Back in 2010 Travis reviewed the iRig and initial AmpliTube app for the iPhone. My wife and kids bought me one soon after it was released, and I have used it for the past couple of years, first with the standard Amplitube app and more recently with the custom-branded Fender edition. AmpliTube has earned a reputation for great sound and accurate modeling with excellent effects, and hope to continue this winning trend with their newly released ‘AmpliTube Slash Signature Edition’, which celebrates the famed Guns N Roses guitarist’s favored Marshall stacks, along with a host of presets and effects. Let’s take a look – and more importantly, a listen!
IK has worked in cooperation with Slash to model his entire rig comprised of 2 must-have classic rock amplifiers – the Marshall JCM Slash Edition Silver Jubilee and the Marshall AFD100 – both equipped with Slash preferred 1960 Marshall speaker cabinet. Together with these sought-after amplifiers users will be able to chain up to 6 pedals effects that includes Slash signature Delay, Gate, Octave/Fuzz, Chorus, Booster and Wah/Distortion. The rig is fully configurable so the pedals can be freely combined in a 3 to 12 effects chain with one or two simultaneous amplifiers and cabinets plus microphones, depending on the version.
As noted, iRig and AmpliTube have become widely used and more or less ‘standards’ when it comes to high quality guitar interfaces and amplifier simulation for the iPhone and iPad. They offer affordable amp simulation and a wide array of effects that combine seamlessly to offer a nearly limitless array of sounds. I say ‘nearly limitless’ because as the saying goes you can only go as far as your base material takes you. So if you have AmpliTube Fender, prepare for great Fender amp sounds … but not a Roland Jazz Chorus.
So while the original AmpliTube has loads of great amp options, they have been unable to come up with the full-on classic crunchy Marshall sound – until now! AmpliTube Slash does two major things: it brings a huge number of Slash-endorsed amp & effect setups to guitarists for easy access, and it provides two classic Marshall amps to use and tweak to your heart’s content.
The basic review is pretty simple: AmpliTube is a ‘must have’ for a guitarist with an iOS device; AmpliTube Fender provides such great Fender amp sounds that is worth an additional purchase; and now AmpliTube Slash comes along and demands you make ANOTHER purchase. And I recommend it even if you are not a huge fan of Slash or GnR (which describes me pretty well) – for three reasons: sounds, effects, and performance/options.
The bottom line is that if your amp sounds like crap it can really devastate your music – it can throw off your arrangements, force balance changes, and muddy the sound. Over the last few years we have seen more ‘virtual amps’ come along, but too often they are like the ‘rock guitar’ patch on most synths – they resemble the real thing but don’t hold up under strain.
The core sounds of the two Marshall amp stacks are extremely detailed and well modeled. Also, they each offer dual-channels, and multi-band equalization. Unlike too many amp apps, these knobs provide you with enough functionality to allow you to truly sculpt your tone. As mentioned, every amp sounds different on stage than in your basement or a dingy club, so it is important to have a simulator that will allow you to adapt. I found I could get great tone through headphones, into a portable fold-up iPad speaker outside, and through my practice amp.
Apart from their excellent amp modeling work, IK Multimedia has done an excellent job modeling the stomp boxes and effects used by guitarists in a multitude of settings. The pinnacle of this is represented in AmpliTube Slash. From distortion to delay and chorus, the effects are deep and versatile, with well thought-out settings to allow you to have subtle or brutal effects or anywhere in between! Switching in effects is simple – tap on the effect slow, and a list pops up. Tap your choice and start twiddling those knobs! Oh – and just like in real life you can change the routing order to change up the sounds.
You can parallel process through four effects at a time, as well as the amp modeling. If that sentence doesn’t knock you off your feet you obviously weren’t around for the early years of digital audio! That it was just over 15 years ago that we could barely process audio in real-time through high-end computers, and now I can have multi-effects and a robust amp simulator all at once is staggering to me.
AmpliTube users have gotten spoiled by always having easy access to a great tuner and metronome, and with each new release the multi-track recording and playback gets much better. We now have full MIDI integration as well as song mode for recording and jamming to backing tracks There are also help guides to get you started and help you as you proceed.
As I have said, the amount of technology stuffed in this software is amazing, but even more stunning is that the app loads in a few seconds, responds instantly, and never skips a beat regardless of what you throw at it. That makes the software extremely inviting – you are never waiting for effects to load or apply or anything else: you make a selection and it just happens.
But again it all comes back to the sound. When I first plugged in, I was using my Joe Pass jazz guitar – but AmpliTube Slash is a rock guitarist’s dream, so I found myself quickly grabbing my solid-body Ibanez and cranking up the sound and just losing myself to the possibilities of the presets. For the video below I am much more constrained – I look at a few presets and walk through some of the features, but my best advice is to check it out for yourself. I always recommend the free version first: if you are using it all the time, you know the full release will be money well spent. And for me, this app definitely falls into my advised ‘must have’ collection for rock guitarists.
Head to IK Multimedia for more info – or better yet, grab the free demo to try for yourself!
Here is an interview with Slash about the new iPad app:
HAnd finally, here is a hands-on review with Amplitube Slash:
Review: Amplitube ‘Slash’ Signature Edition
Where to Buy: iTunes App Store, also for iPhone
What I Like: Excellent sound quality; great selection and versatility of effects; no crashes or slow-downs at all; great to finally get an authentic Marshall sound!
What Needs Improvement: Nothing!
Source: Publisher provided review code