Positive Grid is a big deal to me because of the quality of their apps in the iOS world. When they first entered the fray, they did so with JamUp XT and JamUp Pro. JamUp XT was free and, unlike many competitors, didn’t unnecessarily inhibit a player just because they didn’t spring for the whole package. I found completely usable tones with the few representations of the larger amount of options in the paid world, but those tones were great as-is. It was one of the few times that I bought the full app not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to support whoever made this high-quality, great-sounding app.
Then they came out with BIAS, an app where you can make your own amplifiers from the inside out. Everything is able to be tweaked and messed with from the preamp tubes to the tolex. In a world of recording/simulations where designers have spent a great deal of time to make sure this ONE tone sounds right and they wouldn’t DREAM of giving you the keys and control to mess with it, potentially making their baby sound bad, BIAS exists solely so you can do exactly that. Once your dream amp is constructed, you export it into JamUp and press record.
To improve an already awesome experience, Positive Grid released three expansion packs for BIAS preamp modules called “Glassy,” “Crunch,” and “Insane,” and their target preamp tones are pretty obvious: amazing cleans, great overdrives, and solid metal tones respectively. Each pack usually retails for $9.99 and they really open up even more options for you to go through and little-by-little change or build amps that help bring the sound that has been residing in your head out into the world and under your control.
Here is a sound sample I recorded with the Glassy preamp module (though I’ll admit a preference for less-than-pristine cleans):
Here is a sound sample with the Crunch preamp:
And, finally, here is a sample with the Insane preamp:
But as cool as the whole build-your-own-amp thing is (and it is really cool), I really like the fact that with so many options to go through, you can build just about anything you could dream of and then share it on the tone cloud for anyone to download for free (if they have the expansion packs). Honestly, I buy expansion packs from Positive Grid not only to mess with myself, but mostly to guarantee that I can download any tones that are shared by the community.
The community is a big point here as well: people are really good about building their dream tones and sharing them and, while they are squarely the original player’s dream tones, they still fall into categories and allow other players to quickly find the right vein to explore and tweak as they see fit before uploading the modified tone as their own, giving even more players options to experiment with. I downloaded a tone that was aimed at achieving a tone similar to Adam Jones from Tool’s normal heavy tone, but it didn’t fit my setup exactly, but it sure did cut down on the amount of time that I would have had to spend building from scratch! With a few twisted knobs, flicked switches, and tweaks on the preamp, I opened my new amp in JamUp, added a few effects to seal the deal, and feel that I have a solid Tool tone that was built for my rig, and it was all thanks to the community giving me a head start.
Positive Grid has once again offered players solid tools at a fair price and you should definitely check it out if you have an iOS device (and you can find BIAS HERE) and I definitely recommend picking it up now while it’s on sale!