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 »

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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!


New promotion from IK – Amplitube family group buy!

September 3, 2009

On the heels of their unimaginably successful and awesome T-Racks 3 Singles group buy promotion, where everybody cool got like 6 plugins for the price of one, they’ve decided to continue the magnanimity by offering a group-buy for Amplitube products. This one runs from now until the 31st of October; it starts with a buy-one-get-one-free promotion, and if 2000 users hop on board, it becomes buy-one-get-TWO-free.

Here’s a link to the promotion page!

As you guys know I make a lot of my demo clips for various pedals, etc. using Amplitube’s family of products. X-Gear is sort of my go-to plugin in the studio for recording hardware demos for two reasons:

1. Because it models the THD Bivalve and my favorite real amp in my collection is the THD Univalve, I have a patch that sounds pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing so I can take the settings on pedals that I love into my physical setup and it translates really well to the virtual setup, and…

2. … because Amplitube Fender gives me access to what are unarguably the highest quality Fender models in any software currently available and nearly every guitarist knows what a Fender sounds like so it makes it easy to make a demo that people will “get.” I like doing high-gain pedal demos into Amplitube Fender’s Twin Reissue, because if a high-gain pedal can make a Fender Twin sound brutal, it does its job well.

So I can vouch for their quality, and of course you’ve probably heard the clips on the site. There are dozens, at this point… Every pedal demo I’ve recorded counts, too. These group buys tend to really take off; the T-Racks 3 Singles one hit over 5,000 users, which is really just unprecedented. This can be a good opportunity to get a whole bunch of software for a remarkable price.

Alright, off I go to try to use IKMM’s web site’s “share” function to try to post the promotion press release to the blog, if my blog explodes it’s been absolutely wonderful knowing you all! 😀

Edit: It turns out the “Share” thing just makes a link, which isn’t very exciting and I could totally do that on my own.


Wampler Triple Recstortion and Amplitube X-Gear

July 29, 2009

This is one of my go-to patches for demoing gear, using components from Amplitube 2 and Amplitube Fender. Since it’s in the spirit of the series of posts I figured I’d remark a bit on it here. I’m using Amplitube 2’s Deluxe Memory Man model, and Amplitube Fender’s Twin RI and its matching cabinet, though I’ve adjusted the cabinet sim portion to run in parallel with two different microphones to capture the sound more “fully.” Not a big deal for cleans, but for distortion very important, especially for higher gain distortion; the sound at one mic position is very low-bandwidth otherwise, and usually too focused for my tastes. I’ll post the patch up tomorrow if anyone’s interested. I first made it for demoing the Marshall-in-a-Box pedals, and I figure why fix what isn’t broken! The premise is the same: if a pedal can make a Fender sound like a Marshall, it’s doing something cool. Here, if a pedal can make a Fender sound like a Mesa, it’s doing something cool.

This is a picture of the prototype. I’ll post a picture of my actual unit tomorrow; my wife and I couldn’t find our camera, it’s out in the car but it’s too dark to see so I’ll get it in the morning. The layout is identical but the color is not.

Wampler Triple Recstortion

I happened to get one in for an upcoming FrugalGuitarist feature I’ve got planned, a Mesa-in-a-Box roundup. This limited edition of 100 actually already sold out in the few days that it’s been available, but Brian replaced the order dialog on the web site with a comment box and the following statement:

quote:

No longer Available
Unfortunately, we have reached the limit of the temporary offer. If there is enough interest I may choose to make it part of the permanent pedal line.
Let us know your thoughts!

So if you like these clips, I suggest you go tell them that you would buy one if it were still available. I am definitely glad that I have mine, it’s got a great sound. I’ll be giving it a full review for Frugal in the coming weeks, but if you have any questions about it let me know and I’ll answer them as best I can.

Anyway, clips:

Signal path:

Schecter C-1 Classic -> Wampler Triple Recstortion -> EHX Deluxe Memory Man -> Fender Twin

Two clips. First a setting that was to my tastes and some tasteless wanking. The settings for this clip were Level to unity (by the way, there’s plenty of volume on this pedal, you won’t have trouble adjusting the output), Gain at 3 o’clock, Treble at slightly before noon, Midrange between 10 and 11 o’clock, Low Contour at 2 o’clock, “Modern” mode.

Second, adjusting the pedal through a bunch of different settings on the fly, including different EQ adjustments. I start on the Vint. mode and switch it to the Modern mode later in the clip. At the start the Gain is at its lowest setting.


Hardware into Software, 1: Zoom Tri-Metal pedal into Fender Bassman models

July 25, 2009

Had no time today to revisit the clips, but I did listen to them on my monitors at home; they are somewhat brighter than I had intended but not extremely so. There really are big differences between how the different models and their speaker emulations sound in the different software! The funny thing is that it’s hard to tell before clicking on the Tri-Metal how it’s going to sound into this or that Bassman model. Frankly they all sounded lovely clean, but in different ways; with a high-gain, Recto-ish distortion up front it sure changed a lot, huh? For those interested, my settings on the Tri-Metal were: Treble -4, Midrange boosted in the upper mids, Bass -5, Gain slightly before noon. Yeah, there’s wayyy too much of everything available on the Tri-Metal, it is the definition of over the top, so your best bet with it is to cut rather than boost. It’s got brutal distortion at 1/3 on the gain knob; it’s not playing around!

Still no comments, that makes me sad. Please speak up folks, I crave your participation 😀

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, the long wait is over! This update is my substantial return to this blog, and with it I pledge to provide more interesting content and commentary to suit my readers. I ask that you please help me out by commenting on entries and letting me know what you do and don’t like about my updates, what you think I’m doing well, what I could do better, and any ideas or requests you have for future updates. I’ve got some stuff on the list of things to do, starting with the addition of a new table of contents page to keep track of all of my articles on the blog more sensibly than they are now with the wordpress widgets.

For this update, my signal chain was my Schecter C-1 Classic (my go-to guitar for most of my gear reviewing because of its familiar pickups and sound) into my beloved Zoom TM-01 Tri-Metal distortion pedal, then into an IK Multimedia StealthPedal and on to my DAW. I used the venerable Fender Bassman because nearly all of the software I use has a Bassman model, and it’s a sound that I think everyone has had at least some experience with. There are a number of different revisions of the Bassman amp, and they can differ quite notably in their overall gain, ease of overdriving, and basic tonality; since different software plugins emulate different versions of the amp, don’t be surprised to hear some stand-out differences in the tone. I used only the cabinet simulation native to each software, so what you’re hearing in each case is just what it can do alone. That’s the norm for my work but I want to remind you and let newer readers know that’s the case!

As usual I spent a lot of time tuning each of the plugins to sound its best individually, giving my ears time to rest between tweaking each. I have a great deal of respect for all of the modeling programs that I use, and I think it’s important to try to make them shine on their own, as though each was the only software that I had to work with. Hopefully by doing that I can give you guys something useful even though you might not have access to such a range of programs. My goal in this roundup, and in the ones I will do in the coming days, is to explore how these modelers interact and function with hardware. While probably most guitarists aren’t collectors like me, we do tend to be gear lovers, and one of the important aspects when considering a digital setup is how well it can integrate into our current approach to the guitar. A guitarist making forays into the digital world expects a learning curve, but hopefully the things that have been useful and fun creative tools before getting into amp modeling can retain their utility even when the amp part of the equation is bits and bytes.

As usual the best judge of sound is your ears, so I invite you to listen to the clips and post your thoughts before I post mine tomorrow evening. I play three different sorts of things in the clips, with different emphases on playing style and dynamics; you will probably notice that each of them causes the software to react in a different way, and some of those differences are really interesting. On to the clips!

Amplitube 2

Amplitube Fender

Amplitube Jimi Hendrix

Guitar Rig 3

Pod Farm

ReValver MkIII

Overloud TH1

I hope that this update gives you all something fun and useful to chew on. After this, I won’t be able to use the same model across all of the programs, so the comparisons will have more variables; giving you this one first gives you a baseline for comparison that should keep the rest informative despite the differences I can’t control for in using different amp models! Please post your thoughts and comments, I want to hear what you think before I tell you what I think!