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Go Back   Avid Pro Audio Community > Legacy Products > 003, Mbox 2, Digi 002, original Mbox, Digi 001 (Mac)

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Old 05-22-2006, 08:49 AM
davetron5000 davetron5000 is offline
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Default Amplitube 2 mini-review/impressions

Picked up Amplitube 2 this weekend and thought I would share my impressions for anyone interested.

I've been using the original Amplitube for quite a while and was generally happy with it, but since I was not a legitimate user, I had decided to pony up and get an official copy. Since they just released Amplitube 2, I figured I'd go ahead an upgrade while I was at it.

Long and short of it is that it's WAY more powerful, addresses a few issues I had with the original, but is a HUGE CPU hog. More details:

Installation. You need to use an iKey (not iLok) for authorization, which is slightly annoying to me, as I have other plugs on my iLok. The Amplitube software that came on CD would not authorize, and the authorization process is much more cumbersome than for my iLok plugs (when you move iKey to another computer, it seems you have to re-generate an auth key. Argh.) The latest version on their website DID authorize without problems. They did their best at simplifying all the hex codes you have to type in, but I think that since I'm buying a dongle, they should just put the auth on it like Waves and Antares do with the iLok.

Use/Presets. Putting one on a track takes a LONG time. It's a good 60-90 seconds of spinning beach ball whenever you add one. I am on a G4, which I guess is old, but no other plug takes this long to instantiate. The presets menu is organized pretty well, and there's a LOT of presets. You can choose presets by "rig type" (e.g. clean, crunch, lead, bass), or musical style, which is pretty nice. There is a "VIP" section which makes no sense, because I've never heard of any of the names in there. Maybe they are jazz guys or something.

New Features. One of the coolest new features is that each instance allows you to set up two different chains of amps. Two different stomps, amps, cabs, etc. Or any combination. You can have one set of stomps go to one amp, which goes to two different cabs, or two totally different amps. The greatest new feature for me, however, is the plethora of stomp boxes they have modeled and the fact that you can FINALLY automate hitting the stomp box buttons! The stomps in Amplitube 1 where, honestly, not that great. The ones here are just outstanding by comparison. I haven't delved into them a whole lot, but the Memory Man clone, the Tube Screamer clone, the compressors and the phaser all sound great. They've also added the abilitiy to sync time-based effects to the BPM, so your delay/tremelo can easily be matched to the beat. You can read online the list of amps and cabs available, but they have added a dedicated bass amp and 3 bass cabs, and they sound great. The tuner module also works great; much better than the free BF one that comes with Pro Tools.

Amp Creation. Dialing in a new Amp in Amplitube 1 was quite simple. The new interface and plethora of new options make that process a bit more cumbersome. I guess that's the price to pay for all the snazzy new features. The interface is very intuitive, despite being complex. The visual changes based on the amp and cab selection are nice, and make it clear what you have configured. I did find it quite difficult to create a "slightly dirty" or half-distorted tone. The amps with actual gain start off VERY distorted and go up to a metal-ized wall of death from there. The distortion pedals, while great sounding, generate a LOT of distortion. With Amplitube 1, it was very easy to get this sort of sound. The presets are almost all either entirely clean, entirely distorted or wierd/effecty, so I'm going to have to play with it some more to figure out how to get that tone.

How does it sound? Simply put, it sounds great. For someone in a home studio that doesn't want to mic guitar amps or even have a nice guitar amp, this is the ultimate tool. The tones are very convincing and while I'm sure they don't sound exactly like the amps/cabs/mics they model, they sound like real guitar amps and there are a lot of options. The myriad of options, however, makes it a bit difficult to hone in on a sound, and it's easy to just continue tweaking and tweaking. The scant (by comparison) options in Amplitube 1 allow you to dial up a sound and go, without the temptation of constant twiddling. But, to anyone with some focus and self-control, it shouldn't be a problem The bass amp(s) sound markedly better, and while not as flexible as a Bass Pod, you can easily choose a preset and have your bass sounding great.

Performance. I've got a dual G4 1.25Ghz and a gig of Ram. In an empty session, I can only instantiate THREE amplitubes (without any stompboxes or rack effects), and for that to work, I have to have the buffer set at 1024. This is highly irritating, and, coupled with the ridiculous start-up time, is a huge impediment to my creative process. I typically throw down Amplitubes left and right for whatever guitar tones I need for a section. That simply is not possible on my system. Tracking at 1024 is just not feasible and I now have to spend time automating stomp boxes/effects to conserve CPU power. To make matters worse, there is no AudioSuite option any longer, so any printing of effects must be done in real time. I don't know what systems they are running at IK's HQ, but this would make me want to go back to Amplitube 1. The annoying thing is that it's hogging CPU, not memory, so there is a large cost required to address this issue on my end. I really wish they had a "simple" mode that worked like the original, where you just get an amp and a cab and way less usage of resources.

Conclusion I'm going to stick with it, and see if I can tweak my personal process to get around the performance issues. Certainly, this product is very new, so I hope they are working on updates to address it. I wouldn't mind hearing from others with newer systems how it performs for them. I suppose if a version of Pro Tools came out that had true multi-processor support, that would help me, but I'm probably stuck until I decided to upgrade. Despite all that, it does sound awesome, and I think overall it's an improvement. You also cannot beat the price, as it's a couple hundred bucks cheaper than Guitar Rig or the Waves thing (and, obviously, thousands cheaper than just one real guitar amp, cab and mic
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Old 05-22-2006, 09:17 AM
scottedog scottedog is offline
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Default Re: Amplitube 2 mini-review/impressions

You're right, it is a huge hog. It actually made the decision for me to upgrade my computer, it's just too frustrating using workarounds & kills any creativity I've got going. And it sounds too good not to use. As for performance on your machine, there is a 'preferences' button on the lower left where you can remove some of the CPU hog features, it does help some. I also prefer to print my tracks as I record, so I only use one instance & just buss it to audio tracks. I document my AT2 settings in Protools comments section in case I need to redo something.
This is the way I like to work, may not work for you.
And yeah, this was a screaming deal compared to GR2.
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Old 05-22-2006, 09:00 PM
tha k man tha k man is offline
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Default Re: Amplitube 2 mini-review/impressions

It thought Amplitube 2 sounded great, but agree the whole ikey thing is painful. I also found that Guitar Rig, and Amplitube2 were very hard on the CPU, under PT7. On a dual G5, I afraid to say that I found them nearly unusuable. I had to have the buffer at 512 before I could even get an uninterrupted sound through them. Love the sound, hate the performance. At least I can still play my bass - thanks to my Bass Pod.

My 2 cents.
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Old 05-23-2006, 08:24 AM
Vaphoron Vaphoron is offline
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Default Re: Amplitube 2 mini-review/impressions

Quote:
but agree the whole ikey thing is painful.
So you guys are saying that even with this iKey hardware dongle, you have to go through some sort of authorization process for each computer? Thats just stupid in my opinion if thats true. You should easily be able to move from one computer to another when you have a hardware dongle for copy protection.
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Old 05-23-2006, 09:05 AM
davetron5000 davetron5000 is offline
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Default Re: Amplitube 2 mini-review/impressions

That's what it seemed like. To do the auth, you have to provide the serial number, some number related to the ikey and then an authorization number you get from IK's website. I don't think they care how many boxes you're using it on (since you have to have the dongle and can therefore only use one at a time), but it just seemed a bit unnecessary to me. Honestly, I prefer having my auths on the hardware dongle, so I can switch computers/reinstall as needed, so having to re-auth is just annoying.
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