What I Hear Is Not What I Get

  • Hello fellow Kemperers,

    So I bit a bullet and purchased KPA this week, purely for home use. Before that I looked for some good profiles and was pretty much impressed with this one:

    (Top Jimi "'64 Dlx Rev" Pack) so I bought that one too. But alas! The profiles sound absolutely nothing like that when uploaded to my Kemper. They sound bleak, boring, aargh, in a fit of disenchantment I immediately deleted them (just from the KPA, though). I use the headphones for listening the YT video and used the very same headphones with the KPA (using headphones output, of course) so I expected to hear something very similar out of the box but that was not the case.

    I am using Fender Stratocaster Player Series, one of the best sounding guitars on the market (at least for me and for its price) so that one is not to blame. The presenter is probably better guitarist than I am but still I think I can strum a chord as he did in e.g. 0:43, so "the tone is in the fingers" is not likely to apply here either. Also the KPA itself is obviously fine (not a faulty unit).

    I would love to record a sample and post it here to illustrate my point but to my dismay I realized that I can´t record KPA using just a USB cable (unlike with my trusty Line POD XT costing fraction of a fraction !!) but have to use an audio interface which I do not own.

    So far it is pretty much of a disappointment as I can´t even match the Blackface tones I am getting from POD XT, even using the dedicated commercial profile. But obviously, there has to be a way, since the video was recorded using the same amp and profile.

    Could you please guide me as to what I am doing wrong here? Could it for instance be that the video was shot using mic'd amp and the tone is THAT much different compared to direct KPA-headphones path? (but in such a case I wouldn´t like it, my POD XT does quite fine using just headphones)

    I understand there is some learning curve with KPA but still I expected something different. On a final note, my seller provides with a generous 90-day return period so I still have some time to catch up.

    Thank you for your inputs, should there be any.


  • Welcome to the forum! I've had similar results as you - disappointment with many purchased rigs. I would go to the Rig Exchange and start previewing rigs there to see what works for you. There are numerous free rig packs accessible via RM, and there are many excellent rigs shared by the community. For example, the rmpacheco Morgan AC20 is used by many of us. Hang in there and you'll find the tones you want. By the way, I've found that adding a small amount of Treble Booster in the STOMPS section brings many rigs to life for me (YMMV).

    Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. - Wayne Dyer

  • I just recently bought a powered Kemper toaster for home use as well. I’ve always been a nmv vintage Marshall and Fender Twin guy straight in with an LP. Occasionally, I’ll use an old 70’s mxr Phase 95 or an old EP3. So, the Kemper was a big leap of faith for me

    When I first received mine two weeks ago, I immediately plugged it in to a 1968 Marshall 4x12 slant basketweave cab that still has its original pre rola greenies in it and found a direct profile of ‘74 metal panel 100 watt super lead and compared it to my all original ‘69 metal panel super lead and minus the circuit differences in the amps themselves, I was God smacked! I couldn’t tell that big of a difference.

    Sure, the Kemper lacked the punch to a degree and some of the mids that Marshall’s are known for but I would easily rate it at 95% there.

    I found some direct Fender twin and deluxe profiles and ran them through my ‘65 twin that sports to JBL D120f’s and same as above 95% there.

    Speaking from someone who is not a big tech guy, I would highly recommend reading the manual, watching some 101 YouTube videos and getting some free packs from Britt or Tonejunkie and try again. Tonejunkie has some awesome free eq presets that really help. I really dig his “hot knife” preset.

    I don’t use monitors and never liked the way FRFR sound so I did some major digging on how to best tweak the Kemper for analog cabs and once I did, I’m even more happier.

    Just last night I tried Top Jimis Mesa Mark 1 merged profiles through my twin and I was blown away. Add a little mellow Green Scream in there and it’s tone bliss!

    You also need to remember that you are hearing the amp/speakers through mics on studio and merged profiles so that changes things a bit of you are not used to it.

    Don’t give up! It’s in there, you just have to learn and coax it out.

  • The first things to try (if you haven't):

    *Adjust the 'Clean Sens' and 'Dist Sens'. Either from the input menu, or better yet the Rig Manager software. Just crank or lower that, see if things improve. (can be drastic, very important)

    *Change cabs. Find a decent tone gain-wise you like, lock the amp section in Rig manager, and load other profiles to audition just their cabs.

    *If high end fizz is an issue, add an eq, then LP down to 8k, or cut out 7k or 5k.

    You're already this far in, consider picking up an audio interface for a few hundred $. Even if you end up returning or selling the Kemper, the audio interface is invaluable, has so much use for home recording and demoing.

    When in doubt, refer to Chris's post above, last sentence....

  • I'm a Strat guy who started playing in the early 70s when a black face Fender was just the stuff you bought used at the pawn shop and nothing exotic. Yeah, you can dime the things to get some crunch out of them (until you go deaf), but I was playing plain Jane, used 70s Strats with stock pickups. My amps never sounded that ballsy. Ever.

    It was very frustrating at the time because I was a classic rock guy trying to get those record sounds, but I simply couldn't afford a Les Paul or a Marshall, so the memories of the limitations stayed with me. Eventually I tried SGs (much cheaper than Les Pauls) and the humbuckers obviously gave me more crunch. Then I swapped out the stock pickups with Dimazzio Super Distortion pickups, and it was even better. All the while, the same amp.

    The video just says custom shop Strat. What pickups? What string guage? What's the height of the pickups? What wood for the body of the guitar? What pick is he using? How hard is he hitting the strings? Apologies for pointing out what I know is terribly obvious, but just because you plug in a good quality Stat doesn't mean it's going to push the amp in the same way as someone else's given all the variables.

    All of this is to echo the thoughts of others. This Kemper thing really does get you 99.5% of what the real thing can do, you just have to find the profiles that work for you. The free rmpacheco Morgan AC20 on Rig Exchange is widely loved (including me). For clean, ambient and jangly stuff, Tone Junkie does some nice work. M. Britt is another respected profiler and a personal favorite of mine (for classic rock the Crank & Go is excellent). If it's Fender you seek, he and Tone Junkie would be great places to start, and they both have free stuff.

    That said, there are caveats. What you hear in a demo will almost never be exactly what you hear when you play it yourself due to differences in the guitar and style of playing, even if, as is the case here, it's a "Strat" (e.g. no one would ever try to convince you that a 1962 original Fender Strat is the same thing as a brand new one - there's a massive variety in Strats over the years, and especially today with so many options).

    Also, when you do start looking for profiles on Rig Exchange, don't make the mistake I first made, looking at a profile, seeing Fender or Marshall, and assuming what it should sound like. A Marshall dialed for metal is not a Marshall dialed for rhythm & blues, but it's still a Marshall. A profile is a single snapshot of one tone setting, and an amp can do lots of different stuff. So the style of music the profilers play and what tone they were going for will influence what the "Marshall" profile (or any other amp) will sound like.

    I've been at this guitar thing for a while now and have never been comfortable with digital offerings. A week after I bought the Kemper I sold every tube amp I owned - Fenders, Voxes, Marshalls, all of them. That was a year and a half ago, and I regret nothing. My guitar has never sounded this good.

    The trick is to find the profiles that work for your guitar, your style of playing, and your personal taste. And they're out there.

    Keep the faith, brother.

  • Ok, points to consider:

    * Custom shop guitar means it can have anything on it, the pickups are hot, so that would mean not your typical custom shop Pups, wook on the fretboard we dont know, bridge and so on...

    * Says no EQ or external effects, but they still do mastering for publishing the video, which might have an effect on how you end up hearing the result.

    *Everybody sells warm bread, I am pretty sure the guitar was hand picked for the amp. No the other way around.

    *EQ is your friend, and if you dont have that output, you can always use an screamer with Tone control on 0 to boost the hotness of your Pups and see how your strat overdrives the profile.

    Most likely your strat doesnt sound as you expect it to sound, even between american standards you can hear some noticeable differences. Play with a 8 bands eq in the post effects and boost it, set your clean sense, and then check how close you can get.

  • I always use an eq in the output section. Definately helps a lot. I have about 200 different profiles of the Jubilee and they all sound different. Sometimes what you hear on yt is not what you get unfortunately. However adding the graphic eq in the output section helps... a lot!

    Welcome and keep going!

  • First of all, check your output settings, especially Pure Cab. Set it to zero. By default it comes set at 3. That will be the first discrepancy between the TJ recording and the sound you’re hearing. Next, check the Kemper tutorial for the Input section on YouTube or from the main site. This will help you set up your clean sense and explain what that and Distortion sense actually do and what they’re there for.

    Next, don’t be afraid to experiment with the EQ in the amp. TJ actually recommends slight adjustments to match his tones when using different guitars and pickups.

  • I had the same thoughts when I first bought Kemper...I hear all these great sounds but mine doesn't. As its digital haven't I levelled the playing field? i.e. if I use the same profile as others, I should sound the same?

    Unfortunately there are so many variables involved its folly trying to replicate. Couple of small changes have a big impact..

    So, I would suggest ( as others have):

    1) Make some changes to see if you can get the sounds from the purchased profiles BUT if its not working, move on. Don't flog the dead "profile" horse.

    2) Look on Rig Exchange for the types of maps/tones you want. Audition them quickly, discard stuff that's not close. Ones that you like, save and tweak.

    You will find better sounds than your Pod, I'm 99% sure, but also sometimes people don;t connect with the unit for whatever reason.

  • Hey guys,

    Thank you all for your replies!! It is nice to see that one is not left alone here.

    In exchange for that, some news from my side. In the meantime my new monitors (Kurzweil KS-40A, for some reason virtually unknown on the Internet) arrived so I decided to make a short test to make things a bit more demonstrable/tractable/rigorous etc. My only recording device currently at hand is Canon 7D camera with its internal microphone so I did the following: first I recorded the first two parts of the YT video above using PC - monitors - Canon configuration and then played myself and recorded the same sections through Kemper - monitors - Canon pathway, using the same profiles as stated in the video with no additional tweaking whatsoever. For the first excerpt I used the neck pickup, for the other one bridge pickup since I think these may have been used on the original recording. Here are the results:

    (for both files the first section is the original recording and the second one is my take)

    Well, they do sound different but listening to this now I surely cannot say that my parts sound much worse, at least as the sound itself is concerned! I guess my parts are considerably more chimey (thanks go to Fender) and I actually like that! For the first excerpt I do prefer my sound, for the second one I still like the chime but would probably like to hear it a bit more "condensed" (if this is the right expression) but that´s more the matter of mic´ing than the Kemper itself, I guess.

    So overall there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. If you have any comments on the recordings above (positive, negative, whatever), please let me know.



    P. S. I hope I did not infringe any of TopJimi's rights. If I did, sorry for that.

  • If you ask me, its all on the pickups, the custom jimmy uses, would be alnico 2 wounded (maybe custom jazz SSS picks or some texas specials) with a bit more warm, thats what you mostly hear. Yours I bet are the classic Alnico V player picks, I heard before theses were a bit harsher on the highs and a lot punchier, but to my experience, they just need some tap down presence knob or treble and you are back on track. I do recommend adjusting just the treble section a bit down, and bass a bit up. Also pretty important, if you are not convinced with the chimey sound, get down the height of the picks a bit, that tends to help a bit. Dont up them, your strat is plenty hot by strat strandards anyway.

    Last part of the equation, use your volume and tone knob, your player series have extreme definition (more than normal fender ones) so use that exceding curse/bless to your favour with the tone and volume knobs, If I am not mistaken, just a small roll down of tone knob can get you on tone nirvana.

  • I don't think you're miles away. First thing I'd do is EQ some of that top end off to compensate for the brightness of your guitar, or just wind the tone on the guitar off.

    There are a bunch of other things like pickup height and strings, but I think you just need to compensate for your exact guitars voice.

  • It sounds to me like there's too much of a direct-guitar component in the tone/s, mate. Are you sure the direct level is set to zero in the amp block?

    The setting is in the Amplifier menu. Here's what the manual says:

    Direct Mix

    With “Direct Mix” you can open up a parallel path to the amplifier distortion and mix a clean portion of the guitar to the distorted sound. This will add some dynamics and attack to the sound, as well as adding some of the frequency content of the clean guitar. Traditionally, similar results were achieved by running the guitar through a clean and a distorted amplifier in parallel (“dual amping”) - now, it can be done with a twist of a knob. “Direct Mix” controls the volume of the clean portion.

    I mention this 'cause it sounds to me as if the acoustic aspect of your playing has bled into the signal somehow. The only other explanation I can think of is the aforementioned Direct Mix setting.