About the Quick Chord Progression
At the top you see a video I recorded with the newer version of the amp simulation plugin called AmpliTube. I played that quick chord progression to test a preset I created. I do usually prefer to create my own amp and pedal presets in amp sims, and I haven’t done it differently this time in AmpliTube 5. I didn’t test any of the “factory presets”, I went right away into it and created my own. I somehow fell in love with the British Blue Tube 30TB amp, it’s a simulation based on the real Vox AC30 amp. As simulated pedals, I’ve used the Dcomp pedal, which is a compression pedal based on the real MXR Dynacomp. A delay pedal that is based on traditional delay pedals and a vintage Opto-tremolo pedal. In the rack channel of AmpliTube 5, I’ve also added another digital delay, a digital reverb effect, and a Black 76 Limiting Amplifier. In the Ableton Live master channel, I’ve added a convolution reverb plug and some mastering stuff.
Talking About AmpliTube 5 in Detail
People who’ve seen my guitar videos know that I use and love the amp simulation plugin called AmpliTube. Not sure how I could miss it but they released a new version by the end of the last year. Well, I’ve been busy and didn’t stay up to date with a lot of things. But when I found that out yesterday, I checked out some reviews and had to get it immediately. If you’re into amp sim plugins as well, you will probably ask if it’s worth the upgrade from AmpliTube 4 to AmpliTube 5. And as always, I am going to be brutally honest.
Let’s start with the bad stuff first. The graphical user interface does now look better as they gave all the simulated gear a much better graphical design but the issue is, with that they also restructured the whole interface and it sucks big time. I am now talking about the usability and gosh it is as bad as I make it sound. I’m literally a hardcore computer user since my teenage and if my brain can’t comprehend or constantly gets stuck on the pathway to certain features in a tool, you can be sure the interface design is outright horrible. I actually start to generalize, I mean, this is now visible in the whole software industry and even with web services. I don’t know where all those new GUI designers get their design philosophies from. I think the main issue might be that this is now a generation that has grown up with smartphones. How else is it possible that so much stuff is now designed in a way that it makes you want to throw your computer mouse, your keyboard, and PC screen against the wall because you feel like the software is designed to be used with your fingers and a touch screen or basically mobile devices?
Usually, that is absolutely enough for me as a PC user to make a big bow around the tool and continue to use the previous version or look for alternatives but this time it is different. Why? Because the good stuff outweighs the horrible usability of AmpliTube 5. I probably don’t need to tell you that I will now talk about the positive stuff if I say that AmpliTube 5 is a massive improvement compared to AmpliTube 4. They changed their impulse response or simulation engine. Previously, in AmpliTube 4, I couldn’t lose the thought that many of the simulated amps sounded the same or just slightly different. That has changed, now you can really hear the differences and what kind of amps the simulation presents. Next, and this is something even I didn’t spot in the review videos but only started to notice when I checked AmpliTube 5 out myself, is the fact that it does now respond much more like a real amp if you know what I mean.
I’ve seen many people wondering whether it is the placebo of using a new tool or in fact true. I was at that stage yesterday too but came to the conclusion that the new impulse responses are in fact improved in a way that you indeed get the feeling of a more responding simulation. It’s something that you don’t notice in a video, it’s something you feel as a guitar player, it’s something that influences your playing positively, it’s really something that only guitar players understand and that has been content of the real amp versus amp simulation discussion for a long time. Now, IK Multimedia didn’t invent something new here, impulse responses seem to have always made the difference if the amp simulation sounded or felt right, I am just saying that this is what they now massively improved in AmpliTube 5. So, yes, the simulated amps within it do now all sound and feel different from each other.
Yes, it makes them feel and sound more alive, quite a bit more closer to the feeling I get when I go into a guitar store and play with a real amp. I know, an amp in a room where sound can bounce off the walls, is still different. But again, I am talking about how an amp does respond when you hit the strings, and that’s what is massively improved with AmpliTube 5 now. With that, and I am not sure if it’s just a side-effect of the improved sound engine or impulse responses, all and I really mean all simulated pedals within the plugin feel and sound better as well. You know what? I actually had the idea to build a real pedalboard for amp sim usage but now I am not that sure anymore.
The digital pedals in AmpliTube 5 sound far better now than the ones in AmpliTube 4. I might still build a real pedalboard at some point but now that would be more motivated by the love for guitar-related stuff in general, not so much motivated by the fact that something sounds off in the software, like the bad sounding distortion or overdrive pedals in AmpliTube 4 as an example. No, that is now improved too, and again, I haven’t done any research to find out if they improved them too or if it’s a side-effect of the improved sound engine. But that doesn’t matter to me. Fiddling around with some overdrive pedals in AmpliTube 5, made me play minor and major pentatonic upside down for 3 hours straight while listening to one of my freshly created backing loops. And that is what guitar playing is supposed to be! Love, spending time with the instrument, much time.
Big thumbs up to IK Multimedia, I almost assumed this would be the fairly common “Here is our barely-improved new version, give me your money!” snake oil of the software or tech industry but nope, this is a fairly decent upgrade. Thumbs up for that, despite the awful usability of the graphical user interface (laugh)! Check AmpliTube 5 out here if you’re into amp simulation.