Atomic AmpliFIRE: likes and dislikes

Okay, so I’ve had the AmpliFIRE for a bit now, and I’ll definitely be keeping it. For awhile. Until something better comes along. LOL

It’s a powerful, flexible little box for sure. However, there are definitely some Pluses and Minuses to what it is, and I bet that’s a combination of keeping costs down, as well as fitting it into a target size and weight.

Minuses

First up, the Mark IV model isn’t a Mark IV. I wish I could love it, because in the real world, I love my Mark V:25, especially it’s Mark IV setting. I’ve also played a real Mark IV, V, and now JP-2C.

The AmpliFIRE’s Marc and Marc EQ just does not cut the mustard. There’s a weird honky sound to it that I can’t dial out, whether by using the amp model’s EQ, or using the other EQ options (parametric, graphic).

This greatly disappoints me, as I’ve said, the Mark series is my favorite Mesa series. I think they need to either revisit the Marc model, or at a minimum, add in a model of the specific 5-band EQ, as Line 6 has with the Helix.

Additionally, while it was plainly obvious to me when I ordered the AmpliFIRE, the controls are just not enough on their own. It’s a tough box, because of the just three footswitches. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you can give up control of, or if you want to just throw in the towel and get a separate MIDI controller. I’ll likely end up doing the latter.

Lastly, the editing on the device just sucks. Again, likely due to the size target they were shooting for, editing parameters, especially for effects, is awful, in my opinion. Push, push, push, turn encoder, push again, oops go back, etc. Kinda frustrating. Setting up your patches connected to the computer with the editor is much better. Which brings us to……….

Pluses

The computer editor is friggin’ clean as a whistle, and makes immediate sense without looking at the manual (is there a spot in the manual for the editor? I don’t know, I’ve not needed it).

Editing patches, copying them, dropping new IR’s in, setting up buttons, etc. All is an absolute breeze. and it’s stable too, which is more than can be said for my past experiences with Line 6’s editors.

The tones that do work for me are plenty: Rectifier, Friedman HBE, JCM800, Cornford, Fender Deluxe, Fender Twin, Plexi, and even 5150. So really, I’ll just pretend they never added the Mark. I can forgive that. 🙂

It actually makes playing through headphones pretty enjoyable again, which is something I’ve not experienced in awhile. And this is an important fact, because 90% of my playing is through headphones these days. 🙁

The size is a drawback in some respects, but also a plus. I regularly tote it back and forth to work, and it’s not an issue at all. I’m still having issues finding a nice little case/gigbag for it though, so if anyone knows of one, let me know.

Here’s a quick messy with the Friedman HBE model.

What I’d like to see for the future

I think the next logical step would be one or both of the following:

  1. A larger floorboard unit, more inline with the Helix or AX-8. This would allow for easier patch management, better editing, dedicated FX buttons, and maybe even a built-in expression pedal.
  2. A rack unit. This would be cool for people wishing to keep stuff up off the floor, something easier to transport if you’re already using a rack.
  3. And if the second, a dedicated foot controller, like Fractal’s MFC or Kemper’s dedicated foot controller.

I’m sure Atomic has already thought about this stuff and is actively churning ideas.

Whatever they end up doing, it’s awesome to see such a viable contender in the $600 range; they’ve done an absolutely fantastic job with the AmpliFIRE, even as it stands right now. I can wait to see what Atomic does in the future!

Posted in Music, Uncategorized.