Amplitube Fender Collection 2 Review

March 2, 2017

fendercollection2_main_image_20161121IK Multimedia has a long history in amp modeling. They were pioneers in working with amp makers to offer products that carry the official brand of the amp they’re modeling and the manufacturer’s approval. They had already done products with THD Electronics and Ampeg, but I remember how big of a deal it was at the time back in 2008 that Fender was on board for then-upcoming Amplitube Fender. When it came out in 2009, it sounded great. It was a big step forward in quality and realism for IKMM, and was my go-to for demos for years thanks to how well the models worked with pedals and other gear.

The pinnacle of tone is a moving target. Time marches on. Technology improves. There have been a number of modeling advancements in IK Multimedia’s Amplitube software since 2009, and after buying the MESA/Boogie pack last year and experiencing many of the improvements brought by IK Multimedia’s time and effort, I was excited when I read about a new collaboration between Fender and IK. This time, the two companies have focused their efforts away from effects and other accoutrements and toward bringing out a killer collection of amps and matching cabinets, modeled as accurately as possible using their most recent technological advancements. Has IK Multimedia pushed the envelope even further for 2017 with Amplitube Fender Collection 2? Read on! Read the rest of this entry »


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.

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Champion 600 Model & Cab

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’57 Champ RI Model

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’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:

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Very slick! Twin looking great too:

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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!


Amplitube 4 & Amplitube Orange Power Duo demo

June 16, 2016

Had some personal stuff come up last week, but I kept at it and put a demo clip together this week with some patches to share.

With regard to AT4, well, it’s amazing at what it adds – I really like the new Marshall models. This could easily have been an Amplitube: Marshall pack in terms of quality of the emulations, but I guess you can’t have the logo without the license! Still going to need to use Amplitube: Slash if you want a model with “Marshall” right on the front. For this track I used Amplitube 4’s model of the JMP-1, an emulation of Marshall’s classic high-gain preamp. The real deal gets its clipping from a combination of tubes and diodes as I recall – it has tons of crunch on tap but should still be pretty smooth. The emulation does not disappoint.

One of the available deals is Amplitube 4 + Amplitube Orange, definitely a tempting choice for anyone without them as the Orange pack is by far one of the fullest-featured. It has amps, bass amps, cabs galore, and it all sounds great. The amp sims are really something else here, and were some of the most impressive things I’d played at the time. I really get along with Orange’s take on higher gain, too, just has a great tonal balance for my tastes. All of the guitar amp models included in the package have got some use from me and I definitely recommend checking this out (free to try in the CS, so no good reason not to).

Orange Thunderverb heavy rhythm patch
https://www.dropbox.com/s/9a6os0vsvtoo1qz/Orange%20Thunderverb%20Heavy%20Tight.at4p?dl=0

Amplitube 4 model of Marshall JMP-1 solo patch
https://www.dropbox.com/s/opf6ohg7w8vym4h/%2780s%20JMP%20Lead%20Solo.at4p?dl=0

And while it’s not as long as I had wanted to render out maybe you’ll enjoy the drum track to jam with – going to start doing the drum tracks differently soon, I think, to include a longer jam track for folks visiting the blog.


Amplitube MESA/Boogie Mark III and Mark IV Demo (w/ patches, drums download)

June 4, 2016

With the ongoing IKMM Power DUO promotion, you can get Amplitube 4 and a package of your choice for a price I personally was willing to pay. I used that to get the latest shell with its complement of Mxrshall amp models and superior effects routing and cab miking (in my opinion, anyway, I think this is the best cab sim they’ve put out), and nab the Amplitube: MESA/Boogie pack.

I’ve always loved the Mark series of amplifiers, from the Mk IIC+ onward, and the fidelity of IKMM’s current generation modeling technology is really something. It’s hard to convey in a clip but the “feel” of these is great, and they’re some of the deeper models as far as exposing all of the controls you’d get on the real deal, front and back. Now a new generation of digital players can appreciate how much better simulclass usually sounds than Class A in Boogies! 😉

This is a demo for the AT:MESA/Boogie MkIV and MkIII models (mk IV rhythm, MkIII lead). T-Racks 3 was used on the master bus, Voxengo Deft Compressor was used on drums and Voxengo GlissEQ was used on rhythm guitar. I could have used Amplitube’s parametric EQ, but I just wanted a slightly more subtle cut than Amplitube’s rack parametric EQ was giving me, along with a smooth lowpass which I feel GlissEQ does really well. In a pinch I could have made do with Amplitube’s option, but I feel like most folks using the software will also have their preferred options for those little nudges.

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Mark IV Rhythm patch

Mark III Lead patch
And here’s the drum track for it if anyone wants a free drum jam track. Toontrack makes some easy to use drum software, very happy with the value prospect of EZdrummer 2 so far. Need more sound fonts though. Err, kits. Next time, I’ll probably render it out with more of a middle, as this one is quite short, but hey – I’ve used weirder stuff to practice and this beats a DAW test tone click!

Image

I may yet do a Recto demo clip. Comes with two of ’em and they both sound huge. But I’m thinking Marshall amp sims from AT4 next.


IKMM extend their Power Tube DUO promotion a month, offer new iRig AT4 Deluxe bundle

June 2, 2016

Looks like IK are extending the time that users have to get one of the better promotional deals they’ve offered in a while. If you don’t have Amplitube 4, and are also looking to pick up one of the excellent amp packs from the Custom Shop, these upgrade bundles can save you quite a bit. I know it’s all part of their model these days, sales upon sales, but this was legitimately a pretty good deal for me versus buying even in past sales. I picked up AT4 and the MESA pack, one clip of which I’ve put out so far (I’ve had some recording hardware issues, fixed now thankfully).

I’m getting ready to remedy the not-enough-clips problem, and in the spirit of the DUO promotion, I’m going to demo one of their new AT4 Marshall models, and something from one of the packs as well. I’ve got a great deal of personal use out of some of them (especially the Orange pack, which has been a go-to for me since it launched, and the old Metal and Jimi Hendrix packs – not every model in them holds up now, unfortunately, but AT: Metal still has a sick 5150 and a Randall Warhead model as well as some great OD pedals, and AT: Jimi Hendrix has some more recently modeled gear that’s of pretty much current-gen quality and a host of useful classic fuzz pedals. They’ve done right to price them cheaper than the newer packs, though, there’s a huge quality difference between the old and new in some other cases. Hard to go wrong with the packs on offer, honestly.

I’ll publish the patches too, and while I’m at it I’ll publish the drum track I jam to as well. EZdrummer 2 makes knocking them out a total breeze, and I’d love to have something fun and useful to offer y’all for reading my blog.

Going to be recording tomorrow morning, aiming to do a Marshall and a Mesa demo to kick things off since I know that’s going to be a popular pack! Maybe I’ll add some comparisons to the older models as well, just to see what’s changed in the sound – I’ve got the whole kit, might as well put those old ones to use for something.

Random trivia: anyone else remember the old “Amplitube Duo” software package? Was basically the precursor to the modern Amplitube Custom Shop, back in the day. IKMM likes the word Duo, is all I’m saying.

Now they’re offering a copy of AT4 Deluxe (which is basically AT4 + some gear from AT:Custom Shop to expand your options) to anyone who buys one of their iRig units, up to and including the iRig Pro Duo. That’d be a pretty solid start if you want to go the IKMM route and need a no-fuss audio interface that works well. I’d buy IKMM hardware again, as I have had a StompIO since 2008 and two StealthPedals from their launch ’til now and all three work. Cannot say the same for some other hardware I had in that time period (rest in peace, Rig Kontrol 3). Just saying.