Entries in IK Multimedia (23)
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.
If you create music on or via your iPad, you need to know about some of the very cool stuff announced at the Winter NAMM Show that has taken place over the last few days in California.
There is a lot to get excited about as always, so in the next few posts we are going to highlight some of the shiny new tech announced for your iPad.
As anyone who has tried it knows, switching settings or presets in the middle of a song using any of the iPad guitar FX sims is pretty tricky and worst of all, it means taking your hands off the guitar which usually requires adapting the way you play the song to allow time for poking at the touch screen.
Foot controllers are the natural solution to this problem and this is not the first Bluetooth foot controller for iOS we have seen, but it might be the nicest looking.
The BlueBoard ($99.99 / €79.99) is a wireless MIDI controller (so it should work with most MIDI apps you have on your iPad. It is advertised as working up to about 30ft away from your main iPad rig, so you could set it up on the other side of the stage for those spotlight solos whilst retaining some control over your virtual pedal setup. It will also work with your iPhone/iPod Touch and your Mac if you have one.
Check out the video below and the web page for more details, suffice to say, we want one very badly!
iRig HD a 24-bit A/D convertor, with thumbwheel adjustable pre-amp on the device and digital noise reduction plus many other features, but what really stood out for us is that this device can be used with your Mac too via an interchangeable cable that features USB, 30-pin and Lightning dock connectors.
This is for us a brilliant feature that means purchasing less cables or audio devices for musicians who use both iOS and Computer based processing/recording apps.
We have yet to hear what it really sounds like, but we are really keen to find out and we will be looking out for some good samples in the near future.
More details again on the web page and in the video below:
We are always interested to hear what you think and what announced products you are looking forward to seeing (or maybe just adding to your wishlist). Let us know in the comments below.
"iRig MIX Summer Spin Tour kicks off on August 11, 2012 in Guitar Center Hallendale from 1pm to 4pm. The tour will span across the US at several Guitar Center locations including the Manhattan, Indianapolis, New Orleans and others. A DJ will be performing live in the Pro Audio/DJ Room mixing it up with iRig MIX and DJ Rig on iPad. This is your chance to see iRig MIX in action and enter for a chance to win prizes and giveaways during the tour."
Head on over to the official tour page for all the dates and details.
Further Reading: IK Multimedia
The official trailer below shows what some of the equipment included in this special edition sounds like (we're loving the OctoBlue):
IK Multimedia are rightly proud to note that Slash apparently uses the iRig and the iPad / iPhone Amplitube app on the road to capture ideas and practice his riffs.
Check out this overview with Slash himself demoing the sounds:
What more can you want? At a fairly reasonable £6.99, we're off to the (in)app store now.
If you have already invested in IK Multimedia's iRig device and you've had the same problem we have managing devices and cables dangling off your iPad, you may be interested to hear about the new iKlip Studio.
Announced at this year's Winter NAMM and priced at a very reasonable $29.99, this adjustable iPad stand also folds flat for storage and importantly incorporates a little holder for your iRig, which then clips onto the back of the iKlip Studio.
We haven't seen it in the flesh yet but it looks fairly sturdy and we think it's a great idea that will potentially solve one of our main annoyances about using the iRig with our iPad.
Here's a little taster video from IK Multimedia about the iKlip Studio's general features - let us know what you think in the comments:
Shortly after we discussed the possibility of the next iPad getting a significant boost in camera quality, Ricky Cadden got in contact to tell us about an exciting project that he and his team recently completed.
Ricky Cadden is a mobile technology expert and currently manages RadioShack’s presence on various social media outlets. Knowing Ricky as we do, we were not too surprised to find out that he had made the decision to capture video coverage of CES 2012 using the iPad 2, aided by the Movie Mount from Makayama, iRig Mic from IK Multimedia and various other accessories. It's not that Ricky's default position is reaching for Apple kit, far from it in fact, but rather that Ricky is quick to spot advantages in using new mobile technology.
So what advantages did shooting footage with the iPad 2 bring? Ricky states:
"...we used the Apple iPad 2 to shoot every second of our videos. That’s right, the iPad 2. Of course, we also had some additional gadgets helping out, including a unique sound setup that allowed us to use a total of 3 different microphones and a custom-made tripod mount for our iPads from Makayama.
Aside from some post-production that included adding graphics and soundtrack, the footage you saw in all of our CES coverage is pretty much exactly as it came through the iPad 2. The iPhone 4S’s 1080p video capture might have been slightly better, but the iPad 2 allowed us a larger display on which to preview footage and line up the shot on the show floor.
The results, as I’m sure you’ll agree, were impressive. All of our videos were posted in full 720p, and the sound turned out great, considering there were 150,000+ people milling around us and booths blasting their own sounds. The iPad 2 had plenty of storage and the connectivity options to upload straight from the floor – in many cases, we had the final cut of one video before we even finished shooting the next."
Ricky mentions that their iPad 2 rig caused quite a stir, with attendees often taking photos of their rig rather than the exhibit that the iPad 2 was filming! It seems that Ricky and his team were the only ones using the iPad 2 to provide professional level video coverage. That surprises us a little as the iPad 2's extended depth of field camera, large display and capacious battery life, combined with iMovie and the obvious connectivity advantages, make it a great choice for covering just such an event.
We watched some of the CES footage a few days before we were informed that it had been shot with an iPad 2, and as a testament to the quality of the footage, we didn't notice anything unusual about it. It's not the highest quality footage by any means, but it certainly seems good enough for 90% of the shots.
If you want to dip your toes in the iPad video production waters, we can wholeheartedly recommend that you pick up a copy of the free video capture app that Makayama provide for use with the Movie Mount, it offers a level of control that is not present in the default camera app. iMovie is an essential purchase too. You might remember that we considered the Handstand iPad 2 case to be a pretty good substitute for a full-on rig in these situations.
We mentioned IK Multimedia's new iRig MIC cast when it was announced at CES last week, but this is the first video we have seen of it in action.
What do you think?
IK Multimedia are throwing their considerable weight firmly behind the iOS platform with their latest round of product announcements ahead of this year's NAMM show, starting next week.
The first of these we wanted to tell you about is the iRig Mix. Here's the trailer video which got our heads in a spin with the sheer potential of this device for the mobile musician.
Be sure to watch through to the end to see the multitude of ways iRig Mix can be used.
Check out the iRig Mix page for more demo videos of the device in action and details.
Needless to say, we are very excited at the prospect of this new device, what do you think of it? Let us know in the comments.
How cool is this? Jordan Rudess uses MIDIBridge to play IK Multimedia's SampleTank with Geo Synthesizer as the controller. The possibilities for music making on just the one iPad continue to amaze us.
Here's our review of SampleTank (and the iRig MIDI).
When we raved about the professional quality audio samples in IK Multimedia's new SampleTank app (still 50% off until 13th November), we wanted to show you how good these sound, but to be honest we don't have the skills. Fortunately, IK do, and they have added a page of video demos showing just how amazing their SampleTank app sounds.
Sometimes, we are guilty of taking all this for granted but remember, this is all happening on a portable tablet device, a computer that you can take with you wherever you go and plug it in to any MIDI keyboard via things like the iRig MIDI. Future-tech of our childhood is here!
On with the Demos
We have included a few of our favourites video demos below, to see the rest check out the page at IK Multimedia. For now though, grab a pair of headphones and listen to the quality of these samples, we think you will be impressed.
The nylon guitar and Sax sounds in this one are amazing, they sound better than our real nylon guitar
Beautiful piano sounds in this one
Here's a short video that any guitarist will find interesting and it may even tempt you to replace that hefty amp that you're lugging around, at least for jamming round a friends house anyway.
YouTube user soaresgiu1 made this demo using IK Multimedia's iRig for the guitar input and iRig MIDI to connect the classic Boss GT-8 controller via the dock connector, both played through the new guitar fx app JamUp (our review is on it's way).
We think this set up has potential for playing live, what do you think?
Ok, let's get straight to the point: If you don't already have a MIDI input device for your iPad/iPhone, if you want one and can afford it, go and order the iRig MIDI right now!
We can't think of any major reason why you wouldn't. But if you want to know a bit more about iRig MIDI, why we think you need it and IK Multimedia's new SampleTank for iOS software, be sure to watch the video below and then read on for the inside scoop...
iRig MIDI Hardware
In the box, as well as the iRig MIDI, you get:
- 2 x 5.2' standard MIDI cables - DIN to 1/8" jacks
- 1 x very short USB to Micro USB charging cable
- Quick Start guide
The iRig MIDI has 3 MIDI ports: In, Out and Thru with two Red LEDs which reasurringly light up to indicate throughput in and out.
Setup is very straight forward. We had no trouble at all using our M-Audio Oxygen 8 test keyboard controller with any of the CoreMIDI compatible apps we had installed on our iPad.
We tested the iRig MIDI with a fairly simple setup but the Thru port also allows some more complex setups and a few alternative use cases are detailed on IK's site.
The only real problem we had was the ridiculously short USB charging cable. This cable connects your standard iPad/iPhone charger to the iRig MIDI and charges your iOS Device while in use, which is handy and very useful.
In the end we used a 4-gang extension cable and had this sat on the desk, which took up precious work space and got in the way a bit, but it's not the end of the world and the extra sockets were handy.
Update: We heard from IK Multimedia after posting this review and apparently they wanted to include a longer cable, but doing so would not meet Apple's power rating requirements to charge the iPad and so they had to go with a cable of this length to get approval. Still, as they pointed out, at least you do have the option of charging the iPad with iRig MIDI and they supply the cable in the box.
This issue aside though, the iRig MIDI worked flawlessly with our MIDI Keyboard and apps like GarageBand, Addictive Synth, Animoog and NLog Pro, all recognising the Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels without any further setup (as you would expect with Core MIDI) and there are over 100 apps that are compatible with iRig MIDI listed on IK Multimedia's site.
The iRig MIDI is highly recommended by iPad Creative. For us, it certainly lives up to the promise. Go and get one.
SampleTank for iOS by IK Multimedia
If you want to start using multiple MIDI Channels or layering with your iRig MIDI, then you will probably need to use IK Multimedia's own SampleTank app, which comes in a Free version (available now from the app store) with a limited sample set initially.
In-app purchases can be made for different sample packs as you need them. The range of options for upgrades and add-ins is a bit complex to be honest, but it does give you the chance to add what you want if not everything suits your musical or playing styles.
The best value seems to be the upgrade to SampleTank for $9.99 (£6.99). Upgrading to the whole lot will set you back around £30 ($39.99) though, making it a more considered purchase for many of us.
All the samples are taken from IK's well respected desktop version of SampleTank which has been used in many professional and commercial projects.
The app has been designed for live use and its design allows you to switch between one of the four instrument banks, play over riff loops and/or presets using a midi controller and the onscreen keyboard simultaneously.
The samples sound really good for the most part, just take a few minutes and give them a listen in the video demo below.
The main features of SampleTank for iOS are:
- 4-part multi-timbral live sound module
- Over 900 MB on-board sound library with over 400 instruments in 16 categories
- Huge selection of melodic and rhythmic patterns for accompaniment or groove creation
- Instruments are processed using 20 different insert FX with up to 4 simultaneous inserts per part
- Master reverb effect with individual sends
The full set of samples takes the app up to just under 1GB, which meant a bit of app juggling on our 16GB iPad. This gives you a great range of sounds with a nice batch of Presets to get you started. The presets cover a good selection of styles from Pop through Reggae to Rock and a few Thrashy ones. There are also 3 pages of empty Presets for you to save your own customised versions.
We were especially impressed by the quality of the samples in the Woodwind sections such as the Sax samples and also the Piano and Keyboards sounded great.
A Few Issues
As impressed as we were with the sounds in SampleTank for iOS, we thought we should mention the two issues we had:
- We know the app was designed with live performance in mind, but we really missed a recording function. (Update: IK Multimedia have said that a recording feature is on the wish-list but there is no timescale as yet)
- The app is currently not Universal, so on the iPad we have to use it in 2x mode. It isn't the ugliest app at 2x we've seen on the iPad, but the text and keys do look pretty fuzzy and the lack of clarity gets annoying after a while, especially for those of us that rarely use iPhone apps on the iPad precisely because of this. But, an iPad version is on the way according to IK and hopefully it won't be long. (Update: IK Multimedia have confirmed to us an iPad version "is on the way and it WILL be Universal", plus it will be a Free upgrade for those who have already paid for SampleTank for iOS)
These issues are not deal breakers, and we know that both of them can/will be addressed in future updates.
Because SampleTank for iOS is initially a free download and includes a selection of IK Multimedia's professional sound samples we would definitely recommend you download the app and have a look.
Because of the onscreen keyboard you don't need to have an external controller, so SampleTank for iOS stands alone.
Combined with iRig MIDI and an external controller though we think IK Multimedia have provided live performers with a fantastic way to incorporate their iPad and favourite Core MIDI compatible app into their setup.
We heard from IK Multimedia after posting our review, with a bit more information on the reason that such a short charging cable is included (Apple's power requirements), on the upcoming Universal SampleTank iPad app and the wish-list recording feature.
We have added these notes in Italics at the pertinent points as we were happy to clarify the text.
IK Multimedia are at it again, throwing their considerable weight behind the iOS device platform as a viable tool for Musicians and Music Producers.
iRig Midi looks awesome, just watch the video below! More soon...
Yuri Wong is back with a totally different sound. You'll remember his excellent cover of Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream'. This time by leaping to the other end of the musical spectrum Yuri has recreated the classic 'You Only Live Once' by The Strokes.
With just 6 GarageBand tracks and a lot of help from IK Multimedia's superb iRig and iRig iMic, Yuri has faithfully reproduced The Strokes gutsy garage rock sound. The Strokes minimalist approach to song writing and recording is ideally suited to the uncluttered process of music making with the iPad.
Great work Yuri! More please.
This is the second of a two part head to head review of iRig and AmpKit LiNK, arguably the two primary guitar (or other line level instrument) interfaces for the iPad (of the ones that use the headphone socket).
In Part 1 we set out the use for these interfaces and compared the basic dry signal passed from a guitar via these interfaces and the Clean Amp settings in the two iPad apps that partner with these devices, Amplitube and AmpKit.
In Part 2 we are going to ramp up the gain and continue to compare the performance of these two guitar interfaces. Read on to find out what happens as the volume gets louder...
The next thing we are going to look at is the Crunch preset in each app with both guitar interfaces. In Amplitube it is Preset 1 - 'Mild Crunch' and 'Captain Crunchy' in AmpKit.
If you listen very carefully you may hear that the AmpKit LiNK provides a slightly clearer, less muddy sound than the iRig. This was the case in both apps, and there is a definite small volume lift when using the battery powered AmpKit LiNK over the non-powered iRig.
This has an effect on the tone of the guitar which becomes more evident, although still slight, when using a bit more gain.
Here are a couple of samples.
Finally, we stopped playing nice and opened up the screaming distortion and high gain amp models to see what these interfaces could do. Apart from make a lot of noise (thank goodness for the headphone out) this part of the test showed the key issue with these type of guitar interfaces - susceptibility to screeching feedback, apparently due to crosstalk from the close proximity of microphone and audio out circuits (or something similar).
If you have ever stood in front of a guitar amp with full bore distortion dialled in you will a) know just how much fun this is and b) know that you are walking a fine line between cutting tone and screeching, eardrum shattering feedback.
When on the high-gain settings in Amplitube we really didn't have any feedback problems from either guitar interface until we introduced a Distortion stompbox and a Fuzz pedal on top of the Metal Amp setting. The AmpKit LiNK seemed to be more resilient as we increased the gain, drive and volume controls in Amplitube, although not by a massive amount.
The real difference came when we switched to the high-gain Peavey-type amp in the AmpKit app. As soon as we plugged the iRig in to AmpKit with the 'Killing the King' preset engaged we almost blew our eardrums out through audio feedback.
We had to reduce the Input gain from the iRig all the way down to about 19% and the Output gain down to around 23% before we could take our hand away from the strings without feedback. This was with the 'Noise & Feedback Filter' set to 60%, meaning a serious lack of sustain (this filter cuts the audio signal as soon as it detects interference or feedback, which means cutting off notes instead of leaving them to ring out).
With the AmpKit LiNK interface, plugged into the AmpKit app and the same raucous amp setting as we had before, we were able to set the Input Gain at about 38% with the Output Gain around 50%. The Noise & Feedback Filter was pared all the way back to about 15%.
This gives a much more biting and responsive tone with longer sustain, but we still had to fine tune the settings and fiddle quite a bit before we could reduce the feedback to acceptable levels and even then it was not entirely gone.
Overall then, we have to say that the AmpKit LiNK does a much better job of fighting off the feedback for longer with extremely high-gain settings, which the AmpKit app has in spades being modelled on the raunchy and particularly Metal oriented Peavey and Mesa Boogie amps.
These samples were played after adjustments were made, because we guess you know what feedback sounds like. They are a bit louder so you may want to drop the volume a bit, especially if you are listening via headphones.
One noticeable difference between these two interfaces is the length of cable and the socket positioning. The cable that leads from the iRig to your iDevice is very short. This means that it is a little bit awkward when a fairly heavy guitar cable is connected and can pull on the iPad making it unstable if on a stand or stood up in a case, especially if you have the iPad's Home button on the left.
The iRig also has the headphone cable on the opposite side to the 1/4" connecter where your guitar cable plugs into, so that you have cables going in two directions, which again can be annoying.
If you set the iRig up carefully before you start it is not too bad, but the AmpKit LiNK wins out here, although slightly heavier and with a larger form factor (probably because of the batteries) the AmpKit LiNK has a much longer cable to plug into your iDevice which means you can lay it on the desk or table next to your iPad.
There is still the danger of pulling the AmpKit LiNK and toppling the iPad, but with both connectors (1/4" and 1/8") on one side, opposite the cable to your Device, cable routing is a lot less problematic.
The prices are similar for both interfaces, iRig retails for about $40 (£25) and AmpKit LiNK for around $30 (£29). The price difference seems to be because the iRig is produced here in Europe so the AmpKit LiNK ends up being cheaper in the US.
As we said at the outset, we are not audio specialists so you may get varying results but we were impressed by the ease of use of both interfaces and the results.
The AmpKit LiNK will need batteries to work, although they seem to last quite a long time. It could leave you stuck though if you are away from home and have forgotten to bring spare batteries with you.
If you are primarily going to use IK Multimedia's Amplitube we would recommend either IK Multimedia's own iRig or Peavey/Agile's AmpKit LiNK.
We think they are both brilliant ways of getting your guitar (or other line level) signal into the iPad, but...
**Our overall winner of this head to head comparison is AmpKit LiNK.**
Whilst we would not say that AmpKit LiNK eliminates feedback, we think the circuitry inside it does reduce the effect when using high-gain settings in any app. Just be sure to keep a few spare AAA batteries in your guitar case.
So that's it, we hope you found this review useful. You can hear all of our samples from both Parts of this head to head test in one place by visiting this SoundCloud Setlist (it should work on your iPad once you get there).
If you have anything you would like to add or if you would like to let us know your experience of using iRig, AmpKit LiNK or any of the guitar amp simulation apps, please leave us a comment below.
When it comes to getting a guitar (or other instrument) input into your iPad there are arguably two major players, iRig by IK Multimedia and AmpKit LiNK by Peavey. We are fortunate enough to have got hold of both of them and we have been using them for a while now, testing them head to head.
So, which one is better? Read on to see what we found.
The iRig and AmpKit LiNK both have the same purpose, to get a line level audio signal from an instrument or microphone into your iOS device. This signal is input via the headphone socket (not the Dock connector) because of the Microphone input present there. The interfaces both have a headphone socket to monitor the processed signal back out of the Apps.
The main difference though is that, unlike the iRig, Peavey's AmpKit LiNK is powered, by 2 x AAA batteries, with what Peavey claim is "circuitry that virtually eliminates feedback".
We tried both interfaces on our iPhones but primarily we are reporting on the results from the iPad, especially now that Version 1.1 of the AmpKit app is iPad native.
How we tested them
We are obviously not audio specialists or expert musicians, but we wanted to test these devices in a reasonably authentic way as far as the average iPad owner might use them. We played our Epiphone Les Paul twin humbucker guitar, through both the iRig and AmpKit LiNK, into the two apps that partner them, Amplitube 2 for iPad from IK Multimedia and AmpKit v1.1 from Agile Partners.
We tried both devices with identical settings through each app in turn. As far as possible we kept the amp settings, guitar settings and iPad exactly the same. All we did was swap out one device for the other and compare. We tested them on various settings, Dry signal, Clean with a few touches of Reverb, Delay and Chorus, then on Crunch setups through to High Gain screaming distortion settings.
Where we could, we recorded samples of what we were hearing using the in-app recording function and sharing it out via iTunes file sharing. We have not edited the sounds at all apart from trimming the empty space at the start/end of some tracks.
All 12 sample tracks were then uploaded to SoundCloud. Unfortunately, their embedded player still does not work on the iPad, so you will need to follow the links we include here to the SoundCloud site itself, where you can play the tracks on your iPad/iPhone.
The Dry signal
We started out by turning off the amps and recorded a simple Blues scale played on the guitar through each app. There wasn't much to tell between the devices to be honest. If we were being exceptionally picky, using headphones, it sounds like the powered AmpKit LiNK is a little thinner sounding than the non-powered iRig, which surprised us a little. This is actually a tonal advantage as you will see in Part 2 but for now, it is not really something to worry about. See what you think by listening to the two tracks below on SoundCloud (we recommend using headphones rather than your device's speakers as the sound differences are not that great).
The next test we did was on a clean amp setup, using the standard 'clean' preset in both apps, with just a bit of Reverb (and a shade of Tremelo on Amplitube). The result was as expected with a clear, undistorted sound (once we had tamed the Les Paul's humbuckers) and no particular issues to report. Both the iRig and AmpKit LiNK provided a strong and clear tone from our test guitar with only slight tonal differences, as you can hear in the samples below (again we advise headphones to better discern the tone).
That's it for Part 1, in Part 2 we will turn up the heat a little bit and then let rip with the high-gain stuff and see what happens. Be sure to catch Part 2 for our final recommendations as well.
In the meantime, if you have anything you would like to add, please let us know in the comments below.
One of the things we are going to do whilst we are off-work over the holidays is catch up with apps like Amplitube 2.0 for iPad from IK Multimedia. We will let you know what we think as soon as we can and give you some comparisons with the latest version of AmpKit (1.1) from Agile Partners.
Until then though, we hope this video from IK Multimedia themselves piques your interest. As always, the UI is beautiful, but we have to try the audio copy/paste features for ourselves before we can comment on how great a feature it is.
Looks promising though. What do you think?
Can an iPad replace a laptop as a Music Studio? Here is someone who thinks you can.
In this video, recorded on an iPhone, Andrew Turner (deepliferecords on YouTube) discusses replacing his failed two year old HP Tablet with an iPad and a bunch of apps plus hardware add-ons, as a music creation device.
Andrew demos IK Multimedia's Amplitube for iPad and the iRig hardware interface along with NLogSynth PRO and a Korg nanoKEY midi controller plugged in via Apple's Camera Connection Kit. He is certainly impressed and at the end of the video he says:
"Overall, I'm very happy with the iPad as a replacement for my laptop... there's nothing that I can't do so far with the iPad that I could do with the Windows Notebook or a Windows Computer."
We tend to agree with Andrew, but what do you think? Can an iPad replace a laptop for music creation? Let us know in the comments.
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
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.
The 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.
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.
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).
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.
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
It might seem a strange move for IK Multimedia who are primarily a software company to create an iPad specific accessory, but they have just announced iKlip, "a universal microphone stand adapter for iPad". It is available for pre-order now and will be out in December.
The iKlip attaches to your microphone stand and holds the iPad in either portrait or horizontal format. It is also adjustable to multiple angles so should suit any setup.
Here is a description from the website:
As a Guitar or Bass player you can now use iPad on stage with AmpliTube iRig as your guitar amp and effects unit, with controls accessible right in front of you on your mic stand. Or if you use tablature and scoring apps, use iKlip to put the iPad within easy viewing range for learning and performing.
As a vocalist you can now have the perfect companion for song showcase performances: create and share set lists with your band members, complete with scoring, lyrics and notes. Everything you’d use on stage with your iPad is now within your reach.
Got a DJ, sequencer or instrument app? iKlip puts your iPad right where you need it since it can also be mounted on tabletop stands, making it the perfect DJ or virtual instrument player performance companion.
It certainly meets a need and aims to put your iPad right where you want it, especially if you are using it to play or record live music or in a practice session.
We can't wait to try this out and see how sturdy and secure it really is.
Check out some of the other images below and also the iKlip webpage where there are more images and detailed description.
We want to know what you think of this new iPad accessory. Would you trust it in a gig? Are you going to get one? Let us know in the comments.