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  #1  
Old 01-12-2018, 03:48 PM
meb meb is offline
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Default Grace Alix Review - First Impreassions

Hello All. I finally pulled the trigger on the Alix. It came in this afternoon and
I spent about an hour or so with it. I have been lusting after one for a
while, but was concerned that what some called precise or pristine may
translate into a 'dry-ish' sound that stripped off some body from the tone.

I have been using the Baggs Venue and PADI for the last 18 months
or so and had pretty good results. But, some reports on this forum said the
Alix was in 'another league'; so I had to try it.

The context of my first impressions were with my Goodall HRCJC with
a passive Dimarzio Black Angel thru a Bose T1 to a Bose L1c. All cables
were Mogami Gold. I first plugged in the PADI. Sound was good as
usual. Then I popped in the Alix.

I had read the manual; so I had a pretty good idea of a starting point
with all the switches. I am not a total novice, but I would not consider myself
anywhere near a expert at dialing in preamps. From the start the sound
was ok. I 'did' hear a little dryness vs the PADI. But with just dialing
back 800hz a tad, the sound came alive. The dry virtually disappeared,
though the PADI may have had a warmer darker sound.

What the Alix did was increase the dynamic range a ton. Whereas the PADI
will give up a little with a hard strum, the Alix just smiles and asks for more.
Goodalls are known for their overtones. The Alix presented them in spades.
It's like you don't know what you are missing until someone points it out.
After listening a while I couldn't even tell if there was any dryness.
The black background and dynamics were too captivating to notice.

The controls are pretty intuitive even for me. I like the fact that the hz
are printed on the unit for the most part. But maybe the knobs are overkill.
I moved the Bass and Treble knobs a little but ended up leaving them flat.

I don't have my Venue right now; I will give a Venue/Alix report when I get it.

Meanwhile, I will let you know the Alix 'wears' on me. My next gig isn't until early February, and I will use it with my L1 mod 2 then.

To sum up, at first blush, the Alix is pretty much what I hoped it would be,
a refinement of other very good work-horse products.

I hope this info helps others like me who were curious.
__________________
Michael

Goodall HrCJC/German 2012
Goodall RSC 2001
Collings D1 2016
Martin GPCPA5
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2018, 06:18 PM
mandowilli mandowilli is offline
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Thanks for the review and do post more.

I am awaiting the arrival of a Grace Felix for use on my mandolin and dobro due to the shortcomings of the Tonebone Pre Z. I have been unable to find any mandolin players who have embraced or even tried one of these but have noticed that they are more than a few users on this site.

The ability to set input impedance and have separate eq for each channel make it very appealing.

I will add my two cents in the near future.
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  #3  
Old 01-12-2018, 06:42 PM
Vancebo Vancebo is online now
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Thanks for the report. I haven’t given a review of my Alix yet. I bought one used in Reverb. I have been a Venue, PADI and Red Eye user for the past few years. I feel the Alix is a step up in sonic quality. I use a Dazzo in all my guitars. It is a passive pickup that is similar to the K and K and needs a preamp. The signal is hot and the Dazzo benifits from the Red Eye and Alix’s 10 mega ohm impedance.

I guess we all have our ways of describing sound. I guess I don’t understand what dry is. But with all my preamps set flat and the guitar plugged in the Alix yields the best clean warm tone followed by the Red Eye, Mesa Rosette then PADI then Venue.

I like how the Alix has an option of a low pass filter. You never know when you find you need that option. The one complaint I have is that the notch filter setting may cut too much of the sonic picture out. The Venue’s notch filter is considerably less noticeable. Everyone will have a different opinion on that. The frequency for the notch filter is adjustable but the depth is not.

So far, I have used it through my ARE Compact 60 amp at home and the system at church. I was very happy with the results. I will post more later.
__________________
Vancebo
Husband of One, Father of Two
Worship Leader, Music Teacher
Oregon Duck Fan
Ft. Bragg Goodall CJ cutaway w/ Dazzo #60s
Taylor 310 w/Dazzo #70's
G String Uke w/ Dazzo #90's
Fire Eye Red Eye, Baggs PADI
AER Compact 60
Taylor GS Mini w/Dazzo #70's
Grateful
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  #4  
Old 01-13-2018, 08:08 AM
varmonter varmonter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandowilli View Post
Thanks for the review and do post more.

I am awaiting the arrival of a Grace Felix for use on my mandolin and dobro due to the shortcomings of the Tonebone Pre Z. I have been unable to find any mandolin players who have embraced or even tried one of these but have noticed that they are more than a few users on this site.

The ability to set input impedance and have separate eq for each channel make it very appealing.

I will add my two cents in the near future.
I use the felix for mandolin and guitar for a couple years now it works as designed.
you can move an internal jumper to change the midrange sweep
on channel 2 which is where i use the mandolin. very versatile preamp .
and it sounds wonderful. also i have a kk twin mando installed
in my Ellis mandolin. there is a nasty percussive sound that comes
out of this combo. if i use the dip switch to go from Low pass filter
to notch i can notch out that nasty percussive .

Last edited by varmonter; 01-13-2018 at 08:18 AM.
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  #5  
Old 01-13-2018, 10:38 AM
Bobalooba Bobalooba is offline
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When I tried out the Alix , my first impression was "there was no meat on that bone". I too had been using the Venue for a few years. One thing I discovered was the Alix has a bass roll off shelve pin on the inside of the unit and mine was set on the wrong pin which made the rolloff cover a wider range. I changed it back to the factory setting and it did help. The Alix is a well made, very transparent sounding unit with a lot of headroom but for my tastes I still liked the Venue as much or better. For what it's worth.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:21 AM
gfsark gfsark is offline
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Meb, wondering if you use or tried out the T1 preamp since you have some Bose units? Based on specs it seems that the Alix has a pedal boost out, and variable impedance with the T1 does not support. Outside of those items, it seems that the T1 does quite a bit with equalizers, filters, compressors etc...each channel independence and would be at least the equal if not more than Alix.

My main gripe with the T1 is that its designed to be supported on a thin support arm and doesn’t like to sit on a flat surface.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:40 PM
mandowilli mandowilli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varmonter View Post
I use the felix for mandolin and guitar for a couple years now it works as designed.
you can move an internal jumper to change the midrange sweep
on channel 2 which is where i use the mandolin. very versatile preamp .
and it sounds wonderful. also i have a kk twin mando installed
in my Ellis mandolin. there is a nasty percussive sound that comes
out of this combo. if i use the dip switch to go from Low pass filter
to notch i can notch out that nasty percussive .
Any reason for the mando with K&K into channel two instead of channel one?
What impedance setting do you use on this, 20M?
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:12 PM
meb meb is offline
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Bobalooba, the 'no meat on the bone' is the perfect description of my
concerns before purchasing the Alix. Vancebo, that is what I was describing
as 'dry'. The Fishman Platinum would fall in this camp where a Presonus Tubepre could be described as err'ing in the other direction. I spent too
many years in the Audiophile world. :-)

I played with the Alix more today. As Bobalooba says, I do at times feel
like I am walking a fine line between having meat and not. So far,
I have had good results with my Black Angel equipped Goodalls.
I can get the tonality fullness similar the PADI but with the added dynamics
I mentioned earlier. The soft touches on the strings finger-picked are
brilliantly revealed giving opportunity for more expression. When I bang
the guitar, the PADI gives me a quack, whereas the Alix doesn't.

When I tried my Collings D1 with a Trance Amulet, I could dial it in
somewhat, but there was definitely a lack of meat on the bone.

Gfsark, all my comments have been based on running through the T1
Tonematch mixer. I generally keep the ZEQ flat and add Reverb and Compression if needed Since my Black Angel is passive, I always prefer
the sound when I use a preamp/DI rather than going directly to the T1.
I also preferred the BA over the active M1A and M80 which I sometimes
ran direct to the T1 back a while ago. I guess that shows that I am OCD
about sound.....now we see why I am trying the Alix.

I DID take the T1 out of the chain and ran the Alix directly to the L1C
using the Line Out and volume control. Tonal characteristics were
similar, but it was grainy by comparison. ..not a horrible degradation, but there.

My thoughts on Day 2:
Given its price ,the Alix is definitely not a no-brainer. It can be unforgiving
with the wrong associated gear. If the added dynamics are important
to you, it is worth checking out. I am finding them somewhat addictive.
I still have some more time for evaluation. My Venue is in California
to have a broken phase switch fixed. I hope it comes in soon for a
shootout but deep down I think the results will be similar to the PADI.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:40 PM
varmonter varmonter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandowilli View Post
Any reason for the mando with K&K into channel two instead of channel one?
What impedance setting do you use on this, 20M?
no reason i just use channel one for guitar and two for mando.
i use the 1mohm setting. for mando . it seems to sound the best there.
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2018, 07:15 PM
Vancebo Vancebo is online now
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I guess I feel real good about the Alix. I just sold my Venue and Session. I will keep the Alix, Red Eye, the Mesa Rosette and the Baggs PADI. Simply, the Alix and the Red Eye handle the Dazzo better than anything else. I liked the form of the Venue better than the Rosette but I like the function of the Rosette more than the Venue. So, function tops form IMO.

User results vary, but I think for folks who want every piece of their rig to be the best it could be the Alix will appeal to that audiophile in us.
__________________
Vancebo
Husband of One, Father of Two
Worship Leader, Music Teacher
Oregon Duck Fan
Ft. Bragg Goodall CJ cutaway w/ Dazzo #60s
Taylor 310 w/Dazzo #70's
G String Uke w/ Dazzo #90's
Fire Eye Red Eye, Baggs PADI
AER Compact 60
Taylor GS Mini w/Dazzo #70's
Grateful
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:55 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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I bought the Felix secondhand last summer and I love it. I use a variety of instruments live (mandolin, acoustic, octave mandolin etc) so this unit really helped with cutting down the amount of gear on my board. I think it sounds fantastic and it's rock solid. I do feel that there are almost too many features on it and at times I forget what the switches on the side do but overall it's great. I haven't fully compared it to my other DI's but I don't feel as though it thins out my tone at all.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:04 AM
varmonter varmonter is offline
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i have to agree with the above post. I am always
looking at new gear. i just bought a tonedexter.
it has a lot of features similar to the felix.
it lacks(so far imho) the tone of the felix.
But again its a third of the price of the felix.
i may keep it ( the tonedexter)to use at gigs that lack floor space
for my pedalboard. it has potential. but like units like
the venue it sounds quite "processed" to me. probably due to the
wavemap technology. it is still pretty good and i have
barely had time to use it. but i have four gigs coming up
soon so it will get a good workout. i don't think
i will be selling the felix anytime soon though.
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:04 AM
Bobalooba Bobalooba is offline
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If I may add, I would carefully open it up and make sure the low freq. internal jumper is on the factory setting (LF1). As I mentioned in my last post, mine wasn't. I also read on some forum someones else's wasn't set right either. The info on that is on pages 12 and 13 of the online manual. That will make a difference. I think the Alix is very powerful but transparent, meaning no added color. Probably with my electronics and type of guitar I use a little color is a good thing which some other pre amps provide.
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:24 AM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varmonter View Post
i have to agree with the above post. I am always
looking at new gear. i just bought a tonedexter.
it has a lot of features similar to the felix.
it lacks(so far imho) the tone of the felix.
But again its a third of the price of the felix.
i may keep it ( the tonedexter)to use at gigs that lack floor space
for my pedalboard. it has potential. but like units like
the venue it sounds quite "processed" to me. probably due to the
wavemap technology. it is still pretty good and i have
barely had time to use it. but i have four gigs coming up
soon so it will get a good workout. i don't think
i will be selling the felix anytime soon though.
I should add that I also own the Tonedexter, which I will be using with the Felix. They are two different preamps/DI's so it's difficult to really compare them. As great as the Felix is, and I love it, it will never match the natural tone of the wavemaps created on the Tonedexter. I am just thinking of experimenting with the TD through the Felix's effects loop. Not sure if it will work but if it does, that will mean that I can make wavemaps for my mandolins and still utilize the two channels of the Felix for eq. It will require me to reach down and turn the wavemap slot knob but that's a small issue.
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Old 01-14-2018, 12:51 PM
meb meb is offline
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I am back....with a few more tidbits.

First a loose end.....When I mentioned I went directly from Alix to L1c, I
plugged into the Line Level....which was somewhat grainy. I tried it again thru the switch to Tonematch and it was much better. I am not sure I
could even hear a degradation.

I also ran the Alix thru my A&H Zed10fx with very nice results. I was able to tweek the mids tanks to the 2-way midrange knobs. Very close in sound to T1.

Today, I plugged into my Bose L1 mod2. I re-tweeked the settings for
the different PA. It sounded very nice. It definitely less thin and downright
great. The unit could be breaking in a little and maybe I am understanding
the controls a little better. None-the -less, the L1-2 seemed easier to dial in.

After playing a while, I switched back to PADI for grins. It seemed sweeter
but with a bit of grain.....all in all great...certainly stage-worthy. Then back to Alix.

WOW!!! It was like a dozen layers of grain had been removed. The
clarity was astonishing. The background was quieter which allowed
micro and macro dynamics and overtones to emerge. I wonder how much of
the difference will come thru to an audience. I now see the affection
bestowed on the Felix.

A couple of notes:
-Getting the best settings is a challenge. Slight movement of the dials can
make big sonic changes.
-On paper, the mid-band eq looks powerful and confusing, but in the end
you only have one frequency to Q...whereas the Venue has low-mid and
hi-mid.. With the Alix you must flip a dipswitch to go from High to Low.
-the resolution easily renders the differences between my 2 Goodalls.
-A little more inherent richness would be nice, and maybe it will come with break-in. Cable choices can also help that...the are sizable differences
between my Mogami Gold and my Pighogs.
-And remember, no battery or phantom power...you gotta plug it in.

Now that I have heard what the Alix can do, I cannot imagine it going
anywhere. Enough babbling....hope this helps.
__________________
Michael

Goodall HrCJC/German 2012
Goodall RSC 2001
Collings D1 2016
Martin GPCPA5
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