IK Multimedia AmpliTube Joe Satriani by Sound-Guy
AmpliTube Joe Satriani from IK Multimedia
The folks at IK Multimedia have been busy this year with a number of new product introductions including the recently reviewed Space Delay, the new ARC 3 room correction, and the Sunset Sound Studio emulation for their T-RackS system – and although announced at the first of the year, their Joe Satriani kit for the AmpliTube system just arrived this summer. As with all the AmpliTube gear, I figured it would be impressive.
What is It?
AmpliTube Joe Satriani (AJS) uses their Dynamic Interaction Modeling (DIM) to dynamically emulate Satriani’s amps, cabs, and effects including three amp models, three cabs, and five stompboxes. They also employ their Volumetric Response Modeling (VRM) technology to create room ambiance. One surprise to me in the AJS kit is the emulation of the 1982 Scholz® Rockman battery powered “toy” guitar amp that was intended to drive headphones for practicing. Joe used one of these pocket wonders in his studio, piped into his board, to help redefine guitar music in the late 80’s. I’ve never used a real one, so I was keen to hear what it can do.
As you likely know, AmpliTube is a vast set of kit including pedals, amps, cabs, mics, rooms and outboard gear. While “aimed” at guitar sound mangling, it certainly can be used for other instruments like keyboards, and for the adventurous, maybe vocals. You can get a free copy, totally with IKM’s blessing, that includes 24 effects that are pretty impressive, even though they are older, less advanced FX. What’s the rub? The trick is that AmpliTube can connect you to the IKM Custom Shop where you can find all the gear that can be used in AmpliTube. And there is a lot! Over 100 stomp-boxes, over 100 cabs, almost 100 amps, 18 mics, and 26 rack units. And from my experience, these are all extremely well modeled. You can sample any of the gear for free – the hitch being that if you like certain gear, you need to buy it within 3 days (72 hours) or it will disappear, never to be found again for free (well, you can always buy it!). Some people think this is a gimmick, but it’s actually a fair and useful feature. Any gear you demo runs fully as the purchased version, so you really can check it out thoroughly. And although I already have probably too much “gear” (mainly the software kind, but also five keyboards, three small mixers, and a couple racks of outboard) I can always justify a few new pieces of kit a year (or a month!).
You can use AmpliTube within your DAW, or use the standalone version for live performance or practice. It includes a built-in 8-track multitrack recorder/DAW (the free version has only a two track recorder) that enables quick recording of ideas, and there is a variable speed mode (SpeedTrainer) to speed up or slow down imported audio tracks for practice without affecting pitch.
AJS includes the “usual” kinds of stomp boxes, a wah-wah pedal (Vox Big Bad Wah), distortion (Boss DS-1), a solid-state overdrive (Boss OD-1), a tube overdrive (Chandler Tube Driver), and an octave pedal (based on the Ultimate Octave pedal). They are all modeled on the actual pedals Joe Satriani uses, some which were modified from the original design. Amps include a customized Marshall JVM410HJS, a Peavey 5150, and the previously mentioned battery powered Tom Scholz Rockman X100 headphone unit that Joe started using back in the 80’s. There are two Marshall cabs and a cabinet emulation within the Rockman. There are four rack units (EQ, reverb, compressor and chorus) and oddly only a single microphone. However, this is just the AJS collection – even with the basic free AmpliTube you also have a couple dozen additional pieces of kit that includes nine stompboxes, four amps, five cabs, three mics, and two rack effects, and you can use any AmpliTube gear with any other AmpliTube gear, so you can mic one of AJS cabs with any mic model you have, and even drive it with any amp model in your AmpliTube collection.
How Does it Sound?
In short, excellent as expected. With the Marshall and Peavey amps and the two Marshall cabs, there is a wide range of tones possible, even before adding stomp boxes or rack effects. You can even vary mic positions in front of the cabs to change tones and, in the case of using two mics, vary the phase relationship which can make a huge difference in the sound. The Rockman was the big surprise to me. It normally runs alone as a combined amp and cab emulation, its output run directly out of the AmpliTube rig. Using it in this direct mode delivers some excellent tones I’d never expect from such an “amateur” practice box. And in AmpliTube you can run a Rockman into a cab and mic it. In reality you’d need an amp between the two units since the Rockman puts out only milliwatts, but here you can drive a cab directly, which multiplies sonic possibilities to ‘infinity and beyond’.
I looked up information on the Rockman and found that getting a used, refurbished Tom Scholz Rockman X100 today will cost you a few hundred dollars, and may not sound as good as an original. I trust that Joe Satriani’s Rockman has been carefully maintained and sounds fine – this emulation is superb. And at the price, even if you don’t already have AmpliTube, it’s probably the best way to get the Rockman sound.
I created an example of what the Rockman alone can do (using its own cab emulation, no stomps, external cabs or other FX). I’m not a guitarist, but I have plenty of recorded guitar tracks from sessions, although here I decided to use one of my “session musicians” available in Band-in-a-Box to perform the raw guitar riff. The example starts with a dry sample and then switches to the Clean 1 setting followed in a few seconds by Clean 2. I really like Clean 2 with this particular guitar sound myself. After several more seconds I switch it to DIST(ortion) and vary the input level. This mode becomes strongly distorted at high signal levels, and the next mode I used, EDGE, provides distortion with better clarity on the attacks. After these four basic modes I switch back to Clean 1 and engage ECHO and CHORUS which spreads the sound from mono to stereo and adds some motion and depth. I then move on to Clean 2, DIST and EDGE with these enhancements still engaged. Quite a wonderful range of sounds from such a simple box, and it sounds huge with the distortion settings. There are more examples using all three AJS amps on the IKM site listed below.
Joe Satriani is available for the IKM AmpliTube rig and runs as a standalone module and as a plug-in (Audio Unit, AAX, VST2 and VST3) – for 64 bit OS only, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. Requires an ASIO compatible sound card in Windows. Mac needs OS X 10.7 or later. In my test system (PC Audio Labs Rok Box PC running Windows 7 with 4-Core Intel i7-4770K, 3.5 GHz, and 16 GB RAM) a single instance of AmpliTube with the Joe Satriani kit used from 0.8% to about 2.4% cpu resource depending on the modules used. The more stomps and rack FX, the more CPU needed. Latency is very low, 7 samples in my system, but the PDC will use your interface buffer latency setting if PDC is active. I had no problem with a 32 sample buffer in my tests, but operation will depend on your system and other plug-ins that you have in a project.
Note, this is a “Collection” for AmpliTube and must be used within AmpliTube, but will run even in the free version. You must go to the IK Multimedia Custom Shop to obtain any of the Amplitube gear, so an Internet connection is required (all of the Custom Shop transactions are web based).
Love the collection, especially the Rockman! Along with other AmpliTube gear I have, the possible tonal effects are vast.
A great selection of gear that is much cheaper than buying even a single hardware amp or cab!
Comes both as a standalone module great for live playing, and an AmpliTube plug-in for your DAW that can be employed for live recording or mix effects.
The Rockman! . Much cheaper than buying a 30-plus year old Tom Scholz Rockman X100, and they throw in Marshall and Peavey amps with cabs!
Many possible sound combinations and can be mixed in with any AmpliTube gear for “infinite” flexibility.
The standalone version has an 8-track recorder with some simple editing features for fast capture of spontaneous ideas.
It may not enable you to play like Joe Satriani! But should encourage you to practice more!
Will help you find more gear that you will want, but that’s normal! At least it’s all much more affordable than the real hardware.
https://www.ikmultimedia.com/product...e-joe-satriani . Click the “More” link and then “Audio” for examples with all three Satriani amps.
Go to . https://www.ikmultimedia.com/product...ex.php?p=specs . for the free AmpliTube collection.