With both desktop and mobile versions, and a tiered pricing model, there’s a Bias FX 2 version to suit any budget.
As its name suggests, Positive Grid Bias FX 2’s main focus is on modelling pedal and rackmount hardware effects units. It does include amps and cabs too, but the idea is that it can be used in conjunction with the company’s separate Bias Amp 2 if you feel the need for more control over that side of things.
Bias FX 2 features 122 effects pedals, 18 rackmount effects units, dedicated Fuzz, Time and Harmonizer modellers, and 100 amplifier and loudspeaker cabinet models, all of which have been arranged in 210 carefully curated factory presets. As with Bias Amp 2, which I reviewed in SOS October 2018, both desktop (standalone and plug‑in) and iOS versions are available in three tiers: Standard, Pro, and Elite. All three tiers share a common core, but the latter two add more features and functions. It’s the Elite version, the one with the most extensive feature set, that’s under review here.
One of the attractions of Bias FX 2 is its intuitive drag‑and‑drop GUI. This makes editing, building or saving presets (signal paths made up of effects, amplifiers and loudspeakers) a simple process. Helpfully, the factory presets are grouped by genre: Pop, Blues, Rock, Metal, Insane, Alternative, Bass and Acoustic. The individual preset names contain fairly obvious descriptions of their sonic character, such as ‘Whole Lotta Page’ in the Rock bank.
Editing a preset is simply a matter of adding, moving, removing, replacing, activating or bypassing amplifier, cabinet and effects models along the signal path, and setting their individual controls to get the sound you want. If a single signal path isn’t sufficient, you can switch to a dual path. This creates two parallel paths by inserting a two‑channel Splitter before the current amplifier and a stereo two‑channel Mixer after its loudspeaker. Although neither the splitter nor the mixer can be moved, you can ‘reposition’ them by shifting FX models to and from either side of both, making it possible to create a dual path that starts with a splitter and ends with a mixer. One operational quirk is that the mixer at the end of the dual path defaults to centre‑panning both paths, so it’s necessary to manually pan left and right if you wish to create a stereo output.
In the original Bias FX program, amps and cabs were permanently paired, but in Bias FX 2 they can be selected individually.
In the original Bias FX program, amps and cabs were permanently paired, but in Bias FX 2 they can be selected individually. This makes possible a new feature, the Middle Effect, which allows you to place multiple pedals or rackmount effects between an amplifier and its loudspeaker, on one or across both sides of a dual path. To build a preset from scratch, you have to clear the routing of a current preset, which leaves you with a default single signal path containing an MXR‑ish gate pedal, a ’66 AC Boost V2 amplifier and a British 30 speaker cabinet as your starting point. Edited presets can be stored in one of two User Banks.
While amps and cabs are included, note that any amplifier editing (other than adjusting its main front‑panel controls) must be done in the separate Bias Amp 2 software. To edit a Bias FX 2 amplifier in the desktop standalone and plug‑in versions, you first have to find that amp either in Bias Amp 2 or in Positive Grid’s web‑based Tonecloud. The latter is a vast resource that’s accessible directly from any Bias program, in which you’ll find additional free and updated amp models and Bias FX 2 presets, both from Positive Grid and the user community. Having edited the amp in Bias Amp 2,...