Pos­i­tive Grid Bias Dis­tor­tion Pro

This triple dis­tor­tion and boost pedal lets you get un­der the hood to cre­ate your own sounds – that you can then share with other users

Guitarist - - Contents - Words Trevor Cur­wen Pho­tog­ra­phy Neil God­win

Pos­i­tive Grid’s roots are in the soft­ware field start­ing with its JamUp app, through its var­i­ous BIAS amp sim and ef­fects it­er­a­tions. More re­cently, though, the com­pany has made a move into the hard­ware world and the BIAS Dis­tor­tion Pro is its first pedal: a dis­tor­tion/over­drive that is al­lied to its BIAS Pedal soft­ware (mo­bile and desk­top), ef­fec­tively al­low­ing you to de­sign your own vir­tual dis­tor­tion pedal and load it into the hard­ware pedal.

The pedal comes with two banks of 10 pro­gram­mable pre­sets that are ac­cessed from its front panel, any three of those pre­sets be­ing eas­ily as­sign­a­ble to a set of three footswitches for di­rect call-up. A fourth footswitch op­er­ates a boost that can be placed be­fore or af­ter the dis­tor­tion and can be set for a full-fre­quency clean boost, tre­ble boost or a fat midrange boost.

The pedal comes with a power sup­ply that plugs into its USB port and it can also run from your usual nine-volt pedalboard power sup­ply. Build qual­ity is solid enough, although the turn-and-press pre­set se­lec­tor ro­tary switch feels a lit­tle frag­ile. Pre­sets are se­lected from that switch and you get six knobs to tweak them; a press/hold on the switch will save any changes you make into mem­ory. Low, Mid and High EQ knobs are pretty stan­dard, as are the knobs for Gain and Out­put Level, but the Blend knob is a more un­usual feature that tweaks the mix ra­tio of the out­put stage – one of the tone­shap­ing mod­ules that the pedal sounds are built from, of­fer­ing a range of blends.

SoundS

As shipped, the pedal’s pre­sets of­fer op­tions that ad­e­quately cover the sounds of a range of generic dirt pedal types, sev­eral be­ing based on well-known units: Tube Screamer, Fuzz Face, and so on. As an ini­tial set of sounds to be used straight out of the box, you may find some that are in­stantly playable without any tweaks, but they all rep­re­sent a start­ing point for tweak­ing with the knobs to get them more aligned with your per­sonal taste. More nu­anced op­tions, how­ever, emerge when you make the con­nec­tion (USB or Blue­tooth) be­tween the phys­i­cal pedal and the soft­ware (a re­deem code for the BIAS Pedal soft­ware is in­cluded in the pack­age) where you re­ally can get into the nitty gritty of cre­at­ing cus­tomised sounds.

You start with one of the 20 named ped­als (seven dis­tor­tions and over­drives, five fuzzes and three boost­ers), then have a series of mod­ules (Cus­tom Panel, EQ 1, Clip­ping Stage, Out­put Stage, EQ 2, Power Mod­ule) with a range of pa­ram­e­ters to ad­just. You can, for ex­am­ple, change a pedal’s topol­ogy in the Clip­ping and Out­put stages, choos­ing Ger­ma­nium or Sil­i­con tran­sis­tors, JFet, MosFet or valves. Fur­ther­more, the graphic EQs of­fer re­ally pow­er­ful tonal shap­ing. There’s also a Tone Match func­tion that com­pares the on­board sound with your own favourite ped­als and di­als in tonal com­pen­sa­tion to cre­ate a close fac­sim­ile. In ad­di­tion, you can use the on­line ToneCloud fa­cil­ity to share cus­tom tones and down­load other users’ creations for your own pedal.

One thing you can’t do is stack dis­tor­tion sounds be­cause only one of the three footswitches (A,B, C) is ac­tive at one time. Still, there is prac­ti­cal­ity in that setup as you can eas­ily set up the pedal for hav­ing three vari­a­tions of the same dis­tor­tion type, per­haps with in­creas­ing amounts of gain, or set it up for three dif­fer­ent ef­fects – maybe a low-level drive, a heavy dis­tor­tion and a fuzz, mak­ing it a very use­ful work­horse for live use – enhanced even fur­ther by the Boost switch. We did find, how­ever, that there was a bit of a time lag on the boost switch­ing.

Fur­ther con­trol comes courtesy of plug­ging in an ex­pres­sion pedal, which can be set to con­trol multiple knobs. MIDI con­trol is also a pos­si­bil­ity as the pedal sup­ports all of the stan­dard MIDI com­mands for in­stant Pro­gram Change ac­cess to all 20 pre­sets and Con­trol Change ac­cess to pa­ram­e­ters.

ver­dIct

There are some pretty stel­lar multiple dis­tor­tion ped­als on the mar­ket now – such as Stry­mon’s Sun­set, the Chase Bliss Brothers and the Elek­tron Ana­log Drive – so the BIAS Dis­tor­tion Pro does face some tough com­pe­ti­tion out there. Its soft­ware pro­gramma­bil­ity, though, might just be the deal-maker that will turn some play­ers in its di­rec­tion. PROS Tonal tin­ker­ing to your heart’s con­tent; in­stant footswitch­ing of three dis­tor­tion ef­fects CONS Boost switch­ing seems to have a time lag

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