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Entries in amp (5)

BIAS Promises to be Epic

It is hard to imagine how the crowded Guitar Effects / Amp Simulation field could be improved upon, apart from perhaps the realism and authenticity of the sounds or tone of the amps.  Quite a few of the current batch sound very ‘digital'.  

Positive Grid (makers of JamUp Pro) seem to be thinking along the same lines.  We liked the more resonant and authentic sound of their Amp Simulations when we reviewed JamUp Pro a while ago.  

Now they are on the verge of releasing BIAS which promises “Tone revolution on an epic scale”.  A bold claim indeed!

We hope to be getting our hands on a copy of BIAS very soon and we will be giving it a thorough run through, but in the meantime check out the teaser video above.

Video: Think an iPad can't be used as a Live Guitar Amp? Think Again!

 

We have mentioned before the potential for your iPad to replace those hefty and bulky guitar amps you have to carry around with you to gigs as a guitarist.  Actual documented examples are less common than we would like, but here's one.

In the video above Gene Baker is using the brilliant JamUp Pro (or XT) app by Positive Grid as his 'Amp' (read our in-depth review for more on JamUp).  He is switching effects/rigs using JamUp's integration with the Bluetooth AirTurn pedal, allowing for live use as a virtual pedalboard.

Although the sound quality of the video isn't that great, guitarists will be listening out for the solo in Mean Gene Band's cover of the Aerosmith classic 'Walk this way' and we think it definitely passes muster.

What do you think?

PocketAmp Rocks your iPad

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We happened across PocketAmp by PocketLabworks when we saw a tweet about the free PocketAmpLite [iTunes link]. Having downloaded the free version and played with the sounds for a few minutes, we plumped for the full version without much further thought.

Why we like it

PocketAmp is not quite the full-on guitar effects app that Amplitube (which we reviewed last week) is. You do still get a solid sounding amp simulation with PocketAmp though and this is why we liked it:

  • Optimised for iPad display
  • Universal app, pay once for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch
  • Very, very low latency, in fact we would say zero latency in our experience
  • Simple interface that belies a vast range of sounds, selectable via the rack type of interface (not the stompbox approach used by Amplitube)
  • Variable gain on each of the Amp types (Clean, Blues, Rock, Metal) plus individual EQ (Treble, Mid, Bass) means a multitude of sounds can quickly be selected, with a nice clean sound achievable if you dial the gain back on the Clean amp
  • Very little feedback experienced even on the Metal high-gain setting
  • Instant access to your iTunes library on your device, no fiddly import process or waiting, select any song, hit play and you're off
  • Amp volume control allows you to mix the track you are playing over with your amped sound
  • Useful Effects, Reverb and Echo on the same panel which can be mixed together
  • Three 'quick presets' which are always available on-screen and an unlimited number of presets you can save with custom names to recall later
  • The price is very reasonable for the full version, $4.99 (£2.99)
  • The sound of the emulation is very good and suits a wide range of sounds including Clean, Bluesy/Crunch sounds through to Marshall-stack-sound-a-like 'Stadium Rock' settings


Tweak It

PocketAmp's interface does take a little getting used to if you are like us and your experience of guitar effects has mainly been using effects pedals or stompboxes. There is a certain muscle memory that means we can quickly set a sound using the dials on a pedal much easier than we can with PocketAmp's rack-like sliders.

Spending a bit of time carefully tweaking your sound with the sliders in PocketAmp does pay off though and we have a feeling that this app will get better the more you use it.

Input

We used IKMultimedia's iRig to input our guitar signal but the website mentions that you could use any of the current options to input your guitar signal into your iPad and we have no reason to think otherwise.

Who should buy it?

We would definitely recommend PocketAmp for your iPad, especially if you have decided not to pay out for a more expensive solution like Amplitube or AmpKit already.

PocketAmp's fast start up time and simple operation help you get straight into playing with the minimum of fuss. We like it a lot and will probably use PocketAmp when we want a quick jam without the complexity that can be introduced by other more involved apps.

If you are not sure then check out PocketAmp Lite first for an idea of what can be achieved with this app, we think you will be impressed.

The full version of PocketAmp is available for just $4.99 (£2.99) and brings extra amp models and the other effects which are really useful to have and give so many more options to shape your guitar sound.

If you have tried PocketAmp let us know what you think in the comments below, we would like to hear from you.

iRig + iPad = Guitarist (Musician) Heaven

The Problem

Amp simulation apps have existed for a while on iOS, but the problem has always been getting the guitar signal into the device and hearing the subsequently amplified output.

Using the built in microphone, or the headset mic, has always meant not being able to hear the output if you were using an acoustic guitar. For electric guitar, not hearing an output at all is a problem, as plugging a device with audio input into the headphone jack mutes the built-in speaker.

The Solution

So the only way to do this effectively without a USB 'hack' is through a hardware device such as the iRig from IK Multimedia. This handles the audio input and importantly provides an audio output or monitor via a standard 1/8" headphone jack.

Plug your headphones into this output for quiet practice without disturbing anyone else, or connect it to speakers, a sound system, a guitar amp or even a PA system for full-on live sound.

We had no problems at all connecting a guitar straight away and after confirming the warning about turning down the volume before we start, especially with headphones connected, we were off and rocking (well, we made noise with our guitar).

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Using iRig with Apps

The iRig was recognised as an input device by every app we tried without fail. This included iPad specific apps Amplitube for iPad (look out for our review soon), StompBox and StudioTrack (read our full StudioTrack review here).

We also tried iRig with a number of iPhone audio apps including:

A Few Issues

For the most part there were no issues with iRig and the above apps, the only problem we did have was with AmpKit by Agile Partners and Peavey. The main issue here was high pitched feedback at anything but extremely low input levels.

This is not a review of AmpKit, that is for a future post, but the extremely high gain Peavey amps simulated in AmpKit are a particular challenge to iRig, and Agile Partners recommend, of course, their partner Peavey's AmpKit Link audio interface.

This is a hardware device designed for exactly the same purpose as iRig, but with active (battery powered) circuitry designed to eliminate the feedback inherent with the unpowered versions like iRig.

We hope to get a review to you soon for both the AmpKit link and AmpKit app, but we have been holding out for an iPad specific version, which is apparently in the works.

Sidenote: Feedback Warning - Follow the Instructions

As we mentioned above, feedback with these kinds of devices can be a problem due to impedance issues. The scant instructions give just the essentials for setting up the iRig, but they do warn that using a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter on the headphone output will cause audio feedback.

Well, we wondered about this and as we only had the 1/8" to 1/4" adapter available to us, we tried it anyway.

We had no feedback issues with this adapter when connecting to a home cinema surround sound amplifier, but once we connected the iRig to our guitar amp (clean channel, no effects, middled tone controls across the board) and engaged a high gain amp model in the software, specifically the Metal amp, we had an immediate problem with piercing audio feedback screeching out from our amp speaker at any volume setting.

Our recommendation is to take heed of the instructions and get a cable matching IK Multimedia's suggestion. We are guessing that similar feedback will be experienced with a PA system too (although we have not been able to test this).

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As you can see in the above instructions, the cable setup recommended is an 1/8" stereo connector from the headphone socket out to a twin RCA (using the left one to connect to the amplifier/PA) or 1/8" to 2 x 1/4" Mono jacks.

We obtained one of the latter cables from eBay for about £4 (pictured below) and since using this new cable we almost never received feedback when using the iRig connected to the guitar amp, except in the situation mentioned above with the AmpKit app.

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Not Just For Guitars

Whilst the primary purpose of iRig is to get a guitar input into your iDevice and a monitor out, you can also use it to input other audio signals. We successfully recorded audio from a Bass guitar and a passive vocal microphone (although audio hiss was an issue) as well as an Acousto/Electric guitar from both its 1/4" and XLR output. IK Multimedia's website also makes mention of line level input from Keyboards, Synthesizers and mixers and we have no reason to doubt it works with these audio sources too.

We have had a great time using and testing the iRig interface and we can recommend it wholeheartedly for iPad musicians or anyone wanting to get sound into their iDevice whilst monitoring the output simultaneously.

iRig is available from most music stores and online retailers for around £25 ($39.99).

iPad Guitarists - get excited!

This has got us excited (yes, again!). 4pockets.com, makers of Windows Mobile apps for Guitar and Audio amongst other software apps plus Aurora Sound Studio HD for iPad have just released a teaser trailer of their new app StompBox for the iPad.

This is a 'rack based' Guitar amp modelling and effects app and only the second Guitar FX app specifically made for the iPad that we are aware of (IK Multimedia's AmpliTube being the other).

The rack based approach makes for a less good looking app than AmpliTube, but there will be colour skins available for each module and some of the audio samples in the video sound really good.

Big features to get excited about though are media import with variable speed audio playback without changing the pitch and A/B type looping of audio sections (for learning those tricky guitar solos) plus a 4 Track Recorder module!

It remains to be seen what the other sounds, especially the distortion, are like in reality, but the feature set looks very impressive, the interface is designed for the iPad and there a number of unique features that differentiate StompBox from the other guitar effects apps.

Check out the video below and as soon as we know more we will post it here.:

(Our thanks to PalmSounds blog for the heads up on this one, be sure to check out Ashley's site for more portable audio goodness)