IK Multimedia, www.ikmultimedia.com
Easy to set up, great range of sounds stunning graphics, clever Feedback killer
None really but not sure yet about the Body Modeler feature
iRig Acoustic guitar - $89.99. Amplitube Acoustic app - $14.99. Trial versions available.
I’ve just finished my first session with iRig Acoustic, an acoustic guitar microphone from IK Multimedia. Although I’ve only sampled relatively few of the tonal possibilities, I am already mightily impressed. And I have been able to resurrect my old Takamine acoustic guitar, which has been asleep under my bed for many years. It’s a great instrument but needed a 9V battery, which was very fiddly to insert inside the sound hole and often died when I least needed it. Now with iRig Acoustic, my Takamine is born again. Here’s how it all works.
First, I clip the Acoustic microphone to the sound hole on my guitar. The rubberised mount slides on very easily. I then connect the attached cable to the audio socket on my iPad and launch the Amplitube Acoustic app. On the cable is a female stereo output socket for headphones or to connect to some form of amplification. In this instance I’m connecting to my iLoud powered speaker. I’m then asked to calibrate my guitar by strumming open strings until the app has heard enough to optimise my sound and volume. Once I’m ready to go Amplitube offers me a choice from two solid-state acoustic amplifiers and a third with a tube preamp. Each amp has the usual tone and gain controls as well as selectable effects, which include delay, spring reverb, chorus and flanger. There is a whole range of factory presets, which gives me a quick indication of the tonal possibilities as I sample each one.
Thanks to its long hibernation my guitar is way out of tune. Not a problem. I soon have it back to concert pitch with the inbuilt Ultra Tuner, which by the way is the quickest and most accurate in-app tuner I have ever used.
Another really good feature is the Feed Kill pedal. I activate this, tap the ‘detect feedback’ button and up to four feedback frequencies are eliminated, which pretty well takes care of the greatest weakness of many acoustic guitar microphones.
There are four slots for pre-effects and two for post. These include graphic and parametric EQ and a compressor, plus three other intriguing devices. A 12-string emulator does just that by adding an octave effect. By fiddling around with the wet/dry balance I can get some quite passable approximations of a 12-string sound. The Bass Maker adds an octave in the other direction. If I turn the wet mix up to 100 percent I have a reasonably authentic acoustic bass sound. If I ever need one! The Body Modeler (sic) claims to transform my guitar into the sound of a dreadnought, a classical guitar, a jumbo or a parlour (whatever that is). Not sure about this one, I probably need to give it a longer work out.
The app ships with the now-customary Amplitube add-ons: a Song feature, which loads tunes from my library for practice. I can slow it down to nail those difficult passages and kill (most of) the vocal if I want to sing along. There is a fully-featured loop creator and a more than adequate loop drummer to keep me in time. A single-track recorder can be expanded via in-app purchase to an eight-track monster and I could also add on Studio which simulates a fully-featured DAW waveform editor.
After little more than an hour with the Acoustic set up I’m more than happy to give it the big tick. The clean acoustic sounds are true and clear, and there are enough tonal customisation possibilities to satisfy even the most feature-hungry player. The stunningly realistic interface graphics complement the array of professional sounds I can get. Throw in all the extra goodies and I have an extremely comprehensive acoustic guitar setup. The IK multimedia website has more details for the technically minded.
As a postscript I ran my Fender Strat electric guitar into Amplitube Acoustic using my iRig Pro interface. I was quickly able to create some very usable acoustic-sounding presets, which I’m certainly going to use in live gigs. Well worth a try.