UI: Metal's UI is like a good looking person who's never had to work at being very bright. The part that shows your routing scheme is tiny, yet I get to see lots of tribal tattoos instead. Yay! IK's really got to look at Native Instrument's Guitar Rig for help on this. Little more function, little less form.
Sound: Here's where IK's Metal shines. I'm not a "Keytarist" like the first reviewer. I'm a guitarist. I run an old M-Series Steinberger or G&L Skyhawk into Metal and they both sound amazing. Loads of thick beautiful gain. Very "tough" sounding and present. I've put it up against Guitar Rig 3, Revalver 3, Wave's Guitar modeler and really it's the only one that really did a convincing model of a recorded guitar amp. Each time I try a different software modeler and switch back to Amplitube 2 I get that "ah ha!" feeling and all of the sudden I'm smiling. This holds true for all the flavors of Amplitube. For a tenth the price of the cost of a mic good enough to get an accurate recording (not to mention the studio room you'd need) you get a plug in that's got it all built in. It's really a godsend for all home project studio musicians who need to do a lot with less. On top of the amp and cab models you get a bunch of really great stomp boxes that all have unique tones and should all find a place in your mixes. The studio gear also sounds great too.
Features: IK falls down a little on this one. MIDI control is weak and very basic. This was really made for guitarists who don't want too much flexibility and flash. In some way it's good, keeps things simple. In other ways I wish it had some interesting routing and LFO functionality. If you want crazy experimental sounds you'll probably be putting Reaktor after your instance of Amplitube Metal.
Docs: Meh. Not really needed too much. It's pretty straight forward.
Presets: GREAT! Almost all of them are useful (though all need a tweak to work well with your guitar) A focus on usable sounds and not "flash" like many guitar effects boxes like to do.
Customer Support. Meh. I have in issue with the input meter. Doesn't really tell you how much gain the preamp stage wants to see and I was getting weird clipping until I realized I needed to turn down the input gain when I use the Steinberger (active EMGs are hot) I got a response that was useless from IK and it took a few weeks. Yay.
Value for money: Really think about it. For the cost of a cheap mic you get a great emulation of a truck full of amps and they all sound great and probably way better than you could make the real things sound in a studio recording.
Stability: never had a crash yet with it, but it's a bit of a CPU hog especially when used in X-GEAR. This is especially true when you use a dual amp set up. The only bug I've found so far it that the input meter isn't really showing you much. That doesn't matter too much as you should trust your ears anyway, but if you're clearly hearing clipping and the meter isn't anywhere near the red that should be fixed. I hear it takes a lot of RAM but I've got 2 gigs of RAM and I've never found that to be an issue. I also use a lot of audio loopers that chew up RAM as well so unless you've got a tiny amount of RAM you should be fine.
As a keytarist working in the metal genre, Amplitube metal could well be the first sign of IKM's desire to compete against NI's Guitar Rig and Revalver's MK previously established reign in this niche genre. Those who found AMPT2 to be somewhat too kind with the distortion and grind will definitely find some solace in AMPTM's numerous presets that range from purely barbaric to clean, crystal leads.
Instead of enumerating specifics about the plugin, I mainly asked myself one question: how does AMPTM contribute to the metal musician, who is already accustomed to various other virtual amp boxes?
PRESETS: A huge bank of presets that can cater to nearly any need. Varying degrees of hardness and distortion. Easy layout makes even the laziest musician get the sound he wants. Not much tweaking of controls needed.
SOUND: Everyone uses a different setup; mine is an ASIO. I have to admit that I found AMPT2's sound somewhat dull and distant- I couldn't really feel the sound right at my ears. AMPTM improves somewhat, but I'm still not getting the roaring metal sound that I want. The lower sound clarity and fuzzing/clipping sometimes gets into the way of the sound feel.
Also, sometimes I don't know how to interpret amp boxes that boast a huge number of cabs and fx. While AMPTM's repertoire of cabs and amps is simply stunning, I feel that the sound I get when I start shredding on a keyboard just doesn't live up to the titles.
COMPATIBILITY: Beware, AMPTM's CPU consumption is somewhat high. I've run into excessive clipping even at a high latency setup on a powerful computer, especially when utilizing another synth or ROMpler at the same time.
Final Note: 6.5/10. I felt somewhat disappointed by the sound (the most important factor) after getting excited over the News announcement. Not a bad plugin, but it's definitely does not take the cake as the new virtual amp for metal musicians.
Notice: I found the plugin to be somewhat "crashy". Certain presets, when activated, cause either the DAW/host to crash or the plugin itself to crash. I tried it in FL8, Ableton, VSThost, and energyXT. However, this may be my own problem, as I am not clear as to the cause of its occasional malfunction.
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