I have quite a few amps at my disposal, and I figured I should pick one with the security that, should this iStuff fail at a show, I’d still have all the stuff I needed straight from the amp. What do I need? Tuner, channel switching/ tone switching, some time based fx or what have you, plenty of monitoring volume, and of course, a speaker emulator output.
I have a Blackstar TVP260 that I like to play with, has an onboard tuner, handy pedalboard, great sounding speaker emulator and definitely more volume than I’ll ever need. I could go on another rant about Blackstar, but its beyond the scope of this already too long winded post. Suffice it to say, this model has a full range input, no dedicated FX loop (you can switch in software the line in and recording out to become an FX loop, but then you’d lose the emulated outs), and seriously seems to have a tweeter in it. I have sent messages to Blackstar to learn a bit more, but no response yet. I was able to software switch to send the mp3 input to the emulated out (and I assume but havent tested yet, that there will not be cabinet emulation applied to the signal).
So basically, I have the iPad guitar app software speaker emulator on, the iRig output going to the apparently mono* line/mp3 input, which is controlled by the master volume. Hopefully this signal recieves no further processing when it exits in parallel out the emulated outputs. This way, whether I use the amp itself or the iPad, the soundman will get the correct signal no matter what.
* According to Blackstar [sic I think]
“5. MP3/Line In
Connect the output of your mp3 or CD player here. Adjust the player’s volume to
match that of your guitar to enable you to play along.
NOTE: The connection is summer into mono.”
Amp is taken care of, for now. This would be a much different story if I were using the FX loop of a normal amp without a full range speaker setup.
So now, drumroll please, onto #5, the software!
To bring back a late 70’s/early 80’s term, this was a definite “doi”. Who else could I possibly pick besides the company who absolutely revolutionized guitar for VST? The people who brought this stuff to the mobile world in the first place? The time and again revolutionary world breakers. This was obviously a no brainer…I scanned the QR codes that came with the iRig and the Blueboard and loaded Amplitube into my iPad. Of course, I was going to start and end this journey with an environment I was so comfortable with that it fit like an old, warm blanket.
And then reality set in
This is NOT the Amplitube you know and love.
Its not even close
Its not even remotely close
Loading up the 5150, you get the same sound as you would if you did it on VST…Quite awesome (yeah yeah, I know all the Amplitube haters out there, but, this is still good stuff!). And that’s where any similarity ends. Most of the functionality you are used to, the signal flow, the FX, the routing, the utilities, kiss them goodbye. The MIDI control is extremely limited and even the documented functions from the manual don’t seem to exist in the actual app. There was a harmonizer, for pay, from another IK package, but you can’t use it after the amp, you’d have to use it ahead…Yeah, run a harmonizer IN to the distortion generator…I don’t think so.