The Kemper - is it the ultimate cure for GAS?

Discussion in 'Amp Modeling' started by SaltFox, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. SaltFox

    SaltFox Member

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    I’ve noticed I keep buying small gear in this attempt to fill the need to play certain songs and obtain certain tones. I’m worried this is never going to end. For those that have them, is the Kemper the true pinnacle of amp technology? Is there anything that’s missing on it? I’m considering looking into one just to put an end to the endless quest for gear. I know most of the features that people love. I guess I’m wondering if anyone wishes it had something to make it “perfect”
     
  2. frankv

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

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    Perfect is AXE FX 2 and soon 3. Why? Because it contains all the amps and all the effects one would ever want coupled to a computer program that's incredible AND a build in recording interface.
     
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  3. SaltFox

    SaltFox Member

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    The only issue I have with the FX2 is the rack mounted design. I don’t have much of a home studio and I don’t want to have a dedicated PC with my rig. Does Fractal make anything that resembles a traditional head ?
     
  4. frankv

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

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    Well, perfect comes with conditions.:cheers:
     
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  5. SaltFox

    SaltFox Member

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    I just read your other write up in the other thread - great stuff.

    Mods feel free to merge this with the other Kemper thread. My apologies
     
  6. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    There's several areas where it falls short for me:
    • not a reactive input, so doesn't react the same as a real amp when you roll back volume and tone
    • doesn't take drive pedals at all well
    • the profiling isn't always accurate / possible
    • can sound a little too 'recorded'
    I feel bad listing that last one, because honestly, I often prefer one of my Kemper profiles in a mix to the real amp - even though both use the same cab and mic! There's something about the frequencies it prioritises that makes it sound a bit 'polished' maybe. A common complaint on the Kemper forums - which I agree with - is that it often doesn't reproduce the rich body aspect of a guitar tone. The Kemper is all about the mids. It's noticeable when playing unaccompanied. Not a problem in a full mix.

    I typically play in the middle position with volumes and tones rolled back. When I got my Kemper, I posted about the input not being a reactive circuit, and how it didn't react the same as a real amp. Since then, I've used the Kemper on a couple of tracks without telling people, and afterwards they've noticed a difference too. I don't like how the tone changes compared to a real amp. They also heard a loss in touch-sensitivity that I hadn't noticed at the time. Bear in mind that these are friends and family who know my sound and my rig very well. I'm not sure if a stranger would notice without an A/B comparison.

    If you're going to get a Kemper, think strongly about making your own profiles. That's when I started to enjoy mine. Instead of buying gear that you'll rarely use, find a mate who has that gear and go round and profile it. Takes a bit of practice to figure out how the Bass and Mid input EQs interact with each other, and then you're set. It can't profile everything well, but I've been surprised at how often a profile that sounds nothing like the amp on its own is very usable in a mix.

    Me, I miss my pedals too much, so I've just picked up the Synergy Amps modular system to give me the palette of tones I was hoping to use the Kemper for. Once that's bedded in, I'm expecting to use the Kemper mostly as a practice amp (to save on power tubes and the electricity bill) and as a grab-and-go amp - I've had some good tones out of it through a real cab. I really can't say if I'll still have the Kemper by the end of the year.

    HTH.
     
  7. SaltFox

    SaltFox Member

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    I appreciate the detailed info. You bring up some interesting points.

    I suppose I should give some background as to where I am at and why the Kemper caught my attention. I’ve been playing the guitar for about 20 years. I have two young kids and Work keeps me busy so I’m not in a band or recording much these days. In the future that might change but it’s hard at the moment.

    My typical session involves going down to my music room off the basement after the kids and wife have gone to bed and either practicing, noodling, playing along to a few songs, or dialing up some tones on the gear I have.

    90% of the time I am wearing headphones and what I miss most about the old days is being able to crank up an amp. I have an Orange tiny terror that I can rarely push to get the nice tube tone.

    I have a Mooer Ge200 that provides plenty of fun but the tone is no where close to what I’d get with a cranked Tiny Terror or any tube amp even with IRs loaded.

    Basically I want to be able to pick an amp, add a little delay, reverb. Maybe some other basic effects if I’m playing along to something distinct and hear rich tone over my headphones.

    I notice what I do with the Mooer is I’ll use a “tone” I dialed in for a few days or week. Basically a “Rig Of the week”. The idea of being able to use a Vox one week and then a Rockerverb the next week over headphones sounds like pure guitar utopia.

    I like effects but I’m not one to spend hours dialing in exotic tones. I just don’t have the time sadly. I also don’t always have my laptop with me so I like how the Kemper is self contained.

    I’m going to take a close look at the Fractal products before making any decisions though.

    Now I just need to find a music store that has a Kemper and a AX8 available to try out.
     
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  8. cybermgk

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

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    l'll just say opinions vary. I don't find the same issues as his bullet items (except the drive pedals, nd even then it's only some). Nor do quite a few Kemper users. In fact, I wonder if Stuff has an issue with his unit.
     
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  9. NotScott

    NotScott Silver Supporter

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  10. alstev

    alstev Senior Member

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    No now I just GAS for guitars.
     
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  11. matthew bear

    matthew bear Senior Member

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    The Kemper's input is a little different than a tube amp in that it does not respond well to boost... if you like your dirt pedals set to increase input gain it will sound different. if you use outboard dirt set close to unity (some boost is fine), it will respond the same. volume and tone pots will work as intended on the Kemper in my experience. As an amp, it does not disappoint me at all, but the effects are a bit lackluster. I like to use either outboard effects, or my Helix as an effect unit for the Kemper. I think the Kemper is only as good as it's profiles, and some profiles are not great :dunno: so bear that in mind as you explore the unit.
     
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  12. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    I'm in a similar situation. I'm not in a band, haven't gigged since the early 90s. I'm mostly noodling by myself or recording stuff as an amateur hobbyist.

    One (non-Kemper) option there is to put an attenuator - like the Two Notes Captor - on your Tiny Terror. It'll dial down the output volume whilst letting you crank the amp some more.

    The modulation effects built into the Kemper should give you what you want. I'm normally running a tiny bit of phaser before the amp and a tiny bit of tremolo after the amp to make the sound move a bit more. Then stereo delay and some reverb on the way out of the Kemper.

    Digital modelling - whether its the Kemper, AX8, Positive Grid or Helix - is the only way to chase that utopia today.

    I've gone back to real valves with the Synergy Amps system. It's modular - I can go from Fender to Marshall to Vox by swapping one preamp module for another. But there's only around a dozen preamps launched so far, and half of those are some flavour of Marshall. I don't think it'll ever have the range of flavours to suit a "Rig of the Week" desire.

    The Kemper's built-in effects take no time at all to dial in.

    The only times I hook the Kemper up to the computer is:
    • to record from the Kemper
    • or to backup profiles I've made
    You have to do everything else on the Kemper anyways, as there is no laptop-based editor to run. I like how they've made all the controls you need available on the unit itself. I'd like a laptop-based editor, so that I can move the Kemper off my desk, but that's the only reason why.

    The AxeFX stuff is very rare over here. Unlike the Kemper, no-one stocks it. Another nice thing about the Kemper is that there's quite a good supply of 2nd hand Kempers these days, and 2nd hand prices seem to be falling.

    Almost forgot! There is something else about the Kemper I'd like to see them change in V2. The Kemper comes in two configurations - with a built-in power amp, and without a built-in power amp. The built-in power amp only has a single speaker out, which is annoying if you want to use the Kemper's built-in stereo delays. If you want stereo through real cabs, buy a unit without the built-in power amp, and put the money you save towards an external power amp of some kind. Many folks use power amps from Matrix Amplification for that.

    Whatever you go with, I hope it gives you what you're looking for. That's what matters in the end!
     
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  13. frankv

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

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    I want to clarify something about my comments. First off I am not saying to buy one style of modeler over another because of sound alone. Sound is subjective and to be honest there are many great tones coming from all the current crop of modelers that it really is a moot point.

    My contention is that if you want "Perfect' there is nothing that comes close to the AXE FX2 and the new unit, the FX3. Why? because there are no other products out there that gives you the volume of modeled amps, studio effects, recording interface and a ridiculous computer interface that you WILL use. Trust me on that one.

    I am not going to say what I am about to say because I want to piss anyone off. Let me start that way... I believe that when someone wants to venture into this new exciting field of modelers they almost always look at price of entry. It is here that you see many, not all, purchase a Kemper or Helix. It is because the entry price is so much lower when considering the unit and a pedal board combo.

    Now remember what I said. It is not so much the tone that is the deciding factor, although the AXE gives the most incredible array of adjustments possible. It is the "complete" solution AXE FX affords you in the end. If you are going to get into something like this it has always been my experience to get the most available so you don't need to worry about anything else later. As a home player like you and many of us are... it will be nice for you to record progressions straight into your computer with a simple USB interface and then record your play over it for maximum enjoyment AND learning. The ability to record with AXE is unparalleled.

    So again. It is the complete picture AXE affords you . You asked in your thread "The Ultimate" well then...
     
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  14. SaltFox

    SaltFox Member

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    Hey Frank,

    Your comments were both a welcome addition to the thread and very useful to me so no need to clarify anything. This is exactly what I was looking for so I appreciate you taking the time. (Same goes for everyone else that has responded.) I continue to be amazed at the knowledge this forum has.

    I am actually having trouble finding a shop that has Kempers available to try out. Guitar center in my area (Massachusetts) does not keep them in stock and the only independent dealer store doesn't have any currently.
     
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  15. cybermgk

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

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    As to the OPs question

    When I got the Kemper, yes my Amp GAS disappeared. It would have been the same had I got the Axe FX II first. I had been through a LOT of tube amps. Frankv had been through even more than I (and that IS saying something). I know his Amp GAS stopped then too.

    When I got the Axe FX II, my pedal GAS stopped.

    When I got my Les Paul Classic AND put the Limited Edition Joe B custom wound PAFs from SD on it, AND got my EB Music Man Valentine, my Guitar GAS stopped.

    For many of us who like a lot of tones, like to pursue different tones, regularly, or even over time, I think yes, the Axe, or Helix, or Kemper cures our Amp GAS.

    I now have all the tones I want, and as new tonal wants come up, I can get it within moments.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
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  16. cybermgk

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

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    Great post, and I don't disagree with it.

    Now, considering I bought both a Kemper and an Axe, one might take the following with a grain of salt :)

    A simple DI isn't that expensive to add to a Helix or a KPA. Many players already have one.

    I bought the Kemper first, based on tone first, and the ability to capture my, then, existing Amps as well. That and I wasn't doing anything complicated with FX, and more importantly routing.

    But, I do think you're right a lot of folks opt for Kemper and Helix, for price. And, not a thing wrong with that.

    As I played, and frankly heard all your ravings on the Axe, and looked, I saw a want potentially for the Axe's much more complete FX, and ability to route any way I wanted. I saw a chance to sell off a lot of pedals (all but the collectible ones) as well.

    In simple terms, I think folks will be happy tone wise with whichever of these high end modelers/profilers they go with. And, I think your Amp GAS will go bye bye. It really comes down with which unit is a best fit for your particular situation. Funds, how you work, how you play, how many FX you like, and what you want out, and how, of the unit are the factors to consider. Because your going to get the tones and the feel and the play whichever way you go.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
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  17. StingyCH

    StingyCH The Bearded guy from Heidi land..

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    That's very strange..are you sure you haven't a faulty unit? I've had 2 KPA, one head and one rack, and they work perfectly. I use ALOT my volume pots, and never had missing dynamics or else..it just works :)

    To the OP: I was like you, I mean, I used to buy amps, pedals..spent more time buying than playing..I solved the problem last year when I bought the KPA Head.

    This year I did a swap and bought a KPA rack and the Helix LT. I use the LT in the FX Loop of the KPA and I think I've found my earvana..at the moment I have only 1 guitar left (a modified LP Classic) but I ordered my first very custom, made for me, a Mayones..after having tried one. When my Mayo-beast comes..I will ditch the LP and just going 1, super fine, high class guitar, and thanks to the KPA+Helix..thousands..super fine, high class amps :D :D :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
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  18. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    I'm not ruling it out ... it was a second hand unit. I do know someone else who has a Kemper. I'll reach out to them and see if I can test mine against his, to see if there's any difference between the two units.
     
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  19. lowmach

    lowmach Senior Member

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    Lots of great information given in this thread!

    My current life schedule sounds like yours and the Kemper has been my solution for the last year. I'll flip through profiles for different sounds and don't bother with effects besides a little reverb. If your a knob twister then the Kemper may not be for you IMHO. Just turn it on and play through monitors, headphones, or power amp into speaker cab.

    I understand what Stuff is saying about the stand alone tone being too heavy in the mids. I haven't had much luck tweaking the Kemper EQ, I just try different profiles until I find what i like. My solution is to use an IR loader and disengage the cab portion on the Kemper. You will find guys on the Kemper forum saying IRs ruin the tone and dynamics of the Kemper, but my ears disagree.

    My advice is to buy one from an online vendor with a reasonable return policy and give it a go. I would be surprised if it doesn't meet your expectations. Send it back if you don't like it.

    Welcome to modeling!
     
  20. SaltFox

    SaltFox Member

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    Thanks Lowmach. You bring up another question I had. How well does the Kemper sound through headphones? Is that “space” feature useful in keeping the warmth?
     

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