In principle a good idea, but this first release is not really convincing me as much, as I excpected. As it is at the moment.
Capturing with an audio interface and ToneX Capture works well, if you have connected everything correctly.
If everything works, you need time, but you can get - with some experience - some nice final results, which can sound good, although I personally would not define these results as absolutely perfect or really authentically sounding, but at least chances are good, that they will sound better than a lot of the Amplitube amp and pedal models.
After having captured some of my gear, my first impression is, that in general treble usually sounds surprisingly good, while bass tends to sound more muddy, diffuse and loose than the one of the real gear. What not really convinces me, is sometimes the harmonics reproduction, also some (or a lot) of the original dynamics are lost, in general the tones have some tendency to sound a little bit too neutral, too compressed and sterile for my taste, something, which I also have experienced from other AI or neural network based plugins.
Also overdrive and higher gain settings tend to sound too clean, even if the levels are adjusted already higher, than the software wants it, overdrive tones can sound a little too overpolished, too compressed, especially in advanced mode.
The default mode for the learning process results in my opinion even in better, more naturally sounding final results as the advanced mode, which seems to "synthesize" the model too much and too intense, while the results of the default mode at least maintain a little more of any original, natural "irregularities and dirt", also harmonics reproduction sounds better.
After the first days of trying and using I must admit, that the ToneX models sound much more authentically and naturally thanmost other neural network based plugins, which I have heard and / or tested up to now.
The promised - but not really from me as intensely as desired recognizable - sonic authenticity also only concerns the captured sample itself, as soon as you adjust some controls of the final model, you rather land in some sort of digital fantasyland, so if you eg. have captured an amp with gain at 8, you hardly will get the same tone, if you reduce or increase gain of your model than you will get, if you do the same on the real amp. This does not necessarily mean, that the results do not sound good (most of them do surprisingly), but they definitely will sound different than the real gear.
I also did not find any options for any final post editing or sonic fine tuning of the captured models or any selectable options, which controls the final model should have or not outsinde of the predefined, but not really very flexible templates.
What I dislike most is, that ToneX is not really a sample based amp or pedal modeling system, but only a simple preset capturing system, there meanwhile are a lot of neural network based plugins available since years, which are capable of simulating even complete multi-channel amps with a lot of knobs and switches. So, why is ToneX not capable of this, at least as an advanced option?
From a convincingly working amp or pedal model I expect, that the whole range of possible sounds can be reproduced and that the controls (and switches) react exactly in the same way as on the original, real gear. This is unfortunately not the case here, you cannot even capture a single channel completely.
I do not really want to switch permanently between different models of the same pedal or amp (channel) and reload them, only if I want to make some decent adjustments.
Even if I capture some different settings, I cannot combine them to a single model, which accurately reproduces all possible tones of the real amp or pedal. I only can create a collection of different presets, which in my opinion rather is a recession to digital stone age, than any revolution, not to speak about user-friendliness.
I think, it cannot be so complicated, to implement a simple or optionally also more complex multi capturing system. Alone three different captures would increase the sonic authenticity, if you eg. capture a clean setting, a crunch and an overdrive setting with different, optimized tone stack adjustments for a single channel and the software is capable to combine them in a single model, this model would be much more authentically sounding than the single capture based ones.
Also I miss an option to export a model as vst, so that it is also usable and combinable with other, external plugins. If I eg. have captured a boutique pedal with my favorite settings and want to use it with my favorite amp plugin outside of ToneX or Amplitube, I have to place the complete ToneX in my signal chain. Works, but is not really an elegant solution, if I just want to use a ToneX pedal in front of one of my favorite amp plugins.
ToneX models are in Amplitube only implemented as amps, but you cannot deactivate an existing cabinet only add an additional amplitube cabinet or use a model without cabinet. As ToneX also creates pedal models, I find it disappointing that there is no additional option to add another ToneX pedal model in the pedals section, you can only use them instead of an amp but not combine a ToneX pedal plus a ToneX or Amplitube amp model, a feature, which I also miss in ToneX itself. Usually you do not use a pedal as amp replacement, but in front of an amp.
What I also miss is a more complex deep editing section for model creators. The trimming option after learning is a good idea, but not really good controllable, I found after release, that I trimmed some models too intense and could not correct the signal level afterwards, so I had to capture the whole model again. Better would be a post-editing section, which alows not only signal level corrections but also eg. some gain intensity modifications and an internal sound shaping optimization, which a creator can also apply to an already existing model. Also an option, to blend two different models parallel but also serial could be useful, I think.
A little disappointing I find, that the Premium model range is almost identical with the amps, which already exist within Amplitube. Ok, there also is a Dumble and a Klon Centaur, but both do not really belong to my favorite gear. Sonic mainstream, while some more "exotic" but really good sounding amps are not included. I hope that some users will fill this gap.
On the other hand one big advantage of ToneX is, that you can comparably simple capture pedals and amps, from which no plugins are existing anywhere else, you can capture some rare, customized or even unique pedals or amps, which makes sense, eg. I have not seen a Timmy or Zendrive anywhere around up to now, although they are very popular in reality, so I am curious what the users will publish in the future.
Another reason, why I bought ToneX is, that I like to develop and breadboard my own (tube) pedal circuits, but I am not really good in soldering pedals, so ToneX gives me the option, to capture an only breadboarded circuit, from which most probably never a single real pedal will be existing, although some of them sound excellent.
My first test worked flawlessly and - even more surprising to me - noiseless, although the breadboarded circuit usually reacts very sensitive even to a moving cable or disconnects a connection and also the final result sounds very much as intended, which impressed me a lot, despite of my other complaints here. Therefore one more star for ToneX, than I actually wanted to give.
This is great, I can breadboard my (tube) pedal ideas, capture them, but do not have to build any pedal by myself, but still have the final, convincingly sounding results as ToneX model available.
Useful I would also find, if creators could upload complete folders with eg. different captures / models of the same amp or channel with different gain and tone control adjustments, which other users can then download as folders too.
Another wish is, that I can combine a pedal with another amp or at least with a cabinet, if I want to use such a combination, without the necessity to capture pedal and amp in a single model.
Also the cabinet system needs improvements in my opinion. You can use your own external IR's or also some VIR cabinets, but if you activate them, you notice a significant loudness / output level reduction, but there seems to be no automatic or manual compensation or adjustment option for it available anywhere. Also in general some input and outpul level controls, as meanwhile even every average pedal plugin offers them, are missing. Capturing my own cabinets only gave me rather disappointing, too bassy and muddy sounding results, even with a SM57.
The basic idea of ToneX is really good, no doubt, but as it is, it still is far away from being perfect. A lot of different aspects still need a lot of improvements in my opinion. On the other hand, this is a first release, and nevertheless the essential concept works surprisingly good.
At the moment I am not really unhappy with ToneX, it can work fine and do nice things, but it also does not make me too extremely excited, to be honest and cabinet capturing is a complete weakpoint in my opinion, which urgently needs improvement.
A good start for (hopefully) something better and a little more professional in the future, I would say.
As it is at the moment, certainly not (yet) the promised sonic revolution of the guitar plugin market for me, but the potential for it is already there, if IK Multmedia improves the right things in the right way.
Hopefully soon and not only in some years....Read Review