It is close to ideal to use modelling amps in software when you are recording in a studio, especially when that studio is your home. Not that everybody has a studio at home these days, but more and more guitarists have the access to the right gear to properly record their parts from their home. All you need is a computer and you do not have to make a room sound proof isolated anymore. Luckily, te progress of modelling amps and software have made the miles it needed the last years and it grew through trial and error, to a point that I think is satisfactory. It takes a really well-trained ear and good equipment to even hear the difference between the genuine sound and an artificial home-made product these days. Positive Grid has a far proceeding reputation when it comes to the development of software and apps for (IOS) devices and PC. And besides amp modelling they also have apps for guitar pedals in their catalogue.
The Bias Amp of Positive Grid offers a high quality display of the well-known reference amps. That you can use software plug-in during recording or to re-amp with. What is different in my eyes, compared to others who offer the same, is that the software was properly developed first, only then a hardware solution was sought to apply in a live situation, without having the burden of having to take a laptop with you on stage, and such matters that only distract.
Positive Grid Bias Mini Guitar
The Bias Mini Guitar is a compact 300 watt amplifier with 16 channels available, 8 green and 8 red. By factory default they offer some very often used clean amplifiers in the green and, (high) gain amplifiers in the red setting. That may sound more difficult that it is in reality. These are easily reached with the first control. On its left you find a gain knob control, equalizer controls and a master volume. The last output control can serve the speaker out, the direct out, headphones as well as the FX send. This comes in handy when you both use a cab as monitor on stage, but you still want to send a proper signal to the sound engineer in the venue.
On the backside you can not only find the power connector, but also the FX loop (which is now still parallel, in the future this will be upgraded in the software), midi in and out, footswitch and the aforementioned line out and speaker connector. Through a USB port you can connect your amp to your laptop or PC, with the world of amplifiers at your disposal from the tonecloud. You can load them all into your amp and adjust it to any setting required or desired. And all of this fits inside a unit that is just a little bigger than a half 19 inch rack unit, which weighs a handful of feathers and fits inside a laptop bag.
With the amp you also get a Pro license of the mentioned Bias Amp software, with which you can adjust the amp settings. The interface is very intuitive, so even if you don[/I]t have a whizzkidd kinda grade, you should do just fine using it. Since the amp is equipped with Bluetooth you can almost do the exact same stuff with and IOS device, such as an IPhone and IPad and a free downloadable Bias Amp 2 app, which again also serves your live comfort a lot.
When you scratch the surface a little further you will find that you can tweak with the software until you have the ultimate sound. And that truly is a universe of possibilities. You can easily change the parts of your pre- or power amp with just a click of the mouse, and you can instantly judge the result yourself. You cannot change your tubes this fast, nor picked another transformer with this ease. To go a step further, if you already have established a sound of your own, you can use your own recordings, or the sound of your actual amplifier to recreate it by using the Amp Match function of the Bias Amp 2 software. You can just copy your own stack, which you can subsequently perfect to your every wish.
Let us not forget the actual sound quality. The 5153 offers, like the name suggests, the Peavey 5150 sound and it is fairly good by default already. The Triplegate, based on the Mesa Triple Rectifier, gives you a Hetfield sound which makes your Metallica riff sound way more convincing right away. I secretly have a soft spot for the Soldano SLO100 myself, but it is no simple task to find that for a fair price. Now you just have it under a button. The factory direct models are instantly useable and sound remarkably natural, somehow. This also goes for the clean amps, bass amps and even the acoustic amps. Like I said earlier, you can scavenge the tonecloud for more, match your own stack or try any setting to get to your new, definitive sound.
Where some other modellers can sound slightly to artificially processed, almost as if you can hear the zeros and ones of the binary code through it, the Bias Mini offers a tube-like sound, and offers clarity in the tone. When you blend that with a second guitar which does get played on a tube amp, or another modeller, the sound remains strong, with still enough definition.
The Bias Mini offers sufficient power for most live, rehearsal and studio performances, with 300 watt. It is unbelievable how complete your armour is with this little space. Even when you connect pedals to it, in front of the amp or in the loop, it still works the same as with a normal tube amp in which the noisegate and are built in already and which has useable presets. The basic settings are all fine by itself, but I can imagine a discerning guitarist wanting to take an IOS device to do just a little more than the standard setting allow you to, which is gain, equalizer and master. The head and rack version therefore offer more diversity in adjustable options, when you truly need them.
With a guitar, this Bias Mini amplifier and a handful of cables you are ready to conquer the world, basically. And that is exactly what a large number of guitarists are doing. When in the meantime you want to hit the studio, you have your won settings and sounds at your disposal. So there seems little necessity to be hauling those heavy and obnoxious tube amps.
There is nothing as subjected to taste as gear and a lot of guitarists pledge their allegiance to their old tube-amps. Sometimes without even asking themselves if there is another way. However, when you put all figures, specs and possibilities in line and you judge them objectively, there is almost no way around the Bias Amp. So without wanting to sound like I am advertising, I am genuinely stoked and I would strongly recommend any gear head to at least give this a try sometime. The only strong disadvantage, if I must, is that there is no Android app available at this point, so you would be forced to have an IOS device for editing. Apart from that, hats off for the passion and craftsmanship Positive Grid have put into their products.
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