Kemper Stereo Setup in a full band live setting

  • hey guys,


    me and my friends in our band aeons end put together a rather complex live setup including two Kemper racks, multiple IEM systems, a x32 mixer and a laptop with Logic Pro X for backing tracks, click, midi- and dmx-switching. Basically we build a plug and play solution into one rack including various interfaces and panels for inputs and outputs that allows us to get the best possible sound in combination with our own light show. As our songs often are written with multiple layers we put quite some effort into programming the Kemper in terms of panorama and volume so we can archive a stereo feel live on stage that is as close to a recording as possible.


    You can check out some of our live sessions here:

    https://youtu.be/sqD0blpwshk

    https://youtu.be/81lwpzX0tSA

    https://youtu.be/timWOubOGTA


    Since it took us quite some time to get to this point, we thought it would be cool to give you guys an in-depth look into our whole setup as as starting point.

    So my question is, what would you especially be interested in? Would you prefer written text or a video? Do you care about specific parameters or gear? Would you like to know how we put together sounds? From hi-gain over crunch tones to clean tones, glassy tones and drones we pretty much do everything just with the Kemper.


    We're looking forward to putting together as much information as possible since we feel a lot of bands don't talk about details and workflows, but only care about certain pieces of equipment.


    Just as a liner note: aeons end is a project that we startet in Germany around 2015. We´re playing instrumental music that includes elements of Prog Metal, Post Metal and Post Rock.

    If you're a fan of Tesseract, Leprous or The Contortionist, changes aren't that bad that you might enjoy our music.


    All the best,

    Pat

  • I would be interested!


    We have our own solution centered around a Cymatic LP-16, which provides backing tracks, a click track for our drummer and a cue track with occasional clicks for my own in-ears, as well as midi for automating my Kemper, my vocal effects, our other guitarist's effects unit and our custom midi-controller stage lights. The Cymatic is already racked along with the hardware for the lights, to be set up at our drummer's side, but I would like to rack all of my own equipment -- Kemper, vocal effects, personal mixer and IEM transmitter -- and make it as plug-and-play as possible, with all external connections ready to go.


    Ideally, I would like to be able to keep all cables for cross-stage connections plugged in and neatly rolled up inside the rack case, so I can just roll them out to where they need to go on stage (I use the over-under cable winding method religiously so I can roll them out without twisting :)). But I'm curious if there are any reasons why that would be a bad idea.


    I've never configured a rack before, so I would love to hear how you have everything set up: internal connections in the rack as well as external interfaces, what kind of rack hardware you chose, specific things to look out for, basically anything you'd like to share. In any form that works best for you! :)

  • This sounds very interesting to me.


    I have thought about ways to trigger both pedal-stuff and lightning and dabbling in backingtracks for my band, but I kinda get lost in the jungle, because there's so many ways to do it, and just as many opinions about how it's done.


    Checking out your videos shows me you're doing much of what I'd like to do, so to get first hand information like this would be perfect.


    Personally I prefer written stuff when it comes to these things, because I have to read several times to get things to stick. That's easier to do, than skipping back on a video several times. But you do what's best for you - I'll be happy just to pick up some tips.


    I would also like you to nerd deep. No subject is too obsure! :D

  • about 15 years ago or so I played with a keyboard player. We wanted to form a band but couldn't find the "goldilocks" musicians we needed (guys who were very good, had played in bands, shared our goal of fun gigs, but now had families and jobs so rehearsal would be limited (hence they had to be very good), and weren't interested in the "rock star" thing). We ultimately went down the backing track route - this allowed us to run everything through the PA so we could control overall volume very well. At that time, we had to use a laptop with Cakewalk/Sonar and used midi tracks we mostly got off the 'net, then spent untold hours tweaking and improving. We used a Yamaha tone generator to improve the sound quality of the midi tracks. Since we had the laptop on stage now, we then added control of digital effects (mostly for vocals) and a Digitech Studio Vocalist to add harmonies to our "organic" harmonies, and ultimately DMX control of lighting. As a duo, we could play anything, anywhere, and put on a good show. We got booked as much as we wanted, and got paid very well because we could play corporate gigs, country clubs, and private parties where a "rock band" was wanted but volume was an issue. We did relatively few "bar" gigs, mainly because they just weren't worth the hassle. It was great fun for a good while. And we had very few technical glitches - and when we did, we just stopped and started again (same as if a guitar or amp failed).


    Ultimately, though, it was a constraining process because you had to play the songs exactly the same way every time --there was some possibility of putting loops in the midi tracks to allow extending solo's, but triggering those was a problem. So we dropped all that. Now, years later, we (the keyboard player and me) have a traditional 4 piece, but our drummer plays electronic drums and I'm using the Kemper - so we still have great control over band volume, which to me is the single biggest issue in getting booked at decent paying gigs (unless, of course, you're doing this full-time and play large venues).

  • Thank you for your feedback and storys!


    We decided on splitting our "rig rundown" into separate parts:

    • Rack Setup (including hardware, input and output lists)
    • Mixer & IEM-Setup (including our x32 settings and routing)
    • Kemper Setup (including guitars, performance setup and profile setup)
    • DAW (including project overview, click, backing tracks, MIDI and DMX tracks)
    • Workflow (including our approach on setting up a new song including planning, stem export, midi and dmx programming and mixing)

    For each topic we want to create a post here on the blog including photos and graphics. Also we try to make individual videos for youtube.

    At the moment we're working on the overall structure and try to agree on a release schedule.


    We let you know when we start publishing. Hopefully this will help others who ran into problems or want to start something similar.



    All the best from Germany,

    Pat

  • I applaud your energy ;).


    I have found that for most live venues, stereo output doesn't work well. The main problem is that when placing speakers stage left and stage right, the majority of the audience only hear one side. So most of the audience would hear half of the output of the Kemper/Keys/efx/etc. Now, having said this, I do run my PA in stereo. This is simply because I like the way it sounds in the IEM's. Having stereo efx for the keys, Kemper, and Vocal reverb DOES make a difference to the performers..... just not the audience.


    I am looking forward to your X32 scene as I have an X32 Rack that I can review it with ;).

  • I applaud your energy ;).


    I have found that for most live venues, stereo output doesn't work well. The main problem is that when placing speakers stage left and stage right, the majority of the audience only hear one side. So most of the audience would hear half of the output of the Kemper/Keys/efx/etc. Now, having said this, I do run my PA in stereo. This is simply because I like the way it sounds in the IEM's. Having stereo efx for the keys, Kemper, and Vocal reverb DOES make a difference to the performers..... just not the audience.


    I am looking forward to your X32 scene as I have an X32 Rack that I can review it with ;).

    You're right, we had that in mind from the beginning and never really pan hard left or right. The "stereo split" when both guitars go into their dedicated "mono space" is still noticable.

  • Hello guys, I just got in contact with you on Facebook about two weeks ago, when now several days later I found this thread with your offer to share your knowledge! This is a great and of course very generous offer. As we are working with a nearly similar setup in our band I would be seriously interested in your so-called „Rig-Rundown“. Thanks in advance and by the way: I think your music is really great! All the best to you guys.

  • Hey guys,


    we've worked a lot on our rig rundown/setup bible in the last couple of weeks and really looking forward to share our experience.

    The first part of it will be released next Sunday on January 31st in this very thread with schematics, photos and lots of writing.


    I think your music is really great!

    Thanks Thomas! In the end this is all what actually matters :)

  • Hi guys, this is Oliver from Aeons End, providing you the first article of the in-depth look into our whole setup. In the name of the band: Have fun!

    Introduction

    Aeons End consists of four members and the following instrumental line up:

    • Pat – Git 1 (Kemper A)
    • Oli – Git 2 (Kemper B)
    • Konni – Bass
    • Rapha – Drums

    You can check us out via:


    www.facebook.com/aeonsendband

    www.instagram.com/aeons_end

    aeons end on YouTube

    aeons end on Spotify

    www.aeonsend.eu


    Besides our common love for enjoying, writing and performing atmospheric and rhythmically complex music, we’re dedicated to the idea of maximum independence at all artistic- and technical areas, by reducing the level of necessary intervention from external influences like back line situations, FOH engineers, monitor engineers, lightning engineers etc.


    Our goal is to deliver a high quality performance at a constant and reliable level in songwriting, music production, live performance including band sound and live lights, as well as visual content and the overall presentation of the band.


    So, basically we’re just giant music loving tech nerds on the quest for the perfect independent plug&play band setup, hoping you enjoy our music, too.


    In the following rundown we will show our whole current live setup as well as explain the thought process that went into building it. In part 1 we talk about the core components of the setup, which means we give an overview about most of the equipment that we use and that will be explained in detail later. The focus will be on our live rack as well as our analog routing. Part 2 deals with our mixer and IEM setups and will provide information about how we use our Behringer X32 Rack Mixer. The Kemper setups as well as other guitar stuff will be discussed in Part 3. In Part 4 we show our Logic session and how it controls pretty much our whole setup. Part 5 will be all about our light show: which hardware we use, how we program and control it etc.

  • 1. Core Components

    1.1 MacBook Pro

    The core of our whole setup consists of a MacBook Pro in combination with a Behringer X32 mixer. Currently, we’re using a 2014 MacBook Pro (15-inch display, 2,5 GHz i7 Quad Core, 500 GB SSD, 16 GB of RAM) with a copy of the latest Logic Pro X version (at this point it is 10.6.1).

    In addition to stock Logic plugins we have some Waves plugins and also a copy of db audioware DMXIS installed. Additionally, we use the X32 Edit Software for controlling the mixer on the laptop as well as the latest Rig Manager version for our two Kemper Profiling Amps.


    1.2 Rack

    Rack components from top to bottom

    • Kemper B (Git 2 – Oli)
    • Kemper A (Git 1 – Pat)
    • LD Systems MEI 1000 (Oli)
    • LD Systems MEI 1000 (Pat)
    • LD Systems MEI 1000 (Konni)
    • LD Systems MEI 100 (spare)
    • Behringer X32 Rack
    • Output panel (DIY)
    • Input panel A (Behringer MS 8000)
    • Input panel B (Behringer MS 8000)

    1.2.1 Rack Case

    We’re using a 12U hard plastic double door rack case for our main rack. The case is solid but still lightweight. Our two Kempers are also mounted in similar hard plastic rack cases, so everything can be transported independently and stacked together safely and nicely. We always carry our Kempers back and forth between our home studios and our rehearsal spot, where the main rack is staying all the time. As you can see in the picture above, we have 2U left in our main rack for future extensions.

    1.2.2 Behringer X32 Rack

    The centerpiece of our rack setup is a Behringer X32 in rack format. It manages all analog and digital in- and outputs. Serving as an audio interface, it handles and routes our backing arrangement in Logic Pro X, our premixes and separate outputs for FOH. Additionally, we use the X32 as a mixer for our five independent stereo in-ear monitoring (IEM) mixes – all controllable independently via app-remote (Mixing Station). In fact, we’re using all 16 XLR inputs, all 8 XLR outputs and also all 6 AUX outputs. We also intended to use the X32 for sending MIDI commands for controlling our Kempers, but came to realise that the X32 isn’t able to do dedicated MIDI-sends (which nearly every other cheap interface does in a handslight). The X32 is connected to the MacBook Pro via USB hub. A network cable connects the X32 to our wifi router, as the X32 lacks an internal router, different to the X-Air series, too. All mentioned aspects and solutions will be explained in the following articles.



    1.2.3 Behringer MS 8000 (Input/Split panels)

    All connectors of the X32 are located at the backside. Just the imagination of plugging 30 different cables in a dark rack full of different equipment in a turbulent changeover situation caused pain in our heads. So the goal was clear: we have to bring all connectors, except the permanently connected IEM systems, to a color-labeled panel at the front of the rack. First idea was to solder an appropriate panel for all 16 inputs, but then the Behringer MS 8000 appeared on our horizon.

    This unit provides 8 XLR Inputs splitted to 16 XLR outputs with ground lift and Phantom Power Link. This is just perfect, because with this gem it’s possible to route all input signals into our X32 while splitting certain signals, e.g. kick and bass, directly to FOH. All for less than the material price of a self made panel.

    Like mentioned above, we’ve labeled all cables and affiliated inputs with the same colored marking tape. This way, everyone is able to get the routing safely.

    In conclusion we’re running two Behringer MS8000 as input panels. All 16 XLR inputs of the X32 are available at the front and can be splitted directly.

    1.2.4 Output panel

    Of course all external outputs (to FOH & the wired IEM system of our drummer) needed to be transferred to the front as well. Because we’re utilising the XLR Outs and AUX Outs (jack-sockets) of the X32, no fix hardware was available. So we decided to build an DIY panel. We’ve used the opportunity to convert all jack sources (AUX Outs) to XLR Outs.

    Our first iteration was a cheap and straight panel. We put sockets in and soldered them with Cordial cables with Neutrik connectors. Long story short: nearly every physical contact resulted in cable break at the open soldered socket points. Frustrating as hell. After some search we found the Adam Hall 872215 U-shaped Rack Panel 1U. The clou is that the u-shaped cable holders work as a strain relief. We’re using cable ties to fix the soldered connections to the panel and never experienced a cable break since that. Highly recommended!

    We’ve also labeled all cables and affiliated outputs with the same colored marking tape.

    In fact, we run some certain splitted input signals from the input panel directly to the output panel for providing them to FOH. A detailed explanation will follow later on. So our output panel consists of the Adam Hall 872215 U-shaped Rack Panel 1U, 16 Neutrik XLR male sockets, symmetric cordial cables and different Neutrik connectors matched to the output signal socket source.




    1.2.5 IEM Systems

    Pat, Oli and Konni are using LD Systems MEI 1000 G2 in stereo mode. Rapha is using a Behringer Powerplay P1 also in stereo mode. The fact that we all use stereo IEM mixes is a good part of the reason why we have to use all the XLR and AUX Outs of the X32. We tried mono IEM mixes in the past but were not satisfied with the results. With an LD Systems MEI 100 G2 (labeled as IEM Vox), we have one stereo wireless IEM system as a spare and backup unit.


        


    1.2.6 Rack tray

    We acquired the Thon Rack Tray 1U for small but necessary equipment in our main rack. All following parts are mounted nicely and safely with cable ties to the numerous drill holes. This thing is a steal for the price. Maybe we will move all mounted parts to a rack drawer some day for better accessibility, but at the moment everything works fine the way it is.


    1.2.6.1 USB hub

    All the following parts on the rack tray are connected to an 7-Port USB 3.0 hub also mounted on the rack tray, which is connected with our MacBook Pro. The USB hub is supplied with a 10W power adapter.


    1.2.6.2 MIDIface

    In fact the Behringer X32 isn’t able to send MIDI commands, which is a real bummer. So we are forced to use a MIDI interface and decided for the Miditech MIDIface 2×2, which is working like a charm and mounted to the rack tray. Connected via USB to the USB hub, it handles all MIDI commands related to our Kempers. Pat is using channel A and Oli is using channel B. We went for different colored MIDI cables for minimizing human errors while connecting.

    1.2.6.3 DMXIS

    We run a MIDI-triggered lightshow which is programmed and controlled via Enttec DMXIS hard- and software. The DMXIS interface, which is converting MIDI to DMX commands, is mounted to the rack tray and connected to the USB hub. A dedicated explanation to the process of programming light MIDIS and our own lighting hardware will follow in a few weeks.

    1.2.6.4 WIFI router

    Like mentioned above, the X32 does not have an internal wifi-router, so we are forced to operate an external router to use the possibility of wireless remote control via app. The router, an TP-Link TL-WR841N N300, is connected via ethernet cable to the X32. You have to set the same parameters as IP address and gateway on both units to get them communicating properly.

    1.2.7 Power supply

    We’re running ten electrical consumers in the periphery of our main rack. Therefore we’re using two parallel mounted t.racks Power 8 S straight power distribution strips on the backside of the main rack. Small but efficient life hack, if you’re in need of a lot of power slots.

    list of power consumers

    • MacBook Pro
    • X32 Rack
    • Kemper A (Git 1 - Pat)
    • Kemper B (Git 2 - Oli)
    • IEM LD Systems MEI 1000 (Oli)
    • IEM LD Systems MEI 1000 (Pat)
    • IEM LD Systems MEI 1000 (Konni)
    • IEM LD Systems MEI 100 (spare)
    • USB hub
    • Wifi Router

    1.2.8 Num pad

    All important events in our Logic session (like songs, sound- & light checks) have markers on their starting points, which allow us to toggle between them with a simple push of a button. Additionally to the programmed trigger pads on our master MIDI keyboard, we also installed a simple wireless bluetooth num pad with an USB receiver on the USB hub, which triggers each event. More on Num Pad and MIDI keyboard later.



    (As there's a maximum of ten pics and 10.000 characters per post, a split is needed. Please read on below.)

  • 1.3 Analog Inputs

    As shown in the table, we have to handle a lot of signals from different sources. We also send them to different destinations with different demands: The FOH doesn’t need all the signals that we want for our IEM. And we all have different preferences for our IEM mixes. The result is a pretty complex routing. At the end of part 1 we will show a complete routing scheme, but for clarity’s sake let’s start with the input panels.


    Input Signal Source Phantom
    1 Git 1 L Kemper A XLR Output L
    2 Git 1 R Kemper A XLR Output R
    3 Git 2 L Kemper B XLR Output L
    4 Git 2 R Kemper B XLR Output R
    5 Bass Line6 Helix
    6 Kick the t.bone BD 500 Beta
    yes
    7 OH L AKG P17 yes
    8 OH R AKG P17 yes
    9 Snare Sennheiser e904
    10 Crowd Beyerdynamic MCE 86 S ii yes
    11 Floor Tom L AKG P4
    12 Rack Tom L AKG P4
    13 Rack Tom R AKG P4
    14 Floor Tom R AKG P4
    15 Live Return L FOH
    16 Live Return R FOH




    The following scheme shows the front and back of our MS 8000 input panels with all the signals:



    As you can see, 8 of the 16 inputs are used for drum mics. Originally we didn’t plan to mic the whole drum set but we found it to have some benefits: (1) We have a complete IEM mix for rehearsal as well as potentially live. In-ear monitoring can make you feel a little isolated (which also led us to use a crowd mic, more on that later) so having all instruments present is very pleasing. We plan to use Input 15 and 16 in upcoming live situations if the sound engineer can’t provide all the single drum inputs. This way he can send us his stereo mix of the drumset. (2) We can record complete band mixes for demos as well as getting an impression of how our set will sound. As mentioned at the beginning we want to operate as independent as possible and deliver a high quality performance at a constant and reliable level.

    The drawback is that we don’t have any inputs left for other sources, e.g. vocals. But since we’re currently playing instrumental it’s not so bad. Besides we can always extend our input possibilities in the future, e.g. with stage boxes.

    As mentioned above, the MS 8000 provides two outputs for each input. We use these in different ways. For example, the bass signal gets split: The Link Out is sent to the output panel (which will be shown later) and straight to the FOH; the Direct Out is sent to the X32 for our IEM. There is another important point with the Link Outs: only they can accept Phantom Power from the X32! So for example the kick drum mic is sent to the X32 via Link Out to get Phantom Power; the Direct Out is sent straight to the output panel and to the FOH.


    Let’s take a look at the input section on the back of our X32:





    We organized the patch cables in a way that the inputs of the MS 8000 match with the inputs on the X32. For example, Input 1 on the MS 8000 is patched to Input 1 on the X32 and so on (at the beginning of our rack journey however, we were less organized and everything was a little bit messy).

    To the USB input of the X32 we send different digital signals from our laptop and Logic Pro X. They are shown in the final routing scheme at the end of this part and explained in detail in part 2 and 4 of this rundown.

    1.4 Analog outputs

    Let’s take a look at the output section of our X32:




    As you can see, all the input signals are pretty much merged into a live stereo mix and the stereo mixes for our IEM. We merge the live guitars, additional guitar layers, synths and live VSTs into one mix because (1) it makes sound checks easier and (2) it keeps the individual levels as well as the panning the way we want. To achieve this we had to, among other things, change the Main Outs of the X32 to be regular outputs. The routing and mixing inside the X32 will be explained in detail in Part 2, so let’s leave that for later. The “Spare Outs” were used for vocals earlier and we left all the routing in place for days to come (resoldering cables for the output panel is also quite a pain).

    Last but not least, here are the back and front of the output panel:




    So these are the signals that we send to the FOH in the end. Remember that bass, kick and snare are sent here directly from the input panels via Link- or Direct Outs. The IEM outputs for our drummer are positioned on the front because he uses a wired IEM system unlike the rest of us.

    That pretty much wraps up our rack and the analog signals we run for our setup.

    Part 2 will explain how we route and mix all our signals inside the X32. To conclude part 1 we show the announced scheme with the complete routing which hopefully will be understandable with the explanations given so far:



  • We´re happy to share! In the next episode we feature our mixer and IEM system, including general mixer setup, internal routing, mixing and recording. In part three we cover our Kempers with profiles, performances and stereo usage.


    All the best,

    pat