Amplifier and pedal emulation has come such a long way in the last few years. Even hold outs and skeptics of the solid state revolution are starting to ditch their colossal collections of pedals and enormous amplifiers in favor of stomp boxes like the AmpliTube X-Drive.
AmpliTube are well known for their DAW plugins, but they’ve recently been making a stir in the physical product market with their awesome X-Drive, a model that combines cab, and FX sims, as well as a number of other great features.
Sweetwater were kind enough to provide us with an Amplitube X-Drive for this review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own. Keep on reading to find out how we got on with this pedal.
Who Is This Pedal For?
The AmpliTube X-Drive Distortion is a user-friendly pedal that works as well for beginners looking for a quality FX unit, as it does for pros looking to downsize their whole rig.
The usefulness of this pedal really knows no limits. It’s perfect for quiet practice at home or just jamming with friends, but it also works brilliantly on stage in a signal chain, or even on its own running straight into the front of house. If you’re looking to record direct into a DAW, this pedal can also take care of your interface needs, too.
The X-Drive is a distortion pedal, so this particular model is best suited to those looking for a heavier sound. AmpliTube also sells several other models, including the X-Space, the X-Time, and the X-Vibe, all of which feature completely different pedal emulations.
Appearance / Features / Controls
Our first impressions of this pedal were excellent. It was well packaged, and when we eventually managed to finish unboxing it, we were met with a good-looking, solidly built pedal.
This model is powered by a standard 9V DC power supply only – no battery compartments to be found here. Unlike a lot of pedals these days, it did actually come supplied with the required power cable and even a USB cable, so you can get started with the X-Drive right out of the box.
It came loaded with 16 preset pedals, which were a mix of IK Multimedia’s own standalone FX pedals, as well as some clones of popular distortion pedals like the Boss Metalzone and Super Overdrive, the Marshall Governor, the ProCo Rat, the Big Muff, and more.
Another great feature was parameter control, which gave even more opportunities to dial in the tones – our favorite setting from the parameter control was the bank of 5 cab sims. If you’re running this pedal as an interface or through a FOH setup, these cab sims completely alter the way the effects sound, and they add a whole additional range of tonal possibilities.
The control layout was really straight forward. On the top left there’s a dial that allowed us to easily scroll through the different models, and on the upper right, a preset dial gave us 3 basic presets for each model, with varying amounts of compression. There was also a range of EQ settings, including drive, volume, bass, mid, and treble, giving us even more control over the tones.
The range that we got out of this pedal was quite incredible. There was everything from mild crunch through to fuzz and heavy distortion. Some might find it reminiscent of the early multi FX pedals of the 90s and early 00s, but the quality of the FX here blows all of those models out of the water.
Without being told that these effects were being run through a single pedal, we’d have believed anybody who told us we were listening to a full board of the original gear.
As an interface we found it to be nice and quiet, which is a huge plus – some USB interfaces suffer badly from clipping, especially when high gain is involved, but the X-Drive performed brilliantly throughout.
Overall, we really thought highly of this pedal, it was well made, and the tones were pretty incredible considering the cost. If you’d like to hear how it sounds, check out our full review over on the Killer Guitar Rigs YouTube channel.
The value that this pedal offers is amazing – to buy each of the pedals featured in this one unit separately, you’d be looking at 4 or 5 times the cost, and 6 to 8 times the space! For those reasons alone, the Amplitube X-Drive is worth your consideration. That’s not even taking into account that it also acts as a USB interface, saving you at least $100 on extra gear to record with.
This is a pedal that we have absolutely no problems recommending if you’re looking for a quality distortion pedal with a ton of variety.