ATOMIC AMPLIFIRE

Craig Carrol is ready to play with fire.

Full review and independent analysis of the Matchless Spitfire 115W Combo 112 by Australian Guitar magazine.

PRICE: $985 RRP

OUR ANALYSIS

There are so many well-regarded amps preloaded in this tiny red unit, which range from the Fender Deluxe Reverb, Fender Bassman, Marshall Plexi, Marshall JCM800 Vox AC30, and Dumble Overdrive Special, as well as boutique amps such as Cornell and modern Eddie Van Halen’s 5150. There are many more available to download for free, as well as Artist settings such as Steve Vai’s signature Carvin amp, which comes preloaded with the accompanying reverb, distortion and EQ settings. All of these can be selected using the dial on the left hand of the unit to scroll through, and then tweak and save if need be. 

SOFTWARE IS YOUR FRIEND
The best way to go through all of the sounds is to use the software on your Mac or PC, rather than scrolling through the small LCD screen on the unit. This allows you to see the full range of effects options, which are adjusted through horizontal EQ sliders. You can choose to add the effects before or after the amp with the amount of customization, giving far more options than a few dials on most stomp boxes. There are also spring reverbs, ping-pong tremolos and tape delays for those who like the old school sounds. I found the noise gate a must in reducing that all-familiar unwanted hum. The amp settings and cab options (rolloff, Peak EQ, cab bottom, cab air, cab level) can also be tweaked to the enth degree. 

HAVE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
The main drawback with many of these types of units is that you can tweak some things on the fly, but essentially, everything has to be preset - unlike a traditional pedal board where you have all of your pedals hooked up, and you can just turn it on and adjust the settings on the go. There is a certain joy, as well, to looking at all of the weird and wonderful designs and flashing lights that pedals come in, moving the order and tweaking them to find your sound. 

For pedal purists that still want the ability to choose from different amps, the Amplifier is a great option. Because of its small size, it can be used in conjunction with other pedals and provide a happy medium with an awesome set-up base alongside the ability to add your favourite pedals into the mix.

WHY YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO WANT IT
Value for money, at just $985 with 128 programmable presets. It's small, light, and durable enough to survive any gig bag. It's also easy to use for gigging or studio recording.

WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER FIRST
The Amplifire needs a power on/off button, and could use up/down preset toggle pedals to avoid having to bend down and scroll onstage (though this has been added with the forthcoming Amplifier 12 model, which offers twelve footswitches and two dedicated expression jacks).

IN-DEPTH SPECIFICATIONS
The Amplifire is an amp/cab modeler with built-in effects - similar to a Line 6 POD or Fractal Axe FX - that uses impulse response technology to replicate the sounds of classic amps and commonly used stomp boxes. “Woop-de-doo,” I hear you say, “another expensive gizmo that is going to copy all  of my favourite amps in one box, that I will have to spend hours programming? No thanks, I just want to turn on my amp and shred.” Before you turn the page, though, this little unit is only $985 - compared to the competitors that can clock in at over $3,000. It's really easy to use, too, and with the same Dual DSP chip that the competition uses on the expensive models, it sounds amazing, giving you unlimited amps and effects at your fingertips.

It comes preloaded with 116 amp and effects presets, which you can tweak with the familiar dials of your pedals and amps such as bass, mid, treble, gain, master volume, presence, and level, and there are an extra 16 slots which you can use to configure your own presets - or download more for free. To plug it in, just insert a guitar cable into the left and/or right output jacks (both, if you have two speakers and want stereo) and run that into the effects return on the back of your amp rather than the input on the front, so your amp’s preamp doesn’t mix with the Amplifire and muddy the sound. Plug your guitar into the input on the right of the Amplifire, power the pedal with the included nine-volt DC power adapter, and you are good to go. To hear all of the preset cab configurations, plug into a Full Range Flat Response (FRFR) speaker - otherwise, you can bypass the cab option if you're using an amp cabinet. 

You can add your own effects pedals into the effects loop on the back, and there are also inputs for a MIDI controller and expression pedals. Also included are auxiliary stereo outputs - to plug directly into a PA when playing live - as well as an included USB cable to plug into your computer - through this, you'll be able to download more models onto the unit, as well as access the Studio Devil software if you prefer to tweak your settings onscreen. The three pedals on the front are used to add your effects on top of the amp model. The first pedal covers tube screamer/overdrive/Fuzz/distortion; the second is for modulation effects such as chorus, delay, flanger, phaser; and the final covers reverb and delays. Thrown in is a noise gate, boost, parametric and graphic EQs, compressors, tap tempo, wah wah, a built in tuner and headphone jack.

BEST IN THE HANDS OF
The Amplifire is great for any guitar player that may be curious about modeling amps, but doesn't want to pay a hefty price tag. It’s also handy for gigging musicians, as it fits into a bag or on a pedal board, is easy to set up, and is durable. It’s also great for home studio use with a ton of features that fits easily on any desk. 

WHY IT'S ON THE TOP SHELF
With so many features, small size, awesome sound and ease of use, every guitar player who wants to explore the world of amps and effects should have one of these. Although it looks like just another pedal, it delivers professional results - it's hard to beat when it comes to affordability, too!

CONTACT
Independent Music

Ph: (07) 3852 1116
Web: independentmusic.com.au