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This article was originally published in issue #52
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The Firehawk 1500 is an excellent amp for the gigging guitarist and home player alike with tons of life-enhancing features that you wonder how you lived without.
The Line 6 Firehawk 1500 combo amplifier aims to deliver the same straightforward design and tones of the Firehawk FX, but in a 1500W combo amp package ideal for live performance. Stuart Shields puts it to the test.
The Firehawk 1500 is very much a new breed of amp with mission statement all of its own and the bold claim of being ‘The Ultimate Stage Combo.' With a recent history of game-changing and truly unique products, it is easy to see why Line 6 is synonymous with innovation and ‘out of the box’ thinking. As the name suggests, the Firehawk is a 1500w (that’s not a type o!) combo. You will be forgiven for assuming, with such wattage under the hood, that this amp is only for those players with access to a nuclear testing facility or a studio in a concrete bunker on the moon. I will admit that my first few tentative notes through this potential beast came with visions of similar to the opening scene from Back to The Future where I would be sent hurtling across the studio a la Marty Mcfly. However, as with all Line 6 products, there is a deeper thinking here; these 1500 watts don’t translate directly into dB. Firstly the Firehawk boasts a 6 speaker system with a 12’ central cone for the dry signal flanked by two coaxial 5’ speakers to project the separate wet stuff (left and right). Also, we have two woofers and a 1’ compression driver to kick out the high end.
The intention has been to create a stage combo that will project like a FOH P.A. and deliver the same coverage and frequency response at any volume or venue with the 1500 watts driving this system. The speakers are flat response so provide an ideal hook up for multi-effects processors and work surprisingly well with electro-acoustic. A quick look round the back reveals an effects loop and a direct input allowing the Firehawk to serve as an on-stage monitor (to support this idea there’s even a flip down stand so it can be angled).
Controlling the Firehawk and browsing through the 200 HD amp models and effects can be done through the minimalistic and user-friendly top panel controls along with the usual 3 band EQ effect and reverb level plus a rather cool looking, oversized volume knob with digital display. As with many of Line 6’s latest creations, there is the option of getting up close and personal through the dedicated remote app. Despite my residual technophobia, I found this to simply the best and most intuitive way to scan amp models and get to the inner workings of the Firehawk. When every parameter and part of the signal chain can be altered or swapped via touch screen from your phone or tablet, it's reassuring to control an unfamiliar bit of gear with an everyday piece of tech such as your iPhone. There’s also a footswitch to take care of basic channel and bank changes.
In terms of tones; things are very authentic and real, with the Firehawk delivering that much promoted organic feel with its HD amp models. Modern rock and metal players will be pleased with the array of high gain models on offer, and blues guitarists will equally find the response and feel of the black panel, low gain models responsive and dynamic.
If all this wasn’t enough, the Firehawk is Bluetooth enabled giving you the rare experience of streaming your music library through a 1500w 6 speaker sound system. You can even ’Tone Match’ guitar tones via a cloud-based library of 1000s of tones.
The Firehawk 1500 is an excellent amp for the gigging guitarist and home player alike with tons of life-enhancing features that you wonder how you lived without. Due to the function and features of the amp, it is on the heavy side and can’t be heaved about with wild abandon as with some other combos. There is, however, a sturdy and very portable wheeled carry case that takes care of transport issues. As mentioned, to get the most from the Firehawk 1500 you really have to embrace the app as the main means of navigation and control. For those players who are enjoying the new advances in digital development within the modeler/processor world, this amp has to command your attention and curiosity. Highly recommended.