Advice on first Kemper

  • I need a new toy for lockdown entertainment and I have the cash for either a guitar or a kemper.

    I'm just curious which version of the Kemper people would recommend.


    I'll be running it only at home, through either monitors or the power amp section of my 5153 and into a 2x12 cab.

    Would a stage be good enough for what I'm after - which is mostly just great sounding amp profiles. I have a Helix FX to use for any effect based stuff, although I'm not a big fx guy.


    I've heard the stage has some problems, so I'm curious if anyone has one or experienced those problems now.

    I'm also curious as to what benefits the rack and amp version offer over the stage in regards to recording and such.


    Would me running the Kemper through a tube power amp section into a cab negate the point of me owning this unit? Or do the preamps themselves sound amazing? Obviously for recording it's kemper straight into the computer.


    Also, How does it work for the profiles through a power amp? I mean, I assume the profiles are made on the kemper with the power amp also? I used to use an old axe fx and could just disable power amp for use through a cab, not sure if the kemper is similar.


    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • I'm sure someone with more experience will jump on but I'll throw my 2 cents in. I have the stage and I have not had any problems with mine in nearly 1 1/2 years. Early on I had a software glitch that would appear occasionally but it was fixed almost immediately with an update. Any of the models will do what you are wanting to do. You really wouldn't need the Helix because the Kemper has most if not all of those effects built in. If you bought the powered version you could just run that straight into your cabinet. There are countless profiles you can download for free and great commercial vendors that sell packs for reasonable prices. As far as the preamp on the powered amp vs the others it would be the same. You can get great sounds as long as you get the right profiles. For you I would probably opt for the powered model since you can run your cabinet with it and save the wear on your 5153. - Hope that helps!

    “I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.”

    Dave Lee Roth of Van Halen - 1979

    Edited once, last by sstauffer ().

  • they are made both ways. It will be fine either way. As far as which is better for you,

    depends if you are going to need foot switching the Stage is a little cheaper then Head and remote.

    Any earlier problems with the Stage have been fixed, I’ve been gigging with mine for a couple of years, with no issues

  • I have the Power rack and I love the capability to just plug directly into a guitar cab and not have to use an external power amp. The power amp in the kemper is great and is made to work really good with the profiles. Just my 2 cents...

  • I've heard a few things about the unit sounding a bit strange through a cab, rather than frfr - some profiles not sounding as good as they should and such. Is this something you'd say is accurate - profiles need a bit of tweaking to sound good through a cab, or would I be able to just literally plug into cab, download profiles, and go?

  • I've heard a few things about the unit sounding a bit strange through a cab, rather than frfr - some profiles not sounding as good as they should and such. Is this something you'd say is accurate - profiles need a bit of tweaking to sound good through a cab, or would I be able to just literally plug into cab, download profiles, and go?

    I've had mine for going on 2 years and I would totally disagree with "sounding a bit strange". I profiled my main amp and a/b'ed them side by side and the kemper was 99% the same exact sound. This is my two cents but I don't ever see me using a frfr speaker cab, more than happy with my Marshall 4x12. Some profiles will not sound as good as others i'm sure, but I profile my own amps and love the outcome.

  • I think you'll discover every profile will sound like a slightly altered version of your 5153 if you go in to the effects return, I wouldn't bother with that set up.

    Whichever form factor you decide on will be fun through monitors, if you decide one day you want more of a realistic "amp in the room" sound you could add a basic (or not basic) neutral power amp and play through your cab or even better get a Kabinet or Kones if the bug bites you.


    FWIW I have the powered rack, the first thing I tried was going through the effects return of my Marshall, I do remember that setup being underwhelming (my speaker lead wasn't long enough to reach my Kemper at that point). Then I was switching between my HS8's or my 4x12 cab, the cab felt more realistic but made every profile sound kind of the same, HS8's allowed me to hear the differences between all the profiles but lacked the "feel". I'd say I prefered the cab for gain and hi gain, the monitors were far more pleasing for cleans and edge of breakup sounds.


    Nowadays I'm playing through 4 Kones, much happiness

  • That's interesting, I've always ALWAYS come from a tube/cab setup so I'm very used to that over FRFR, although I do have a pair of Yamaha HS5 monitors that I use for home recording and I also kind of inherited an Alto TS215 monitor after my old band broke up, so I definitely have enough to hook the Kemper up to.


    Would you say there's a way to get the FRFR to respond similar to a power amp and cab? That's really what I'm chasing is the feel as well as the tone - I've heard a few people say that adding a sub or a monitor really helps with this to bring out the low end thump on chugs and palm mutes.

  • That's interesting, I've always ALWAYS come from a tube/cab setup so I'm very used to that over FRFR, although I do have a pair of Yamaha HS5 monitors that I use for home recording and I also kind of inherited an Alto TS215 monitor after my old band broke up, so I definitely have enough to hook the Kemper up to.


    Would you say there's a way to get the FRFR to respond similar to a power amp and cab? That's really what I'm chasing is the feel as well as the tone - I've heard a few people say that adding a sub or a monitor really helps with this to bring out the low end thump on chugs and palm mutes.

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    These are pricey but I have a Mission Engineering Gemini 2 FRFR which has a feature called "Empower variable frequency response control" This control allows you to blend the Speaker frequency response between ‘flat’ and ‘cab’ bias. - I think it rolls off some of the highs and lows to make it sound more like a real guitar cabinet.

    “I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.”

    Dave Lee Roth of Van Halen - 1979

    Edited 2 times, last by sstauffer: These are pricey but I have a Mission Engineering Gemini 2 FRFR which has a feature called "Empower variable frequency response control" This control allows you to blend the Speaker frequency response between ‘flat’ and ‘cab’ bias. - I think it rolls off some of the highs and lows to make it sound more like a real guitar cabinet. ().

  • I have the powered rack. I like it over the toaster model because it has a square form factor that sits on my desk neatly and it has a flat top so I can stack power conditioner and audio interface evenly. And because I want to use a rack for live stage. Plus, it is more cost effective to get the powered one rather than adding a SS power amp if you need for later. I have the foot controller for it and I like that it is relatively small. (Smaller than my tube amps pedal board).

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.

  • Would you say there's a way to get the FRFR to respond similar to a power amp and cab? That's really what I'm chasing is the feel as well as the tone - I've heard a few people say that adding a sub or a monitor really helps with this to bring out the low end thump on chugs and palm mutes.

    I think when you're getting it to the high gain territory, nothing is going to substitute playing through a 25~35kg plywood cab. Will your FRFR set up chug? If Ola can make a metal zone plugged in to a pignose chug then I'm sure you'll manage.

    I'd suggest if you do decide on a non powered Kemper the next piece of equipment I would invest in would be a tc BAM 200 class D micro bass amp to power your 2x12 cab, that particular amp has had lots of praise on this forum.

    I personally wouldn't worry about adding a sub to your monitors unless you see value in adding it for your recording set up. It's not going to get you where you want with high gain imho.


    In the end you'll just have to trust your ears, but you can't do that 'til you buy a Kemper!

  • I think ultimately I'm going to go down the road of a non powered rack unit. Way I see it is, if I don't like it through FRFR I can sell off the tube amp and get the power amp you mentioned (would never have thought of using a micro bass amp to power a guitar cab), and it'll come in at the same price or similar to the powered kemper anyway. If I do like it through FRFR, great - saved some money.


    When running through a power amp, I know I need to disable the cabs on it - is there anything I need to do for the power amp profiling?

  • You disable the cabs if you're going through a conventional guitar / bass cab regardless of whether you're using an external power amp or not; it's not about the (hopefully-transparent) amp, but the cab.


    So, through FRFR setups, whether they be studio monitors, home stereo units or modeller-specific FRFR solutions, you leave cab "emulation" on.

  • The whole cab on/off thing you'll have worked out once you've got the unit in front of you.

    If you're contemplating the rack unit, I would gently nudge you towards the powered rack. The 600w inbuilt icepower power amp is hard to beat (unless you want stereo), having an all in one unit is the best way to go if you find yourself plugging in to passive cabs, which I'm guessing you will.

    Good luck!

  • Hi, ESPete,

    I've heard a few things about the unit sounding a bit strange through a cab, rather than frfr - some profiles not sounding as good as they should and such. Is this something you'd say is accurate - profiles need a bit of tweaking to sound good through a cab, or would I be able to just literally plug into cab, download profiles, and go?

    Here's an excerpt from the Kemper Main Manual (7.5)


    Note the last paragraph in particular.


    You can get the Kemper Main Manual 7.5 here: Downloads | Kemper Amps (kemper-amps.com)

  • ...and get the power amp you mentioned (would never have thought of using a micro bass amp to power a guitar cab),

    Lots of great options in the market for that topic. You might want to use the search function of the forum here as there were some threads asking for the right power amp some time ago.


    I have the unpowered rack version as well as it is most versatile and handy for my use in studio and on the road. Personally I use a little power amp from Harley Benton, the GPA 100 which does a tremendous job. Other options include also rack versions which are mostly stereo which you should consider upfront before deciding. Often discussed here: Seymour Duncan Powerstage (mono, stereo), Palmer Macht, Harley Benton GPA 400...


    And by the way: Welcome to the forum ESPete , have fun with your Kemper once it arrives :thumbup:8)

  • If you want it for home use only, I would go unpowered toaster. The stage is designed to be a floor unit and the rack is great for transporting around in a rack case. The toaster is a perfect desk top format.


    If you do ever want to gig, then alternatively I'd strongly go powered rack. I don't and never would run through a regular guitar amp as for me it defeats the main point.


    For recording just go direct, that is what its designed for. You don;t need a cab or FRFR because you will monitor your recording via your current monitoring ( headphones or DAW monitors).


    I have a powered rack and primarily used it for gigging - never used external pedals or amps as not necessary. The KPA will sound great througha regular cab, but you will come to

  • Verse
    Again home alone

    with a Kemper Kone
    just grab your six string

    And you no longer feel lonely

    Again home alone

    go with a powered toaster

    just plug in your six string
    and you‘ll be the king


    Chorus

    Can you hear the amp in the room

    Nothing compares to this sound

    A powered toaster and Kemper kone

    it‘s like a bride and a groom

    ;)

  • Given your young age

    You should go with Stage!


    It's like Toaster + remote

    Let me finish, on that note.