For live performance: HEAD or POWERHEAD?

  • So I'm really interested in buying this product. I'm thinking of connecting it through a PA setup live, and add a foot-switch of some sort.. Is it ok to only go with the HEAD, or do I need POWERHEAD for performance? I'm reading that the latter has 600w integrated amplifier in it, but not sure if this is necessary when playing live.

  • You only need the power head if you plan on running a speaker cab with direct profiles. Supposing you plan to go direct to the PA, this will not be needed. You can always run a standard Kemper into a separate power amp later if you change your mind.

  • To run a speaker cabinet, like a 2x12 or a 4x12 you need the power amp. That allows you to use the Kemper like a conventional amp head.


    If you go direct to the PA these have their own power amps. If this is the use you are going to do, you don't need the power amp in the Kemper.

  • I have the non-powered version. For playing live, I connect directly to the PA, and I bring my own set of two self-powered FRFR speakers (Alto TS-112a's) to use as my backline on stage. That gives me the best sound, in my opinion, since neutral ("full-range, flat-response" or FRFR) speakers make every profile sound exactly the way it comes out of the Kemper.


    If you play through a regular (non-self-powered) guitar cab, on the other hand, that cab will take the place of the individual "virtual" cabs that are part of the Kemper's amp simulation. Therefore, it will shape the sound of every profile to a great extent, and make them sound a little more alike.


    There's one scenario where a powered Kemper would be handy, and that is sharing gear on stage. When you have to travel far to a gig, it's convenient to be able to borrow a regular guitar cab from a local band, so you only need to bring your guitar and your Kemper. In that case, I'd be willing to comprimize on my stage sound (since the PA and hence the audience are still getting the sound directly from my Kemper anyway).


    Note that the distinction is not as clear-cut as I've presented it here: "non-powered Kemper means playing through FRFR speakers, powered Kemper means playing through a regular guitar cab". There are passive FRFR speaker cabs as well; you can use a non-powered Kemper with a standalone power amp to drive a regular guitar cab; and of course you can use a powered Kemper in exactly the same way as a non-powered one, as the power stage can be turned off.

  • I also run live exclusively...


    I would suggested powered because you have the flex to do anything the unpowered version plus the option to run a regular cab without a separate power amp. Note the internal power amp is mono, one advantage with separate power amp is the option of stereo but I'm not bothered by this...


    I play some festivals where they provide cabs, so I just rock up with my Kemper and boom. I also run passive FRFR cabs which are way cheaper.


    So in simple terms the powered version with operate like a regular amp with the added advantage of sending a separate signal via XLR tot he PA without having to mike up.


    The non powered to get your stage sound will require either:

    an additonal power amp

    powered montiors ( but you then control your volume from the monitor not the Kemper, which to me is a pain)

    using the PA foldback

    In ears


    The powered version is more versatile but more expensive. If I had to buy again, as I use mine almost exclusively for stage, definitely powered.

  • I also use the Kemper live only and some minor recording of live sound. I got the powered rack to be more flexible if i need it. And now, i drive a 2x12 or 4x12 cab to "move some air" and have the guitar amp feeling on stage.


    I don't use in ear monitoring because i feel shut off from the rest of the band and i don't mix my monitor signal into the rest of the mix cause it can get mushy on stage some times and then i can control my own monitor with the cab better. i do however love the direct signal to FOH.

    once a purist, then analog pragmatic and finally a digital believer who found out that you can't hear a mosquito fart in a band-context.

  • I would suggested powered because you have the flex to do anything the unpowered version plus the option to run a regular cab without a separate power amp

    That's my philosophy as well.


    I kind of backed into my situation, learning along the way. I bought the powered head since the mains will go to FOH and all I care about for stage is monitoring. Since I already had cabs, powered made sense.


    However, after hearing the difference in the studio between reference monitors (coming out the mains of the Kemper) and my 4x12 (coming out of the Kemper power amp with cab simulation off), I decided to add a FRFR cab for monitoring.


    While it's true that there are passive FRFR cabs available, there is a much greater selection of powered cabs since it appears that the most common scenario is unpowered modelers / profilers, which need a powered speaker. Also, in my particular scenario, I have size constraints. So, I ended up going with a Yamaha DXR-10 powered FRFR (which gets a lot of love around here, and for good reason).


    So, I originally bought a powered head so I could drive my unpowered cabs, then decided I preferred the sound of FRFR (not everyone does) and ended up with a powered speaker cab. Even so, if I could do it all over again, I'd still get the powered version for the reasons V8guitar mentions. I believe it's an extra $400 but for that cost I get unlimited options.


    And for what it's worth, I've been through a lot of Line 6 products over the years but kept coming back to my Marshalls, Voxes, Fenders, etc. After owning the Kemper for a week I sold every amp I owned. :)

  • While it's true that there are passive FRFR cabs available, there is a much greater selection of powered cabs since it appears that the most common scenario is unpowered modelers / profilers, which need a powered speaker. Also, in my particular scenario, I have size constraints. So, I ended up going with a Yamaha DXR-10 powered FRFR (which gets a lot of love around here, and for good reason).

    I also run FRFR but I use an unpowered monitor that I benchmarked against a dxr10 which was £180 and a camper self build ( £120 second hand) both are tiny.


    Totally agree the choice is limited but I also refused to pay £800+ for an atomic clr :) so the unpowered stuff is also cheaper.


    its a shame the CBR ( which I think are the equiv) unpowered don't seem to be as good as the DXR10's..

  • By the way, the non-powered version cannot make profiles out of existing amps? I got that impression from Robrecht's comment.

    The non-powered version can do everything the powered version can do. The powered version is the non-powered version plus a power amp. That's the only difference.

  • No, sorry, I must have expressed myself badly. :-) Both versions are exactly the same, except that the powered one additionally has a built-in power amplifier.

    ...which is not used in the profiling process....so yes you can definitely profile with the non powered.

    It really is as simple as powered can drive a non active cab. Everything else is the same...

  • Don't forget: the Powerhead always is MONO if you use a passive cab. There is just one speaker-ouput for one cab, that's it. If you want to play stereo, the Powerhead doesn't make sense, it's better to use the non-powered-version and two active FRFR-cabs.


    I have both versions, but I've never used the Powerhead's power amplifier, because of the mono-limitation. Of course you always can go stereo into the desk and use the Powerhead mono for one cab.

  • scratch17 that shouldn’t be an issue as long as you don’t run it a crazy volumes.


    Set the Amp side of the Weber to 16ohm and the KPA will put out a max of 300w. Don’t turn up the Kemper to full volume and it won’t be putting out the full 300w anyway. :)


    More importantly though, you dont need use an impedence matcher unless ypur cabinet is rated at less then 4 ohms which is pretty much no guitar cab in existence ;)