Best way to connect Kemper to Macbook?

  • Hi everyone,


    I'm trying to get into my first recording sessions with my new Kemper. I have a scarlett solo USB interface which has a XLR (seems to be mic only) and an instrument input.

    My problem: Listening to the recordings on my computer (with headphones) sounds different from what I hear when I connect the headphones directly to the Kemper.

    I wonder what could be the issue here.


    I'm connecting the Kemper and my scarlett with an instrument cable. My scarlett allows me to turn "instrument" on and off (doesn't really seem to matter, only gain levels are different). I need to adjust gain with a knob.


    Am I using the best way to connect the Kemper to my DAW? Isn't there a way to avoid having to use a gain knob on the USB interface? It's all digital so I'm wondering why I can't just plug the Kemper in and send the data exactly as it sounded in the Kemper. There definitely is room for failure on the way into the DAW.


    Just to clarify: I have the feeling the EQ is slightly different. I know that the headphones can give me stereo output whereas my guitar cable only does a mono output but even if I switch the Kemper headphone output to mono both machines sound different.

    Does my USB interface influence the sound?


    Thanks!

  • Hi Kaschko,

    Your inputs are either balanced or unbalanced inputs. Balanced are XLR (Mic style) cables and TRS 1/4” that have two black rings on the tip. Unbalanced are TS cables (instrument style) with one black ring on the tip.


    You can use the XLR input with your Kemper main out XLR, make sure you shut off phantom power.
    You could also use Kemper main out 1/4” into your Focusrite instrument in and choose the instrument switch for TS as the Kemper output is TS.

    In the Kemper output section I would recommend you press the button For main output -12 so you don’t give the Focusrite too hot of a signal. Adjust your Focusrite input with the gain knob after you set this. The gain knob should be set so you see green and maybe the occasional yellow but never red.


    While you are in the output section of the Kemper I would recommend you unlink the Main output from your monitor and headphones. That way you can turn up your Kemper monitor output or Kemper headphone without increasing the gain at the Main Kemper output, which would change your signal into the Focusrite.


    As far as different sound with the two headphones outputs. That can just be the difference between the preamp that each unit uses to drive the headphone are different. Do you use monitors with your Focusrite as well? Or just headphones?


    Your Focusrite Solo does not offer S/PDif (digital) input/output, you would need to upgrade your interface to a different model.

  • Awesome, will try all this and report back!


    Is S/PDif a better connection? Is the upgrade worth it?

    I am anyway thinking about upgrading to a bigger interface so I can also record the direct guitar signal for reamping.

  • You can use the XLR input with your Kemper main out XLR, make sure you shut off phantom power.

    You could also use Kemper main out 1/4” into your Focusrite instrument in and choose the instrument switch for TS as the Kemper output is TS.

    The XLR port in my focusrite seems to be mic only. I think only the bigger versions allow XLR instrument inputs.

    Is there a quality difference between XLR and instrument cable?

    In the Kemper output section I would recommend you press the button For main output -12 so you don’t give the Focusrite too hot of a signal. Adjust your Focusrite input with the gain knob after you set this. The gain knob should be set so you see green and maybe the occasional yellow but never red.


    While you are in the output section of the Kemper I would recommend you unlink the Main output from your monitor and headphones. That way you can turn up your Kemper monitor output or Kemper headphone without increasing the gain at the Main Kemper output, which would change your signal into the Focusrite.

    I did what you described. So now the main volume control on the Kemper only controls the main output, correct? What's the best db level to leave it at? -12db? Even after pressing the 'output -12db' button?

  • As far as different sound with the two headphones outputs. That can just be the difference between the preamp that each unit uses to drive the headphone are different. Do you use monitors with your Focusrite as well? Or just headphones?

    Wait, so the interface I choose effects the tone coming out of my Kemper? That sounds horrible. Shouldn't the Kemper give me a perfect "what you hear is what you get solution?" Would using S/PDif help me?


    To answer your other question, I only use headphones at the moment.

  • The mic pre-amps always effects sound to some degree. That’s why some interfaces cost so much and have better sound. Even the headphone outs will have and amp, the Kemper does have a good quality headphone output.


    As far as the level of the main out, I leave mine at -12db and it works fine. If you input is still too sensitive to the level you might have to go down to -18 or so.

  • Hey Folks!

    I'm totally new in Kemper.

    I'm using the unit with Mono Out on the Master section running straight into my Behringer XR18. (no special input channel settings)

    But the Sound I'm getting is much different to the sound that is running from the headphone output on the Kemper itself.

    Any solution out there?

  • Maybe you're only getting the impression that it's "much different". Headphone Out is stereo and directly to your ears which can be a huge perceived difference to mono and monitors (connected to the XR18) which are a few feet away from you.

    I could have farted and it would have sounded good! (Brian Johnson)

  • the main difference is likely to be that the Kemper headphone out has the Space feature enabled but when you send a signal to your interface and listen through its headphone out you are hearing the signal without Space added. Try going into the output menu of the KPA and enabling the space feature on the main output then compare the two signals again.

  • Hey Folks!

    I'm totally new in Kemper.

    I'm using the unit with Mono Out on the Master section running straight into my Behringer XR18. (no special input channel settings)

    But the Sound I'm getting is much different to the sound that is running from the headphone output on the Kemper itself.

    Any solution out there?

    How are you connecting it to your interface? As I learned it's not good to use a guitar cable. You need a XLR to line cable in order to bypass your devices gain stage. Also the 'space' option in the mic output can be turned off or not just set to 'space mic only'.

  • How are you connecting it to your interface? As I learned it's not good to use a guitar cable. You need a XLR to line cable in order to bypass your devices gain stage. Also the 'space' option in the mic output can be turned off or not just set to 'space mic only'.

    it is fine to use an instrument cable. The problem os when you use an XLR as this can’t bypass the interface’s mic preamp.


    the space on/off refers to the Kemper outputs not the mic. The manual explains it better than I can though.


    “Space

    The “Space” parameter adds a small room simulation to the master signal. This makes listening through headphones far more enjoyable.

    A brief explanation: whenever you listen to a sound coming from loudspeakers, you are also hearing the reflections from the floor, the walls and objects around you. Even when you listen to a mono signal, these additional reflections will still result in a stereo image once they reach your ears. There is only one common situation where no natural reflections happen, and that is when you listen through headphones; as your ears are, biologically speaking, not suited to this, it can quickly lead to listener fatigue. This effect is called “in-the-head localization” and becomes particularly noticeable when you listen to a mono signal.

    By using the Space effect, you can add virtual reflections, to create a sense of room and natural space. A mono signal will be converted to a subtle stereo image, which should be far more pleasing to your ears. Even though this effect is designed for headphones, you may also find it appropriate for listening through regular speakers, or for recording. By selecting the option “Space>HeadphOnly”, you can select whether it is applied to the HEADPHONE output only, or to the MAIN OUTPUT as well.

    You can also apply the Space effect to individual Rigs, rather than activating it globally in the Output Section. In this case, simply use the TYPE knob to select it in either the X or MOD effect.

    The Space effect is also very useful for improving the sound of in-ear monitors on stage. Unfortunately, in most situations, both stage-monitoring and FOH are derived from the MAIN OUTPUT - as a result, the effect will appear on the main PA as well. As long as you use Space at a suitably low Intensity setting, it will not be noticeable on the PA sound, but will still create a reasonable effect on your in-ear monitors. Needless to say, the monitor signal must be supplied in stereo for Space to have the desired effect.”

  • it is fine to use an instrument cable. The problem os when you use an XLR as this can’t bypass the interface’s mic preamp.

    Here's an advice I got from a sound engineer on a different forum that helped me a lot. I use a Scarlett Solo though.


    "From your description, your Kemper has XLR outputs that send "line" level signal to another device's line input. Mono or Stereo.
    It also has TS guitar level outputs that will mate up with another device's instrument input or a guitar amp.
    You will need a XLR female to TRS cable to go full line out of the Kemper into the Scarlet front input.
    If you decide to use the instrument output of the Kemper, you will plug a TS guitar cable into the input on front and engage 'Instrument button'. This will engage an amp in the Scarlett to bring the signal up to line. Personally, I would go line level out of the Kemper to avoid the extra gain stage."


    And:


    "The Kemper has balanced outputs which need to go into balance line level inputs. So you need a balanced cable from the Kemper to the balanced line input of your interface. I'm guessing it's TRS, so you need an xlr female to quarter inch balanced trs connector."

  • they are wrong on that one. The TS output is line level not guitar level. It is unbalanced but the TS input on the interface is also unbalanced. No need for XLR to TS adaptor.

    Interesting since a bunch of people on gearpage confirmed that. I ordered such a cable and will report back if it helps. As I mentioned before, the sound from the Kemper into headphones vs Kemper into DAW just sound very different at the moment and it's not the Space option.

  • then a bunch of people on thegearpage are equally wrong. It doesn’t matter how many of them say it the facts don’t change. The main output is line level regardless of whether it is XLR balanced or TS unbalanced. The difference in output from +22dBu XLR to +16dBu TS is 6db which is the difference between any balanced and unbalanced signal.


    you should be aware that thegearpage is full of people who haven’t a clue what they are talking about but like to talk anyway. As James Brown would say “talking loud and saying nothing “ 😆

  • I didn't say that you were wrong, I only expressed how complicated it is to get the information one needs if professional sound engineers can't even agree with each other...


    And since this was my best lead on figuring out why the sound between direct heaphone and DAW differs, it's also a frustrating throwback...