Gear Review: AmpliTube MESA/Boogie 2

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

For years now I’ve been running my guitar signal predominantly through a hardware amp modeler rather than a real amp or using the only software amp modeler I owned. The advantages are lower volume in the control room, where I track my guitars and thus less chance of my ears getting abused, more control overall, and less opportunity for getting a great sound in the amp but misreading the signal and mic combo until later. However, I was starting to get frustrated by the limitations of my software modeler and the lack of different flavors.  IK Multimedia must have tuned in to my silent pleas and just released the MESA/Boogie 2 collection, which not only includes some superior amp combinations but in fact some of my all-time favorite hardware amps in software form.

I used to own a MESA Boogie amp that was gifted to me by a dear friend and we used that amp on a good portion of my first ten years of professional recordings. It rocked, it roared, and yet still had plenty of definition. We used to joke that you just needed to fire it up, plugin and rock and it was all there. Well, these new amp emulations from IK Multimedia do exactly that. These are some of the most popular models of the last 25 years and basically, cut it for virtually any style of music you can throw at them.

The level of feel, responsiveness, and nuance you expect in a real hardware amp are all there. The engineers at IK Multimedia have done an incredible job emulating every circuit and model to the point that you really won’t think you’re playing a software model if you close your eyes. 

There are four amps and five new cabinets in this new series: The California Tweed, which gives you more of a classic, “vintage” feel, the Triple Crown TC-100 head, which is fairly aggressive and punchy, the Mark Five, which is really a collection of five high-gain amplifiers, and the Mark 2C+, which features a dual-cascading drive stage. Along with these 4 killer amps, users will get 5 officially certified cabs featuring California Tweed and Road King models with a range of configurations and a choice of Jensen or Celestion speakers. Also included are two extra speakers from IK’s work on the California Tweed, which they can swap into any cab.

I’ve actually played three of these four hardware amps in real life and I can attest that IK multimedia got this right. All of the emulations play like a dream, are very expressive and responsive, and are terrific flavors to add to your sonic tool kit. For me, they were perfect in that they didn’t resemble in any way the only software amp emulation I owned and were particularly useful for re-amping guitars, keyboards, bass and I even threw them on some special effects and a drum bus blended in for extra crunchiness.

You have a lot of control in each amp model and it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for medium gain or high gain, I’m confident there will be something in this bundle to make you happy and will use a lot when recording. Check out all the myriad options yourself online at the IK Multimedia online store and from IK authorized dealers worldwide, with bundle pricing as follows:

AmpliTube MESA/Boogie 2 – $99.99

AmpliTube MESA/Boogie 1 and 2 Bundle – $179.99 intro price

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