Price paid: $ 109
Purchased from: Sam Ash
Sound — 10
I'm using a Strat knock off (a Bronx, made in South Korea and a bit better than the Fender Bullets and Squires I played at Guitar Center). I'm playing Ruby Tuesday with flange and reverb; Beatles oldies with chorus and reverb; Gimme Some Truth with wah/chorus and reverb; While My Guitar Gently Weeps with tremolo and reverb; Little Wing and Southern Man and Rockin' In The Free World with drive and gain. I usually mix in sustain and boost. The drive channels jump up the volume. The clean channels have a lower preset volume range. I've stored several presets. Listening with the volume maxed out and headphones on shows how little system distortion there is and how loud and clean the amp can sound. Preloaded amp model distortions are about as brutal as you would like and can have gain added to them. The screws on my faceplate and pickups sometimes give me a little snap, crackle and pop through the system when the ambient air is static-y, but it is not the fault of the amp. There is a modest, adjustable noise reduction button.
Overall Impression — 10
I am using it for classic rock and pop rock (see above) and love the diversity of modeling/effects. I would get it again if it was gone, although I'd go for the new Zoom Fire 18M model if I needed a replacement. I also hope to get the new Zoom Fire 36M with more power (which could be used for some gigs without being tied into a PA), and has mics built in, in front of the speaker, for recording. Listening to the sound of the 15 through headphones, the Zoom 36M would be worth having for at least personal recording. The only regret is that the tuner seems a tad flat (but that could be weak tuner switches on the Bronx). The 15 could stand to have more bottom end, but the 36 is supposed to have an added bottom end boost button. The 15 is an excellent home/practice amp, and the headphone jack through a PA means it can be hauled to a studio for jamming and rehearsal easier than larger amps. Before I bought it, I looked at the Fender Bullet 15 w/effects (same price range, far fewer effects and combinations); the Alesis 15 (which has almost as many effects and is another good choice); and, a Roland Cube (which is a great, light 5 watt travel amp that can run for days on batteries with some effects, but is the same price range as the others without the power or versatility). While any of these are good values (I almost got a used Fender Bullet 15 with a few effects for under $70), but I'm sure I got the most bang for the buck with the Zoom, and it has held up to scrutiny. Try playing sales people off by showing them how much the 18M is listed at, and then saying why get the Zoom 15 when its price should be coming down as it is phased out by the Zoom 18. That's how I got the the price I got.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had the amp for about eight months and I haul it over to my keyboardist friend's house, driving several miles of pothole'd LA streets, onto the Freeway for a few miles and a few more miles of beach community streets, and back again, a two to four times a month. I put it on it's back in the back of my Explorer and have never had a problem with it. All of the visible screws have remained tight. It is not light.
Features — 10
Digital home amp. Multiple amp models and loaded with effects. Also, has sustain, boost, a tuner and preloaded model/effect choices some of which can be modified or you can create and store you own combinations. Plus, all non-chorus effects have three settings that add in chorus, and there are four separate reverb settings that can be added to the non-reverb effects. Can play classic rock, punk and heavy metal or pop. See first review for more info.