Thinking seriously about a Kemper, but what do I need? PowerEngine 60 compatibility and a half dozen other Noob questions.

  • Hi Guys.

    Before I get into the questions, I will list some background so you can get an idea where I'm coming from.

    I've been a gigging amateur sometimes professional musician for nearly 30 years. I've played for audiences from 5 to 50,000 (When opening for headliners).

    For the first 15 years I was a starving musician and had terrible but dependable cheap gear. I have literally played arenas with just a Peavey Bandit and a Boss chorus.

    I was never a tube snob or a "vintage is always better" guy.

    As I have gotten older and music became a hobby, I played 4-5 local shows a month. I've also been afforded better gear, but I also am a realist and have not seen the value in lugging in a ton of gear into a bar only to have to carry it out at the end of the night after I'm exhausted and half drunk. I've had a Bogner and a Boogie dual rec and wow those things are awesome but a bear to move and maintain. I also love a tele through a tweed, but limiting musically and still heavy and somewhat less bulky. I want it all.

    What I am about to say may cause controversy, but I'm a grown man and can handle the flames. But I sold a dual rec and a pedalboard full of various effects and 4x12 to scale down to a Johnson Millenium JM150 Digital amplifier 2x12 (If anyone remembers those) and was in love. It was easy to program and sounded great. With my eyes closed, my rec models sounded very much like my real Boogie, but it breathed differently. I even bought a used spare as a backup. The first died a terrible death in a vehicle accident and the other died in the middle of a gig but luckily the preamp out still worked long enough to finish. I had difficulty getting the Johnson repaired seeing as how they went out business 15 years ago.

    So I quickly purchased a Line 6 HD500 and a Tech 21 Powerengine 60 to get me through the rest of my gigs that year and then kind of retired from playing.

    However I hate the sounds from the HD500. It sounds OK. but where the Johnson sounded like a princeton, a JCM 800, AC etc. The HD unit sounds just OK. The PE60 amp though has impressed me.


    I'm getting the itch, and once Covid is over I think I'm gonna start gigging again.

    If I start gigging again, its not for the money, its strictly for enjoyment. I want my rig to sound AMAZING through the mains, while satisfying to me on stage without lugging around a ton of gear. I need it to be flexible and be able to play a wide range of music and be configurable for nights when everything goes wrong. I also want to plug it in at home and get a grin on my face cranking either in the PE 60 or an old Marshall 2x12 cab I still have.


    I have seen enough believers to feel that the Kemper is the way to go. but which one?

    I LOVE the idea of the Stage running into my PE60, but I've heard that the PE 60 colors the sound. I'm willing to switch out the speaker to the kemper kone if that fits the bill.

    A very big concern with that setup is that I need to know my presets are near to perfect before my gigs. I can't be doing a lot of tweaking on stage so I need an accurate representation of the sounds my audiences will hear.


    If I got a small FRFR PA speaker to go with it, does it give that personal satisfaction when cranking it up at home?


    Is the powered Kemper more fitting? Can it sound good through my big Marshall cab? This seems less advantageous as far as small gear footprint for live.


    I don't have unlimited money and can't afford to buy three different combinations for home vs live.


    Apologies for the long winded list of questions, experience has taught me to learn from others and not just make blind purchases.


    TIA

  • Hey Ron, welcome!

    I think the Stage with your PE 60 (equipped with a Kone) will make for an absolutely awesome rig.

    That said, I used to gig a PE 60 with its Celestion 70/80 plus a Sansamp GT2 and it was minimalist but great as well.

    Awesome.

    Thanks for the quick input. I really appreciate the help.

  • Hi, Ron.


    Welcome.


    "What I am about to say may cause controversy, but I'm a grown man and can handle the flames."


    We've all got a past. No need for an asbestos suit for you.


    I agree with Ingolf. The PE 60 with a Kone with a Kemper Stage sounds like a great rig for what you'll be doing.


    Here are some valuable resources for you.

    👉 Kemper Manuals and Quick Start guides

    👉 Rig Manager Download and Documentation

    👉 Kemper Tutorials & Demos

    👉 Before you buy Commercial Rigs and Profiles check out the Rig Manager for Rig Packs and Rig Exchange


    I'm glad you joined us.


    ST

  • If you want lightweight setup, you can just get the stage, an small power amp (hotone loudster, PS170, bam200), and just bring that and your preferred cab.


    I enjoy the variety of sounds from playing an FRFR (which I normally do), but whenever I feel like it, I use a bam200 on a 2x12 Classic leads celestions, and thats my sound. I mainly play in studio, so I have a rack unit in a 4U backpack with a recording interface, for whenever I have a gig or inspiration strucks.


    The power engine is a great platform for a kone, I dont like 70/80s too much, but you can always upgrade after you get bored of them.

  • Thanks for the wealth of information!

    Ron

  • For what it’s worth, the Stage did not suit me.


    Two reasons:


    1. I did not want the bunch of cords running from the Stage back to my rack on the back line. I picked the unpowered rack KPA with a Powerstage 700 to power my stereo Kabinets. Also in the rack is my Furman and TC Electronics stereo effect unit.

    I have not yet decided to get the Kemper Remote or continue to use my Ground Control Pro. But whatever I choose, there will be just one cord coming from under my vocal mic running to my rack.

    2. I did not want to squat down to turn knobs and press buttons on the Stage for minor tweaks between or during songs. I wanted my rack mounted KPA at eye level. Eventually I will get my KPA tuned in, but until then I will be touching knobs a lot.


    Wishing you the best and welcome to the group.

  • This has also crossed my mind. The idea of the audience watching me on my knees adjusting things is not my idea of fun. This is why if I use the stage I need for my monitoring system to mimic what the audience hears so I can make most of my adjustments at home. This worked well for my Johnson Millenium because I rarely ever had to do more than adjust the global eq to suit my venue.. If I got the rack I would definitely have to get the floor controller because I 'm getting older and am tired of setting up midi controllers.

    It would be nice if the stage was bluetooth and I could make small tweaks on my phone.

  • Hi, Ron.


    I thought about the Stage vs Rack + Remote before I wrote to you above.


    Context

    I have a Stage and an unpowered Profiler (toaster) with the Remote. I got the Profiler and Remote first. I got the Stage last year to do smaller, outdoor shows during the lockdown. For most of those shows, I have to get my gear from the car to the makeshift stage by hand. In many places, it's not possible to use a wheeled cart to ferry-in the gear. Weight and number of pieces is a significant consideration.


    A minor difference - I run everything through my powered PA (Bose L1 Pro) so, I manage vocals, mix, live EQ, and volume wirelessly on the Bose system.


    You've already had an all-in-one floor unit, and you didn't mention any issues with that form factor. I thought the Stage would be okay. Here are the things I considered based on what you told us.


    Cables:

    • Stage - 3 cables - With the simple setup you described, I wasn't concerned about two (more) cables at your feet.
      • Power
      • Guitar in
      • Monitor line out to the PE 60
    • Rack + Remote - 4 cables - Although, there's only one cable from the Remote at your feet.
      • Power
      • Guitar in
      • Monitor line out to PE 60
      • Remote to Rack


    Workflow Live (bending over on a live stage)

    • Stage - I get that all set up before I get to the gig. I might adjust the Master Volume. That's about it.
    • Rack + Remote - same as the Stage except the Master Volume is on the Rack, not the Remote.
    • The Remote is essential and a joy for live performance with the Rack.
    • You can add expression pedals to either system to control things like volume, wah, morphing.


    Workflow before the gig - some done on the computer with Rig Manager

    • Stage - I put the Stage on a desk to do all the knob twisting and button-pushing.
    • Rack + Remote - Set on a stand at eye level


    Other considerations

    Stage

    • The Display on the Stage is easier to read on the floor than the Remote.
    • All-in-one has one less cable connection to make (no need to connect Remote to Rack)
    • More convenient setup at the gig because I don't have to find a place to put the Rack
    • It's lighter and easier to move around than the Rack + Remote.
    • More inputs and outputs (two stereo effects loops), stereo outputs for monitors and Main outputs. (I discounted these because of the typed of gigs you mentioned and the desire to scale down).
    • You can't group the Stomps and Effects blocks (you can do this on the Rack), but you can still get things done. It just takes more steps.
    • Less expensive than the Rack + Remote

    Rack + Remote

    • The Remote is less expensive to replace than the Stage if there are accidents on the stage floor.
    • The Rack in a proper Rack case has a little heft to it, but it is secure in transit - especially if you let others move your gear (I discounted this because of the venues where you said you'd be playing).
    • You can group the Stomps and Effects blocks, so it's easier to do some things with the Rack than the Stage.
    • More expensive than the Stage


    That's why I suggested the Stage for you. But I had to make some assumptions about your priorities to get there.


    Cheers,

    ST

  • ST this too is great information. I appreciate all of it to digest before I make a decision. This information is why I came here first! Thank so much.

    Some aspects of the stage are more appealing, some aspects of the rack are more appealing. I have thought about getting the the stage and setting it up on a keyboard stand and making my adjustments and switching by hand until I had it dialed in and from then on just global eq changes during sound check on the floor from then on.


    I too have a Bose L1, but only use that for acoustic gigs. The 4 channel mixer (I forget what its called) was a game changer, it is so damn easy.


    This forum has been a great experience so far.


    On a side note, I have a custom pedalboard/case I made that contains a base for my mic stand to slide into and has a incline ramp built into it so that my second row is always higher than my first. I've used this with my HD500 and with my voicelive 2 that I used for solo acoustic stuff. For both of those I did use the keyboard stand idea I mentioned above until I dialed them in and then in the pedalboard case they went.

  • Ron - ST is someone who you need to listen to.
    He also offered me some excellent advice on one of my posts.
    I am a noob like you and have been going through these forums to figure out how to make the KPA replace the Boogie amps I’ve LOVED for 40 years.


    I was just minutes away from considering the Quad Cortex from Neural, but the information and maturity of these forums convinced me that the KPA is the way to go.


    Rock on Ron!

    And.....

    Rock on ST

  • Hi, Ron.


    I'm glad that was helpful.


    Since you already have Bose L1 gear (which model do you have?) - let me get into some detail about that for you.


    The 4-channel mixer is called the T1 (unless you've got the newer stereo version, the T4S). I've been running my guitars (electric and acoustic) through Bose L1 gear since 2003. Until this summer, I ran my Kemper Profiler (Toaster with Remote) through the Bose T1 plus L1 Model II. It always sounded great. Since I sing too, I ran everything; guitars and vocals through the L1 set it up behind me (yay, no monitors). If you'd consider doing that - I can tell you, you get a great FRFR (Full Range, Flat Response) experience. But you won't get the amp-in-the-room vibe you'll get with the PE-60.


    When I started doing the outdoor lockdown gigs, I had to go super-portable. I got the Stage and took my Bose T1 and L1 Compact. I've since replaced the L1 Compact with the L1 Pro 8 (the smallest of the new models - 35 pounds). For regular gigs, I'm replacing my L1 Model II with the L1 Pro 32. I'm anxiously awaiting the UPS guy - any day now.


    I'm ecstatically happy with the sound of the Kemper Profilers (either one) through the Bose gear.


    Amp-in-the-Room?

    Last year, I set up a couple of EV M-12G cabinets with EVM 12L Series II drivers and a stereo power amp. I was curious about the whole amp-in-the-room sound that I had not heard in 17 years. This is a lot of fun, and it sounds great.


    Having said all that, I'd never drag all that stuff to a gig (85 pounds). Aside from the stereo aspect, this is similar to what you'd experience with the PE 60. Considering the Tech 21 PE60 weighs 43 pounds, I know I'd leave that behind and carry the L1 instead.


    When you get your Kemper (whichever one), run the Main Outputs through your Bose gear. Definitely do that before spending money to add the Kone to the PE 60.


    Cheers!

    ST

  • ST

    Are you using the Bose gear for a solo gig or for your KPA stage monitors in a full band?

  • Hi, KellyMidiMurphy,

    ST

    Are you using the Bose gear for a solo gig or for your KPA stage monitors in a full band?

    Both.

    For the full band situation, I run several L1 systems behind the band serving as backline, monitors and FOH (Front of House). For larger venues, I use the L1 systems on stage and run lines out to the house system.


    For hybrid situations where I'm the only one in the band with an L1, I set it up behind me and use it as backline and personal monitor. If necessary, I can run a line out to the house system.

  • I have come from a similar background and I play majority live with some very occasional home studio work.


    The difference between the units is:

    • The only advantage of the stage is form factor all have the same functionality. However the Rack and Toaster are way lighter and more convenient than a regular amp so you are winning already over a conventional set up.
    • The only advantage of a separate power amp is stereo.

    For me a powered rack and remote is perfect. I turn up to a gig, I have 3 leads...power, speaker cable and remote cable. No faff with power at the front of the stage because I don;t run outboard effects. I replaced my heavy ENGL head and massive pedal board with a rack with my wireless inside plus the remote and couple of expression pedals.


    Because its powered I can use the in house/festival 4x12 if needed or take my Kabinet/s. I like it at amp height as well for any last minutes changes.


    So with a powered rack I can run anything - powered monitors, unpowered, FRFR, guitar cabs, Kabinet all straight out of the box in one unit. Perfect!!!! Its just not as compact as the stage.


    However you can't go wrong....all of them can do the same thing its just what you personally prefer. As I like to have my cab behind me on stage, running xlr's from the stage back to an amp and cab seems odd to me BUT very doable.


    Couple of other comments:


    1) I don't tweak at gigs. No need, the sound is consistent ( no mike placement variation or valve inconsistencies - yes room variance but I let the sound engineer manage that). The only change I make is on stage volume at sound check then done. Also sound engineers will love you because the monitor sound is not linked to the FOH signal ( unless for some bizarre reason you want it to). So, plug mike lead into Kemper, hit a chord, sound engineers goes " yep got it" and done for level check. Easy!


    2) Does it sound any good? In my 30+ years of playing I have always been looking at the latest gear etc. I've had my Kemper 6 years and not looked at another amp since.


    3) It is massively flexible and programmable with so many 1 touch features e.g. turn volume pedal to zero and auto switches to a silent tuner. Wah can be set to touch sensitivity so no clicking on and off.... morph is an additional feature where you can set another set of values to switch between without a separate "patch" e.g. I use it to boost for riffs, whilst I have a totally different setting/patch for solo's...


    4) The workflow is closer to an amp than other platforms ( e.g. Helix and Ax) IMO. Its not a technically scary.


    5) need you live sound recorded in a studio? Plug an XLR in and boom...there is it!


    Hope that helps...


    BTW the Johnson Millenium JM150 Digital amplifier was cutting edge and sounded good! I remember wishing I could afford one when they came out.

  • Wow this is all great info. Thanks again.


    ST - I have the original L1 with the horse shoe shaped base. I never thought about plugging the Kemper into it. This is the perfect way to dial in my sounds and I can A/B it against the PE60 to dial that in as well. Great Idea! I have pretty much only used it for acoustic solo/duo gigs. Do you run the kemper through the T1 or direct in? I'll try both.


    Kelly - Thanks for the info. All of this helps. The UI on the neural looks amazing and easier to use, I worry about a touch screen on the floor though, and by this point, there is so much kemper support I personally feel that Kemper is right for me.


    V8 - Great perspective. I will absorb all of this before making my decision. I am gonna try to wait until March to make my final decision. (Work Bonus).

  • For a year I was using a Bose L1 MII in my band for both the Kemper and my vocal. Works great.

    After C19 hit I got a couple of Kabinets, but I haven't had a chance to try them in a band setting indoors yet. We did a few practices and gigs outside this past summer and the Kabinet did well indeed.