Review: BIAS FX: Dream Pedalboards for iPad Guitarists

With their earlier JamUp app, Positive Grid made a splash with guitarists. Now with BIAS FX, they hope to bring on a flood. Matthew Loel T. Hepworth takes the plunge to find out more.  

The year was 1980. I was 13-years-old and had just spent fifty hard-earned bucks from my paper route on a used electric guitar. My old man helped me buy a small guitar amp, and then all I needed was a stomp box, preferably an Ibanez Tube Screamer. Alas, I'd need to deliver papers for another year before I could buy that green machine. Fast forward to today, and a mere $29.99 buys BIAS FX: an entire virtual pedalboard for iPad (with Desktop access coming soon). It includes a wealth of stomp boxes, but also has amplifiers, cabinets, and other effects I could only dream about in 1980. But really, how good can it possibly sound? I'll discuss the sound later, but let's look at the basics first.

Getting the App

BIAS FX can be purchased from The App Store and runs on iPad 2 and above, and the iPad Mini, all of which require iOS 8 and Internet access should you wish to connect to Positive Grid's online pedalboard library called Tone Cloud. (Login required.)

Making Connections

Because iPads don't have audio inputs, you'll need some sort of audio interface, as well as Apple's Camera Connection Kit, which basically gives an iPad a USB port to connect the interface. The audio interface replaces the audio output of the iPad and provides audio inputs for guitars, basses, and other audio sources. In my tests, I used a Steinberg UR44 in Class Compliant mode and it worked flawlessly.

However, to use BIAS FX properly, you'll need to make sure the input signal from the guitar is not mixed with the processed signal generated by the app. For interfaces that have an '

Matthew Loel T. Hepworth

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MATTHEW LOEL T. HEPWORTH has been teaching music technology since 1984. The son of educators, he has the ability to thoughtfully instruct people to get the most from complicated music products and software. He authors the Cubase and WaveLab tutorials for macProVideo.com and authored several books including WaveLab 7 Power!, The Power i... Read More

Discussion

Stefano
Hi Matthew,
I purchased Bias FX and it's awesome! however, I'm a bass player and I purchased bass expansion pack and Poli octaves as well, and I'm experiencing latency issues using bass octaves or poli octave even in low latency mode or not.
I'm using an iPad air (1st gen) and an iRig HD 2 as audio interface.
CPU consumption is very low and I've no latency issues with any of the other stomp boxes, no matter if I use one stomp box or 10 of them... I have absolutely no latency at all. I have latency issues only using octaves that are a must have for a bass player (I use Bias FX for gig plugged into my real amp and a bluetooth pedal board).
I can't find any suggestion on internet, so I need to ask you if you have any idea of what can I do: can the audio interface be the problem? in this case I can buy a new one; or can the iPad air (1st gen) be the problem? in this case I will not buy a new one, a real octaves stomp box is less expensive then an iPad.

I hope you can see this question and can answer it.
thank you.


Stefano
MattLTH
Hi Stefano,

I'm sorry you're having latency issues with Poli Octaves. I don't own that, nor do I own the Bass Expansion Pack, so I can't try and replicate the problem on my iPad. However, I did send Positive Grid a link to your comment. I'm not sure if they're back from the holiday break yet, but I hope they can help you resolve your problem. I'll keep my eyes open for their response.

Thanks,

MattLTH
MattLTH
Stefano,

Here's the response I received from Tony at Positive Grid:

This isn't something i've heard of yet. Here are my recommendations.

- Uninstall and reinstall the app. This will reset the cache and bring the app up to speed.
- If he has another interface that he can use please have him try that.

And if he is still having the issue please feel free to communicate with me directly. here:

Tony@positivegrid.com

I want to make sure you have the best immediate support for your users.
Kind Regards,
Tony, Support Team
www.positivegrid.com
store.positivegrid.com

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