REVIEW: AmpKit Mac
Agile Partners’ AmpKit for iOS won me over. We had a rocky start due to a less-than-optimal guitar/iOS interface I bought that didn’t quite let AmpKit do its thing. But once I upgraded to GuitarJack 2 by Sonoma Wire Works, I was utterly sold, and I realised that AmpKit is so very input dependent that of course it sounds better with a higher quality interface. And I realised that AmpKit does what no other iOS amp sim seems to do, giving you a completely and utterly usable tone right out of the box that you can simply drop into a recording and know it’ll sound great. I’ve used AmpKit on a few recordings, plugging it into my Mbox, but I always thought it’d be great to have AmpKit accessible from within my Mac itself.
And now you can get exactly that! AmpKit Mac is custom-built for OS X 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion, taking advantage new capabilities in OS X. I’ve been playing around with it for a few days and the very first thing that struck me was how perfectly suited the AmpKit interface is for the Mac. Just as it made clever use of the iPad screen to present everything in an easy-to-access way, AmpKit for Mac lays out the virtual guitar rigs logically and usefully. There’s a multi-panel user interface with a main “Stack View” and separate floating panels for Gear, Backing Tracks, Recording, and Metronome. It helps that certain iOS-influenced features are ported over too, including Multi-Touch gestures, Full Screen mode, Sharing via email or AirDrop, and gesture-enabled Quick Look.
AmpKit Mac has all the regular AmpKit models (22 amps, 38 separate amp channels, 28 pedals, 28 cabinets and 8 mics). There’s the Peavey ValveKing, 3120, 6505+, 6534+ and Classic 30; Budda SuperDrive 30 Series II, Trace Elliott 1215, Fargen Hot Mod Baby Blues, Fargen Super Collider, Fargen Olde 800, Ashdown ABM 900 EVO III, American Acoustic, American Bass King, American Dual, American Rebel, Colonel 900, Colonel Vintage, London Century, Sultan Rack 88, Taos Rectifier, Uber Xtreme 101 and Vintage Brit amp models.
There are stacks of effects too, including various models by Rocktron (Cottonmouth Fuzz, Zombie Rectified Distortion, HUSH and Metal Planet), plus the Elevenizer (modelled after the Tube Screamer), The Hazz (Big Muff Pi), Rabid Rodent (Pro Co RAT), Offroad Overdrive (MXR Distortion+) and more.
Really though, what works the most for me in AmpKit is not the variety but the sheer usability of the sounds. It’s ridiculously fun to dial in a tone and jam along with a favourite album (or the included backing tracks), or to lay down a simple riff idea from within the program, and to come out with a finished tone at the end instead of having to run it through all sorts of EQing, compression and limiting, which is something I’m used to from other desktop amp sims. AmpKit Mac doesn’t revolutionise AmpKit itself – it’s still the AmpKit you’re used to – yet just as AmpKit did for iOS, AmpKit Mac raises the standards for what we should demand from user interfaces and overall tone in a desktop environment.
More info here, including the downloadable demo. Try it out for yourself!