It never ceases to amaze me how far digital modeling has come in the last few years. The inner digital skeptic screaming inside me is getting very hoarse lately and may be down to its last dying breath…and I won’t miss it when it is gone.
This new BIAS Desktop Professional application from the wizards at PositiveGrid enables the modern guitarist to configure his or her dream amp in as little or as much time as they care to spend. Algorithm alchemists that know how to translate tube tone and dynamics to the digital domain have meticulously engineered this application, and the proof is in the thickest pudding.
Fletchenstein’s Miwatt Monster
Downloading and installing BIAS Professional was quick and easy. When I booted up Logic Pro and created a new track, I tabbed down to the plugin within seconds. I was greeted quickly with an intuitive, attractive and easily navigable interface. One of the first things that became apparent to me while I was clicking through the logical signal chain of preamp, tone stack, power amp, transformer and cab sections, was that I could dig as deep as I wanted, or quickly create my own Fletchenstein Monster. Opting for the latter, I designed a fantasy amp with a Hiwatt style preamp and tone stack, boosted by a 6V6GT class AB power section, biased hot. I then decked out the amp with GZ 34 rectifier tube and a custom oversized transformer to extend the overall frequency response. At the end of the chain, I selected the matching 4x12 cab and switched the mic model from an SM57 to a C414 and positioned it to tame some of the spiky highs. Lastly, I dialed in just a touch of small room ambience with the refreshingly realistic Room Control. To finish my first amp, I went to the front custom panel, changed the tolex to white from black and named the amp “Miwatt.”
I plugged in my aluminum EGC Standard Series II guitar and enjoyed the bite, sparkle and grunt of my new Miwatt, while riding the volume knob and noting the realistic dynamic response. I chose the 6V6GT power tubes for their squish and compression and I could actually feel it as well as hear it, just like a real amp mic’d up in a control room through monitors.
Dare to Compare
Like a kid with a bag of candy and a new video game, I could spend hours creating custom amps and tweaking PositiveGrid’s excellent preset models. There is just so much you can do. It is so intuitive and fun to swap out tube types and insert pre filters and studio equalizers into the chain, but there is one feature that makes the upgrade from BIAS Desktop to this BIAS Professional package worth the price difference—you can capture your existing real amps in the digital domain via the Amp Matching technology. What’s more, is that you can capture a guitar tone from a previous track and turn it into a virtual version of the amp you used to record it. You simply tweak your settings within BIAS to get close to the tone of the amp you want to record, sample the amp itself and let the Amp Matching algorithm smooth out the difference. I even resurrected an amp I no longer owned from a guitar track and the clone was frighteningly close to the real thing. Androids do indeed dream of electric sheep…
What we like: The ability to archive your existing amps, create custom heads, cabs and combos, then upload and download them from PositiveGrid’s ToneCloud is more fun than a barrel of cloned Spider Monkeys. The interface is intuitive if you know a thing or too about amps and most importantly, the sounds and feel are warm and organic. I even hit the interface with a real germanium fuzz pedal and the plugin reacted fantastically.
Concerns: Amp Matching from an existing track was a little tricky without some written instruction, but I got there in the end. It might be helpful to have some Amp Matching instructional videos on the website.