IK Multimedia Custom Shop Review

Nov 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Michael Cooper



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New models are regularly being added to Custom Shop. I tested the latest ones in Digital Performer 7.21 and Pro Tools 9.0.5, playing a Strat and using an 8-core Mac Pro running OS 10.6.8. Most of what I heard really impressed me.

One of my favorite new amp models was the Fender ’57 Champ, which delivered warm-sounding tones ranging from clean to vintage-rock-crunchy. The Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb amp sounded more present than the Champ and produced very good clean and crunchy timbres. The Orange RockerVerb 50 MKII amp model rocked a bit harder than the new Fenders, coaxing beautifully warm, brown tones and smooth sustain for lead work; even with heavy treble boost, it didn’t make my single-coil pickups sound harsh. Channel A of the Orange Thunderverb 200 had the same tone stack as the RockerVerb and sounded similar. The Orange Tiny Terror also had a somewhat similar vibe, but sounded a hair less supple than the RockerVerb. The Soldano SLO-100 amp excelled at dishing out soaring lead solos with smooth distortion and sweet overtones. Matching cabs were available for all but the Soldano amp.

New stomp box distortion models include the Seymour Duncan Power Grid and the T-Rex Moller and Mudhoney. The oh-so-flattering Mudhoney was aptly named, as it readily produced warm and dark-sounding distortion. The Moller allowed me to blend clean and overdriven signals, enhancing definition. The Power Grid featured excellent 3-band EQ, useful for sculpting precise tones.

T-Rex Replica, an echo stomp box, sounded wonderfully warm on clean tracks, but sometimes added discordant overtones when chained after some of the aforementioned distortion pedals. The Seymour Duncan Shape Shifter tremolo stomp box sounded really cool; it let me select among different LFO waveforms and then reshape the output’s envelope to fashion a variety of head-warping sounds.

But don’t take my word for it. You can hear for yourself—risk-free—how all these models work in combination with your own axe. That’s the beauty of Custom Shop.

Custom Shop is the iTunes of guitar-amp sims. Instead of being locked into buying a complete plug-in (album), you can preview and buy inexpensive single models (songs) one at a time. User-friendly and loaded to the gills with great-sounding models, Custom Shop is the new paradigm for the digital age and these recessionary times.

Mix contributing editor Michael Cooper is the owner of Michael Cooper Recording in Sisters, Ore.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the IK Multimedia Custom Shop product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the IK Multimedia Custom Shop product page.

Custom Shop Demo Videos

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