FIRST IMPRESSIONS REVIEW AmpliTube 3 & Stealth Pedal.

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OzziePete

Guest
Hi all

I was reluctant to post this as is. Rather I had contemplated working up some samples of the software's work  and trying to deceive some Purist's amongst us that I had actually bought an amp, but no, it's best the review gets up as is & be honest.

IK MultiMedia's AmpliTube 3 with a Stealth Pedal.

Yes, it is a software sim amp program, so those of us who like their amps real and can't stomach the thought of some digital innvoation - you've been warned - turn away now from this Thread and try to refrain  from flaming the content. I ain't a journalist or writer either, so this is one amateur's thoughts after one session with the software. I think it is is fair, though, to present a review of amp sim software and let people think if it's worth a try.


MY personal playing style has long embraced a tonal platter of guitars and amps. I am certainly no ONE guitar and ONE amp kinda guy, tho obviously the restraints of my income and expenditure demands I do. I am in the same era of guitar players as The Edge, and Iva Davies of Icehouse, both of whom use a wide range of tones for their guitar rigs. The Edge, as anyone has seen "It Might Get Loud" will know, employs literally stacks of effects and stacks of amps & speakers to go from one tone to another. Given the same wealth I dare say I may have ended up the same way!

What has happened is that I own a very nice Mesa Boogie Studio Pre Amp and have owned it since new. It is the stable one sound I throw back to, using either a Strat or Tele (with a humbucker) as guitar. For serious rock, punk etc. I have an old beater that has two classcial humbuckers installed in it, a first series DiMarzio Super 2 (like Garcia had, same series) in the bridge, and a genuine Bill Lawrence L500 like Dimebag Darrel used.

But my  desire has always been to own more amps and improve my tones...

Along comes digital simulation technology and I am very interested.....But all along I have waited and waited for the right product to come along. Til now.


Amplitube 3.

AT3-box.jpg


Ok, 160 or so amp heads, a stack of cabinet choices, all interchangeable. A nice touch with microphone chocies for close micing ( up to 2 mics per cab) and two room mics that can be varied in width and the mix of the two sets of mics can be adjusted. Also type of 'room' can be changede from amp cabinet to Large Studio.

This is a first impressions review........I haven't even started to get into the varying parameters of this software - it is quite extensive. For anyone who wants a click and go sort of software amp sim, no problemo, but if you wanna tweak things, and also do some scratch recordings and /or some overdub layering, plus also control parameters from a MIDI pedal, it's there too!

You have the Amp sims, the Cabinet sims, the mic sims and the room sims. Alll can work VERY WELL together, believe me.

It is par for the course, straight out of the box, that there will be an array of pre sets to get you going. But this program has a LIBRARY of them! Seriously, a lot of pre sets ready to go. ALSO I must add that there are some Bass Amp sims here too, tho IK MultiMedia have wisely opted to release their own Ampeg SVX software if you want THAT Bass Amp. IK have also done a Licenced Version of many of Fender's amps, with Fender's approval. That Licencing is one big tick for the company and their amp sim technology.

I won't bore you with acronyms for their patenetd system of sampling the amps, cabinets, mics and rooms, but I have to say it is IMPRESSIVE. The AmpliTube 3 program is a major enhancement upon the A2, and they went back to scratch and re recorded and re sampled a lot of the older work with this new technology to get better dynamics.  This extra step has worked wonders, IMHO.

Suppose now I will cut to the chase....Will this program replace an amp in real ife?
Ooooh, I have always felt that using digital and software driven technology under the bright lights, under the stresses of live work, with sometimes iffy power supply, is one big ask. Personally I wouldn't trust this piece of sfotware to do the work you'd want it to do (as main backline amp). As an enhancement to the main amp sound, however,  most defintely it is something to have - you'd laugh your head off at the huge 5150 amp sims roaring away through the PA, while on stage you just have the smaller Peavey replica combo, lol. :evil4:

Because of IK's link up with Fender, you would expect the Fender styled amps to be good and they are. IK has however, a Fender only program and I think they have only provided basic Fender amp sims here on this A3 so the Fender program is still in demand. But the classy Twin Reverb sound is there, as too the Vibro/Deluxverb thingy and Bassman (tweed). TBH, I couldn't get the Bassman Tweed sound going well, but I was using the DiMarzio humbucker guitar and that thing is so hot as an input, I doubt the real Bassman amps would take too kindly to it either! I will have a better evaluation of this particular sim when I get my Tele working again....I have an L series Tele Bridge pickup that is just pure Class, it should sound magical through a Tweed setup.... For Neil Young Deluxe amp gone mad sounds, the amps do get a little grungy, but I'd hold back on saying that Neil's amp is captured here. But you might just luck it if you get the Fender program and have a more specific amp to work from....

On the A3, the amp head is able to be modded. You can, for example, change up to 100W 6L6 valves or down to 50 W EL34s, in power stage and the amp will respond with that change...... How convincely, I hear you ask? Well let's just say I haven't heard a Fender Twin Reverb cranked up on 50W EL34s, but it does sound 'innaresting'...... :tard: The control layout of the various amps is a replica of each amp so sometimes you ahve the Gain pot, while others have Presence and yes, the Orange amps have those horiible notched tone/filter pots.

I tried a Mesa Boogie amp sim or two, and knowing how the preamp stage of the Mk11 and 111s work, having owned that Preamp for so long, I am amazed at how close the replication is with the way the amp sound changes with a tweak or two of the knobs.......Now, big question....Would it replace the Preamp....Quick answer is maybe........
Explanation being: I have owned that Preamp for so long it is my stable lead tone I go to....but the Preamp has never been unleashed on a power amp and cabinet. So I am so used to the sound the Preamp alone gives. It has a Recording switch to give it better impedance matching capabilities for DI recording purposes, but for me nothing beats a live amp and cabinet. For my own sake I guess I have always been reluctant to save for a rack power amp and get a cabinet to match. Having damaged hearing as it is, I doubt it would be condusive to good hearing in the future - and the neighbours would hate me! Now, however, I can utilise the amp sim with a room and cabinet enhacement so it does provide a more livelier sound than the Preamp, and the actual tone is very close....

Other sims are varied in my impressions, some of the Marshall sims aren't so good but the odd JCM800 isn't too bad and quite workable, the Orange amp sims are quite clsoe to the 70s Oranges and yes they have that harsh UK 70s Glam rock tone to them too.

The sims I am most impresseed with in my first session with this program, has been the 5150 amp sims....

I can't let this evaluation slide without mentioning the Vox amp sims and the use of the room micing mix...... the Vox amp sim are hard to get working good, they are either hi fi crystal clear or a lumpy mess of flub. But tweaking them back a bit you get the basis of a decent rock tone, but you have to tweak it, OK?

The room enhancements are the little bit of magic in this program IMHO. The 5150 take on a HUGE size when they are engaged and then the room mix added. The cabinet sounds like as it should, roaring in the distance!

Choice of microphones for the close micing is a good idea and one I will grow fond of. I am happy they have the EV RE20 sim in there, that mic does add more low end midrange than the SM57 up real close, so for more tinnier type of cabinets like the 1 X8" and 1 X 10" cabs this mic will help promote the lower end a bit. Hint: for the Aussie pub rock Marshall tone, use the RE20 instead of the SM57, on Celestion 25s or 75s, and hear the more bassier tone...

The amp program has a 4 track recorder you can use to import sound files to, or lay down overdubs, and then export out. I havevn't tried this part of the program yet, but it does show promise, SO LONG AS THE EXPORTED FILES ARE IN WAVV OR MP3 format. Looking at the Manual this isn't exactly spelt out & that makes me suspicious, so I will try this feature out at some later stage and see if it does export the files in a common format or whether it remains a proprietary format that only A3 can read..... Would be nice indeed if we could layer up a stack of amps and notebook a track,  and then export that wall of sound to the main recording software...

The Stealth Pedal shows some promise but here are some few things I noticed about it that may give you some reservations.

StealthPedal-img.jpg


1) It is a USB interface and of course, if you use a Firewire card (like I do) or another main USB piece for your usual A/D/D/A applications to and from your computer, you basically have to work a way around the conflict between two sound boxes. In my case, yesterday, I used the Stealth Pedal and bypassed the Firewire and had the audio going straight to the powered monitors. I guess when recording I will prefer to use the Firewire card and Focusrite Preamp, it does appear a better quality than a USB1.1 connection and the Stealth Pedal, and that will mean I will have to go DI into the Focusrite then activate the A3 program. I used the Demo version of this software a month or two back in that fashion so I assume it will work on the full version of the A3.

2) The Stealth Pedal uses a TRS plug into it's output sockets and two fothem with the stereo connection and you can get the balanced line. But just make sure you ahve the appropriate plugs at both ends before you unpackakge the pedal.......in my case it meant a rush up to the shops to luckily find two TRS - XLR cables...

3) The USB connection is supposedly 1.1, I would have preferred USB 2.0...

4) The Pedal's main volume knob is a flimsy plastic knob on the side of the otherwise sturdy metal pedal case. It juts out from the casing.  I can see someone tripping on that knob or accidentally kicking it as they walk past, and it won't last long.

Another big "Oh NO" moment I had was that the software wants you to upload Quick Time.........I hate that damned program and have reluctantly uploaded so this program will work seamlessly, but I am wondering what part of the program the QT is needed for, and if it is possible to get rid of QT and still have a decent A3 program?

My big recommendation to anyone who may have had their interest raised with my babbling about A3, is to upload the full working demo version for a 10 day period and give it a run and see if it suits you.  :icon_thumright:

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/amplitube/download/

 

AutoBat

Senior member
Messages
3,589
I've been running Amplitube 2 for quite some time now and absolutely love it. I have aspirations for a real amp someday, but I'm definately sold on this software.
If I wasn't an unemployed college student I'd be rocking this right now.
I have a mac lappy, so quicktime is already built in.
Customizing amp sounds is my favourite part.  I have 4 main setups that I use regularly.
The external pedal would def be nice. I can see the benefits there.
 
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OzziePete

Guest
AutoBat said:
I've been running Amplitube 2 for quite some time now and absolutely love it. I have aspirations for a real amp someday, but I'm definately sold on this software.
If I wasn't an unemployed college student I'd be rocking this right now.
I have a mac lappy, so quicktime is already built in.
Customizing amp sounds is my favourite part.  I have 4 main setups that I use regularly.
The external pedal would def be nice. I can see the benefits there.

The pedal can be used as a MIDI pedal and dirve either the effects (on - off:stomp boxes) or the assigned volume etc on the amp head if you can get into the programming side of the software. If you already have A2, of course there's upgrade downloads off the IK site if you want something cheaper than buying the whole version..
 

hachikid

Senior member
Messages
474
this program rocks, for sure. I do all my recording with it. everything you've heard on this site from me has been going through amplitube 3. awesome stuff, for sure.
 

AutoBat

Senior member
Messages
3,589
Oh snap! Xmas/Birthday early!  I just got AmpliTube 3 and it's wonderful.

I'm really glad I got used to making modifications on 2, because the option list of things to change is HUGE!!!
...AND it kept all my presets that I made in version 2.  woot^4!!!!!!

(no pedal though, but I don't mind)
 

AndyG

Senior member
Messages
562
A few years ago, I did a bit of a tug-of-war trying to decide between Amplitube and Guitar Rig, and I chose the latter because at the time, it was the only one available with the foot controller.

I will be upgrading to Guitar Rig 4 (hopefully) sometime after xmas.  But I have played with the demo version of Amplitube 3, and it does sound great.  I find that the trick is playing with the mic choice/placement options.

There are those who claim that the sound isn't 100% authentic ... and I will agree.  However, you can get some great sounds out of both pieces of software.

Enjoy!
 

Alfang

Senior member
Messages
2,596
Great write-up Ozzie, now i'm interested

Maybe I missed it, but how does your guitar computer and amp all interface together?
 

tangent

Active member
Messages
93
Guitar Rig 4 is light years beyond Guitar Rig 3 and Amplitube (GR3 was using an outdated engine compared to most of Native Instruments other products, they finally upgraded it in GR4).

Something to keep in mind with these is that the quality of sound you get will be heavily influenced by what audio interface/preamp you are using and what headphones/speakers.  With the right setup it *is* possible to make it sound just as good if not better than the real thing..  thats why Guitar Center never advertises these products and they hide them back in the keyboard section =)



 

kboman

Senior member
Messages
2,378
OzziePete said:
For Neil Young Deluxe amp gone mad sounds, the amps do get a little grungy, but I'd hold back on saying that Neil's amp is captured here.

Neil himself has the same issue, he can only get that sound from one specific Deluxe (and he owns an enormous amount of them according to the Shakey biography). Good to see you're happy with your purchase, I own GR4 myself and am pretty happy with it. Personally I find the real vs simulated discussion a bit irrelevant - if it works it's good, no matter how near or far it is to the "real thing" :icon_thumright:
 
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OzziePete

Guest
kböman said:
OzziePete said:
For Neil Young Deluxe amp gone mad sounds, the amps do get a little grungy, but I'd hold back on saying that Neil's amp is captured here.

Neil himself has the same issue, he can only get that sound from one specific Deluxe (and he owns an enormous amount of them according to the Shakey biography). Good to see you're happy with your purchase, I own GR4 myself and am pretty happy with it. Personally I find the real vs simulated discussion a bit irrelevant - if it works it's good, no matter how near or far it is to the "real thing" :icon_thumright:

I have heard Young's amp from about 50 feet away and I gotta say it's a freaking monster! But I had a similar sound going when I was starting out, thrashing the bejesus out of an old Vibroverb copy amp that my brother-in-law gave me to get started playing guitar. Poor amp blew up after a while. The A3 is not too bad as far as amp sims go, but it is quite a fiddly bit of software at times, and I haven't yet had a chance to spend a day recording it through my system to see what the end result is like. Just playing through the software is impressive tho, the lag is very minimal, the sound doesn't appear to sound processed. It has potential to be quite a decent piece of software though.... I have Ableton Live and this A3 can be attached as a VST plug in.....But I am not sure if I can pre record the tracks onto the mini recorder on A3 then attach that effort as a VST to the LIve sequencer or have to export the completed A3 tracks into Live as an audio export. Either way though that does give me the link from analog guitar into the digital domain..

My system is reasonably capable, I have a decent Intel processor, two large hard drives, Mackie monitors, Focusrite Saffire Pro40 Firewire Pre amp. The only issue I see ahead is using USB for the pedal and having to trasfer the recording into the PC via Firewire. It may be simpler not using the pedal and only the software attached to the Ableton LIve as a VST plug in.. The Ableton LIve can be controlled via DAW monitoring software on the Focusrite too.

You might note also that I have stumped up for an EVIL*ROBOT amp combo as well, http://www.unofficialwarmoth.com/index.php?topic=14328.0which may be with me around Christmas - New Year, as I feel I still need an amp just to play through. I am using a decent amount of wattage powering up the PC, and it would be easier, more straightforward and less power using, powering up an 18W combo amp just to play guitar. But if that combo is a screamer, it's going into a wardrobe! I will  also get a decent mic to mic this combo so I can mix and match recorded combo amp, and the amp sim software. I also have a Mesa Studio Preamp that I have had for ages, so as you can see, I will have a decent arsenal of amp sounds to choose from once this is all up and running.....

Bar the delivery of the EVIL*ROBOT I am done with the amp side of my gear, now I am concentrating on getting my axes up to scratch..
 
O

OzziePete

Guest
Alfang said:
Great write-up Ozzie, now i'm interested

Maybe I missed it, but how does your guitar computer and amp all interface together?

Sorry Alfang I missed your post til now....apologies.

My set up is Windows 7 32 bit OS, Intel i5 CPU...
2 x Benq Monitors (G2420HD), DVD Rom etc.

Firewire interface for audio, Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 Preamp AD/DA interface. Plus aheap of USB ports.

Amplitube 3 Stealth Pedal utilizes USB for MIDI, but I rout the audio thru the Focusrite & into Firewire.

DAW software: Ableton Live Lite (to be upgraded) and Propellerheads Record with Reason.

The Record and Reason programs I am not sure how to hookup with the Focusrite but the Live can be synced up via Saffire Control software and run as a DAW thru the Preamp and into Firewire. The Focusrite also has some master effects to patch in and I am yet to get to use the power of the Saffire Control software but it holds promise of considerable flexibility. Ableton Live has a VST capability and I can attach the Amplitube 3 to that DAW. The A3 of course, has that 4 track recorder program so I can bank a wall of amp sim and then export it to Live, then go onto a more complex drum track or introduce the Reason.

I now also can mic up the Evil Robot amp or DI my Mesa Stduio Preamp and run those into either Live or Record too, via the Focusrite Preamp....  :icon_thumright:
 
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