AmpliTube Orange for iPad review – IK Multimedia create a warm, fuzzy glow for iOS guitarists

Download from iTunes App Storeamplitube orange logoI like to think that I’m pretty open minded about my guitar sounds and, while I have a couple of favourite guitars, a trusty amp and a couple of digital guitar amp modelling devices that I generally go to as a first choice starting point, I’m more than happy to employ different tools if they suit the task in hand. Fortunately (for me and other iOS guitar players), on my iPhone or iPad, when it comes to guitar amp modelling software, there are plenty of very good choices with Mobile POD, BIAS, JamUp Pro, AmpKit, Flying Haggis and AmpliTube being the most obvious contenders. If I can’t quite get what I want with one of these then the odds are that I will with a different one.

Providing you can avoid getting distracted by all the options, more choice is obviously a good thing and, last week, IM Multimedia added to the list of choices available to iOS guitar players by launching AmpliTube Orange. The version I’m reviewing here is the iPad-only app and is optimised for the larger iPad screen. There is a separate iPhone version at the same price and that works on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad but with screen layouts designed for the smaller iPhone screen (although I’m sure most users would prefer a ‘universal’ app if at all possible). Both versions, however,  provide digital models of a number of highly regarded guitar and bass amps manufactured by classic British amp maker Orange.

The models are produced under license and with input from Orange and this new app follows other ‘themed’ versions of AmpliTube that are available. As well as the standard (generic) version, you can, therefore, also buy Fender, Jimi Hendrix and Slash themed AmpliTube versions. Equally, as well as the stand-alone version of Amplitube Orange (UK£10.49), all these themed versions can also be obtained as IAP expansion packs within the standard AmpliTube app at the same price.

So, to steal and pervert the phrasing of a mobile phone ad used here in the UK, if you are an iOS guitar player, is the future bright? Is the future Orange?

Orange (a)peel

The basic structure of AmpliTube Orange is identical to other AmpliTube apps under iOS and, as I’ve reviewed both the basic app and the Slash version previously, I’ll not cover that ground again in any great detail here. In summary, however, what you get is a selection of amp models, associated speaker cab models (which you can mix and match between), four effects pedal slots and a choice of virtual microphone types.

AmpliTube Orange will be familiar to anyone who has used other versions of AmpliTube - aside from the very orange colours :-)

AmpliTube Orange will be familiar to anyone who has used other versions of AmpliTube – aside from the very orange colours :-)

You also get a full preset system, Audiobus and IAA support, compatibility with a wide range of audio input devices (including, of course, IK Multimedia’s own iRig HD and iRig PRO), a tuner, MIDI support (if you want to use the app with a MIDI floorboard controller such as the BlueBoard), a metronome, audio playback (so you can play along to tracks in your iTunes library) and, via an IAP, an 8-track recording environment with master effects options.

So what are the virtual Orange components that sit inside the AmpliTube framework? Well, you get six amp models, each supplied with an associated virtual speaker cabinet. These models are based upon the OR50, Rockerverb 50, Thunderverb 200, Tiny Terror, AD 30 and, for bass players, the AD 200 Bass MK3. In terms of stomp box pedals, four are included; Noise Filter, Highway Drive (an overdrive), The Shaker (a tremolo) and Echo Trip (a delay. This one is activated by registering the app). While there are no modulation effects such as chorus or phaser or a reverb pedal (although a couple of the amp models include reverb), this is a nice – if modest – selection of pedals.

Amptastic

Orange are perhaps best known for their classic rock heritage and, in the OR50 (the original hardware version dated from 1972 but I think this model is based upon a more recent reissue), that is well represented. This amp produces big, warm tones and, fully wound up, goes into a lovely crunchy, overdriven tone. It does clean but it you want bright and cutting crystal clean, then this isn’t perhaps the obvious choice. Clean and warm, however, is possible. The AD30 – which present a single channel version of the dual-channel AD30 combo – fills a similar sort or role but, with the default 2×12 cab model, has a slightly different tonal feel.

The OR50 model (with the IAA transport panel also shown) - warm and crunchy - great for classic rock :-)

The OR50 model (with the IAA transport panel also shown) – warm and crunchy – great for classic rock :-)

In the Rockerverb 50 model you get the dirty channel from the original dual channel combo. Things can get slightly more intense here in terms of distortion so it strays a little more obviously into more modern rock tones if required. The Thunderverb 200 can take this a step or two further still and, as you get dual channels here, you can span the warm cleans through to high-gain rawk with ease. The ‘shape’ control also allows you to create an instant mid scoop for a more modern (less classic) rock tone.

The Tiny Terror lives up to its name - small but very raunchy.

The Tiny Terror lives up to its name – small but very raunchy.

If you want something a little ‘smaller’ then the Tiny Terror – based on the 15 watt, 1 x 12 combo of the same name – is where to go. The control set is simplicity itself but it lives up to its name; wind up the gain and the virtual Tiny Terror does rock. Alternatively, if you want something big enough for your bass, then the AD200 Bass MK3 does the trick although, to my ears at least, it just seemed a little polite. I’ve never used the original hardware amp so I can’t make a direct comparison but I wouldn’t have minded just a tad more grit when I pushed the gain control up. However, for big, solid bass tones, it does a great job and you can always add a stomp box if you want some more overdrive.

Feet first

And talking of stomp boxes, what about those included? Well, the Noise Filter does pretty much what you would expect and, if you are using any of the higher gain settings, is a useful device to have pretty permanently patched in in one of the FX slots. While the app only included three other pedals, all of these are actually very good indeed.

Bass players are also catered for in the app.

Bass players are also catered for in the app.

The Highway Drive provides an extra dose of overdrive that compliments the various amps very nicely and never gets too fizzy. The Echo Trip has a nice analog sound quality to it and can do anything from short slapback echos to glorious long delays. Finally, my personal favourite, is The Shaker. This is also very analog-esq and, as I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for tremolo effects, I particularly enjoyed playing with this.

In use

As with other AmpliTube variants, the Orange themed version of the app behaved itself very well in use. As a stand-alone source of guitar tones for personal practice or ‘live’ performance, the app seemed very solid indeed. I also had no problems using the app either within Audiobus 2 or as an IAA insert effect on an audio track within Cubasis; both routes provided very straightforward means of getting those Orange flavoured guitar tones into my overall music production.

AmpliTube Orange played nicely with other apps via Audiobus 2 and IAA.

AmpliTube Orange played nicely with other apps via Audiobus 2 and IAA.

In terms of the tones themselves, the range of amp models – like the original hardware they are based upon – are perhaps going to suit a particular musical niche. If you like your crunchy classic rock and occasionally like to get into more modern rock, then there is plenty here to interest you. The amps have a very warm sound and the overdriven tones are responsive and sustain well.

The Orange AD30 combo.

The Orange AD30 combo.

I’d hesitate to say this is a good all around tone collection though. It does clean (again, of the warm variety) and, apply some Highway Drive to a maxed out Thunderverb model and things can get pretty manic, but if you are after some real clean jangle or heavily OTT metal tones, then this is not perhaps the palette of virtual kit to best provide it. That’s not a criticism of the app however; it is simply an acknowledgement of the deliberate design choice and an accurate reflection of the gear that forms the basis of the models. For warm and crunchy rock, AmpliTube Orange is just the ticket.

In summary

Amplitube Orange for iPad wouldn’t perhaps be my personal choice if I was looking to get into iOS guitar amp modelling apps for the very first time. Unless you are a die-hard Orange fan, there are probably better ‘all round’ apps you could start with (including AmpliTube itself). However, if you are a classic rock fan, this is an excellent collection of virtual kit that captures the essence of that sound very well.

Things can get a little more 'modern rock' with the Orange Thunderverb - add in a dollop of Highway Drive to taste :-)

Things can get a little more ‘modern rock’ with the Orange Thunderverb – add in a dollop of Highway Drive to taste :-)

Whether you buy into the separate app (UK£10.49) or, if you already own AmpliTube itself, buy it as an IAP within AmpliTube (also UK£10.49) will just be a matter of personal preference. In one sense, it is quite nice to just have the limited palette within a dedicated app if you know that’s the kind of tone you are after. It is also useful to have the separate app when it comes to running multiple guitar amp sims under IAA or Audiobus 2. On the other hand, being able to mix and match across all your virtual kit provides extra flexibility. It would be great if, somehow, IK Multimedia could allow a single purchase of the standalone app to also provide you with the same models within the main AmpliTube app.

AmpliTube Orange for iPad is a slab of suitably coloured classic rock guitar tones in an app and I’d happily use these sounds in my own recording projects. Whether as a standalone app or an IAP for AmpliTube, the tones are big, warm and crunchy. All very Orange and, for fans of that sound, AmpliTube Orange is most certainly worth checking out.

AmpliTube Orange for iPad


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    Comments

    1. John, was excited to see a review for AmpliTube Orange – guitar apps within iOS music apps are sort of a niche within a niche. Even on some of the more vibrant guitar and iOS music boards, it can be tough to find good discussion of guitar stuff. Which is in stark contrast to the REAL guitar gear it is modeled after, which is widely discussed, debated, and obsessed on all over the web. So, thanks!

      As for this app itself, boy, I don’t know. It marries two very divisive topics (IMO, at least) among guitar players: IK Multimedia and the sound of ORANGE amplifiers. I’m don’t have particular reason to dislike either, but neither have really ever worked for me. Orange amps definitely have a niche for a certain type of more aggressive, punch, but-still-vintage rock tone. And the AmpliTube line of products deserves credit for: (1) Great looking interfaces; (2) First-party licensing of their models; and (3) Being one of the early pioneers in convincing people to plug their guitar into an iDevice.

      But given the present alternatives (and I sense that our reviewer agrees), how do you recommend a $14.99 model of a specific amp, when for roughly the same price, there’s probably a better Orange amp plus 35 other ones in BIAS? This isn’t just an IK MultiMedia problem – AmpKit+ just did an “update” with no new features, but adding a single new amp as a $3.99 IAP. And that’s the SALE price. Your usual choices are a full price $5.99 app or stomp box, or Bundles ranging from $10 to $20, which often include items you don’t want or already have.

      Compare this synthesizer apps or something like Thumbjam, where you see a huge initial base of content (at a lower starting price) and then free additional content from both the developer and user presets as time go. Look, I’ll gladly pay for quality IAP’s and support developers (I probably have $30+ into AmpKit and JamUp each). I’d just like to see those pricing structures evolve with the competition, and while a fair number of people do use and like AmpliTube, I found their Fender and Slash stuff pretty thin and uninspiring.

    2. Jayson Vein says:

      Good write up John. Very good points Jeff!

      I’ve never been impressed with any Amplitude sounds, or anything in Garageband. Ampkit sounds pretty good to me, but JamUp and Bias are where the competition falls a bit short.

    3. A fair and well balanced review, as usual, John! Jeff H stated very well just about all of the points I’d have added to the mix. I used to be a bigger fan of IKM products, but their pop up advertising in paid products has slowly worn me down to the point where my feelings about them have a negative tilt.

      I guess the one footnote I’d tack on for anyone interested in buying a flavored version of Amplitube (e.g. Orange, Slash, Fender) is that when IKM decides to implement a new feature, the flavored versions tend to lag the original, sometimes by months, from what I’ve seen*. Take for example if IKM decided to implemented AudioBus 2 state saving in their products. They have an awful lot of products to update at this point. If the past is any indicator, the original Amplitube will be one of the first in line to get it, whereas Amplitube Orange might have to wait in line behind Sampletank, Vocalive, etc. So unless you’re in the situation where you really only want Orange amp models and anything else is a waste of money, you’re probably better off getting plain old Amplitube and buying the IAP.

      *Past performance does not guarantee future results. YMMV. See store for details. Offer void where prohibited. :-)

    4. Hi All, thanks for the various comments. I have to admit that I do quite like the various guitar amp models in this app – but then they are aimed pretty squarely at my style or ‘rawk’ :-) I’m not quite sure what to make of the various ways in which you can access these models – either via the stand-alone app or as an IAP. As I indicated in the text, while I suspect IKM already have a very large and loyal user base, it would surprise me if that user base would be even bigger if they could work out a way to (a) make their apps ‘universal’ (although, to be fair, they are not the only company that markets separate iPhone and iPad versions of certain apps) and (b) allowed purchasers of the stand-alone version to access the same virtual components within the standard AmpliTube rather than having to buy then for a second time as an IAP. Technically possible and likely to happen? I’ve no idea… but I think lots of potential users would find it an attractive proposition….

      …. in terms of a comparison to the competition, BIAS obviously changed this market in a significant fashion and, whatever you think of the relative merits of the available tones themselves, the ability to create your own virtual amps – rather than have to buy new models via IAP – is something that the other developers making guitar amp sim apps have yet to really respond to. It will be interesting to see if anyone does take it on….. best wishes, John

    5. I think BIAS is awesome but I’m not sure it’s going to completely kill the market for good and accurate sounding, pre-made amp models. Few guitarists understand tube amplifier design (I don’t) and most won’t want to take the time to learn it. Sure, you can play around in BIAS and eventually find something you like with little to no knowledge, but it does take time away from making music. At the end of the day, a lot of people still enjoying plugging in and playing their guitars, and not having to mess with too much stuff to get a good tone.

      So I don’t think BIAS will kill all other iOS guitar amp/FX modeling software, just like modelers in general haven’t stopped tube amps and stomp boxes from being built. There may not be a big rush for other app makers to respond to it.

    6. I have to say that while I stand by all the points I made above, I just listened to the Mitch Gallagher Sweetwater Sound demo for this app, and if I were coming in without any preconceived notion about IKM (or knowledge of what competing products offered), I thought it sounded pretty good. But given that they make base versions of their other AmpliTube products available for free, I’ve tried them and just wasn’t all that impressed.

    7. Jayson Vein says:

      Good points Joe. I spent the last two days makng an amp in Bias. Finished it last night. And, it did take away about 3 hours of playing/jamming time for me. I did get a pretty sweet sounding amp, added the MT-Metal Zone to it in JamUp, and I was extremely happy with the results of the tone. I spent the same amount of time creating an acoustic guitar simulator, and it sounds better/closer than anything I’ve been able to get in JamUp alone, AMpkit, AMplitude….. For those two amps alone, Bias, and the time I spent was well worth it. But, I’m ready to take a break from creating and just play some scales and make some songs. I have no Idea either about Tube amplifier design, it may be easier if I did.

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