IK Multimedia, a company well known among readers of my product reviews, has continued to release new all-encompassing products that serve the musician and audio engineer markets. Having already enjoyed great success with their original release of AmpliTube (and plenty of praise from reviewers like me), IK Multimedia has been hard at work expanding the features of AmpliTube. They have also made a hardware add-on called the iRig Stomp that represents the physical manifestation of the virtual on-screen stomp box representations in AmpliTube. How well do these two products work together? Read on to find out.
AmpliTube offers an expansive collection of multi-effect processing for guitar and bass, as well as offering multi-track recording and playback functionality. Anyone familiar with the physical world corollary knows that if you were to assemble everything that AmpliTube simulates in actual hardware effects boxes and desktop recording software, the costs would be in the hundreds of dollars. And yet, even with decking out AmpliTube with the initial purchase plus all the in-app purchase add-ins (which include the effects found in AmpliTube Fender and AmpliTube Slash) would still cost under a hundred dollars for one of the most comprehensive guitar effects collections available on the iPad today.
Assembling the on-screen stompboxs, amps, miss and cabling is as easy as touching and dragging the graphic representations of the real-world counterparts. What I find most impressive is that even a first generation iPad can keep pace with processing all these effects in real-time. This makes AmpliTube a terrific replacement for what used to be an unwieldily expensive collection of hardware stapled to a pedalboard. And with the addition of iRig Stomp, you don't even have to say goodbye to the ever helpful foot switch. AmpliTube 'just works' with iRig Stomp, making it a killer combination.
What sets AmpliTube apart from other guitar effects and audio processing apps for the iPad is its rich set of add-ons available for selective in-app purchasing. As mentioned previously, both the AmpliTube Fender and AmpliTube Slash effects can be purchased. Forward-looking musicians will be best served by purchasing AmpliTube for iPad, and then deciding which effects they prefer versus buying the stand-alone Fender and Slash apps.
In addition to minimizing the amount of application functionality duplication from the purchase of two separate apps that do much of the same thing, the AmpliTube in-app purchase approach allows you to mix Marshall amps with Fender stompbox effects and vice versa. Another AmpliTube in-app purchase incorporates a several vocal effects available in another popular IK Multimedia iOS app, VocaLive. Combining all of these abilities under a single umbrella app makes a lot of sense, especially when dealing with the limited multi-tasking capabilities of iOS (of course, the built-in mixer/recorder with its tap tempo, visual metronome and loop points is more than adequate for recording licks and even entire songs). Not only is everything in one unified, easy-to-use interface, but you also don't have to bounce from app to app tweaking settings while hoping not to run out of system resources.
Other improvements made to the 2.5 update include MIDI and digital audio in/out support (hooray!), the ability to export and upload recorded works to FTP or the rapidly growing SoundCloud service, and thankfully for users of the new iPad, graphics are presented in crisp retina display quality imagery.
I was very impressed with AmpliTube Fender for iPad when it was released a little more than a year ago, and this latest AmpliTube for iPad takes everything great about that earlier release and makes it better user, resourcing and purchasing experience. Guitarists and bassists will absolutely rock out with AmpliTube 2.5 for iPad.
Rating: 5/5 stars
While AmpliTube performs a stellar job for dialing in 'that sound', doing so during a live performance could bring the sonic energy generated to a standstill. And forget about adding new effects in real-time while rocking out on that killer solo (unless you're intending to perform a series of hammer-ons with one hand while manipulating Amplitube settings with the other).
Fortunately, the musicians and design engineers at IK Multimedia have just the fix. iRig Stomp plugs into your iOS's headphone jack to act as a real-world toggle for a virtual AmpliTube stompbox configuration. An additional standard jack input for the guitar or bass and stereo outputs for headphones (to keep the neighbors happy) and speakers complete the musical circuit. Need more volume? Dial up the single gain knob on the unit, something you can do fairly easily with the side of your shoe. This gain requires power, either from an electrified pedalboard or, more conveniently, a 9 volt battery. This power is also used to illuminate the single red LED to tell you when the stompbox is enabled or not.
iRig Stomp is also portable. It is roughly the size of a deck of cards (and twice as thick), but solidly constructed so that it can withstand a hefty foot pounding. And because it uses standard jacks, it can be used with AmpliTube running on an iPad, iPhone or even an iPod Touch.
While the iRig Stomp does a respectable job of toggling AmpliTube virtual stompboxes and presets, I would love to see IK combine the iRig Stomp with a foot pedal to make it an even more versatile hardware accessory. Of course, this would require IK to make some tweaks to the AmpliTube interface to virtualize support for such gear. While a spare foot pedal can manipulate AmpliTube via a MIDI controller (see my earlier review of iRig MIDI
), it's not as elegant as it could be. That said, the iRig Stomp is a natural fit for AmpliTube fans, especially those who perform live.
Another feature I would like to see added to the AmpliTube/iRig Stomp combination is the ability to trigger different audio preset configurations based on the number of toggles in a defined duration of time. For example, I could have two preset stompbox configurations stored in AmpliTube, one for a standard iRig Stomp toggle and the other for a double-tap. That would take a little more effort on IK Multimedia's part, but it would allow a lot more flexibility, especially during songs with expressive guitar solos!
Overall, iRig Stomp is a natural and, especially for live performances, essential accessory that any discerning AmpliTube fan will benefit from. The size and price are right, as are the hands-free freedom that the iRig Stomp has to offer.
Rating: 4/5 stars