Price paid: $ 162.87
Purchased from: GAK.co.uk
Sound — 8
The first thing that strikes you about the FIRE15 is the amount of styles of drive. These include Fender Clean, Marshall Drive, Peavey Drive, Overdrive, Distortion, Metal, Fuzz and Acoustic. But unfortunately these FX are useless when gigging because quite frankly high volume play is rubbish, unless you are using overdrive/distortion/fuzz/hvy metal where the sound is really distorted anyway. But the headphone output compensates for this because you can plug it into your PA or stack anyway. The power-damp is great because when you turn it down at 1 o'clock am it still sounds as good as it did earlier. The distortion is fully variable so you can have headsmacking brutality or a quiet storm.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, the FIRE-15 is a great amp for home/studio use, and ideal for the beginner. However, I must stress that it is better for the punk rocker than for the classical player. But a classical sound is possible, in fact, if you worked on it you could probably get it confused with a Jet engine. Or stick it under your car bonnet and pretend you've an Aston engine underneath (might not work in a Mini...). The Fire-15 is a great piece of kit for any player who wants a quality amp at a low price, or for a beginner who wants a bit more than that 5-watt thingy that comes in the box. For those rich dudes out there buy the FIRE-30 though becuase its got for effects, a bigger speaker and 21 watts of extra power (and therefore could possibly manage a gig).
Reliability & Durability — 10
You could jack your car up on the Fire-15 without caring. You could jack up an 18-wheeler without caring. Well, Bill Gates wouldn't care anyway. But you know what I'm saying. It's strong, robust and it don't matter if you sit on it when practising.
Features — 10
The Zoom Fire-15 is a superior amp for home use compared to most others on the common market. Most of the features in your everyday effects pedal are already built in (with controls on the amp), plus bass, middle, treble, levelling and master vol. controls. It features many Zoom preset sounds, such as Marshall Drive, Fender Clean, Fuzz, Distortion, Metal and Acoustic; which are all amazingly realistic. It has 4 sockets (excluding power), which are "Input" - for the lead; "FOOT SW" for the Zoom SW-01 foot pedal (which can change memory slots); "AUX IN" - you can jam along to your fave artists on your CD player; and "Headphone / Recording", a general socket for headphones or the studio. (Or you could plug this in to your P.A and take advantage of the effects). It also has an on-board memory so you can save your favourite FX settings into the 10 hard drive slots. It also has a power-damp feature for high quality sound at low volume. However, the down-side is it weighs 20 pouns (10 kilos)!!!