Thinking about switching from Axe Fx 2, to Kemper. Not happy with AFX2. Would Kemper be better for me, or would it be more of the same?

  • I posted this message on both TGP and Fractal. I will put what I posted in quotes, and then provide my additional thoughts afterwards.

    I will say that the unit in a recording sounds great, but in terms of just general bedroom practice, there has always been something missing.

    I play through JBL 305's. The type of music I play is all over the place, but usually defaults to John Mayer/SRV style blues.

    I can never get that bell like tone that is possible with a good fender tube amp in the same room as you.

    I have been on the hunt to be able to get srv/john mayer style tones at bedroom/apartment levels.

    Sometimes even recorded, the unit doesn't come near some of the videos I see of people playing a tube amp in the room.

    take this video for example. John Mayer playing a tele through a dual professional. Even through the recording you can tell that the tone is bell like and that it sounds great in the room.

    All I can get through the axe fx is a "hi fi" type of tone, if that makes any sense. There is just something missing. No "omph" like you can hear through that video.

    I think the issue is that I'm just not satisfied with playing and having a "close mic'd guitar tone" coming back at me. I am too used to the amp in the same room as me.

    The problem is that I live in an apartment, and can't play loud. I've been trying to find some kind of solution but haven't been happy about the modeling route to me honest.

    A tube amp in an apartment setting is unusable.

    Many people at the other forums were telling me that what I am looking for is amp in the room, and that I won't find it with modelers. I don't know if I necessarily am looking for amp in the room, rather than just a more realistic sounding and feeling tone. I'd like to hear that "Tube like" sound coming from the tone if that even makes sense. So far after using the axe fx for a while, It doesn't necessarily feel or sound like that.

    I've listened to a lot of kemper clips and I generally am very impressed by all of them, because it actually sounds like a recorded tube amp, and not necessarily something that is direct and super close miced, like the axe fx seems to sound like.

    My theory is that with the kemper, its the actual amp that is recorded and stored, where as with the Axe Fx, it is a programmed simulation of the amp.

    With the axe fx, I find that I never use it anywhere near its potential. Mostly just loading up a basic amp, cab, and reverb. What I like about the kemper is that it seems to be basic, follows the general pattern of an actual amp head and has all the basic FX that I would need. 98% of the time I am just using delay and reverb, and I'm not even particularly picky about that.

    I guess another bonus is that I could get the kemper with the power amp built in, so if I do want that "amp in the room" tone, I can plug in to a cab. Seems to be more flexible.

    I'm just worried that I am hyping myself up, and it will just be more of the same in the end. Guitar Center has a 45 day return policy though, so I can have more than enough time to compare both units. Who knows, maybe I'd keep both?

    I just want to hear people's thoughts here. Anyone else who went from Axe Fx to Kemper, and their experiences, etc.

  • I can get amazing ' Bell like' tones from TAF AC30 custom rig pack. It is a profile pack of the 1960's Ac30 that was in Abbey Road studios, I believe.
    It is a truly inspiring experience to use these profiles.

  • Welcome, Rich.

    I can't for the life of me get any return-policy deals in Australia; I keep getting told it's an overseas thing. From my perspective, you guys who have this option are ridiculously-lucky.

    How can you go wrong with a 45-day return policy? I'd jump all over that, man.

  • With such a great return policy, you will definitely have the chance to have some conclusions as to what work best.

    For me, most tones I can get out of an axe, I get from kemper; and most tones I get from kemper I can coax out of the axe.

    There most definitely is a different feel to the units. Some tones and "feel" I prefer on the axe (especially Mesa amps) while others on kemper.

    Kemper doesn't have an editor (a huge consideration for some) but doesn't need one as much as the Axe. Axe requires way more tweaking to "get you there", in my experience, but is more "tunable" than kemper is. With the later "tweaking" may be replaced with a "profile hunt".

    Both are great units in my eyes. Neither is way ahead of the other. Kemper wins for simplicity for me as great profiles have great cab simulation; and that matters a lot. Same cab simulation can be converted to an IR and used with axe and get super close tones..

    But do you want to go that far? It's largely a personal matter as to how you like to get your tones, imho -- and there definitely are different tonal nuances that translate to bigger ones in feel, nuances that may have you prefer one unit over another.

    Good luck with testing ;)

  • I have not tried the FX 2, but I still own an Ultra that I plan to sell. I never got the cleans I get with the Kemper, nor the gainy tones either. And the feel in clean amps is better. I suppose the best thing would be to try one in a shop or to locate some owner in your area, and try it for yourself. But if you can return it then you may compare both modelers. That's a great opportunity to eat your cake and have it!! The Kemper depends on good profiles and there are many good ones both free and from vendors. Some factory rigs sure are good, but not the best possible, mind you.

  • I think the volume level restriction in your space is the single biggest factor.

    No matter what your rig is doing, you need that volume to make it sound and feel right. Even with a Kemper, if you play it at low volume that punch will be lacking.

    I use good headphones for this, but also have a 2x12 cabinet with Celestion V30's for the amp in the room sound when I need it.

  • A few years ago, I unloaded my beloved VHT rig and choked down my pride ..... and went digital with the Kemper.

    I read literally thousands (no kidding) of reviews of both the Axe II FX and the Kemper. Here is what I found:

    • For pure amp tone, the Kemper generally wins hands down with the vast majority of reviewers who have used both.
    • For ease of use, again the KPA is regarded as the best option.
    • The efx engine in the Axe II Fx is considered more advanced than that of the one in the KPA; however, the difference is getting less with the resent firmware upgrades Kemper has released.
    • As pointed out, the editor on the Axe II fx is pretty cool. The kemper doesn't have one (yet).

    For me, amp tone trumped FX .... and I didn't want to need an editor ;) The efx engine in the Kemper is quite good to my ears. The Axe II Fx may be better, but I doubt I would notice. I am much more interested in that pure, unadulterated, beautiful tube sound and the KPA delivers that in spades.

    As for your "amp in the room" comment ....

    The quality of your speaker is going to make a huge difference. You should strongly consider moving up to the Yamaha HS8's. These little speakers really punch and will make a world of difference for your listening pleasure.

  • I have to agree with @OneEng1 100%.

    Great assessment of the amp tones and FX, and excellent recommendation for the HS8s - you won't find better bang-for-buck monitors unless you go super-cheap.

    I would tweak that FX-engine assessment from "quite good" to "very-good"... even "excellent", however.

  • Here is another example of what I'm talking about in terms of tone.

    It's a old john mayer recording of him messing around with SRV's Lenny.

    I can immediately tell that is some type of fender amp. When he hits that low E string you just hear this "buuunnng" very hard to explain in words, but it immediately tells you it is a miced up tube amp, specifically of the fender variety.

    I have not to this day heard anyone, nor have I been able to replicate this tone on an Axe Fx. And in terms of clean tone, that would be what I am looking for.

    I am assuming if Kemper was around back then, and John had that tone and profiled it, it would be captured exactly?

    When I hear Kemper profiles of fender amps, they come much closer to this tone than anything I hear from Axe Fx, which makes me think with the right profile, it can get it very damn close.

    This is what I mean when I talk about that "Tube Tone" coming through in recordings.

  • Not sure, but that could be a Dumble Steel String Singer amp. That would explain the incredible SRV tone.

    I think the guitar is also in the room with the amp turned up loud, so there's probably the additional effect of the amp driving the strings a bit.

    Check for a profile of a Two-Rock amp, which he also uses.

  • That recording was made before he became famous, so it wouldn't be a Dumble.

    Does it sound like a close miced amp, or like someone put a mic in the middle of the room and recorded that?

    To me that's the type of stuff I'm hunting for. Hopefully we are there modeling wise to be able to replicate that, but maybe not.

    Here is a video of someone with the top jimi super reverb profile. I'm thinking with the right pickups and EQ adjustments it can get close to the lenny tone.

    It definitely captures that fender bell/glassy tone though.

    In the end I ultimately will have to sit down with the unit in person though.

  • To be fair I think JM uses the Kemper as a travelling practice rig, not onstage. He also said it's "spooky close" to his amps, but there's a tiny bit of something missing. I think that's fair given the pedigree of what he's comparing it to.

  • To be fair I think JM uses the Kemper as a travelling practice rig, not onstage. He also said it's "spooky close" to his amps, but there's a tiny bit of something missing. I think that's fair given the pedigree of what he's comparing it to.

    Good catch, and you are quite right.

    I meant to correctly describe it as Mayer's traveling practice rig, as this was clearly stated in his Instagram post. However, in my haste in writing the post, I forgot to add that qualifier. I have just edited my previous post as well as correcting the link description. Thanks for the heads up.



  • To be honest ... I don't think the type of modeller is your problem ... as others mentioned: think about your monitoring - if it is the "amp in the room" feel you are missing ... just get a small power amp and use a guitar cab.

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