Kemper vs. Attenuators (Boss TAE, Freyette PS2, Ox Box)

  • Hi everyone,


    I own my Kemper since less than half a year now but I'm wondering if a good attenuator would be better for what I want to do. I need your advice here, since owning both solutions at the same time is too expensive and I want to make sure not to sell the Kemper and then be disappointed with my other solution.

    Maybe in the end you'll just help me regain my Kemper love and dismiss this idea again, who knows.


    What I want to do:

    - be able to play amps as authentically as possible at home

    - be able to have good sound at bedroom volume

    - be able to use headphones

    - be able to record guitar

    - be able to add reverb to non-reverb amps


    What I like about the Kemper:

    - easy recording

    - good headphone use

    - some good sounds in there


    What I don't like about the Kemper:

    - doesn't sound good via Kemper Kabinet at low volumes

    - too many options / distracting

    - amp profiles only come in a few snapshots and don't replace the real amps which they profiled

    - I find myself more often tweaking than actually making music. That's not the Kemper's fault, it's mine, of course. I think having less experience with the real amps than the average Kemper owner just makes me doubt how good the sounds are much more. I'm probably too much of a gear noob for this machine.

    - Not a dislike but I have no need to create my own profiles, which means I don't use a big part of this machine.


    I found out (thanks to the Kemper!!!) that I get almost all sounds I have inside my head from a JTM45. If I'd add a Tweed Deluxe I would probably be covered.

    I am really bothered that the Kemper doesn't give me the full control over said amps. For example, I cannot play around with an amp's circuit and explore it the way it was intended. I would love to plug into a JTM and play with high and low treble inputs, with crazy EQ settings and with channel jumping. I have great JTM profiles on my Kemper but they are limited in what they can do.


    I miss having a real amp. I miss the sound of a real amp that doesn't keep me questioning if there couldn't be another Kemper profile that sounds better than the one I have. Owning the real amp would only leave me with possible wishes of speaker and valve changes, but I would always know it sounds the way it is supposed to. Yes, for many Kemper owners authenticity doesn't matter, to me it does since being a hobby guitarist for me is also about appreciating these vintage designs.


    The best live sound is less important to me than a good home/rehearsal sound + good recording options.


    Now I am wondering: Should I get rid of my Kemper and instead get the real amp I love + a great attenuator? The price should be around the same.


    But which attenuator to get in that case?


    Freyette PS2: I read that it sounds great with Marshalls at any volume. The FX loop allows me to add a reverb pedal. BUT: no headphone out, no SPDIF or USB connection for direct recording.

    But couldn't I just connect the direct out to my USB interface and listen to headphones via my DAW? In that case I assume I need an external cab simulation. My feeling is the PS2 isn't exactly right for my case - or at least not the simples solution.


    Ox Box: Great recording possibilities. Headphone output. BUT: attenuator not as good as with the reamping technology of the other devices. Also, if I understand correctly, the Ox doesn't allow to add reverb to the real guitar cab, only to the speaker simulations.


    Boss TAE: Seems to be the best of both worlds being also the most expensive option. No SPDIF out but USB out. If I understand correctly, I can add reverb to the real guitar cabinet. Comes with speaker simulations any many effects (I wouldn't have to buy a reverb pedal). BUT: Apparently loud fan noises, so not sure if it works for bedroom volume playing. Did I miss any other downsides?


    What are your thoughts? Will I in the end just end up with something that is less reliable and sounds worse than my favorite Kemper profiles? It would of course be horrible if what I'll get satisfies me less than my profiles, despite them being limited in what they do.

    Or is the attenuator route the right way to go if I don't need the sounds of several different amps and easy FOH workflow that the Kemper offers?


    Thanks for hanging in, I know this was a long read.

  • 'Good' sound at low volume is not a function of the amp or KPA. It's how our ears perceive sound. There is no magic piece of gear that gives 'cranked-amp-in-the-room sound & feel' at bedroom volume or in headphones.

    Look up the Fletcher-Munson curve before you start throwing money and complexity at something you may only ever get 'close' to. Don't kid yourself that an attenuator and such won't be less complex than a KPA.

    If great amp sounds out-of-the-box are what you want, I've personally never found anything that gets near the Kemper for simplicity. You either like the profile or you don't. Next.

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

    Edited once, last by Ruefus ().

  • Ruefus It's mainly about the experience. If the profiles that I like would allow me to dive deeper into the amps I would have no issue. I believe I am mainly a 1 amp guy and the Kemper seems to be better when it comes to versatility, not depth.


    'Good' sound at low volume is not a function of the amp or KPA. It's how our ears perceive sound. There is no magic piece of gear that gives 'cranked-amp-in-the-room sound & feel' at bedroom volume or in headphones.

    Look up the Fletcher-Munson curve before you start throwing money and complexity at something you may only ever get 'close' to. Don't kid yourself that an attenuator and such won't be less/more complex than a KPA.

    I respectfully disagree. I have looked up the Fletcher-Munson curve (as I had many discussion about this on this board) and I am playing at a level of 85 - 90db through the Kabinet - which is said curve.


    Also: There clearly is a difference between the Kemper Kabinet and each different amp from the profiles. How can the Kabinet sound like a Marshall Marshall 4x12 closed back cab and a 3x10 Jensen open back cab at the same time? Of course it can't. The Kabinet give you a good middle ground, but I find it changes EQ a lot depending on how loud you play it. Most of the attenuators I listed have EQ options to compensate for that. Again, it's about the experience.


    'Next.

    Why is it that everytime someone writes something slightly critical about the Kemper or questions some of its functions, one gets a passive aggressive comment here?

  • I am using attenuator on tubes and find that you still need to crank the attenuator way past bedroom volumes to get good tone out of it.

    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.

  • I own the Ox and use it as an attenuator with my Victory V40 Deluxe amp and cab and it sounds great. But where this comes alive is connecting to studio monitors and using the in-built cabinet sims and microphones, not to be mistaken with IR's

    The built in effects are really good too, especially the delays and compressor.


    I was going to start a thread on here about it, as I feel its like the cousin to the Kemper, (so to speak).

    Its no nonsense, extremely flexible, and a proper musicians piece of gear, (not that I include myself in that).

    Its a studio players dream, you'll be hard to find a negative review of it.


    Thats my ten pennies worth, as I can't vouch for the other brands.

    However I wouldn't trade my Kemper in for it and so I guess I am lucky to be in a position to own both.


    Not sure if this helps.

    'You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead' - Stan Laurel

  • I have not tried those but seen reviews that lead me to believe I would be in the same predicament. I've invested so much in the Kemper system now that any other amp-type gear would be a waste to try.

    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.

  • I have not tried those but seen reviews that lead me to believe I would be in the same predicament. I've invested so much in the Kemper system now that any other amp-type gear would be a waste to try.

    I see. But then there‘s also this video where Johan Segeborn gets really good results at 70db: Is bedroom level volume good enough?


    Totally get your point about having invested in the Kemper system.

  • Believe me I did my due diligence before I purchased it and its was the best option for me.

    I understand through headphones its excellent, however I haven't tried it.

    'You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead' - Stan Laurel

  • I believe the Ox can be an excellent solution for people who want to explore their one amp to the fullest.
    That said, with all my amps (even the very complex Marshall JVM 410HJS) I have found there is only a certain amount of settings that I tend to use, and therefore I can profile them and I'm done.

    As for the Kone/4x12/3x10 analogy: You won't get the same feel with the ox (or any other attenuation solution) either.

  • Why is it that everytime someone writes something slightly critical about the Kemper or questions some of its functions, one gets a passive aggressive comment here?

    You're the one hearing aggression.

    That's literally how I think when I find a profile I don't like "Next".

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • As for the Kone/4x12/3x10 analogy: You won't get the same feel with the ox (or any other attenuation solution) either.

    No but you get the sound of the real combo as intended compared to the Kone approximating it. Say I‘d compare an attenuated Marshall Bluesbreaker with it‘s 2x12 Celestions and open back vs the profile of a Bluesbreaker played through the Kemper Kabinet.

  • No but you get the sound of the real combo as intended compared to the Kone approximating it. Say I‘d compare an attenuated Marshall Bluesbreaker with it‘s 2x12 Celestions and open back vs the profile of a Bluesbreaker played through the Kemper Kabinet.

    I get you, in the end both solutions will be approximations.

    Bear in mind though, with the Kemper you're not limited to the Kone in any way. Nothing stops you from plugging into a real 4x12 or 3x10 if you're after full authenticity.

  • I get you, in the end both solutions will be approximations.

    Bear in mind though, with the Kemper you're not limited to the Kone in any way. Nothing stops you from plugging into a real 4x12 or 3x10 if you're after full authenticity.

    That's a valid point. I would probably already have tried that if any of my favorite profiles came as direct profiles. But I remember from some of your other posts that you use a real cabinet with your studio profiles all the time, am I right?

  • That's a valid point. I would probably already have tried that if any of my favorite profiles came as direct profiles. But I remember from some of your other posts that you use a real cabinet with your studio profiles all the time, am I right?

    That's correct.

    And I don’t care if the profile is direct/merged or a studio profile.

    CabDriver does such a great job subtracting the cab from a profile, the results I'm getting are great.

  • That said, with all my amps (even the very complex Marshall JVM 410HJS) I have found there is only a certain amount of settings that I tend to use, and therefore I can profile them and I'm done.

    I think you nailed the psychological dilemma here: Had I played around with the real amp for a few weeks I would probably also have settled on a few settings. But not having done that and using other people's profiles I am constantly wondering what I am missing. I do know they used other guitars and have most likely a different taste, too. Going straight for the Kemper - without all that previous experience - means to skip this important educational step and therefore always wondering what sounds one is missing. That's why I pointed out I think the Kemper is mainly meant for more professional musicians who know their amps in and out or who can even profile them themselves.

  • All of them could be excellent solutions but one of them will be exactly the same as just plugging into a JTM45 and cranking the shit out of it.


    Also don't be filled into thinking that something like Ox or TAE is any less likely to have you tweaking than the KPA. Once you jump down the IR rabbit hole you can be gone for days.


    I still have all my valve amps and my Two Notes Reload reactive loadbox/attenuator/tramp box. I use the Kemper because to my ears it sounds better and I spend less time tweaking and more time playing. YMMV.


    As for the "Kabinet can't sound like a Marshall 4x12" comment. You are absolutely correct. However, that isn't because of the speaker it because of the cabinet it is mounted in. If you mount 4 Kones in a Marshall cab you should get the same kind of feel but with ability to chance speaker characteristics. If you use a real amp and attenuator the sound will still be largely governed by the choice of speaker AND cabinet.


    Even though I still have both options I use the KPA 99.99% of the time but ultimately there is no right answer to something as subjective as tone and feel.


    I know this isn't what you want to hear but the only way to find out which is best for you is to actually try them all first hand.