IK Multimedia AmpliTube Brian May by Sound-Guy
AmpliTube Brian May Collection from IK Multimedia
IKM recently introduced a new artist in their collection series, Brian May. This provides a signal chain based on the famous Queen guitarist’s full rig of pedals, amps and cabinets. AmpliTube Collections provide unique rigs used by, and approved by the artist. They are found in the preset window along with bundles, legacy gear, and other AmpliTube sets.
Preset window with Collections category selected and the Brian May collection highlighted – the forty preset
rigs available in this collection are shown to the right of the highlighted entry.
AmpliTube Brian May includes 5 stompboxes, 2 amps, 3 cabinets, 4 rack FX, and 6 microphones. Most of this gear is unique to the Brian May rig except the mics, most of which come with AmpliTube Deluxe and all of them with the AmpliTube Max version. The stompboxes include a gate, phaser, and wah pedal, which are not unusual kit, but there is also a “treble booster” based on several different units Brian used over the years to create screaming leads and saturation, and most unusually, a guitar emulation box, the Red Special, that attempts to simulate the pickups and electronics of the guitar he built with his father when he was a teenager, and has used for many years on stage and in the studio. You can actually buy a Red Special model guitar from a number of manufacturers, some official replicas and some unofficial. But the Red Special stompbox is designed to work with any electric guitar (as well as with a Red Special replica). Not having a Red Special guitar, I can’t say how accurately the Red Special stompbox emulation is, but it has received good reviews from some knowledgeable guitarists, as well as being approved by Brian.
Stompboxes of the Brian May rig with the Red Special control on the left plus a Fender tremolo added
on the far right.
You can use up to 12 stomp boxes at a time with both Stomp A and Stomp B modules, though Brian himself uses few at a time, mainly the Treble Booster.
Note that the Star Gate is an addition to Brian’s stage set-up since when there are three VOX amps all cranked up to maximum volume (as Brian uses on stage), there is an awful lot of hiss. The amps modeled in AmpliTube Brian May include this hiss! Talk about realistic! So this noise gate was developed to control the amp noise for a studio situation (on stage the hiss would not likely be heard above other instruments and the crowds!)
IKM engineers spent time with Brian and his equipment tech at his studio reviewing the equipment and discussing what variations were needed. May himself has evaluated the emulations and approved them all, so I can’t argue with that. All does sound very authentic to me.
One of the Brian May VOX amps with with chorus, delay and a harmonizer.
Brian often uses three VOXes with a clean center unit and FX applied to each side unit. You can use matched FX on the side units or un-link them for two different FX.
The three cabinet arrangement from one of the Brian May presets, the Bohemian Rhapsody Riff.
You can modify any preset by changing amps, cabs, or mics – and can move the mics in three dimensions.
Brian sometimes uses a unique amp, the Deacy amp, for studio recording which is included in this collection, and even more “awesome”, IKM added a battery power control because Brian explained to them that on some of his tracks he prefers the more crunchy sound he gets when the battery is running low! Yes, the Deacy amp uses an amplifier circuit board from a portable transistor radio. And it is actually powered by a 9-volt battery, though not the common PP-3 9-volt battery still used widely, but a much larger PP-9, commonly used in radios in the '60's.
Deacy amp with battery voltage control – note that the image is actually Brian’s 47 year old Deacy!
The sound quality of all AmpliTube 4 gear is excellent and includes details such as dynamic interaction between power amps and speakers, power supply ‘sag’, and even the “crunchy” clipping caused by low battery voltage on the Deacy amp! As with all AmpliTube 4 gear the Brian May collection provides excellent sound quality, and passes Brian’s own critical assessment. And as with other AmpliTube rigs, you don’t need to be a guitar player to get great effects – you can find some fantastic results with a keyboard, blues harp, and many other sounds.
I tested AmpliTube Brian May in AmpliTube 4 using a PC Audio Labs Rok Box with Intel Core i7-4770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz, 16 MB RAM running 64 bit Windows 7. While RAM requirements varied depending on the FX loaded, it never exceeded 500 MB and CPU use never exceeded 4% using REAPER’s performance meter. AmpliTube Brian May ran fine with 32 samples of latency, so delay when playing live is only a few milliseconds, about the time it takes sound to travel a metre.
AmpliTube Brian May provides some unique sound processing, and while it won’t enable you to instantly play like Brian, it will allow you to create the tones and effects he is famous for. And you can not only mix and match the amps, cabs and FX within this collection, but can add any AmpliTube module that you have.
Note that some of the big online musical supply companies have end-of-year sales on each of the AmpliTube bundles, up to 50% off until the end of 2019, and there are discounts on some of the collections including AmpliTube Brian May – a good time to check out these impressive gear emulations.
Very easy to use. Includes forty presets based on Brian May’s stage and studio rigs as used with specific songs.
Very flexible signal chain with stompboxes and rack effects that can be freely inserted pre and/or post amp/cab.
Authentic sound processing with amps and cabs that interact dynamically.
Excellent sound quality at sample rates up to 96 kHz.
Low CPU resource requirement, runs fine with only 32 samples of latency, and has moderate RAM needs.
Approved by the man himself!
Won’t enable you to instantly play like Brian, but may encourage you to practice more!
AmpliTube 4 workspace window size is not adjustable. Depending on your video monitor you may find this annoying. Window is fixed at about 1,112 x 726 pixels for the standalone and 848 x 540 for the plug-in. On my system using a 32" (80 cm) WQHD monitor they look fine.
Note that AmpliTube Brain May requires a version of AmpliTube 4, but even the free version will work.