Fractal Audio FM3 announced

  • But there is a demand for an all-in-one floor unit a la Helix, Headrush, AX8, BOSS GT, Amplifire. Those units outsell their rack counterparts (with maybe an exception for the AX8). Of course that means more cables going in and out, etc, but clearly many players like having everything at their feet and are ok with that trade off.

    I don't see any problem were Kemper to have a floor board version for players who want it while still having the head/rack/remote configurations available for those that don't.

    I actually take the complete opposite view. I really respect CK and the team for sticking to their vision. You can’t be all things to all people. Too many business fail by trying to do so but end up spreading themselves too thin and end up not being the best at anything.

  • I actually take the complete opposite view. I really respect CK and the team for sticking to their vision. You can’t be all things to all people. Too many business fail by trying to do so but end up spreading themselves too thin and end up not being the best at anything.

    In some cases, but here I don't see how having a different format of the same core functionality is really inhibitive, especially if the exact market you're in is clamoring for it. They're in the business of selling to guitarists wants and needs.

  • "Digital gadgets"... as opposed to kemper.. which is a tool instead.. right...

    Indeed I was thinking about to edit this phrase..but the fact that the AX8 is obsolete after just 3 years..this is a classical "gadget" phenomenon.Just compare how much obsolete products Kemper and Fractal have(even since 2012)..enough said..;)

  • Hey man, good tone is good tone. I don't need anything new. You don't need to worry about the kemper team. They know what they're doing. Don't they? How many pro's are using a kemper now instead of a real amp? Updating the kemper instead of releasing mkII, mkIII etc. is a smart thing to do. I guess many kemper users have been Fractal users and had enough of purchasing the next gen. And let us be brutal honest. You don't worry about the kenper team. It's all about your worries. Give a man an amp and he will be happy owner. Give a man a profiler, emulation etc and he want more and more and more.

  • Check out @ 7:30

    Christoph's point pretty much mirrors mine from before. Eventually he sees the need to update the hardware, that's just natural for any product as software advances, and so do the possibilities with said software. He notes making sure that Kemper I profiles are compatible with a prospective Kemper II, something even Fractal is doing with the Axe III and Axe II presets.

    Bottom line is that hardware upgrades are inevitable and even Kemper knows eventually it will be required for them. At what point and to what end is yet to be known, but let's not pretend Kemper is impervious to "obsolescence" in the way the term has been thrown around here (and somewhat misleadingly IMO).

  • Mo’ SKUs, mo’ problems.

    Over the years I’ve become more and more appreciative of companies that stick to one thing, and do it better than anyone else. As a longtime Fractal user, one thing that started to bother me was their business model of releasing updated hardware every 2.5 years or so, and the constant firmware updates that oftentimes fundamentally altered the sound of one’s presets (this criticism doesn’t extend to bug fixes, which I always appreciate.) Of course, it’s not mandatory to update, but it eventually becomes detrimental not to do so.

    Past business practices are not always indicative of what’s to come in the future, but I’m hesitant to recommit to Fractal if we’re to expect regular hardware updates. I am on the waitlist for the FM3, but I’ll need to hear more about its capabilities before deciding to pull the trigger when I get the invite, which, considering the fact that everyone on the AX8 waitlist has been moved over to the FM3, could take a long time.

    Also, I just like this forum better. You’re all much nicer.

  • I really wouldn't look at these things like "planned obsolescence". Most products have life cycles, and while the Kemper is an exception, I don't think most of the users here would be able to cite many companies that have supported their product like Kemper (I know RME is one).

    At $1000, it looks like their target market is Helix users. It's also cheaper than the AX8 was on launch, which means they will probably move a lot of units.

    It looks like the engine has also been updated to the one being used in the Axe FX3, so probably has some very good tone capabilities.

    Kemper users obviously don't need one, but I'm positive that a whole lot of users will be gassing for one.

    I'd like to see a spillproof floorboard Profiler from Kemper myself. I'm sure they'd have thought of that. Make the damn thing bulletproof, with gorilla glass and sealed apertures.

    The form factor is critical for me in that sense. I don't even mid it being as big as the Helix. It'll still be easier and quite possibly lighter than lugging my Kemper and Remote.

  • I'd like to see a spillproof floorboard Profiler from Kemper myself. I'm sure they'd have thought of that. Make the damn thing bulletproof, with gorilla glass and sealed aaperture

    actually a full blown floorboard profiler does not make sense..and it would be to expensive too.Imagine a "stage proof" floorboard as you describe it.This would be closer to a tank than to a music instrument..

    I talk since years about a "modular profile player" and I am a little bit sad that I see other companies doing exactly this.Going "modular".

    But to Kempers big luck the competitors are either to greedy (fm3+fc6=1500$) or sound wise not close enough.

    Kemper should definitely "do something"..but in a clever,reasonable and "cheaper" way..something musicians can't reject.;)

  • The reason why Kemper would most likely not build a profiler for the floor is because of expense. It would be more expensive to combine the profiler and foot controller into one unit making the overall price much higher than the existing product line and the market may not bear the cost of a floor unit at that price.

  • About "cheaper, small kemper unit that plays back profiles" -- I had asked kemper many *many* years ago about that, before kemper was released.

    Their response back then was that removing profiling function would not lower the cost of the unit substantially at all. But perhaps in 2019 more powerful hardware at cheaper pricing could allow for a profile player that is indeed substantially cheaper, even if not due to lacking profiling function.

    My own interest in a "unit that just plays profiles" died quick when I first begun testing what was available online, realizing how much pickups, guitars, tuning, taste matter when it comes to profile creation (not referring to profiling accuracy here)... After that, I hardly thought of a portable player again. Live I mostly used tube amps anyway.

    But.... IF it was possible to create an absurdly portable unit, at a much, much lower price, whether it has profiling or not, I could see myself buying it if I was gigging a lot. I'd use kemper to make profiles and then load them to the portable unit.

  • actually a full blown floorboard profiler does not make sense..and it would be to expensive too.Imagine a "stage proof" floorboard as you describe it.This would be closer to a tank than to a music instrument..

    I beg to differ, it makes total sense. No reason why a floor unit would have to be more expensive that its head or rack counterparts. It would likely wind up being less expensive for the player in the end, not needing the profiler + remote. Based on modeler sales, it's clear the market wants single-form floorboards, and it's something I assume Kemper could accomplish quite easily were they to want it.

    Over the years I’ve become more and more appreciative of companies that stick to one thing, and do it better than anyone else.

    There is certainly something to be said for businesses that do one particular thing well instead of trying to do everything passably. In the case of Kemper have a floorboard, I don't think that's remotely as unreasonable as some here are making it out to be.

  • Imagine a "stage proof" floorboard as you describe it.This would be closer to a tank...

    Wait, are we talking about the Kemper remote? Because "built like a tank" was the first thing that came to mind when it arrived.

    From a purely gear related perspective it looks like a cool gizmo, although as others have mentioned, the Kemper has drained the amplifier GAS tank for me. I love my toaster and love the remote.

    I imagine Line 6 would be more worried about it than Kemper since Fractal is getting into an area where Line 6 has been a dominant player.

    I really can't stand the Fractal business process and attitude

    When I was shopping for the Kemper I did a lot of listening to the Helix, AxeFX III, and Kemper. While the Line 6 unit didn't seem quite up to par with the other two, it still sounded good. The Kemper and AxeFx III, however, sounded outstanding. I was seriously considering the AxeFx III.

    Having narrowed the field down to two, I then started poking around on the web. Eventually I landed on the Fractal forums and was really taken aback by the attitude. Snarky Internet forums are the norm, but the fact that a lot of the rude and dismissive things I read were from people who worked for Fractal, including the owner (can't remember his name), was enough to put me off of the company. I don't want to invest thousands of dollars with someone who doesn't think it important to handle themselves in a professional manner.

    Then I went to the Kemper forums and found a vibe that was unusually positive and helpful by Internet standards. I spent my money not long after that.

    Perhaps companies only lose a small percentage of their business from a bad image. However, for many people such things matter, and we vote with our dollars. Elsewhere.

  • I have seen users complain about their Remotes getting yanked out of Profilers, causing them to stop a show to restart everything.

    I've heard of Remotes where the screen got crushed and then became unusable.

    In that sense, it would have been a very good thing if the Remote was indestructible. Look at how much it costs! And look how many adopters there are.

    So, there is clearly a need. And there is also an established market of guys who don't blink at paying 400 euros or so for a unit that is completely locked to the Kemper, cannot be used for anything else, and can die on them.

    As far as indestructible, refer to the tank video. Did it cost TC Electronic a lot to make the thing that dependable? Probably a bit more than average manufacturing processes. But it's excellent, and I would pay for something that could take a beating like that.

    And with respect to spill-proofing or resistance, lots of gear is like that. It isn't like dunking it in a bucket of water, it's like preventing the whole thing from frying as soon as liquid gets on the surface. There are standards implemented for that kind of thing.

    As far as a floorboard Profiler, refer to what Dimi84 said. Even if you stripped out the Profiling ability, it would not make much of a difference weight-wise.

    In that regard, might as well have it rather than not, right? Just an all-in-one unit.

    For the record, Mr CK has hinted that they have thought of a floorboard, but it takes time to develop such a thing.

    Given the horror stories we have heard about stage accidents, my suggestion is the one that makes sense when creating something like that.

  • In any tech shop, there are only so many developers and engineers to go around, so there's a physical limit to the number of things can be done at a given time. With that in mind, I love the way Kemper approaches this.

    Some companies have a fire and forget mentality. Design and build something that sells. Get it to market quickly and then, unless there's a critical flaw that gives you bad press (i.e. decreases sales), forget about it. Move on to the next thing you can sell. The more things you have on the shelf, the more money you can bring in. Eventually products will become too out of date to be marketable, but you're always creating new products, so don't worry about it. The old stuff becomes obsolete so the customers have to buy the new version. This means you get to sell the same thing to someone twice. Bonus points.

    I'm not a fan of this approach, but a company exists for one and only one reason: to make money. This business model makes money. However, it's not the only game in town.

    Another philosophy is to build something well enough that it lasts, and design it with upgrades and maintainability in mind. You sell a solid, high quality product, and then continue to increase its value over time. You get a reputation as a company who builds Good Stuff, as well as a rep for not abandoning your customers or forcing them to keep buying the same thing over and over. This won't appeal to everyone (some value low cost above all else, no matter how many times they have to buy the same thing), and it's rarely the least expensive product. But there's a market for it, and you develop a loyal following.

    This is the path Kemper took. I bought a toaster last year. I could have shelled out hundreds more on some high end Strymon pedals to really punch up the reverb and modulation effects. Then Kemper releases a new version of the OS that includes all of this. For free. And this is a normal thing for them. They're also working on an editor, something that a whole lot of paying customers have been asking for. While bundled editors don't usually cost extra, software development isn't free. There are only so many developers to go around, but instead of working on some new product that many of us wouldn't care about (but would make them money), instead they're paying their developers to once again enhance the product I bought last year. For free.

    So, yeah, they could be developing a floor unit, or a stomp box profiler or an AI driven espresso machine that hums show tunes while it works. They do have a new speaker thingie happening, but their rate of pumping out products is extremely low. Kinda hard for me to complain about them not creating new things for me to spend money on because they're too busy giving me things for free.

    As for Fractal and planned obsolescence comments, here's a related story.

    I just had to buy a new electric toothbrush. The old one was part of a unit that also had a water pick. The rechargeable battery on the toothbrush finally died, and it turns out you can't replace it. They put in a couple of AA looking batteries, soldered together with a plate and a few other things that make it almost impossible to replace the battery. You can do it, but you have to grab a soldering iron and other tools, and spend half your day at it. But it gets better. I thought I could just buy a replacement electric toothbrush that's compatible with their unit as a replacement part. They don't sell it separately. So not only do they want me to throw away the toothbrush and buy another one, they want me to throw away the entire water pick base unit as well. There may have been profanity.

    As a software developer I can acknowledge that yeah, sometimes Obsolescence Happens. But this wasn't obsolescence. It looks suspiciously like creating a disposable unit by conscious design. And they wouldn't be the first. The size and voltage of these batteries were identical to standard off the shelf batteries, and the world is full of two AA battery units that don't require a soldering iron and a degree in mechanical engineering to replace. That's not a design limitation. That's commercial larceny.

    My point as it relates to Fractal and Kemper? Yes, I had to buy a new toothbrush. But you can be sure that the company who sold me a disposable unit didn't get my money, nor will they ever again. There are other products I've bought from companies I'm extremely loyal to for precisely the same set of reasons.

  • Yes, product developments take time. But let's not forget the Kemper has been around for 7 years and by all accounts is very profitable with a very high reputation. The idea that in 7 years a floor unit couldn't be developed is kind of silly to me. It may be that Kemper doesn't see the need in light of having the remote, but I'd just personally think that would be a flawed line of thinking. Of course, that's just me if that were indeed the case.

    There is also the consideration that a company like Line 6 is owned by Yamaha and has the power of the manufacturing behind them. They can diversify their product line in a way other small companies can't, especially not a competitive price point. I work for a company in the music industry doing manufacturing and we had discussed making wireless units but ultimately the cost vs quality would just get eaten by what Line 6 already offers so it was abandoned. Still, Line 6's strategy is no mistake and is effective. I also don't see their customers complaining when they release a new format for their POD's or Helix's. Consumers are actually grateful for the range to choose from and the varying price points & functionality. And they continue to support those products with updates and features. But nobody is asking Kemper to be Line 6.

    Take Fractal for comparison. They also focus on a select few products as a small company themselves. However, the rate that they pump out features and updates blisters anything Kemper or Line 6 have done thus far. I think it's an erroneous suggestion that Fractal doesn't support their products and seeks to make them obsolete as soon as they can. They've shown more ongoing and free support than their competitors even if the timeline for hardware changes to keep up with their ambitions is smaller than Kemper's. And, mind you, the updates are only "free" because you paid a premium price for these units.

    My point isn't to say Fractal and Linie 6 are so much better than Kemper, not in the slightest. I just think Kemper users are quick to mischaracterize their competitors because it's not what Kemper has chosen to do. Your post just a moment ago likened Fractal to a toothbrush that cleverly tries to make you buy a new product, which isn't even remotely comparable. Just because the AxeIII exists doesn't mean they made all the Axe FX Ultra's stop working. They aren't obsolete or unusable, just the ambitions of the company based on their rapid pace of new features required new processors and more processing power, something that couldn't be accomplished in the old format. Christoph himself in the video I highlighted a few posts ago said the same would eventually happen for Kemper. They've had the good luxury of supporting their ambitions in the current hardware but CK knows that can't last forever.

    I've never seen a group of consumers so adamantly against option diversification and so crippled at the idea that a new form Kemper or Kemper II might come out and behave as though it would be something they'd have to buy. If your current toaster is perfect for you, it isn't getting less perfect with a floorboard or a future Kemper II. It just comes across as wanting to protect the perceived value of the product you purchased.

  • Your post just a moment ago likened Fractal to a toothbrush

    I was speaking more generally about companies who do this sort of thing using an extreme example, brought to mind by others who had talked about obsolescence. It wasn't intended to be an apples to apples comparison to Fractal, but I didn't explicitly mention that so I understand what you're saying.

    The idea that in 7 years a floor unit couldn't be developed is kind of silly to me.

    My overall point, dental hygiene and dubious corporate ethics notwithstanding, was that sure, Kemper can do this. However, the laws of physics as it pertains to the number of fingers and toes available to work on a given set of projects remains a constant.

    People routinely talk about wanting this fixed, or that improved, or having an editor, etc. The moment Kemper allocates a portion of their resources to a floor unit, a host of other people will raise a ruckus about, "why isn't xyz being addressed???"

    In terms of the resources available for product maintenance and new development, it really is a zero sum game.

    So, it comes down to how many people want x versus how many want y, or perhaps how much a group of people will pay for z. No matter what aspects Kemper chooses to focus on, the only guarantee is that there will be another group who thinks the idea that their personal preference couldn't be developed is kind of silly to them.

    And for the record, I have no philosophical objection to Kemper building more toys. I like toys. :)

  • We understand only a certain number of hands, minds, and resources can be dedicated to any one task at any one time. However, it's not as if all things are created equal in how much time or how many resources they require, and especially what size of the market it serves. Priorities are priorities for a reason. My point with the floorboard is to demonstrate how large that demographic is in terms of opportunities that Kemper is likely missing out on that some are underplaying IMO. It's their company so I don't spend time banging the point needlessly home, but it does come to light when some users try and suggest not only that there's no real need for it but also that they're happy Kemper doesn't make one.

    I obviously don't know the companies plans, income, limitations, etc. The things I've ever felt were "silly" were elementary things like an absence of desktop editor, or in this case the markets desire for all-in-one floorboards. There are tons more functions the KPA could have that I think would be really great but they're tiny by comparison. Meanwhile, the Kemper Kone and cab is philosophically unclear to me. They're marketing a speaker to emulate other speakers that they've modeled, even though a full profile captures the speaker & cab already and is designed primarily for recording & going straight to FOH. Don't get me wrong, the cab & speaker is cool on its own but seems philosophically at odds with much of the product base.

    Anyway, not trying to stray from the topic. Would be nice and welcome to see Kemper offer a dedicated floor model at some juncture, which I think would fit perfectly next to their head & rack configurations. Nobody is asking it to make espresso or pizza or 3D prints. It's a sensible addition IMO.