Positive Grid BIAS FX Pro: A Synergistic Experience
Recently, I submitted a review for Positive Grid Amp Professional. As I reread the review, I saw how sloppy the description was. This was because I was using voice command on my phone to write the review at the time. My review was lengthy, but it did encapsulate the various features of both BIAS Amp Professional and BIAS FX Professional. So, what I'm going to do is just copy and paste the relevant information for FX Professional and correct some grammatical mistakes, so you can actually read and understand what I had previously written.
BIAS FX Professional:
Both BIAS Amp and FX work together. For example, you can take any of the amplifiers that are provided for you in BIAS Amp Professional, as well as those you've made yourself, save them, and you will find them waiting for you when you open up BIAS FX Professional. Within BIAS FX Professional you have access to a number of rack and pedal FX to help shape your tone even further. The quality of the effects are subjective. Personally, I think that Guitar Rig 5 has better modulation FX, but that is not to say that FX Pro doesn't have some nice sounding ones as well. I do enjoy their overdrive pedals (which, just like in real guitar rigs, are better utilized in the beginning of the chain ). Within FX Pro you can implement "dual" mode. This takes you even further into your customization. You can combine 2 amps, adjust their signal, volume, frequency, pan them to your liking and even set a delay feature to create a wider sound. In this stage, honestly you can really create some incredible tones.
Within BIAS Amp Professional and BIAS FX Professional you can access the "tone cloud." In FX Pro, you have the ability to upload amp tones that you have created, as well as download from other users. The tone cloud consists of a community of users that offer their own amps for dowload at no cost. There are also professionals that provide their presets, which you can download as well. You also have the option of purchasing some presets, which I did.
What else does BIAS FX Professional have to offer besides virtual rack pieces and pedals? Like many guitar amp simulation software packages, you can change the type of mic, and its position relative to the speaker (L/R, distance from the speaker). You get a choice of one of two microphones to do this with (SM57 and C414). If you're in Dual mode you can choose one of the two mics for either of the two amps, giving you a little extra versatility.
In my opinion, HERE's WHERE THINGS GET REALLY GOOD! Let's say that you're just not happy with your tone because it still has that DI feel. Well, you can bypass your guitar cabinet in either Bias Amp Pro or BIAS FX Pro, and use their Impulse Response loader (IR). Impulse Responses are basically just .wave files that can be imported into the software's IR loader. Topically, IRs offer various types of cabinets, microphones distances ,EQ settings and impedance curves. This is where your amp truly begins to feel and sound real. I'm not sure if Positive Grid actually provides any IR's in the tone cloud, but I know that they have people who have used IR's to create their tone(s), and offer those amps on the cloud for users to download. A big HOWEVER here... in the event that Positive Grid does not actually offer any Impulse Responses, there are several companies on the Internet, that can provide you with some great IR's, one being "Redwirez."
Just a quick sidenote: Redwirez offers their full collection of high quality IR's called the "Big Box." Also included with the Big Box is mixIR2. This is another Impulse Response loader that allows you to load and layer more IR's than you'll ever need. While you can't use the mixIR2 loader with Positive Grid's IR loader, you can import IR's from the Big Box. Furthermore, if you use BIAS Amp/FX as plug-ins in your DAW, you now have the ability to not only use PG's IR loader, you can also bring in mixIR2 and stack IR's until your heart is content. So, by using all of the aforementioned in your DAW, you can create and record guitar tones you never thought possible.When you start fooling around with IR's, hours will fly by because you have so many choices. It's a true labor of love because the options that you have are seemingly limitless.
I am so happy that Positive Grid included an IR loader alternative to their factory speaker cabinets because this is where your tone actually enters a completely different level of realism. This is not to say that their cabinets are bad, because they're not at all, but utilizing IR's just takes your tone to another level.
In addition, Bias Amp Professional offers an "Amp Matching" feature (this is not included in BIAS FX Professional). This is where Positive Grid tries to make a home for itself among Kemper and Axe FX. The goal is to pick whatever tone(s) you wish to emulate then model an amp within BIAS AMP Pro so that it sounds as close as possible to the target tone. Positive Grid's amp matching feature analyzes both your tone and the tone you're looking to obtain, and does the best it possibly can to make a match. This is an outstanding feature, however to be truthful, sometimes the tones are a very close match, and other times, there's a distinct difference. If Positive Grid can improve upon this feature, then they will the opportunity to rise above both then Kemper and Axe FX.
You may have noticed that Positive Grid has been coming out with physical gear, such as their distortion pedal, solid-state amp head and rack piece. Both the head and rack piece come with I think about 25 presets. Beyond that, the great thing about all of this that you can take whatever tone(s) made in the software, and upload them to the hardware. So, this is where the competition really begins with Kemper and Axe FX.
This may be a lengthy post, boasting the capability of Positive Grid's software, but I do have some criticisms.
First, I find BIAS FX Pro to be a little glitchy when using "dual "mode. You can combine two amps together, come up with an incredible tone and save it. Upon opening it later, sometimes it's like the sound is clipping, when all levels are actually normal.
The second critique I have is that, for whatever reason, when used in standalone mode I get an incredible amount of latency, even after adjusting my buffer size. I own a Creation Station which has very good specs, and I use a Scarlet Focusrite 6i6 interface with the latest drivers (also ASIO4All as an alternative). Upon trying to switch from one driver to another in the STANDALONE version of BIAS FX Professional, the software crashes. However, I have not had any crashes when used as plug-ins within my DAWs
I see good things for Positive Grid's future, especially since they're in their infancy stages of amp modeling. Hopefully they can tighten things up a little bit to give both Kemper and Axe FX a run for their money.
What I forgot to mention in my review of BIAS Amp Pro, but made note of in this review when discussing IRs, is that I have spent hours building just one amp from the ground up. The process can definitely get you in an "obsessive mode," but in a very positive way, because there is so much to work with and tweak. That to me is a testimony of how in-depth you can go with this software. Both PG Amp Professional and FX Professional are absolutely worth the investment, because the tones that you can create are practically infinite, especially if you start implementing Impulse Responses.
I hope that this review was helpful.