Amplitube 4 by IK Multimedia
Guitar amp simulator software that offers a highly versatile collection of guitar sounds provides plenty much new in the latest version: cabinets, amps and even acoustic guitar simulator.
By Alex. Arsov, Nov. 2015
Every Rose Is Different
I love them all, and I have all of them. NI Guitar Rig with its raw sound and out of this world arsenal of unique effects, S-Gear 2 made by an ex-Marshal engineer with the very best Tween Reverb Fender simulation, Vandal with his metal sound and the varied colors of IK Amplitube that brings the widest range of guitar sounds that can really make your music stand out. All named amp simulation software packages have their own sound – a different general character – along with their own set of options. It being the year 2015, it is no longer a question as to whether or not any of those packages sound like real guitar amps and are playable like real guitar amps.
The best thing about Amplitube is rather enormous versatility of sounds and diversity of sound colors – from jazzy to metal with a million different variants inside every genre or selected amp. Amplitube is an absolute winner in versatility category. In the previous version, I missed a bit of airy, clean tone, but can’t complain regarding that in the latest version. The overall sound is better, a bit rounder and fuller. I presume that this is a result of a new redesigned cabinet section that really adds that “real amp” attitude making end result much more realistic, even in arrangements in which the guitar plays alone (there was never a problem to put a virtual amp in crowded mix, but with isolated guitar sounds, that was another story entirely). The whole speaker simulation, cabinet section becomes a pure science with this new version. Now you can even change separate speakers inside the cabinet, choosing different environments in which the cabinet is placed, different microphones, microphone position, level of room ambiance, direct amp signal and all other manner of detail. Actually you can even tame the end result by using three microphones, achieving a 3-D sound. Over the years I have come to learn that all those fancy additions are not directly correlated with the end result. Our ears are the only measure. So, 3-D or not 3-D, the important thing is that the general sound of Amplitube is better than it was in the previous version. Don’t get me wrong, Amplitube 3 was a great sounding virtual amp, but this one shines in all the guitar colors, from ultra-clean to a bit of dirty blues to barking metal sounds.
The next most noticeable new addition is improved browser. I’m really impressed with quantity, versatility and quality of implemented sounds. The only thing that bothers me is that I couldn’t find a way to exclude presets that use amp models that I don’t have. It is a bit annoying to play Russian roulette with presets, without knowing if you could use it or not until you find that the selection doesn’t load into Amplitube. Except for that, the new browser is a great addition. Now you can easily find a preset by selecting one of the main categories, like Sound Character, or by browsing by instrument or Artist (as some packs are named by some artists ) or even by the name of the preset. There are an almost endless number of very versatile presets for all genres and categories, not to mention that Sound Character row contains a great number of appropriately labeled subcategories that make our browsing experience much more pleasant. All you need to do is to open a dropdown menu by clicking near the upper box labeled Sound Categories, choosing the sound character and you will get selected results.
In the standalone version, we even get an additional eight track recorder with which we can record and even further develop some of our guitar ideas. Not my cup of coffee, but still, it’s very nice addition.
The new version brings five new amps. All are based on various Marshal models, JCM 800, 900, JMP-1, Jubilee and Major amp heads, the latter simulation called Red being my favorite from this new addition. All five sound quite different. Every one of them brings some special character and, thanks to aforementioned new cabinet simulation section, all of them really sound live, full and vivid. So, with these new models you get all manner of colorful distortion, from barking lows to chunky highs. Add a touch of delay and you are in heaven. New amps brings plenty of joy to all rock and metal fans, but they also touched my pure heart since I found some really nice, rounded, full clean sounds that just weren’t there in the past – it looks like this new version can make us all happy. In the previous version the sound was just perfect, but maybe lacked a touch of a mojo (if I may use some Austin Powers terminology). With the new amps and new cabinet sections, we get that mojo as well, an essential component of every real amp.
At first I thought this would be a magic wand that will turn my Telecaster into an acoustic guitar with nylon strings just by adding an effect in a stomp rack and that would do it. Of course I was a bit disappointed that this was not exactly the case. But after spending few minutes disabling the amp simulator, finding appropriate amp cabinet (BXT 420T proved to be just perfect for this job), adding a reverb effect in the rack section, and voila – it really sounds like a perfect electro acoustic guitar. Of course it doesn’t sound entirely like the nylon acoustic, but nevertheless it sounds even better than my old trusty electro acoustic guitar with piezo pickups. It’s quite useful getting that entire wide sound specter with just one guitar.
Pre and Post Effects
Amplitube 4 also brings a new insert section, so now additional effects, or even stomp pedals can be mixed together and added before and after the amp simulator and or even after the cabinet section. This should prove ideal for all you wild chaining maniacs out there. There is already an impressive number of stomp boxes included, some of them very interesting and great-sounding. My favorite is Harmonator, not a new effect, but still amazing, where you can select the scale you are playing, selecting the interval (the classic 3rd is still the golden rule), adding it to some lead preset, and you suddenly become a cool (instant) guitar hero playing solo parts in triads. If those pedals are not enough, than you can find a nice number of versatile stomp effects in the IK Custom Shop. I had wished to find some of those in the regular version of Amplitube 4 as opposed to being an optional, separately-priced item. But OK – we can’t have it all. That’s life I suppose.
Yes or No?
Of course: a resounding “yes”. I only miss one option from previous version: the ability to choose between Hi, Mid and Eco quality, as all guitar simulation software is pretty CPU intensive. Using a few instances could be a demanding task for the average computer, so having an option to use Eco quality in a working stage would be a blessing. Otherwise, the overall sound that is more airy and fuller due to the new amps and the totally new cabinet section, which probably gets the most credit for this airy/punchy new sound, along with all the new presets, the more-than-useful new preset browser, and the acoustic simulator all make this version more than tempting. Amplitube 4 can do it all: from extra dirty to extra clean and from jazzy to metal to acoustic with all colors between. Sound-wise it is absolutely one of the most versatile virtual amp packages currently available. With new models we get even more colors and with new cabinet section, we get extra mojo. For me, this is easily more than enough reasons to update to version 4.
More info here:
The basic version could be yours for €149.99 EUR; the deluxe version (offering 101 additional components – stomp pedals, amp models and cabinets) is €299.99 EUR.