I’m sort of a Fender fanboy so when I saw that IK Multimedia was issuing a Fender branded Amplitube app for the iOS platform, I perked up. In the past I’ve played around with IK’s previous offering called AmpliTube and while I was pleased in general with the sounds, I found the choice of amps were pretty generic and wished there were models based on specific real-world amps. They obviously thought the same thing.
IK Multimedia has now offered us 5 amps based on Fender classics such as the ’59 Bassman, ’65 Twin, Supersonic, Pro Junior and the Deluxe Reverb. All the amps include controls and speaker cabinets as the amp modeled, as well as the choice to chose from other cabinets and mics. On top of that they have also included some new Fender branded effects that include a noise filter, overdrive, tape echo, phaser, compressor, and the unique and rare Fender Blender.
Just like IK’s AmpliTube, Fender has an intuative layout and beautifully rendered graphics and delivers a host of useful tools like a tuner, metronome, speedtrainer, and an audio recorder. If you’re so inclined, you can also buy a few additions via in-app purchasing such as a four-track recorder and mastering FX.
In the video below you can hear my walk-through on the AmpliTube Fender’s sound:
What I liked
The amps and effects included in this app feel like faithful reproductions of classic Fender products. I like that the reverb and tremolo are not a separate effect but instead are included as part of the actual amps they are modeled after. The interface looks great and it’s cool to see the controls of the amp and effects and interact with the actual knobs. The sounds are incredible and I could see myself using them in an actual recording.
What I’d like to see changed or included
From the standpoint of a musician who is actually using his iPhone and iPad to record music, I found it was lacking in a few areas as it pertained to workflow and signal quality. I’m constantly using other apps to create drum tracks or sequence songs. Most of these apps have made it real easy to share files back and forth with use of AudioCopy/AudioPaste, AmpliTube has not implemented this yet. AmpliTube does allow you to send your files back to your computer via iTunes file sharing, but it’s not the easiest way to work with other apps.
The other thing I’d like to see implemented is the option to use hardware that connects to the dock instead of the headphone input. IK Multimedia provides it’s own interface called iRig which works great for practice, but if you’re looking for any serious use of their apps, you might find that the noise levels introduced through the headphone input unacceptable for anything more than demos. I did however manage to record some raw guitar files in another app using an interface that utilized the iPhone dock and was able to import those files for use in AmpliTube. The video above used that technique. So if you’re interested in using AmpliTube Fender to re-amp your guitar, there is a work-around, and it sounded wonderful once the noise was gone.
The only other thing I found a bit strange was that the volume knobs on the amps acted like a pre-amps. Depending on how hot the inputs were, they would start to overdrive at around 3-4. I own several Fender amps and they all just get louder (while staying clean) unless you overdriving the input. But it wasn’t a big deal, if you want them clean, just keep them around 3 and pump up the output in the setup section.
If you’re looking for the classic sparkling Fender sound, you’ll find AmpliTube Fender to be the closest thing next to dragging out that heavy Fender Twin. It’s a lot of fun to play with and with a couple of work-arounds you might find it useful for a lot more than just a simple practice amp.
The full version of Fender Amplitube is available on the iTunes appstore or you can download the trial version, or if you have AmpliTube 2 for the iPhone or iPad you can purchase Fender amps and FX via the in-app purchase.