BIAS for iPad
Positive Grid, the makers of the JamUp XT and JamUp Pro XT amp simulators and guitar multi-effects processors, released a new amp simulator today. Called BIAS for iPad, it’s actually more than just a basic amp simulator. The iOS app lets you dive in to the innards of every included amp model and virtually rewire them to your heart’s content. Make subtle tweaks to hot rod your favorite boutique amp, or change every single component to make your own virtual hand-wired amp.
BIAS includes 36 amp models. There are 28 guitar, four bass and four keyboard/vocal amps. The interface is extremely well organized, grouping the amps logically by music genre and sonic impact: clean, blues, twang, crunch, metal, insane, acoustic and bass. Right out of the box, the amp models sound great. Very authentic sounding, warm, natural and responsive. Until now, I’ve grown accustomed to settling for slightly less than satisfying amps, but not the case here. Honestly, these amp models are on a par with the ones in my Line 6 Pod HD 500.
Persistently arranged across the bottom of the screen are input and output level controls, as well as a noise gate and room simulator. I always turn the noise gates off in these apps, because I don’t run insanely high-gain rigs, but the room simulator is a really welcome addition here. It’s adjustable and really sweetens up the tone to make it sound all the more realistic.
That’s great, and probably worth the $19.99 price tag by itself (it’s very refreshing to have access to the complete collection for one price rather than having to make a bunch of in-app purchases), but what obviously sets BIAS apart is the ability to mix and match all the parts of the amp that combine magically to make unique tones. The app allows you to change preamp tube types and voicing, adjust bias, swap out various transformer types and change speakers and cabinets. You can even easily move the equipment being used to mic the virtual amp around the 3D space to get exactly the sound you’re after.
The in-app help system is great. Hit the customary question mark icon on any screen and helpful guides pop up to not only help you find your way around the app’s interface, but also to explain just how each component can potentially impact the tone of the rig you are creating. Very cool stuff, making the whole process very accessible, even if you’re not a gear nerd.
When you get the amp exactly the way you want it, you can hit one button and load your custom amp into Positive Grid’s JamUp app and start adding stomp boxes and effects before and after the amp and record with JamUp’s 8-track recorder. BIAS is also Inter-App Audio and Audiobus compatible, so you can also use it with Apple’s GarageBand.
I am really, really pleasantly surprised with how great this app sounds. Editing the components is a breeze and it’s easy to hear the difference every change makes. I’m sure I’ll have fun as I continue to play with it, but for right now I’m happy just playing through the preset amps. The ’67 Dumble Clean is my favorite at the moment, but there are some other great amps in the Blues category and even the Acoustic simulator amp has a really pleasing sound.
It’s also really nice being able to open the customized amps in JamUp, but I almost wish it worked the other way around. I like the room simulator so much in BIAS that I find I immediately miss it in JamUp. I believe it’s the same as one of the premium pedals available in JamUp, but I’d have to buy it and use a spot in my signal chain there just to recreate what I had already in BIAS. In short, I’d love to be able to pull a stomp box or two into BIAS and add them to the sound there rather than vice versa.
And, again, I really like having all the equipment available with just one purchase. The price they are charging seems very fair for what you get. Unfortunately, when I open the amps in JamUp, it only servers as a reminder that I don’t have all the gear offered for sale in that app. It would be nice if they offered it as a package and you were just able to unlock everything all at once.
Something else I would love to see, and I really hope Positive Grid has up there sleeve, is a cookbook of recipes for how to put together some of the most sought after amps out there. Imagine being able to piece together components to recreate your favorite guitar player’s exact rig or that of a boutique amp that just hasn’t been covered by one of these amp simulators yet. I, for one, would love to be able to replicate the sound of John Mayer’s signature Two Rock amp and cabinets.
All in all… a great addition to the amp and effects modeling apps for iOS. I definitely recommend it.