IK Multimedia those clever people who brought us the iRig, for plugging your guitar into your iOS device, and the iRig Mix DJ mixer have just released a branded version of their well-established AmpliTube app, with versions for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch. By lending his name to the product Slash will give the app a high profile on the iTunes store, a cunning plan! But it is going to have to sound great, authentically Slash-like and offer plenty of functionality for wannabe rock stars like me to justify its comparatively hefty price tag.
A famous rock star using an iPad.
The app takes the same approach as its human namesake, that is, keep things simple, focus on tone and just play! The app offers two amp heads, the ‘JCM Slash’ and the ‘AFD 100’ both modelled on Slash’s signature Marshall amps. Up to four stomp-boxes can be used at once, from the choice of Gate, Octo Blue, Booster, X-Chorus and Delay. You can also add a Wah-Distortion pedal for free by registering the app. This even has a tilt mode whereby the pedal responds to the accelerometer in the iPad. Great fun, but not sure how I would do that while playing the guitar! Thirty preset combinations of amp settings and foot pedals are provided, many of which authentically mimic Slash’s contribution to the pantheon of legendary rock tones, and you can also create your own user presets.
The main interface.
The ‘Tools’ tab offers a handy tuner and practice metronome, while the ‘Rec’ tab reveals what could be a multitrack tape recorder if you make the in-app purchase costing £10.49, for which you also get the Master FX collection of effects plug-ins for mixing your masterpiece. Without the purchase, recording is unfortunately limited to only one track.
The recorder, before in-app purchase of tracks!
The ‘Song’ tab allows you to import songs from your Mac via Wi-Fi or iTunes file sharing, or directly from the music library on your device. Inevitably you can also buy Slash’s new album, Apocalyptic Love, and back catalogue via the iTunes Store. Once imported, you can loop sections of the song and slow it down to practice a solo, or copy that song to a track of the audio recorder - clever but only really useful if you’ve made the in-app purchase mentioned above!
The Song tab.
The ‘Setup’ tab allows you to make changes to input and output level, latency, automatic feedback control and so on. One interesting feature here is that with background audio turned on you can switch to another app and still hear the Slash app. So for example you could switch to GarageBand, where you may have created a backing track and play your guitar using the tone of the Slash app (as long as you have the monitor switched off in GarageBand). What gets recorded is just plain vanilla guitar sound (and this is of course the same when recording in Slash itself) as all processing is carried out in real-time. You will then need to ‘re-amp’ your guitar tone in GarageBand.
Which brings us to tone. As a recording device, Slash is limited if compared with apps like GarageBand, so a key reason for purchase will be the sound of the app itself. And if clean, glassy tones and the deep, wide West Coast distortion of hot-rodded Marshall stacks with everything on 11 is your thing then Slash does not disappoint. You would need to be a discerning guitarist or Guns and Roses fan to really appreciate the difference between using Slash and GarageBand to generate your tone, but for those that are, this app really delivers the goods.
Accessing preset rock tones - just add talent!
Another area where the app will score with guitarists is the ability to control it in a performance situation with either IK’s not-yet-available iStomp pedal, or any standard MIDI pedal board which can be connected either via IK’s iRig MIDI, or, if you don’t own this hardware, you will need to make yet another in-app purchase (£2.49) to use a generic MIDI interface.
AmpliTube Slash is a great sounding guitar amp simulator with potentially useful functionality, but only if you are prepared to pay for it. If you already own the AmpliTube app and want to use Slash’s tones and effects alongside your existing setups then you can purchase Slash gear as a-la-carte in-app purchases or as a complete set.