In this post, I’ll be giving my full and detailed
I have been using
If you’re someone who is thinking of getting into the world of Amp Simulator Software, then you’ve no doubt heard of
Positive Grid has made quite a reputation for themselves in recent years in the world of guitar VST plugins.
In this comprehensive
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
So the start of this
There are 3 main pricing tiers; Standard, Professional, and Elite.
In terms of sound quality and features, all 3 tier are mostly identical.
However, as you upgrade to the higher tiers, you’ll have access to more amp models, effects pedals, cabs and impulse responses, racks and more.
Here is a table that breaks down how much
*Note that pricing is subject to change
|Bias FX 2 Elite
|Audio Plugin Version
|Target Guitars in Guitar Match
This is something that is often overlooked when reviewing amp modeling software, but I think it’s important to have software that is accessible, easy to set up, and compatible with a wide range of equipment.
After all, if the software is a pain in the butt to set up and requires high-end equipment to use, then it detracts from the overall accessibility and experience.
The main reason I’ve used
So, let’s get into the actual setup process.
Here is a quick video that walks through the tech setup.
First, here are a few items that you’ll need to get started using
- Electric Guitar
- Audio Interface
- Computer (Mac or PC)
- Digital Audio Workstation (Optional)
For the most part, it’s pretty straight forward. You’ll obviously need an electric guitar and computer to get started. Any electric guitar or laptop will work.
One thing that you’ll probably need to purchase if you’re new to using amp modeling software is an audio interface. This is what you’ll use to connect your guitar to your computer.
I would recommend the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It has excellent build quality, industry-leading preamps, plug and play USB setup all at an affordable price tag.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is one of the best audio interfaces for beginners who want to get started recording music from home. Excellent build quality, plug and play setup, and industry leading pre-amps.
Finally, you’ll need a Digital Audio Workstation to record music with
Alternatively, you can just use
In terms of the actual setup process, it’s very easy and straightforward.
You’ll just need to connect your guitar to your audio interface and plug it into your computer via USB.
Then, within the
Next up in the
Since the design and user interface is actually how you’ll be interacting with the software and dialing in your tones, it’s important to have something that is intuitive and more importantly, fun to use.
I can honestly say that the UI was one of the main reasons I decided to get
It has a stunning design that is intuitive and easy to navigate. I love the way your whole signal chain is laid out in front of you.
All of the different amps, effects pedals, and cabs are all drag and drop elements. You can move them around in the signal chain simply by dragging and dropping then.
Also, the layout of all the different pedals and amps is neat and organized, which is important since there are literally hundreds of them. I was easily able to find the ones I needed because they are categorized properly.
All in all, I think
Well, I think it’s about time we get into the meat of this
Bias FX 2 is probably one of the most feature-rich amp modeling plugins I’ve ever used.
There are an incredible amount of options to choose from, most of them being practical, while others are just simply for fun.
Let’s talk about all the features.
Quite possibly the most important feature in this
After all, you can’t have a good amp modeling plugin without good amp models.
So, how does
Well, simply put, AMAZING!
I have been using
I found that the standard version did lack some of the amps that I needed, especially when you download presets from ToneCloud. Also, if you’re a bass player, the dedicated amps on standard versions are VERY limited.
As a result, I’d probably opt for either the professional or elite version if you can swing it.
If you get the elite version, you probably won’t use all of the amps on there, but it’s nice knowing that you can download any preset from the ToneCloud and know that it will work with your version.
But in terms of the actual amp models themselves, they’re all phenomenal.
They offer everything you would expect including versions of iconic amp models for your Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifiers, 5150’s, Plexi, Vox AC30, Marshall JCM800, and many more.
And they all sound amazing. In terms of accuracy, they are extremely close to the original.
You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish the difference in a mix.
Obviously, these amp models won’t perfectly capture the feel and dynamic response from a real tube amp, but the fact that you have access to 100 different amps with a click of a button makes it worth the tradeoff. You really can’t beat the convenience.
Your cabinet and mic options are arguably just as important as the amps themselves.
If you have a good sounding amp simulator, but a terrible cab and mic, your sound will inevitably sound weak and lifeless.
Also, if you’re using an amp simulator plugin, you’re trying to emulate an entire sound, not JUST the amp. And whenever you use an amp, you need to pair it with a good cab and mic as well.
Happy to report that
You’ll have access to dozens of different cabinets, speakers, and microphones with high-quality Celestion Impulse Responses.
On the Professional and Elite versions, there’s actually an IR loader, which allows you to import your own impulse responses, which is a neat feature.
I really love the interface when it comes to mic’ing up your amp in
It really adds to the immersion and actually affects the tone pretty drastically. It adds a whole other layer, allowing you full control to dial in the perfect tone for your needs.
Now, let’s move onto the effects pedals portion of this
And as the name would suggest, the effects pedal is the main differentiator between
Bias FX 2 has significantly more effects pedals that allow you to craft your complete sound in one package.
As a result, I think
That said, these two are meant to integrate seamlessly, allowing you to create your perfect amp in Bias AMP 2 and import it over to
Bias FX 2 has a wide array of different renowned analog and digital effects pedals. They’re pretty much all modeled after real effects pedals, so you’ll feel right at home. It’s actually pretty easy to emulate your entire real-world pedalboard right in this single piece of software.
You’ll have access to noise gates, compressor pedals, boost pedals, distortion pedals, EQ, modulation, delay, and reverb pedals. And at that, there will actually be several different options for each type of pedal, meaning there is essentially an unlimited number of combinations you can make when you factor in all of the different amps and cabs.
I also really like how the effects are applied as well. You can simply drag and drop each pedal where they belong in the signal chain, similar to a real rig. You can turn them off to bypass them if you want them in your loop, but want to disable them.
I can’t even begin to describe how much more convenient it is to drag and drop effects pedals is versus having to completely remove a pedal off of your pedalboard and fix the cable routing in a real setup.
Overall, the effects pedals are amazing. They sound great, are easy to configure and work exactly as intended.
If you’re using
If we’re reviewing
Guitar Match is a feature that aims to take amp simulation to the next level by simulating the actual guitar itself.
All guitars sound different. And Guitar Match tries to simulate the tone of some of the most iconic guitars in world, allowing you to replicate the exact sound you want regardless of the guitar you’re using.
You have a cheap $150 starter guitar, but want it to sound like an authentic Gibson Les Paul? All you have to do is select the Gibson Les Paul and
I must admit, I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about this feature. To me, it seemed a bit like a gimmick.
After playing around with the Guitar Match feature a while, here are my thoughts.
Does it do what it sets out to do…? Well, yes and no.
I must say that I was actually pleasantly surprised at some of the tones I was able to get. It actually does a pretty good job of capturing some of the key characteristics of these iconic guitars.
For example, if you select a Fender Telecaster, it actually does a good job of replicating the iconic twang tone that telecasters are known for. If you choose the Gibson Les Paul, it makes your tone a lot meatier and warm.
I must say, it was actually pretty fun playing around with the different guitars that are available in the software, just to see how it would handle it.
Keep in mind that I was using the exact same guitar the entire time just to see how the software itself would render the tone assuming the input was exactly the same.
But would I actually use this in an actual recording?
Not too much of a surprise, but I definitely don’t think the Guitar Match is able to replace a real guitar.
Overall, I think it’s fun to play around with the different options to see what type of cool tones you can get. I can definitely see myself using it in casual jam sessions.
However, you can clearly tell that the tones are “synthetic.” They sound a bit too processed and unnatural compared to the sound of the real guitar that the amp sim is trying to emulate.
You could argue that most people probably wouldn’t notice in a mix. But I still can’t really see myself using the Guitar Match feature in an actual recording.
In almost all cases, you’d be better off just dialing in the proper tone with the guitar you already have to fit the specific situation. It’ll sound a lot more natural than artificially changing the sound of your actual guitar.
Moving along with this
Tone Cloud is Positive Grids online community that allows users to create, share, and download different presets from other users.
Positive Grid also partners with various famous artists as well to create custom presets that match that specific artist’s tone as well.
If you’re like me, then dialing in tones is a chore. There are so many options to choose from that it can be difficult to dial in the perfect tone if you’re not knowledgeable on the various types of gear, or lack ear training.
Tone Cloud makes it easy to just download other users’ presets natively in the application. This is very unique compared to other amp sim software where you need to go to an online forum, download a preset file, and import it.
Having a collection of presets at your disposal from experienced users is such a powerful tool.
I don’t think I’ve ever made a preset from scratch. I would rather just download one that someone else created and then slightly tweak it from there. It saves a lot of time and ends up sounding a lot better.
The only issue that you might run into is if you have the
This is why I upgraded to the Elite tier, just so I could have the peace of mind of downloading any preset from Tone Cloud.
Overall, I love the Tone Cloud feature. It makes it SO much easier to get an excellent sounding tone without having to dial it in yourself.
Sound Quality (with Samples)
Now that we’ve covered all of the main features in this
How does it sound?
One problem that the older version of
Bias FX 2 is a huge step up. While the high gain tones might not pack as much punch as a real amp, it’s hardly noticeable at all in an actual mix.
Does this guitar VST plugin actually sound good enough to replace your real guitar rig?
Well that depends on what your needs are.
For me, I stopped using real amplifiers years ago in place of amp simulators. While there are amp purists who swear by real guitar rigs, personally I don’t find enough of a sound difference to justify keeping my real rig.
The convenience of being able to record right on my computer, re-amping to change the tone after I’ve already recorded, and just having access to hundreds of amp models all in the same place more than make up for it.
Here are some sound samples of some different presets in
Bias FX 2 Review: The Verdict
So, now let’s move onto the more subjective part of this
Here are some of the things that I liked and disliked about the plugin from my personal experience.
What I Liked About
Bias FX 2
The main thing that I love about
I feel like all of the features and options included in here save me a bunch of time in my workflow when I’m recording or just playing.
Having access to hundreds of different tones at the click of a button allows me to get the perfect tone for whatever music I’m playing.
Also, since I’m pretty terrible at dialing in my tones, It’s super handy to have Tone Cloud. I can simply download user generated tones and make slight tweaks until I get what I want.
In terms of price, I think the Elite tier is a bit pricey (that’s the one I have), but well worth it considering it’s literally only a fraction of the price of one amp head.
And for that price, you get hundreds of options including different amps, caps, effects pedals and more.
What I Didn’t Like About
Bias FX 2
First, I don’t think their new Guitar Match feature was a hit for me. I honestly don’t feel there was any need for it. It’s a feature that nobody really asked for, and probably would have just preferred it if they added more amps, pedals, and cabs instead.
Sure, it’s kind of fun to play around with different guitar tones to see what you could come up with.
However, I don’t think I would ever even consider using one of these matched guitars in a recording. They do a decent job of trying to capture the essence of the guitars they are emulating, but there’s a clear difference when you compare to the original.
Maybe, if you take a guitar that’s VERY similar to the guitar it’s emulating, then it’ll be worth it.
For example, if you take a cheaper Squier Telecaster and apply the Fender Telecaster Guitar Match to it then it’ll be decent. But other than that, I’d consider this feature a gimmick.
My only other main gripe with it is the pricing model. I completely understand having 3 different pricing models for more budget conscious people. However, I think the standard and professional version lack a lot of key amps.
I originally started with the standard package thinking 30 different amps would be enough. And even though I didn’t even use all 30 amps, I found that I was missing some of the key components that I needed to get the tone I wanted.
The professional version wasn’t even enough. I actually needed to upgrade all the way to the Elite tier until I could get all the tones I was satisfied with.
To wrap up this
It’s easy to use, sounds great, and has next to unlimited options for you to choose from.
You can easily recreate your real life guitar rig right in this single piece of software, or experience with different sounds that you were never able to create before.
I’ve personally been using
I currently don’t even own a real amplifier anymore. While real guitar rigs have their place, I personally find that the convenience when it comes to recording and changing tones is well worth the trade off.
So, if you made it this far into the review and are still interested in picking up