By Sean Halley
The gigging guitar community seems to be split into factions these days, with some folks diving headfirst into the world of FRFR (full range, PA-style) speaker setups using impulse responses, while others hold on firmly to the sound and feel of “real” guitar amps and speakers. The general consensus is that the two setups are mutually exclusive, but is that really true?
In general, IRs sound a lot like mic’d cabinets because they are actually (very) short recordings of real mic’d speaker cabinets. Using them in a live context instead of micing a speaker has some real benefits - it always sounds the same no matter what venue you’re playing or how loud your stage volume is, and there is never any bleed from other instruments on stage in the guitar feed to the PA, no matter how small the stage is or how loud or close by the drums are.
However, if you’re going direct-only live, it can be tricky to get the onstage tone to feel right at any volume. I imagine that difficulty has something to do with the way that real guitar speakers behave, since they don’t produce tones much above 5K and aren’t all that linear from soft to loud, which is not the case with PA speakers.
The direct-only thing can certainly work great with some tweaking (we have a number of BIAS artists that use the non-powered version of BIAS Rack in just this way and love it), but what if you didn’t have to worry about it at all? What if I told you that you could use a normal amp and guitar speaker cabinet onstage - to keep the feel and response you’re used to, and to let your trousers wag magnificently on certain chords - but still take advantage of the sonic consistency you get from sending impulse responses to the PA?
You can, with BIAS MINI.
Even though you don’t ever have to look at it if you don’t want to, a full-featured virtual component emulation engine lies at the heart of MINI. You can create fully customized amplifier circuits and setups if you want to, and all of those setups include a custom speaker cabinet and microphone emulation module. You can pick any speaker cab and dual microphone setup that you like in the software, and save it with all of your patches.
MINI’s built-in 300 watt power amp is designed to drive normal speaker cabinets, so you can plug right into a 2x12 or 4x12 cabinet and let it roar. However, if the speaker module is turned on in the software, the Line Output will contain the speaker and microphone convolution from the speaker module you saved in your patch. That means that the guitar sound in the PA will be consistent from gig-to-gig, which makes venue owners and sound guys very happy. If you’re playing somewhere were the feed with a speaker emulation isn’t necessary isn’t necessary, don’t use the Line Output. It’s super simple to set up and use, and it provides a large degree of flexibility.
So it’s the best of both worlds: you get natural guitar amp response onstage, but the PA and front of house get the super-consistent IR feed from your Line Output, containing no bleed from the bass and drums no matter what. It makes a world of sense for folks that need consistent PA mixes night after night, and don’t get me started on the cats in the world of HOW (House of Worship) bands! You can fit BIAS MINI and a couple of pedals in your gig bag!
For more information on BIAS MINI Guitar and Bass amplifiers, head over to www.positivegrid.com/bias-head-mini-guitar