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Review – IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3

Could this new amp modelling plug-in from IK Multimedia be the most comprehensive virtual guitar rig yet?

Software guitar amp emulation has come a very long way since Line 6 first wowed us with Amp Farm back in 1999. For the latest iteration of its AmpliTube solution, IK Multimedia has made a huge effort to get as close to the real thing as possible, pulling out all the stops to deliver both maximum variety and flexibility of control. The painstaking production techniques have paid off in a package that’s chock full of top-notch sounds, which are now more realistic than ever. Not only is the sound quality a big improvement on its predecessor, but the sheer size of AmpliTube 3 is frankly staggering. The software now features over 160 pieces of modelled vintage guitar gear, which includes a total of 31 amps, 45 speaker cabinets, 51 stompbox effects, 15 studio microphones and 17 rack module effects. In all, there are 30 brand new models, 70 reworked models from AmpliTube 2 and even some new bass gear models. The clean interface of AmpliTube 3 presents hundreds of preset sounds that are split into Clean, Crunch, Extreme, FX and Lead categories – and there are so many on offer that at first it’s difficult to know where to start.
The new Preset Browser window helps with this, however, and there are also some user-submitted presets that are available to download through IK Multimedia’s website. At this point, Logic 9 users who enjoy the benefit of Amp Designer and Pedalboard may be asking what the package has to offer for the relatively hefty price tag? The difference is in the sheer depth of the customisable options on offer. For instance, where Amp Designer offers a choice of three types of microphone – Ribbon, Condenser and Dynamic – AmpliTube 3 goes one step further by offering six different models each of Condenser and Dynamic, and three different models of Ribbon mic, all based on familiar real-world equivalents. Not only that, but you can also alter the room size and have up to two freely movable close mics and two ambient room mics for each setup. The tweak potential in AmpliTube 3 alone is enough to keep you playing around with it for hours at a stretch. Add to this the expansion potential for adding existing AmpliTube packages, the four-track riff trainer/recorder of the standalone version, impulse-based reverb effects, new creative rhythmic effects, new rotary speaker module, drag-and-drop stompbox and rack effect functionality, together with the new MIDI learn feature for assigning parameters to hardware controllers, and the result is an impressive piece of software that’s an indispensable addition to any guitarist’s armoury.