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The IK Multimedia team outside their state-of-the-art headquarters in Modena, Italy.
IK Multimedia
Modeling software pioneer masters mobile space,
plus hardware, for “plug-and-play” solutions


It was 1996, and phones were “still as big as a four-slot toaster,” when Enrico Iori and Davide Barbi developed their first modeling product. A digital emulation of a famed recording console from Abbey Road Studios, it proved to the two Italians that they could re-create the sounds of analog gear using nothing but DSP algorithms and a computer. For Iori and Barbi, both musicians, this modeling technology opened intriguing musical possibilities: Using the concepts they’d developed, they could make classic music creation tools accessible to users everywhere—and do it affordably. The company quickly found its specialty in digitally modeling analog circuits such as studio processors and guitar amplifiers, pioneering the practice of working directly with the manufacturers of the modeled gear—among them Ampeg, Fender, Mesa/Boogie, and Orange—to achieve award-winning realism and feel. The next defining moment for IK Multimedia came in 2008, when it became one of the first developers to port its products to the iPhone and, later, the iPad. Mobile products led by the AmpliTube iRig made the company a leader in this fast-emerging space, forging a new path to make music creation easy and accessible for millions of users around the world. For each new interface, IK Multimedia developed a digital application to match, continually working to keep pace with the fast-moving mobile world. “We’re a technology-native company,” says Daniel Boatman, sales and marketing director, “so we’re constantly adapting to changes.”

Still headed up by its two founders, Enrico Iori, CEO, and Davide Barbi, chief technology officer, IK Multimedia is based out of a newly expanded production facility in Modena, Italy, which also houses a state-of-the-art recording studio. Its portfolio now includes more than 50 hardware products and dozens of apps and software titles for every platform and for many levels of musicians. First introduced in 1997, its top-selling T-RackS analog-modeled mixing and mastering software is now in its fifth generation and is credited as the software behind thousands of top-charting records. SampleTank, a virtual instrument sound workstation, debuted in 2001 as a software-based rival to the typical keyboard workstations of the time. Currently offered in its third version, it boasts thousands of playable sounds and grooves captured by professional musicians in some of the world’s finest studios. Now in its fourth generation, the AmpliTube guitar amp and effects modeling application has been part of the IK Multimedia lineup since 2004. Celebrated for its realism, AmpliTube re-creates the entire guitar or bass signal chain from instrument to recording device, functioning as either a standalone app or a plug-in for any DAW for both Mac and PC. “Compared to the costs of buying the amps and effects we model,” sums up Boatman, “our products give musicians access to the tools and tone they want for a fraction of the price.”

As for AmpliTube, it also became the jumping-off point for IK Multimedia’s launch into mobile platforms. Introduced in 2010 as the first guitar amp and effects system for iPhone (and later iPad), the AmpliTube iRig brought modeling technology to mobile devices while also becoming the lowest-cost point of entry to IK Multimedia products. “It was a massive success,” says Boatman. Today, a broad spectrum of IK Multimedia products and companion apps, reflecting the myriad preferences of modern musicians, are offered across both Mac/PC and mobile platforms. In tune with trends in the musical community, IK products increasingly embrace a mobile-ready mentality where users look to smartphones and tablets as their primary device for both professional and hobbyist applications.

“We’re seeing Apple adding support for plug-ins,” says Boatman. “And as processors get more powerful, the capabilities are heading towards par with many laptops. Our commitment to offering products that work seamlessly across a variety of platforms is a pillar of our motto, ‘Musicians First.’”

As it turns out, IK Multimedia’s immersion in the mobile space also inspired much of what it’s now doing in hardware offerings for both beginners and pros. Its iRig line of interfaces, microphones, and controllers has been developed to channel live inputs from instruments and vocals to apps running on mobile devices—for recording, mixing, composing, video and podcast production, and more. Its iKlip line of smartphone and tablet mounts was added to help music creators integrate mobile devices into their setups. And the iLoud speaker series, comprising a range of small-footprint products, was built to coordinate with a variety of consumer devices for high-quality sound in almost any setting. In its latest introduction, and its most ambitious, IK Multimedia entered the hardware synthesizer market with the new UNO Synth, a two-oscillator, all-analog-signal-path desktop instrument. According to Boatman, the UNO Synth marks the beginning of a new wave of IK pro audio hardware products, for music creation and performance, that are scheduled to hit the market in 2019. “It’s a great example of how we use very thoughtful design to make technology more accessible,” he says. “We were able to pack UNO Synth with features and sound normally not found anywhere near its $199 price point and compact size.”

As a hardware maker that started out in software, IK Multimedia is increasingly known for its tightly integrated products, or as Boatman puts it, “a plug-and-play solution out of each box.” Around 70% of its products are made onsite in Modena, which makes production a closely controlled, highly responsive process. For example, the company was able to turn on a dime when Apple decided to take headphone jacks out of its latest iPhone design: “For many, this removed the most reliable way to listen to their playing, and we were able to add integrated output jacks to nearly our entire range by the time our competitors were updating their first product,” says Boatman. “We pride ourselves on being able to adapt to unexpected or new developments faster than anyone.”

The other main upside to working from Italy, Boatman adds, is that standards there are equal to the standards virtually anywhere. Meeting strict EU environmental laws, for instance, means its products are sure to comply with regulations elsewhere, such as California’s Prop 65. With IK Multimedia products now sold through 15,000 retailers in 120 countries, and simultaneous worldwide launches for each new product, there’s no overstating the benefits in that. As Boatman says, “We want to continue to create products that help musicians of all levels make, record, and share their music all over the world.”

www.ikmultimedia.com

 

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