Review: Atomic Amps Amplifire

Atomic Amps makes reference monitors designed for, among other things, reproducing the complex sounds of amp modelers in a live setting.
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Atomic Amps makes reference monitors designed for, among other things, reproducing the complex sounds of amp modelers in a live setting. Software designer Marc Gallo’s no frills, great sounding Studio Devil amp modeling software has long been a mainstay in many DAWs. Gallo and Atomic have melded their talents to create Amplifire ($599 direct), an amp modeling and multi-effects pedal.

Although it’s fairly deep, using Amplifire proved pretty intuitive. A Data Entry Encoder knob, combined with Back and Next buttons, let me deftly navigate presets and menus. Amplifire’s USB port and free editing software made it even easier by allowing me to modify presets on my iMac. Having chosen a preset, the pedal’s Gain, Master, Presence, Bass, Mids, and Treble knobs offered instant access to typical amp adjustments. (An additional reverb/delay knob would have been nice.) The footswitches can be programmed to change presets, enable individual effects, or tap delay tempos. Ins and outs include instrument input, a pair of 1/4" outs, a headphone mini jack, switchable external effects loop send and returns, MIDI In and Out, and balanced XLR output jacks.

The amp models cover classic Fender, Vox, Marshall, Rectifier, 5150, and some boutique models. None are labeled as such, but presets like Recto and ’59 Bman are clear enough. The Cabinet section applies Impulse Response (IR) modeling technology and filtering to simulate miked cabinets. You can also upload your own IR cabs via USB. The original presets sound good, but tweaking them and downloading some cool aftermarket presets helped bring out the pedal’s full potential.

Amplifire sounded and felt great in a multitude of playing applications. I disabled the cabinet section and plugged into a Fender Blues Junior. Suddenly that American amp was producing vintage British combo and stack sounds. I left the cabinet modeling engaged in full-range speaker situations, such as my DAW, and through amps designed for modeling, like a VHT iSeries or Line 6 Firehawk. Here, Amplifire’s cabinet editing abilities helped adjust the sound to each application, and allowed me to roll off specific frequencies that screamed “digital.” Once adjusted to the playback situation, Amplifire offered a true amp experience, responding to the guitar volume changes and picking attack just like the real thing.

The effects all sound good but are limited to overdrive, fuzz, flange, chorus, EQ, compression, delay, and reverb—so you may find yourself wanting to plug in your pedalboard. The good news is that Amplifire reacts to boosters, overdrives, fuzz pedals, and wah-wahs just like an “actual” amp.

Multi-effects pedals that contain amp modeling are not new, but only recently has digital technology reached the point where many guitarists are comfortable with the sound and feel of modeled amps. Fractal’s Axe FX and the new Line 6 Helix offer terrific sound and endless options—at a price. If you are on a budget, need only great amp sounds and a few effects, and/ or want something small enough to fit in the front pocket of a gig bag for fly dates, Amplifire is for you.

KUDOS Real amp tone and feel in a small package at an affordable price.
CONCERNS Limited effects.