Kemper KPA vs. Axe-FX II (Yes, another one...please read!)

  • I’m looking into checking out either the Axe-FX II or the Kemper KPA. I know there have been ad nauseum threads about these two products, and in many ways they aren’t even designed to do exactly the same thing. But most of those threads are not recent, and so don’t take into account the most recent features, firmware, accessories, and so forth. And they are my two finalists for what I’m looking for (which is, primarily, a portable solution containing the gist of most of my usable amp tones). So I need some advice.


    Here’s what I’m NOT looking for: flaming, either direction. I believe both products are awesome and do what they are supposed to very well. I’m not looking for what’s wrong with either product, I’m more looking for which one may fit MY needs better.


    So, a bit about me and my needs: I’m a simple player. I mostly use a couple of effects at any given time, and tend to rotate between 2-3 basic amp tones (clean, crunch, “searing lead”). I want those tones to be as amazing as possible, then I’ll add delay or compression or whatever. I’m a semi-professional player...that is, I make part of my income from music. I do occasional session work (mostly for local or regional acts) and I play in two regular gigging bands, an average of 6-8 times a month. My current amps: Egnater MOD50 with most of the modules and an Egnater oversized 112 cab, and a Mesa Boogie Road King with 212 Road King cab. Those are my main ones (I also have an Egnater Rebel 30 I use for rehearsal). Capturing the ranges of sounds from those two amps (which are many) is crucial.


    Also of note is the fact that I’m basing most of my thoughts (below) on either hard data, or on AVAILABLE sound clips. I know these are not representative...I absolutely know that. However, you can get a semi-close idea of what something can do by audio/video clips. Most of the clean tones I’ve heard clips for are super affected, for some reason. There are VERY few clips that showcase simple, pure clean tone, for either device. So I have to take a bit of a guess with a few things like that.


    Otherwise, here are my thoughts so far (keep in mind, these are not intended to be definitive statements of fact; they are simply my impressions based on what I’m looking for):


    Overall Tone (amp-likeness): I believe this is a wash. I think each device sounds incredible, and can get very close to the tone of real tube amps.


    Overdriven tone: I think the advantage here goes to the Axe-FX, based on the clips that I’ve heard.


    Clean tone: I think the advantage here goes to the Kemper, again based on the clips that I’ve heard. Hard to find “pure” clean tones for either device though.


    Amp “feel”: From what I’ve read, the advantage here goes to the Kemper, with numerous reviewers noting that the Kemper responds a bit more like a tube amp does. But this is fairly subjective, so what feels “right” to one person may be the opposite for another.


    Flexibility: I believe it’s factual (not just opinion) to say that the Axe-FX is more flexible. It does more. In many ways this is a plus, as it makes the Axe-FX more future-proof. But in many ways it’s also a negative, as it’s way overkill for what I need. Simple = better for me, usually. So ultimately this is a wash for me.


    Pedals: I like the MCF-101 better than the Kemper Remote. I think it looks more useful and more professional, and I FAR prefer the LEDs of the MCF-101. Being able to easily see settings in a semi-dark room (which is harder than in a completely dark room) is crucial, and it seems like the MCF-101 is better in this regard. I like the red/green/off scheme better than the multiple separate LEDs too. However, the Kemper Remote is smaller, and as far as I’m concerned the smaller the footprint, the better. Also, the MCF-101 is $150 more than the Remote. I also dislike that the tap tempo button on the MCF-101 is on the top. I’m sure I can manually set it to one of the first-row buttons, but that’s where it should be out of the box. So this ultimately ends up a wash too.


    Support: I believe both companies have excellent customer service. However, I believe the Axe-FX gets more (and more regular) updates in terms of software and features. Plus they are in the US rather than overseas. However, the crazy shipping costs to buy the unit initially make me wary of having to send it in for any warranty support, as I don’t want to shell out nearly $80 (each way) each time I need support (I know this might be covered while under warranty, but the Axe-FX has a much shorter warranty than the Kemper as well...1 year vs. 3 years for the Kemper). So, another wash.


    Software: I believe the Axe-FX has the edge here. But this isn’t a huge deal for me. I enjoy playing with it, but once I get things dialed in, it’s rare for me to change it up much.


    Price: including the pedal for either, the Kemper ends up being about $500 cheaper. This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it certainly does matter. Also, the Kemper has free shipping, whereas the Axe-FX is like $80. It may seem silly, but that bothers me. The Axe-FX is already more expensive, then the crazy shipping costs on top of it. And they are US based...the Kemper has to (ultimately) cross an ocean!


    Misc: the Kemper takes up 3 rack spaces. The Axe-FX (which does more) takes up 2, I believe. Slight advantage to the Axe-FX, but this is fairly minor. The Kemper takes a long time to boot up, whereas the Axe-FX is super quick. But I’ve read a lot of problems with folks upgrading the software in the Axe-FX and have to send away for something to get it up and running again.


    At this point, I’m leaning toward the Kemper because 1. Less expensive (especially re: shipping), 2. Simpler, which may be better for what I need, and 3. More “amp-like feel” (though this is the one that may be the most subjective AND I have the most limited knowledge about). However, the biggest issue for me is tone. It trumps everything else. Clean tones are important for me, and I can’t get a good read on clean tones from either amp because of the lack of clips, and the fact that both seem more focused on high gain tones. Also, having it feel like a real tube amp is crucial, and the limited knowledge I have so far is that the Kemper has the SLIGHT edge with this. The greater flexibility of the Axe-FX and the fact that it’s more future proof is appealing, but ultimately I fear that the majority of its fancy features would go to waste. I enjoy playing around with that kind of thing, but in the end I’m a simple guy and end up going back to a few simple tones and then use effects to taste.


    So (PLEASE without flaming or inciting fanboy arguments or bashing of your non-preferred product), what say you? What do you think would work better for my needs? Again, I’m not asking which you think is a better product for whatever reason, or which works better for you...which do you think would suit my needs better? PLEASE NOTE that I am looking for input from folks who preferably have owned both, or at the very least have had the opportunity to use each in real-world situations (i.e., not just, "I tried my buddy's once and it [sucked/rocked]"). Thanks.


    Sorry for the long post, but thanks for any insight. And thanks for mature, thoughtful answers rather than flame wars.

  • Hi, welcome to the forum!
    I noticed in your crosspost at the fractal forum that you've been a member there since 2008 and in one post you write that "(my "main" job is in marketing)". http://forum.fractalaudio.com/…ther-one-please-read.html
    I think learning about marketing is important for us consumers and it's good that awareness today is high and many apply critical thinking.


    Nobody can decide for you so try both. I can get very good sounds out of either the Kemper or the Axe fx 2 and both are great but different. If somebody can't get them to sound good then they are simply doing something wrong. However we all have specific gear preferences and these boxes are very different. Including studio friends and forum users I think I've seen over a hundred ax fx users sell it and move over to kemper. It's not the other way around. Many on this forum come from the fractal forum after selling their axe fx 2 and I list some of the reasons that I and many agree on.


    - Profiling vs modeling
    The biggest difference is that for the first time ever we can now copy our own amp rigs using profiling. It is unique to kemper and it analyzes the whole amp signal chain and captures the dynamics, feel, compression, attack, distortion, eq, interaction with power amp & cab, mic and other gear in the rig. That's one of the big reasons the kemper is so popular, for many providing a seamless transition for those who are used to working and mixing with real amps. That's a big advantage over modelers that only can provide what those companies think their programmed versions of amps should sound and behave like, therefore not able to copy what the users actually have.

    If you care about authenticity and want the sound and feel of YOUR real tube amp rig then kemper is the way to go. I much prefer accurate kemper profiles from the real source rather than everchanging modeled programmed versions of what a company think an amp should be like, requiring reprogramming of patches each firmware. Kemper got it right from the beginning 3 years ago, fractal is going on 9 years and each fw is marketed to have better amp modeling and it will continue like that each year. To me every axe-fx fw is just different, fw 18 now and future fw doesn't change that at all.


    I agree with producer Lasse Lammert here.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo…76.100000845799643&type=1
    "pros and cons vs a fractal?"
    -"Lasse Lammert: easy answer:
    Fractal sounds like a really good amp modeller that mimics the tone of someone else's idea of how a miked amp should sound.
    Kemper: sounds like your rig/an actual amp (not like a modeller).Both have great FX."



    List of about 300 producers & bands using kempers live & on albums.
    Songs, videos & information.
    http://www.wikpa.org/Various_stuff


    kemper profiling video tutorials
    http://www.wikpa.org/Profiling_Tutorials#Videos


    Here is a thread that explains the differences between profiling & eq tone/amp matching.
    http://www.kemper-amps.com/for…?postID=176676#post176676


    Link to full kemper manual & other downloads on the homepage.
    http://www.kemper-amps.com/pag…mplifier___Downloads.html




    Amp sound & “feel” - I prefer Kemper since it feels and sounds just like your real amp it profiled and it has fooled me when playing in many A-B blindtests with amps setup for clean, overdrive and distortion. See the profiling tutorial link above.
    Modelers like Axe fx have a programmed company version of amps and it will not be your amp rig, but it can sound great.
    Also the kemper has far more available amps. Thousands of amps are profiled, new shared amps for free every day and many profiles can be bought too. And you can profile all your amp gear, save the profiles, sell the gear or keep it for more profiles like many studios do.


    Effects - Both have excellent high quality effects and more than I use. The Axe has more effects and more routing options.
    They simply can't replace and copy all our favorite pedals, real reverbs and hardware so keep that gear. Most record dry and add nice studio effects in mixing. I prefer some reverbs in the kemper and the more reverb options in the Axe, but none are Strymon, Eventide or Lexicon. Similar with delays and chorus. More drive pedals in the axe but they don't replace my real pedals. Kemper wah wah is the best digital wah I've ever used and can be set to mimic the real wahs very nicely. Kemper rotary fx is also excellent. Kemper has a big advantage with the pitch effects with great tracking, transpose and some unique features like formant shift and pure tuning.


    Easy to use - The kemper wins for me since it's designed to be easy to use with better screen and many knobs to avoid complex deep editing menus and parameters many have no clue what they do. For me it's much more focus on plug and play, and for many time is money. Some love deep tweaking every little parameter and the Axe fx is great for that. Both kemper and Axe fx 2 are capable of extensive tweaking and can transform sounds into something completelty different.


    Flexibility Routing - Both can do advanced setups far more than I and most users need, but for very complex setups the Axe fx has more options. Many band gear rig photos with info and videos in the link above.


    Pedals - Both take pedals very well.

    Floorboards
    - I'd recommend to use any favorite Midi FB brand on the market with them. The MFC is flexible but very big and expensive. Kemper remote is smaller and cost less, but is proprietary and that will allow for some unique features.


    Support - Both have excellent support and offers frequent firmware updates, 2014 Kemper had 14 updates.
    Since Kemper has bigger distribution over the world and sold in stores they also have several support/repair centers.


    Software - For me the kemper front with all knobs and screen is far easier to use without any software, but the Rig Manager do what I want, direct access to the rig exchange and more. I think they will release a full editor since their Virus synths have that. The Axe fx is much more complex with buttons and deep menues so I and many completely rely on a computer with Axe-edit that is a full editor.


    Price/warranty - The kemper is much cheaper in Europe compared to the Axe fx 2, big difference. In USA not so much.
    Kemper offer 3 (2) year warranty and Fractal only 1 year if I'm correct. That is also an important difference.

    Longevity
    - Fractal release new products about every 2-3 years and drop support for older products. The sound patches are not back compatible. Kemper have a very long product history with their Access Virus synths offering long support and the kemper product is no different I think. It's said to be back compatible for about 15 years so the captured sounds from the amps will always be the same even if a new kemper with more features is released.


    Misc - Since the Kemper doesn't have a built in cooling fan it is silent in the studio or at home. The Axe fx 2 does have a cooling fan and it generates noise. Plenty of pros use the kemper live and bootup time is no problem. Always carry a backup rig no matter what gear you use.




    It's easy for everybody to truly test the Fractal marketing claims that every new Axe fx 2 firmware have amp modeling that sounds better than the previous fw by doing a blind test random comparison with all of them. Record a reamped track through each firmware using the same IR and let you and all your friends rank them. Each person listens alone so nobody can influnce judgement. And only random audio, no looking at wave curves. Perform this blind test 10-20 times. Nobody will get a 1-18 result, far from it. And it will be different each time. Playing guitar directly through each firmware takes a bit longer to do, but the results will also show the same thing. To make it even more interesting include sound reamps from Axe fx standard and Ultra fw.


    If the marketing is true, the test result would show a very clear preference of Axe fx 2 pointing from 1-18.
    With my studio friends the results are completely random all over the place since tone is 100% subjective. Also, very important, fractal doesn't provide a real amp rig for the users to directly compare with in the first place.
    This type of fw marketing is endless and is very effective since it creates a buzz in the users brain reward signal system.
    Companies do this everyday for various products.


    If Fractal really had confidence in their marketing claims that each firmware update is an improvement in amp modeling sound, wouldn't this blindtest be the ultimate marketing tool for them, to show how each firmware is so much better as it's marketed to be?
    Fractal would never do this since it would be bad for their firmware marketing method. Many kemper users do this since day 1 and make sure the tones captured from their real amp rig are the same after each fw update.


    Many users also prefer companies with good business ethics. Unfortunately in that area Fractal Audios CEO has really embarrased himself several times over the years posting misinformation and lies about kemper because he's hoping to gain market leverage. Fractal also frequently censors users posts when they mention specific gear and have deleted a huge number of threads about certain companies like amplifire and kemper in the off topic section. Many users whish he only focused on the axe fx and let PR to professionals that have a positive company attitude since his actions is not giving Fractal a positive reputation and that is sad.


    (fixed links)

  • I could type a two page essay discussing each point you made, but lets not go there because I already know which unit you'll be playing very soon...good choice. :thumbup:


    When it comes to pure clean tones an old Vox Tonelab, or Boss unit, Line 6, even a simple DI Speaker Sim like the H&K Redbox have similar clean tone to the current market leading modellers like the Axe-FX.
    That's because it's not rocket science to create a Clean digital guitar tone.
    Seriously, you could gig with a couple of pedals into a H&K Redbox direct to the PA and have a great clean tone.
    So don't choose a unit because of Clean tone because you could buy a $100 Vox Tonelab and be reasonably satisfied.


    Reading debate after debate comparing Axe tones to Kemper tones will not help anyone...it's like reading internet discussions about Tokai VS Gibson.
    You know your needs, you've described them in your post, your needs are pretty much the same as every guitarist who gigs a few times a month.
    You need an amp with a few basic effects, a clean tone, crunchy tone and a high gain tone.
    You can get that from a Line 5 HD500 or Eleven Rack, you don't need an Axe-FX or a Kemper.


    But how can a guitarist resist the Kemper, it's just too tempting because it's such a revolutionary piece of gear.
    The Axe-FX isn't revolutionary, it's just a digital modeller that sounds better than Line 6 products and the Eleven rack.
    The Kemper is an amp, it looks like an amp, the UI is designed to operate like an amp and you have the option of a built in poweramp if you have the budget.
    It doesn't do some tones well, others really well and some fantastically well, it does every tone like the real amp it Profiled...the algorithm covers every nuance of a tube amp.
    You don't need a science degree to find and tweak your tones by using dozens of hidden parameters found deep within the menu system.
    A certain percentage of guitarists love being scientists ( not professional guitarists), they love spending their lives tweaking guitar gadgets until they've tweaked every hidden parameter to death, then they demand a Firmware update so they can tweak all over again, they're addicted to tweaking, not playing.
    If you're one of those then buy the Axe-FX.


    If you arrived at a gig without your rig and both the Kemper and Axe-FX were setup and ready to go, 9 out of 10 guitarists would choose to gig with the Kemper.
    Why?, because if you didn't have a clue how the Kemper worked you could just turn some knobs until you were happy with your tone, just like you do when you arrive at a gig and you have to use the tube amp provided by the venue.
    A guitarist will feel more natural in front of a Kemper because of the UI.


    The Kemper and Axe flame wars were a 2011/2012 thing...they were caused by the shock re-action of Axe-FX owners who couldn't believe another company dare challenge the undisputed champion of the time.
    The flame wars weren't 'real', they were just psychology 101 mixed with jealousy and rage, believe me, I was there, it all came from ONE side. :)


    Let's do some maths.
    2011 and beginning of 2012, Facebook.
    Fractal Audio, 8,000 Likes, Kemper Zero.
    2015, Fractal Audio, 50,000 likes, Kemper 55,000 likes.


    What's happened over the last 3 years?


    Of course I'm a Kemper fanboy...

  • No direct experience with the axe-fx, but that won't stop me :-)


    My impression is (as has been mentioned already), axe-fx is tweaker's heaven, and you can create any kid of sound you want from scratch. Or at least theoretically - I have no idea how easy it is to get there. I'm not a tweaker, so the axe-fx would NEVER be my thing, really.


    You say that you want to nail the tones of your current rig (that's my interpretation). For this I would probably recommend the kemper, because that's exactly what it offers you - i.e. the ability to take a profile of your amp (one specific amp setting at a time).
    Keep in mind that if you want to nail THAT specific tone and THIS specific tone, then that would best be done by having two different profiles ("presets", if you will, although that terminology is wrong) and switch between them, rather than tweaking on the fly. The kemper takes a profile of an amp at ONE amp setting at a time, so it doesn't capture the totality of the amp (i guess the axe-fx doesn't do this either).


    ALSO keep in mind that the kemper bakes the mic (including mic placement etc) into the profile, so if you're not used to hearing a miced up amp, then that might throw you (you've heard it on recordings, but playing is another matter for some). Don't know how the axe-fx is in this regard. BTW, firmware 3 for the Kemper allows you to take a "split" profile with a suitable DI box between amp and cab, so if you get the kemper w/power amp (or just a separate power amp), you can connect the kemper to your current cab and it should sound exactly like the real deal (i.e. no colouring from mic or mic postition etc).


    If you want to profile your own amps (which is the basis for what I have written above), you of course need to know (or be willing to learn) how to do this properly to get the results you are after. But there are THOUSANDS of free profiles available, as well as... Well, probably also thousands of commercial profiles available (some of these done by professional audio engineers). So you should be able to get something you'd be satisfied with.

  • I got both units here with the latest FW.
    Imho it's not even close, the KPA sounds much better to my ears. Don't want to bash the axe here - it sounds very good on its own, but if you do an A/B comparison... well, the Axe always sounds kinda flat/2D/muffled in comparison. But maybe I'm just too stupid to tweak the Axe properly :D


    I kept the Axe because until the latest changes on the KPA (FW 2.8 and 3.0) I didn't like the KPA with gutiar cabs (which I still prefer for stage monitoring) that much, that changed - probably gonna sell the Axe now.

    MJT Strats / PRS Guitars / Many DIY Guitars -- Kemper Profiler Rack / Kemper Remote / InEar

  • ALSO keep in mind that the kemper bakes the mic (including mic placement etc) into the profile, so if you're not used to hearing a miced up amp, then that might throw you (you've heard it on recordings, but playing is another matter for some). Don't know how the axe-fx is in this regard. BTW, firmware 3 for the Kemper allows you to take a "split" profile with a suitable DI box between amp and cab, so if you get the kemper w/power amp (or just a separate power amp), you can connect the kemper to your current cab and it should sound exactly like the real deal (i.e. no colouring from mic or mic postition etc).


    I made this recording using the old firmware, not version 3.0...with Cabs OFF on Monitor Out...so in theory the Kemper 'Cabdriver' algorithm was still active.
    If it gets better than this with firmware 3.0 then I can't even imagine how much better my clips could sound...but they don't need to sound better.


    I plugged my Kemper with poweramp (Ambrosi) into a Marshall 2x12 Cab and mic'd the Cab.
    As far as I'm aware a demo like this has not been posted before, I did it to show that if you turn the Cabinet/Mic OFF the Kemper becomes a regular guitar amp for the user....the guitarist is not hearing a mic'd up amp/cab baked into the Profile.


    Whether a guitarist is using his real tube amp rig mic'd up or the Kemper (Main Outs) or Axe-FX, what the audience hears is a mic'd amp...we know that.
    The guitarist on stage has a choice, he doesn't have to hear a mic'd up amp if he plugs his Kemper into a poweramp and Cab, in fact he doesn't have to hear a mic'd up amp at home if he doesn't want to.


    These clips sound as good if not better than recording the same Profiles DI, to prove that I mic'd the Cabinet.
    The engineer who's studio I was in and who played the guitar was amazed, his comment was "this unit is unbelievable".


    We didn't spend any time at all choosing Profiles, just took a few and recorded.


    I wanted the tones as 'raw' as possible, in your face amp in the room kind of stuff, with no effects.
    If you listen at 6:34 the second part of the Boston riff, you'll hear a tiny bit of delay on the clip, that's the Delay on the Michael Britt 70s Marshall Profile, I turned it on and that's how the mic captured it through the Cab.


  • I got both units here with the latest FW.
    Imho it's not even close, the KPA sounds much better to my ears. Don't want to bash the axe here - it sounds very good on its own, but if you do an A/B comparison... well, the Axe always sounds kinda flat/2D/muffled in comparison. But maybe I'm just too stupid to tweak the Axe properly :D


    I kept the Axe because until the latest changes on the KPA (FW 2.8 and 3.0) I didn't like the KPA with gutiar cabs (which I still prefer for stage monitoring) that much, that changed - probably gonna sell the Axe now.



    New firmware claims is an endless marketing strategy year after year and is often used by companies, Fractal excells at it.


    It's easy for everybody to truly test the Fractal marketing claims that every new Axe fx 2 firmware have amp modeling that sounds better than the previous fw by doing a blind test random comparison with all of them. Record a reamped track through each firmware using the same IR and let you and all your friends rank them. Each person listens alone so nobody can influnce judgement. And only random audio, no looking at wave curves. Perform this blind test 10-20 times. Nobody will get a 1-18 result, far from it. And it will be different each time. Playing guitar directly through each firmware takes a bit longer to do, but the results will also show the same thing. To make it even more interesting include sound reamps from Axe fx standard and Ultra fw.


    If the marketing is true, the test result would show a very clear preference of Axe fx 2 pointing from 1-18.
    With my studio friends the results are completely random all over the place since tone is 100% subjective. Also, very important, fractal doesn't provide a real amp rig for the users to directly compare with in the first place.
    This type of fw marketing is endless and is very effective since it creates a buzz in the users brain reward signal system.
    Companies do this everyday for various products.


    If Fractal really had confidence in their marketing claims that each firmware update is an improvement in amp modeling sound, wouldn't this blindtest be the ultimate marketing tool for them, to show how each firmware is so much better as it's marketed to be?
    Fractal would never do this since it would be bad for their firmware marketing method. Many kemper users do this since day 1 and make sure the tones captured from their real amp rig are the same after each fw update.



    mbrown3, here are a some of the kemper videos from the profiling tutorial link. Clean sounds, A-B comparisons with real amps.
    http://www.wikpa.org/Profiling_Tutorials#Videos


    Kemper Nashville profiling session - Dave Cleveland @ Sunset Blvd Studio - 60s Princeton Amp by Tyler.


    Kemper Nashville profiling session - Dave Cleveland's Matchless amp.


    Italian Kemper profiling session using a Fender Super-Sonic Twin combo, 2012 at the studio Emerald Recording.


    Kemper Amps Profiling Demonstration Live on Air with John Huldt on The Flo Guitar Enthusiasts )

  • Must just comment on something someone on the Fractal forum stated : Axe FXs Tonematch IS NOT what the Profiler does! Not even close. Tonematch is exactly what it says it is : a match of the tone (ie EQ). The Profiler determines gain, tone and response over time and amplitude, which is what gives it the feel of the amp. Anything else could be done using Logics bundled Match EQ, for example. Very simple.


    Cheers,
    Sam

  • For me the KPA was the winner. I am not a great tweaker by any means, nor do I enjoy it. I like to plug into an amp, twist a few knobs, and play. Either I dig it or I don't. With the KPA - if I don't dig it, it's no big deal. Next profile please. The AXE is much more about editing in my experience. You can get there, but there are menus after menu to wade through and for me it was tedious. Can sum it up in that the KPA is ALL about the profile - there are some great ones, but there are also some not so great ones. I let my ears decide. The AXE to me is more about tweaking. There are some great tweakers (watch Mark Day vids for instance), and some not so great (me). I was never able to tweak my AXE to the tone nirvana I have achieved with some of my favorite profiles. I realize this is simply because I am at best an average tweaker and guys like Andy at TAF and MBritt have golden ears and serious profiling skills. But both units can get you there - it's just what road do you choose to take.


  • The Kemper takes a long time to boot up, whereas the Axe-FX is super quick.


    When you power on Axe-FX, you let the current flow through its digital chips. Like you would power on radio receiver.


    When you turn the knob on KPA, you wake up the captured souls of tube amps living inside.

  • I've never owned the Axe FX ... and probably never will.
    I'm 100% convinced by the sounds I get from using the Profiler.
    So that's were I am ... but I think it's fair to state a few things I do NOT like about the Profiler yet. And some of this might change over time but at a rather slow pace:


    1. I'm not very keen to get a full fledged editor for the Profiler since I think there's not much point in "editing" rigs. That's because the profiler isn't a modeller like the Axe FX. But the Profiler is still missing a few "management tools". It has become pretty easy to manage rigs in BROWSE mode using the Rig Manager software. But it's a nightmare to manage performances or effects presets (or even effects chains). Basically there's no such "management" at all right now. I know that we will get some performance management later this year. But I have no clue when and what exactly we'll get. This still is a downside of the Kemper ecosystem that needs to be mentioned. But this does NOT affect the sound of the unit and it doesn't question my decision to own 2 of them already. It's just hard sometimes to wait patiently.


    2. A few effects really need some more love (or don't even exist yet). Spring Reverb, Shimmer Reverbs, Delays, more versatile Rotary effect, ...


    3. It's great that the Profiler is available as a powered version for those who need it. The Axe FX doesn't have this option. I don't need it but if I did, I would certainly wonder why the available powered version is MONO only. Shouldn't have been a big problem to make it Stereo with an optional bridging for Mono? But again, I'm not an engineer and I don't need a powered Profiler for my needs.


    Hope all this made sense, written by someone who really really loves the Profiler and what it does ... but still has an open mind to see (current) downsides. :)


    Cheers
    Martin

  • I'm not much of a player and can't really feel the difference between the two. I do however mind the complexity of the Axe. It's just now worth digging for tone that can be had out of that box. I get very little playing time as it is, I'd rather twist a few knobs than press several dozen knobs to get anywhere. And that's a huge IMO and in no way a recommendation either way.


    Also, the Axe EU sticker shock is certainly not to be dismissed easily. I barely stretched to KPA as it is.

    I'm just trying to be as truthful to my experience and personal opinion that I'm clearly presenting only as a personal opinion no more no less in an honest and truthful discussion about equipment.

  • I already posted my thoughts on this here:
    Kemper Versus Axe FX II - My opinion?


    And for the most part they haven't changed.


    Short version - I had the Axe FX II for 7-8 months. I liked it but when I got the Kemper and had both units side by side, the Axe ended up going.


    Exactly my own opinion. In direct comparison the Axe is always 2nd best to the profiler.

  • This subject reminds me of wine.


    I love a good California Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. But when they grow this varietal in North Carolina, well they use a different root stock, the soil isn't perfect for grape growing of this kind, and so it tastes not as good. Because it's not the exact same roots.


    But NC wineries sometimes can make a magical wine by adding lots of chocolate, vanilla, oak, berries and you have a flavored wine that isn't as authentic by itself as Napa grown product, but if you like lots of these types of flavors it's can be considered a good wine by many.


    That's the way I look at the Axe. You don't have the amp block as authentic since it doesn't profile, but the effects are killer and go a long way toward making a superb product. But this in only in comparison to the KPA. If the KPA didn't exist, we'd all be 100% Fractal fans.


    What makes the Kemper for me as a former Fractal owner, even if you love them equally, is the huge 10,000 profile plus and growing community. This ability to profile exactly your amp, and share it for free or sell it at a modest price, is such an open ended and growing phenomena. The exponential growth is a constant gift to the owners.


    Bottom line is, I really like both products and would own both (the axe primarily for the effects) but the Kemper is a better fit for me and I don't want to complicate things with extra learning curves. Keep it Simple Stupid. Ingolf put me onto that pathway!

  • I was fed up hauling large amp/stomp rigs around (Matchless, Marshall and 65 Amps) so I got the Axe II. It felt and sounded quite good at home levels, but I was never satisfied with it at live levels. The distortion character and top end was fatiguing and I could never get the attack quite right, especially on the semi clean/broken sounds. Got the Kemper and played them side by side. Took me a couple of minutes to put the Axe up for sale. It just sounds much more pleasant and yet still aggressive to my ears. That, and the fact that there are physical knobs (with led indicators and a large screen) to tweak instead of navigating sub menus, made the decision easy. For me. I need to tweak at gigs, not at home.


    I do at times miss some of the effects and routing possibilities available in the Axe though.

  • My good friend has an AxeFX II and he keeps borrowing my Kemper. I keep borrowing his 101B 20th and Diezel VH-4!


    I have used his Axe and I really like both products. In the end I went with the Kemper because I am more comfortable in the menu system and layout of the unit. I like the tones I get out of it more as well. The piece that is really a nice bonus on the Axe is that it is it's own interface so you can literally hook it up the way it is to any DAW.


    I could use either setup without an issue. They both produce outstanding results.

    Fractal Axe III/FC-6, Kemper Rack/Remote, Friedman ASM-10 & ASC-10, Fender CS x4

    Edited once, last by PBGas ().

  • Another 2 cents from a guy who's never worked with an Axe here: I chose the KPA based mainly on reviews indicating it had the edge in terms of tube amp feel, and the fact that I prefer the Kemper's UI (more amp-like tonestack knobs, etc.) But I can see the appeal in the Axe for a few reasons: deeper editing of specific component-based amp behaviors, more/ better/ more tweakable effects, and comprehensive modeling of a given amplifier across all of its settings.


    That last bit is the most intriguing for me. The KPA, for the most part, profiles a signal path per the settings at the time the profile is made. It's blind as to the how's and why's, e.g. channel selection, volume, gain, tone settings, etc. It sees a black box from input to output, takes its snapshot, and applies EQ, dynamics, et al from there. A "modeling" solution by comparison can attempt to mimic the behavior of an amp at a component level, resulting in amp models that respond authentically as you "drive" them not only with your guitar but with their own controls. I remember this being a fun aspect of Line 6's approach when I first got into the virtual/ modeling thing: their documentation would stress how tone controls etc. mapped accurately to the behaviors of the original hardware, and note where they had deviated (e.g. with an extra tone knob) to do more than the original hardware could. I never owned half the original hardware to confirm whether they were honest/ successful in all that, but it was fun, interesting, and sometimes educational. Much of that is lost with the Kemper point-and-shoot approach.


    So I think both products have their place, and will suit different people. Having said that, a couple of things from your OP would seem to support your going with the KPA:


    "I’m a simple player. I mostly use a couple of effects at any given time, and tend to rotate between 2-3 basic amp tones (clean, crunch, “searing lead”). I want those tones to be as amazing as possible"
    "Capturing the ranges of sounds from those two amps (which are many) is crucial."


    I know you were looking for replies based on real-world experience with both products - sorry that I can't offer that. I just think it's useful to consider what each product sets out to achieve, and compare this with your goals. Capturing sounds of familiar amps, with authenticity, is what the KPA is all about. Versatility by way of deep editing is (by my understanding) what the Axe is all about. Hence my quotes above.