Sponsors
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsors

Entries in effects (13)

Is the iRig BlueBoard the One We've Been Waiting For?

After being announced back in January at NAMM by IK Multimedia, the iRig BlueBoard was released a few weeks ago and we think this is probably the solution guitarists have been waiting for.   

For a long time we have been extolling the iOS Amp Simulation apps as a viable, more portable, alternative for gigging/recording musicians and we think iRig's BlueBoard takes a big leap closer to that reality (and it also works with your Mac!).

Switching it up (and down)

One of the most essential requirements of any guitarist's pedal board is the ability to switch effects on-the-fly and, to be honest, this was the least practical element of using a touch device in a live situation.  

Changing effects just before a solo in a darkened room was a hit-and-miss affair at best, especially when trying to quickly switch from a rhythm to a solo sound.

We haven't been able to try it ourselves yet, but we are hopeful that the BlueBoard, as seen in the video above, will enable us to do this with any MIDI compatible iPad app, including GarageBand, AmpKit, JamUp as well as all of IK's own apps.  

Likes and dislikes

We like the small and portable sizing that makes it likely to slip into a cables bag. The adjustable backlit pedals are going to be really useful in a live situation and we are fond of the blue too.

If we were being picky, the pedals themselves look a bit small, especially if you tend to wear clodhopper boots on stage.  We would have liked twice as many footswitches really (e.g. one row to switch Banks and another row for the effects switching) but the BlueBoard may have been less portable with 8.  

As it is, with some forethought into the patch setup and ordering of the Banks plus the use of one or two external expression pedals, e.g. a Wah, this will suit most guitarists.

Bluetooth 4.0 is supposed to be more efficient but we are not sure how long a set of 4 AAAs are going to last, although they should see you through at least a few gigs if not several more.

What do you think?

Are you a guitarist or other musician looking to use Amp Sims or iPad Instrument apps live?  Would you use the iRig BlueBoard in your live or studio performances?  Let us know in the comments what you think.

JamUp Pro now expanded plus 50% Off Expansion Packs

The nice people at Positive Grid have sent us a note to say that JamUp Pro, the relatively new Guitar FX-app-on-the-block has just been updated to Version 1.3.

We loved this boutique looking and great sounding app when we reviewed it back in November last year.

What's New?

New in 1.3 are an "updated DSP engine, audio copy and paste, and 20+ new amps and effects available via in-app purchase.".

The new in-app purchases are obviously the big thing, but we are particularly excited to see support for ACP included in this update too.

If you're quick you can take advantage of a 50% discount on the new expansion packs, but for just one week only.

Go and grab your update.

App Store Link: JamUp Pro

4 Chances To Win JamUp Pro and JamUp Plug

The nice people at Positive Grid, developers of the brilliant JamUp Pro and the JamUp Plug, have launched a seasonal giveaway. You can read our review of both to see why you should want to win them.

For the next 4 weeks Positive Grid are giving away a copy of the JamUp Pro app along with their specially made for iOS hardware plug, which we really like.

All you have to do is leave your name and email address on the giveaway page and you are entered for all 4 weeks of the giveaway.

Nothing to lose and well worth winning!

JamUp Pro and JamUp Plug Review

With a few well established guitar effects apps such as AmpliTube and Ampkit already on the iOS scene, it might seem a bit overambitious to launch a new guitar effects app. Any new app would have to set itself apart and offer something the existing players do not.

So what does new effects app JamUp Pro from developer Positive Grid, offer?

Here's what Positive Grid's website has to say:

Up until now, the tone experience on iOS hasn’t really developed to give the full dimension and response of a mic’d up rig, and other solutions haven’t really provided the amazing user experience that guitar players should have on their iPad or iPhone. We decided to take this challenge head on to ensure JamUp truly re-creates the experience of playing through the most coveted guitar amps, and in some cases, way more fun.

Positive Grid's aim in developing the JamUp app (available in Lite and Pro versions) was to improve on current apps sonically. Really, although it's nice to have dials that go up to 11 and a lovely UI, in the end for guitarists it's all about their 'sound'

So, how does JamUp sound?

JamUp sounds great! We especially noticed a crispness on the more ramped up, distorted setups which was a very welcome find.

If you get the settings right (we had to pare back the humbuckers on our Epi Les Paul) the clean sounds are clear and resonant, sharp when they need to be and mellow with plenty of well rounded low end when dialled in.

Hybrid MESH Amp Modelling

This great sound comes from acute attention to detail in the amp modelling. In fact, Positive Grid have a whole page dedicated to describing the detail and parameters considered in their sound modelling.

Here's a little bit of what they have to say:

From the high level preamp and poweramp distortion, tone stack design, to the low level bright capacitor, blocking filter, cathode cap, power amp sag, and cabinet impedance interaction. We developed a unique MESH modeling technology, not only to capture the exact nuances of each amplifier in its killer setting, but also incorporated the dynamic performance of each model.

We could do no better than this demo video from Positive Grid's YouTube channel. Take a minute, grab a pair of headphones and listen to these sample run-throughs for a good range of sound demonstrations:

Jammin'

Both the AmpliTube and AmpKit apps have a jam function, as well as some other amp adds. So while this feature is not unique to JamUp we like the straightforward interface they use and the slightly beaten up, vintage UI is both clear and welcoming.

It's really easy to enter the Jam screen, load a song, set the tempo (0.5 for us usually), pitch and backing track volume and away you go. You can be jamming away sooner than it takes to read that last sentence out loud.

This is a brilliant tool to learn new songs and work out those riffs and solos that fox you when you hear them at normal speed.

Vintage Tuner

The chromatic tuner continues the easy to use, vintage styling. It combines a lovely looking note wheel interface that helps you quickly identify the note you're playing, with a more accurate colour coded meter that helps you to fine tune your guitar.

It works well in practice and seems to be as accurate as any other iPad tuner we have used.

Special FX

The effects chain in JamUp really impressed us because it is simple to access, simple to use and easy to change or modify the signal path. The drag and drop approach to adding and moving effects in the signal chain is the least complicated approach we've seen so far and works very well.

This all adds up to an effects interface that, while not as visually polished as AmpliTube for instance, offers a straightforward, accessible level of interaction that novices and more experienced players will appreciate.

We were also impressed with the quality of these effects pedals. They all performed as we expected them to, and some, like the Chorus, Flanger and Tremolo sounded cleaner and more authentic than other guitar effects apps we have tried.

Here's another video from Positive Grid, this time demonstrating the various effects found in JamUp Pro:

Sound-on-Sound Phrase Sampler

This one-man-band sampler and overdub feature is fantastic for working out song ideas, recording solo riffs over a rythm track or just trying out sounds. It works a lot like the recording / overdub function in the synth app Animoog if you have used it, but you can adjust the recording length here in JamUp Pro.

It would be nice if there was an undo available instead of the 'clear all' function for when you mess up an overdub, but it is still a useful and potentially powerful tool to have built-in.

Check out the video below for an idea of what can be done with this Sampler feature in the right hands (not ours!):

The Specs

Whilst we have mentioned areas above of the JamUp Pro app that stand out to us particularly, there is more to the app. Here is a full spec list:

  • 6 multi-stage hybrid amp models
  • 6 matched convolution speaker emulation
  • 14 studio-grade stomp box, racks and processors
  • Supports up to 7 amp/effect simultaneously
  • drag and drop signal path
  • Sound-on-Sound phrase sampler
  • iTunes Jam Player with loop, speed and pitch control
  • Built-in chromatic tuner, metronome and 16 user presets
  • Compatible with JamUp Plug, and most other adaptors, see the full list

Effects (JamUp Pro)

  • Dunlop Fuzz Face
  • Ibanez Tube Screamer
  • Boss OD-2 Turbo Overdrive
  • Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble
  • Custom Flanger
  • Mad Professor Mellow Yellow Tremolo
  • MXR Phase 100
  • Maestro Echoplex EP-2 Tape Delay
  • Boss DD-7 Digital Delay
  • Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb
  • Fender Spring Reverb Unit
  • MXR M-102 Dyna Comp Compressor
  • Boss NF-1 Noise Gate
  • Custom 4-band EQ

The Complete Package - JamUp Plug

The JamUp Plug shown here with iPhone 4

In addition to the JamUp software, Positive grid have followed a similar pattern to IK Multimedia and Agile Partners/Peavy in releasing hardware to go with their app. The JamUp Plug is a little different though and we think it is a good thing.

Why this is a good thing

Although we love using both of them, what really annoys us about both the iRig and AmpKit LiNK is the trailing cable design they use.

This dangles off of your iPad/iPhone limply and then has the guitar and headphone cables connected to that, which has caused us to inadvertently pull the iPad forward off its stand, not to mention the tangling problem.

Addressing this issue, the JamUp Plug fits directly in to the headphone/mic socket on top of your iPad, sitting flush against it, meaning less trailing cables to worry about.

This helps guide the guitar cable and your headphone cable down the edge of your iPad, as you can see above, and reduces cable tangle and clutter. In our opinion this is a big plus for the JamUp Plug.

Construction

The JamUp Plug is cheaper than most of its competitors at $19.99 from Amazon.com, but the construction feels a bit 'plasticky', especially the 1/4" instrument cable input which doesn't have the usual metal ring and guide channel, so we are not sure how this will hold up over time.

Having said that, we didn't experience any problems at all with the unit we reviewed so there is no reason to expect problems, we are just comparing the JamUp Plug with it's more robust looking fellow guitar interfaces.

You don't have to use the JamUp Plug with the JamUp app, but its price and lack of dangling cables would certainly recommend it.

The website states that JamUp App also supports most available iOS guitar adaptors:

  • Positive Grid JamUp Plug
  • Apogee JAM
  • Alesis IO Dock
  • IK Multimedia iRig
  • Peavey AmpKit Link
  • PocketLabWorks iRiffPort

Final Thoughts

If you are after an easily accessible, authentic sounding and feature packed guitar effects app with that vintage vibe, JamUp Pro is just your thing. We like using it a lot and at the moment it is our main guitar amp modelling app.

If you're not sure, there is a free version JamUp Lite available in the App Store which has just 1 Amp and 4 effects but a fully functional sound-on-sound sampler, jam player and tuner. You will easily get a feel for the app by trying out the Lite version.

This review was based on the JamUp Pro app, which is available for $19.99 in the App Store and gives you full access to every amp and effect available without the contentious in-app purchases. 

SnapSeed: Your New Favourite iPad Photo Editor?

We thought there wasn't really room for another iPad photo editor in what has become a fairly well saturated market, but SnapSeed has made us think again.

Developed by Nik Software, a very well known developer of high-end Desktop photo editor plugins, SnapSeed brings with it some interesting and unique User Interface (UI) elements.

About the UI

We've found the UI of many photo editing apps over complicated and a bit inaccessible. Although some of these apps are really powerful and show off what the iPad can do, we don't use that power because it is too complex to get at quickly (which is usually how we use our iPad, for quick editing).

SnapSeed takes a different UI approach and it is one we like a lot. Take a look at the overview video below to see what we mean, and notice how fast the UI is to access.

Speed

SnapSeed should have been called SnapSpeed it is so quick. It really is the fastest iPad photo editor we have seen. Edits are made instantaneously, saving is very quick on iPad 2 and so is exporting to the most important photo-sharing sites, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook plus e-mail.

Creative Spin

Whilst SnapSeed has a standard feature-set that can be used for straightforward edits such as crop, rotate, HSB, auto correct, etc., it is the creative adjustments that really extend the apps reach.

Similar to a previous favourite of ours '100 Cameras in 1' which we reviewed a few weeks ago, SnapSeed offers a raft of  creative adjustments that can also include texture overlays to add another dimension to your images.

As always, this can be overdone, but SnapSeed provides a handy shuffle feature that randomises the effects and textures applied to give you a starting point for your own creations. Similar to 100 Cameras, these can then be fine tuned as much as you like but we found the swipe left/right controls for adjustments very intuitive.

Examples

We've been playing around with SnapSeed's creative adjustments for a while now, so we thought we would show you what we have come up with. Here are a few examples of some of the more radical changes you can make.

Original image (previously adjusted via Desktop app)

SnapSeed version: Our first go, a bit too dark really


Original previously edited in Desktop app    Going for that old photo look

 

Original previously edited in Desktop appSnapSeed version, heavy use of texture

To see how these effects are done, here is another video from Nik Software showing the creative possibilities of SnapSeed:

Creative and Fun

In the blurb on their website, Nik Software describe SnapSeed as "The only photo app you'll want to use every day", and we have to say that in the time we have had the app this is certainly the case.

Running a photo through SnapSeed on your iPad is always a creative and fun experience, one which has made us import photos to our iPad just so that we can use this app on them. We think you will like it too and recommend you try SnapSeed out, even if you already have lots of other photo editing apps on your iPad as we do.

You can get SnapSeed for $4.99 from the App Store. If you do, be sure to let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Is this the Ultimate iPad Accessory for the Gigging Guitarist?

Wow - this thing blows us away! A full-on floor based Pedalboard with an iPad dock and a Free DSP app made especially for it by DigiTech. This monster is designed for live gigging when connected to your iPad and guitar amp/PA.

Set for a 'June 2011' release, although it is not out yet (more likely July now), the DigiTech iPB-10's main problem for some will be the price, at a SRP of $699.95 (we've seen it on pre-sale here in the UK for £522).

Pricey

We know that these multi-effects units go for a lot of money, even without the iPad functionality and this looks like a very solid metal chassis unit including a chunky expression pedal. For a professional musician this might be affordable but we still feel that it is a lot of money. Combined with even the cheapest iPad you're looking at over $1000 of kit to place on the floor and then stamp all over with your hefty size 10's.

Well connected

We will let you read all the detail on the DigiTech website, suffice to say that the iPB-10 has plenty of connection options for live, studio and practice setups, check out the back panel below (select the image to see a large version). And that's not to mention the software involved on board and in the iPad app.

We want one - look at the Specs!

We are definitely drooling over the iPB-10 and the accompanying iPB-Nexus app and we would like nothing better than to get our hands (or boots) on one but we will just have to look at the pictures and dream.

Here's the specs:

  • Drag and drop pedalboard design
  • Arrange pedals in any order
  • Touch screen control
  • 87 pedals
  • 54 amps
  • 26 cabinets
  • Drag and drop footswitch assignment
  • Real-time view of pedal settings with direct access to pedal control
  • Up to 10 pedals, 1 amp, and 1 cabinet can be added to a setup
  • Unique setup assignable to each preset
  • Infinite number of presets, 100 footswitch accessible
  • Store, organize, and rate presets using My Tones library
  • Compatible with iPad2 and iPad

More details on the iPB-10 and the iPB-Nexus app (including a rundown of the pedals, amps and cabs modelled) can be found on the DigiTech website.

Video Review: 100 Cameras in 1 for iPad

We tried the iPhone version of 100 Cameras in 1 when it was released last year, but for some reason it didn't really impress us that much, so we weren't sure about buying the iPad version.

After taking the plunge though (it's only £1.79) we found it seems to make more sense on the larger screen of the iPad and we really liked it and thought you might too.

It's not HDR

The app comes from Trey Ratcliff, a well known photographer, world traveller and HDR proponent who generously gives away a lot of his work (including a daily photo) plus lots of photography resources at his site Stuck in Customs and via his very good email newsletter.

But, this is not an HDR app.

The idea behind 100 Cameras in 1 is to produce something unique from any image through a combination of fully adjustable effects - and to have fun doing it!

Poetic licence

Each effect/filter has a 'poetic' phrase or description to try and get you in the creative frame of mind and to provide some idea of the overall result on your image. It is better if you try not to be too cynical here and just go with it, a few of them even make sense.

100 Cameras screenshot

Not for everything

It is certainly not an app you would use for every photo, but 100 Cameras in 1 is a wonderful app for those quiet moments when you can take some time out, sit back with your iPad and let the creative juices flow.

We would suggest it is definitely worth taking that time to really dig into the effects and filters available and experiment by generating a new series of effects based on your result (see what we mean in the video below).

iPad 2 adds another element

On the iPad 2 of course, in addition to editing photos already in your library, you can also take photos in-app and start getting creative with the image right away. We could be cruel and say it is probably the only way the iPad 2 photos are useable, but we won't.

See 100 Cameras in action

It is easier to show you how this app works than describe it any futher, so here is our video overview of the main features of the app (shot on iPhone 4 and edited wholly in iMovie for iPad). See below for more features and buying info.:

 

(The fantastic 'Chiptune' music used in this video is Arpanauts (Eric Skiff) / CC BY 3.0) from freemusicarchive.org)

Feature list and purchasing info

  • Fast, simple, and light. Designed for speed and ease-of-use
  • Use your existing library to give existing photos 100 new magical looks 
  • or… take new photos (iPad 2+ only) 
  • 100 different effects that use mixes of hardlight, overlay, and more with beautiful textures from around the world. 
  • A “new” kind of app that takes the editing process in a whole new, beautiful directions 
  • Share your photos on email, Twitter, Facebook, SmugMug and Flickr! 
  • iPad version has many many additional features, including hi-res effects at 2000×2000 pixels. 
  • Poetic names so that you get a general feel of the effect to put you in a creative mood 
  • A new “Explore” area with helpful hints, good links, and even more 
  • Uses a predictive algorithm to guess which way you will “swipe” the image next so that the upcoming effects load instantly

100 Cameras in 1 is available now in the App Store at $2.99 (£1.79).

iWah - Use Your iPad As A Real Wah-Wah

We love apps like Amplitube for iPad and AmpKit that give us simulations of Guitar effects. On the whole the effects work well. One of the least effective though has always been the Wah pedal.

Unless you have a willing friend who will stand there tipping your iPad back and forth while you play and shout instructions at them, you need a third arm to have any chance of using the accelerometer based Wah, or learn to play the guitar one handed. 

Until now...

iWah 1 Is Here

iWah is a $135 iPad cradle that attempts to emulate a real Wah-Wah pedal by combining a foot pedal that tips your iPad back and forward and a Guitar effects app with a Wah pedal effect.

Made from Aircraft grade aluminium the iWah is designed to fit the iPad 2, but the site says that "iPad first generation interfaces are available upon request", as is a hot pink coloured version with 10% of your payment going towards the National Cancer Institute in the States.

The cradle allows the iPad to be set in horizontal or portrait orientation. This is important because if you use Amplitube for iPad or StompBox for example you will need to use your iPad in the horizontal position. Other apps like AmpKit and StompBox when changing setups use both orientations and others just Portrait, so a flexible cradle is a must.

iWah 2 - Cheaper But Limited

There will be an iWah 2 soon (currently in prototype stage), a bit cheaper at $99.99, that will be fixed position and not changeable, which will suit some who only ever use one app but it is not clear if it is fixed in portrait or landscape from the description or in some other way, so we will have to wait and see.

Our Thoughts

Although we love that a dedicated solution has been carefully engineered for the iPad, we think the idea is a bit extravagant to be honest and slightly too pricey. It is unlikely that you would use one of these for playing live, given the abuse that our guitar pedals have taken in the past.

If you, like us, have a Jim Dunlop Wah or similar already, that you can use inline, it may seem like an unnecessary expense, but we still like the idea and would love to give one a try to see how effective it is.

What do you think? Would you splash out on something like this for your iPad? Let us know in the comments. 

New AmpliTube Fender Version

Although it is not out yet, what you see above is an overview of the gear included in the new AmpliTube Fender for iPad. The video also shows off the gorgeous user interface, something that always impresses us with the AmpliTube apps.

This new version, featuring only Fender authorised amp models and effects, promises to be amazing especially if you have a Strat or Tele type of guitar.

We have to say that the early desktop versions of AmpliTube are responsible for getting us excited about amp modelling. IK Multimedia's status and past experience in this area really stands out in their products, as is shown by Fender's heavy involvement in this app.

All the details are on the product page, so we won't repeat them here, but be sure check them out. The new Fender version of AmpliTube will cost $14.99 as a standalone but you will be able to buy these new amp models and effects individually or as a bundle via in-app purchase if you already have the original AmpliTube for iPad, like many of us do. There will also be a free version to try out first, as always, which for some people is enough.

The video below is the official trailer for the new standalone Fender version of AmpliTube. We are really looking forward to seeing more of it, what do you think?

A Real Stompbox for your iPad - Griffin innovate again



As much as we really love the guitar fx apps that have been launched for the iPad so far there is nothing like the massive adrenaline rush from physically stomping on a distortion pedal and letting rip on a scorching guitar solo (well, we can imagine).

Griffin Technology to the rescue. The above pictured StompBox peripheral for iPad has recently been announced at CES and has got us wanting it, now! Unfortunately we will have to wait for a couple of months until it is released, but if it performs as well as promised we think this will kick up a storm in the guitar playing iPad world.

What we are not clear about is whether the guitar (or any 1/4" jack) input plugs directly in to the StompBox, we think probably not, because they include a GuitarConnect cable. This cable plugs into the headphone socket like iRig and AmpKit Link do, so there are still the crosstalk issues.

If the 1/4" jack on the StompBox is for the guitar itself then this is a direct connection via the dock connector for under $100. Look out GuitarJack!

But as we said this probably not the case, it looks like the 1/4" jack is intended for external pedals like your Wah.

We will cover the StompBox and its partnership with iShred Live (great sounds from this app) in more detail when it is actually released, but for now, here is the rundown of the StompBox's key features, start saving now:

  • Studio-quality 4-channel effects pedalboard for use with guitar, bass, and other musical instruments
  • 1/4" jack accommodates plugs from variable inputs like volume, expression, or wah-wah pedals
  • Brings true pedalboard experience to iPad; interfaces with the iShred LIVE app to switch between effects, start and stop practice tracks or metronome, and more
  • Heavy-duty dock connector cable links StompBox to iPad or other compatible iOS device
  • Included GuitarConnect cable plugs into your musical instrument
  • Developed for use with Frontier Design's iShred LIVE app (available separately)
  • Controls StompBox-enabled apps for iPad, allowing user input through its foot switches

Do you fancy one of these for your iPad? Let us know what you think in the comments.

PocketAmp Rocks your iPad

PLW_iPad_PocketAmp_533.png

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.

AmpliTube for iPad - Review

We let you know how much we liked IK Multimedia's iRig hardware as a general iPad input device a few weeks ago, but of course it was primarily designed to partner with their own software for (mainly) guitarists AmpliTube for iPad (and separate iPhone version).

We have been testing AmpliTube for iPad for a while now and we have been hoping on an upgrade to version 2.0 (as the iPhone version has been recently) before posting our review.

As version 2 of the app has not turned up yet we thought we would let you know what we think of version 1.0.2 of AmpliTube for iPad so far anyway.

This is one of only a few guitar effects / amp simulation apps specifically made for the iPad, so what did we think of it? Read on to find out.

The Premise - Analogue Amplitude

amp_and_pedal.jpg

Any guitarist will tell you that as much as they love their amp and the special relationship it has to their 'sound', the biggest bugbear is carrying that hulking great box around to band practice, gigs or anywhere else they may wish to take it.

If their amp doesn't have a headphone jack then another major problem is that getting that great sound usually involves cranking the amp up to levels far too loud to be compatible with sleeping kids upstairs, tolerant but deafened spouses and elderly (or litigious) neighbours.

The Digital advantage

The first thing that you will notice is that AmpliTube for iPad weighs a lot less than a guitar amp! Seriously though, the advantage of any audio app should be that it means you have to carry less equipment with you especially if that means you can play your guitar, amplified with effects, in places where you would not have bothered taking a real amplifier.

IK Multimedia have a software/hardware solution in the iRig and AmpliTube that could in theory replace a physical amplifier for example when recording demos, rehearsals, private practice and even plugged directly into a house PA.

iRig_into_ipad-small.jpgThe User Interface

One thing that has always impressed us about IK Multimedia's apps on our Macs, iPhones or iPads, is the attention to detail in the User Interface (UI) and AmpliTube for iPad is no exception.

The effects pedals are drawn beautifully, as are the amps, with all the knobs and switches replicated in exact detail. Other UI elements are also well drawn and for the most part their function and mode of operation is clear.

AmpliTube for iPad operates only in landscape orientation and this allows you to see four effects at once next to each other, compared to one at a time, up to a maximum of only three pedals, on the iPhone.

Most of the time we were able to adjust amp and pedal settings by directly 'turning' the control knobs on the screen without any problem.

What does it sound like

Arguably, the quality and authenticity of the sound is of utmost importance for any app trying to simulate a real guitar amp and effects. It is probably best to acknowledge that any digital version of an amp is not really going to sound like the real thing exactly.

Bearing this in mind, we were really blown away by the sounds we got from AmpliTube for iPad.

The default settings need a bit of tweaking to get the best out of them, but as mentioned above the controls are accurate and responsive on the iPad's touchscreen and they shape the sound as we would expect their real world equivalents to.

We used an Epiphone Les Paul for most of our testing and the double humbuckers push too hard to get a clean sound from the Clean amp without some serious tweaking of the default settings. With a Strat type of guitar the default was fine.

ipadgui02.jpg

As you would expect, switching to the Crunch amp gave a nice punchy rhythm sound with the Les Paul Humbuckers which was hardened up with a quick adjustment of the tone controls on the guitar.

The Lead amp gave us a sound we preferred over the Crunch amp to be honest and the Metal amp really does give a nice high-gain setup which, when combined with the Overdrive pedal covered most of the Rock/Metal styles easily. However, you will probably always need to include the Noise filter as one of your four pedal choices to control feedback and hiss.

The Bass amp was actually quite a surprise and gave us a nice, warm, bass sound generally which was fairly easily shaped using the tone controls. A definite bonus.

Cabs and Mics

Each of the amp sounds is further enhanced, or shaped, by a selection of five different Cabinets along with a choice of Dynamic or Condensor microphones, which can drastically change the tone of your sound.

We found most of them useable and it is worth running through the Cabs and Mics to see how they affect your tone.

Amplitube-ipad-03_main.jpg

Pedal Effects

A few of the eleven effects pedals we really liked. The standout ones for us were Chorus, Flanger, Phazer, Delay and a lovely sounding, infinitely controllable Distortion pedal.

We were not so impressed by the Fuzz pedal (we found it hard to get anything but  a badly broken sound), which was actually a bit of a disappointment but this might be our ageing ears.

The Wah too seemed a bit gimmicky. You can adjust your Wah snap in manual mode via the accelerometer, by tipping the iPad which makes for a fun demo to friends. In practice though, we found it very difficult to hold the iPad, tip it backwards and forwards, and play a lick on our guitar, obviously not the intended use.

The Auto-Wah settings failed to impress as well, being either too harsh or not effective enough for our tastes.

We found the Octave pedal a little heavy handed too, but it was useable with some careful tweaking.

Other Key Features

Some of the other features included with AmpliTube for iPad are the adjustable Metronome, bypass Tuner and the useable-but-slightly-clunky song or backing tracks Wi-Fi import function. This last feature lets you practice by adjusting the track's volume so that you can play over the top with your AmpliTube driven sound.

We look forward to the iPad catching up with the iPhone's new 'slow-downer' function so that we might have half a chance of playing along with real guitarists playing at half speed.

There are also 36 presets, some of which are pre-populated but overwriteable, but unfortunately in this version you cannot rename the numbered squares so you will have to write down or remember what is saved to each preset (this has been changed in the iPhone version 2.0).

ipadgui04.jpg

Conclusions

We can highly recommend AmpliTube for iPad to any guitarist looking for an app written and optimised for the iPad and its relatively large touchscreen. There is no doubt in our minds that IK Multimedia have set the bar for other app developers in the guitar amp/effects arena.

The range of sounds and effects that you can achieve for less than a quarter of the cost of just one decent effects pedal is truly amazing. For just $19.99 (£11.99) for the full version you really cannot moan about the price, but if you do think that is too much (really, it is not) then you can get a FREE lite version with a reduced number of effects (Stompboxes) and just one Amp and Cabinet, with other Amps and Cabs available a la carte style via in-app purchase.

Further Info and Specs

If you have never seen or heard AmpliTube in action, the video below gives you an overview of the UI and sounds that are available. If you are still not sure we would recommend downloading the lite version and give it a proper run through, there is nothing to lose and it sold us straight away on the full version. We have listed the full specs for AmpliTube for iPad below this video.

  

The Specs

AmpliTube for iPad is available in two versions (there are three versions on the iPhone):

  • Free - includes 3 stompboxes (Delay, Noise Filter & Distortion once registered), 1 amplifier (Lead) and speaker cabinet as well as both microphones (dynamic & condenser). New stompboxes and amp/speaker cabinets can be added through in-app purchases.
  • Full - £11.99 ($19.99) - everything available via in-app purchase in the free version all in one package. So that's 11 stompboxes (delay, fuzz, distortion, overdrive, wah, envelope filter, chorus, flanger, phaser, octave, noise filter), 5 amplifier/cabinets and the two microphones

Other key features of AmpliTube for iPad include:

  • 36 preset slots
  • Built-in Tuner and Metronome
  • Import songs via wi-fi and playback for practice
  • Low-latency as good as the Mac/PC system

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)