IK Multimedia iRig and AmpliTube iPhone app
A vanload of amps, stompboxes, and mics in your pocket
Review Back in the days when I was lugging around a beefy Peavey Centurion Mark III bass-amp head, if you had told me that someday I'd be gigging with my phone I would have slowly backed away, thinking that you were either dangerously high or simply deranged.
But now, with my iPhone and IK Multimedia's AmpliTube iRig, that phone-supported gig can be a reality. And not only can I play my Fender P-Bass and fretless Jazz through IK's setup, I can squeeze far more tonal variety out of either bass than I ever could with my Peavey. Or my friends' Marshalls, Fenders, Gallien-Kruegers, or whatever.
Simple, inexpensive, and powerful
Cut to the chase: this setup is freakin' amazing. Not perfect, but close enough.
Before I dig into the details of this Peavey-in-my-pocket, do know that although I'm a bass player (not quite a "bassist", but a notch above "a guy who plays bass"), a pro-guitarist friend of mine was equally impressed — perhaps more so, as we bassists have more-limited options. And imaginations. Or so it has been said.
First the hardware, then the software: the $39 iRig is a gig-sturdy connector with a 1/4-inch mono phone jack on one end into which you plug your guitar/bass/keyboard/whatever cable's male phone plug. The other end has a female 1/8-inch mini phone jack to connect your headphones or amp, and a five-inch cable with a mini phone plug on it that connects to your iPhone 4, 3GS, or 3G; your iPad; or your second- or third-generation iPod touch.
It's the AmpliTube iPhone app that makes the iRig sing. With it, you can add a variety of stompbox effects; model different amps, cabinets, and studio microphones; create selectable preset effect combinations; and play along with full or looped snippet of tunes that you load onto your Apple device — I'll say iPhone from now on, because my testing was done on an iPhone 3GS.
If you're familiar with AmpliTube 3 for the Mac and PC, with its 51 stompboxes and effects, 31 amps, 46 speaker-cabinet choices, and more, think of AmpliTube for iPhone as a starter set — and possibily a stepping stone into the full AmpliTube experience.
AmpliTube for iPhone comes in three flavors of ascending cost and interest: AmpliTube FREE comes with three stompboxes, one amp and cabinet, and microphones; AmpliTube LE has five stompboxes, one amp and cabinet, and two microphones for $2.99 (€2.39). With in-app purchases you can add more effects for $2.99 each and amp/cabinet combos for $4.99 (€3.99) each.
But why dick around? The $19.99 concisely named AmpliTube gives you 11 stompboxes, five amps and cabinets, and two microphones. Trust me: don't nickle-and-dime yourself — this is the most fun you'll have for twenty bucks since [insert preferred sin or substance here] cost twenty bucks.
Next page: Plug it in, get it on
No, no no.
A drummer is somebody who hangs out with a bass player.
In a similar vein:
So the band go backstage before a big gig and they find their bassist beating the crap out of a roadie. They pry him off.
What's with you?" demands the lead guitarist.
"He's a wanker!" replies the bassist.
"Alright," says the vocalist, "but what's he done?"
"He's de-tuned one of the strings on my bass!" yells the bassist. "And he won't fucking tell me which one!"
Standard Disclaimer: I play bass.
iPhone data transfer blues
The pain of getting files from a computer onto an iWhatever such that they can be accessed by a particular app is a familiar issue, common to every app that needs to do that. Apple's security sandboxing, combined with the fact that there is no built in wired way to get data from computer to device means every app has to either roll their own wireless connection to a custom server on the host, or, as people are increasingly begining to do, use cloud storage such as Dropbox. Its completely insane, and one of the main barriers to serious apps on the platform, though it looks like Apple is slowly beginning to cotton to this with the iPad, and is beginning to make some provision for it.
Hopefully later iOS revisions will improve matters. In the meantime, this isn't something to really hold against any given app, since its Apple's fault, not the app's developers.
What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians?
A drummer. Bass players have to know *both* the time sig AND the the key they're playing in. It's basic, and will probably be out of tune but is more than banging tunelessly on objects. Add a bit of orchestral foot-pedal action a la, say, Adam Clayton, and you start to approach actual talent.
look forward to the possiblities
I also read about PocketAmp, www.pocketamp.com.
Look forward to trying it.
Erm, this is hardly what you'd use for a gig. The only real potential is for tuning while another act is on.