Hi! And Kemper review (long)

  • Hi all! I’m new to this forum. I’m an old dude who’s been playing in bands for decades, now semi-retired. I write songs nowadays which i record in my little home studio. I have a few “real” amps and an SM57 but recording the electric guitar isn’t that simple and the direct sound annoys me. So I’ve been using an Avid 11Rack preamp for the last few years straight into the interface. I bought the 11rack used for 350 euro. This review of the Kemper are first impressions compared to the 11rack.


    – No USB interface. The 11rack is a complete USB audio interface.

    – No MIDI/USB interface unlike the 11rack. Just program change and a few controllers.

    – No microphone preamp like the 11rack has, on the front, with 48 V phantom power.


    – i bought the toaster version because the rack version wasn’t available. The 11rack is more convenient. The toaster takes up valuable space on my desk. Those rotating lights around the soft knobs are cool though!


    – No paper manual. Come on! A 1700 euro device! The quick start guide will get you started but you have to go through the entire manual to understand this device. I know i can download the manual, and i did, but call me old fashioned, i like reading from paper.


    – I tested the powered version and noticed it got hot after a while. Don’t like that. I’m not planning to use the Kemper live so i got the unpowered version. It has a big hole in the back which will collect dust. Why didn’t they cover it up with 50 cents worth of sheet metal?


    – When you buy the unpowered Kemper you cannot install the original Kemper power amp afterwards. Strange. There is a third party power amp, Camplifier, which you can install yourself easily.


    – It takes longer to boot. My 11rack starts up in 15 seconds. The Kemper is like a computer, it takes 45 seconds to boot with just the factory presets inside.


    – The power plug “wiggles”a bit, it’s not secure in the socket. After a bit of wiggling the Kemper crashed and i had to start it up again! Mmm you don’t want that live on stage.


    + The Kemper has many outputs which are very flexible to configure. I connected the monitor out to the effects return of my Blackstar HT5 amp into a Marshall 2X12 with Celestion G12T-75s. Cab sim off. Amp in the room sound! It rocked! Stereo out to a Roland AC-90 amp for acoustic guitar, stereo aux inputs. Cab sim on. Excellent sound! Stereo out to a mixer to my KRK studio monitors. Sounds fine to me. 2nd day opinion. Sound on the tube amp/guitar 2X12 is awesome but different from the line out to KRK’s sound. You want the sound your hear on stage to be identical to the sound the PA guy is getting in. May get myself a solid state power amp.


    + Excellent headphone amp. Plus a trick called Space to make the headphone experience more comfortable. I have a Beyer DT770 Pro with closed earbuds which can be claustrophobic.


    + The Kemper is an open platform which is still being updated. (Until V2 comes along?) My 11rack has the extra amps pack but that’s it. Dead end product. Way back in 1998 i bought a Line 6 Pod new, updated it once, that was it. Now worth zip. Axe FX have gone through I, II and now III.


    + I registered on the internet, downloaded and installed the Rig Manager and updated the Kemper from 5.5 to 6.0. On a bog standard W10 PC. Easy peasy!


    + The Rig manager downloaded some 15.000 Rigs made by the Kemper World Community, for free! I downloaded a ZIP file once with a few hundred presets for the 11rack but this is almost too much of a good thing! One click and the PC sends the Rig to my Kemper so i can hear it. I found an excellent jazz sound just by searching for “jazz” and clicking around.


    – After 7 years Kemper finally presents a PC/Mac editor…


    + Excellent Noise Gate with a simple knob in front. Indispensable in the studio with single coil guitars. Another NG after stomp boxes like fuzz pedals. Also very handy.


    + The soft knobs on the front react immediately, the knobs on the 11rack have a visual delay which is annoying. Cool LED rings!


    + Good tuner. The tuner on the 11rack is somewhat “nervous”.


    + Good effects. The Leslie is very convincing. I could use a few more parameters though like startup/decay time. With the combined delay/pitch shift effects you can get wild sounds. Good compressor, indispensable for clean sounds and bass rigs.


    – When i want to fill an empty slot with an effect i have to scroll through the entire long list. Why can’t you jump more directly to the type of effect you want, e.g. Chorus?


    + This device makes me play the guitar more. I’m not getting tired listening to it after an hour or so. I got listening fatigue from every regular modeling device so far.


    +/- You hear the difference between a cheap guitar and a more expensive one. An Epiphone MIC with Gibson pickups compared to a Jap Tokai with SD’s. Now i have to play my expensive guitars more...


    – I couldn’t get reamping working with the SP/DIF ports. Recording worked but no playback. Probably my fault.


    Conclusion. IMHO this is a game changing, and life saving ;) device for the bedroom/home studio player like me. OTOH the price makes it a pro device for people who can afford to record in a real studio. I don't see myself using this expensive device live for the kind of gigs i've done all my life. I've taken too many beer showers in pubs! 8)

  • When i want tofill an empty slot with an effect i have to scroll through the entirelong list. Why can’t you jump more directly to the type of effectyou want, e.g. Chorus?

    You will be able to soon, mate.


    Welcome to the forum. :)

  • – No USBinterface. The 11rack is a complete USB audio interface.

    True. The only good news I can give you is that USB audio interfaces are prolific and cheep these days if recording is your thing.


    – No MIDI/USBinterface unlike the 11rack. Just program change and a fewcontrollers.

    I you purchase a USB MIDI cable (I use the M-Audio "Uno"), you can do much more than just program changes. In fact, a 3rd party off-line editor (Toast ME) uses the MIDI interface to remotely do pretty much everything the Kemper is capable of. Check it out.


    Additionally, Kemper will soon be releasing their own editor which will use the existing USB interface only (no MIDI cable needed).


    – No microphonepreamp like the 11rack has, on the front, with 48 V phantom power.

    Nope. Again, there are quite a few of these on the market that are fairly inexpensive.

    – i bought thetoaster version because the rack version wasn’t available. The11rack is more convenient. The toaster takes up valuable space on mydesk. Those rotating lights around the soft knobs are cool though!

    I hear you, but if you are doing mostly work next to a computer, having all those physical amp controls is really kind of cool don't you think? I do agree, it takes up more desk space though.



    – It takes longerto boot. My 11rack starts up in 15 seconds. The Kemper is like acomputer, it takes 45 seconds to boot with just the factory presetsinside.

    Once you get your favorite sounds cataloged on your Kemper, you can erase everything else and you will get a faster boot time..... but likely not 15 seconds. Since you are always close to your computer, you can always just utilize rig manager to keep track of all the stuff you want to keep around for a rainy day, but don't really want clogging up your Kemper.



    – When i want tofill an empty slot with an effect i have to scroll through the entirelong list. Why can’t you jump more directly to the type of effectyou want, e.g. Chorus?

    Yep. One of my major gripes too. As already stated, this is on its way this year.

    Conclusion. IMHO this is a game changing, and life saving ;) device for the bedroom/home studio player like me. OTOH the price makes it a pro device for people who can afford to record in a real studio. I don't see myself using this expensive device live for the kind of gigs i've done all my life. I've taken too many beer showers in pubs! 8)

    I hear you (again), but I always felt that cold beer splashed into my VHT UL would likely ruin my day as well :)


    The most impressive part you left out....... You can get incredible tone from the Kemper with very little time. You end up playing instead of tweaking. It is really a fantastic sounding device.

  • Welcome to the family :)

    – No USBinterface. The 11rack is a complete USB audio interface.

    To be honest I hate integrated audio interfaces and for Windows users it's a problem too because you don't have the aggregate device option like on Mac. So they've put their effort into building the unit and not secondary stuff.

    – No MIDI/USBinterface unlike the 11rack. Just program change and a fewcontrollers.

    Yeah, classical MIDI sucks.

    – No microphonepreamp like the 11rack has, on the front, with 48 V phantom power.

    It's not ment to work as a mic preamp but you can connect a normal dynamic mic for profiling. It has to be a design thing why they didn't include a phantom power for this because the input can be used for several things not only for mics.

    – i bought thetoaster version because the rack version wasn’t available. The11rack is more convenient. The toaster takes up valuable space on mydesk. Those rotating lights around the soft knobs are cool though!

    But that's the design of the toaster ;) they added the rack design early after recognizing they invented something which will go wild on the stages. I also have the toaster and installed it into a rack. A little bit odd, but as I've bought mine there were no rack version and actually I can't finance a second unit.

    – No paper manual.Come on! A 1700 euro device! The quick start guide will get youstarted but you have to go through the entire manual to understandthis device. I know i can download the manual, and i did, but call meold fashioned, i like reading from paper.

    Okay, but the manual get's updated every 2-3 months because of a new feature. So this wouldn't be in there and you would have an outdated manual from the day when the unit was produced.

    – I tested thepowered version and noticed it got hot after a while. Don’t likethat. I’m not planning to use the Kemper live so i got theunpowered version. It has a big hole in the back which will collectdust. Why didn’t they cover it up with 50 cents worth of sheetmetal?

    I'm with you, I'm actually thinking about building something myself.

    – When you buy theunpowered Kemper you cannot install the original Kemper power ampafterwards. Strange. There is a third party power amp, Camplifier,which you can install yourself easily.

    I think this has something to do with warranty issues.

    – It takes longerto boot. My 11rack starts up in 15 seconds. The Kemper is like acomputer, it takes 45 seconds to boot with just the factory presetsinside.

    But it sounds better ;)

    – The power plug“wiggles”a bit, it’s not secure in the socket. After a bit ofwiggling the Kemper crashed and i had to start it up again! Mmm youdon’t want that live on stage.

    Check your power plug. Mine is absolutely safe in the socket. If not than contact the support I would say. I also installed a PowerCon Connector into my rack, I love this one for power connections.

    – After 7 yearsKemper finally presents a PC/Mac editor…

    Don't open pandoras box, this was so heavily discussed everywhere in the Kemper world ;) Especially with all the new effects it is so much stuff which really requires a nice editor. I like the user interface design of the Kemper because it really easy to understand. It's not pretty and shiny and with blingbling but it's usable. I checked the Helix interface of a friend of mine, of course it looks great but it's also more complicated in my personal opinion.

    – When i want tofill an empty slot with an effect i have to scroll through the entirelong list. Why can’t you jump more directly to the type of effectyou want, e.g. Chorus?

    Hope for the editor.

    +/- You hear thedifference between a cheap guitar and a more expensive one. AnEpiphone MIC with Gibson pickups compared to a Jap Tokai with SD’s. Now i have to play my expensive guitars more...

    Yes, the differences of guitars/pickups are much more obvious. But this is not only a thing of the Kemper. If you would listen to a miced up amp in a studio control room without the sound of the box in the room you would have the same effect. The Kemper captures this very well. It's nice to play the same profile with different guitars.

    – I couldn’t getreamping working with the SP/DIF ports. Recording worked but noplayback. Probably my fault.

    There are some YouTube tutorials and some threads about this. Make sure you have setup your interface that the Kemper is the master clock and in the input settings of the Kemper itself you have to select as input source the option "SPDIF reamping" for recieving DI signals from your computer. And of course check cables.

  • Welcome!!

    With regard to the back of the unpowered version being open.

    That opening makes for a GREAT and solid handle when picking the toaster up. I don't care to use the strap beyond the aesthetics. But grab the back with your fingers inside that opening? You *know* whether or not you've got a solid grasp.

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • – I tested thepowered version and noticed it got hot after a while. Don’t likethat. I’m not planning to use the Kemper live so i got theunpowered version. It has a big hole in the back which will collectdust. Why didn’t they cover it up with 50 cents worth of sheetmetal?

    the unpowered Profiler has a compartment for two reasons: you can store e.g. cables in there while you use the handle to transport it and - if you don't like the leather handle - you can grab the amp using this recess. if we would have wanted to save money we would have used a plane back plate. you should know this when you suggest that a sheetmetal costs 50 ct.

    – The power plug“wiggles”a bit, it’s not secure in the socket. After a bit ofwiggling the Kemper crashed and i had to start it up again! Mmm youdon’t want that live on stage.

    i don't think it does. if it wiggles, use another cable and see if it still does so. if in doubt, contact us. we use the same outlets and sockets everybody is using for professional equipment.

    – i bought thetoaster version because the rack version wasn’t available. The11rack is more convenient. The toaster takes up valuable space on mydesk. Those rotating lights around the soft knobs are cool though!

    your point ...? you should have bought a rack version if you prefer this form factor.

    – No paper manual.Come on! A 1700 euro device! The quick start guide will get youstarted but you have to go through the entire manual to understandthis device. I know i can download the manual, and i did, but call meold fashioned, i like reading from paper.

    the quick start gets you started, the rest is a reference. we release frequent software updates and this references gets updated. that's why we don't print it.


    anyways, enjoy your Profiler!

  • Welcome! I too came to the Kemper from the Avid Eleven Rack. There are a few things I miss about it:

    • The fact that it's its own audio & MIDI USB interface
    • Great integration with Pro Tools - it automatically remembers which patch you used for which take, so you don't need to save, label, and manage patches for every track you record
    • Re-amping without noticeable latency, having to set up ins/outs etc.

    BUT - the Kemper just sounds way better. First thing I did when I got the Kemper was to re-amp some pedal steel tracks I'd recorded with the 11R, using a similar profile (Twin with a 15) - as I texted my friend, the KPA made the 11R sound like "dried up dog s***" FWIW :-)

  • Welcome! I too came to the Kemper from the Avid Eleven Rack. There are a few things I miss about it:

    • The fact that it's its own audio & MIDI USB interface
    • Great integration with Pro Tools - it automatically remembers which patch you used for which take, so you don't need to save, label, and manage patches for every track you record
    • Re-amping without noticeable latency, having to set up ins/outs etc.

    BUT - the Kemper just sounds way better. First thing I did when I got the Kemper was to re-amp some pedal steel tracks I'd recorded with the 11R, using a similar profile (Twin with a 15) - as I texted my friend, the KPA made the 11R sound like "dried up dog s***" FWIW :-)

    OK .... Here is where the rubber really hits the road. The KPA simply sound fantastic... The 11 rack .... Not so much.

  • I know, i'm critical but i have the right to be. I paid 1700 euro for a new unpowered Kemper, that's 90% pure write-off. I saw a used powered Kemper for 750 euro within a week after purchase! :-(


    I just profiled my Blackstar HT5 top and my Marshall 1922 cab with an SM57. It's so simple even I can do it. The result is a usable sound, dry, no effects, on my KRK monitors. Mind blowing. That's what sets the Kemper apart.

  • I know, i'm critical but i have the right to be. I paid 1700 euro for a new unpowered Kemper, that's 90% pure write-off. I saw a used powered Kemper for 750 euro within a week after purchase! :-(

    As if the rest of us paid less somehow?

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Not sure how you come up with the 90% write-off math, but it sounds like you're trying to find fault.


    Hopefully you'll come to grips with it and stop focusing on how much it isn't like your old 11rack modeler.

  • I know, i'm critical but i have the right to be. I paid 1700 euro for a new unpowered Kemper, that's 90% pure write-off. I saw a used powered Kemper for 750 euro within a week after purchase! :-(

    Never seen a powered version that cheap but even so...why expect new gear not to be cheaper second hand. Why did you not look at second hand yourself? Compare the cost of a new car to second hand to see real depreciation.


    Its unfortunate you chose the wrong form factor but its good there are 2 options.


    The other advantage over a paper manual is you can easily search an electronic one.


    You may have a faulty power socket as I've used mine live for 4 years now and the only time I lost power was when the power socket came out of my power surge protector.


    Also why do you need phantom power? For me this isn't a general device interface, its a guitar device. Didn't understand that one...


    Boot up time, yep longer than an 11rack but compared to a valve amp? In any case is this really an issue?


    You didn't really say much about the sound? Are you happy with the sound? It is expensive but its all relative. You have access to almost every amp on the planet, I've kept the same amp now for 4 years so I've spent way less on amps than ever. The cost of a single Mesa is more that the KPA. To me that's great value!

  • Also why do you need phantom power? For me this isn't a general device interface, its a guitar device. Didn't understand that one...


    I actually agree that lack of Phantom power is a minor niggle. If you want to profile with a single condenser or ribbon mic you need an external pre amp or built in phantom power. Phantom would have been a nice addition. I’m not losing sleep over it though.