I stress that the opinions following are mine alone and based upon my personal experiences in a home studio set up. Testing has been done exclusively within either the stand alone PC version or through a DAW as a plugin. All brand names are the copyright property of the brand owners.
The collection comprises a suite of gear:
Amps and Cabs: BM 30 which emulates the classic three Vox AC30 setup BM DK emulation of a custom amplifier made by John Deacon 2x12 BM 30 Blue – emulation of Vox AC 30 cab with 2 Celestion Alnico Blue drivers 2x12 BM 30 H70 – emulation of Vox AC 30 cab with 2 Celestion G12H drivers 1x6 BM DK – emulation of 1x6 custom John Deacon cab
Red Special – emulation of the famous 3 pickup handmade guitar
Star Gate – emulation of a generic classic noise gate Treble Booster – emulation of KAT Treble Booster May Wah – emulation of rack mount Dunlop Cry Baby Fox Phaser – emulation of the fOXX Floor Phaser
It doesn't seem like a lot but together (and in conjunction with other effects already built in to Amplitube 4 – rack graphic EQ, delay, reverbs etc) you get a very diverse and pleasing set of sounds. These are available through the collections presets menu, Brian May. The presets are representative of decades of famous Queen and Brian May recordings.
And, of course you get the gear to play with as you like in conjunction with either basic Amplitube sets or any other gear or collections you have purchased.
It would be tempting to think that the sounds could be relatively easily duplicated with one of the many VST amp racks out there, but it's not. The reason for this is that many of the sounds use an emulation of the three AC30 set up May is famous for (2 of the three swept left/right with selectable built in chorus, delay, or harmoniser, the third clean and centred). Then there is the Red Special itself with the Burns Tri-Sonic pickups connected in serial (not parallel like most guitars) and with each pickup having a phase selector. This latter is as important to the dynamics of the sound set as the three amp rig. It is very important to set the source selector to the correct choice for the guitar you are using, single coil (such as a standard Stratocaster), Red Special (if you have one) or humbucker (such as a Les Paul). If using a hybrid guitar, such as my Schecter, make sure you are either using the humbucker or single coils (or split humbucker). The default is the middle position which seems odd as Red Specials are not the most common guitars out there. Although as the Red Special is an entirely single coil loaded guitar there is not a huge amount of difference between the settings I and RS.
The whole package has been very carefully designed to help the user replicate Brian May's tones from the 70s onwards – the treble booster for example is switchable through the decades.
Be sure to download and read the AmpliTube Custom Shop Gear Models.pdf from the My Products section of the IK Multimedia website – detailed and clear instructions on how to use the gear and amplifiers in this collection.
CONCLUSION: I am a great fan of IK Multimedia – I have had and used Amplitube since version 3*, and Amplitube 4 is my go to guitar rig modeller. This is very accomplished suite of custom gear and amplifiers with a quite unique and special set of sounds. I particularly like the 3 AC30 chain, sounds excellent even on its own. There are dozens of presets in the collection, all of them interesting and authentic. To my ears it sounds better if used with a guitar with single coils – in my tests the Squier Stratocaster with Wilkinson Hot single coils and custom wiring sounded the best. A close second was the Harley Benton Victory (which with alnico humbuckers just sounds really good all of the time). That is, however, just my personal opinion, it sounded good with all the guitars I used, and, of course, everything is adjustable. A couple of quibbles. The Amplitube window itself is not scaleable which means that some of the parameter adjustments, in the harmoniser settings of the AC30 amps for example, are tiny, and the CPU load seems to be quite high even with no audio input. I would like to see the AC30 amp combination and cabs available as separate purchases from the Custom Shop, as I not sure that the pedals add a great deal of individuality in themselves. The collection does seem a little expensive – the Slash collection by comparison is €59.99.
Things used in this review: Guitars – Schecter Diamond Extreme, Epiphone Prophecy Plus GX, Harley Benton Fusion Pro ll HH, Harley Benton Victory Plus Vintage, Fender Squire Stratocaster Affinity with custom wiring and hot single coils.
DAWs – Studio One 4.5 Pro, Cubase 10 Pro Monitoring – Behringer Truth B2031A near field, AKG K240 headphones ASIO Interface – Behringer UMC404HD MIDI controllers – None OS – Windows 10 Home
AmpliTube is a 64-bit application and requires a 64 bit CPU and Operating System.
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