Hello fellow Kemper fans!
I'll try to make my intro brief but, there was a long road getting here. Although guitar and amp money in the 70's was almost non-existant for a youngster in his teens, mowing many lawns I eventually bought my first Gibson SG (a 68) and a proper tube amp (a 64 Bassman) in the mid 70's, and traded up to a 76 Marshall JMP in the late 70's. Improved the tone with great tubes and the right speakers until I was real happy with the what I had although, we all know it was almost a one trick pony. Got a few stomps, but just the basics. Mostly some help driving the amp harder and a little delay and chorus (actually an ADA Flanger). Gigged with that (plus a couple of more guitars) through the 80's and got enticed with the variety of tones artists were getting from all those refrigerator-sized Bradshaw rack systems. There was no way for me to all afford all that, so I had to be resourceful if I wanted to do the MIDI (new at the time) switching thing. I had one of those cheesy Rockman practice things that I used at home on my stereo while my rig was either at rehearsal, on stage or in the truck. It sounded real "boxy" with almost nothing but mids, but it had a clean sound with delay and chorus that I actually liked and used in front of my JMP on channel 2 for something sort of clean sounding.
One day at home I got so frustrated with the Rockman sound that I decided to put a 10 band EQ after it into my stereo. That helped a great deal, but really good things started to happen with an MXR boost in front of the Rockman. It almost sounded gigable! (is that a word?) MIDI was taking off. Rockman rack products were being rolled out, and a Rockman half 1RU MIDI controlled switcher was purchased. I put relays in the Rockman to go from clean to distortion, turn on/off the effects and turn on/off the gain boost in front of it. Then a Peavey MIDI controlled 28 band EQ was released, purchased and installed in my new experimental rig. With that I tried to "dial in" different "tones" by ear until I got this idea...What if I used that super-expensive Rhode and Schwarz spectrum analyzer in the sound lab at work to "analyze" my favorite guitar tones on records...and "matched" the tones as best I could with the EQ in my "cheese-box" rig, then stored them all in the EQ? Well now, It kind of worked! My "FRFR" gigging rig was born! Mind you, this was in the late 80's!!! Added an Alesis (spelling?) Microverb and Yamaha half 1RU delay to the small 3 RU ATA case (my amp head), made a rear plate with all the connection points...including AC power, and had something to "work" with. But what to do about a stage backline? That is when I found some "full range" amplified Peavey monitors and put 8 of them (in stereo) on stage. I added an ADA MIDI footswitch to control everything and actually took "flat" signal out of the EQ to run to FOH! Then I sold the Marshall, which sounded boring in comparison. I gigged the darn thing. Lots of fun, Not real tube, but crunchy and had fairly good tone.
No one knew what the heck I was doing back then. It was my "resourceful" way of getting more sound options and more control. And as things go, the band broke up, I moved to Florida, got married, started a family...and watched technology pass me by while I put my gear to rest for a while. The memory battery eventually leaked in the EQ and all the "tone presets" were gone. When I finally got some time to play, the Line 6 POD hit the market. I jumped in, and then did the EQ tricks to try and improve the tone. Just dull sounding no matter what I did. Then came the XT models, which were now brittle. I was sharing my tones and EQ files on the Line 6 forum back in the early to mid 2000's, and it was fun and all (made some great friends there...hope some of them are here!), but updates wiped out my tone and EQ work, and I had to often start over. It got to a point that I couldn't really reach a natural amp tone and feel no matter how many EQ curves and notch filters I threw at it. It never had the natural tube sound...and "fizz" was always a problem. That was the "noodler" problem. Endless "tweaking", and never "real" sounding in the end. I was done with it by 2007. When Hughes & Kettner came out with the Switchblade, that was my ticket back to real tubes with full MIDI control of everything. Wow! I missed that tone and feel. Awesome! But, no more FRFR and direct feed. Speaker choices were good, but mics and placement issues always changed the sound. Three steps forward, one step back. Played it for years, and liked it, but the amp blew a fuse and the job situation sucked (changed) in Florida. Another life changing event. Moved back to New York and put the amp in storage for a while. I needed a small home solution...again. But this time I planned on also using it for possible gigging situations.
I watched and listened to all the "noodler" marketing garbage on "the latest and greatest" offerings...and passed on them all. Not "real sounding" to my ears! Always that exaggerated midrange thing and fizzy brittle top end. Not interested! Then Kemper came along. My ears immediately picked up on that natural tube tone and dynamic quality the "noodlers" just didn't have. And none of that "brittle digital top end". Game changer! Once I looked into the difference between "profiling" and "modeling", it was clear that we were dealing with something revolutionary here. I figured I'd get a Kemper one day, but have to admit I was cautious about jumping back in for a number of years. I've been burned by the "latest and greatest" marketing before, and feared a "new and improved" Kemper might come out, so I waited. It never did. Mind you, I signed up for this forum years ago and watched from a distance. But when I heard the excellent MixBerlin and Top Jimi tones...all with that full bottom end and natural tube top end clarity (and dynamics)...that was it. How much better could it be if you can't tell the difference of a great natural tube sound from the Kemper profiled sound? I'm in! (finally)
I received my Rack and Remote a couple of days ago, just got my computer updated (missing a Microshaft DLL for Windows 7 64 bit..ugh!), downloaded and updated everything, got the free packs and sample Top Jimi pack...and started to dive in. I'm learning fast, as the unit is intuitive, but not playing with any stomps or effects at the moment. That will come in time, My first interest was hearing how good the amp profiles were (on my old KRK V8 monitors), and see if I could dial them in for what I really like to hear. Oh yeah! That's good, but just like I approached "rig building" in my past, I put the same strategy to practice with the Kemper. General tweaks to get my guitar in the ball park (nothing too drastic), then the smallest adjustments to refine the sound. OK. That sounds great! Feels great! Now what about these deep amp and cab settings? I was blown away by how the smallest changes (most less than 0.1) made a subtle but positive sonic improvement. Talk about a honed tone! With only two amp profiles dialed in (JTM45 and a Recto), I'm happy...real happy. Much, much more to come. Yes, this is a MAJOR game changer. Considering where I started, and what I had to resort to over the years to get more than a single amp tone, this is a dream come true. It really is as good as the great tube amps used on the better profiles, and has no digital harshness...like all the noodelers have. And you can't beat the value when you consider everything you get...which could be a never-ending thing. Thank you, Kemper! It's everything I could have ever wanted.
So now I'm back to hunting for the best FRFR solution. There are tons of options these days. Unlike the late 80's, where you had to basically build a mini-PA system as a backline, we have many wedge and stage cabinet offerings. This I understand from many years of dealing with so-called "flat sound". Your guitar sound will only be as good as your "reference". I've been there, and done all that. Basically, you have to work on real flat reference monitors...and check it against music mixes you know well (and like) that translates on all your audio equipment. The smallest notch or peak in your monitors, or even changes to tone from standing waves in a room, can and will mess you up when shaping your rig tones for FOH situations. Hopefully, I get to try all the FRFR choices some day in the same balanced room setting. I would definitely run my favorite music through them to listen for holes or peaks in the sound. Whatever sounds like what I like to hear from my music, those will probably be the ones I choose.
I'm sorry...This got to be too long. Darn! Forgive my boring diatribe! But I'm excited to be here. I know I will learn a lot from everyone here. Nice group!