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

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

  1. Erodr133

    Erodr133 Senior Member

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    As per usual, FrankV is on the money.

    I was in your position last year. I was in desperate need of a more compact solution. I was tired of lugging my 70 pound JTM45 and my pedal board in and out of a wide array of dive bars only to be limited in the sound I was getting. I wanted to something lighter, more eclectic and more reliable than my JTM45. After doing months of research, I went with the Kemper. Why? Well one, I really liked that one sound I was getting from my JTM45 and I wanted to make sure I could model it and keep an exact copy of it. Two, I liked how convenient it is for live use. And finally, I loved the fact that I could play anybodies modeled amp on the Rig Exchange.

    Now, those are the reasons I picked the Kemper. But those reasons may not apply to you. It may be that the AxeFX is what you need, and that's fine. I almost feel like telling you not to sweat it, that you can't go wrong with either. I won't tell you that because these amps are upwards of $1300 and the mere mention of that much money makes my butthole pucker up. But my point still stands. Fractal and Kemper are really, really, really, good at what they do. Either way you're gonna get some kick ass tones that you'll be very happy with.
     
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  2. frankv

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

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    Thanks for the shout out my friend.

    Of course everyone is different and has different requirements and needs. For me, my gigging out days were over like 40 years ago.. So being a "studio" home player is now my gig. And this is why for me I recommend Fractal AXE. Why? well, the built in incredible recording interface is terrific.. As most can see I do not hesitate recording and posting. It's just too easy. You record a track and then the playback comes right out of your FRFR cab ready for a second and third track. It's amazing to me especially since I never did any recording before. Now I record everything I play as I practice.

    The second reason AXE is right for me is because of AXE EDIT. I have said this before and I'll say it again. AXE EDIT is worth the price of admission all by itself. This is not your "also included" crappy software product. The amount of detail contained in AXE EDIT is unbelievable. It is why there are statements made that the AXE FX can create ANY sound anyone might want. It's true.

    And lastly... WOW. The tonal options are ridiculous. It's been 2 years now and for the first time in 7 years I have zero interest in looking at any amps of any kind. I simply can't believe that anyone that plays mostly at home doesn't understand that tube amps are not best suited for that environment and there are better options now available that WILL put a smile on your face. And it will save your hearing because the days of needing to play loud to get the tube amp working to where it was designed are over..
     
  3. Pwrmac7600

    Pwrmac7600 Premium Member

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    These are from a member over at the fractal forum, he is great at dialing in tones, and he also likes to use tone matching in conunction with a cab block to fine tune a tone to sound like the speceific artist whos tone he is after.
    The AIC clip is fairly new, the other two are 3 and 4 years old, running much older forimware, but still sound phenominal. I think they capture the tones you are into. Hope they help give you an idea.
    https://soundcloud.com/progressiverocco/axefx2-alice-in-chains-check-my-brain-mixtest

    https://soundcloud.com/progressiverocco/anthrax-fight-em-til-you-cant-mixtest

    https://soundcloud.com/progressiverocco/axe-fx-ii-mark-tremonti
     
  4. frankv

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

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    That stuff is fantastic. Sounds awesome.. and Rocco can play his ass off.
     
  5. cybermgk

    cybermgk Singin' the body lectric Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    I already wrote my opinion in this sticky,as I have both the Kemper and Axe FX II XL+
    http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/finally-my-lengthy-opus-comparison-of-the-axe-and-kemper.386136/

    To the OP. The above boils down to my summary in the piece

    IF You
    Prefer a straight forward interface, and just want a very simple to use, bevy of great guitar amp tones and response that you won’t be able to tell from the ‘real’ thing, enough effects to get the job done, just need enough ‘tweaks’ to make the presets/profiles sound and feel exactly how you want, willing to give up 100% accurate complete controls reaction for the best overall amp tone 1, AND/OR have conventional amps you want to capture and leave at home, then get the Kemper.

    If You
    Prefer a lot of FX, complete control over the signal chain, ability to create a preset from the ground up, create a unique model or almost any tone, ability to tweak just about every aspect of the virtual amp’s/pedal’s circuits, want to create your own IRs, be able to tone match from songs and clips, want an editor, want amps that sound and feel as real as it gets, are willing to give up a TINY bit of amp tone for completely accurate control action on a single preset, OR you need multiple signal paths, then get the Axe.

    If you
    Want the best of both worlds, and the ability to just have the best amp tones and playing, bar none, with an endless supply of the best amp tones, then get both like I did.

    1. And by best overall amp tone I mean best overall tone by leaning towards more accurate to original, teensy better feel. But the margin isn't that much at all. With tweaking I can make the Axe sound and feel just like the Kemper, pretty much, and vice versa.

    So, it really comes down to how you prefer to work with the unit. T

    he Kemper you can get by just getting others profiles, profile your own amps, and find the rig from those profile packs you like best and never tweak. It also works if you want a straight forward, usual/typical signal chain. I rarely use the dirt pedals on board, because I just find a rig profiled how I want (or with that pedal).

    But, if you like diving in, and being able to easily (Via Axe Edit only, for the easily) adjust and tweak everything (sometimes down to resistor or capacitor values), or want to try some elaborate signal chains, dual amps, etc OR create different FX and pedals by tweaking all aspects of provided, then Axe is your choice.

    Or get both.

    I will say, the Kemper works better, imho going through a Guitar CAB or Tube amp to CAB or speaker, than the Axe, particularly if using DI profiles. But, the Kemper is also, limited by what profiles there are. It doesn't 'create a tone from scratch so much (though you can sort of with an existing profile. Axe, can just about create any tome you might ever want, by you creating it.

    It's a hard choice, ergo why I have both.
     
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  6. frankv

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

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    ^^^^^
    Great job Tim.. I think in my case.. Since I have only scratched the surface with AXE FX.. i see no reason why i would need another modeler. If I did happen to reach the tonal abilities and or limits of Fractal and needed more. (hard to believe one would need more) I would expand to a second modeler.

    I have gotten so use to useing AXE EDIT.. It would be hard for me to accept a device without that ability.. AND the internal recording ability from AXE has spoiled me.
     
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  7. frankv

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

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    Justin. I often speak about the AXE FX built in recording interface. Here is an example. This is a backing track from OCT 2014 Guitar Techniques. I simply imported it into my recording software, picked an AXE preset and recorded. Having this ability to direct record anything you play will change the way you practice.

    Listen. No post production adjustments at all. Maybe not your style but you get it.

    Peavey HP Special on neck pickup coil split.
    https://app.box.com/s/zwq6i32re6vomq296jvvtzfty0er493q
     
  8. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    I thought for a long time about the direction I would go with a high end modeler if and when the time came. My decision was only slightly complicated by the Helix Floor and Helix LT.

    The best tones (what I like) I heard in demos came from Kemper. But the Kemper was too much $$$ for me.

    I wanted a floor unit because I like stomp boxes for adding and removing effects on the fly.

    Ultimately it came down to the AX8 for me.

    With time, I am 100% satisfied with that choice. Yes, the interface leaves something to be desired, but I enjoy that challenge.

    Also, the Fractal models are as good as it gets. Others might be equal, but I do not believe any are better.

    If you want to use already created models, Fractal is the way to go, IMHO. You want need to purchase custom models or IRs.

    I have only created one model on my own, just for the fun of doing it. Plus I wanted something to experiment with, without losing a preset I already like.

    I tend towards raunchy classic and garage rock tones; fuzzes through cheap or small vintage combos. But I also like big classic Marshall tones, too; early The Who, Cream, Jimi, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Free, 70's Glam and early punk, right through to NWOBHM.

    I never go for exact duplication, but I am inspired by the tones of whatever I play at the moment.

    I have no problem dialing in what I like with the AX8. Whether surf music through one of the many Fender models, dripping with reverb, or classic dry Marshall tones, with the model dime'd and using the guitar knob to clean up or overdrive, I can pretty much do all of that.

    The onboard effects are great, particularly the modulations and reverbs and delays. I love the Phase models. And the Tremolo type effects are great, too.

    I have some classic Fuzzes and an OD808 which I particularly like and I use them plugged into the front of the AX8 with fairly good success. This lets me enjoy my old, comfortable pedals with the modern tech. I was able to do that with my previous Fender Mustang, too.

    You can do all of this pretty much right out of the box.

    My thoughts on playing any unit through your current guitar amp are that you will be disappointed.
     
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  9. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    I recently picked up a Kemper. Still finding my way around it. Very much still in that adjustment period. Hopefully my early impressions will be very useful :)

    The delays, reverb and modulation effects are good enough to replace the kind of pedals you're talking about. I think they work best in a stereo rig. (The powered Kempers don't have stereo cab outputs - if you want a stereo live rig, go with a separate stereo power amp).

    The boost and drive effects aren't there yet, although many people are happy with them. If you run them at very low gain settings, you can get away with them. Anything higher, and the extra breakup quickly becomes quite unnatural. Instead of using the built-in boost or drive effects, just switch to a different profile, and problem solved. (You can run them at higher gain settings if you run your Kemper out into a guitar cab. The cab hides some of the artefacts, as long as you're careful).

    If you want to run drive pedals into a clean Kemper profile - so far, that's been a mixed bag for me. TS / KoT etc - the kind of pedals you run into a dirty amp to tighten them up / colour them - I think they work well enough. Certainly work far better than the built-in dirt effects.

    If you want to get all your dirt from pedals, I haven't yet gotten close to making that sound great with the Kemper. I've seen AxeFX demos where that worked really well.

    Pre-made Kemper profiles: I've had to tweak almost every single profile so far to make them usable. Out of the box, none of them sound like the demos that Kemper post on YouTube. I found that very frustrating at first. But don't let it put you off!

    Many of them can be tweaked to make them sound great. I end up editing the 'Definition', 'Clarity', 'Compression' and 'Volume' settings in the amp model, plus editing bass, middle, treble and presence in the EQ model, and that normally works. Sometimes I switch cabinet models completely - Till's CabLab seems to be the go-to resource for that.

    Many professional Kemper profiles that I've tried aren't close-mic'd. They're not fun to noodle through, and I found them very fragile when editing the amp and EQ blocks. I've had no success at all in swapping cab models on these profiles. They're much more of a take-it-or-leave-it sound.

    You can get Kemper profiles that are 'direct' (a model of the amp straight into the Kemper) or 'studio' (a model of the amp mic'd up) or 'merged' (a model that contains both the 'direct' profile and the 'studio' profile in one). To my ears, the 'studio' profiles are far more convincing than the 'direct' profiles. I think we'll see a Kemper mk2 (maybe as soon as this year) with much more processing power to capture 'direct' models at much higher fidelity. (Think of how slow your phone was in 2012 compared to today!)

    I don't agree with the idea that the Kemper responds to guitar volume and tone settings like a real amp does. I don't think it's even close. Through real amps, I play mostly in the middle with all four volume and tone pots rolled down somewhat. With the Kemper, I find it prefers to see all pots on 10, making the Les Paul's middle position unusable for me. I'd love to see Kemper license Unison from UAD to address this in a Kemper mk2.

    If you want to run the Kemper out into a guitar cab, there is a one-touch button to switch off the 'Cabinet' model. It's not perfect - in many profiles, the Kemper has to guess what the amp sounds like without the Cabinet model. Often sounds great, just might not sound identical to the original amp through your cab.

    One thing I love about the Kemper - low noise. Compared to my tube amp, this thing is silent. It's a real boon for recording clean / ultra-low gain parts with. It's worth the price of admission for this alone.

    If you don't want to fiddle with software, the Kemper is a good choice - because what little software it comes with is awful. Rig Manager (when it doesn't crash) is for dragging and dropping profiles onto the amp, and for editing metadata in any profiles you make, and that's about it. Everything else is done using the buttons on the Kemper itself (which is why it has so many).

    Overall, the Kemper wasn't anywhere near as plug-n-go as I was expecting. I think Kemper's own videos give the wrong impression there. Invest the time, find the right profiles and tweak them (and tweak them and tweak them ...), and it sounds great. Sounds great recorded direct, sounds great through real guitar cabs. It gives me tones I couldn't get out of my existing rig, and it costs less than the equivalent amps. And once the profiles are tweaked (you have to store / recall them as snapshots, not profiles), it is plug-n-go then.

    It isn't replacing my tube amp - I'm all about pedals - but it is a great complement to my existing rig for my little home project studio.

    HTH
     
  10. frankv

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

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    Wow. What a different review from what we have been getting. Most do not have the experience with the device that you have described. Thanks for the details.
     
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  11. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Just want to re-iterate - I've only had the Kemper a short time. It's very much (very fresh) first impressions from integrating the Kemper into my little home project studio over the Christmas break. I'm not a pro, and don't want anyone thinking I'm trying to make out that I am. Just a hobbyist.

    OP - if you've got any more questions, or anything you want me to try out for you on mine, please just shout. And maybe wait until all the NAMM announcements are out, just in case there's anything from either Kemper or Axe FX?
     
  12. cybermgk

    cybermgk Singin' the body lectric Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    agree

    Fair, and for the most part I agree. I thought EXACTLY the same at first. Then, it hit me one day. It revolves around the 'snapshot' aspect of profiles. Most profiles, if you twist the GAIN knob you will see two things. One, since it has to be able to be used for all amps, you will often exceed the gain of many amps. Two, the profile is an approximation of the gain structure, from a particular dialed in point of the amp. As such, turning that gain too much you exceed the accuracy of the profile, and it sounds from good, but not like that amp, to meh, to bad.

    Heavier gain pedals react the same way with some profiles, for the very same reason. And, many profiles were taken WITH an actual pedal in the chain. Beware of that.

    As you said, generally, instead of using pedals, I just use a different RIG with the tone sound etc. I want.

    Though I sold them all, 'amp in a box' dirt pedals worked great for me. I could just get better tone with other profiles.

    See above about the 'snapshot' concept. When using pedals, you can't always approach it the same way. On the Axe, it is modelling the complete amp, so you can actually use it the same way with dirt pedals as an/the amp.

    I will admit the stock, 'provided' rigs, are a very mixed bag, as-is. THey are made by a bunch of different profilers. As such they are 'dialed in' all over the place for their ears and rigs. I definitely agree here. THOUGH there were a few that I really liked a lot.

    Hasn't been my experience, at all, from certain profilers. But, then other profilers I won't get their rigs any more because of that. Swapping CAB models REALLY depends on the type of profile. And yes, some do close mic, you just need to find those guys.

    You have a misinterpretation here. At least, it seems so, by your comments. A direct profile is using a DI to capture the amp and it's output phase, but not the mic'ed cab. Amp, is still hooked up to a CAB/speaker, or a load device. Better profile, if you use a reactive load device or an actual CAB/speaker, so you get the O Tranny interaction with same. But, the profile is captured the same way. It isn't a sample, or a recording. It's an analysis of the amp that creates, really, a group of numbers, parameters, to load into the software engine. More processing power wouldn't help that process. Better DA/AD converters might (though the Designer doesn't think so). Studio profiles are the same, they just add the CAB. Direct profiles, still run the profile tones through the amp, but bypass the cab/speaker, via a DI path.

    They are designed to be used with actual Guitar CABs/speakers. Direct profile users, say there is nothing better than using them and their guitar cabs.

    I never ran any, as I go FRFR option. But, to run them any other way, is misusing them.

    This, is just flat out NOT my experience. It makes me think perhaps you need to adjust your 'sens's, on the input settings, both clean sens and distortion sens.

    Oh, and Kemper Intl flat out denies anything about a mark II, or any need for one.

    This is what Direct profiles are for (and only for). Studio's with CAB disabled do sound good, it actually is remarkably good at estimating what part was from the CAB. But if you want close to, if not perfect, it's direct profile to guitar cab.

    Even if you profile a noisy amp, it cleans that out, which is cool.

    Agreed, except Rig Manager has been very stable for me.

    I have done hardly any tweaking on bought profiles. Apparently ymdv. My own created profiles, yes, I did tweak them after initial creation.

    Respectfully, :) see above, you need to learn to lose the pedals, lol.
     
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  13. NotScott

    NotScott Silver Supporter

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    That was very detailed. Thank you. Although my experience with my Kemper differs from many of your observations, it just proves that there is still no such thing as THE right box for everyone.
     
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  14. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    No, I don't. I'm an engineer by trade, and I used 'sample' in a data context, not an A/D conversion one. I could have been clearer.

    To make the profile, the amp's embedded software has to perform complex operations on the digital signal after the A/B conversion, to understand how the amp has transformed the input signal. The original unit was built around a Freescale DSP - possibly the MSC8122 first introduced in 2004. Whatever he used in those original, that's the baseline that he's stuck with until he introduces a mk2, even though those chips have probably been superceded by now.

    Even with a hand-crafted algorithm, there's a limit to how much audio analysis the Kemper can do in real-time. The Kemper is forced to sample - as in, use a subset of the overall data - the input back from the amp in order to derive the profile. It simply doesn't have the processing power to analyse all the incoming frequencies in real-time. The algorithms have to pick which frequencies make the biggest difference. I guarantee you that Kemper chose the frequencies that produces the best results when analysing a signal from a mic'd up cab.

    You can hear it for yourself by making your own direct profiles, which is exactly what I did. Some gear profiles very well, and some doesn't. But the exact same gear profiles much more accurately when you mic up a cab.

    It's also what lies behind Kemper's official warnings that not all gear profiles well. I believe the most famous example is TS pedals? (Yes, I know TS pedals actually profile fine.) A fuzz, fair enough, but anything that works properly behind a buffer should profile just fine if the Kemper was able to do full-frequency analysis.

    An accurate direct profile should work fine with IRs, and sound pretty close to running from a reactive load box into the same IRs. I don't think 'misusing' is a helpful term there. Aren't many of the famous tones we all love and chase built from 'misusing' gear in the first place?

    As That Pedal Show likes to say, there are no rules ... just better questions :D

    They're both set to zero. If the Kemper had a Unison-style input circuit, these settings would only be needed for input level adjustment (which is what they're officially for iirc?).

    And I'm sure they will right up until the day they launch a mk2. I would do the same. They can't keep up with demand as it is. Who would want to jeopardise that cash cow with a careless word?

    So so cool. Kemper should make more of this feature in their promotional material.

    Take Rig Manager build 13231 (latest release) on OSX 10.13.2 (again, latest release). Drag any of Till's CabLab profiles into Rig Manager. That crashes Rig Manager 100% of the time here.

    You can also crash the Kemper itself by plugging a wired Apple keyboard into the USB port when you want to edit an amp or cab tag. Not the end of the world - I just fix them up in Rig Manager afterwards.

    To Kemper's credit, I believe they did advertise last year for someone to come in and start improving their software.

    Don't spoil it, man. I dig the Kemper, it has a place in what I do, and I posted on this thread as a friend. It's definitely a keeper. But that's exactly that kind of comment that doesn't win you friends outside the modelling community :(
     
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  15. cybermgk

    cybermgk Singin' the body lectric Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    That's just it, it doesn't actually need to, nor does it, to my understanding, analyze all the frequencies, nor pick the most important ones. It is simply comparing the difference between the sent, series of test signals and what is returned. It is analyzing deviations from that.

    Without knowing your exact DI profiling signal path, I can't speak intelligently about your results. I can say, that 100s of players, get almost perfect results with DI profiles, while connected to the CAB during profiling, they will also run with the Kemper and the resultant DI profile. Amp won't sound the same through a lot of dummy, reactive loads with Did to begin with.

    FWIW, the onboard 'pedals' weren't profiled. They are actual modeled pedals, much like many other platforms.

    K, fair enough, misuse is a little strong. Not used as intended, or not it's intended use then.

    They're both set to zero. If the Kemper had a Unison-style input circuit, these settings would only be needed for input level adjustment (which is what they're officially for iirc?).

    From the manual
    "

    Clean Sens


    Different types of guitars produce different output levels depending on their pickups and string gauge: for example, humbucker pickups generate higher voltages compared to single coils, and active guitars generate even hotter signal levels. If you feel that clean sounds are either very loud or very soft compared to distorted sounds, you can adjust Clean Sens to a level where clean sounds have the same perceived loudness as distorted sounds. Clean Sens determines the volume of clean sounds, but not the way that the amp or the effects are driven. A guitar with low output level stays cleaner; a hot guitar will still distort more easily.



    Extremely "hot" guitars can generate unwanted distortion, indicated by the Input LED flashing red. This is only relevant for clean sounds, however - prominent amp distortion will completely mask a subtle clipping of the input.



    Distortion Sens



    Distortion Sens should normally stay at zero (middle) position. Every Rig will react as if you had connected your guitar to the original amplifier.



    If you feel that your guitar tends to drive the distortion too hot (or too soft) for most of your Rigs, then calibrate your guitar by adjusting Distortion Sens accordingly.



    ✓ Clean Sens is not a simple input gain; you will notice that it does not affect the gain of a distorted sound. Distortion Sense is also not a simple booster, as it does not affect the gain of clean sounds. Neither of these parameters colors the sound.
    "

    It's also not the company history either. They have produced other hardware than the KPA before the KPA.

    agreed

    Take Rig Manager build 13231 (latest release) on OSX 10.13.2 (again, latest release). Drag any of Till's CabLab profiles into Rig Manager. That crashes Rig Manager 100% of the time here.

    You can also crash the Kemper itself by plugging a wired Apple keyboard into the USB port when you want to edit an amp or cab tag. Not the end of the world - I just fix them up in Rig Manager afterwards.[/quote]
    I don't run Apple,. Windows and Rig Manager, for me has been extremely stable.

    I think you misinterpreted my comment. I also didn't really flesh it out well, I suppose. What I meant was, one has to learn to use pedals differently with the KPA. Because of the 'snapshot aspect' of profiles, one can't use dirt pedals like one does with an amp, or a modeler that models the entire amp. They are used a little differently, and one has to be careful on the profile selected for that particular amp and pedal settings. Nature of the beast.
     
  16. frankv

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

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    Well, smarty pants.. For your information we don't have friends outside the modeling community already... Carry on. :rofl:
     
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