Ease of Use: AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix is set up like the other AmpliTube apps for iPhone and iPad, so it is very easy to navigate. Immediately, it comes with a single track recorder, a tuner, a metronome and 72 presets for authentic tone. There are additional empty presets to save your own settings. There are two amp models included, the JH Dual (based on the Fender Dual Showman) and the JH Gold (based on the Marshall JTM45) and with these two cab options, the 2x15 J or the 4x12 J. You also can choose to change the virtual mic that is picking up the amp, from a virtual dynamic mic to a virtual condensor mic. The effects included with the app are the Noise Filter, Fuzz Age, Octa-V, and the Uni-V. Also, just by registering with IK Multimedia you get the Wah 64 model Wah pedal in the app to complete rounding out your options. Each amp and effect has the full range of controls you would have on the actual device if it was physically in front of you, and this allows a wide range of tones from the available equipment.
Additionally, there are some in app purchases that can be made to expand your app. Just by registering your app with IK Multimedia you get a free download of the "Wah 64" I mentioned earlier, which is a model of the Wah that Hendrix used on countless tracks. There is an in app purchase to expand your recorder from one track to 4 track for $9.99, which also comes with Master FX which allows you to process your final recording by adding reverb, retouching global EQ, or adding compression. Finally, there is a $4.99 in app purchase for external MIDI control. As far as running your guitar to the app, you can use the iRig or the iRig Stomp. I personally use the iRig Stomp in conjunction with the iRig Klip Mini to connect my iPhone to my mic stand. From the iRig Stomp I run to the clean channel of a 100 watt solid state amp with the EQ set pretty flat to get the best results, but you can also run straight to headphones for silent jamming or practice. You can also load songs into the Song Player from the music library on your device and jam along. // 9
Sound: Immediately, first thing I want to say is the presets are good, but you are gonna wanna tweak them just a bit. In each preset, in my opinion, the effects were just a tad too strong. After dialing them down just a tad I was getting much better results. From there, I also found I much preferred the dynamic instrument mic over the condensor mic you can change this just by touching the mic on the screen. Outside of trying to recreate Hendrix's sounds, my favorite thing in this app is the Fuzz Age pedal, as this is the best fuzz pedal I've heard in an iPhone app so far. All of the effects were usable, but were easy to be over-powering, so use a light touch. The order of the effects acts the same as if you were running the signal through analog effects, so messing with the order of your effects you can get some interesting permutations.
I played through this app with a Carvin DC145M (HSH) with coil-splitting and a G&L S500 Tribute Series and ran both to headphones and through a Peavey Transtube 212 EFX solid state amp on the clean channel. Across the board I was getting favorable results, but my favorite tones were almost exclusively through single coils. Some of the presets are better than others, but they are all pretty solid and with a little tweaking they really shine. I've used the class AmpliTube and the AmpliTube Slash in addition to this app, and they are definitely my three favorite guitar apps on my iPhone. I've messed with a few other multi-effects processors on my iPhone and these are definitely far superior than the others I've used. IK Multimedia has this figured out. While I didn't personally test this feature/in app purchase, the MIDI control would allow you to hook up a MIDI pedal via the iRig Stomp in order to control any of the effects available in the program, such as giving you complete control of the Wah 64. // 9
Reliability & Durability: It's an app, so it doesn't really break if you drop it. I've logged some hours with this app, and I haven't encountered any crashing or glitches. It is super easy to use and doesn't seem to drain the battery on my iPhone 4S too bad. If you have to reinstall the app for any reason you can restore all of your in app purchases and settings, which is a nice bonus.
I wanted to talk about the built in Song Player a little bit, which has some features that are really interesting. First, you can import songs via WiFi, File Sharing, iPod Library or there is a link to go directly to buy Jimi Hendrix songs. Once you import a song you can play the song and record on top of it, or set up points for it to loop. There is also a No Voice setting which basically acts via subtractive EQ to cut out the lead voice in the recording. This feature, of course, works better on some tracks than others, but even when it doesn't cut the lead voice out it does significantly reduce the volume of it in the mix. From there you can also use the "SpeedTrainer" function to slow the song down while retaining the original pitch in the music, or actually speed it up to almost 2x as fast. The recorder also has a metronome that you can set the BPMs and play while you are recording, which is very useful. Any single track recordings you can make, you can also pull back up and load into the 4 track recorder if you make that in app purchase down the road. // 9
Overall Impression: I think there are some really important things going on with music right now, which is possibly impacting electric guitarists more than some other musicians. Basically, if you are reading this review then you are probably somewhere from a complete rookie on guitar to a performing guitarist in a local band. We all have different incomes, but few of us are independently wealthy. Of course, a 50 watt or 100 watt tube amp with a well thought out pedal board are going to sound better than an app, but not all of us can afford this, or maybe this equipment is just overkill for our local gigs or jamming with friends. What this app gives you is a way to carry your sound around with you on your iPhone, iPod or iPad that you can just clip to your mic stand and run straight to a PA system or a solid state amp (with the iRig Stomp). You can practice at bedroom volumes with the exact same rig, using this app. IK Multimedia recognizes the need for affordable equipment that can be used in various settings from bedroom practice to small gigs. They've been releasing high quality apps and accessories at affordable prices that are going to be extremely useful for a LOT of musicians.
In closing, I think that a tube amp and good analog effects or some of the newer nice MIDI and digital interfaces (such as the Fractal Audio Systems products, etc.) are always going to sound better than apps, but the apps still sound good in addition to being cheaper, more portable and more available. I think that even people who do have a lot of cash to burn and have a home studio full of super nice equipment can find a use in an app that they can carry with them in their pocket when traveling, or when they need to record a quick idea, or they need to practice quietly. I hope these apps are one day soon made available for Android users as well, but I understand that the iOS is still at this point in time the most popular platform. I'm solidly impressed with AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix, so way to go IK Multimedia, you did it again! // 9
- Brandon East (c) 2013