Guitar cab or FRFR - and why?

  • This has been covered extensively on this forum, so I'll try to be short and direct.

    Guitar cabs color your sound. If you love your cab and want to use it, great. That being said, everything will sound like your cab.

    FRFR colors your sound in a minimalist way. This allows you to use the profiled cabs to get an array of tones, and specifically the tones that match the profiled amp.

    The benefit of the cab is you get the traditional in-the-room feel, but that has its own shortcomings.

    The benefit of the FRFR is that you already have a mic'ed guitar sound that can be delivered to the front of house exactly as you hear it in your monitors and/or behind you on stage.

    I use a Mission Engineering Gemini 1-P with my PowerHead. It looks and feels like an amp (especially due to the coaxial design), and since it's FRFR it allows me to use any profiled cab I want. I figured I bought the Kemper for its versatility and don't know why I'd sacrifice that on a traditional cab.

  • Slightly expanding on MementoMori's excellent reply, I would emphasize the following...

    Your traditional guitar cabinet (any traditional guitar cabinet) has a SUBSTANTIAL impact on the final tone of any Tube Amp + Cabinet combination. It is not an exaggeration to state that the connected guitar cabinet can contribute up to 3/4 (75%) of the final tone.

    So, what does this mean in the real world?

    Well, if you hook up a Fender Bassman head to a 4x12 Marshall Cabinet, you are going to get a RADICALLY different tone than if you connected the Bassman to the standard Fender Bassman 4x10 cab. Likewise, if you were to take a Fender Deluxe Reverb combo, disconnect the internal speaker, and rewire the amp output to a Marshall cabinet, you are going to get something that sounds nothing like a Fender Deluxe Reverb. I am not saying it won't be a real cool sound...just nothing like what you are expecting.

    The bottom line is that any given tube amp is closely associated with the cabinet it is normally matched with.

    Along the same lines, you could line up 5 radically different high gain "metal" tube amps, set for high gain tones, and demo each of them through the SAME cabinet (by using a switching system). You probably would be surprised at the results...what before were clear differences, when played through individual cabinets, become close to indistinguishable, when played through the exact same cabinet.

    What this all shows is how incredibly important the Cabinet makes in the equation: Tube Amp + Cab = Unique Tone

    So, this all goes back to the importance and benefits of a true FRFR cab monitor, and why it leverages the power of the Kemper to it's best advantage. When you play your KPA through an FRFR monitor, you are getting the true, uncolored recreation and representation of the original reference amp + reference cab, captured in the Studio or Merged Profile. This is because the FRFR cabinet is neutrally and transparently reproducing the full frequency range of the profile, which includes the unique HF roll-off that occurs in the reference cabinet that has been mic'd, during the making of the profile.

    This is also the reason you always want to disable the Cabinet Module (Cabinet Simulation) when connecting your KPA to a physical, traditional guitar cabinet. A cabinet simulation recreates the characteristic HF roll-off that occurs in a given guitar speaker. With the KPA, during the profiling process, the exact frequency response of the mic'd reference cabinet is uniquely captured, and authentically reproduced in the resulting profile. If you left the Cabinet Sim active, you would be getting 2 sequential chains of HF frequency roll-off. The first occurs in the Cabinet Sim, the second occurs naturally through the physical characteristics of the traditional guitar speaker (that is what it is designed to do). So, you are effectively going through two stages of EQ filtering...and the result will typically sound like complete muddy crap.

    On the other hand, if you do turn off the KPA's cab module (deactivate the Cab profile/sim), and play through a traditional guitar cabinet...then you will find that many of the amp/rigs will tend to sound very similar...because your physical guitar cabinet is the main contributor to the final tone. This is avoided with a FRFR monitor, because of they way it is designed to reproduce the full frequency range with a neutral, flat response.

    Bottom line, the FRFR solution is the only way to fly, if you want to get the greatest diversity of amp tones out of your Kemper. Note that this takes nothing away from those who enjoy a particular (if limited tonal pallete) when connecting their KPA to a traditional guitar cabinet.

    Hope this helps.


  • @MementoMori and @Tritium - excellent replies. Thank you. And pretty much convinced me I need an FRFR now!

    Do you tend to use one as a wedge in front or behind you? I really like (and will need for small gigs where only the vocals will go through the PA) the idea of retaining my 'cab' behind me - unless playing bigger gigs when I can use it as a monitor (although I'd have monitor mixes anyway...).

    Any recommended brands/models? I'm in the UK, if that makes any difference.

  • @MementoMori and @Tritium - excellent replies. Thank you. And pretty much convinced me I need an FRFR now!

    Do you tend to use one as a wedge in front or behind you? I really like (and will need for small gigs where only the vocals will go through the PA) the idea of retaining my 'cab' behind me - unless playing bigger gigs when I can use it as a monitor (although I'd have monitor mixes anyway...).

    Any recommended brands/models? I'm in the UK, if that makes any difference.


    Do you own a powered KPA, or non-powered KPA?

    I am a big fan of my XiTone 1x12 Passive Wedge. However they do make an active version. I also believe that they ship to the UK. You would need to contact Mick at Xitone.

    XiTone 1x12 Passive Wedge FRFR
    Xitone FRFR models

    Interesting note: Michael Britt @lonestargtr (of Michael Britt Kemper Profiles and Lonestar Guitar band), is currently using a custom XiTone FRFR cabinet.

    XiTone custom Michael Britt FRFR monitor

    i also would look at the Mission Engineering Gemini-1 (available both active or passive)...which @MementoMori mentioned above. Not certain about their international shipment, but I got to imagine they would sell and deliver to our brothers in the UK.

    Mission Engineering Gemini 1-P
    Mission Engineering Gemini 1 (active)

    As you can probably guess, by my recommendations, I am a big proponent of a dual concentric (dual coincident) based FRFR, commonly referred to as a coaxial arrangement. I have a unusual sensitivity to localization of High Frequencies, and the traditional 2-component Monitor (which mounts the the woofer and tweeter separately, off axis) always sounds too "Hi Fi" for me. The XiTone coaxial arrangement (same with the Mission Gemini) sounds more like a traditional guitar cabinet, as the sound comes from a single point-source.

    With that said, there are a LOT of advocates, here, for the Yamaha DXR10, which is an excellent FRFR active monitor. But again, for me, I couldn't get by the "beaming" and localization of the separate tweeter. For me, this issue becomes really pronounced if you are not in a constant, fixed position, and move around when you are playing. Personally, that is why I would only go with a coaxial-based FRFR monitor. However, with that said, everyone is different, and the Yammy DXR10 is highly acclaimed by many, many users, here on the KPA forum.


  • I did truly exhaustive research on this subject for a few months, which I did my best to comprehensively summarize here. Earlier in the thread Michael Britt chimed in to give his own perspective, as well.

    I like the Mission stuff because the coaxial design reacts much like a traditional cab while being FRFR. However, in that it behaves like a cab, you need to push volume to get it truly singing. That's no problem for me, but for those needing to play at lower volumes may be less than satisfied. But as for me, if you want an FRFR solution that still looks and feels like a cab, there's no substitute in my mind. Lots of users on here like the Atomic CLR stuff and the Yamaha DXR10 as an affordable option.

    I know that Matrix is located in the UK, and from what I've seen their stuff is top notch.

    As a side note, you can always use a cab behind with the cab sims off and send direct to FOH with cab sims on, as I know some people do. The downfall of that to me is that while you have the wind at your knees, how things sound behind you isn't necessarily how they sound coming out of the monitors unless you made the profile with that exact cab. I'd prefer to hear things as the audience does, but some guys don't like or prefer the mic'd amp sound of the Kemper so they want to stick with the cabs they've been playing for decades. It's really a matter of preference. I find the Gemini to be the best mix of both worlds that I encountered.

  • I prefer DI profiles with a real cab by far.
    The hi gain profiles sound much more realistic, articulated and clear.
    I tried DXR10, Friedman ASM12, JBLEON112. All sounded good but not awesome with hi gain profiles.
    Now I use a kemper with a Camplifier 290 and SOLDANO 2x12 open cab with eminence legend. After millions of combinations this is my winner!!!

  • I'm currently playing my Powerhead through a Marshall 412 with very satisfactory results. I accept that an FRFR is more versatile and better suited to the Kemper. I'm 95% confident that I'll be ordering a Passive Xitone 212 wired for the Kemper mono output. One of the downsides to the 412 is that it requires volume to sound good. I'm wondering if the 212 Xitone will also require a fairly high volume to deliver the goods.

  • I went a slightly different route and use a Roland KC350 with a markbass mini plugged into the sub out. I find it gives me more of a real guitar sound, offers lots of punch. The keyboard amps are more of a PA can anyways. Though I have tried a few different ones and the Roland kicks butt.
    Having tried many FRFR speakers, I never found one that wowed me.
    My setup now sounds huge and rocks ( at least for me).

  • I say cab. I'm using the same cab that is simulated through the di in the kemper to the front of house. That way I can have my cab and the house monitors. Monitor mixes vary depending on the club so I can always crank my cab as a monitor if need be and not have it affect the front of house volume. But I only use the kemper with a live band not at home. For me 2x12 Cabs sound better with high gain profiles when pushed hard.

  • Once you can cut that umbilical cord, and break away from a traditional guitar cab, you will find entire vistas open up before you, when you go the FRFR route.

    Believe me, I understand the process, and that it can be an ordeal...but once you find the right FRFR solution, there will be no going back, IMHO.

  • That is a very interesting idea Drog; of using a Roland keyboard amp. I play keyboards too and that would be a great approach for me to try! Thanks.

    Yea this peaked my interest as I'm looking at €1k minimum for a decent FRFR by the looks of things. I'd love to have one in a more traditional style of a half stack cab though.. I have a Peavey piano amp in my parents house that I'll be dragging out of the attic next time I'm home!

  • I use both but started using frfr more as a guitar cab does "level" the profiles to sound more similar. If you are going direct into the past you can't effectively set up your keeper without an frfr.

    Not wanting to pay silly money I went to a local shop that specialised in particular gear and tried a load of monitors. The yamaha dxr was the best but I found a passive speaker for £180 that sounded nearly as good.

    So much easier than transporting a 4x12 as well!!!