Sonoma Wire Works Releases Guitarjack Stage

guitarjackstagemain-821×589px

If you’re in the market for a high-quality audio interface and pedal controller for either your desktop or mobile devices, you will be interested to hear that Sonoma Wire Works has released the long-awaited GuitarJack Stage. The device transforms your Mac, PC, iOS or Android device into a full-on guitar amp and effects rig.

We’ve reviewed Sonoma’s GuitarJack interface here before, so you can be sure to expect a rugged design that delivers high-quality audio no matter what device you plug it into.

GuitarJack Stage lets you control your favorite guitar software on stage and in the studio with assignable knobs and foot switches. The aluminum chassis features a mono Hi-Z ¼” input for guitar, a stereo mic/line ¼” input for vocals or keyboards, 2 analog input level knobs with LED metering, an expression pedal jack to control wah, volume, or other effects, 2 line level ¼” outputs (left and right) for monitors, amps, or a mixer, 1 stereo ¼” output for headphones, plus 5 Knobs, 4 foot switches, and 4 LEDs to control MIDI enabled software.

External power is required only to charge an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or reduce power consumption for compatible Android devices, while you play.

GuitarJack Stage is shipping now to U.S. addresses. Information on international availability is coming soon. Visit the Sonoma Wire Works website for more information.

BIAS FX for iPad

Ratings_1Positive Grid released BIAS FX today, an iPad app they have been teasing for the last few weeks. Invoking the name BIAS naturally got a lot of people excited, because their BIAS AMP simulator app is arguably the best amp simulator on iOS. I’m afraid a lot of people are going to be left scratching their head after paying $29.99 for this new app, however…

As soon as I heard about the new app, my immediate question was – How is this going to be different from Positive Grid’s existing multi-effects simulator app JamUp Pro? JamUp already lets you pretty seamlessly put a pedal board in front of a BIAS amp. Would BIAS FX let you pop open the virtual cases on the pedals and do a virtual Keeley mod on a virtual Tube Screamer? Would it revolutionize the sharing process? Would the sound quality be significant improved enough to warrant paying $10 more than I already paid for JamUp?

Having played with a review copy for a few days, I can tell you the answer to all of these questions is no.

BIAS FX promises “extremely intuitive operation” and unrivalled, component-level simulation with analog-like sound quality. While it’s not impossible to figure out how to add new effects and turn them on and off, there are icon-only buttons all over the interface that you have to guess what they do. If you’ve used other similar apps, you’ll figure it out on your own, but it wouldn’t have killed Positive Grid to put a few introductory slides at the beginning to help people get acclimated.

Perhaps most disappointing is that BIAS FX seems to have taken a step back in terms of integration with the BIAS AMP app. The app’s description on iTunes very explicitly states “12 classic BIAS amps, import any amp models from BIAS AMP.” Half of that is right. You can select from 12 built-in apps that are drawn from BIAS AMP and that can be edited just like BIAS amps. However, I see no way to import other BIAS amps into the BIAS FX amp slots. That’s hugely disappointing for me, because my favorite Dumble amp is not among the 12 they chose to include. Now, it is possible to plop a BIAS amp into the signal chain using Inter App Audio, but using that method does not allow you to use the dual amp setup BIAS FX is capable of.

What people will likely be most interested in, and willing to pay a premium for, is sound quality. If I was going to pay nearly $30 for another new multi-fx app, I would really expect the sound quality to blow me away. This does not. The dual amp capability is nice and certainly noticeable, but the sound, to me, does not sound radically different from JamUp. One specific example is the Acoustic Simulator. Positive Grid released an update last June that added an acoustic simulator amp that will honestly blow your mind. (If you haven’t heard it yet, check out the samples linked to from Our Review.) BIAS FX has an acoustic simulator too. You’d expect it to be at least as good, right? Nope.

And since they chose to create a new multi-fx app instead of just expanding on their already successful JamUp product, I expected somehow for there to be more choices in terms of the pedals you could choose from. There are not. By my count there are about 50 pedals available in JamUp Pro, when you include extra available as in-app purchases. At launch, BIAS FX only has about 28. My guess is they will add more, probably as in-app purchases, down the road, but right now it feels very limited.

It will be interesting to see what happens. It’s a brand new product, so there are likely some kinks to work out and Positive Grid has certainly shown they’re capable of great things in the past. For now, however, I’d hold off on buying this one. Stick with JamUp. It’s 75% off right now anyway, so it’s only $4.99.

Positive Grid Releases BIAS 1.5

NewsPositive Grid just released an update to it’s popular BIAS amp modeling app for iOS. The 1.5 version update brings with it three eagerly awaited expansion packs – Glassy, Crunch and Insane. Each expansion pack is available as an in-app purchase for $9.99 and adds dedicated preamp and power amp modules optimized for various playing styles and tone.

Continue reading

Positive Grid Releases New JamUp And We’re Giving Away BIAS To Celebrate!

NewsA new version of Positive Grid’s very popular JamUp software is now live in the iOS App Store! The new app includes what sounds like an amazing acoustic guitar simulator, as part of an Acoustic Expansion Pack, plus an all new Vintage Effects Expansion Pack, a Gurus Amp Expansion Pack and a special BIAS amp to give people a taste of the tasty goodness that is the BIAS amp modeler.

Speaking of which… to celebrate the release of the New JamUp app, we are giving away one free copy of BIAS for iPhone! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this article below telling us what kind of amp you’ll build with it. Thanks to Positive Grid for sponsoring this contest! Continue reading

JamUp Expansion Packs On Sale This Weekend

SalesPositive Grid just announced a special sale going on now. Between now and April 21st, all JamUp Expansion packs are 20% off.

JamUp is a complete multi-effects processor for guitar and bass. The app features more than 80 different effects (46 guitar and bass amps, 40 effects), drag and drop signal path, built-in tuner and metronome, looper and recorder, preset manager, MIDI support and more. It works with Inter-App Audio and Audio Bus, plus it’s compatible with just about every major guitar interface and pedal controller.

Don’t forget that, if you have Positive Grid’s amp designer and modeler BIAS, you can import those amps right into JamUp and layer on your effects.

To download JamUp, click here. Once you have the app, the expansion packs are available as in-app purchases. For more information on JamUp, visit Positive Grid’s website.

Get the Best of Both Worlds! Win an Orange Tiny Terror from IK Multimedia

NewsOne of the most common complaints I hear when I talk about digital amp simulators, iPhone or otherwise… is that they are no replacement for a good old fashioned tube amplifier. Well, IK Multimedia is giving you a chance to have the best of both worlds. To celebrate the release of their new app, AmpliTube Orange for iPhone and iPad, the company is giving away more than $2,200 worth of gear and apps – including the extremely popular (and very non-digital) Tiny Terror amp from Orange.

Continue reading

Positive Grid is Giving Away a Free iPad Air

NewsPositive Grid, the app developers behind the popular BIAS and JamUp iOS apps, yesterday announced a BIAS Custom Amp Competition. By submitting short videos demonstrating your own custom-designed amp built in BIAS, you could be eligible to win either an iPad Air or one of four $25 iTunes gift cards. Entries can be submitted between March 18 and April 18, 2014. The winner will be announced April 23rd on Positive Grid’s Facebook page.

Continue reading

Positive Grid Releases BIAS Guitar Amp Simulator for iPhone

Ratings_4Positive Grid, the team behind the popular iOS guitar amp and effects simulator JamUp, today released an iPhone version of their amazing amp simulation and tweaking app BIAS. Previously only available on theiPad, the app translates very well to the iPhone’s smaller screen and gives guitar players an even more portable way to get high quality amp tones tweaked to their exact tastes.

BIAS has been available for the iPad for three months and allows users to go beyond mere simulation. Billed by Positive Grid as an amplifier modeler and designer, BIAS allows users to start with a stable of 36 factory authentic amp models — 28 guitar, four bass and four keyboard/vocal. From there, users can modify the amp’s tone by digging into the components of the amp and changing each individual component of the amp’s circuitry. Preamps, tone stacks, power amps, transformers, cabinets, panel controls and even mic selection and placement are all fully customizable. Continue reading

BIAS for iPad

Ratings_4Positive Grid, the makers of the JamUp XT and JamUp Pro XT amp simulators and guitar multi-effects processors, released a new amp simulator today. Called BIAS for iPad, it’s actually more than just a basic amp simulator. The iOS app lets you dive in to the innards of every included amp model and virtually rewire them to your heart’s content. Make subtle tweaks to hot rod your favorite boutique amp, or change every single component to make your own virtual hand-wired amp.

BIAS includes 36 amp models. There are 28 guitar, four bass and four keyboard/vocal amps. The interface is extremely well organized, grouping the amps logically by music genre and sonic impact: clean, blues, twang, crunch, metal, insane, acoustic and bass. Right out of the box, the amp models sound great. Very authentic sounding, warm, natural and responsive. Until now, I’ve grown accustomed to settling for slightly less than satisfying amps, but not the case here. Honestly, these amp models are on a par with the ones in my Line 6 Pod HD 500. Continue reading

Apple Updates GarageBand for iPad and NOW… iPhone!!!

Ratings_4I was very pleased today to find an update for the iOS GarageBand app that addresses several of the only complaints I had about the original app and also adds some great new features.

Perhaps the biggest news is the app is now universal and supports the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. I have absolutely loved being able to create music on my iPad with GarageBand and am looking forward to seeing how the interface translates to the smaller screen. My guess is that I’ll use the iPhone version for quick ideas and sketches and then move it over to the iPad to more serious work. Then, of course, recordings can finally be moved over to the Mac for serious polish work in the desktop version of GarageBand. Quite an amazing workflow that is now possible with all three versions. Continue reading