AmpliTube 4 ReviewOctober 22, 2018
Any guitarist working in the digital realm has heard of AmpliTube. Previous releases of IK Multimedia’s flagship products have strived for hyper-realistic simulations of real analog gear, and have largely succeeded in that endeavor. Amplitube is now in its fourth iteration, and each version has brought with it various improvements and new features. AmpliTube 4 is no different, bringing guitarists and bassists ever closer to the perfect digital tone, with guitar amps and effects modeling that rivals the real thing at the click of a button. Kids these days don’t know how good they have it, with access to a huge variety of gear ripe for endless tweaking, and which requires zero setup. We live in an age where you can pick up and play with studio-quality tones anywhere in the world with just an iPad. It’s truly incredible.
And while AmpliTube 4 is the definition of plug-and-play, with a wealth of great preset options to choose from right out of the gate, the sheer depth and customization available within Amplitube 4 can be a bit daunting at first. After a few hours with the program, you’re simply drowning in options and it’s easy to get caught up in analysis paralysis. Once you figure out which are your favorite amps and mics and speakers, though, you’ll quickly be able to dial in a great tone. Every amp sounds professional and virtually indistinguishable from the real thing in a mix. Even in standalone, the sounds are so much fun to jam out with. There are also some new ways to tweak your tones, like the ability to use rack effects in the stomp section and stomp effects in the rack section. I’m sure people will create all kinds of interesting sounds with this. So whether you just want to click a preset and jam out or you want to tweak every single button and dial, AmpliTube 4 has you covered.
There are quite a few changes from version 3, including a slick new look, new gear, and new features. The cab room has been totally revamped, allowing users an insane amount of flexibility in tweaking their tone. Not only can you select what cabinet you want and what environment you want it to be played in, you also can swap out individual speakers, you can move around multiple mics to find the perfect sweet spot, and even a mixer to adjust how much mic sound, ambiance, and direct amp sound you want. You can even choose which mic you want to record the room sound. Whether you want an airtight dead sound from a cabinet room or more ambient sounds like a live venue or studio, it’s entirely up to you. There are six of these three dimensional live rooms available, pretty much every industry standard microphone you can think of, and a huge assortment of speakers to choose from. Just tweaking the cab room section alone drastically altered the overall tone in my tests.
One of the coolest additions to AmpliTube 4 is the Acoustic Simulator, which is exactly what it sounds like. This pedal converts your DI signal into a convincing, realistic imitation of an acoustic guitar, and I feel that most people would not be able to tell the difference within a mix. I loved playing around with it!
AmpliTube 4 includes a new looper feature, but unfortunately, I struggled to get decent results with it. The space bar doubles as your record/play button, and without IK’s Blueboard wireless MIDI pedalboard controller you’re going to have a hard time using this feature. The simple eight-track DAW is alright for getting ideas down, though I felt it was a bit difficult to copy paste segments. I loved how you can slow down and speed up audio for practicing solos and riffs, though.
If you’re still using a 32-bit operating system, sadly you can’t use AmpliTube 4 as it’s 64-bit only. On Windows, you need an ASIO interface (I used my Avid Fast Track Duo). AmpliTube 4 comes with 25 amps by default, and bass guitarists may feel a bit left out as it only has 4 bass amps. Similarly, there are 40 guitar cabinets and just 6 for bass. Still, everything included sounds fantastic, so it’s hard to complain.
AmpliTube 4 allows you to build your own distinct collection of gear with its Custom Shop. The gear I downloaded from the Custom Shop (mostly Mesa-Boogie and ENGL gear, I’m a metalhead) was very impressive. I know I’ll be using this plugin for the foreseeable future on all of my mixes. Unfortunately, none of the branded gear is included with the standard version of AmpliTube 4. If you want to demo the gear available for purchase, you can download a free version of AmpliTube that will let you use each piece of gear for 72 hours.
AmpliTube 4 includes a new Ultra Tuner that is far more advanced and accurate than the old tuner. For some reason, the old tuner is selected by default, but I definitely recommend checking out the new version.
There’s a vast array of realistic-sounding stomp boxes, from overdrive/ screamer pedals to tube compressors, phasers, and delays. Some of them are IK’s own creations while others are famous brand-name pedals.
Overall, I came away very impressed from my time with AmpliTube 4, and with its vast improvements and massive gear list, it’s definitely worth the upgrade. Home users will be able to make a ton of unique and realistic sounds with just the base package and a few Custom Shop purchases, but professional engineers will probably want to pick up AmpliTube MAX, which features the largest collection of gear and the best value if you need absolutely everything.