AF’s Weblog

June 29, 2010

Danelectro ’59 Original Guitar Review

We proudly present the fourth generation of 1959 Danelectro DC. The first, whose trade name at the time was the model 3021, was manufactured in the USA in 1959. Since then, production has been relocated to Asia. The second generation was produced in Korea from 1998 to 2001 with the Danelectro 59-DC Standard and the 59-DC Pro. The third, was Chinese-made in 2007, and, finally the model presented in this review, is also manufactured in the Middle Kingdom of Asia…

Once Upon a Time in America

Danelectro '59 OriginalIt is the United States in 1954 which gave birth to the Danelectro brand in the small seaside town of Nepture in New Jersey. Before launching his own proper range of products, Danelectro manufactured and subcontracted amplifiers for Epiphone. For many of the guru’s 6-string apprentices who wanted to caress the first electric instruments, the Danelectros were easily accessible via mail order catalogs inexpensively, or in any case much less expensively than the big brands at the time such as Fender or Gibson, the eternal rival. For example, in 1954, a basic Danelectro cost $69 versus $200 for a Telecaster. Today this makes us dream a little, hmm?  But either way, for musicians at the time, the choice was quickly made to the original east coast brand.

Revisited and Corrected

Danelectro '59 OriginalIf guitar shape is identical to the original edition, very close attention was nevertheless paid to errors in previous editions. After all, why not make something new, based on the old, but better?

The instrument grips very nicely. Like the original, the DC-59 is very light. The Masonite body (a type of plywood) is glued on a hollow wooden frame. Though not connected, it sounds incredible. The characteristics of the guitar craftmanship may suggest an instrument of rudimentary built, but it is precisely the simplicity of its building materials that give it its characteristic sonic color.

The neck crafted in maple with a rosewood fingerboard is very comfortable to hold. The model that we were given, however, deserves a little drop of lemon oil to unify the color of the wood at the fingerboard. The neck-to-body connection is perfect, which will provide more sustain and resonance to the instrument. The neck has 22 jumbo frets properly inserted and the finish on the back of the neck is painted with the same matte painting used on the rest of the body . Nothing to complain about regarding the finish! The double cutaway allows for a fast, accurate and comfortable high register of the instrument. The head was inspired by the shape of a famous brand’s beverage bottle. Yes, you can look elsewhere for models of time with these head shapes on the market affectionately named the “Coke Bottle” collection. It seems like the guitar was destined to be played by the bottleneck! Like anything, there are always explanations for legends … The chrome fittings on the first Korean edition in the late 90s is now an aluminum brushed on the new model. Question of taste, we like or dislike! This last detail is less noticeable, but still simple and very distinguished!

Past Mistakes Corrected

On the first reissues, vinyl tape applied around the sides of the instrument was not shocking, and it was not uncommon to see it peel off or even move gradually by the force of a player rubbing his forearm at the same place. This time, the designers have managed to replicate the original grainy side of the tape while ensuring its proper maintenance on the sides.

The saddle is very stable in aluminum. It is screwed and not pasted in the fingerboard spillover. As a consequence, the adjustment possibilities of the instrument are unfortunately greatly reduced. You can adjust the height of the bridge, but also – adjust the height of the bridge… No other settings are available, as a consequence intonation is not perfect, but for the price that people are asking for…

The pick guard, unique, adds a nice touch to this guitar. Note the unfortunate removal of the “hatch” on the back of the instrument. It was a good practice on old editions to re-tighten the nut on the output jack or to correct a potential problem of loose solder. With this model, you will have to remove the shield entirely… recommended only to handymen looking for a challenge.

We also miss the covers that came with the reissues of 90s, at the time, and more over, the mini travel amp that was thrown in for good measure… times are tough!

Now for the pickups …

Conclusion

Danelectro '59 Original
For a very nice price ($400), we have a quality Danelectro guitar with a fine and delicate finish playable by fingers and/or slide. We cannot say that Danelectro is a versatile guitar that can be used for any type of music, far from it. The clacking sound prevents this model from venturing into some softer genres such as jazz or even thicker such as the metal. For fat sounds, forget it.  But on the contrary, when it comes to fine sounds, sharp as a razor, you’ve come to the right place. Warning- this may make your ears bleed! For those who have never approached the legend closely, a test is certainly needed. Be wary though of impending addiction: when you buy a Danelectro, you want the entire collection! Let the Dano rule !

Advantages:

  • The price
  • Craftsmanship and neat finish
  • The look
  • The weight

Drawbacks:

  • The mechanics
  • The lack of an access door on the back
  • No cover like the reissues of 90s, and no mini travel amp included anymore… times are tough!

To read the full detailed article see:  Danelectro 59 Original Review

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June 23, 2010

Vox AC15VR Valve Reactor Combo Amp Review

Filed under: Amps — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 2:31 pm

A few years ago, Vox launched their legendary AC30 as an amp head or as a combo, all made in China at an affordable price. This year, VOX is spoiling us with a hybrid series, using a special amplification technology mixing transistors and tube. This 15 Watts model is what’s on the menu for today.

Hybrid Technology

Vox AC15VREveryone has heard of Marshall’s hybrid series (Valvestate) or Fender’s. It was often a mix between a transistor amplifier and a 12AX7 tube as a preamplifier.  This technique allowed them to smooth out a little transistor stiffness and also to allow these amps to properly take on the pedals’ full power. (reminds me of my Marshall 8080 First series).

VOX uses here a different technology in the VR series: The preamp section is provided by transistors and the op-amp, while the amplifying part is based on a single 12AX7! What ?!  This can’t be right!   I admit, I myself second guessed this specification, but it is correct and verified.  It is the same technology that was used in the Valvetronix series. This “amplification” tube has even been renamed “Valve Reactor” for the occasion.

Explanation: A 12AX7 tube is a dual triode, which is present in the circuitry only to give color to the sound. It is then connected to a solid state power amplifier where the transistor amplifier is more powerful and neutral than the tube amplifier. The tube therefore serves to color the signal, the bulk of the amplification being provided by the transistors.

Autopsy

Vox AC15VR

The amp features separate channels: a clear controlled by the “normal volume” and a channel focused more crunch / distortion with two gain levels (OD1 and OD2). The “master” section includes the overall volume of the amp. It is best to adjust the volume of the channel used to get the desired sound (gain level) and then raise the master meter to increase the general level, being careful not to push too hard, otherwise saturation is inevitable (but if you want to, go ahead!). In this same section, there is also a digital reverb that quickly becomes rough when you push a little volume. But it is enough to give a little life to clean sound if you do not exceed 9 o’clock on the dial. You can manually engage it the by raising the potentiometer or by using the optional foot switch. The latter also allows you to switch between channels.

The VOX AC 15VR is equipped with a two band equalizer bass / treble, like almost all VOX amps if I remember correctly. Pushing the bass potentiometer, it overwrites the signal to unravel the inherent charm of VOX amps. Try the setting Palm Mute pushed, and you’ll understand. As for the treble, the sound tends to become a little aggressive after 12 o’clock both on its clean and distortion channels.

Vox AC15VRWe notice a control panel that runs essentially unadorned or without any funky colors.  But don’t laugh at VOX, in this model there is no amp simulation, no useless effects, no loops effects, no direct output. You just plug and play!

On the rear panel, it is possible to connect an external speaker to the amplifier and to bypass the internal speaker.  Be careful to respect the 8 Ohms impedance and perform the operation when the amplifier is off!

Conclusion

Vox AC15VRTo conclude, this little amp found for less than $400 in the USA, is sufficient for guitarists who want to play at home with the master volume that can push the gain without making enemies in the neighborhood.  It has no Speaker output, but output to an external cabinet is possible. We appreciate the ease of use, the little time it takes to find good quality sound.  In short, unless you hate the sound philosophy and VOX itself you can buy it with your eyes closed.

Advantages:

  • Good value for the money
  • Construction Quality
  • Nice crunch
  • Output to connect another Speaker

Drawbacks:

  • A little heavy for a 15 Watt
  • The overdrive type 2 too dirty
  • Channel switching not very smooth

To read the full detailed review see:  Vox AC15VR Combo Amp

June 18, 2010

Vuvuzela Killers

Filed under: Plugin — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:23 am

How to Filter Out Vuvuzela Noise from FIFA World Cup Games

Let’s face it, unless you are actually in South Africa attending the World Cup and blowing your very own Vuvuzela, you can’t stand the cacophony that’s blaring out of your flat screen TV in the form of a thousand swarming mosquitoes. Luckily, a few plugins have been quickly developed to filter out that so so annoying buzzzzzzzz.

fifa logoYou can imagine my disbelief, Friday night watching the French game opening night of the FIFA World Cup 2010, out on the lawn, on a beautiful summer night, with 100 or so other fans, glaring at a big big screen, with a cool beer in my hand, when suddenly this annoying buzz started pervading my utopia, and never stopped.  First I thought it was a technical error, on the broadcasting station side, or maybe even the projector/mixer that we managed to connect.  Then I thought, as the night progressed, that maybe the beer is getting to my head and there is a swarm of locust about to descend on us like one of the 10 plagues of Egypt.

But no, I asked around, everyone shrugged their shoulders and said: “ah yes, it’s the African plastic trumpet thing”.  What??!! Well, make them stop!  How can we sit through a month of games with this horrible noise in the background.  Sure if I was in the stadium myself, perhaps, a little tipsy, I would think this was the greatest invention to football games, and already start looking into starting a small import business from China.  But I am not.  What are we going to do?  Well, luckily for us, we don’t need to do anything.  Several, enterprising gear manufacturers quickly cooked up some vuvuzela’s noise reduction/filtering plugins, to make it all go away.
Let’s take a look, eh?

Waves’ Vuvuzella Killa

vuvuzela killaWorking in conjunction with a major television broadcaster, Waves say they have crafted a preset processing chain which decreases Vuvuzela noise: The WNS Waves Noise Suppressor and the Q10 Paragraphic Equalizer. Together, they not only minimize Vuvuzela noise, they increase the intelligibility of the game announcers’ play-by-play action and color commentary, Waves assures.

The processing chain for Vuvuzela noise reduction is now available as load-and-use sessions for Pro Tools, Waves MultiRack, and Cubase.

Waves noise reductionparametric eqHow Does it Work?

A combination of dynamic broadband noise suppression and notch filtering are utilized to create the Vuvuzela noise reduction processing chain. Routing schemes and parameter settings were adjusted, contrasted and, compared; multiple instances of each plugin, with different settings, were ultimately used to achieve optimal results, according to Waves.

Yet, the question I would like to pose to Waves is:  With which major broadcaster have you managed to achieve these results?… so I can tune in!

To see more noise reduction solutions see:  Vuvuzela Killers

June 15, 2010

Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Guitar Review

When it comes to punk music, Gretsch is not really the first guitar brand you think about. And yet, Tim Armstrong, Rancid’s famous guitar player, chose the US brand for his signature model. Overview of the “no-future” Gretsch.

Tim Armstrong

The brand has been offering special and signature models for a long time. We have already tested here a model customized by pinstriping artist JimmyC. Moreover. Gretsch has already collaborated with big names in the guitar world including Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer (The Stray Cats), as well as hard-rock artists like Nono (Trust) or Malcolm Young (AC/DC). With Tim Armstrong, Gretsch takes one more step towards sound brutality!

Rancid is a punk rock band from California created in 1991 by Matt Freeman (bass) and Tim Armstrong (first guitar player to walk on the moon) who came from the ska punk band Operation Ivy. Rancid, together with Green Day and Offspring, was part of the American punk revival in the 1990’s. Their bestselling albums are “Let’s Go” and “…And Out Come the Wolves” (and its hits Ruby Soho, Time Bomb, etc.) respectively launched in 1994 and 1995. Rancid became a cult band in the punk and ska punk scenes and influenced bands like Good Charlotte or Simple Plan. After a somewhat slack period from 2004 to 2007, in 2009 the band launched their latest album “Let The Dominoes Fall,” which has enjoyed critical and commercial success alike.

The signature guitar presented by Gretsch is a replica of the left-handed punk rocker’s favorite: a ’71 Country Club.

Now let’s take a closer look and a listen to what this baby has to offer…

Conclusion

Gretsch G5191BKGretsch offers an interesting signature model with a rich and original finish and a pair of good Filter’Tron pickups with a strong personality. Among its major pros are that the instrument is easily playable, well balanced and not too heavy is spite of its wide dimensions. The Grover machine heads and the fixed tailpiece ensure a very good tuning stability. We only regret the lack of a gig bag or case — a must have for an instrument with a price tag of $1,150… We can honestly recommend the G5191BK to all punk fans… and the rest of you!

Advantages:

  • Nice and original look
  • Interesting pickups
  • Grover machine heads
  • Good tuning stability
  • Very pleasant to play

Drawbacks:

  • No gig bag nor case
  • Expensive for a Korean instrument

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Gretsch G5191BK Review

June 10, 2010

Rhodes Mark 7 73 Midi Organ

To see more gear video demos see:  Audiofanzine Video Vault

June 9, 2010

Audio Mastering

Tom Volpicelli of The Mastering House answers the top 10 common questions about mastering.

What is mastering and the role of the mastering engineer?


Mastering is essentially the step of audio production used to prepare mixes for the formats that are used for replication and distribution.  It is the culmination of the combined efforts from the producer, musicians, and engineers to realize the musical vision of the artist.  Each stage of the audio production process, from pre-production to mastering, builds on each other and is dependent on the previous process.  Mastering is the last opportunity to make any changes to positively affect the presentation of your music before it evolves from a studio environment to the outside world.

An awareness of the differences between the roles of mixing and mastering engineers should be noted.  While the tools may be similar, the perspectives between mixing and mastering are very different. When mixing, the focus is on the internal balance of individually recorded tracks and effects used both sonically and creatively for a single piece of music.

An album cannot be heard in its entirety until the job of a mix engineer is completed. The mastering engineer picks up where the mix engineer leaves off. Mastering is geared toward creating the balance required to make the entire album cohesive. The mastering engineer is most concerned with overall sonic and translation issues.  A mastering engineer works with the client to determine proper spacing between songs and how songs will be ordered on the CD. The flow of an album must appeal to the listener; it should engage them and take them on a musical journey as determined by the artist. Any final edits will be addressed during the mastering process as well.

Finally, the role of the mastering engineer is to provide preparation and quality control of the physical media send to the plant for replication.  This includes listening to the premaster CD to verify integrity, along with the more technical aspects such as encoding text, UPC/EAN and ISRC codes, checking for errors within the media and providing any necessary documentation such as a PQ list.

Is mastering always necessary?

A writer’s words are not complete until the editor approves them. A painter’s work is not complete until it has been matted and framed.  A musician’s work requires the same treatment. Audio production should not be rushed, finished haphazardly or completed “just to get it out there”. A finished product should reflect all of the work of the artist, producers and engineers that carry that vision forward.  Even a “perfect” mix needs mastering to a degree. In this case, you want the mastering to be as transparent as possible so that the original sound is maintained while preparing it for the final media.

As mentioned earlier, it is difficult for a mixing engineer to know how an entire album will sound in its entirety while mixing an individual track. In some cases a given track may be perfect on its own.  However, when that track is placed within the context of an album, slight adjustments in level or frequency balance may be required.  Given the amount of music distributed online, an album needs to stand out from start to finish to be noticed in such a competitive market. If the final goal is to create a product that is ready to be played on the radio, distributed online, or sold as a physical product, it should be mastered.

Mastering helps say something about the professionalism of the artist, from the arrangement of certain styles of songs to the volume of the recording to the pacing of the tracks. If an artist is serious about their music, they should make sure that someone with experience signs off on the finished product.

What kind of improvements can be expected from mastering?

Mastering can help to achieve the correct balance, volume, and depth for a style of music. It can add clarity and punch to music, giving it more vitality.  The idea behind mastering is that a product will sound better after it is treated by the mastering engineer. The degree with which a mastering engineer can achieve this is dependent on the given mixes. In some cases there may be limitations or compromises that need to be made.

One limitation of mastering is the inability to restore severely distorted material. Distortion in a mix is like corrosion; once present it cannot easily be removed and has permanently destroyed a part of the material.  While mastering can mask the effect of some types of distortion, it is essentially covering blemishes that should be addressed before the mastering stage. A common misconception is that mixes should be as “hot” as possible. With the advent of 24 bit digital technology there is no reason why mixes have to “go into the red.”

Most mastering engineers recommend a cushion of anywhere between -6 to -10 dBFS from peak level to help ensure that clipping does not take place and to allow room for processing.  In addition to peak level, the crest factor (peak-to-average ratio) is very important. While dynamic range can always easily be reduced, it is very difficult to undo the effects of over compression or limiting.

If the internal balance of a stereo mix is off, there may be compromises in the sound of the mastered track that will need to be made. For example, if cymbals or a vocal is very sibilant and bright while other parts of the mix are dark, it can be difficult to balance the overall sound in a way that enhances all elements.

In addition to frequency, levels between tracks may also be an issue. If the mastering engineer is given a stereo mix (as is usually the case) specific individual components of the mix cannot be completely isolated and processed separately.  While there are techniques such as de-essing, mid/side processing, equalizing or compressing for a specific imbalance, the results will likely not be as good as with a mix not having these issues and allowing the mastering engineer to address the balance on the whole.

One method of getting around internal balance issues is to provide alternate mixes. Some examples are vocal up/down mixes or mixes where one EQ is favored over another. Another method is supplying the mastering engineer with “stems” or sub mixes of the stereo track.  These might include a separate stereo mix of the vocals or instruments that when summed together are the same as the stereo mix minus any stereo bus processing.  In this case the mastering engineer is placed slightly in the role of a mix engineer and can make adjustments that wouldn’t be possible with a stereo mix alone. Another advantage with using stems is that alternate masters can easily be created such as radio edits, instrumental and vocal-only masters.

Another area where “fixing it in the mix” is better than “fixing it in mastering” is when dealing with the issue of noise. Mute automation on individual tracks should be used where there are noises during sections of a track that are not contributing to the mix.  Some examples are electric guitar hum/buzz on intros, outros, and breaks, bleed from headphones on the vocal track when the vocalist is not singing, drummers laying down their sticks after cymbals have faded but while other instruments are still playing at the end of a track.

Should you choose an engineer based on their “style”?

nevermindTen different mastering engineers working in the same room with the same equipment will create ten totally different masters, each sounding great on their own.  If you ask those same engineers to go back and reproduce any given master, you are likely to get ten almost identical masters back.  While each individual mastering engineer has his own style, it is important that he is able to separate himself from his style when needed.  An engineer should never let his personal taste interfere with the goal of the artist he is working with. Again, this is where communication with the client is a crucial element.

A good mastering engineer should be well versed in a variety of different categories of music. In general, there is no reason why an engineer known for creating great Country albums cannot produce a great Rock album.  While an engineer’s work should be able to transcend musical genres, if a mastering engineer has a certain style that is appealing to you as the artist, you should consider working with him.  It is important that both the engineer and the artist can communicate in a way that is complimentary to both individuals.

Which is more important, a technical background or musical one?

A mastering engineer should be well versed both technically and musically. The craft of the engineer is to be able to know good music and know how to make that music sound better.  Still, while a technical background is extremely important in the mastering world, that background should not interfere with the aesthetics.  Likewise, any personal feelings an engineer has about the stylistic choices of the music he is mastering should ultimately be discussed with the musician. It is because of this that an engineer’s musical background should not hinder his craft.

Given a technical background, some mastering engineers are capable of making modifications to equipment to create a more transparent sound, or provide color according to their taste and needs.  Having a musical background, particularly in the area of pitch, allows an engineer to identify frequency issues relating to musical notes and can speak directly to the musician about these issues in their terms.

An engineer should make sure that he strays away from favoring either background. While most engineers come from one or the other, their craft is in combining the two.  A mastering engineer should remain as objective as possible while still providing necessary feedback and insight from both a musical and technological perspective.

To read the full detailed article see:  Audio Mastering

June 4, 2010

The Cymbal Rap for Newbies

The Difference Between Bronze and Brass Cymbals

For simplicity’s sake, there are basically three types and price levels of cymbals: beginner brass, intermediate sheet bronze and professional cast bronze. The brass are usually used only by young beginners and are the least expensive. The sheet bronze cymbals, while most fall in the intermediate price range, are used by beginners and pros, and the cast bronze are priced highest and are usually professional level cymbals.

Cast Bronze Cymbals: The Pro Stuff

A 16" medium thin crash

The professional level and most expensive cast bronze type cymbals are what I will describe first, since some of their attributes also apply to the less expensive sheet bronze and least expensive brass cymbals.

Cast bronze cymbals are made of B20 bronze, an alloy of 20% tin and 80% copper with traces of other elements such as silver. It is a fragile alloy because of the amount of tin. Since it is not strong enough to be formed into sheet metal, each cymbal must be individually poured into a mold, then manufactured which is what makes them more expensive to produce. The liquid molten bronze is poured into molds or casts which produce an ingot disc or “flat” which is then beaten, formed, shaped, lathed and hammered into what we know as a cymbal.

Each cymbal has a raised section in the center called a bell. The cymbal is lathed by holding a knife to the topside and underside of the cymbal which produces a spiraled groove. These grooves and the microscopic ridges inside them produce the high pitch zing that is so characteristic of a cymbal. The cymbal may be left like this or it may be further affected by hammering which makes the overtones of the cymbal even more complex and mysterious sounding.

AA Medium Crash 20"Much of this forming, lathing and hammering is done by computers now in the large cymbal factories but many cymbals are still made the old fashioned way especially by small cymbal factories in Turkey where the modern process of cymbal making started over 400 years ago. The cymbal is usually sprayed with a light coat of lacquer to prevent corrosion and fingerprints. Some models of cymbals are polished with a high speed buffer to produce a brilliant shine. Some of the most expensive models have alternating areas of lathed and unlathed sections, hammered and unhammered sections which produce even more exotic and unusual sounds.

The Zildjian A model cymbal is considered the most popular selling cymbal and is the benchmark of cast cymbals. This cymbal was designed in conjunction with legendary drummer Buddy Rich who liked the cleaner, brighter sound of an unhammered cymbal. This cymbal has no hammer marks but does have the lathed grooves. This is the cymbal heard most often in pop and rock recordings of the last fifty years. The Sabian equivalent is the AA model. The Meinl equivalent is the Soundcaster.  A package set of Zildjian A cymbals costs around $649 for a 20″ ride, 16″ crash and a pair of 14″ hi hats (2009).

ByzanceThe Zildjian K model cymbal actually predates the A model and is more complex sounding because of the hammering marks which give it a more ornate overtone series. The K is more expensive because of this extra hammering step in the manufacturing process. The K is the archetypical cymbal for jazz drumming but has become popular with rock drummers as well. The Sabian equivalent is the HH model. The Meinl equivlent is Byzance. The Paiste equivalent is the Twenty series.

Now let’s take a look at the other types…

To read the full article see:  The Cymbal Rap

June 1, 2010

IK Multimedia Amplitube 3 Review

Filed under: Amps, Software — Tags: , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 11:11 am

IK Multimedia was one of the pioneers in guitar amp simulation software with their famous Amplitube launched in 2002. The Italian company comes back eight years later with the third version of their flagship product. And what’s new you ask?

Amp simulation software manufacturers have been fighting their battle over the last eight years offering more models, new GUIs, new algorithms, and new functionalities. The advantages of amp simulation software are plenty (direct recording, reamping, huge sound possibilities, etc.) and a lot of guitar players and home studio owners already have one of them or are seriously think about getting one. So, what are the advantages of this new Amplitude over its competitors? We’ll try to answer that question in this detailed review…

No Need to Go Out Anymore

Amplitube 3The first good news (specially for lazy people) is that the full software can be downloaded from the IK Multimedia website so you don’t need to go out to start playing with your new toy right away. You’ll have to pay $349.99, which seems a bit expensive compared to similar products available for under $300 (Guitar Rig 4, Revalver). This fact makes Amplitube 3 start out on the wrong foot, but maybe its sound justifies the price difference…

Once you download the product, the installation under Mac and Windows goes very smoothly and the GUI is displayed after only a few seconds. The first step is the software configuration: set up the audio and MIDI interface you want to use and the buffer size, which will have a direct influence on Amplitude’s latency. With a small buffer size (256 samples or less) the latency, i.e. the time gap between the moment the signal goes into your sound card and the moment you actually hear it through your monitor speakers, will be pretty low or even imperceptible. However, your computer will have to stand a very high processing load and some artifacts might appear if it doesn’t have enough CPU power. You’ll have to find the right setting depending on your system. Once the configuration is made, you are ready to concentrate on the GUI…

A Look Through the Window

Amplitube 3The GUI of Amplitude 3 is divided into five sections: the area on the top allows you to directly load presets sorted by amp or style (clean, crunch, extreme, etc.) or to activate the preset browser that provides a short description and indicates the sound character and instrument. Do notice that the preset browser not only monitors the preset names but also their description and sound character. Thus it is very easy to filter all jazz or metal sounds… A nice feature to quickly find presets that might be useful for your particular needs. Of course, you can also save your own presets and delete them later. Also notice the X-Change feature that allows you to share your presets with the rest of the world — you might even find interesting sounds, who knows!

The software works with three quality modes: hi, mid and eco (from most to least demanding in terms of processing power). This will allow you to reduce the system’s load if you use a lot of effects at the same time. The audio quality is slightly reduced with the mid and eco modes, but not dramatically so the software remains useful. To help you make yourself an idea, a preset requiring 25% CPU load in hi mode will require 19% in mid mode and only 11% in eco mode. This can be a big advantage if your system is not very powerful or if you work with several instances of the software simultaneously.

Finally, you can also select here an IK Multimedia StompIO ($900) or StealthPedal ($200) controller — if you are among their lucky owners.

Amplitube 3Right underneath you’ll find the section for signal path selection. You can choose among eight paths going through two pedalboards, two amps, two speaker cabinets, and two effect racks. For example, you can chain two pedalboards in series, route them to an amp head feeding two different speaker cabinets and passing through two effect racks. This system is probably not as intuitive and comprehensive as Guitar Rig where you can drag & drop any module wherever you want, but it will certainly fulfill the needs of most guitar players and it has the advantage of preventing the user from making mistakes (for instance, inserting a fuzz effect at the end of the chain!). Moreover, you can use two fully independent paths to enjoy Amplitude 3 with two guitars. In this case, each instrument has its own pedalboard, amp, speaker cabinet, and effects rack. A very good point!

Simply click one of the elements on the signal path to display it in the main section of the GUI…

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Amplitube 3The third Amplitube version brings some interesting new features along, including new modelings (the list is getting longer!), an integrated 4-track recorder and the possibility to use two pedalboards/amps/speakers/effect racks at the same time. This is good news for users who like to jam with friends because each musician plays his own guitar and his own rig! The large mic and speaker selection multiply the possibilities, even though we regret the lack of convolution technology. The three quality modes available allow the software to match the computer depending on its resources, while the pedalboard drag & drop feature, the preset browser and its tagging system add a lot of comfort.

Nevertheless, we do have to criticize the background noise that is always present as soon as you increase the gain, and also the higher price compared to competitor products (can we expect a price reduction anytime soon Mr. IK?). However, there’s no doubt that Amplitude remains one of the top products out there and it will delight guitar players looking for a comprehensive and powerful software.

Advantages:

  • Plethora of amps and effects
  • Overall quality of the modelings
  • Independent preamp stage, power amp, and EQ
  • Comprehensive and convenient integrated 4-track recorder
  • Simultaneous use of two amps
  • Two mics per speaker cabinet
  • Three quality modes
  • Ability to chain up to twelve stompboxes and eight rack effects
  • Preset browser with tag management

Drawbacks:

  • More expensive than competitors
  • Some poor quality modelings
  • No convolution technology
  • Background noise with high gain settings

To read the full detailed article see: Amplitube 3 Review

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