Pros and Cons of the Kemper. Going to buy something digital, please post feedback.

  • I am sorry to do this. I am sure it has been beaten to death and everyone is tired of it :p

    I have asked around other places but I wanted to hear what the (potentially) Kemper biased players have to say before I make my decision.

    I really wanted the Kemper when it came out but I bought a Rev 2 Uberschall instead. I love the amp but I have become a pedal addict spending money :) and even then I hear other amps like the Gemini or Elmwood among others and get the GAS all the time. I have finally decided to pull the trigger and go digital.

    I cannot afford every amp that I hear and I figured this would be the closest and best solution to be able to get my fix whenever it may arise.

    The AX8 has had me very interested and actually made me decide that I am going to get something digital. The portability really appeals to me. I have a Giant 116 lb cab and a 53 lb amp plus pedals. I play with 2 groups and frankly I am tired of lugging gear.

    Those are the two reasons I have decided to go digital. Portability and endless options. I was all set on the AX8, I have signed up for the waiting list and am ready to go but my friend reminded me of the Kemper and I cannot stop going back and forth between them.

    I will say that I prefer high end, high gain amps for brutal metal. Up until today, on here when I found a specific Uberschall profile video I was very disappointed by what I have heard regarding profiles of amps like this. It simply did not do it justice and left much to be desired. With that said I feel with the Kemper I will be limited and at the mercy of the Profiler. It seems in order to get a really good profile you need to come out of your pocket and spend more money which is fair but not appealing since I am trying to just get something and be done buying gear for a while.

    With all of that said TL;DR why did you go Kemper? What benefits have you found? What struggles have you found?

    Trying to decide if I should go with the Kemper or the AX8. Hopefully this is allowed and sorry to post something that 10,000,000 others have posted. I am trying to do and have been doing all of the research I can. Last stop was talking to the Kemper guys n gals.

  • You can always tweak a profile if you don't like how it sounds naturally, the Kemper is rather flexible under the hood. Honestly, the tones are better with the Kemper but the Axe FX has better.. FX!

    - everything

    - mine doesnt actually make toast.

  • Up until today, on here when I found a specific Uberschall profile video I was very disappointed by what I have heard regarding profiles of amps like this. It simply did not do it justice and left much to be desired. With that said I feel with the Kemper I will be limited and at the mercy of the Profiler. It seems in order to get a really good profile you need to come out of your pocket and spend more money which is fair but not appealing since I am trying to just get something and be done buying gear for a while.

    If you cannot find sound demos of your favourite amp being profiled then shy away from the Kemper.

    In my case it was the other way round. I grew up with VOX AC30 and earlier Marshalls/Hiwatts/Oranges. I do really know how they they sound at their respective sweet spots. And after listening to those profiled I instantly ordered the Kemper and I am more than happy now for a couple of months. DId I mention that I never spent a single $ for profiles? As MentaL said: you can always tweak the profile.

    Meanwhile I made my way to "younger" amps' profiles like Engls and such. Extremly convincing. I also did try very modern amps' and high gain profiles and liked the results - I do not know how those sound in real, though.

    Crazy enough: even models of the Axes have already been profiled... :D

  • The benefits.

    • A massive sound-bank. Last I counted there were about 9000 profiles available for free. Granted a lot of them sound bad, some are pretty much duplicates of each other but a lot of them sound awesome.
    • The Kemper does allow for a lot more tweaking than I expected. Changing cabs or editing beneath the hood of the amp can make a big difference. It's nowhere near the amount of fiddling around you can do with an AxeFx but you aren't stuck with a static profile either. I don't know how the Ax8 differs from the AxeFx though.
    • In my ears it sounds just fabulous. Granted I've mostly been doodling around with crunchy/clean/lead sounds so far but I think it's worth every penny.

    The drawbacks.

    • No software editor. A lot of people on this forum say the Kempers internal editor is enough. It works OK but it's nowhere near as user friendly as what you get from Line6 and Fractal.
    • Limitations in the profiles. You don't really have as much control over the sound. You can't pick out a specific microphone or cab for the profile but have to pick from existing ones. Also the profile is made with a particular gain level. Although you can adjust it quite a bit I think it tends to sound best when close to the amount of distortion it had when the profile was made.
    • A massive sound bank isn't always a good thing. Finding the tones that suits your needs can take a long time and you'll have to wade through a lot of them to strike gold. There is a rating system that can help you, but unfortunately the users don't rate profiles as much so many good tones have zero ratings.
    • A bit of messing about is required in order to get a good foot-switch working, or you could pay an extra 400€.

    I don't really agree that you have to spend tones of cash to get good sounding metal sounds. There are plenty of great sounding profiles out there, you just have to sort through a lot of bad and decent sounding profiles to find them. If you are into metal tones I suppose you've already visited Ola Englunds youtube channel. If you're not sold after watching his videos Kemper might not be your best choice.

  • To me the Kemper is what you choose if you want profiles of real amps and you are looking for that real amp goodness. It's easy to get going and you can treat it just like any real tube amp.

    The Axe product is what you choose if you want to create new amp sounds and love to edit and tweak things.

    Just my quick thoughts.

  • The Kemper shouldn't be compared with the AX8, only the AXE FX.

    My playing around with both has these brief impressions:

    1) AXE has the hands up on SOME effects, not all. The Kemper is gaining ground, but still behind on Reverbs. They are said to be coming. Within a year. I happen to have an H9, so it's not an issue for me. It's been said, and probably true, if you are way more into guitar effects than amp tone, the AXE is better for you. The configurability is more extensive and easier to program with a PC.

    2) The Kemper is just plainly easier to smash & grab the tone you want. Both can tweak you into the Tone Land you want. Been there, done that, toe-to-toe with my AXE FX friend. The ability of the AXE to tweak is superior since it has PC software. But it takes time. Easier to just filter choices and go down a list trial-in profiles until you get into the ballpark tone. Then the big sweeping tweaks the Kemper offers gets you there fast. I rarely have to tweak more than 1-5 minutes to dial in a tone.

    3) Don't fool yourself into thinking going Digital is less gear! I still use a Guitar Cabinet. Slightly lighter because it doesn't have the power amp. I have an external power amp because my Kemper is the unpowered lunch box. It's got some weight. The Kemper pedal board has weight. Slightly lighter than an average pedal board. So less weight, but not by much. Still gotta have good knees, strong back, and no shoulder issues to lug the gear around.

    4) The Kemper's profile community, commercial and free, and HUGE & EXTENSIVE. You will spend money on commercial profiles. For the AXE you will spend money on either fremen's tweaks, or more often, good IRs. But there are less tweaks available, less IRs available, than the, IDK, 15,000 profiles plus for the Kemper.

    Right or wrong, I think of the Kemper for amp tone lovers and the Axe for guitar pedal lovers. I think of the Kemper for players who aren't patient about tweaking tones and the AXE for patient individualists who are willing to take hours to setup things just right. The image I get is, a Blues Player wanting a 1950's pure amp will die for the Kemper tone. A fan of Steve Vai will love the AXE. But the distinctions between them get less as the years go by and both products improve.

    So it comes down more to STYLE than SUBSTANCE. I'm still convinced that the AXE's superb effects are what elevate it's rather "ok" amp tones into pro level tones. Whereas the Kemper's true-to-real amp tones are not made worse by it's often "adequate" effects.

    The truth is, the AXE has a few great amp tones and the Kemper has a few top of the line effects tones. Again, both evolve.

    For me, the choice comes down to these two things:

    1) Variety: The Kemper's profiling ability allows it to have a much larger user community. The AXE won't be able to close that gap.
    2) Support: The AXE has proven that it makes new gear and moves on, making your old gear obsolete. Not bad gear. Probably will still work for decades. But... no support after 6-8 years. The Kemper's company Access has supported ALL it's gear since they were made and states they still intend to do this for all current products. So you will be able to get your Kemper fixed in 10 years, your AXE FX won't be able to get new chips in probably 4 years.


  • Here are my thoughts,, I JUST got my Kemper very recently.

    I WAS a tube amp-a-holic.

    I have been through a lot of tube amps, mass-produced and boutique..

    I Decided to go 'digital', so that I could stop that revolving door of amps. I also felt, that the tech was finally here, so that, I could get the same feel and tone of those tube amps, but at a bare minimum, a quality sounding instrument. And of course, minimizing footprint of my rig. All of which any of the digital options will satisfy.

    First, videos are a poor way to judge an amp. The recording quality is usually crappy, using bad equipment that loses a lot. Additionally, a youtube video is SO compressed that adds even more.tone loss.
    Though, on that subject, part of my reason for going Kemper over Axe WAS that the Kemper vids out there were better sounding to me than others.

    But, go to one of the commercial profile sites that have actual recorded clips of Kemper profiles, like…ategory/amps/amps_pack_1/

    Listen to their samples with good monitors or headphones. That will give you a better idea of the tones.

    It was the tone I hears of the Kemper, that was a big selling point for me.

    It was also all the professionals that have made the switch to a Kemper (and a lot of them with amps like your Uberschall..

    I REALLY liked the concept of 'profiling', i.e. capturing my, and others, tube amps. What Axe and modelers do, is similar, but the differences is what drew me to the Kemper.

    I also liked the relative simplicity of creating Profiles (it really is simple). The process is not very difficult to do, in general. Granted, not all profiles are created equal, so there is some technique to getting great profiles.

    I also liked the relative simplicity of the interface. I wanted as close to the simplicity I had on my tube amps, of dialing in my tone and playing. I think the KPA has this over the other options. With a good profile, there is little more than adjusting eq for the room and volume, with simple knobs, and off you go.

    Ultimately, I want to play more, record more, and tweak less, tone search less.

    Some mention the lack of an editor as a minus. It is, I guess. But, to do any serious tweaking on an Axe or Helix, you HAVE to have an editor imho. Using the 'stock' interface is just too time consuming. IMHO, one can use the KPA interface without too much hassle. Yes, an editor would be nice, but it isn't NEEDED, where I think it really is, practically speaking on the others.

    All the above got me to get a KPA to my door (no real place near to try)/ It was how it sounded and more importantly felt and responded, when I first played it that sold me (I could still return it, and was prepared to). Hearing M Britt's JCM 800 cranked profile through even 5" Studio monitors was truly an OMG moment. I felt like I was playing a cranked JCM 800 at 83 or so db.

    I knew, this machine had ended my need for different amps, and could allow me to find MY tone and be part of the instrument that is me, guitar and amp.

    And ultimately, the latter is what is most important. Which option can best help you achieve the same for you.

    Obviously, it would be best if you could try all options in person.

    As an aside. Personally I am an FRFR believer. I can get good tone with the KPA into a guitar CAB. But, I do think my 8" stereo Monitors, or my Atomic CLR wedge have allowed me to get the best tone I have ever had..

  • Buy a Kemper and profile your Uberschall the way you like..easy...

    But first of all you should answer yourself the question if you really like the sound of a miced amp through FRFR/studio monitors.Otherwise it is like db9091 will continue to carry around a ton of gear instead just the Kemper,the remote and a FRFR.

  • The choice was easy for me. Early on when the Axe and the Kemper were both pretty new, I got to sit down with both at the New York Ampshow. The Kemper had a Marshal profile in it that sounded exactly like my amp. I couldn't even get close on the Axe. For some reason though, the Axe room was way more crowded. I still can't figure that one out. Maybe it was Dweezil. But good for me, since I got to play the Kemper uninterrupted for about 15 minutes with the help of John Huldt.

  • I was looking into an trying out digital devices since H&K PS64, Digitech 21xx series and alike. My point to buy the Kemper was clearly to be able to get the same quality tone at anywhere at any situation. Having all in such a handy box was even nicer to have. As others have stated you have to like the sound of a digital device and it is mostly the case that if you don't like the preset sounds you will not be satisfied with it even after tweaking (at least that proved right quite a number of times for me and mates). And of course it is about the right budget after all..

  • I can't tell how the new Fractal Axes sound, but I still own an updated Ultra that I will sell. Sure, the Ultra sounds good, better than any Pods, and the effects are very good; the reverb beats the Kemper's (for the time being, of course). But the Kemper sounds better and is way easier to tweak, though I think the less you tweak it the more you sound closer to the real amp. I never felt comfortable with the Ultra's menus and compulsory tweaking (the factory presets have too many effects added). Some folks may like tweaking, and after all you've got a digital amp before you. The Kemper is more like an amp sampler, so if you tweak it too much you are tweaking the "sampler"'s virtual "single" amp, so to speak. But there are great profiles out there, both commercial and free, which provide you with readymade sweetspots that are close to what you want. It's a matter of trying guitar-rig combinations and test them thru headphones, monitors, PA, etc. The present-day Kemper will provide you with great tone, and it will not become "obsolete" as soon as Fractal amps do, if ever. The Ultra still sounds "good" enough for many things, but it is "dead" to Fractal: no further updates to start with. Fractal and Line 6 have a different philosophy. db9091 has written something similar,

  • A common fear I've seen expressed, also by you, maddnotez, is one of feeling "boxed in" by the static / snapshot nature of Profiles.

    Fear not, brother. The second you twist an EQ-stack knob for the first time, you'll be both relieved and amazed at the control the uber-effective amp EQ provides. You can set it to be either pre or post-amp-gain, by the way.

    The Tube Amount and Bias, Clarity, Definition, Amp Compression, Pick and Cabinet parameters offer a world of tweaking goodness I honestly never expected from the Kemper; I'd have been happy with the tone-stack EQ alone, TBH.

    In short, I wouldn't underestimate the extent to which you can massage any half-decent Profile to suit any number of situations. For this reason, many have settled on a small handful of Profiles, or even just one in some cases, for all their needs. My guess is that most of us would've done so too had it not been for the plethora of awesome tube goodness out there, just begging to be auditioned. You'll very-quickly see what I mean should you choose to join the Kemper club.

    Lastly, and you'll have noticed this already, you'll find less blind bias here than you'll see for any other amp-sim product IMHO. Why? Simple: We don't need to kid ourselves about authenticity and playability. My honest, unbiased opinion is that I can't for the life of me see how you could possibly go wrong. I sometimes joke that I'm a fanboy, but that's only because I simply cannot single out any significant shortcomings in the design and performance of this, my favourite-ever beastie and easily-the-best-guitar-processing-acquisition-ever thingumabob. My advice is to not think - just buy, play and marvel.

    And, I don't even pay attention to new product offerings anymore

    The Kemper's the only cure for Amp GAS™ that I'm aware of. For many, that in itself would be sufficient reason to sign up for the life-long-membership therapy.

  • Yes - soon after I saw mentioned "KPA vs RECTO" youtube video I saw this epic "Marshall Golub" which totally sold me on this device ;-)

  • MM has more experience than I, and I won't deny that you can tweak the Kemper a lot. When I say that if you tweak it too much you deviate from the original amp, I mean that the knobs you turn are not the amp's after all, so it is not the case of a digital amp created in the Axe 8, since there you would be turning the virtual knobs of that virtual amp, whereas in the Kemper you have a more generic digital amp that samples all amps you profile. And yet, with a few tweaks you can adapt any Profile to your guitar. For instance the Definition knob is great. And obviously you can modify any profile beyond recognition if you want to. It is not meant to work like the Axe, though. But it will sound great and, for me, better.

  • To the OP
    You want to buy something digital, according to your post , right ?
    OK, allow me to assume that if someone want to buy something digital, its mean he/she is looking for digital sound , isn't it ?

    If above presumption is correct , my advice is : "Do Not Buy Kemper !!! "

    Why ?

    Because not in a million years you will get that beautiful digital sound ( you asked for it -see assumption above ) out of this toaster .

    Only you can get is that annoying , dirty , or clean or crunch or whatever - organic Tube @Valve Amp sound .

    So , If I am you , I will say after trying KPA for the first time : I just wanted to escape from that old fashion amp sound , and to switch to some nice digital ground , but what I get is again that annoying tube valve cooking sound , WTF ??? Is this 21st Century or what ?

    So, buy some nice digital device , there are plenty on the digital market , which will deliver a nice digital sound ,accordingly and by default . ;)

    if you think I am joking , you are wrong ! ?(;):P:thumbsup:

    Tom Andersons Drop Top 2010 >Gibson ES 335 2011 Custom Shop Cherry of course >Charvel GG sig Caramelised Ash>Steve Vai vwh with SS frets and Sustainac 2006 > Fender YJM 2008>Double Trouble, Honey Bee pedal >TS 2002 > etc... >Kemper>QSC's and/or JP Le Roux amp and Mesa Cab