Review IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3 for iPad

It has taken me so long to write up this review on IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3 simply because I am blown away and don’t know where to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. I remember when the Rockman hit the market. Everyone was blown away by this great little personal practice headphone amp. The problem with the Rockman was you had no choice but to sound like Tom Scholz from Boston when using the Rockman. It was very limited in its settings and flexibility. Ultimately that was the cause of death for the Rockman.

Fast forward to today and guitarist now have options. There is no shortage of personal practice apps on the web for guitar players.  The iTunes store is full of tuners and trainers for the technology connected guitarists. Being a new but late adopter of the iOS it was time for me to get connected with my iPad. When polling my guitar playing peers here at one app was suggested by all, IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3.

Upon install I must say I was very happy to see the variety of amps. Being a Fender player the interface for the “clean” amp seemed very familiar in sound and functionality. With the aid of a few stomp box and cabinet selections it was very easy for me to find my go to number 1 tone. The analog feel to the user interface makes dialing in setting as easy as using a real amp and stomp boxes.

With the click of a button I was able to switch heads while retaining my effects configuration. This gave me the ability to audition my sound with a variety of classic heads. When landing on the very familiar “crunch” head I was thrilled with the authenticity of the sound. I switched out my effects for an overdrive, phazer and cocked wah and started blasting out some classic Brian May. The wah is amazing, it can be set in auto mode or in a user defined cocked position simply by sliding your finger up and down the pedal. With the cocked wah in play I decided to switch over to the English inspire “lead” head and easily dialed in some 80’s inspired Alex Lifeson.

The AmpliTube 3 is not all about geezer rock settings. IK Multimedia have done their homework and know the younger generation are typically the early adopters for this type of technology. There are 3 ‘metal” heads to choice from. These heads will take you from the brown tones of VanHalen all the way to the heaviest Scandinavian metal.

Guitar players from all genres will enjoy this app it isn’t all about rock and metal tones. I was able to dial in great country, jazz and fusion tones with the AmpliTube 3. I even played around with the “bass” head on a 4×12 cab with the fuzz and octave pedal. It was pure hipster heaven.

The AmpliTube 3 also comes loaded with valuable tools including of course a tuner but surprisingly also a metronome. A metronome is the best way to get your scales clean and precise kids. There are also great presets to give you a great starting point to dial in tones like “Seattle” and countless others.

Just when I thought the AmpliTube 3 had shown me all it had to offer I stumbled onto the recording function. No mics to setup, no confusing or complicated DAW to deal with. I only had to hit the record button and I was off and running with a very realistic sounding drummer. I put the playback on a loop and was jamming away in style. AmpliTube 3 has support for up to 8-tracks of digital recording. If you are comfortable with a DAW AmpliTube Studio DAW-style editing suite is just a download away.

Pushing the AmpliTube 3 over the edge for me is the midi support. The AmpliTube 3 will interface with a midi foot controller making it very gig friendly. AmpliTube 3 sounded as good directly into my PA as it did through the headphones. I would have no second thoughts about bringing AmpliTube 3 to a gig. There is also a iKlip tablet holder that securely attaches your tablet to a music or mic stand available on the AmpliTube 3.

Out of the box the AmpliTube 3 is more than powerful. If you want to expand your horizons they are additional downloads available. Maybe this will wet your “appetite” the AmpliTube Slash for iPad app is only $14! If you are a little more old school the AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix app is the same price. And yes you can audition the settings before you purchase them.

As I said at the beginning of this column there is so much value in this app I didn’t know where to start. Now I don’t know where to stop. I guess a good place to wrap this up is with this video where Slash takes you a bit deeper into the world of IK Multimedia.