BIAS FX launched – Positive Grid’s new guitar-friendly FX app hits the App Store

Download from iTunes App StoreBIAS FX logoAs I posted a few weeks ago, Positive Grid have been releasing the occasional bit of teaser material for their new BIAS FX app for a while now.

Given the powerful combination that Positive Grid’s BIAS guitar amp designer and JamUp Pro guitar amp/cab/effects modeller provide, it is hardly surprising that they have become a combination of choice for lots of iOS musicians with a guitar habit. There is, of course, also a version of BIAS made for desktop computers (BIAS Desktop surprisingly enough) and, while it is undoubtedly a brilliant piece of software, without the equivalent to JamUp Pro that we have under iOS, BIAS Desktop did feel like it was missing one key ingredient; stomp box effects.

Positive Grid obviously felt the same and with BIAS FX – which is released for iOS today on the App Store (and with the desktop version to follow at some point later this year) – they are obviously having a re-think in terms of how the brilliant amp modelling options available in BIAS can be sat within an overall ‘virtual guitar rig’.

BIAS FX offers flexible signal chains including a dual chain option.

BIAS FX offers flexible signal chains including a dual chain option.

While this is a very necessary gap to be filled in the desktop version of BIAS, we do already have a Positive Grid take on virtual stomp boxes under iOS in JamUp Pro (and very good it is to) so many existing users will be quite interested to see what new features BIAS FX has to offer over and above those already possible through JamUp Pro.

The app is supplied with a range or stomp box and rack effects options.

The app is supplied with a range or stomp box and rack effects options.

I’ve only had a short while to explore the new app at this point so I’ll reserve any details comments on that point until later. However, like JamUp Pro, BIAS FX allows you to combine various modelled stomp box and rack effects into a virtual pedal board arrangement. You can, if you like, think or it as a ‘virtual pedal board/rack’ design unit. Unlike BIAS itself, you don;t get to design the actual pedals (you can’t build your own fuzz box, for example) but you can assemble a full pedalboard configuration.

There is also an option to add IAA effects into your signal chain.

There is also an option to add IAA effects into your signal chain.

As well as the 25 stomp boxes and five rack-style effects, the app is supplied with a small selection of virtual amps but you can also import your own amp designs made within BIAS (as in JamUp Pro). However, there are some differences to JamUp Pro also. BIAS FX includes some rather more advanced – and flexible – audio routing options compared with JamUp Pro. For example, you can configure dual signal paths using different combinations of amp and effects. You can also add IAA apps into your virtual pedal board; if you want your favourite iOS effects processors sat right in your guitar signal chain, BIAS FX will allow you to do it.

The pedalboard view gives you easy access to all your amp and effects controls within a single screen.

The pedalboard view gives you easy access to all your amp and effects controls within a single screen.

Anyway, the app supports Audiobus, IAA and has a comprehensive MIDI Learn feature. It requires iOS8.0 or later, is a 300MB download for iPad and has a launch price of UK£22.99. As soon as I’ve had a full explore then I’ll post a detailed review.

Oh, and it is just me or have the app icons on the iTunes App Store gone all square on us today? I quite liked the rounded corners….


BIAS  – Amps! – for iPad

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    1. The USA App Store icons appear the same as usual, for me John. I wonder what’s up with your square icons?

      Anyway, with Bias FX added to the list, the sound effects apps available now on iOS are plentiful and quite varied. This year alone we’ve seen several “smaller” apps like Johnny, and then the bigger multi effects ones like DFX, and Flux:FX. It’s shaping up to be the Year of the Effects Apps for iOS it seems.

    2. Does Bias FX (along with Bias Amps) essentially replace Jamup Pro? Is there anything that the latter can do that the combination of the two can’t?

      • Hi David… good question… and I hope to address that when I do the full review of BIAS FX in a couple of days time… but my first impression would be that BAIS FX overlaps enough with JampUp Pro that you wonder what kind of development path Positive Grid might take with the latter…. Certainly the BIAS + BIAS FX combination would look to be a ‘complete’ virtual rig for a guitar player – and perhaps a somewhat more flexible one – than the BIAS/JamUp Pro combination? Best wishes, John

      • ElectricWombat says:

        It doesn’t so much replace JamUp Pro; but you can be forgiven for being confused as there are clearly overlaps. JamUp Pro is easier to think of as a suite of guitar tools as it provides an 8-track recorder, sampler, tuner et al. However (in my opinion) many IOS musicians are likely to already own a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) such as Cubasis or Auria etc, so these additional features become somewhat less useful (or redundant).

        In that sense it’s all about choosing what’s right for your individual requirements as JamUp Pro’s features, mean it could potentially be a complete solution to some, whereas to others (like myself) they would likely just want the key features (i.e. amp modelling and FX) to integrate into their own individual DAW based setup etc. I just think it provides more options for developing your own bespoke setup based around your individual requirements. Hope this helps.

    3. ElectricWombat says:

      Sorry John, I think we were posting a reply at the same time (but I always take forever to type on my tiny iPhone 4S (and babble way too much etc) ha ha. As such I didn’t see your reply until after, but I agree there’s definately plenty of crossover between everything and its kind of peculiar as I haven’t really seen that approach before so it was interesting hearing your opinions above. I have to say that the Bias and Bias FX combo is exactly what I wanted, and I never took the plunge with JamUp Pro for the aforementioned reasons but I’m hyped about Bias FX and I’m really looking forward to your upcoming review to find out more! Best wishes :)

    4. Doesn’t appear to be as many FX as JamUp pro. I haven’t counted, but it seems their are more distortion pedals, and various effects in JamUp pro. Just bought it, so I still need to test drive it. I see IAP’s in the future for this app. :(

    5. ElectricWombat says:

      I understand your dismay regarding IAP’s – they can either be the angles or demons of the IOS world (depending on your perspective and financial resources etc). This made me contemplate the ‘Positive Grid’ pricing model and business strategy (whom I clearly support owning ‘Final Touch’ and ‘Bias’).

      Despite this however an issue I have regarding Bias (+ IAP’s) is that they didn’t make it a universal app; which to my knowledge has little to do with technological limitations; but rather an excuse to double charge users for the same code which is a cold thing to do to your user base (but they’re not alone)!

      Naturally this also means that you are consequently expected to pay twice for the IAP’s as well – ouch! However as is illustrated with the upcoming release of Auria Pro (which allows users to ‘carry over’ their pricey IAP plug-ins from their existing Auria installation) it clearly wasn’t necessary either – so why do it?

      The thing is that nothing is ever black/white, and I try to be open minded, as such there might have been genuine reasons (other than profit) for them to take this approach – but things like that undoubtedly leave you feeling empty, and that’s not a practical state of mind for a loyal user base!

      However; (in complete contradiction to the above) they clearly make a pronounced effort to try and make up for this by frequently having ‘amazing’ 75% sales (which are most appreciated) and in fact I think they’ve already done this 3 times in 4 months, so clearly this addresses the inbalance somewhat!

      Then as John has pointed out many times in this blog, there is the relative discontinuity between desktop software prices and trivial IOS app prices to consider; which puts a lot of the aforementioned into perspective really, so there is probably very little to feel empty about when you consider this!

      Taking all of the above on board then I find ‘Positive Grid’ take a somewhat peculiar (quirky/whimsical) approach to how they develop and release their products (i.e. bleed/crossover, high pricing/brutal sales etc) regardless; the quality of their offerings is undeniable and I’m certainly glad I own them! ;)

    6. Thanks John and EW for your replies. I’ll be looking forward to a review of FX, and will probably hold off until then. Currently it appears that FX is iPad-only, so JamUp would still be the app I’d use on the iPhone.

      I also noticed on their facebook page that IAP from JamUp won’t be transferrable/usable in FX, which perhaps is not surprising but is something to consider for those of us who have bought most of the IAP’s in JamUp. Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I’m guessing that the real reason FX isn’t a universal app isn’t a technological reason but an economic one. I like the Positive Grid apps I own and I’m sure I’ll buy FX, but I’ll be waiting for a sale.

    7. Very good points ElectricWombat. I concur with em.

      If they do have IAP for Bias FX, I will prob. wait for a sale. Though, I know Bias has been on sale a bunch, do the IAP ever go on sale within Bias? Can’t remember seeing that.

    8. Technically, with the way Bias FX hosts other apps via IAA, all your JamUp amps and effects, along with every IAA compatible effects app are useable in the Bias FX chain.

    9. ElectricWombat says:

      Hey David/Jayson, I agree the ‘Positive Grid’ decision for non universal is more likely for economic reasons; but as John is one of the most thoughtful, balanced (and positive) writers you could find – I didn’t want to throw a ‘negativity pebble’ into my beloved musicAppBlog pool of serenity – so I tried to put my own intense cynicism aside (but yeh this seems the most likely reason) ha ha! ;)

      I agree completely, with regard to purchasing from ‘Positive Grid’ – the sales are utterly essential! The ‘SoundTestRoom’ has a permenant button listing current IOS sales (scroll to the bottom) and both John and Tim Webb (Discchord) post news about relevant sales as they appear – so it’s worth keeping an ear to the ground for relevant activity!

      The IAP’s do go on sale, but by how much differs; I’ve previously purchased Bias IAP’s at £3.99 (when there was a 75% sale). They are currently advertised at £5.99 (but I’m unsure if there is a sale on at the moment – I know they recently had a sale for ‘JamUp Pro’ and ‘Final Touch’ (75%) and they usually include Bias as well. I’m pretty sure that £3.99 is the lowest it gets for Bias IAP’s – but I’m certain there will be a summer sale very soon so you’ll get your chance to strike he he! Kind regards :)

    10. ElectricWombat says:

      That is a really good point Rob, and it’s some awesome functionality to have! Further, as it works with stereo/dual signals (seemingly) I’d be interested in the possibilities for using it to mangle other sound sources (such as vocals, samples, synths etc)! John’s review is going to be really helpful in removing the mysticism that surrounds ‘Bias FX’ and gaining an insight into what’s creatively possible etc – I can’t wait!

    11. Chris Catalano says:

      I got this in response to my dismay over the way it looks as if Jamup has now been relegated to the land of cast off toys….

      Hi Chris!

      Thanks for writing to us.

      You can always stick with JamUp, it is a fine, fine app. But at some point we have to be able
      to fully utilize the latest and greatest technology, and for us that meant developing BIAS FX
      from the ground up as a brand new app. (JamUp was first developed for iPhone3G!!)

      We have a new page answering some questions you may have about BIAS FX.
      You may or may not find it interesting, but it might be worth a look.


      Support @ Positive Grid

    12. ElectricWombat says:

      Thanks for you reply Chris, it does indeed sound like your dismay over JamUp Pro’s relegation to “the land of cast of toys…” (he he) has been confirmed; what with PG referring to the age of the app and clearly shifting their focus to ‘Bias FX’ etc.

      I would expect that they would continue to produce maintenance updates for IOS (what with IOS 9 right around the corner) and AudioBus etc; but I would be surprised if they released any further IAP’s for JamUp Pro in light of this.

      I haven’t had the chance to read through the ‘all you need to know’ yet so I’m going to eagerly go check that out now – but thanks for providing that information as it was very helpful! :)

    13. ElectricWombat says:

      “BIAS FX, however, is not designed to [be] use[d] with JamUp or BIAS AMP via Inter-App Audio. For the best result, you should use BIAS FX’s included effect pedals and racks, import BIAS amps into BIAS FX, but not to use BIAS Amp or JamUp with BIAS FX via Inter-App Audio.”

      EW – That’s unfortunate news…

      “We will continue to develop and support JamUp with the focus on jam and practice application. [A] New update is coming soon to reflect this direction.”

      EW – Well at least that’s something positive regarding JamUp Pro’s future…

    14. Hi All… I’ve just posted the full BIAS FX review…. The above discussion is very interesting and I’ve discussed some of these issues in the review itself…. Technically, sonically, BIAS FX is well ahead of JamUp Pro so I’ve no issues re the quality of the app nor its value for money…. nor that PG have released as app that, essentially, is going to replace jamUp Pro (and the latter might get a shift in focus as a result). I’ve also got sympathy for developers making money – food, rent and other elements of a normal life should be a return for the work they do just as for any other line of work… and I don’t think there are many iOS music apps developers who are drinking champagne and buying small tropical islands on the back of music app sales just yet….

      However, equally, within the various ways that the App Store does provide developers with some scope, some incentive pricing for existing JamUp users would be nice to see… and you would imagine an App Bundle of JamUp pro and BIAS FX ought to make that possible with a ‘complete my bundle’ option? It will be interesting to see if something like that does materialise….. Fingers crossed…. best wishes, John

    15. Chris Catalano says:

      Now, that bundle idea? That makes sense…My concern at this point is this, and I may yet be proved wrong: Positive Grid seems to be more about making cents than sense much of the time. I am sure I will cave eventually, but I know a lot of Jamup users are more than a little miffed about the handling of this release…Hopefully PG reads your review and comment here, and go the Bundle Route…

      • Hi Chris…. fingers crossed…. As I said in the review, I’ve no issue with any developer charging what it takes to make a suitable profit on their investment of effort, etc… but until (if ever) Apple manage to put a formal ‘upgrade’ system in place on the iTunes/Mac App Store, developers are going to have to think a little creatively about how they balance getting a return from a genuine upgrade (as opposed to minor update; although that distinction a debate in itself) vs taking their loyal customer base with them…. I don’t think this is easy given App Store pricing/economics but, in terms of establishing lasting relationships with users, it must surely be highly desirable? Best wishes, John

    16. Great points in the discussion. I do fundamentally agree with John that PG and other developers must charge whatever they deem appropriate for their time and R&D. I think FX is priced fairly. That said, without either a discount or a way to carry-over IAP for previous JamUp (+IAP) owners, PG essentially is opening the door to it’s competition for my $. There is no benefit to me to sticking with PG, so when the time comes that I am ready to upgrade my software, all products will be up for consideration, regardless of my past usage. PG will get equal consideration as the others, but no benefit of having an existing library of IAP that I can carry over.

    17. Confused says:

      I own both BIAS AMP and JamUp Pro. I won’t be buying BIAS FX at full price, but maybe if it goes on sale or becomes part of a Complete My Bundle.

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