Admittedly, I’ve always been an analog man. Although I was born, raised, and weaned on the early versions of the ones and zeroes that drive our lives today, my tastes in music, and subsequently in music gear have always been old school. I pine over antiquated behemoths filled with knobs and buttons, and whenever somebody mentions vacuum tubes my eyes light up and I’ll begin to enthuse about the “good ol’ days” that happened long before my parents ever met. That being said, I think nowadays is the best time to be a guitar player and musician, thanks to the advancement of CPU power and painstaking research by companies like Waves, Universal Audio, and of course IK Multimedia. Amplitube 3 was my secret weapon in the studio for quite a long time, and I was very intrigued and excited when Tone Report approached me to review IK’s latest iteration of their renowned guitar modeling software.
Stompbox wise, the Deluxe version comes with a few effects in each category from standard delay and dirt, to wilder pitch and filter. Some of these effects are hit and miss however, and they may require some tweaking to get to your liking. The EchoMan (based on the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man), sounds really wonderful, and so does the Echoplex. The dirt pedals sound passable, but you are much better off in my opinion cranking the amp model.
The cabinets are in Amplitube 4 are more or less 3D environment, which is chosen by the user. You can choose a tight studio, a garage, or even an isolation booth. There are two mic models you can choose, and there is everything from trusty dynamic 57’s to condenser U87s available. You can mix them to taste, and move them around in this 3D space to get different effects. (For more on micing guitar cabs, check out How To Start A Home Studio; Part II in Issue 99). There are a multitude of different cabs from Fender to Roland-inspired offerings, and you can really customize each cab by putting different speakers in each position. So in a 4x12 you can have 4 different speakers going at once! There is a rack effect section after the cabs, and you can add some really nice Lexicon-esque digital reverbs, wide stereo delays, rotary effects, and you can even patch any stompbox in a rack, for post processing.
The Custom Shop is more or less the crown jewel of IK’s Amplitube. They want you to cherry pick your rig, and find out what works for you in terms of your tone. There are licensend products here from ZVex, Fender, Dr. Z, GK, T. Rex, and many others. There are also some of the more “niche” amps and effects here for purchase. I was sad to see that my second favorite emulation in this software, the HiAmp, was now part of the Custom Shop, and did not come standard. This is an integral amp and is up there with Fender and Marshall as being incredibly influential in the British music scene, suffice to say I didn’t like that. The Leslie 147 model that also used to come standard was also now part of the Custom Shop, which was something else I found irksome. However, since I own a real Hiwatt (Hi-Tone DR30) and a real Leslie 147, I was interested to see how the emulations fared up against their real counterparts. The Hiwatt didn’t have the blistering high headroom that my real one has, and breaks up far too early. It seems as if this amp were modeled after the CP103 (Townshend’s Hiwatt) and it really nails that driven Live at Leeds tone. The Leslie sounds wonderful, and is mic’d in stereo so you can really hear the Doppler effect in practice. Obviously not like the real thing, but it would sound quite nice in a full mix context. I tried out the Fender Twin model, which is absolutely stunning. Paired with the digital rack reverb, a bit of tape delay, and a light compression, the sound was nothing short of heavenly. The clean character of the Fender Twin, paired with the “movement” of the delay and reverb, created a really gorgeous ambient tone that could easily find its way onto any one of my projects.
Amplitube 4 is a great addition to your studio arsenal. With a wide variety of amps and stompboxes available, an incredibly tweakable cab section that puts a lot of IR cab programs to shame, and a Custom Shop brimming with great gear offerings, Amplitube 4 is in my opinion, as of right now, the most comprehensive guitar modeling software available.
What We Like:
Tons of amps, cabs, and pedals, that work really well. Flexible modulation options and a really incredible cab and mic section. Wonderful looper and great bare-bones “sketchpad” DAW. Cool analog console inspired design.
Some dirt pedals sound a little artificial, and the stock Amplitube amp models can be a little muddy/inarticulate. Some amps and models that used to come standard are now part of the Custom Shop.