AmpliTube for iPhone is one of the most complete amplifier emulator packages on the market. It’s also one of the packages out there with a great number of variations for you to choose from. There is AmpliTube FREE, AmpliTube LE and the full version of AmpliTube. There are also free and full versions of AmpliTube Fender. If you start with the free version and decide you like what you’ve got, you should decide at that point if you’re likely to want to purchase in-app or if you’re better off upgrading to LE or the full version. Whatever you do, stick with one. In-app purchases don’t transfer between apps. This isn’t a fault of AmpliTube, it’s just the iOS app way.
Me? I ended up going with AmpliTube LE. Then I bought big. Let’s see what you can end up with … using my usual black and white imagery (below).
I’ll point out now that of the interfaces I have, GuitarConnect Cable and AmpKit Link work perfectly. GuitarJack does not work at all. IK Multimedia (makers of AmpliTube) do also make their own interface—iRig—but I don’t own that one. I do own their Stealth Plug for PC connectivity, but that’s another article.
So, once connected, I like to tune up first. Luckily AmpliTube has a handy and accurate little tuner. It can be accessed two ways that I know of. One way is through the Tools menu and the other is by clicking the little Tuner icon in the bottom of most screens. This technique allows you to quickly tune from no matter where you are in the app. It essentially puts whatever you were doing on hold, lets you tune, and at the push of a button, return to whatever it was you were doing. Cool.
As you can see from the first screenshot below, I’m perfectly tuned to E. You can see that in the main part of the screen and at the bottom of the screen (which appears on many screens throughout the app). It’s worth pointing out at this stage that the Tools screen also contains the Metronome and Audio Demo features. I believe the Metronome speaks for itself. The Audio Demo feature allows you to … play little audio demos. These just served to remind me that I really do need to practice my guitar playing.
The next area of this rockin’ little app is the FX area. AmpliTube allows you to use three active effect pedals at any one time. You simply choose the pedal you want in FX1, then FX2 and finally FX3. If you don’t want three pedals, you leave the unused effect area empty.
Selecting the pedal is easy. Just under the main menu on the top of the app you see the names of the pedals you have available. Scroll through those until you get the pedal you want in the FX area you’re in.
Changing the settings on each pedal is also easy to do. The obvious way is to touch a control knob and turn it. If you do this you might notice the value of the control is represented by a number and representative slider to the right of the pedal. You can use the slider to change the settings for any control knob that is selected.
See the images below to see the Overdrive pedal with edited Drive and Level settings.
All of the pedals work just like real-world pedals by the way. Touch the on/off footswitch and the pedal goes into bypass mode. Handy.
The Amp section works in many similar ways to the FX sections. Click the Amp button to view the amplifier options, scroll through your available amps then click and control the various knobs to edit the amplifier’s sounds. As there are generally more control knobs on an amp than there are on a pedal, you need to scroll across to access the control knobs not in view at any given time (if you want to be able to edit them).
Some of the additional features the amplifiers have include the ability to switch the cabinets and the microphones. The cabinet options are listed at the bottom of the amp screen allowing you to click the one you’re after. To change microphones, just click it (it will change to the next option you have).
As you can see from some of the screenshots below, each amp comes with its own cabinet options. Combining all of the FX and amplifier choices does of course mean you could spend hours creating your own unique sounds. I know I have. Very little playing, but a great deal of experimenting. Great fun all the same.
Once you’ve created your own unique sound you have the opportunity to save it as a preset. You also have the opportunity to use one of the pre-existing presets (which could mean you just wasted spent more time on sounds you hadn’t discovered yet).
You access the presets by clicking the Presets button that has been visible all the time in the bottom-left corner of the app.
From there, you can click through to any presets that may have come with the app or that you inherited with a purchase of amps/FX you made in-app.
As with many apps in the amplifier emulator category (that allow for presets) you can store your own presets by pressing and holding the place you’d like to store your sound. One of the benefits of this app is the number of presets that you can store (40 in total I believe). That’s awesome.
Next to the Preset button on the bottom row of the app is the Setup button. This takes you to the … Settings screen. On this screen you can adjust your input/output levels, turn on the use of the device’s built-in mic (pretty cool if you want to record using a standard acoustic guitar), adjust the latency, turn on the auto-sleep feature or turn on the background audio feature. This is cool if you want to continue to play guitar while AmpliTube is in the background of your iOS device. Rock on while you read your email!
The final button on the bottom row of the app is the Account button. If you haven’t registered the app, you should do so here. From memory all of the IK Multimedia iOS apps give you something extra in your app for registering. So, why wouldn’t you?!
The last main feature in AmpliTube is its recording section. By default you get a simple single-track recorder. It allows you to record and apply the effects of your choice after recording (this is very handy if you nail your guitar part but wish the sound was different). Only when you’ve got your sound perfected do you apply the effects to your recording.
Having said that, I went ahead and purchased the four-track recorder and Master FX section. With this in-app purchase you now have the ability to layer your own guitar tracks and enhance the recording’s sound quality by editing your song’s reverb, equaliser (or equalizer as used in the USA and this app) and compressor settings.
As you can see in the screenshots below, the main area below the cassette is changeable. This space can be changed (by sliding the area) between Volume, Pan, Insert FX and Reverb.
The basics are, arm the track you wish to record on, then hit the record button when you’re ready to begin. You can record with the metronome on as well (which is handy for those of us that tend to speed up as they play). Once you’ve recorded your tracks and applied the effects you desired you can export your track. You do this by clicking the tiny black and white Projects button that appears to the right of your song title.
This naturally takes you to a list of your saved projects. On this page you can reload your project, export it (as just mentioned), play it or duplicate it.
The last menu item on the top row of the app takes you to the Master screen. This screen is where you edit the reverb, equaliser and compressor settings that were mentioned earlier.
On this screen (and the multi-track recorder screen) you can also use the Bounce button to bounce all of the tracks you have into one track. Doing so allows you to record another three layers in the newly freed remaining tracks.
As mentioned earlier, you can export your recordings from AmpliTube. You can export them via file sharing, email or by exporting the tracks to your Songs list (making the song available in iTunes). Once you’ve made your choice, the exporting begins. You can of course choose all options (one after the other).
Those are the basics of this app. There are plenty of little details I’ve glanced over, but there’s one important feature I’ve not touched on yet. Sound quality. AmpliTube has some of the best sounds you’ll hear in the amplifier emulator field. One of the distinguishing factors for me is the creation of a good metal sound. Many apps provide a distortion or fuzz option. And many of them are good. To me though, those can can provide a true metal sound are the greatest. AmpliTube is absolutely one of those.
Just as I like to provide black and white imagery for everything on my website, I also like to provide you with poor quality guitar playing using high quality guitar sounds. So enjoy (perhaps) my multi-layered metal guitar riffage.