Amplitube was then eclipsed by
Native Instrument's powerful
Guitar Rig, which incorporated a pedal so that guitarists could take their virtual show on the road. Before IK could respond, Native quickly
updated Guitar Rig to version 2.0 with new enhancements and an even more sophisticated foot controller. With Native's lead, coupled with Amplitube 2's
extremely long development time, many thought that IK wouldn't be able to make up the distance between the two products. However, IK has come roaring
back with a brilliant sounding plug-in for only $399.
Amplitube 2's photorealistic graphics are breathtaking
Let's just get this out of the way immediately. The sound quality of Amplitube 2
is simply amazing. IK completely revamped the sound engine of Amplitube 2 with a new technology dubbed Dynamic Saturation Modeling
(DSM) which mimics each component's circuit boards, tubes, cabinets, stomp boxes and other attributes to obtain the most accurate emulations to date.
The improvement in aural quality is staggering when compared to the first incarnation of Amplitube, and opens the doors even wider for electronic
musicians to create tantalizing sonic landscapes.
The time between the first announcement of Amplitube 2 and the actual delivery
date was substantial. Many were wondering if the long-awaited product would ever debut. But IK Multimedia knew they would have to impress and no
detail was compromised. Amplitube 2's interface is just gorgeous. Subtle details on the photorealistic graphics, such as the output meter's
reflective highlights and the chromed protective metal hinges are a delight to behold. The window is also a very manageable size. Not too big
and not too small. Kudos to IK's GUI (Graphical User Interface) designer. IK also expanded upon the original's three main sections (Stomp, Amp,
Rack), and it now includes a separate cabinet arena with more elaborate microphone placement and room controls, as well as a Tuner section.
Installing Amplitube 2 is a very cumbersome process thanks to their copy protection scheme.
In fact, IK's security measures should be implemented by TSA and
Border Control since there are several checkpoints along the way which can lead to problems
getting the plug-in up and running. Dongle's, digital ID's and authorizations codes, oh my!
This is especially problematic on the Mac where
the authorization code on our dual processor G5 crapped out several times. The frustration and interruption of the creative process is not worth the
hassle for musicians who purchase a $400 program. IK should seriously consider revamping their security measures to make this process seamless.
Amplitube 2's pedal board
Amplitube 2 contains seven power amps, sixteen speaker cabinets, six microphones,
twenty-one stomp boxes, fourteen preamps and eleven rack effects, all cleverly housed in a tightly integrated interface. A brand new pedal board
with the original Amplitube's stomp effects plus several new models, including several sought-after vintage boxes, are a welcome revamp. The stomp
boxes cover almost all sonic possibilities of the effects spectrum and include distortion, EQ, compression, modulation, delay, pitch, filter, advanced
dynamics and more. Licensing deals with Electro-Harmonix, Arbiter and other quality manufacturers, make this feature
worth the price of admission alone.
Amplitube 2's rack effects, located at the end of the signal chain, can be stacked four
Amplitube 2's rack effects are also excellent. Creamy reverbs, gritty distortion and
delicious delays showcase IK's powerful DSM algorithms. The rack effects, which are placed at the very end of the DSM signal chain, can be stacked four
deep. This may be overload considering the amount of analog modeling going on prior to getting to this stage, but huge sounds like "80s Ballad" make
you see why this was necessary and beneficial.
Amplitube 2's secret mojo comes in the form of its routing matrix. This extremely
powerful and flexible scheme allows you to route your effects in Parallel or Serial in two different independent configurations. The dual rigs can be
configured to play independently, or simultaneously enabling you to ignite as many as twelve stompboxes and eight rack modules at once. With the insane amount
of quality boxes, amps, preamps, cabinets, mics and effects, its easy to overdue it. Luckily, the presets that IK commissioned for Amplitube 2 make
discovering what works a real treat. The presets are some of the best to come out of the IK camp and include brainstorms from several quality engineers.
With thousands upon thousands of possible combinations, you can experiment for hours.
Amplitube 2 features several mic simulations
Amplitube 2's DSM technology is worth mentioning again. The detail, nuances and ambient
quality of the models were some of the best we've ever heard. Sudden barking filter attacks, dynamic abnormalities and "it's alive!" modulations,
not only sounded true-to-life, but also visceral. This unique essence is the soul of Amplitube 2. In short order, you will find that this translates
into something special in your music.
The more I use Amplitube 2, the more I find I like about the program. Not only am I truly
blown away over and over again by the program's phenomenal sound quality, but I'm finding the plug-in to be just plain fun. The design choice that IK
made in regards to Amplitube's signal flow makes it extremely satisfying to create your own sounds. If only IK would come out with a dedicated pedal
controller to take advantage of Amplitube 2's power...
The StompIO floor processor for Amplitube 2 will be available in January 2007
is January 2007. No pricing has been released. --Ed.)
Well, we're in luck. IK has announced the StompIO
USB "floor processor" -- a pedal controller on steroids, that was designed from the ground up to take full advantage of Amplitube 2's sonic power. Ten
foot switches, seven knobs, two large displays, MIDI In/Out, Direct In, USB , SPDIF, balanced/unbalanced Stereo Out, and up to six configurable external
controllers, housed in a high-quality metal case allows the user to easily navigate and harness all of AmpliTube 2's sounds. Let's just hope the time
between the announcement of StompIO and the delivery is much quicker than the time it took Amplitube 2 to get to market. However, considering Amplitube 2's
stunning quality, we'll give IK all the time they need.
IK Multimedia's Amplitube 2 is available for $399 from retailers worldwide. More
information on Amplitube 2.
The Future: As good as Amplitube is, we'd like to see a couple of improvements in
the next version. First off, IK must do something about the current copy protection. We understand you love your product, we do too, but making a user climb
Mount Everest to install the puppy is just asking too much. Preset navigation could also use a revamp. Having to open an external file is one step forward, two
steps back, and needs to be a much quicker process.
As a guitarist and an electronic musician, I'd love to be able to custom build some of my own amps. Entering the Amplitube Lab, it would be awesome
to choose my own cabinet, tubes, speakers, etc. to build the amp of my dreams, and then share the creations online for bragging rights...
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