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Quick review of the Grace Design BiX preamp

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Hoyt, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. IMG_4485.JPG IMG_4540.JPG
    After hearing stellar reviews about the Grace Design FeliX for use as an upright bass preamp but not being able to afford its hefty price tag, I was excited when they released the BiX.
    My first impressions after a couple days of toying with it are that it is quite impressive even if it lacks some features of other piezo preamps in its price range.
    I used my '53 Kay C-1 with Spirocore Solos and an Underwood pickup, and my King Doublebass Roadking strung up with Evah Pirazzi slaps and a Shadow SH-951 through both my Crest Prolite 2.0 and my Orange Terror Bass 1000 into my Greenboy Audio Fearless F212. I also fed the DI into my Yamaha mixer and listened with some headphones and compared between my FDeck series III and my Rane AP-13.

    My first concern was the lack of a mid frequency contour, but the selectable shelving EQ is intuitive and you can easily get the scooped mid sound that helps upright basses sound more natural. It definitely has a "my bass only louder" vibe to it. When compared to my FDeck series III (which I always thought sounded transparent), it actually sounds MORE transparent which I found surprising. The FDeck actually appears to muffle some highs comparatively. This became really obvious with some arco.
    It did however sound warmer than my Rane AP-13, yet more musical.
    The DI is noiseless and crystal clear.
    The mute function is noiseless during switching with no audible pop when turning the unit back on.
    The boost feature is nice, but not necessary for my purposes.

    It does lack some features of other piezo preamps in this price range ($295) that could prove to be problematic for upright bassists, especially those trying to fight feedback at louder stage volumes.
    Luckily, I found this unit used for $200, but Grace Design products don't seem to appear on the used market very often.

    There's no HPF, phase switch, or notch filter like on its big brothers. The ground lift is a tiny dipswitch and not easily accessible if you want to remove ground hum in a hurry.

    There is also no line out volume control. While this may not be an issue if you are running it straight through a mixing board, in front of a bass amp, or even in an effects loop of a bass amp, you won't be able to run this into a power amp without adding some sort of line control volume. You may be able to run the BiX into a compressor or EQ that has that as a work-around to feed a power amp.

    The BiX does have a nice effects loop though, but there is no bypass switch for it.

    It's not small enough to mount behind your tailpiece either.

    Overal though, it's a fantastic little unit if your preamp needs are minimal but you want to get your feet wet with that pristine Grace Design sound with one of the best DI's out there.
    If you're instrument requires a little more tone shaping, blending, or features to help minimize feedback, IMHO I'd recommend saving your money for the Grace Design FeliX or AliX.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Good review! I have a video one coming out soon, and I share your opinion. It really reminds me of an old Fishman B pre but cleaner. No frills, but crystal clear tone.
    Hoyt likes this.
  3. I think it'd be awesome for low volume jazz, trad country, bluegrass, or blues gigs. Especially if you're just feeding the FOH and a small combo amp. Also probably great for fly-in and other travel gigs where you don't want or need to bring a bunch of gear.
    Adam Booker likes this.
  4. @Adam Booker Thanks, and I'm looking forward to your video review!
    Adam Booker likes this.
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    That's very true I've only seen one Felix and one Alix for sale here in the TB Classifides, but they are a relatively new products. You often don't see products of quality
    going up for sale, because the folks using them are totally satisfied with the design. Acoustic Image amps don't appear as often either, once players find a good DB amp
    they tend to stick with it for a while.

    The HPF is so crutial to getting the sound right in my particular situation, the Notch not as much and the phase isn't as much of an issue.

    The line out volume control on the Felix is a great feature, because you're getting a preamp with a built in monitor send. For me that's one of the dealbreaker features of the Felix and Alix. But as you say, not everyone needs one

    The one thing that I'd add here is that Grace Products are built in Colorado and carry a 5 year transferable warranty.
    Hoyt and Adam Booker like this.
  6. You're absolutely correct and I should have mentioned it. Signing up for the warranty was easy through their website. Mine is serial number 30000091 (I think that's the right amount of zeros, lol), which makes me think it was the 91st one made.
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    I purchased a Sescom SES-MKP-31 on a recommendation from another TB'er. I plan on using it with a 1/4" to XLR into my Crest Prolite 2.0 to see what happens. It wasn't expensive, so it's worth the experiment.
  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    That looks like it might solve your problem. I tried a Taylor VCable with the line out on my Headway EDB-2. It certianly worked, but the gain from the volume pot wasn't linear.
    Adjusting the control was a little tricky.


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