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Amp ONE – A new guitar pre-amp modeler for your iPad

As a guitarist, there is no such things as too many guitar apps for my iPad. So when I heard about Amp ONE, the new pre-amp sim from Mercuriall, of course I was interested. The app was just released this week, and looks like it will certainly bring some holiday joy this year.


Mercuriall has been creating guitar software for PC's and Mac's for some time. But this looks like the first leap into the iOS platform. From the developer's website is this brief description: "Amp ONE uses the same principle that is used in electrical circuits simulation programs like LTSpice IV. The difference lies in the use of pre-trained models of artificial neural networks to replace an algorithm of solving systems of nonlinear differential equations. This enables hundreds of times to increase the simulation speed of electrical circuits, compared to LTSpice IV." Now, I'm no scientist, so a lot of that flew right over my head. But, I've had a chance to jam with this app, and it certainly does sound good.

Anyone who's read my previous reviews knows that I love a simple interface. Especially for a guitar app, I think it's important not to have too many sub-menus and different screens. Perhaps I'm just a bit old-school, but I just want to plug in and go. Amp ONE excels here. Along the top row you will find your choice of amp models. The amps being used here are all clearly modeled on well-known names (and they've even been named as such. Legal? Hey, I don't know. I'm not a lawyer either):

* Marshall JCM800 Std Preamp
* Marshall JCM800 Hot Preamp
* Cornford Harlequin Preamp
* Engl E530 Preamp : Clean Lo, Clean Hi, Lead Lo, Lead Hi
* Krank Krankenstein Preamp : Clean, Lead
* Krank Revolution Preamp : Lead
* Mesa Dual Rectifier Preamp : Clean Vintage, Orange Vintage, Red Modern
* EVH 5150 III Preamp : Clean, Rhythm, Lead
* Fender Blues Junior III Preamp : Clean, Fat


Clean, simple interface

The app also provide some basic, but very serviceable effects as well - chorus, delay, and reverb. If you're not keen on these sounds, the app is Audiobus and IAA compatible as well, so you can use some of your favorite effects app to taste. You can save your configurations as snapshots as well, so once you've dialed in your meaty growl, you can get it back without reinventing the wheel.

Using the app is pretty straight-forward and easy. Select your pre-amp model, and adjust the sliders below to adjust gain, treble, bass, etc. It's not rocket science, which is fine by me. A nice touch is the bright orange indicators on the "toggle switches". This makes it very easy to see when the effects are on or off. The sliders definitely have the modern iOS look, and were also pretty easy to see (maybe a bit thin, but forgivable). For a live setting, these sliders may be a bit difficult to see in certain lighting, but for home use it wasn't a problem.

So, comparisons are inevitable. I wouldn't even begin to compare it to JamUp Pro, ToneStack or a Flying Haggis, as I view those more as effects apps. The closest comparison here would probably be BIAS. I don't think that Amp ONE offers quite the depth of BIAS, but I'm not sure that is what the developer was going for here, either. BIAS gives you control over nearly every last detail of your amp, whereas Amp ONE is a little more simple in its controls. This is not a knock on Amp ONE at all. In fact, it makes Amp ONE instantly usable, perhaps more streamlined to use. In much the same way that Flying Haggis is a "rev it up and go" effects app, Amp ONE is definitely a great app to get sounds happening now.

I did find that I needed to adjust the output gain a bit from the default settings, as it was a little noisy. I also added the "Output for Mix" option in the settings to beef up the low-end a bit. You may find that you'll need to do some tweaking in these overall settings, but that's to be expected. I've read of a few folks adding in a noise gate into the effects slot in Audiobus to cut some of the noise. And another tip: Background Audio is disabled by default, so be sure to turn that on (that caused me a few minutes of confusion).

The question you're asking is probably "Do I need another guitar app?" I liked Amp ONE while I was playing with it. You can definitely beef up your sound, and it is capable of adding some gain to your lead work. I'm more of a rhythm guitarist, so solos aren't my bag, but when I was chugging along with some low-E palm mutes, I could definitely feel the added power. I don't know that it's going to replace BIAS for me, but it is certainly a nice tool to have in your belt, as some of these sounds can really scream right out of the gate. At $9.99 USD, it's certainly worth a look for all you guitarists looking to add some more tone to your sound.

If you're thinking about buying Amp ONE, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

[app 936560060]

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