic instrument player. I've never sounded better and I'm very grateful to have found this gem. This is an excellent investment in your sound. I would highly recommend the Grace Designs pre amp!!!

  • from Princeton NJ August 12, 2016Music Background:
    Pro Gigging Musician

    Magic Black Box or Silver

    I wanted to wait a few weeks and do some gigs before I said anything. Let me say right from the start that I have been a fan of Grace Design from their preamps and recently Felix and now AliX. If I have a gig and I'm going to amplify with a pickup on my guitar, I won't leave home with out the AliX. My flamenco guitars are equipped with the LR Baggs Dual source, UST Element and mic blend. I can adjust my bass so I have no low end feedback. Tame and boost my mid frequency (love the fully parametric eq) and I can pull my treble or boost to the liking of my ears and what the room needs. The elegance of the design just oozes pure beauty and grace with roadworthy strength. I waited for the AliX and put off buying other preamps. I wanted a small single Chanel preamp. I'm so glad I waited. Everyone who has heard this magic box is blown away with the clarity and precision of the tone sculpting. One of the best things is you a clearly defined tone. There is no loss of tone when you use the eq. And all of the knobs are functional. I have used gear where I can't hear anything change when I move the knobs. The High Pass Filter allows for taming the bass in any situation. The preamp is so smooth and silky in the tone that is produced. Another one of the super cool things the design team did. and I think it's a first, is they put an extra jack that allows you to power your pedals without wall warts or another power supply. I am able to power my Line 6G30, Strymon blueSky, and Digitech Jam Man, all from AliX. I just think this shows how the team at Grace is not just making a box with knobs but actually thinks what do musicians need their gear to do to make life easier and more musical. Then there's the nice effects loop that is a TRS. For me all my gear mounts onto a pedaltrain pedalboard. When I get to the gig I just plug in my power and XLR out and I'm good to go. The boost switch is great for solos or when you need more this one does not just go to 11 it goes up to 10db of boost from where you are. I have used the AliX with my Bose Compact, Bose L1II w B2 sub, QSC Speakers, and House PA systems including TubroSound, JBL, QSC, Mackie and every time my gear sounds great, and I get complements, tips,and rebookings. If you are serious about your tone on your instrument and want to learn how to make it sound it's best, then as far as your preamp search goes, look no further, it's here, Grace Design. Sweetwater took care of the transaction and got the AliX to me. Thanks Grace Design

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