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

  • I've done a lot of research on all these attenuators now and there's definitely no simple answer. Some of them sound better than others, some offer cab simulation, some have an FX loop. But there's none that does all of this - or even half of what the Kemper does.


    The Kemper is still the ultimate recording tool, as it seems. Yet the downside remains that profiles produced by others are always just snapshots of what the real amp could offer. (I think that's also one of the reasons most of you guys still own tube amps as well).


    For now I decided to keep my Kemper. Even if I only use a handful of profiles - and would love it if they'd be more flexible - I at least know that they work perfectly. Even more importantly - they're fun.


    I think in my particular case it would be best to save up a little longer and get the amp I want, add an attenuator to make it manageable and then create my own Kemper profiles to be able to record with it as well. In this case I could also use said amp as a real cab to go with the Kemper, which is a bonus.

  • Hopefully you find something that works for you.


    For me, I don't find the snapshot concept a limitation or problem. Even though the controls may not exactly mimic the stack of each specific amp, the advantage is that there are pretty much endless profiles to be found and they can be easily tweaked and fine-tuned. In many ways superior to what's available on the source amps.


    Even in real life, most amps aren't going to be that exact to each other anyway. What tubes do you have? How is it biased? What speaker(s)? What environment are you playing in? What guitar/pickups and so on.


    So if your real goal is to exactly mimic all aspects of a specific amp, that probably doesn't yet exist. But then you wouldn't really know unless you had the amp to begin with to compare to.


    Whether a real amp, the Kemper, or pretty much any other pedals or device, you find something that feels and sounds just right. And it seems like you're done. At least until you find the next one that you decide is better still. And that will never stop.

  • I think in my particular case it would be best to save up a little longer and get the amp I want, add an attenuator to make it manageable and then create my own Kemper profiles to be able to record with it as well. In this case I could also use said amp as a real cab to go with the Kemper, which is a bonus.

    Yes, I'm convinced this is the best way for you to go.:thumbup:

  • The Kemper is still the ultimate recording tool, as it seems. Yet the downside remains that profiles produced by others are always just snapshots of what the real amp could offer. (I think that's also one of the reasons most of you guys still own tube amps as well).

    The reality is that most people using tube amps have a handful of settings they use and rarely mess with them once they've found them. Almost no one I know or have studied screwed around with their amp settings much (if at all). Neil Young has very specific amp settings he uses with his '59 Deluxe. Four specific settings (via the Whizzer) - and that's mostly because he only uses amp distortion.

    One reason multi-channel amps exist is so that (for all intents and purposes) you can set and forget. The myriad number of dirt-boxes and pedals available offers similar choices. Also - some amps only truly sound in a very limited range. I mean....other than Buddy Guy.....who else dimes their amp, and dumps ALL the bass? Part of that has to do with low-wattage amps back in the day and needing to cut through a mix.

    The above holds true for Kemper users. For the most part, anyway. Recording is one of the last things I bought (and use) my Kemper for. 95% of my use is live and I have no intention to profile amps myself.

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

  • So if your real goal is to exactly mimic all aspects of a specific amp, that probably doesn't yet exist.

    No, it was never about this for me. It's all about the user interfaces that amps come with. The amp builders certainly put much thought into it. Several channels, boosts and so on. Just think of a Mesa Lone Star. If you get a set of two profiles for this amp then you only have 1% of what it's capable of.


    To put it simple, the Kemper can capture single sounds almost perfectly but not an entire amp. To me this is definitely a limitation, which doesn't mean the Kemper doesn't have its advantages. If you, however, want to go with one amp only for your sound, the amp is more versatile than having two or three profiles of it. There's no competition even.


    The reality is that most people using tube amps have a handful of settings they use and rarely mess with them once they've found them.

    This is true, however, they picked these few settings out of dozens of settings possible with the amp. And they matched them perfectly to their guitars. Playing someone else's Kemper profile out of the box can work well - but it's also a bit of luck. And if you haven't played the real amp yourself, you can't even know if there's a setting that would add the extra 10% to your tone. That's why many of us keep clicking through profiles. If you have the real amp in front of you, the qualities and limitations become clear immediately.

    In many ways it's apples and oranges, but to me neither option can truly replace the other completely.

  • I’ve been through all the attenuators you mention in your title and for me the winner hands down has been the Captor X. I run a 1974 Marshall 1959, BF Vibrolux and a Mesa MKI through it via a pair of Yamaha HS8’s and some good Irs and it the best tones I’ve ever gotten at room volumes. The Kemper would be a strong second. My biggest gripe with the Kemper is I found profiles of Fenders and Dumbles to sound great but Marshall profiles to be very boomy and lacking some the highs and mids associated with Marshall’s.


    I plan to profile my amps using the captor and the IRs that I like and see how that sounds.

  • I use both options and when you can afford it, it really shouldn't be a matter of exclusion but more a matter of finding the right tool for the right situation.


    When recording I usually use the Kemper, but I almost exclusively use profiles I made of my own amps which I have known of years and have learned where their sweet spots are. It's indistinguishable from using the real thing to be honest. I have a professional recording studio and I usually had the amp head in the control room and the cabinet miked up in the live room so I took the "amp in the room feel" out of the equation when comparing to the KPA, and there really is no significant difference.


    However I do use the UA OX from time to time especially when I know the gig requires me fiddling around with amp settings, for instance between songs. On the other hand, I have profiled most of the settings that I used during these specific sessions so I use the OX less and less. I keep it around in the studio for when a client wants to use his real amp without making too much noise.


    The thing I personally love about the Kemper when compared to using tube amps is its stability, reliability, consistency and ergonomics. No more worrying about tube replacement or cap replacement in old amps etc. No more hauling both the Plexi head and the Dumble clone head to gigs etc. That's what really stands out for me.


    The one thing I would advise you is: profile, profile, profile. The Kemper can store so many profiles, just make one every time you find a useful sound, it really takes a matter of minutes. And document everything, not just in Rig Manager, but in a separate document. Also, try making a profile of your amp connected to for instance the UA OX, this will give great results as well and makes it able to profile in silence.

  • Kaschko Regarding simplicity and to avoid your snapshot dilemma: Maybe take a look at the Strymon Iridium?!


    If you want an analog alternative to the Iridium, you should try the Mad Professor Super Black and Loud'n Proud pedals. Both replicate a complete amp signal path and I use them with a neutral power amp into real cabs or with IR for recording.

  • Kaschko Regarding simplicity and to avoid your snapshot dilemma: Maybe take a look at the Strymon Iridium?!


    If you want an analog alternative to the Iridium, you should try the Mad Professor Super Black and Loud'n Proud pedals. Both replicate a complete amp signal path and I use them with a neutral power amp into real cabs or with IR for recording.

    The Iridium is great but would have rather the opposite effect of what I’m looking for. As I explained, it’s about digging deeper into the possibilities of a certain amp. The Iridium offers in every regard less possibilities than the Kemper.

  • The Iridium is great but would have rather the opposite effect of what I’m looking for. As I explained, it’s about digging deeper into the possibilities of a certain amp. The Iridium offers in every regard less possibilities than the Kemper.


    I thougt, because the Iridium is designed in a way, that knobs do the same as on the amp (and more). No snapshots. Like the middle knob on the Iridium Vox model acts as a Tone Cut knob, providing high-end roll-off just before the power tubes like the AC30... for example.


    What would you miss?

  • What would you miss?

    First of, there can be no doubt that the Kemper has far superior sonic qualities than the Iridium. As you can read in this thread, it’s indistinguishable from the real amp in sound. It easily beats the Iridium.


    The controls might mimic the Vox a bit more but there’s no way it mimics the Super Lead better than the Kemper.


    A real Super Lead amp, however, has several channels and even allows channel jumping (actually a real AC30 would allow that too). Now imagine how many sounds you can get out of a single plexi, in my case the JTM45? High treble clean, normal clean, high treble crunch, normal channel crunch, several higher gain settings, all settings dimed, both channels jumped, different volume mixes from both channels in the jumped mode.

    Just depending on where you plug in your guitar cable you could take dozens of Kemper profiles.

    I don’t see the Iridium getting close to any of that or even closer than the Kemper.


    The only solution I see is to try out each of these settings with the real amp and see what fits your style, guitar and effects the best. And then you create your own bunch of profiles. Here too the Kemper beats the Iridium which is more limited and less adjustable.

  • With something like an Iridium....dirt pedals come right back into the mix.

    If what you want is an *actual* JTM45 set a variety of ways, then yeah....get the JTM45. IMHO - you'll know in your head that you've got the 'real thing'. But, with respect....so what? There's a better than even chance that won't be *quite* the sound you're chasing in your head.

    My go-to clean tone these days is a '67 Fender Champ into a Marshall 1960A 412. This combo does not exist in nature....a 5 watt amp that normally drives an 8" speaker couldn't push a 412 to save its life. But.....it sounds absolutely enormous, fat and distinct with the KPA. My dirt sound tends towards a Soldano Hot Rod 50 into an H&K Redbox speaker emulator.

    I have a sound in my head I'm looking for. I don't care what profile/cab or combination thereof gets me there.

    Maybe I'm misinterpreting, but I could care less if the profile sounds just like the real thing or not. All recorded tones are snapshots in a specific time/place and setting anyway. Knopfler's true Money For Nothing sound exists in exactly one place only - on the recording. Neither he nor the engineer remember exactly how they got there. They kept screwing around and found something. Everything since is nothing more than an approximation. Not the 'real' sound.

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

  • There's a better than even chance that won't be *quite* the sound you're chasing in your head.

    So what? For me it’s not at all about a final result or perfection. It’s all about enjoying the journey.


    As I now mentioned, I will keep the Kemper, buy the amp and just start to create my own profiles. If the results won’t replace the profiles I already have then I at least could feed my own curiosity and learn new things. YMMV

  • So what? For me it’s not at all about a final result or perfection. It’s all about enjoying the journey.


    As I now mentioned, I will keep the Kemper, buy the amp and just start to create my own profiles. If the results won’t replace the profiles I already have then I at least could feed my own curiosity and learn new things. YMMV

    The 'so what?' is exactly the point. You go through all the effort and expense to have the 'real' amp.....and it's still not what you wanted.

    If that's the case....what was the point?

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

  • So you always know the result before trying?

    Never purchased a speaker or amp that sounded 100% as expected. There's always a difference. Sometimes its better. Sometimes it's not. But I also expect that difference to be there.

    Just having the 'real' thing means nothing. Except you can say "I have the real thing." It can be real....and still not what you're after.

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



  • My go-to clean tone these days is a '67 Fender Champ into a Marshall 1960A 412. This combo does not exist in nature....a 5 watt amp that normally drives an 8" speaker couldn't push a 412 to save its life. But.....it sounds absolutely enormous, fat and distinct with the KPA.

    Back in the day I used to run my Mesa Studio .22 (22w EL84 combo) into a Marshall 4x12. It may have been a small amp but it could drive a big cab easily and sounded epic. If I still had a 412 I would happily profile that combination.

  • Just having the 'real' thing means nothing. Except you can say "I have the real thing." It can be real....and still not what you're after.

    I didn’t say any of this and couldn’t care less about saying I own this or that product. I think I’ve been quite clear in my previous comments that I would like to dig deeper into the circuit of a certain amp instead of playing with snapshots of every amp in the world. That’s totally subjective and nobody has to share my idea of what brings me joy.

  • I didn’t say any of this and couldn’t care less about saying I own this or that product. I think I’ve been quite clear in my previous comments that I would like to dig deeper into the circuit of a certain amp instead of playing with snapshots of every amp in the world. That’s totally subjective and nobody has to share my idea of what brings me joy.

    Did I say you did?

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