Well, a bit later than I planned, but its been school holidays and….well, children are so exhausting, arn’t they?
Anyway, I end this review with a look at the meat in any sim sandwich, the amplifiers.
Now I know that IK are
ampsim pioneers and they have been at the vanguard of making iOS a viable platform for guitarists for over 350 years but, with a few exceptions, the amps stunk the place out. Brittle, harsh sounding things that sounded like it was still 1997. Desktop Amplitube I love, Amplitube iOS I left alone.
But that was all in the past, Amplitube 4 is a whole new bucket of enchiladas……well, to a certain extent, it is.
The stock amps, based on the Fender Twin, AC30 , Marshall and Boogie are vastly improved. All of them have greater clarity, warmth and texture to the tone. The Marshall is a revelation – Marshall, for whatever reason are very hard for ampsims to get right – but this one is as good as I’ve heard, urgent with a tremendous weight to the tone. The stock amps used to be terrible, flat little things, now they make the package worth it on their own.
Next come the Fender amps – I always quite liked these but the modelling had been left behind by Bias and Tonestack. Now the amps are better – the improvement is less marked here because the originals were better quality models. I especially liked the Twin, it had a very seductive shimmery quality and the Deluxe had a banging vibratio emulation.
With the Hendrix and Slash models, the improvements are more muted and (to my ears) the Slash Marshalls even sound a little more cold and brittle. The Hendrix JH Gold is a thing of subtle joy though.
Finally comes the big Orange package. As the originals were based on recent software, the improvements are there but muted. Certainly the clean tones are greatly improved – and that really is across the board, with pretty much every amp giving better articulation, clarity and presence.
Overdriven tones are improved but are still not the most convincing but distorted tones are still too often harshly cold and digital sounding (the exception here is a very good Soldano model).
Still, Amplitube 4 is a huge improvement. Pretty much everything sounds better, it is also more attractive and easier to use. But the preset system is still inadequate, there is far too little flexibility in the effect chain and the endless pushing of other IK products is more than a bit tiresome.
An improvement, but is that enough? All it’s rivals sound better, are more flexinle and more usable. Amplitube still sounds and feels two generations behind everyone else. Amplitube 4 is better, but IK need Amplitube 5 sooner rather than later.