After all those years of hard work and suffering, there comes a time when we can finally afford to treat ourselves. After you have gained experience and expertise, and, of course, have achieved the level of financial stability where you can spend any amount of money on the desired equipment, you can start exploring the high-end market. That’s where all those shining diamonds start mingling in your eyes, or to be more precise, those crafted pedals scream at you from far away. They call your name and lure you into their web every time you check their features and after battling with yourself, you come to the conclusion that you’re worth it. And let’s be honest – as you mature as a musician, you do need more professional equipment. We can all agree that those reasons justify the splurge and we can all enjoy our fancy pedals without feeling guilty. Today I’m going to introduce to you AliX from Grace Design. It’s a smaller sibling of its bigger brother, but it still delivers studio quality performance regardless of the shrunken footprint. Yeah, it’s expensive but trust me, it’s worth every penny. Let’s get started and explore this promising acoustic preamp together!
As I’ve already mentioned above, Grace Design AliX offers studio quality performance. Before we jump into the sonic details, I just want to mention how visually pleasing it is to look at this pedal. Its silver enclosure feels expensive and sturdy, and you can stay assured that this unit will last you through a couple of lifetimes. Moving onto more important properties, this puppy has thin resistors and top notch transistors that guarantee its high quality sound. All the wirings and internal components are made out of high grade material, meaning that AliX outputs clear and transparent content. Its constituents are configured in a way that eradicates any noise and prevents feedback from developing. The headroom remains undistorted regardless of the settings, once again adding more points to the quality of sound. This pedal has in-built parametric EQ that enables you to modify low, mid and high frequencies meticulously. This way you can easily craft your tone to perfection and achieve the best results. Just like other acoustic preamps, AliX has a notch filter that helps you target feedback and remove those nagging frequencies altogether. It can add 10dB of boost in order to steep your sound with extra ‘oomph’. It does also have a tuner output that routes your signal to the tuner and enables you to keep the strings of your instrument in shape. This puppy can be powered with a universal adapter i.e. IEC cable that can be plugged into the source directly. It can supply power to other pedals as well, making it possible to cut down on those messy cables. And finally, AliX gives you the possibility to choose the desired impedance depending on your pickups, so that everything runs smoothly and your musical devices get on with one another like a house on fire. As you can see, this pedal doesn’t offer any bells and whistles, yet its features are essential for any preamp and meticulous enough to leave room for detailed tweaking.
By looking at the surface of AliX, you get the idea that you are dealing with a sophisticated studio apparatus. Its knobs leave you the feeling that the pedal requires serious tweaking in order to be grasped. However, things are way easier in reality. Though you might have to read the manual and play around in the beginning, it will still be an enjoyable process that won’t take that much time. After all, we’re all ready to sacrifice some extra time for the ability to achieve mind-blowing results.
- Gain – adds gain to your sound, meaning that your signal will gather more strength and become more prominent; the clip indicator will notify you when the gain is too much and the distortion will take place;
- HPF Hz/Notch – with the help of the dip switches (see below), you can either cut lower frequencies (and eradicate noises) with High Pass Filter, or remove specific areas that are causing feedback with the help of notch filter;
- Mid – sets the amount of boost added to the midrange;
- Mid Hz – allows you to select the midrange frequencies that will be boosted or cut;
- Mid Q – alters the bandwidth and enables you to equalize sharply or more broadly;
- Low – emphasizes or tames bottom end;
- High – accentuates or tones down trebles;
- Boost – lets you add up to +10dB of boost to your signal;
- Amp – sets the level of the output for amp and tuner outputs;
- Dip switches – the first one enables you to choose between HPF and notch filters, the second one makes it possible to select either Hi or Lo midrange, while the third one activates 12V power on the instrument input (in order to amplify the electret capacitor microphone).
When different brands manufacture expensive products, they know perfectly well that the sound must be absolutely ethereal. Otherwise, none of their effort will make any sense and the only result will be a crowd of angry and dissatisfied customers. Grace Design knew that perfectly and their AliX is simply a jaw-dropping device. It is completely transparent and clear – there’s no chance it will add anything weird to your signal. Its meticulous controls enable you to tweak your tone as much as your heart desires and remove all the noises that ruin the whole thing. This puppy is a godsend treat for us, since its quality can be heard in every note. If money isn’t an issue for you, there’s no reason to hesitate!
On the whole, Grace Design AliX is a true beast that will deliver studio quality performance right at your feet. Though it is expensive, you are definitely paying for quality here. This puppy will make sure that your acoustic instruments sound as organic as possible, and will reproduce the best virtues of their sonic content. Once you listen to the sound of AliX, there is no going back. You’ll be coursed with the urge to buy it and use it every freaking day. Good luck!
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