IK Multimedia — Amplitube 3
It just takes one look at the GUI for Amplitube 3 to realize this a seriously in depth bit of kit and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even the first paragraph of the user manual is daunting:
“Amplitube 3 offers over 160 pieces of gear, 51 individual stomp boxes, 31 amplifier preamp & power sections, 46 speaker cabinet models, 15 high end stage and studio mics, 17 post amp rack effects and much much more”
Luckily for the end user and IK Multimedia’s purse strings the interface is set up in an intuitive and highly usable way. You should therefore be able to navigate the plug in with ease after about half an hour of toying with it. This is despite the slightly un-nerverving amount of buttons and graphics on display. But don’t get me wrong considering the amount of options available in one plug-in it looks stylish and easy on the eye, but how does it sound?
Fantastic is the answer, it is the best sounding amp sim I have ever used…period. However I still don’t think that any amp sim has even got close to replacing me recording guitars through a real amp with a real mic. This is mainly down to the fact that I think that software will never be able to fully replicate the sound of real valves being pushed. This said, the modelling of actual amps and also the mic emulation and ambience controls are a quantum leap from previous versions so maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty to say never!
I know what you are thinking “So if you still record guitars through an amp, what use do you have for an amp sim?”. Well actually I have many instances in almost every production that I still use them, these include:
- Tracking guitars at home before going to a studio to re-amp at a later date.
- Using the onboard effects to then send through to the amp
- Using some extra drive before hitting the amp
- Sometimes if I don’t quite get the tone right in the studio i’ll use an amp sim at the mix stage (to add more drive etc)
- The Ampeg Bass Amp sim is a staple of my Bass DI Channel and pretty much makes it onto every mix
Also it has to be noted that when modelling clean channels the Amplitube fairs much better; to such an extent that in certain genre’s of music I actually slightly prefer that clean digital sound especially with a nice healthy splattering of delay. Think some of the more main stream “Post Rock” ala Explosions in the sky.
My slight skepticisms of the drive channels of every amp sim aside; IK Multimedia’s Amplitube really is the daddy of all amp sims not only in terms of sound but also depth, choice and versatility. The only alternative that could even tempt me away from Amplitube at the moment is Digidesigns Eleven rack system. This is because it reduces the resources needed by your processor to run. However at over double the price of Amplitube is it really worth it? Surely you should just buy a more powerful processor?
As i’ve just mentioned amp sims can be very processor hungry and on a very dense mix it can make your sequencer feel slow and clunky. Luckily I have a very powerful Mac Pro, however for those of you that are more of a hobbyist IK have a solution for you. They have created three operating modes “hi-mid-eco” to help strike the right balance between tonal quality and processor usage for each user. I can also testify to the fact that even in eco mode the sound quality difference for all but the most serious of musicians are negligible.
One element that is sorely missed in my opinion is the ability to load guitar effect stomp boxes without having to load a whole instance of Amplitube and bypassing everything else. For instance IK’s other most popular plug-in the fantastic T-RackS has the ability to run individual elements as a singular plug-in as well as being able to load the full suite in a singular plug-in.
Price wise Amplitube is on the top end of the guitar emulation prices however it has absolutely everything you need within the basic package. However it is still possible to quickly spend a lot more in the custom shop with plenty more amp models and effects available, so lock up your credit cards when you first open up Amplitube!
Plug in Rating [8.5/10]
IK Multimedia Amplitube 3 is available here:
PRICE – € 269.99