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Positive Grid BIAS Distortion replaces old analog pedals
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Positive Grid BIAS Distortion replaces old analog pedals

by Stephen Charlton2016/10/04

Positive Grid’s newest offering is the BIAS Distortion, the world’s first tone match distortion pedal. It takes the tone match technology of their BIAS FX software and squeezes it into a compact and gig-ready pedal. It will surely also be useful in the studio to intuitively control your tones.

The BIAS Distortion is a distortion/overdrive pedal designed to provide an analog-sounding tone in a digitally-integrated unit. It also allows you to design your own distortion pedal in a manner not previously possible. This is achieved via the BIAS Pedal mobile and desktop app. The app integrates with the pedal via USB or Bluetooth (iOS only). Additionally, users can share and download distortion pedals through the Positive Grid ToneCloud.

Positive Grid BIAS Distortion pedal up for preorder on October 20

The true-bypass pedal will go up for pre-order on October 20. The RRP hasn’t been announced yet, although it will be a bundle that includes the aforementioned software.

If you own a classic dirt box that you want to emulate with the versatile pedal, you can tone match it and store it in the BIAS Distortion. The unit can emulate distortion, overdrive, fuzz and boost pedal tones. It reproduces analog pedals digitally by executing:

“tonal compensation and enhancements needed to make your pedal’s sound accurately match that of the target pedal.”

Extensive modding available for distortion parameters

Positive Grid BIAS Distortion pedal back

The back panel of the Positive Grid BIAS Distortion.

If you’re a tinkerer you’ll love what you can do with the Positive Grid BIAS Distortion. The software enables detailed modification including input volume, distortion stages, gain control, pre and post-EQ and more. Furthermore, the ‘virtual guts’ of the pedal can be customised. Two examples of this are modifying a boost pedal’s germanium transistor or tweaking a fuzz pedal’s silicon transistor.

Positive Grid have crammed these features into a full-metal framework pedal. There’s four footswitches, six tone/volume knobs, a pedal select knob and a boost function. The latter offers three pre or post-distortion boosts. The pedal ships with 20 presets, each of which can be customised. They are stored in the pedal’s A/B bank system, which can be controlled via MIDI. You also have the option of using an external expression pedal to modify the parameter of your choice.

How accurately can Positive Grid recreate analog gear?

The new pedal follows on the heels of two major hardware releases from the California-based company. They launched the BIAS Head ($1299) in July and put the BIAS Rack ($1299) up for pre-order in August. Positive Grid has always produced excellent software but now they are making big waves in the highly competitive digital-integrated hardware market.

Positive Grid’s hardware is not as expensive as something like the Axe-Fx II digital preamp ($2,249.99). Nonetheless, it does require a significant outlay to essentially control a software suite with a physical unit. They must be doing something right to attract big name players like Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders), Alessandro Venturella (Slipknot) and Marty Friedman.

I’ve found that the BIAS FX software is useful for tone-matching but is certainly not perfect. I can see how the BIAS Distortion will be useful to cut down on the number of pedals required in a portable rig. Exactly how accurately it can recreate the sounds of analog pedals remains to be seen.

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About The Author
Stephen Charlton
Stephen Charlton is a musician, journalist and editor.

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