Amplitube 2 by IK Multimedia is an awesome little app that allows you to convert your iPhone into a full on guitar rig. Their iPad version was recently featured in one of the new Apple iPad ads. The app has 3 versions currently - Amplitube Free, Amplitube LE ($2.99), and the full Amplitube version ($19.99). We are using the full version for this review to give you a complete picture of what's available.
To use this app, you'll need to purchase an iRig, which are currently priced at $39.99. You'll simply plug your guitar or bass into the iRig which then plugs into your iPhone or iPad. The 3rd outlet allows you to plug into the audio output of your choice. We just used a standard surround system (receiver) for this review. You're also free to use an amp or headphones, which can be great if you'd like to practice quietly. And hey, it's a lot easier to carry around the iRig than an entire guitar rig.
When you first launch Amplitube, you'll see a plethora of different options. You can choose between different cabinets as well as add effects pedals. The full version of Amplitube comes with most of the effects pedals and tons of extras. You can also purchase more gear via an in-app purchase. We also purchased the four track recorder, which is not included in any version. We tested the iRig and Amplitube 2 with not only a surround sound system, but headphones as well. The results really were quite pleasing. In-app purchases are easy enough and add even more features to the app. They are also extremely reasonably priced when you look at what a new physical effects pedal would cost, for example.
This app is great for anyone who wants to learn to play guitar but doesn't want to invest into a major setup right off the bat. It's also great for professionals who may travel a lot and don't want to always carry a full rig with them. The app also features basic tools like a built-in tuner and metronome as well. The song feature allows you to drop in songs from your iTunes library through file sharing. Then when you launch the app, you can play along with your favorite songs within the app. This is a great feature for wearing headphones and practicing when you don't want to disturb anyone else.
The only down sides we noticed when testing this app was the cramped layout. I pulled my brother in on this review, as I do not pretend to be a master guitar player. He really enjoyed playing with this app and using it, but he was sometimes frustrated by the cramped layout. If you have an iPad that you carry around with you frequently, I'd suggest using Amplitube with the iPad over the iPhone. The layout is much more spacious and it's harder to press buttons on accident. He would frequently hit the wrong tab along the top when trying to toggle between effects pedals or other settings. This is one thing I'd like to see some improvement on in the next iteration. Other than that, this is a great app and one I'd suggest any guitar player to look over. If you aren't sure about buying an iRig just yet, check out the free version of the app and browse through what's available first. It's definitely a decent investment for anyone who wants to be more portable with their guitar or bass.