Too low IQ for too much EQ? (SOLVED)

  • Hello everyone,

    I hope you can help me finally wrap my head around this issue.

    The short story is that even after learning a lot about the Kemper I still feel it should sound much better than it does.
    The long story is that I might think so only because I’m missing some basic understanding of EQ and guitar tones.

    I have gone through several stages of joy and disappointment with my Kemper. At first I thought everything sounded too muffled, not defined enough. I used EQs and definition and so on and was wondering why most profiles even from more famous profilers sounded too dull to me.

    What I did next was a bit of an epiphany: I started too play over some of my favorite songs and suddenly realized that the profiles worked much better in this context. Inside my head guitars must have sounded brighter than they actually do in the mix. Some brighter profiles which I had earlier liked better, suddenly sounded too harsh.

    I felt more content for a moment, until I went back to youtube and listened to some of the demo videos for the amps whose profiles I was using. Again they sounded much better than my Kemper. I tested this with dozens of different profiles and five different guitars, the Kemper didn’t sound real compared to these videos. I even listened to videos of the exact same amp and guitar combination as I was playing and the result was the same.

    What I don’t get: The amp demonstrations are recorded via mic into a DAW. It’s the same signal chain as a Kemper profile. I heard people respond to Kemper critics saying: you can’t compare the amp in the room experience with a mic’ed amp sound. But I’m not doing this here, I’m comparing real mic’ed amps with profiles of real mic’ed amps.

    The Kemper ALWAYS sounds more distant, has blanket on top, as if frequencies were missing. Very low definition compared to the videos of real amps. Harsher and less character. Adjusting settings like treble and definition doesn’t get rid of the unreal nature of the sound.

    And yes, I tried different cabs and even profiles from different profilers of the same amp = same result.

    What am I missing here? Is it maybe that all 5 guitars of mine have bad quality pickups? I own a Tele (custom made Creamery pickups), Mexican Strat, Epiphone Dot, P90 Hollowbody and a Supro gold foil. The only instrument hat sounds 100% convincing through the Kemper is my semi-hollow short scale bass.

    Since so many of you (and in the industry) are so happy about the Kemper, I was even wondering if it was just my device. However, I reset the whole thing and it sounds the same. Is it broken?

    Or is something broken in my head?

    Why can people on youtube record an amp so well that it sounds three dimensional but the Kemper remains 2D?

  • Kaschko

    Changed the title of the thread from “Too little IQ for too much EQ” to “Too low IQ for too much EQ?”.
  • Okay, here we go. Gotta say this profile really hurt my ears though...

    Mars Golup Strat Bridge

    Mars Golup Strat Neck

    Mars Golup Epiphone Dot Bridge

    I didn't change any setting on the profile and played it straight from the factory rigs. Kemper is connected via SPDIF and it sounds the same if I plug my headphones directly into the Kemper.

    Any thoughts?

    P.S.: I recorded a cleaner example, too. This is a Tone Junkie Profile of the 65 Deluxe Reverb.

    65 Deluxe Reverb Supro Gold Foil

  • One thing that will always be missing is room ambience. Mics on an amp will pick up some of the room to a degree, whereas profiles will be bone dry, until you add a reverb or use the Space option (recommended if you’re using headphones).

  • Any thoughts?

    I don't hear anything out of the ordinary really - that's what a close mic'ed guitar sounds like.

    Please activate Space and after dialing that in (I like values around 3) also activate Pure Cabinet (also 3-ish maybe?)
    Space will add ambience to your guitar, which is very pleasant when monitoring over headphones, while Pure Cabinet is an adaptive algorithm that was designed to remove close mic'ing artifacts.


  • Any thoughts?

    Are you saying that the recordings are too dull, as if they have a blanket over them?
    My thoughts were that the overdriven tones were a little bright, if anything. As sambrox said, they have are obviously too dry.

    I thought the clean tone sounded great, however!

    When I first started to put together a set of profiles for playing live, I profiled my own amp, and found some other profiles which I thought sounded great when playing on my own. At the first full band rehearsal, I ditched the lot, including my own profiles, as they were hideously bright, at volume, in a band mix.
    I found that the best-sounding profiles in a band context were ones which I thought sounded too dull when playing at low volume at home.

  • One thing that will always be missing is room ambience. Mics on an amp will pick up some of the room to a degree, whereas profiles will be bone dry, until you add a reverb or use the Space option (recommended if you’re using headphones).

    I totally agree and understand that. But how come that some of the videos of the same amps sound so much more organic/real? Andy from Reverb for example stated he doesn't do any additional tweaking in the DAW to give us the pure amp sound. And when I listen to these clips there is not added space option activated either. Maybe for amp demonstrations people don't put the mic so close to the amp?

    One theory of mine is that it's my brain tricking me (or "our" brains since I read many comments similar to mine online): If we watch a video, see the room and the amp with our eyes, it automatically "sounds" more three dimensional.

  • I wanna give you guys an example. Here's a video from Rhett Shull playing a 5e3 Tweed Deluxe. In the opening seconds you can hear the guitar outside a mix. It sounds amazing to me.

    Rhett Shull What is the "Tweed" Sound

    I chose this example because I have both the M Britt and Tone Junkie profiles of said amp and they are my favorite profiles at this moment. However, I couldn't get near that sound in his video with them. Again, compared to this quality, my versions sound flat and muffled. Not necessarily lacking in treble but in overall character.

    Is he just using a perfect overdrive? Did he mic the amp from more of a distance?

    P.S.: It might... just MIGHT also be his 3,500 $ Gretsch Falcon...

  • A few things here -

    First the guitar. Pretty much every guitar is going to sound different. The pickups in that Gretsch are quite a bit different than single coils or humbuckers. You can't even really expect that two humbuckers would sound very similar. There are many different magnet types, and even slight differences in pickup height can make a pretty large difference.

    On the amp - your Kemper profiles may be of the same model amp, but they were created with whatever settings the maker of the profile decided on. The microphone(s) used, the mic placement, the speaker(s) in the amp, the EQ settings. Just as in guitars, stick two of the same amp next to each other and will they sound the same? Not likely.

    This is likely why you see a difference in your sounds from the videos you compare to. Even if you had the same amp, same guitar, same pickups, you could only get close to the same result. With the demos you can get a pretty good idea of what the profiles are like, but you can't really expect you using them with your equipment is going to be an exact match.

    Hope that's of some help.

  • On the amp - your Kemper profiles may be of the same model amp, but they were created with whatever settings the maker of the profile decided on. The microphone(s) used, the mic placement, the speaker(s) in the amp, the EQ settings. Just as in guitars, stick two of the same amp next to each other and will they sound the same? Not likely.

    I would agree with you if it would just sound different. But I think there's three dimensionality missing that can't have to do with settings on the amp.

    As I mentioned before, the same happened to me when I used exactly the same guitar and amp combination.

    Of course it could be the microphones. Could even be the guitar strings. But to me the difference is just a bit too much.

  • Probably mostly personal taste. I use many different guitars, many profiles in styles from dead clean to medium high gain. Can't say three dimensionality has ever come to mind.

    Do you tweak profiles or just try them as they are? My thinking is tweak it to what you want. Would you get any new amp, plug it in with no settings and expect it to sounds great? Yes, with tens of thousands of Kemper profiles you can always just look for more. But you can also just change cabs, play with gain and EQ and the great options under Amplifier.

    I've had my Kemper for many years and I try out profiles all the time. But I generally stick to a set that I've customized to be all that I want them to be. I don't find them lacking in any way.

  • hey Kaschko .. wish i could help since i've been super happy with the K's sound since i got it. I'm also using the exact same headphones as you and actually nearly prefer the headphone sound to to my monitors and even the Kabinet. my workflow for sound blis is usually jam and record either on the Kabinet (during daytime) or the DT880pros (in the evening mostly but sometimes also during the day when i want to be more immersed) and then listen back what i record (straight from the Main Outs into the computer) on my tiny Dynaudio Lyd5 monitors (with and Adam Sub8) .. in all these configs i find the sound fantastic most of the times.

    that being said a couple things come to mind from my experience witht he K but not sure if anything will help (also waiting for my rice to be cooked and passing the time ramblin a bit):

    • some profiles i like more than others (i mainly use Mbritt stuff and bought most of his profile packs), sometimes a profile i thought i didn't like comes to life with a different guitar/pickup, there are some i don't like on all my 8 different guitars but those profiles i DO like don't necessarily work on all of them equally well.
    • some profiles sound a bit muddy or too harsh but sometimes when i listen back to the recordings of them on the monitors they sound amazing. i've made a habit to hit the record button everytime i play for post analysis .. it's just HD space of which i got enough so might as well. that really helped and my 'tone' has improved much over the 2 ywears with the K.
    • i work a lot with the looper to noodle and solo over loops and always use either a different pup, a boost/drive/delay or a different profile for the solo parts but always use the same guitar for both parts (out of lazyness mostly but also because in the end it works out nicely). sometimes i don't fuzz too much about the sound and will roll with something i at that moment think doesn't sound so great because i'm more about the ideas/music i play then the sound. and then when i listen back it sound amazing and i wish i could remember which profiles i used that day.
    • i'm a big fan of the definition and clean sense settings, they make a huge difference on different guitars and that's one of the only things i usually dial in for each guitar/pup type
    • if i get frustrated with my playing or i'm not in the 'zone' it usually reflects on my sound, i've come to realize that the 'it's all in the hands' saying is a universal truth .. when i'm in the zone the sound usually folllows the flow no matter the profile
    • i never ever dial up the gain knob, i haven't come across a single profile that takes this well and as soon as the gain knobv goes up the magic dissapears for me. i do however dial down the gain knob quite a bit on some profiles and that seems to work really well and some profiles i would have dismissed since i hate high gain came to life when i cleaned them up with the gain knob.
    • i have learned to throw my previous preconceptions over board with the K. I used to truely hate VOX and HIWATT amps (having played on some really good vintage ones that were loaned to me for years) .. on the K i've got quite a few Vox and Hiwatt rigs i'm fond of now.
    • the first thing i do with most profiles is to switch of the compressor since almost all profiles come with it enabled. i hate compressors, they suckk all the dynamics and tone out of a guitar. they have their place in a live band context or for certain music styles for sure but most times they are the best way to fuck up a perfectly good guitar tone

    now for your sound samples they are suuuper dry and personally i would never play or judge a dry sound like that unless it's in a band or mix context. i mostly play alone and rarely with other instruments because for composing i just like to stick with only the guitar. i don't use loads of FX but often a bit of boost (i use an EP boost pedal dialed down all the way which i prefer because i'm used to it and love it) and always a tiny bit of verb and sometimes a bit of chors/phas/flange and delay, nothin fancy but i definitely need something to 'open up' the sound to be able to fall in love with it. i have never ever been able to work with a super dry amp sound .. even with a Dumble i would hate it.

    and speaking of Dumbles that also reminds me that sound is so super subjective that most times i wonder what people are even talkin about when thy discuss 'legendary tone'. I was once in the first row of a jazz club in a Robben Ford gig, sitting about 2 meters away from him with his Dumble right behind him .. and not just any Dumble ... he has THE Dumble. It was one of the worst guitar tones i've ever heard in my life, super dry, super harsh, super loud. After half an hour or so i went to get a beer and moved around in the room to see if it was just because i was too close to it .. nope, sounded like shit from everywhere in the room (and it wasn't the room acoustics neither since i saw many other gigs that week in the same place and a lot sounded great). Funnily enough i quite like the Mbritt dumble profiles. Another time i went to see Eric Gales who's sound (and music) i love on record and even on youtube. He was playing his strat and a Victory stack .. same thing super dry, super harsh and super loud. In both instances i talked to other guitarists after the gig and most thought they sounded amazing (and nearly broke out the tar and feathers when i mentioned my opionion of the 'tone'). And don't even get me started on 'the Clapton beano tone' and other such internet delusions :D

    All this to say that i learned over the years to focus on the music and the sound i like in the moment and not so much on what i think/want/wish it should sound like or the sound other people accept as good.

    oki, ramblings of an old hungry man are over cause the rice is done :P


    free you mind and your ass will follow …

    Edited 9 times, last by stickman ().

  • I wanna give you guys an example. Here's a video from Rhett Shull playing a 5e3 Tweed Deluxe. In the opening seconds you can hear the guitar outside a mix. It sounds amazing to me.

    P.S.: It might... just MIGHT also be his 3,500 $ Gretsch Falcon...

    Are you using a Gretsch with similar pickups? The sound of those Filtertrons is unique and you can't get that sound with other type of pickups.

  • The Rhett Shull tweed video is not just a close mic sound. It either also includes room microphone sound, or added room reverb.

    If you're right about this it would explain a lot (and it would mean I'm not just imagining things which would be nice, too.)

    Maybe the sound I have in my head is based on bands that use this technique a lot? Maybe even the White Stripes did that to get some depth into their two band member setup.
    Very interesting food for thought. Probably it would even be possible with the Kemper Kabinet. We're not supposed to close mic it but including a room mic might work.

    Is there a common workflow for this thought of setup?

  • I recorded another clip to illustrate my point.

    First have a look at this video, listening to the sound starting at 1:15: Supro Jamesport and Supro Comet "La Grange"

    Now listen to my clip: Same setup, Kemper

    Obviously he's a much better player but the sound should be very close. This is as close as I could get. Like him I also first use fingers and then change to a pickup. I'm using the same guitar through a profile of said amp.

    I am using the Space option in the Kemper to add depth as well as adding ambience and reverb in Logic (sounded better to me than the reverb in the Kemper profile).

    Any thoughts on how I could get the sound closer?