I Got A Case of "Shit Ear"

  • Hello Everybody,


    I've got a lot to throw at you and I am very open to recommendations. First we'll start in the bedroom ;), then we'll take it to the stage.


    I think the Kemper is incredibly versatile and I know it can sound amazing, but I've yet to get there. Im currently using my Kemper through KRK Rokits 5's in a small bedroom (10X11) with minimal sound proofing. Somedays I will turn on the Kemper and think "wow this sounds pretty good", but most of the time a lot of profiles from some very reputable makers sound lackluster. Some sound thick and muddy, while others sound thin. Im a nutcase and have come to the consensus that I'm suffering a case of "shit ear" where literally nothing will ever sound good enough even if its the most incredible tone in the world. That, or I just need to upgrade some equipment. Are the KRK Rokits too small to get a decent sound? Many forums I see trash all over these monitors, but I often see them paired with the Kemper at NAMM. Obviously, they are much larger than mine. Im thinking about upgrading to the Yamaha HS7 or HS8. Should I stick with the 7's due to the size of my room?


    Now for the stage. My ultimate goal is to use this bad boy live. I have a Line 6 L3t, but haven't been trilled with the results. I have had minimal time playing this at stage volume and I know that is largely the issue. If any one is using this speaker I would really appreciate to hear how you configure things. I have attempted to contact at least four L3t users on this forum, but haven't received any responses in over three months. Once again like the bedroom, I am considering "downgrading" to a DXR 10, because I hear they are amazing. I only say downgrading because this thing was so damn expensive. I am also considering a xitone or redsound, gemini's are out of my price range.


    So tell me should I calm down with my gear obsession and try some other approaches?

  • I don’t like mine w the DXR10 or my JBL studio monitors. Could be we have the same shit ears or

    maybe we prefer guitar cab’s. In the “bedroom “ I use AKG studio phones with excellent results and live I go thru a 1 x 12 open back cab w a Celestion.

    Others will tell you what works for them.

  • It won’t sound *incredible* like you want until you hear it through a 10,000 watt PA. That is my experience, but that’s not to say it doesn’t sound amazing at any volume as well. But when it was cranked, that’s when I really was shocked.

  • How does it sound to you through decent headphones?


    If you have a 10x11 bedroom, that’s not an ideal environment. Your speakers are having no choice but the bounce the sound from multiple surfaces very quickly. Square (and it’s almost square) rooms are very good at amplifying certain frequencies (look up ‘standing waves’ if you’re not familiar) and consequently other important bits of the sound appear much quieter. In essence, some frequencies ‘build up’ and the effect is most prominent at lower frequencies. If you’re mixing, this makes it very difficult to trust your mix as some instruments will disappear in your room and the mix will then sound bad on a flat system. If you’re just listening to a tone, again it’ll sound very different indeed in that environment..... the only thing that makes any guitar tone sound the way it does is the range of frequencies present in it..... if the room is acting like an eq you don’t want, it’s not surprising your results are so erratic.


    What to do IMO? Several possibles.


    1. The cheapest is to use post EQ in the Kemper only use profiles that sound good in your room. Realise that live environments will sound different so don’t spend hours tweaking perfect sounds for your room as they are likely to sound entirely different in a big room. Things always sound pretty different in a venue but, vs a 10ft bedroom, they’re likely to be night and day.


    2. Buy some really nice headphones and just use them at home. Not ideal but they will eliminate your room issues.


    3. Sound treatment for your room. If you search online, there are lots of tutorials on how to make Home made acoustic treatment. Whilst you can buy it, it’s far, far cheaper to DIY and, as this is a bedroom, you can cover them in breathable fire-safe fabric that matches your decor.


    4. There is some room correction software out there that eq’s to try and ‘fix’ your room. I can’t remember the name though.


    What I wouldn’t advise? Buying new speakers. Whilst they’ll make things sound different, they are unlikely to give the results you want and, if they’re bigger, they might actually make it worse!


    My little room that I play in is tiny. A few years ago, I spent a couple of weekends and a couple of hundred pounds on wood, fabric and acoustic density rock wool. It suddenly made all of my equipment sound considerably more expensive. It’s still not an ideal room acoustically but it has for sure made the best of the environment I have.


    Hope this helps and good luck in finding the best solution for your situation :)

  • even with good near field monitors, you need a certain volume to get good sounding result

    This is what I figured. I live in an apartment and I am very apprehensive to turn up too loud. I think I'm just too low in volume to get the proper response.

    I have Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones, but I haven't spent to much time monitoring through the headphone jack. These should be sufficient right? Or should I shoot for some open back headphones?


    I think in the meantime I'm going to try and put up some sound absorbing material in the room and turn up the monitors. I will also try and take the room out of the mix and go the headphone route.


    I appreciate all of your input!

  • I also have shit ears.....I often don't know what I like! I load a profile, try it, quite like it, try another, like it also, go back tot he previous one, don;t like it and then don't like the other one...profile blindness...


    Some suggestions from me:

    1) Part of it for me was " it's digital, it can;t be as good as a valve amp"...in other words psychological. I kept thinking it doesn't sound as good as a JCM800...until I tried a JCM800 again...I had to get used to the sound.

    2) Volume does help - played on Sat and probably the loudest I've been for a very long time. It does sing ( although my ears are killing).

    3) Good amp sounds often don't sound as good on their own and vice versa. Best to mix with a band as well...

    4) Try a guitar cab - I often run a 4 x12 but to be honest I'm almost permanently on an FRFR

    5) Personally I've struggled to get a good sound out of headphones - I would go for a dxr10 knowing they are good. Then focus on your profiles. I suspect on use profiles no-one else likes. Funnily enough my main sound is the same as the valve amp I like - ENGL. Strange that :)

    6) Change cabs in the profile - this make s a big difference

    7) You are a guitarist, you'll never be happy, so aim for 90% happy. I wasn't really happy until other people told it sounded good. I get more compliments on my sound now than I ever have..

  • We all got "shit ears". Take Steven Wilson for example, he records and masters everything himself, but for his guitar part, he sends it away for others to mix it, because they sound shit to him no matter what he does :)

  • I think it can get even worse. I'll spend hours delightedly playing with a couple of rigs that have "my sound", then return to the same rig, same guitar, different day and wonder what the hell happened to make it sound so lame. Drives me crazy but I'm pretty sure the Kemper isn't the problem...maybe some Fletcher Munson corollary, I don't know, but I imagine it's a human problem.


    Also, to your question, and although I have no sane reason for doing so, I bought an Atomic CLR Neo II wedge. Kinda pricey, but in combination with the Kemper, literally the most fun I've ever had. Really brought things to life in a way my headphones couldn't. No affiliation, just sayin'. My $0.02, hope you find your sound!

  • Thank you all for your continued input. I am so sorry to hear many of you suffer from the same affliction as myself. If I had know I would have started a support group far earlier ^^. But in reality hearing your responses have made me feel a lot better about what I perceive I'm hearing.

    I think you hit on all the major points. Even though I'm adamant I don't, I also have some reservations about admitting digital cant be just as good as valve. Don't tell my lead guitarist though, because I talk the Kemper up way too much lol. I also agree that I'm generally used to hearing myself in a mix and not just on my own.


    I have to admit I'm a little lost when it comes to cabs. My live set up for 4+ years was Vox AC30C2 with a large pedal board, but Im never played out of a cab in my life. My first introduction to cabs have largely been due to the Kemper. What cabs do you like?

    I think it can get even worse. I'll spend hours delightedly playing with a couple of rigs that have "my sound", then return to the same rig, same guitar, different day and wonder what the hell happened to make it sound so lame. Drives me crazy but I'm pretty sure the Kemper isn't the problem...maybe some Fletcher Munson corollary, I don't know, but I imagine it's a human problem.


    Also, to your question, and although I have no sane reason for doing so, I bought an Atomic CLR Neo II wedge. Kinda pricey, but in combination with the Kemper, literally the most fun I've ever had. Really brought things to life in a way my headphones couldn't. No affiliation, just sayin'. My $0.02, hope you find your sound!

    This is me to a tee. One moment I'll be playing a profile and be like "wow this is the bee's knees." Come back twenty minutes later and the profile sounds like my sink's garbage disposal. I'm also looking into CLR as well.

  • The first piece of equipment that I would buy is;


    1 - Sound absorbers (they sell in kit and placing projects) included bass traps, and thick tents or carpets.

    2 - Sound diffusers, in a small room are less important than absorbers but they can help.


    That will change your perception way more that fancy speakers/profiles

    AFTER that, if you still want to have more of the punch of a real amp I would try a Yamaha DXR10

  • Thank you all for your continued input. I am so sorry to hear many of you suffer from the same affliction as myself. If I had know I would have started a support group far earlier ^^. But in reality hearing your responses have made me feel a lot better about what I perceive I'm hearing.

    I think you hit on all the major points. Even though I'm adamant I don't, I also have some reservations about admitting digital cant be just as good as valve. Don't tell my lead guitarist though, because I talk the Kemper up way too much lol. I also agree that I'm generally used to hearing myself in a mix and not just on my own.

    Glad that resonates with you, I really struggle. For example I downloaded some IR's to try last night, then couldn't decide if they sounded better. Definitely different but better? So I've loaded a couple up and left it until I gig because I know the more time I spend does not necessarily give me better results. This is totally the opposite for other BTW, but that's my shit ears!...When I used to buy valve amps, I would never really try them out because in a guitar shop you cannot tell if something sounds good out of context ( sorry, I mean I can;t :) ) It also takes me some time to get used to a sound to see if I like it.


    There is a local guy who videos bands and even he said " oh, digital amp, hmm never cut through like a valve"...that one comment haunted me for weeks. It was in fact not true...


    When you buy a Marshall, it has limited variation...in other words you've already decided on your sound. With the KPA its actually too flexible for me. I have too much choice. So why use a KPS then? well for me I know the sounds are there and the flexibility is massively important to me ( effects, switching capability, ease of use FOH). As a live tool, I just love it - so many reasons...


    My advice ( which worked for me) is to get some sounds that are the best you think they are...then leave it and play. Enjoy the flexibility and just be confident that the KPA can do what you want..unsurprisingly I go back to ENGL profiles as that is what I've played for 10 years.


    With regards to cabs, I have 3:

    A regular Laney 4 x12 with V30 and GH12's - its a good sounding cab and what I used to use with my Valve Amp. I rarley use it and only for the looks...

    An unpowered PA wedge - from a local shop which I tested against a Yamamha dxr10 ( as my benchmark). Sounds really good.

    A Camper self build 1x12 FRFR. This is my main cab. at the moment as I do prefer FRFR.


    I refused to spend £800+ on a cab ( atomic CLR, freidman etc) when its "just" for my backline. Luckily I have the powered version else I would have gone DXR10 without a doubt.

  • even with good near field monitors, you need a certain volume to get good sounding results.

    Don is spot on regarding a bit of volume. I do love how the Kemper sounds in my IEMs, but much of the joy of guitar is all about moving some air. It doesn't have to be tinnitus-inducing levels, but I'm a rock and roll guy and for me, rock is a physical experience. That means moving some air.

    The first piece of equipment that I would buy is;


    1 - Sound absorbers (they sell in kit and placing projects) included bass traps, and thick tents or carpets.

    Danides also makes an excellent point. Your room acoustics have a huge impact on how your guitar is going to sound to you. Even if you're not playing at a wake the neighbors volume, sound is bouncing off every surface around you. Much of that can be unkind to your tone, or at least tell you fictional tales of what that sound really is.


    However, if you've ever priced acoustic panels, you've doubtless suffered from sticker shock. When I was remodeling the studio, I just wasn't willing to spend the money on commercial panels for the quantity I needed. So, I cheated.


    Lots of places sell boxes of 6 or 12 Owens Corning 703 panels. A 12 pack of 4 foot x 2 foot x 1 inch panels cost me $90. I also spent some money on acoustic breathable, fire retardant fabric at $11 per yard. From there it was even more of a hack. I bought some decent sized cardboard boxes - just the normal Amazon shipment quality - and cut them into 4x2 panels.


    I then wrapped the fabric, taped on the back with shipping tape, and hung them on the wall with the same 3M removable hanger strips that you put pictures up with, which means you can do it in a rent house without damaging the walls. My panels probably weigh less than the pictures in your living room.


    Part of the reason for the cardboard approach was not wanting to open a woodworking shop to build frames for everything, and part was expense. All that wood adds up. Because I only used 1" 703, the zero frame wraparound technique worked out fine visually. At least close enough for rock and roll.


    Bear in mind that this is just my project studio, I don't do this stuff for a living. Still, it was a good enough look for my purposes. More importantly, the acoustics are now where I want them for the live room.


    https://www.HappyDragonMusic.com/Studio


    If you browse the pix you'll see the control room repainted grey, and because I was lazy and had some money, I actually bought premade wood frame panels. They're a bit prettier and were less work, but were a pita to hang. My humble little 1" panels, hung with picture hangers, went up fast and easy.


    All of this is just to offer some options. I don't know if you rent, but if you do many cite that as a reason they can't do much about acoustics. Well, that and the insane cost. For a bedroom sized space, you could probably get pretty good coverage with a box of a dozen, maybe $150 or so all told. And because it's just picture hanging stuff, you don't risk your security deposit when you take them down.


    The smaller the room, the more it's going to wreak havoc with your guitar sound, especially as you start trying to move some air. Doing a bit of acoustic treatment will make a huge difference in what you hear, and most importantly, the fun factor of playing. :)

  • ATH M50 is a great sounding Headphone for the Kemper

    Good Choice

    Please don't use these headphones they are terrible!

    Get yourself a good set of Sennheisers - around 50 impedance - HD 558's or similar. If you have a headphone amp and extra cash you could get the HD600's (300 impedance) but I have them and honestly I use the 558's most of the time.

    I tried these against everything with guitar playing and modelers (not music) and they came out on top of everything I tried.

  • Please don't use these headphones they are terrible!

    Get yourself a good set of Sennheisers - around 50 impedance - HD 558's or similar. If you have a headphone amp and extra cash you could get the HD600's (300 impedance) but I have them and honestly I use the 558's most of the time.

    I tried these against everything with guitar playing and modelers (not music) and they came out on top of everything I tried.

    Thats defnitly not true, excellent HP for Mixing and and for >KPA

    i know many users, and all agree

    HD have def too much midrange, they are in no way flat, but they are loud

    but in representing diff Sounds it do not need only loudness,