Amplitube 4 Fender Champs comparison

February 16, 2017

IK Multimedia (hereafter IKMM) has a history with Fender that at this point has produced a plethora of digital models of classic and modern Fender gear. When I first got the chance to try Amplitube Fender (2009) (shout out to my former editor Will Chen at FrugalGuitarist!) something that really knocked me out was how accurate I felt its Champ 600 model was – I happened to have a Champ 600 as a practice amp at the time, and it was really close in sound and feel! But anyone who has played it knows it isn’t exactly the same as the classic Fender Champ sound. It’s enjoyable, responsive and barks when you crank it, but it’s not the classic sweet, worn-in sound.

Fender did reissue the ’57 Champ once and IK Multimedia modeled it through their officially certified model process – it represents a point somewhere between the Champ 600 and the Custom ’57 Champ in terms of modeling sophistication, having come out in the Amplitube 3.5 era. You can get it now from the Custom Shop or in the Amplitube Max bundle, as well as its matching 1×8 cabinet.

To get an idea of how things have progressed since 2009, I figured y’all might enjoy some comparison clips. I recorded one DI track and ran it through each Champ model in Amplitube, with the volume cranked. No post-effects were used. I used the same mic models and the same mic model positioning on each, with each Champ’s matching cabinet model. Of course the Amplitube 4 cab sim is considerably more flexible now than it was in the Amplitube 2/ X-Gear product era, so it is possible that a different tone could come from the all-original setup, but I’m not going to track down my old installation files to cook up a throwback installation just to see. Hands down, the new method of cab sim and user interface for it are big improvements.

Below are the clips – you’ll definitely hear differences in the models! I think IKMM’s technological evolution is pretty well on display.

champ-600
Champion 600 Model & Cab

reissue-57-champ
’57 Champ RI Model

57-custom-champ
’57 Custom Champ Model – Input 1

My Thoughts

The Champ 600 sounds just like I remembered it sounding – which is still pretty much how the real Champ 600 sounds too. Great model quality for the time period – I felt then and still do that Amplitube Fender in 2009 pushed IKMM to a new level of quality. However – and this shouldn’t really come across in the clip, coming from one DI track – the feel is less responsive to your playing dynamics than the ’57 Custom Champ especially. Years of technological advances will do that to a model of the past… But if you like the sharper, barky drive tone of the Champion 600, this model still does the job really well.

I never had a chance to really dig into the ’57 Champ RI model prior to this comparison. Getting to know it has been fun – it has a lot of character, and the matching 8″ cab is well done and sounds good with other amp models within Amplitube 4. Very responsive, with a smoother drive character than the Champion 600 but more grit than the ’57 Custom. They put this model out around the same time as the ’65 Princeton Reverb model, which is also great – I think IKMM represents Fender very well here.

Now to center stage! The ’57 Custom Champ is easily the smoothest, with a really classic driven tone that sends my mind back to some of the artists who famously loved Champs to record with. It’s sweet, it’s darker, no peaky character to the highs at all, with rich lows that roll gently into distortion as you play harder. You can really hear the notes sort of fuzzing out at the edges but it never shrieks at you. It doesn’t push as high gain as the other two, but its sonic character is sweeter overall and it feels just fantastic to play. Rich harmonics, never piercing highs – yet you can still make out the pick attack for single notes and how it glides across the strings in chords. Nice.


Amplitube Fender Collection 2 “’65 Super Reverb” demo w/ my old strat!

February 10, 2017

Got it installed, taking it through the paces! The dynamic range of these models is really impressive. Reminds me that players in the ’60s weren’t exactly having to go to extremes to get any kind of dirt, just certain kinds. These models, like their Tweed namesakes, can boogie! (uh, no infringement intended, MESA/Boogie is its own pack, worth getting if you ask me – I digress)

I’m really taken with the sound of this model. It feels great to play, excellent range of gain on the amp, sounds great with pedals or good pedal emulations. I had to get my old Mexican-made Fender Stratocaster that I bought back in 2005 out, because the whole pack sounds lovely with single-coil style pickups. I use a Lace Blue in the neck, Lace Red in the middle, and a JB Jr. mini-humbucker in the bridge. Always was a fan of superstrat tone, but I love the bite the Strat bridge pickup arrangement gives – the JB Jr. is ceramic while the full-size is alnico, and it’s actually a little hotter than the full humbucker in the bargain.

I have to give some props to IK’s graphic design team – they’ve had great looking GUIs for a while, but this is top notch work all around:

65-super-reverb
And here’s the demo clip. I used the ’65 Reverb model’s built-in reverb on both guitar tracks, and its built-in tremolo on the lead track. No external effects on the guitar tracks, just Amplitube 4 into my DAW’s mixer – did use some light compression from T-Racks “Opto Comp” model when mixing in the drums. Sound to my computer courtesy of an IK Multimedia StompIO, still goin’ strong in 2017 and working at exactly one samplerate! But it sounds the best 🙂

Edit: Had a rendering error, fixed it 🙂

And here’s the drum track if you want to record a short jam:

I had a ton of fun recording this clip, I can’t overstate how responsive and just pretty sounding this model is. Easy to mic using the AT4 upgraded cabinet room interface. Fun to play, not too finicky, great depth in patch creation if you spend the time to learn the software. Most aspects of Amplitube are intuitive if you’ve recorded guitar using real gear before. Mic adjustments are very much like you’d get moving the real deal in front of the amp, and no cable snakes to trip over! I like it!

Comment if there’s a specific amp you’d like to hear next. Stay tuned for more Amplitube content, Fender Collection 2 clips, and more.


Amplitube Fender Collection 2!

February 6, 2017

Oh, this is cool! I remember having the opportunity back in the day to try Amplitube Fender before nearly anyone else had outside of the company. I was blown away at the time – it was a really good product, and in my mind started IKMM down their best avenues in terms of their modeling and how much realism and utility they could achieve in their software.

Now they’re bringing out a new generation of Fender amps for 2017 in the Amplitube Fender Collection 2. http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/fender2/

I let my ears make their own judgments, but I tells ya, my aesthetic preferences are 100% down with this kinda thing. Check out the GUI for the ’53 Bassman model:

fender2_amp_53_bassman_w

Very slick! Twin looking great too:

345_fender2_amp_57_custom_twin

Of course I’m with yall in being most concerned about the tone – but who doesn’t like something easy on the eyes?

Amplitube Fender began the era of IKMM models reaching that next level. They’ve introduced a new modeling technology called “Dynamic Interaction Modeling,” which seems to be aimed at capturing the interactions between electrical components in the circuit as a whole to replicate genuine behavior as accurately as possible. I have not yet tried it but reading others’ impressions so far this just may be something special.

Hoping to get to demo this for the blog soon!