Amplitube 5... Quick Review

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RPaul
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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by RPaul » Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:52 pm

Ted,

Yeah, there's a whole lot of variety in the quality of YouTube reviewers, but it seems like what most companies really want is someone who can get their stuff in front of lots of people, and who at least seem "cool" to their customer base. I also sometimes see production tips-type videos where the videos feel a bit like a turn off for the products because what they're doing with them feels so lame to me. But some of those same videos might be major turn ons for others who maybe aren't musicians per se but are wanting to construct songs out of loops or something. (And, just to be clear, I'm not dissing constructing songs and/or recordings out of loops -- I use MIDI loops on the drums front quite a bit, and also some loop library-based techniques for rhythm guitar parts. I'd generally rather play something than program it. It's more that what they're showing in some of these videos is so totally uninspiring.)

There are definitely loads of people who can play piano better than me, too, especially in terms of technique. On the local live front, a lot of people who've seen me play think I'm a really accomplished piano player, but the truth is my technique isn't the greatest, but I make up for it in musicality. I read an interview with Billy Joel once where he claimed not to be a very accomplished piano player, but he could do what he needs to do to suit the song. I'm pretty sure he's way more accomplished than I am on the technique front (playing his "Root Beer Rag" reminds me of that pretty much every time), but I really liked that statement as that is probably about where I sit.

On the bass stuff, I just got into Trilogy early, and Trilian was the natural follow-on to that. I did an online course about Trilian earlier this year to help me understand it better, and there is really a lot of its capabilities that I don't use, but it's served me well just as an instrument (and I was always playing a lot of left hand bass in the bands I had in high school due to bass guitar players who were just playing bass because we needed a bass player and didn't need, for example, a saxophone on every song).

I'm not sure I've even tried out Abbey Road Drums, though I'm pretty sure they're part of KOMPLETE. I was using Stylus RMX a fair bit in the past, but, ever since Toontrack came out with the original EZ Drummer, I've mostly stayed within their ecosystem except in cases where I really want electronic-sounding drums. (They also cover that sort of thing now, but their original stuff was mostly acoustic drum sets. That is still the key area, though, where I am at least somewhat more likely to use other products, partly because the workflow needs tend to be a bit different in those cases.)

Had to look up the XP-80. I see it was kind of a keyboard version of the JV-1080, and around the same period when I was using that rack module. Synths were still kind of new (at least for the average musician) when I got my first electronic keyboards. My main keyboard through most of high school and college was a Farfisa VIP 600 organ. It had cheesy organ sounds, but it also had some sounds that decayed, like piano and harpsichord, and a sustain capability on one side of the volume pedal. Also some separate bass sounds, if I remember correctly. I had another Farfisa organ for a short time before that, but it was really just an organ. I also had a Micromoog synth sitting on top of it, but that was a pain in the butt because it had no presets. I mainly used it for leads and occasional sound effects. I got rid of my organ (and the ridiculously hard to move Leslie cabinet) when I moved from the East Coast to California. I'd had the Juno 60 by that time, and I think I got a DX7 not too terribly long after moving to California. I know I also got a Roland TR-909 drum machine, and I was using the Juno and 909 in my earliest "real" multitrack recordings. (Not counting the ones I made during high school going back and forth between two cassette decks to overdub.)

For controllers, I was using whatever keyboards I had with sounds, initially the DX7 (the Juno didn't have MIDI), then a Roland Rhodes MK-88 and Alesis Quadrasynth Plus Piano. But, when I sold my house back in 2012, I also got rid of most of my hardware gear. I kept the Quadrasynth for live stuff for a while, but, once I moved into my current place, I picked up a Roland A-88 and A-800PRO controllers for studio use. (I also have an Akai EWI-USB wind controller.) I eventually replaced the Quadrasynth with a Jupiter 50 for live use, but I haven't used it for recording.

I'd definitely suggest you use your digital piano to trigger your piano libraries. Having weighted keys makes a big difference in playability. I pretty much only use my A-88 for piano as I have to walk across the room to track with it. The A800-PRO sits on my desk, so it is convenient for everything else. I wouldn't mind replacing that at some point, maybe with the sort of NI keyboard you are using, but this will do for now.

Rick

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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by KennyWayneBuffalo » Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:16 am

Very interesting. I have used Amplitube 3 and 4. While I do like them, I rarely use them. I have been just using my pedalboard plugged into my interface, but I'm finding the sound may be a bit too "digital" or basically not the best sound possible. So I am going to be trying my SM57 and my amp, that seems like what most people do. I did also buy the IK Total Studio Maxx recently and it is monstrous. There are many sounds that will fit the "dated" reference for listings, but they can be tweaked. But I really had no orchestral software, so getting Miroslav Philharmonik in that package for an upgrade price was very nice.
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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by Ted » Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:03 pm

KennyWayneBuffalo wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:16 am
Very interesting. I have used Amplitube 3 and 4. While I do like them, I rarely use them. I have been just using my pedalboard plugged into my interface, but I'm finding the sound may be a bit too "digital" or basically not the best sound possible. So I am going to be trying my SM57 and my amp, that seems like what most people do. I did also buy the IK Total Studio Maxx recently and it is monstrous. There are many sounds that will fit the "dated" reference for listings, but they can be tweaked. But I really had no orchestral software, so getting Miroslav Philharmonik in that package for an upgrade price was very nice.


Ken, thanks for your input. When did you buy Total Studio 2 Max? If it was after October 15th, check your IK account-- there might be a free upgrade to Amplitube 5 SE waiting for you-- and if there is, and you already own 4 Max (which is included in TS2Max) the stuff available to you in Amp 5 SE will be much more substantial than regular SE.

For Christmas I got a nice set of Stew Mac guitar setup tools and I finally set up my fretless Jazz Bass with a nice low action and fired up the Ampeg bass amps in Amplitube 5 and was jamming for hours-- besides the guitar amps, the bass amps sound miles better in the new one too.

The Miroslav PH2 was a nice surprise for me-- I have some other libraries that I like but this one is pretty comprehensive and has a lot of options-- I haven't done a ton with it yet, but I've made some great layered user presets. Whenever I play with the Miroslav, it inspires me to come up with a lot of ideas. It just has a feel to it that resonates with me.

I know what you mean about some of the sounds in Syntronik possibly sounding dated-- because they are literally sampled vintage synths. I started working on a listing for 80's power ballads and I'd made some layered presets in Syntronik-- and Syntronik hit the vibe perfectly. Really a nice thing to have if you're working on listings that cover several styles/eras and you want authentic sounds.

One slight negative however... today when I went into Amplitube to play some guitar-- I found that some of the new gear I'd gotten had been locked. I sent off a tech support email to IK and they said that there was a minor glitch on their end that led to some people getting gear they shouldn't have received-- and they "corrected that". (I thought it seemed strange that I'd been given the MiniPlex 20). So now I'm missing a few pieces of gear and can't use some of the presets I was bragging about earlier. They basically said they'd made a mistake in giving me that gear and rectified it-- so I'd have to pay $150 to upgrade to get that stuff back-- not gonna happen. I understand mistakes happen with a massive rollout, but it's annoying to have something taken away from you after you've already started using it on projects. It wasn't my screwup, but then again they gave me the SE upgrade for free so I can't complain too much. Hopefully in the next year they'll offer a good discount on upgrades to 5 MAX.

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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by KennyWayneBuffalo » Sat Jan 09, 2021 4:12 pm

Thanks for the review. I had used the previous versions, and they are okay, but I did get a lot of hum and noise from some of the amp models. I wasn't going to download this new version, but I am doing it now. The sound I'm getting in my recordings isn't quite there yet, so I will give this a try.
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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by Ted » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:04 am

KennyWayneBuffalo wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 4:12 pm
Thanks for the review. I had used the previous versions, and they are okay, but I did get a lot of hum and noise from some of the amp models. I wasn't going to download this new version, but I am doing it now. The sound I'm getting in my recordings isn't quite there yet, so I will give this a try.
Cool. After you have some time to try it out let me know what you think.

I did some recording last night and made some personal comparisons between my benchmark "clean" tone amp sim-- Neural DSP's Archetype Cory Wong, which I love with my Strat/Tele-- and the clean Fender sounds in the new Amplitube. I found the Amplitube 5 cleans to be just as good as the Neural-- with a lot more variety and tweakability. I did find that with some of the vintage Fenders, they behave like real amps in the sense that if you want a super clean sound with no breakup, it's best to dial in lower volume settings on the amps themselves and then turn up the master output. I also played with several high gain amps and then pulled up Neural's Nolly amp sim (another favorite-- usually for my humbucker rock tones) and found that Amplitube 5 had closed the gap there as well.

I sometimes get noise-- regardless of whether I'm using Amplitube/Guitar Rig/etc-- and in my case I think it's due to a combination of physical causes outside my software-- especially with single coils. There are a couple of good noise gate pedals in Amplitube which can take care of some of my problems. Last night I was recording bass guitar in a place that used a lot of dimmer switches for the lighting and could't really defeat the noise in that situation (might have also been a battery in the preamp going out, because the Strat didn't hum).

I did notice that in a lot of the upgraded legacy presets there can be a variance in output levels from preset to preset. They sound unbelievable but I'm often finding a bit of clipping somewhere in the signal chain that I have to correct. It would be great if they could fix this in a future update.

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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by KennyWayneBuffalo » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:12 am

I checked Amplitube 5 out and it has more amp models now, and I really like that they are sorted into "clean, crunch" and whatever the high-gain was called. It was sounding pretty good with the clean and crunch models, but the ones for high gain are noisy. I suppose if I were to play metal or something like that it could work. It reminded me of "Fender Fuse" which Fender created to tweak their modeling amps. I had a Fender Mustang amp years ago. I must have had the free versions of Amplitube 3 and 4, because I didn't have a lot to work with. But I will try recording something with this in the future.
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Re: Amplitube 5... Quick Review

Post by Ted » Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:15 am

Ken,

Thanks for your first impressions. Yeah, I also like how the amps are organized (although some of the high gain amps can have great clean tones and the clean amps can be driven to high gain). I've not personally found the high gain amps to be noisy-- Usually I'm using guitars with humbuckers with those amps. One high gain amp that I tried which did require a noise gate was the German 34, which is modeled on a Bogner. In some of my other amp sims there are built in noise gates on most of the presets anyway.

After spending a lot of time on amps and presets in Amplitube 5, I've now started auditioning and comparing all the different pedals.... very impressive. I've also been experimenting with the different microphones, cabs and even speaker types. I will never get tired of it.

My main amp for a long time was a Fender Cyber-Twin. I liked that amp, though ironically at the time I wasn't really into Fender clean tones-- all I wanted to do was shred-- tbh at the time I should have just bought a 5150 amp for the tomes I wanted. With the Cyber-Twin, you change presets and all the knobs turn robotically. Cool feature but I should have known it would be trouble. Eventually the data wheel developed a glitching problem where it would jump from preset to preset in an erratic fashion. I still have that amp and it sounds great-- might use it to re-amp some parts eventually--it's just a pain to dial in the right preset sometimes.

Looking forward to hearing some of your recordings.

Ted

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