Posts Tagged ‘AmpliTube’

I wrote this song a few years back, and had the hardest time trying to record it. Unfortunately, the stock drum tracks in GarageBand just don’t cover the blues very well, so I finally found some decent audio drum loops that I could use. Ostensibly, this is a song about everlasting love, and how in marriage or even lifelong relationships, despite their occasional downs, if you truly love someone, you’ll return to them.

With this song, I wanted to capture a smoky lounge with a jazz quartet kind of groove. And BTW, the guitar in this was recorded using IK Multimedia Amplitube Fender. Damn! That ’57 Champ sounds great! Anyway, here’s the song:

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IK Multimedia Stealth Pedal

For those computer-based DAW jockeys, you know about IK Multimedia’s Amplitube software. I recently wrote a review of Amplitube Fender Edition, and loved it. Now I have an even bigger reason to love it, and that’s IK Multimedia’s StealthPedal which looks like an expression pedal but is actually a fully-functional, USB-powered audio interface WITH a built-in expression pedal. How friggin’ cool is that?

Folks, this thing works, and it works well, as my full review, which will be released in a few days will bear out. As an audio interface, it may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but for the home recording studio buff, this is a great, affordable, high-res audio device that can take a direct in from your guitar or pedal board, or a line out from a pre-amp to use for layering tracks.

But because the pedal has the ability to act as a controller for any “Powered by Amplitube” software or plug-in, you may not even need an amp to record your guitar parts! There are enough fantastic-sounding amp models packed into the various Amplitube packages that you’ll be sure to find a model that works for you. Plus the software effect plug-ins that the StealthPedal can control give you added tone shaping abilities.

In my impending review, I’ll have more clips to share, but here’s a “torch song” that I’ve been working on that features the StealthPedal in action as an audio interface:

Except for the drum loop, all the instruments were recorded using the StealthPedal as the audio interface. I did a line-in directly for the electric piano. For the guitar parts, the amps are both software amps! For the rhythm part I used a Fender Champ 600 with a virtual compressor rack plug-in and my Strat plugged directly into the StealthPedal. For the lead part, I plugged into my pedal board and used my Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2 overdrive, and a Hardwire RV-7 Reverb. For the amp, I used a ’59 Bassman model. Imagine that! Software that sounds this good!

I know, nothing sounds like or feels like a real amp, but the convenience and the general sound quality of these models, plus the high-fidelity of the StealthPedal isn’t lost on me. It’s a nice, compact audio solution that combined with the software, will definitely make a difference in how you approach recording guitars.

Stay tuned for my full review!

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Amplitube Fender EditionMore often than not, the way I end most of my days is to strap on an axe, plug into one of my amps, and just noodle or jam to a jam track I put together. But tomorrow, I’m doing an outdoor gig that requires the use of my amps (had to drop them off tonight), and even though I have a little Fender Champ 600 for practice and recording, I was more in the mood for a bigger sound.

It was then I remembered my copy of IK Multimedia’s Fender Edition! I could plug directly into my DAW, spark up AmpliTube X-Gear, Amplitube’s excellent standalone and plug-in modeling software, and jam away! And with 12 different amps and boatload of presets to play with, I could get any sound I wanted! So I lost myself for over an hour of playing and trying out a bunch of different models and presets. It was truly marvelous and a great way to cap the end of a great day!

When I finally came up for air, I realized the power and allure of using these amp plug-ins from AmpliTube. They’re certainly not the real thing, but they’re so close to real, it almost doesn’t matter. Imagine going to a gig, and all you lug with you is a laptop, a DAW, and a couple of cords. You plug straight into the board and output through the PA. Then all you do is monitor your tone through your stage monitor.

IK Multimedia has tools to make it even easier to do exactly this. AmpliTube Fender – or any modeling software they make for that matter – is fully controllable via MIDI. So IK Multimedia has a product called StompIO, a USB stage controller that gives you full control over “Powered by AmpliTube” plug-ins, such as AmpliTube Fender Edition. Want to switch to a different amp? Add some chorus? Add a little dirt? It’s all available via the StompIO! The coolness factor of this is way huge, and at least for someone like me, it has some interesting ramifications.

For one thing, I play mostly small venues, so the more simple I can keep it, the better. Also, except for real purists, most people just can’t tell the difference that you’re playing through a model or a real amp. For instance, last year, I went up to Lake Tahoe and was sitting in a bar at a Casino, and there was this excellent male/female duo playing classic rock covers. The lead singer was a real excellent guitarist, so during one of their breaks, I went over to talk to him and see what gear he was playing. Amazingly enough, I discovered that his amp wasn’t an amp at all; it was a VOX ToneLab that he ouputted straight into his mixing board! I consider myself to be pretty good at making the distinction between a model and the real thing, but as the dude explained it, with all the ambient crowd and general bustle of the casino, it would be tough to tell he was using a modeler. It didn’t matter to me just the same, because the guy was such a damn good guitarist who could make his guitar absolutely sing. So for someone like that, he could make pretty much make anything sound great!

He shared that for larger gigs, and for playing solos in the recording studio, he still used a real amp – there’s just no substitution. But for tracking rhythm parts, and for playing in the casino, there was a lot to be said about the gear he didn’t have to bring with him. And that’s the point of something like AmpliTube Fender Edition. The less gear I have to lug around, the better! Of course, there’s no substitution for a real amp. Even though software can come close – incredibly close – to sounding like a real amp, there’s nothing like playing through the real thing.

But that said, when I want to go on a song writing trip, I can now pack everything I need to record my ideas in one bag, and all I’ll have to do is bring a couple of guitars! When I return home to lay down the tracks for good, I’ll just keep the rhythm tracks I recorded with the software models, and layer solos using a real amp.

Cool? You betcha!

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4.75 Tone Bones - Almost perfect but not quite
Amplitube Fender Edition
IK Multimedia Amplitube Fender Edition

Summary: Modeling 12 of the most famous Fender Amps, Amplitube Fender is pretty amazing. It’s scary how close to the real thing this software gets!

Pros: Super-easy to install, and super-convenient to use in your DAW software. The package comes with TONS of presets that require very little tweaking.

Cons: This is just a little nit because it sounds so good, and I don’t want to take that away from this excellent piece of software. But it doesn’t quite respond like a real amp.

Price: $229 Full Version / $139 Studio Version

Specs (from the IK Multimedia site):

Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 overall, but for a recording plug-in, it gets a 5.0

Being a snobbish purist about “real” gear, 🙂 I’m not easily impressed by emulation software. But when I heard clips of the Fender Edition of Amplitube, I knew I had to check this software out. A million thanks go to the folks at IK Multimedia to letting me evaluate this software because I am definitely impressed by Amplitube Fender! It’s not everyday that you have access to 12 awesome Fender amps, and to have them literally a mouse-click away is just insane! I don’t think amp software will ever replace a real amp, but this software comes so close to sounding like the real thing that especially for recording, I’d be hard-pressed to NOT use it for recording lots of guitar parts!

I used an earlier version of AmpliTube a few years ago, and was not at all impressed by how it sounded. But being in the software development world, with time, software gets better, and I have to say that this software is absolutely incredible!

Now and then, I go off for a weekend alone, and I lug a couple of guitars, a couple of mics, an amp or two, and my MacBook, along with my MBox 2 interface to just do some writing and recording. With Amplitube Fender, I don’t need to lug my amps! I can just load my laptop and MBox an a couple of cords and a mic, and I’m home free! Hey! Not having to lug any extra gear is HUGE! I’m sold on using this software! Not only do I have my four real amps, I now have 12 other amps to choose from when I record! It’s really exciting!

How It Sounds

Imagine that! No need to write a section on fit and finish! 🙂

In a word, it sounds AWESOME! Right after I installed the software, I plugged my Strat into the DI jack of my MBox 2, opened up GarageBand, started a new project, added a new track, and selected “Amplitube Fender” from a plug-in drop down. It was literally that easy! I randomly picked a ’57 Deluxe Dual Mic, then started to strum this little ditty in Am. Before I knew it, I was adding drum and bass tracks, to record the riff.

I’ve played through a ’57 Deluxe in the past, and I was amazed at how the software emulated that warm, bright and crisp sound that that amp is known for! I kept on thinking to myself, “This couldn’t be software – it sounds to friggin’ good!” After I recorded that rhythm track, I took out the Goldtop to play a lead. I ended up playing for over an hour this evening just tooling around with different amps. In the end, I wanted to get a sample out, so I chose a ’59 Bassman with a Fender Fuzz-Wah plug-in to get some fuzz, then recorded the following sound bite:

I don’t know about you, but I really can’t tell the difference between the real thing and software. Maybe because I’m starting to lose my hearing and my ability to discern audio fidelity is kind of going south. No matter, I think this software ROCKS!

Overall Impressions

Amplitube Fender does a fantastic job of amp emulation – there’s no arguing that at all. But there’s a certain “mojo” about a real amp that just can’t be captured with software, no matter how close to the real thing that software sounds. That said, however, even one as snobbish as myself, and other gear freaks I know would be hard-pressed not to seriously consider adding this to their arsenal of recording plug-ins!

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Amplitube Fender EditionIf you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’d know that I’m into tube amps – real tube amps – and I typically eschew modeling amps or modeling anything because they’re well, models. But I’m VERY intrigued by IK Multimedia’s Fender Edition. Thanks for this information goes to John over at Gear4Music in the UK for bringing this to my attention.

I will share a video demo in a bit, and based upon the videos and clips I’ve seen and heard, I’m incredibly impressed! Here are the amp models that this edition portrays:

  • ’59 Bassman® LTD
  • ’65 Twin Reverb®
  • ’57 Deluxe™
  • ’65 Deluxe Reverb®
  • ’64 Vibroverb™ Custom
  • Vibro-King® Custom
  • Champion™ 600
  • Super-Sonic™
  • MH-500 Metalhead™
  • Pro Junior™
  • Bassman® 300
  • TBP-1 Bass Preamp

I’ve used AmpliTube with ProTools in the past, but I had just the simple plug-in that came bundled with the LE version. IK Multimedia has really made huge leaps forward with these models. Check out a video:

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