The Kemper Beginner's Guide for Kemper Beginners

  • EDIT: Before you read the following statements you should know that by now (late February 2021) I disagree with several of the points I used to make here. I still decided to keep the thread because of the interesting replies, not the least by C. Kemper himself.

    That I changed my mind on many of these "issues" shows how subjective sounds are but also how much the experience with a Kemper changes over time when one gets to know the little machine a bit better.


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    I own my Kemper (as well as my Kemper Kabinet and remote) since a little more than a month now and have gone through all five D-A-B-D-A stages by now. After reaching acceptance I thought it would be a good idea to collect some of my thoughts in a "I wish someone had told me earlier" manner. Maybe it can be of help for someone.


    Don't hesitate to disagree with me or add your own thoughts. I guarantee it's gonna be 100% subjective anyway. ;)

    Here it comes in random order. I might add some more in the future.



    1. Turn off "pure cabinet" in the global settings and you'll get closer to the tones you are looking for.


    2. Most profiles sound nothing like in the youtube videos that advertise them.


    3. Most profiles sound bad "out of the box". Working with the Kemper is all about tweaking.


    4. If you (like me) already spent hours with your real amps and pedals in order to find the perfect sound, you'll spend even more time turning knobs on the Kemper. The Kemper almost guarantees that you can find the tones you're looking for but it takes even more time than the analogue way. I was wrong when I thought the Kemper lets me focus more on the music than the chase for tone.


    5. Start limiting yourself to a handful of profiles as early as possible or you'll never start making music.


    6. The profiles you'll like the most might not be of the amps you like the most. I love Supro amps and have yet to find a Supro profile that sounds amazing with my guitars. There's too may parameters that make a good profile, and the source amp is only one of them.


    7. Don't listen to everyone telling you that adjusting definition is all you need to do in order to figure out if a profile works for you or not. In my case boosting bass and treble often gets me closer to a good sound than definition.


    8. Many professional profiles seem to be set up for very low output guitars. If a profile sounds too boomy it often helps to reduce the gain. One of my main guitars has a higher output gold foil pickup and I need to reduce gain in 50% of all my profiles to make them work.


    9. Recording with SPDIF is a MUST. Investing in an interface with SPDIF input is totally worth it.


    10. The Kemper Kabinet probably won't make your profiles sound as if the actual amp was in the room. A 12" speaker will never sound like the 4x10 Fender Bassman or 4x12 Fender stack you're looking for.


    11. The Kemper Kabinet does not make a good monitor speaker. (Please convince me that I'm wrong.) Using the Aux to feed in a backing track doesn't sound very convincing to me.


    12. Shapers are underestimated and often get you the sound you're searching for in the distortion section.


    13. You can stop trying: the Kemper remote doesn't let you morph from one profile into another one. You can't morph your favorite Amp X clean profile (i.e. Fender Deluxe 2) into a gainier version from the same set (i.e. Fender Deluxe 5).


    14. Adding gain to your favorite clean profile rarely turns it into a great crunchy or distorted profile. Use a different version of the profile or pedals instead. (This was my biggest disappointment since it really stops the Kemper from feeling like a real amp.)


    15. The looper in the Kemper remote has an insanely short recording time. Don't sell your boss loopers (like I did...).


    16. Paying for profiles is worth it. All of my favorite profiles I purchased.


    17. You'll surely have noticed the hype about M Britt's profiles. When I started playing with them I was pretty disappointed at first since they sounded dull and muffled. But after adding treble and some definition many of them actually became my favorites. I'm sure it depends on the guitars you own. To me, Tone Junkie's profiles sound better out of the box and require less tweaking. So spend some time finding a professional profiler whose tone fits your guitars and ears best.


    18. The "Space" option in the output section is a very powerful tool to achieve a more natural sounding tone and doesn't need to be limited to headphones only.


    19. Equalizers can be your good friends. Before the amp section they can help you shape your guitar into something that works better with the amp. The "cut the mix" EQ after the amp section can make dull profiles sound much better. Tone Junkie has some great youtube tutorials for the use of EQs and offers free downloads as well.


    20. You cannot use the Kemper's effect loop and aux in or record a direct signal for reamping at the same time. Although I love the fact that I can use external pedals with the Kemper and place them anywhere in the effect chain (genius!) it's very frustrating not being able to record a direct signal at the same time.



    All right, Kemper wolves, come and attack me.

  • Don't hesitate to disagree with me or add your own thoughts.

    I'll only point to the few areas in which I disagree. Great effort putting this together after only a month, BTW; well done. 8)

    1. Turn off "pure cabinet" in the global settings and you'll get closer to the tones you are looking for.

    This of course depends on whether or not one likes the sounds of off-axis mic'ing.


    Those who're allergic to the "phasey high-end bite" that often results should find Pure Cabinet invaluable. Ballpark noob setting 3/10.

    3. Most profiles sound bad "out of the box". Working with the Kemper is all about tweaking.

    Unless you find a Profiler who's tastes jive with yours, in which case almost all Rigs in a pack can often turn out to be eminently-useable sans tweaking.

    4. If you (like me) already spent hours with your real amps and pedals in order to find the perfect sound, you'll spend even more time turning knobs on the Kemper. The Kemper almost guarantees that you can find the tones you're looking for but it takes even more time than the analogue way. I was wrong when I thought the Kemper lets me focus more on the music than the chase for tone.

    I think this depends. If you find Profilers who fit the description in my previous "answer", the split second it takes to switch from one Rig to another in a pack cannot be compared to the time it'd take to tweak an amp's EQ and gain in order to go from clean to crunch to heavy, for example.

    7. Don't listen to everyone telling you that adjusting definition is all you need to do in order to figure out if a profile works for you or not. In my case boosting bass and treble often gets me closer to a good sound than definition.

    Have you mix-tested this M.O.?


    Sound(!) advice, but I'd be careful adding bass at the best of times if a Rig is intended to be used for recording.

    9. Recording with SPDIF is a MUST. Investing in an interface with SPDIF input is totally worth it.

    It's not a must. The Kemper's analogue-output quality is superb. It's also quiet-enough to make analogue reamping practical as well.


    Thanks for tryin' to help out noobs, mate. Great effort. :thumbup:

  • Recording with SPDIF is a MUST. Investing in an interface with SPDIF input is totally worth it.

    For now I'll just chime in to the first thing that triggered me. If I could I'd bet you $100.00 that in a blind test you wouldn't think the Sony Phillips digital interface sounded SO much better that it was a MUST. In fact that $100.00 would be to bet you couldn't tell the difference between that and going from Kemper main out to quality A/D converter. I'd challenge ANY ear. It perhaps may in some way sound slightly different but not necessarily better. Nothing that knowledgeable eqing couldn't match to the point of ridiculous nit picking. Many of the 8th Degree in tone Kemper black belts never use SPDIF but could at will. Why do you think they don't? A: because it really doesn't make that much if any difference if you have the right signal chain.

  • Let me expand on my SPDIF statement: I am sure that a professional sound engineer or someone with a high end interface can manage to get the same sound out of a cable/main out situation as when using SPDIF. But as a beginner I found it impossible. My recordings never sounded like what I heard when I connected my studio headphones to the Kemper directly.

    This issue sent me on a journey through two internet forums where I got completely opposite advice (balanced / unbalanced, XLR / instrument cable, -12db or definitely NOT -12db etc.). I ended up buying different cables which didn't bring me the wanted effect. It was a waste of money.

    I was using a Focusrite Scarlett, I'm sure there are better devices but most beginners will have what I had since they are extremely common and quite good for their money.

    Once I purchased a bigger version of the Scarlett that had SPDIF input suddenly all of my problems disappeared. The signal sounded pure, no additional gain added by my interface front input. I didn't have to worry about finding unity gain at all anymore. And the best thing: I could just switch between profiles and always had the volume perfectly adjusted to go ahead and record. Before that I had to adjust gain all the time when switching profiles, hoping I would find the perfect amount for the cleanest recording.

    If you're a beginner like me, I say it again: use SPDIF and live happy.


    (In case you care to read my annoying forum journey: Kemper Forum / Best way to connect Kemper to Macbook?, The Gear Page / Best way to connect Kemper to Macbook?)

  • Unless you find a Profiler who's tastes jive with yours, in which case almost all Rigs in a pack can often turn out to be eminently-useable sans tweaking.

    Hi!

    Unfortunately that's not my experience at all. Sometimes I have a good run with a profiler and like a few profiles in a row and then suddenly the next five profiles sound like complete garbage. Their EQ is so different that I'm not even sure how they can all have sounded good to the person selling them. Maybe my guitars (or ears) are just weird but to me buying sets or collections of profiles has always been a bit of a lottery game.


    Thanks for tryin' to help out noobs, mate. Great effort. :thumbup:

    Thanks, I really appreciate your kind words!

  • Right, it's not really a MUST to use SPDIF, it's more of a MUST to have a good signal chain & monitors. If you notice that much difference between using digital and analog outs, I would guess something is deficient. Especially if headphones sound good but through speakers bad. And unless your cables were really bad, or you're running a real long length I doubt ears could tell them apart either. I have expensive Mogami cables and $4.95 cheepo XLR cables and both "sound" the same. Some people get money in their head and believe because something costs more it sounds better. (I will say something about quality connectors being worth it) Blindfolded most fail at those tests because the differences are so slight perhaps because of impedance, a tiny bit of EQ would shift the sound way more. I'd be careful of the "internet forums" advice outside of this one. There are a lot of people on here that really know their Kemper. There are people from the mfg that take the time to post here more often than I've seen with about any other product of this magnitude.

  • Hi!

    Unfortunately that's not my experience at all. Sometimes I have a good run with a profiler and like a few profiles in a row and then suddenly the next five profiles sound like complete garbage. Their EQ is so different that I'm not even sure how they can all have sounded good to the person selling them. Maybe my guitars (or ears) are just weird but to me buying sets or collections of profiles has always been a bit of a lottery game.

    I spent about $100.00 on profiles to learn I should have just bought one of the packs and used the rest from Rig packs in RM. I was always looking for greener grass. I realized I could easily match the sound of the very best amps I've ever had with 6 or so lightly tweeked profiles and be just as happy as I was with those amps. Using the same cab that works for you helps but is not mandatory. When you spend nearly $4,000 on a freed you don't get a fraction of the sounds that come stock with the Kemper. Those are great amps but the Kemper can match the recorded sound so close the owners can't tell the difference.

  • I realized I could easily match the sound of the very best amps I've ever had with 6 or so lightly tweeked profiles

    That's what I tried to express with #5. It's better to know a handful of profiles really well than using a lot of different ones. It goes a bit against what we know from real amps that are often more limited to the one thing they do really well. It's important to learn that the Kemper can sound like the real amp but behaves differently in praxis as it offers far more options (but also has limitations that real amps don't have, see #14).

  • That's what I tried to express with #5. It's better to know a handful of profiles really well than using a lot of different ones. It goes a bit against what we know from real amps that are often more limited to the one thing they do really well. It's important to learn that the Kemper can sound like the real amp but behaves differently in praxis as it offers far more options (but also has limitations that real amps don't have, see #14).

    14 "Adding gain to your favorite clean profile rarely turns it into a great crunchy or distorted profile"

    I don't know why you would want to, just dial another rig in. Same as if you take most any tube amp's clean channel and crank it, few will make a great saturated distorted amp sound. It isn't what it was there for anyway so I don't expect the Kemper to be different. Need a clean tone? Browser knob. Need a ripping Marshall? Same. Cookie monster metal? Load an ENGL rig or something. But that being said I have used a Kemper drive pedal in front of a clean amp in the Kemper and got a great sound messing around.

  • That's what I tried to express with #5. It's better to know a handful of profiles really well than using a lot of different ones.

    My biggest problem is deciding which handful to "stick with". I normally only edit a profile slightly. Anymore than that, I'll just pick something else that is closer to what I am looking for as there are so many choices.

  • Adding gain to your favorite clean profile rarely turns it into a great crunchy or distorted profile

    yes, true in my experiences. But not the other way around. I found using mid gain profiles and turning the gain down makes a good clean, little crunchy sounds. But it depends what your tastes are.

  • yes, true in my experiences. But not the other way around. I found using mid gain profiles and turning the gain down makes a good clean, little crunchy sounds. But it depends what your tastes are.

    I mostly agree. I think you can go up a blip or two (sometimes 3) and be fine but not as far as you can reduce gain and retain the character.

  • Equalizers can be your good friends.

    yes, always try an EQ if you are unsatisfied. Or, put a Compressor as the first effect. I don't know why, but often found it makes the sound more expressive and gives more room to it. As always, this is subjective to what one thinks is a good sound.

  • yes, always try an EQ if you are unsatisfied. Or, put a Compressor as the first effect. I don't know why, but often found it makes the sound more expressive and gives more room to it. As always, this is subjective to what one thinks is a good sound.

    Do you have a preferred setting you can share so I can try what you are hearing? (for the comp)

  • Hi Dynochrome ,
    goto to RigExchange, search for "Marshall DSL 100" from Alex Schmidt(I like it more than bought Friedman profiles). There I got my preferred profile. I do not know exactly which one of the three. I gave it a "3rd Power Switchblack 212" cab (from M.Britt?) and a compressor with these settings:

    - intensity 5.5

    - attack 6.4

    - squash 1.0

  • Hi Dynochrome ,
    goto to RigExchange, search for "Marshall DSL 100" from Alex Schmidt(I like it more than bought Friedman profiles). There I got my preferred profile. I do not know exactly which one of the three. I gave it a "3rd Power Switchblack 212" cab (from M.Britt?) and a compressor with these settings:

    - intensity 5.5

    - attack 6.4

    - squash 1.0

    Have you tried the '78 from Britt's crank n go? I better not like the DSL 100 better, I just settled on the 78 for my main rock rig! Thanks.

  • thanks for taking the time to post and share your experience.


    I won’t go into the points I disagree with because, as you stated, the whole tone thing is extremely subjective. If it works for you or sounds good to you then more power to you’re elbow. Enjoy making glorious sounds for hours on end 😎


    The ones I DO agree with though...........

    Quote

    5. Start limiting yourself to a handful of profiles as early as possible or you'll never start making music.

    Quote

    6. The profiles you'll like the most might not be of the amps you like the most. I love Supro amps and have yet to find a Supro profile that sounds amazing with my guitars. There's too may parameters that make a good profile, and the source amp is only one of them.

    Quote

    12. Shapers are underestimated and often get you the sound you're searching for in the distortion section.


    You can’t do this next one with the real amp either if by morph you mean seamlessly transition from one to the next.

    Quote


    13. You can stop trying: the Kemper remote doesn't let you morph from one profile into another one. You can't morph your favorite Amp X clean profile (i.e. Fender Deluxe 2) into a gainier version from the same set (i.e. Fender Deluxe 5).

    However, if you mean load a clean sound in slot 1 and load a gainier sound in slot and switch between them like two channels on an amp then you absolutely can to so.


    Quote

    15. The looper in the Kemper remote has an insanely short recording time. Don't sell your boss loopers (like I did...).

    Quote

    19. Equalizers can be your good friends. Before the amp section they can help you shape your guitar into something that works better with the amp. The "cut the mix" EQ after the amp section can make dull profiles sound much better. Tone Junkie has some great youtube tutorials for the use of EQs and offers free downloads as well.

    I do also partially agree with 17. Different profilers have their own styles and some suit me more than others. Rather than buying profiles from everyone and their dog most people will typically find a handful of vendors that they like pretty quickly. However, for me most MBritt and Tone Junkie packs have plenty of rigs that sound fantastic straight out the gate that I don’t feel the need to waste time tweaking or swapping cabs etc.



    If I were to add my number one tip it would be - if you still own a valve amp that you love spend a few quid on an SM57 or E609 instead of the same amount of money on commercial profiles and just roll your own !