As mentioned in my first Amplitube 3 review - Ik Multimedia is one of the world's leading companies in guitar amp simulation. Quite recently they released the interface for iPhone (3G, 3GS, iPhone 4), iPad and iPod touch (Generation 2-3), the iRig. iRig gives you the chance to have fully featured guitar tool in your pocket. By downloading one of the Amplitube versions (Free, LE, Full) from the app store you get to have a guitar tuner, metronome, amps, stompboxes, cabinets, microphones, a track recorder and a mastering plugin in your pocket for just a few Bucks.
Amplitube iRig is a small mobile recording guitar studio. If you are using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, it’s the easiest way to plug in your guitar and rock. There are a few let downs though, which I'll mention later and we hope that there are going to be some updates coming soon from Ik Multimedia in order to improve these few issues.
iRig in the box
The iRig is an audio interface that weights less than your iPhone or iPod touch and is as long as a pack of cigarettes. It has a Jack input for your instrument (1/4" unbalanced) and on the other side it has a mini-jack output (1/2" stereo) where you can plug speakers or headphones into your Hi-Fi or even on a desk stereo track. At the end of the cylinder you have a 3-4" chord that connects to your device.
The interface is user friendly, very easy to operate and comprehensive. On the top you have the logo bar with the help (?) sign and the iRig promo snapshot. Underneath you have the menu bar which consists of Tools, FX1, FX2, FX3, Amplifier, 4-track Recorder, Mastering, Song and Add Gear. The Full version of Amplitube is available for download from the app store and it costs £11.99. In order to get the mastering section you have to add another £5.99. You can also get 5 extra stompboxes (Compressor, limiter, Reverb, Parametric EQ and Graphic EQ) for £1.79 each. Lets get in more deeply and see what can be done with this new app from Ikmultimedia.
In the Tools section we have a guitar tuner, a metronome that starts at 60bpm and goes all the way to 240bpm and a Demo section with 8 Demo songs from ik. Then you have the setup button which gives you the ability to cotrol the input and output level, capability of using the built-in microphone as well if necessary (i.e. For acoustic guitar or recording vocals with a hedset).
Latency section with 2 options (Ultra-Low, Low) which we believe is something like buffer 64 and 128 equally.
No feedback button that cuts the feedback when you are using a high gain amplifier.
Retain settings, so if you turn the app off or it crashes, when you reopen it, it comes back to the state that its been in.
Auto-sleep for battery saving purposes.
Preset section where you can edit and store up to 36 User Presets.
One let down is that the Ultra –Low latency and auto-sleep buttons can create pops and clicks when it’s set to on.
In the FX section we have the ability to put up to 3 individual stompboxes in any order we acquire in a chain. The full version comes with Overdrive, Delay, Chorus, Wah, Flanger, Octave, Envelope Filter, Phaser, Fuzz, Noise Filter and a Distortion that is free added upon registration of the product (by creating an account with Ik). You can also purchase some extra stompboxes (Compressor, Limiter, Reverb, Graphic EQ and Parametric EQ) for a small price. The effects are very good quality and also they can be used as a pedalboard if you by-pass your amp section and you plug the output (Mono) into a real amplifier with a minijack to jack cable (1/4"-1/2" MONO). One of the great things as well is that when you record a track, you have a clean track and you can adjust any FX that you want until you make the final export. A very annoying thing is that if you don’t put the Noise Filter in the chain you get a fair amount of hiss even in the clean sounds and when you switch the Noise Filter on, it’s not a true by-pass and it adds a lot of colour to the original sound though you can somehow bring it back with the Mastering (purchased separatelly) section unit by tweaking a bit of the EQ and the compressor.
We have 5 amps with 5 cabinets and 2 microphones. The amps are Clean (based on Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb), Crunch (based on Vox AC30), Lead (based on Marshall JCM800) Metal (based on Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier) and Bass (based on Ampeg SVT classic bass head). For the cabinets we have 5 options. A 1x12”, 2x12”, 4x12A”, 4x12B” and1x15” but the models of the cabinets are not specified. For the microphones we have a Dynamic (Shure-SM57) and a condenser (Neumann U-87). One of the good things is that you can make any combination of head, cabinet and microphone but a let down is that you cannot use 2 microphones at the same time and record it in 2 individual tracks and then mix it. Another problem is that the microphone positioning is set and you can not move it around or put it On-axis or Off-Axis, no room space option that makes it a bit harder to create your desired sound in the first place than having to add effects on it in order to approach it. The amp section can be by-passed which allows you to use the effects chain on a real amp which is not a bad idea.
The 4-track tracker:
The 4-track tracker gives you the ability to record up to 4 tracks, which can be guitar, synthesizer, bass, vocals or any sort of audio signal. Every track is equipped with volume fader with Solo and Mute controls, transport controller which includes Play, Record, Fast Forward and Bounce to Track, panning control, FX (Which comes from the previous effect units) and a reverb level if you have the mastering section. It is really easy to operate as you just can record as simple as in a DAW. One of the good things is that you can punch-in on a recording so that kind of saves the day on a difficult part. You can also record and save the tracks on your phone, delete them, duplicate them or export them via file sharing (.WAV but it needs network to be transferred or can be imported into iTunes), E-mail (creates an .mp3 that you send by using the mail app) and song (which it creates a song form that gets copied to the Amplitube song player which is built in the app). You can also mix and bounce the tracks to one track, which is good if you want to free up some space in order to add on something on top. Generally it is a useful idea but there is a lot of space for improvement if the aim is to record on the go. Some huge disadvantages are that you can record only one track at a time, which makes it very time consuming, and you don’t have fade-in/out controls or any type of editing audio tools. Overall it is good for recording some basic ideas for songs etc. but not much more than that.
In the Mastering section we have Reverb, a three band Equalizer and a Compressor. This is purchased separately but we found it to be a very good tool to have, because it can add some punch and clarity to your overall mix or your guitar track, that became a bit muddy by adding the Noise Filter in order to avoid the hiss. Now, the problem is that the Mastering section is very limited because of the minimum controls and it cannot be sent to different tracks with different settings at the same time. So it is clearly used on the overall mix at the end. At this point we see that they make it kind of necessary for you to purchase their 5 extra stompboxes, which in reality are different and possibly better versions of the Mastering section.
Song is the section that you can add a track you recorded, transfer a track to the multitracker, loop it, slow it down or speed it up and jam along with it. It is very user friendly and it’s very good for practicing parts or learning songs.
Last section is the Add Gear section where you can purchase stompboxes,amps and the mastering unit.
Overall it is a great app as you can have so many guitar toys in your pocket and be able to connect it anywhere and use it for teaching purposes or recording some ideas on the go. We think that it is value for money and it delivers the goods up to an extent. You can try either the free version or purchase the Le version or the Full version. The iRig interface can be purchased between £30 - £23 depending of the shop and by adding £26.95 on top you get the full bundle with all its stompboxes, Matsering and Amps.
For more info check the Ik Multimedia website
You can now listen to some samples recorded straight from the app.
Blues (Clean, 4x12A", condenser, Envelope Filter)
Jazz (Clean, 1x12", condenser with Chorus and Noise filter)
Funk (Bass 1x12", Condenser with Chorus and Delay)
70s Rock (Crunch, 2x12", Dynamic with Noise Filter and Fuzz)
Hard Rock (Lead, 4x12A", Dynamic with Noise Filter)
Metal (Metal 4x12B", Condenser)
Lead (Lead, 4x12B", Condenser with Delay, Overdrive and Noise filter)
Thanks for reading, see you next time.