Kemper or Fractal

  • So just to show how far back in time in the profile/modeling era I am in I still use a 1st Gen Fractal Standard. Still sounds great. I have always liked a simple setup however lately I have been wanting to upgrade. My first thought was a new Fractal III or used II XL. But I am very interested in the Kemper. I don't really have any amps to profile anymore. The Fractal allowed me to sell them. I hate carrying cabs out lol. So since I am now leaning towards the Kemper which one should I get? Powered or not? I still own a Peavey 50/50 tube power amp that I really like. Im thinking the powered version might be a waste. I don't do the studio thing and always run direct. I am guessing the Kemper will sound great that way vs a power amp and cab? I have heard the Fractal does the heavier tones better but I'm not sure I buy that. I really likes M. Britts profiles but who else does really good heavy profiles. 5150, Splawn, Deizel. Thanks

  • welcome!


    i have an unpowered kemper and never missed the power.

    in the studio you won‘t need power anyways (except you want to play thru your preferred cab) and live you can use inears, a monitor or an active speaker. again - if you want to play thru your favorite unpowered cab then a powered version would make sense.


    as a use the kemper more live soon i will get an active frfr amp.


    i never tried the fractal - so i cannot say wich one does the hi gain stuff better. i think with the right profiles you can‘t go wrong with a kemper.


    cheers!

  • I play mostly high-gain, and am very very happy with the KPA. A friend of mine is also a mostly high-gain player, and bought both the Axe-FX II and the KPA. The Fractal has been traded off, he didn't think it was even close.


    I am sure both products would be great. I wouldn't mind trying the Fractal some day. They have some really nice features Kemper does not. But I am pretty sold on the KPA when it comes to tones.


    I have an unpowered head, there are plenty of options for power if you need it in the future.

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • I just got my powered head this weekend. I had been listening to demos of the new Fractal III, which sounds outstanding, and the equally impressive Kemper demos. Honestly, in terms of quality, at least for the demos I heard, you could hold your head high with either. I'm a small time bar guy and sometimes I have to do it old school with a head and cab, no PA feed, so the powered head was a useful option. However, main outs in the studio sound every bit as good.


    For me, Kemper versus Fractal was to an extent about not enjoying the modeling process. While it's embarrassing to admit amongst my six-stringed brethren, I have never been talented with dialing in tones. I can twist knobs all day and certainly get workable stuff. Then I listen to someone else's tone and just want to sell all my gear. The endless rabbit hole of wiggling mice and twiddling knobs just isn't that much fun for me. Some guys dig it. I'm not that guy. I just want to play guitar.


    And this is the cool part about the Kemper that I didn't see coming. I planned on selling my Marshall, Fender, a couple of Voxes, etc. after buying the Kemper, but I was going to wait until I could model them. Then I looked at Rig Exchange. 13,000 profiles. Thirteen. Thousand. Not counting the few hundred that ship with the amp, which already scream. All of my amps are garden variety, e.g. JCM 900, Fender Blues Deluxe, etc. People who are really into tones have profiled this sort of thing all over the place, and doubtless better than I would have done. After listening to a lot of them, I just plugged into the Kemper and put the amps on Craigslist.


    It's not just the wealth of different amp profiles available that made me think. Unlike building a tone from scratch through modeling (which I find tedious), each profile is a snapshot of a killer tone that someone better than me has dialed into their killer amp - before pressing the profile button. Sure, I'll occasionally season to taste, but there are lots of guys here who have poured blood, sweat and tubes into some outstanding sounds, getting exactly the end result that I wanted in the first place. That did it for me.


    And the high gain sounds? Power amp out into a Marshal 4x12 or studio monitors from the main outs, either way it sounds like tubes melting on your speaker cabinet. I'd been partial to the 5150 stuff and had never played Engls, Diezels, etc. It's like being a kid in a candy store. The hardest part is picking the ones I like the most.

  • For me, Kemper versus Fractal was to an extent about not enjoying the modeling process. While it's embarrassing to admit amongst my six-stringed brethren, I have never been talented with dialing in tones. I can twist knobs all day and certainly get workable stuff. Then I listen to someone else's tone and just want to sell all my gear. The endless rabbit hole of wiggling mice and twiddling knobs just isn't that much fun for me. Some guys dig it. I'm not that guy. I just want to play guitar.

    This describes me perfectly, and is also probably a huge reason why I enjoy the KPA so much, and don't have much interest in endless tweaking/Fractal, simply because I don't think I'm very good at it. I was hoping the KPA would provide me with great tones out of the box that I love, and not be reliant on my tweaking skills, and it has.

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • I got the un-powered head and have no regrets. No need to take a 50lb guitar cab IMO, and after all I bought the KPA for it's portability.


    I use a Yamaha DXR10 or go straight into the PA and it sounds incredible.

    g: Gibson- Les Paul Custom, ES-335 '63 Reissue, Les Paul Classic, '61 Reissue SG Fender- CS 1960 Strat. CS 52 Tele Taylor- 614ce

    a: Matchless- HC-30, Independence KPA Axe FX III

  • This is the kind of stuff I was looking for. With fractal there have been many versions to where it stands now. Is Kemper the same way? If I were to buy used one are there earlier versions I should stay away from?

    No, and that's something special about the Kemper. The resale is insane. I am not aware of any hardware changes between the years, but there may have been. But any Kemper can do anything any other Kemper can do. I have never seen anyone recommended to stay away from any particular year.

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • For me both Fractal and Kemper are awesome tools. I don’t need most of the features of either of them. I’m not into tweaking and knob twiddling. I’m an old school guitar>cable>amp guy. At the most I occasionally add a touch of delay or reverb or maybe one stomp in front like a wah or univibe on occasion. With that in mind I know that I could get great result from either unit however, the Kemper workflow just suited me better. I can plug in load a profile and twist a few knobs a little if required without the need to delve into menus or use an ipad or latop to edit.


    The other thing for me was that I have a nice collection of Mesa Boogies and a THD BiValve. While I love a lot of the free and commercial profiles out there, they are always somebody else’s idea of how that amp should sound. I like to be able to just plug in to one of my real amps and get a sound I’m happy with then just stick a mic in front of it and capture that tone. While I am sure I could get close by tweaking an existing profile on the Kemper or by modelling it in the AXE FX it is just so much more intuitive for me to profile my own amp.


    Finally, although I don’t really have much need for the built in power amp it is a great safety net backup incase I every can’t go direct. I’ve used the powered option with a traditional cab a few times now so don’t regret having it. If money is an issue and you don’t plan on using the power amp a lot then go non-powered (you can always add an external power amp later if needed). However, if the price doesn’t matter too much get the powered option just for the odd time it will save your bacon.

  • As said above, Fractal and Kemper are both excellent pro tools and I doubt you'll be disappointed with either.


    As you would expect we are a little biased towards the Kemper, but its really simple to use but a versatile live and studio animal.


    Most people will say that Fractal has the advantages on effects and routing but perhaps the Kemper on realistic valve sounds. Loads of profiles to choose from, including 10,000+ on the rig exchange all free, through to many top profile producers ( topjimi, Mbritt, TAF etc) that cover clean through to heavy as you want!


    I bought a powered rack and highly recommend the powered version if you can afford it as it makes using cabs dead easy. I use both regular and FRFR cabs on stage. If you are not going to use it live, little point in the powered version.


    Plus the forum for the Kemper is full of lovely people :)

  • And, any KPA, from the earliest production release to now, can be upgraded to the current software, and have the same functionality.

    This is HUGE for me and I hope remains as such. There's nothing guitar related this HARDWARE does not do for me and to have it obsoleted by software - as so much hardware is anymore - will be absolutely, maddeningly, devastating. Aside from the hardware taking a crap, it's really my only Kemper "concern".

  • Wow you guys are awesome! I do appreciate all the information. I know I probably could have done a lot more research but these answers just got me into the Kemper field way quicker than me trying to figure it out all myself. I'm still torn on the powered verse non-powered. I do have a really nice tube Power Amp that I like and I'll be using this Kemper almost exclusively live. That being said I like to go Direct. Most likely I wont even have that power amp with me if ever the emergency situation arose so there that is the plus to buy in the powered version. I suppose I could put that in a rack with my fractal as my backup rig it's something were to go wrong. That way I would always have it. My setup with my fractal standard is very basic. I only use a midi moose foot controller to cycle through patches. It will be nice to buy the Kemper pedalboard so I can add in things to taste on the fly to each patch. Be nice to be able to tap tempo a delay as well.

  • I bought the powered toaster and remote and have no regrets about either purchase. Kemper has done an amazing job with all the features on the remote. I'm sure you'll be happy with powered or unpowered, but for me, powered made the most sense. Good luck on your journey!

  • likely I wont even have that power amp with me if ever the emergency situation arose so there that is the plus to buy in the powered version. I suppose I could put that in a rack with my fractal as my backup rig it's something were to go wrong. That way I would always have it.

    Yeah, that would work well. I use the Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum velcro'd into the back as shown below. I have not gigged with it yet, but it works fine for band practice (loud drummer). I think it's perfect for a backup if you don't plan to run powered outs regularly. I have seen a complaint of humming/grounding/noise from someone that had the issue with 2 different ones, but mine is pretty quite (I run high-gain with P90s, so I have a bit of noise, nothing the gate can't take care of), and sounds good, though I have no other amp to compare it to.


    If I had a little extra cash, I would have probably gotten this: https://digitalguitargear.com/camplifier-180/


    I guess at that point it's getting close to the cost of a powerhead, but I like the ability to remove it if not needed, makes it even lighter. They have several different models, I like the 180, but some of the others are interesting.




    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • Hi 1960lespaul,


    When it comes to buying used, I've heard (and please correct me if i'm wrong) that some of the original/early production toaster units with the white face had problems with the LEDs around the knobs going out, but i believe they corrected the problem on later white toaster units.


    If you're going to be buying new there are some good ways to wrangle up good deals. I got mine from Sweetwater. The first rep i had lied and said that they don't cut deals on KPAs, so i asked for a new rep and he gave me a discount. After that i took advantage of a 10% off purchasing gifts cards sale that they ran in June and was able to use the gift card i bought to get and extra 10% off of the discounted price. I got a brand new unit for well below the price of one of their demo units. They also give a 3 year warranty for free. With patience and a little creativity there are some good deals available. You may want to see if there is any Black Friday stuff going on.


    Lastly, for me, the KPA is an inspiration machine! I'm able to get fantastic tones quickly and have fun creating/playing music. It's a deep unit, so if you like to tweak you can, but i feel that the key is that i don't HAVE to tweak to get good tones.

  • so what went into everyone's decision on buying either the toaster or the rack unit? Is it because the rack unit is newer and wasn't available at one time? I feel the rack version will be a little better just for portability and to protect it.

  • I went Toaster just because it looks and feels more like and amp and I'm not carrying anything else rack mounted so don't get much benefit from a rack layout. I just carry mine in the Kemper bag on one shoulder and a mono gig bag on my back. It's totally liberating after years of wheeling flightbcases with my Mesa Boogies in them.

    I also use it lot at home and it's more convenient sitting on my studio desk than a rack.

    I stand by both of those choices for my personal needs but a rack may be much better for others.

    However, what I will say is that the final point I thought was better about the Toaster was the fact that there are two additional diret access knobs for the Mod slot. However, the truth is I never use them anyway so if I was doing it again I would go purely on which suits your setup/travel needs better.