Amp modeling is one of the coolest developments in guitar technology in recent years. One of the front runners continues to be IK Multimedia who have been designing amp modeling software since 2002. Their AmpliTube package has continued to grow and has now jumped platforms to include iOS functionality on iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. IK has also developed hardware to integrate with its software including the original iRig and now the iRig Stomp interface. I was sent an iRig Stomp for review and I was excited to dig in and get my iPhone guitar jam on.
The iRig Stomp interface is a lightweight aluminum-cast stomp box enclosure that can be used in line with guitar pedals or plugged in directly to a PA or guitar amp using standard 1/4″ cables. It allows direct connection between your guitar and any audio processing software that uses the 1/8″ jack on your iOS device for its sound source. It has one 1/4″ input, two 1/4″ outputs as well as two 1/8″ outputs, one for headphones and one for going to the iOS device. It also has one big Volume Knob and a Stomp Switch. The circuit is active and can either be powered by a 9v battery or by your pedalboard’s power system. The Stomp Switch allows you to bypass your iOS device from your signal chain for hands-free operation. I was very impressed with the sound quality of the buffered audio signal. The noise floor is low and the signal is true. It seems as if the software was optimized for the hardware.
The folks at IK were nice enough to credit my account with AmpliTube Slash, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix, and AmpliTube Fender. I am going to focus primarily on the first two as they are the newer products. AmpliTube Slash is a collection of virtual gear designed to emulate Slash’s rig. Amp-wise, It consists of a Marshall JCM Slash Edition Silver Jubilee and a Marshall AFD100. The JCM Slash Edition is designed to the exact specs of Slash’s 1987 Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555 amp. It sounds great for crunchy rhythms but also has a lead channel that produces creamy sustain suitable for soloing work as well; definitely the more diverse of the two. The AFD100 is a dual mode amp that focuses on recreating the tones from “Appetite for Destruction”; and that it does. The factory presets that focus on Appetite sound so close to the record. I had a lot of fun playing some of those classic tunes from my past. If I were in a Guns n’ Roses cover band I would seriously consider using this rather than a real amp; it’s so darn accurate.
This package also includes models of some of Slash’s favorite pedals including Gate (based on the MXR Smart Gate), Booster (based on the MXR CAE MC401 Boost/Line Driver), OctoBlue (based on the MXR Blue Box Octave Fuzz), WahDist (based on Dunlop Slash Signature Wah SW95), X-Chorus (based on the MXR M134), and Delay (based on Boss DD-3). I have played most of the pedals that these models were based on and I must say that they are pretty darn faithful as well. I especially liked the X-Chorus and Delay. The WahDist was fun to mess with and I like that you can choose to impart distortion into the circuit if you wish.
AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix is a suite of modeled effects and amps that were designed to recreate the classic tones of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar rig. Included in the package are two amp models. The first is the JH Gold (based on the Marshall JTM 45) which is modeled after the classic British 100 watt amp that Jimi Hendrix is often associated with. The second is the JH Dual (based on the Fender Dual Showman) and is modeled after the 100 watt amp that Hendrix acquired in 1968 and used between ’68 and ’69 with the Experience tour. It features a 3-band EQ, Spring Reverb and Tremolo. Once again when playing Hendrix style riffs and flipping through the presets I found these amp models to sound fabulously accurate. The JH Gold can get super furious and the JH Dual sounds great when focusing on cleaner tones. These amps have a lot of vintage mojo, that’s for sure. I don’t know how IK does it. They have come a long way in recent years with the accuracy. They are definitely the ones to watch for top-notch amp modeling software and they will reap the benefits of adopting the iOS platform at an early state. Both apps also feature varying cabinet options and the choice of either using a condenser or dynamic microphone.
Also included in the package are some of Hendrix’s favorite effects pedals featuring the Uni-V (based on the Univox Uni-Vibe), the Octa-V (based on the Roger Mayer Octavia), the Fuzz Age (based on the Arbiter Fuzz Face), the Wah 46 (based on the Vox V846 Wah), and the Noise Filter effect borrowed from AmpliTube. All of these effects, especially when used with the factory presets, seem very true to the originals. I haven’t played vintage versions of these pedals personally, but just judging on how close the presets sound compared to the recordings, IK did a real good job modeling these effects.
Both apps include a Song Player which allows you to load up your favorite tune (or anything else from your devices iPod) and play along with it using the built-in effects and amps. Another welcomed addition is the Speed Trainer, which lets you take a song and slow down the tempo so that it’s easier to learn (much needed necessity considering these two guitar legends). The Song Player also includes the ability to eliminate the voice from the track so you can sing along too!
Additionally, you also have the ability to record your riffs or songs using the Single-Track Recorder. The recorder is expandable to 4 tracks through in-app purchase. If that’s not enough, you can also purchase a Master Effects section that includes EQ, Compression, Delay and Reverb. One could record an entire song using these expanded features using track bouncing and editing.
Bringing it on home for an amazing feature set is the inclusion of MIDI. You can plug in IK’s iRig MIDI interface to control the bypass status of the stomps or switch presets remotely using a MIDI foot controller.
All in all this is an excellent portable guitar package for iOS devices. It is absolutely mind blowing what you have in the palm of your hand these days. The iRig Stomp interface sounds great and seems like quite the upgrade from the original iRig considering it’s buffered active circuit and stereo 1/4″ outputs. Both AmpliTube Slash and AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix would astonish any fan of these Rock n’ Roll icons by faithfully recreating their gear and giving the user an outlet to jam along with their classics. The prices of these items are extremely modest considering their feature sets. –Gus Green