When the tone Gods came down from the heavens and laid their hands upon Jimi Hendrix, guitarists from all over the world were seeking the same blessing he received. Now, 40 years since his death, his sound is still looked upon as being groundbreaking and refreshing from what we hear in popular music.
What made Jimi's tone so special? Well, there are a quite a lot of answers to that. The most important factor would be his soul and his spirit. There were, however more basic factors that played a major role in the Hendrix sound and without these tools, he would probably still be the greatest guitarist of all time, but he would definitely sound a lot different. And so would we…
IK Multimedia has taken their amp modeling expertise one step further with the release of AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix (AJH). The first plugin to be dedicated to a specific artist, AJH takes all the gear that Hendrix used to get that incredible sound of his and put it in one package.
IK has included four amp models, 15 effects including 9 stomp boxes and 4 rack components, seven different cabinets and five microphone choices. All in all, 24 new models and some borrowed from the original AmpliTube give you a real complete package.
You can use two amps simultaneously along with up to twelve stomp box pedals. The amp models are comprised of Jimi's Marshalls and Fenders. If you are familiar with IK's AmpliTube, then you will know how realistic these amps sound. This is due to ultra accurate analog modeling with DSM technology.
You can choose between a variety of open and closed cabinets ranging from 2x12s, 4x12s, and 2x15s.
The stomp box section is where AJH really shines. You will be in Fuzz box heaven with your choice of five different fuzz, the Fuzz Face, FuzzTone, Fuzzrite, Classic Fuzz and Axis Fuzz. Other classics include Univox Uni-Vibe, Octa-V, Fender Opto-Tremolo and a Wah based on the Vox Wah V846.
The different mikes are modelisations of Neumann U87 et 67, AKG C12, ShureSM57 and Beyer M160. They can be placed on or off axis, far or near, and an Ambience setting had some room simulation to the global sound.
The rack gives you a parametric EQ, rotary speaker emulation, stereo reverb and tube compression. There is also a tuner and a metronome included, this last being a bit agressive to our ears. And the stand-alone version also includes SpeedTrainer which allows you to import any WAV, AIFF, MP3 and WMA audio file, so you can play along and practice with. You can even insert where you want start and end markers (with A and B keys) in order to loop your files. A zoom (up to x32) allows a good precision when moving these markers.
Two things to know : don't use files with slashes in their names, or AJH won't open them (the given reason is "one or more codecs required to play the file could not be found"...). And the Clear function, that should allow to empty the player, doesn't work (AJH version 1.0.1 7F20). You have to quit AJH, then open it again to use another file. This has to be quickly fixed, as it's a bit annoying.
The interface mirrors that of its big brother, AmpliTube. It is very user friendly and easy to navigate. The signal path can be configured thanks to the eight different presets, offering various parallel or serial routings : for instance, two pedals boards, one ampli, two cabinets, one rack or one pedal board, two amplis, one cabinet, two racks, etc.
The Keys To The Kingdom
Unlike most amp modeling software which gives you presets that are hinted to certain songs or certain guitarists, AJH takes it one step further. Not only are the presets to all the Hendrix songs from his three major studio albums included here, but they are broken down by section. For instance, you have separate patches for the intro, verse, chorus, bridge and solo to each song.
If you love the intro to "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" or the solo sound to "Hey Joe", you have all the options to get those specific sounds.
However, it doesn't stop there. The beauty of this software is getting in there and creating your own tones. The amp models alone sound incredible and can be used for all types of music. Don't think of this software as being limited to Jimi's greatest hits. I have created tones from AJH that I have used on country and R&B tracks. Like the standard version of AmpliTube, the quality is stellar.
Installation and registration of AJH is pretty straightforward. Like all IK products, each license allows you to install and authorize AJH on up to 3 computers, but the program shall NOT be used simultaneously on more than one machine.
AJH works just as well as a plugin as it does in standalone mode. It supports both Mac OSX (AU, VST, and RTAS) and Windows XP (VST, RTAS). I tried it in just about every host program out there including Logic Pro, Digital Performer and Pro Tools and it worked perfectly on all. The performance is just as solid on the PC side as well as Mac.
Of course the first thing I did was jam along to some of my favorite Jimi tunes. I have to say that they nailed the presets. Not only is the sound there, but the realistic feel of AmpliTube makes it all that much more worth it and fun too. As great as the presets are, I really just love the basic amp tones. I find myself using them just when I am at home messing around, practicing or trying to come up with ideas. You really don't have to overdo it with the effects. It sounds that good.
I found no latency issues whatsoever on both the Mac and PC side. Make sure that your computer meets the system requirements though. Because the software is replicating Jimi gear, the only limitation is the variety of effects. Don't get me wrong, all the basics are here and they sound amazing. If you are looking for delay or really high gain modern distortion, you can upgrade to AmpliTube 2. Bottom line is, you know what you're getting and what to expect once you plug in to AJH. I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
Bold as Love
I was very excited to check out AJH and not only were my expectations met, but I find myself using it way more than I thought I would. Whether you let Jimi take over or build your own customized tones, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix can hold it's own in any recording studio or musical situation. IK have done an incredible job in getting us as close to standing in Hendrix's boots as possible. Don't "Wait Until Tomorrow". Try it today .
adaptation and additional tests : sleepless
We have asked Mathias Desmier to make some audio examples and to give us his opinion after days of practice, as a guitarist, and as a composer who's deeply involved in music assisted by computer. "I've spent some nice moments with AJH, which is fun to play and very easy to use. Presets perfectly match the original sounds. This new concept to emulate an artist gear will certainly delight the fans (and scare other off !). I like the possibility to edit guitar parts (copy, paste, cut, etc.) as well as the ability to change the sound after recording it.
Preset Intro 2-Foxey Lady
Preset Intro -Hey Joe
AJH perfectly does the job in studio sessions, where you have to do the job, and where your personal sound isn't that important (for soundtracks, advertising, playback tracks, etc.). It's also very handy : a laptop, a pedal board, and I can record anywhere. Can't say the same about my Soldano and Marshall cabinet. There's also some kind of magic to play with the "real" Hendrix gear and to experiment his various settings...
Preset Intro-Purple Haze
Preset Solo Octa-Purple Haze
But don't expect it to be as dynamic as a real tube amp, even if it's always better from an update to another, there's always something missing... And you always have the impression to lose a bit of your own sound, your fingers, etc.
Preset Solo-The Wind Cries Mary
Preset Riff-The Wind Cries Mary
On the other hand, it allows the fans to play with the closest possible sounds from their idol's. And for the non-fans, to experiment "hendrix sounds" within their own palette, without managing a real recording of an real amp, with problems created by miking technics, playing at loud volume, etc.
Preset Voodo Chile
I've played a Buclet solid body guitar, with two Seymour Duncan, the neck's micro being the most used. The signal comes thru a TLAudio to a RME soundcard in Logic."
This article has been proposed to you by PcMusic in association with AudioMIDI
AudioMIDI is a leading US relleser who also provides great information about a plethora of products commercially available for creating and recording music with a computer.