OK Modeling guys... I'm planning on buying a Kemper or Fractal.. help...

Discussion in 'Amp Modeling' started by Justinreagin, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    So, let me first say, I've watched several videos, read a lot of threads, but I want some real world advice from people here. So here is the deal...

    I currently run an all tube stereo rig, a KSR Artemis (which has a lot of different sounds, and is very involved as an amps goes) through a Mesa Cab, and a 65 Amps Whiskey Combo with a few pedals (Cantrell wah, Maxon OD, a delay and a reverb, occasional talk box). That being said... my rack type experience is limited to messing with a Digitech GSP2101 back in the day when they were new. Been a plug and play low tech guy most of my life, without a ton of effects. I don't currently record, or play in a band. That being said... amp tone is huge for me. I want to be able to get the Gilmour tones, along with the raunchy balls of Jerry Cantrell. I love some of the Def Leppard tones as well, but also love the stripped down grace of Billy Gibbons.

    My concerns are... for one, in the beginning I'll be running whatever I get through a guitar amp as I piece together a new rig, that is hopefully more compact and less backbreaking. Two... while the ability to control a lot of things is cool, I do want to be able to have some awesome tones without spending most of my time tweaking instead of playing. I plan on pulling the trigger in the next few days. So, I'm hoping to just get opinions and guidance here without a lot of bickering. I appreciate the help guys. Also, as far as Fractal... the FX 2 XL+ and the AX8 are both in consideration.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  2. frankv

    frankv What Are You Waiting For? Double Platinum Supporter V.I.P. Member

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    Hi Justin. I am a lot like you.. or i was. Having had every imaginable tube amp there was. I can tell you, playing at home for the self enjoyment of it lends itself very well to this new crop of modelers. Every known and unknown sounds and tones are at your finger tips. Seriously. Best part of it is you won't need stupid high volume to experience it.

    Another way I am like you is that I don't like to tweak things either. That said, with AXE FX I do not tweak anything. With thousands of presets already created and ready for you it's my bet you won't be tweaking anything either. Well, unless you consider the turn of a dial tweaking. :)

    You certainly can start with a Fractal plugged into your FX Loop on one of your amps. While this is not ideal it will get you what you want as a starting point. After that you will want a XiTone and Matrix GT1000FX power amp to make your "new" rig complete and give you what it was designed to give.. That is 220 highly accurate tube amp models AND hundreds of studio quality effects... All built in.

    For me, the benefits of a Fractal Device is what I recommend. My Kemper and Helix brothers will all have their say as to why they picked what they have.. For me, you just can not beat the flexibility and customer support a Fractal product gives you. That said, most likely there is no wrong pick here. They all work very well and will soon make you forget about tube amps.

    If you want to talk about it on the phone ring me up. We spoke before as you will remember when I picked up 2 of your Mcnaughts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
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  3. Pwrmac7600

    Pwrmac7600 Premium Member

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    Well the good thing about the Kemper is, you can actually profile your current tube amps, that way you can have the amps you know and love all in one box.
    you say you don't play in a band, but remember the Kemper, or Axe Fx do not come with foot controllers, so you will have to control them from the menu on the unit itself.
    Are you going to be getting the powered Kemper or unpowered?
    Obviously if you get the unpowered then you can just run in through the FX loop of one of your amps until you finish building the rig, but you will need to turn off cabinet simulation, since you will be running it through a standard speaker cab.
    If you are getting the powered version then you can just run that straight to your current speaker cab and rock out.
    I currently own an Axe FX, but for probably a year already I have been debating buying a Kemper to try out. Good luck and keep us posted on how things go.
     
  4. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    You guys would certainly know better but doesn’t the Axe have a tone matching feature? Not sure how well it works but the idea is similar if you have an amp you want to match.

    I guess the difference is the Kemper is profiling the exact amp while the Axe is taking a similar modeled amp and tweaking it to sound the same. You get the same results but from two different approaches.
     
  5. Pwrmac7600

    Pwrmac7600 Premium Member

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    Exactly the difference, The kemper will get much closer to the sound, It captures the nuances of the specific amp being profiled, better for those who want to make a digital copy of a very specific rig. Which is why alot of touring professionals use them, they can take their touring rig, and set it up exactly as they would live, then profile the whole rig, and now they have the exact tone they are use to touring with.
    Where as the axe FX tone match, you are picking a similar amp, and eq matching it. EQ matching can only take you so far. For instance if I wanted to get the same tone as someone who used a JCM800 I would dial it in as close as possible to match the tone I am hearing, then use the tone match to take it the rest of the way.
     
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  6. KenG

    KenG Senior Member

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    What is your end goal for this? Always for home use, recording at all, live or jamming with buddies? Do you want dual amps or the ability to basicallly not need a pedal board? Depending on how you can answer these types of questions will help determine whic modeller is right for you. Eg you'd need foot controllers for the Axe fx & Kemper live to access any on the fly changes. Kemper doesn't do dual amps and has limited effects. Axe comes with the greatest number of amp models off the shelf, Kemper can profile endless nos of amps. Helix rack, floor (or Helix LT) can't profile and tone matching is not a current sw feature.
    I've heard great recordings and demos from all the big three, some from users but also from Pros. All can be made to sound great. Every one has both a huge fan base and some detractors because everyones tastes are different (or there'd be only one tube amp to begin with!)
    This is a major purchase so I personal.y wouldnot make based on anyone's opinion alone. Do your research, understand what you'll be getting, and be prepared to spend time learning how it works and how to use it. If you are not ready to do this, save your money and look elsewhere. Too many folks return these on the 1st or 2nd day out of ignorance that can be avoided.
     
  7. matthew bear

    matthew bear Senior Member

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    I would suggest you think about if you want to use your current pedals or replace them within the unit. the kemper does take pedals well,with the exception of boosts slamming the front of the amp. If you run your dirt pedals closer to unity volume, you're golden. There is also an effects loop of sorts with the kemper, but it has to be assigned to the effect "blocks" on the front. although well built, I didn't find the foot controller to be very useful (the effects aren't my favorite), and when gigging it's another piece that makes it somewhat more complex to set up. even though all the buttons and knobs are physically on the Kemper, it's still has some "menu dives" if you really want to customize things.

    I have a helix floor as well, and for the purpose of going to jam, it's absolutely perfect. Easy to use, fantastic sound, and I can carry my whole setup in one trip from the car...bonus! I feel the sound is on par as well, and if you use more effects in your chain, it excels over the kemper. The helix does dual amp setups as well. I'd imagine the AX8 would yield similar results, with the floor form factor.

    I often consider selling the kemper to try the AX8, and use the loop of the helix to supply the "amp from the AX8, or vice versa...but I need serious help, I'm a modeling junkie now :laugh2:

    So if you are into using your own effects and happy with one amp at a time, Kemper is pretty great. plus you could capture your current setup and that's always a plus. for convenience and ease of use I prefer the Helix. either one is fantastic though, and you will most likely find your playing time going way up,as these unit can inspire someone like me who was in a rut.
     
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  8. frankv

    frankv What Are You Waiting For? Double Platinum Supporter V.I.P. Member

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    Well, for me I don't see the AXE FX tone matching to be lacking anything and it's not second anyone either. Remember, all the amps inside the unit were tone matched in the first place.. Is it tougher to get a perfect match then Kemper. Perhaps.. Sometimes it is.. But does it work. You bet it does.

    All that said I will say this. It really doesn't matter what amp someone plays before they get an AXE FX.. I say this because as I always say.. Happiness is a sliding scale. It is more then likely that after playing the AXE amps... There will be a new favorite and absolutely no reason to tone match anything. . It's just that simple.
     
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  9. matthew bear

    matthew bear Senior Member

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    Frank is right, tone is tone and good tone is happiness :thumb:
     
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  10. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    End goal, versatility and a variety of tones. Yes, the dual amp thing holds appeal as I know some of Cantrells recorded tones (some of my faves) are dual amp rigs. I'm not hugely concerned with jamming out and such, been years since I did that. If Anything, I'll be doing that here at home. I've got nothing but time.

    A concern I have read about with the axe is that I've heard there is lag when switching patches on the fly? Is that still going on with the newer models? I appreciate everyones responses here.
     
  11. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    Also guys... how are the high gain tones on the Fractal, such as KSR or Uberschall type tones?
     
  12. tzd

    tzd Senior Member

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    Based on above, Kemper would be more straightforward. Fractal's interface is really primitive and most tweaking is best done through Axe Edit on the computer. Most of Kemper's adjustments can be done on the unit itself.

    Also note that AX8 cannot do dual amps, only the rack-mount Axe-FX II XL+ can do it.
     
  13. NotScott

    NotScott Silver Supporter

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    Based upon what you posted, the music you like and my experience with a similar search, it sounds like the Axe is the best bet for you.

    It sounds like you are into heavier sounds. Both units and the Helix can do good heavy and clean sounds. The Kemper wins the semi dirty, cranked vintage amp vibe but it sounds like you won't be in that zone often.

    If you are primarily playing at home/recording, the quicker interface on the Kemper is not that important. In fact, if you plan on really digging into things to create something new and don't have to fumble about on a dark stage in front of a crowd of pub crawlers, the Axe interface will serve you much better.

    If you want dual rigs, Axe is what you want. It can be done with Kemper, assuming you can find or create a dual rig profile you like.

    If you are into effects or feel like you may want to experiment more when you see what your processor can do and you want as few limitations as possible, you want the Axe.

    If both units are in your budget, I would say the Axe is the best fit for you. Good luck with your search.:jam:
     
  14. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    Yes, my typical tone territory falls in the area of Alice In Chains, Black Label Society, Ozzy, GNR, Pantera, and the like... with forays into classic rock like the Eagles and such at times, but mostly a more modern tone kind of guy. I just would like the ability to make it work in a live setting well should I get the itch to start gigging again, though the biggest likelihood is sitting in the man cave and just noodling and playing along to songs and such, maybe getting a shot at recording at home next year if I get the time and opportunity to start learning about that stuff too.
     
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  15. NotScott

    NotScott Silver Supporter

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    I bought a Kemper because I needed a live gig solution and it works great for me in that application. The foot controller makes on the fly changes a snap and with 0 delay. The UI is very logical and well thought out. The knobs with LEDs make stage adjustments very easy and very legible. I think it makes an excellent gigging platform.

    However, my primary reason for buying the Kemper was that it was the only digital device I heard that could accurately reproduce a vintage Vox or tweed tone. I have heard many devices do a great gained up Marshall tone and many others do nice blackface and Roland clean tones but to my ears, the Kemper is still the only one that sounds and feels like my vintage amps when they are in the zone.

    Also, my Kemper rig is extremely compact. Here is my usual gig pack:

    [​IMG]

    I have the Kemper head, foot controller, two expression pedals and all my cables, picks and miscellaneous cords in the Home Depot wheeled tool bag. Sitting on top of the bag, I have a single 12" pine cabinet that I use for my own monitor. I can walk in everything easily in one trip and I can fit everything in the trunk of my convertible with room to spare.

    I would like to add one more thing. I bought the Kemper knowing exactly what I would use it for and what it could and could not do. If I wasn't gigging and effects processing and sculpting unique tones were my main priority, I probably would have went with an Axe.

    The Kemper was the right choice for me and I have zero doubts about that. Once you identify your priorities and goals, the right device for you will become obvious.
     
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  16. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    Thank you for the feedback. What is your take on the quality of the onboard effects on the Kemper compared to say... the average stompbox effects (ie: delay compared to something like a Carbon Copy), you know.... not the $400 pedals, but more the 150ish range that a lot of folks use.
     
  17. alstev

    alstev Senior Member

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    Did you read the sticky comparing the Axe, and Kemper? That'll help you decide.
     
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  18. NotScott

    NotScott Silver Supporter

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    I am not a pedal fan and only sparingly use a wah and a DDL/reverb with my tube amps so, I am probably not the right guy to answer this. However, unless you are in a U2 cover band or planning on being the next Robert Fripp, the Kemper effects should do most anything you want and sound fine. But if you want the best effects experience, Axe is the way to go.

    That being said, I am finding myself using more effects now with the Kemper, primarily because they are convenient, easy to setup and sound good.

    Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? :cool2:
     
  19. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    You bet... I've read most everything I can find on a few sites, and watched tons of videos on youtube
     
  20. Justinreagin

    Justinreagin Senior Member

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    Also, you Fractal guys, where I've read about the tone matching from album recordings, any of you tried this and how are the results?
     

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