Should I just go for a Grace Alix or Bix?

Goofball

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
804
Been playing my old Gibson SST's in various bands, acoustic acts, and otherwise. Love the guitar and for the most part, it sounds pretty good even without a preamp. There is some quack, which is expected but not as bad as my other "real" acoustics. I know the sound can be better and it's time to do something about it.

I've been thinking about a preamp for a while and have been reading up here on the LR Baggs Venue, Fire Eye, etc. The Grace Designs line gets high marks almost universally - and the cost reflects that. The Bix is on my radar but like others, the lack of a mid control is a bit unsettling. 4 bills for a preamp and arguably the most important frequency range is ignored?

The Alix seems like it checks more of the boxes but at $755 (and in today's economy), it would be tough to justify that. Still, if that could be the LAST preamp that I would ever need, hmmm...

There is a lot of experience on TGP - anyone have direct comparisons with any of the heavy hitters and the Alix or Bix and would be willing to share the pros/cons?
 

rowdyyates

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,577
I’ve used about everything in acoustic preamps. You’re right, the Alix is the last you’ll ever need to buy. I’ve used mine for several years now in all sorts of settings. Just do it.
 

Goofball

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
804
Thanks, Rowdy! If one would come up in the Emporium, I'd be all over it. I may just have to bite the bullet and order new.

From what I've heard about the Bix, it seems pretty great too.
 

Goofball

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
804
Very good points, bon-ton - - and that may have just pushed me off the fence! Off to Reverb I go! :)

[Quick note: Back from Reverb and this shows how crazy inflation is these days - the Alix only two days ago was $755 brand new. Right now, all those brand new ones are now listed at $765! Crazy...]
 

TobyB

Member
Messages
252
Grace Designs Felix is just brilliant ... expensive ... but worth it to me. I previously used Headway's EDDM, which is very good too ... EQ with notch filter and other powerful options for good sound.
I have also experimented with the ToneDexter as an alternative route.
 

edward

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,589
I own and have gigged the Venue for many years, it is superb! This is merely my experience and in no way a contradiction of what Grace Designs brings to the table. The Baggs unit is good, one of the best sounding among its peers. But the Felix/Alix are absolutely in another tier.

I know the term "studio grade" gets tossed around all too casually, but in this case it is legitimate: serious preamps cost you, as does the variable impedance (which is what a player needs if using different pup systems, or wants to really hone in their one guitar's pickup).

FWIW, I'd not even consider a Bix. You are correct, OP, as not having control over frequency centers is a deal killer, especially in that price tier. The Baggs Venue having two sweep EQ bands is precisely what makes it so valuable, and IMO better than others in its range. Tha Bix having no control in the crucial "mids" department for acoustics is a cost-cutting measure that works against Grace, IMO. If you try one and it works for you, then you win; but lacking the ability to shape tone here kills it for me. The Alix has the parametric you want.

Ain't no one talking you off the ledge here as Grace Designs enjoys the reputation it does because it is a high-quality piece of audio gear. If one can get by with spending less, then sure go with the Venue. But If you're wanting a serious preamp and best-possible live tone, you're in the right neighborhood.

Edward
 
Last edited:

Ercek

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
47
I echo the kudos of the Alix. Having used it for nearly 5 yrs now. Had many others, but this pushed all of those others off the board. Alix will give you more granular control of the signal than the Bix, which is quite good also. With Grace, you get what you pay for. YMMV
 

fractal

Member
Messages
285
I've had 7-8 acoustic instrument preamps and believe the Alix is a without any doubt the best single channel preamp available right now. It has several important features the Bix doesn't.

Sweepable mid EQ that will notch filter.
HPF
10meg Ω input (variable to 330k Ω and 1meg Ω) so you can plug just about any kind of pickup into it.
Input pad thats useful if you want to put EQ or effects with a hot signal in front of it.

The Alix seems expensive but it's really not. It's a pro quality build and will serve you well for many years. At $7.50 a year over ten years it's actually a smoking deal....you could easily get twenty years out of it. Add to that the fact you won't waste a bunch of time and money going through cheap preamps only to arrive at something like an Alix in the end.

$75 is a great deal. I'd get one too at that price.
 

rockabilly69

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,379
Perhaps I just needed that extra reaffirmation that the Alix is the way to go. Found a used one and it's being shipped as we speak.

Can't wait for it to get here and I'll report back.

Thanks, fellas!
You'll love it, but read the manual, there are internal jumpers that are very important. I love the fact you can select notch filter or HP Filter, you get an insert for FX, switchable range points for the mid range control, switchable center points for the bass control, 500mA convenience DC accessory jack, true 48V phantom, 3 input impedance choices. I have thrown every kind of pickup at it and it never lets me down. Any complaints I've ever read about it were from people who obviously can't read a manual. I loved mine so much that I went out and bought a 2 channel Felix too!

iltXUpB.jpg

in the above picture the Alix is powering the WAZA tuner which is powering the Keeley Delay Workstation, no brick needed, just an AC cord for the Alix!!!
 

Goofball

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
804
That is a sweet setup, @rockabilly69! That's exactly what I'm going for too - something that sounds excellent, toneful, and not too many bells and whistles. My other acoustic looping board is loaded with too much stuff (sounds that I hardly access during a show). Your pic gives me a lot of inspiration for what my next acoustic board should be, man.

And yes, you're so right - - this is a significant investment so I will definitely be reading the manual.
 

Goofball

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
804
Hey, guys!
I got the Alix and right out of the box, it sounds great! I only had about 20 minutes with it (and plugged it into my older Fishman Loudbox just to get a sense of the controls.). I’ll have more time with it this weekend into a real PA.

I took @rockabilly69 advice and read through the manual. (I gotta admit, there is stuff in there that is over my head but it’s very readable - and I do like the jokes they throw in.)

My question is - is there a need to go internally and start messing with the internal controls? My understanding is that the factory specs are that they are all set to “off”.

It will take a while to figure out how to best optimize all the mid controls. Just twisting knobs, it’s possible to make the gtr sound radically different! (If anyone has settings to share, I’d love to see them.). What’s amazing is that it sounds pretty good at all sorts of setting.

So far, I’m quite pleased but need to hear it through a full PA and at much higher volume. I’m sure this will be an integral part of my acoustic setup moving forward though. Thanks for all the guidance, fellas! (Still like to see other settings though! :cool: )
 




Top Bottom