IK Multimedia AmpliTube Fender Software
IK Multimedia, ikmultimedia.com
Originally published in Guitar World, November 2009
AmpliTube Fender not only captures those classic, highly sought-after tones in perfect detail but also duplicates more elusive attributes, like character and feel.
Most amplifier-modeling software packages are like a “greatest-hits” collection of instruments—Gibson Les Pauls and ES-335s, Fender Strats and Teles, a Martin D-18, a Rickenbacker 12-string, a Gretsch 6120, an Ibanez RG, a Jackson King V and so on. It’s a useful if somewhat scattershot assembly of tools that scratches the surface of many musical styles.
IK Multimedia’s new AmpliTube Fender software, on the other hand, specializes in one brand, offering a “vertical” collection that includes a few obscure rarities in addition to all the timeless favorites. This is more of the connoisseur’s approach, one that allows players to explore the finer details and variations of an amp company’s signature sound. While Fender has made a wide variety of amps that are appropriate to many styles, each one has a unique personality that is distinctly Fender, regardless of the specific model. Needless to say, if you consider yourself a Fender amp aficionado, AmpliTube Fender is the amp-modeling software for you.
While IK Multimedia has offered a wide variety of Fender amp models in previous AmpliTube packages, AmpliTube Fender is officially authorized by Fender and was developed with assistance from the company’s amp engineers and tone experts. Fender provided 49 exemplary pieces of gear for IK’s software engineers to emulate, and these new models capture even finer detail than ever before. Models include 12 amps (various tweed and blackface classics, contemporary favorites like the Vibro-King, Super-Sonic and MH-500 Metalhead, small combos and bass amps), 12 matching cabinets (from 1x6 to 8x10), nine microphones, nine Fender stomp box effects (the Fender Blender, Phaser, Fuzz Wah, Reverb and more), and seven Cyber Twin SE rack effects.
AmpliTube Fender can operate both as standalone software (ideal for players who want to use it live) or as a plug-in with AU-, RTAS- or VSTcompatible host DAWs. The software is arranged in five separate modules (tuner, pedal board, amp, cabinet and mic, rack effects), and you can configure two full rigs with up to 32 effects at once. Like other AmpliTube software packages, AmpliTube Fender can be combined with other IK Multimedia amp models using AmpliTube X-Gear, and players can control various parameters and engage effects live in real time using IK’s StompIO, StealthPedal or a standard MIDI controller.
A fully-maxed out rig can put a heavy load on a computer’s processor, but AmpliTube Fender keeps latency lags to an indiscernible minimum, so it feels like you’re playing through an actual amp. Obviously, performance also depends on your audio interface, and if you don’t already have a proquality IO device, you should consider using IK’s StompIO or StealthPedal for optimal performance, especially if you plan to use the software onstage. While AmpliTube Fender includes several amps that were modeled in previous IK packages, the versions here offer a significant improvement in sound, responsiveness and realism. The Vibro-King is a welcome addition, providing fat, punchy clean tones and warm, expressive overdrive. The Super-Sonic and MH-500 Metalhead models will please headbangers looking for something different from the same-old Marshall, Mesa and boutique hot-rod models. Some models, like the ’64 Vibroverb Custom, include a Stock/Mod switch that allows you to toggle between the original circuit and a popular modification.
The effect section is also good, with the ’63 Reverb, Blender and Tape Echo models being exceptional standouts. I’m a little more picky about effects, but thanks to X-Gear I was able to pick and choose my favorite stomp box models from other AmpliTube programs and continue on my way. The rack effects are nice additions that are convenient for creating a polished studio sound onstage, and they don’t bog down your CPU’s performance.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There's a good reason why Fender amps remain the preferred choice of many guitarists who play in a variety of styles—it’s the sound. AmpliTube Fender not only captures those tones in perfect detail but also duplicates more elusive attributes, like character and feel. Fender purists and enthusiasts will not be disappointed, and players looking for tones beyond the usual “greatest-hits” will enjoy crafting their own signature sounds with the Vibro-King, Metalhead and even the Champion 600 models.
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