The competition seems to be stepping up their game...

  • I've been more than a bit sceptical when it comes to other manufacturers touting their digital modellers/capture devices as an equal to the Kemper Profiler.


    After all, I've been a Kemper user since 2013, and for the last few years, I've always been quite confident that the Kemper is the one to beat.


    Looking at what's going on nowadays, there do seem to be some huge strides being made by other companies.


    The Axe FX III, in particular, seems to be moving forward at a real rapid pace. They seem to have come out with a new firmware called Cygnus that improves the modelling. I know the usual argument that updates change the sound and the Kemper is still better, but some of the videos/clips are quite convincing.


    Then we have the Quad Cortex, which though a bit underwhelming at launch, is likely to have more features coming up. The company has been putting out updates on the development of the device, and a lot of it looks promising. What really interests me was the fact that their "capture" technology didn't attract any lawsuits.


    Then there's Line 6. Never know when they're going to put out their next generation processor, but I have a feeling that they are going to go big with the next one. With all the developments in tech over the years, it's entirely conceivable they pull a rabbit out of a hat. After all, they have been improving with every iteration of their flagship product.


    Just quite an interesting time, I'm wondering when/whether Kemper is going to come out with a new machine. 2022/23 maybe? It'll be about 10 years of the Profiler then.


    Here's a blind test video I saw that I found quite good. The user doesn't seem to get stuff sent to him for review and just buys them, which I thought makes it more credible. Possible he's on the forum too. I actually guessed which amp the Kemper was, can you?



    Just goes to show that the quality of all the top end digital gear is now reaching a common level of tone.

  • Whatever people say about 100% or 99% or 95% accuracy, the Kemper sounds just fantastic to me, and I'm not concerned about whether another device can get a 2-3% more accurate sound. I feel the same way about flashier interfaces, dual amps or whatever. New players venturing into the marketspace certainly have more choice at the top tier, and the Kemper remains competitive with regular updates. Looking forward to OS9!


    As for a new device, there's lots of suggestions for a smaller form-factor unit. I would certainly be interested in something like that, especially knowing that it won't become obsolete in 3 years.

  • Fender and Gibson make the same guitars for the last 75-100 years, more or less. I see no rush to re-invent the wheel. I could theoretically make tube amp profiles with this thing for another 50 years. Now, if we re-invented music then maybe a new Kemper toy in the future.

    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 sold my helix LT and Got a kemper stage (have a powered rack as main gigrig). The lt is really Nice but all these possibilities, fx, dual amp, dual cab things are overwhelming. I Just love the simple signal chain of the Kemper. Although fancy is Nice, it comes to roadworthy reliabilty and sound. These topics excell for the Kempers!


    Raf

    Kemper Powered Rack and remote/Mission pedal with Zilla 212 (K-100/V30) and Kemper stage with mission pedal

  • Whatever people say about 100% or 99% or 95% accuracy, the Kemper sounds just fantastic to me, and I'm not concerned about whether another device can get a 2-3% more accurate sound. I feel the same way about flashier interfaces, dual amps or whatever. New players venturing into the marketspace certainly have more choice at the top tier, and the Kemper remains competitive with regular updates. Looking forward to OS9!


    As for a new device, there's lots of suggestions for a smaller form-factor unit. I would certainly be interested in something like that, especially knowing that it won't become obsolete in 3 years.


    Progress is progress though. It's a good time to be a guitarist, that's for sure.


    I'm not pointing towards any deficiencies in the Kemper. Rather, I'm highlighting the fact that the competition is closing on, or has possibly even drawn level.


    I might try to score a second hand Fractal or Helix in the coming days. Worth checking out the grass on the other side. I figure it would be cool to pair with my tube amps as an FX unit at least.


    Fender and Gibson make the same guitars for the last 75-100 years, more or less. I see no rush to re-invent the wheel. I could theoretically make tube amp profiles with this thing for another 50 years. Now, if we re-invented music then maybe a new Kemper toy in the future.


    Yet there are other builders that have emerged in the last 20-30 that have got stellar reputation, such as Suhr, Music Man, Mayones, Skervesen et al.


    It isn't so much a case as reinventing the wheel as building a better mouse trap in a way. Again, the thread isn't to disparage the Kemper; it's about taking a good hard look at some of the competing options and what they are up to.


    I sold my helix LT and Got a kemper stage (have a powered rack as main gigrig). The lt is really Nice but all these possibilities, fx, dual amp, dual cab things are overwhelming. I Just love the simple signal chain of the Kemper. Although fancy is Nice, it comes to roadworthy reliabilty and sound. These topics excell for the Kempers!


    Raf


    I think the Helix is a really roadworthy device, though I don't think it is at par with the Kemper like the Axe FX, for example. I've actually bought and sold three Kempers and now on my fourth, which is actually the same unit I bought in 2013.


    I think that's a testament to how good the Kemper is, really. The fact that I couldn't see a better option on my radar.


    That said, maybe I should have taken a walk on the wild side and tried some of the other modellers out there, like you tried the LT. It actually makes a lot of sense to me at this juncture, given what I've seen about the great tones you could get out of something as simpler as a free guitar VST, a power amp and a cabinet.

  • I think the quality of what's out there overall is outstanding. I listened to Line 6, Fractal and Kemper before making my purchase and found Kemper and Fractal equal in tone with Line 6 coming in behind them, but only slightly. Great tones all around.


    For me, the biggest selling point of the Kemper (before I actually got one and saw the constant free OS and other software updates) was the difference in approach. Modelers try to emulate an actual amp, with a goal of letting you do everything with a model that you could do with an actual amp. A profile, on the other hand, is a snapshot of a single tone. While plenty of room to tweak it, those are two very different things.


    I've never enjoyed dialing in tones as I'm constantly dissatisfied with my results, so using profiles from other people who are better at it than I am was appealing. If I was a guy who really loved sound design, Fractal probably would have been the choice.


    The Quad is doing the profile approach, and there's no shortage of other modelers out there, both physical and software. And as nightlight pointed out, there are lots of great guitar builders these days, not to mention it being something of a golden age for stomp box pedals.


    When I first started out in the 70s, there was Gibson and Fender, and with few exceptions pretty much everything else was crap. Same with amps, you had Fenders and Marshalls and Voxes (oh, my!), and then, well, mostly crap. These days there's just a staggering array of choices out there for musical gear and while I'm sure some of it is still crap, the overwhelming majority of it is pro quality stuff. And much of it is absolutely stellar.


    Fortunately, it's not a zero sum game. I don't think brand X has to suck in order for me to like brand Y, or even Z. I like the profile approach versus modelers. Others prefer exactly the opposite. The PRS is the first non Gibson / Fender electric I've owned since my first Strat in the 70s, but probably out of habit and tradition more than anything else. I have no doubt all those other guitars rock just as hard.


    Quad is taking a swing at Kemper's approach, and others may do the same. There may also be future mashups of modelers / profilers (if there aren't already). That said, I'm very happy with my Kemper and the reduced level of GAS in my life just because of what it does. However, having been a Kemper customer and a part of this community for a couple of years, I think the way they do business and support their products, along with an unusually positive and helpful group of guys here (you all know you're oddities in the Internet Animal Kingdom, right?), creates a significant market advantage. Others could replicate that level of support, to be sure, but I haven't seen it so far.


    And yet, I still enjoy watching videos of other guitars, other pedals, and other amps / sims / models / profilers / etc. It's kinda like going to the race track and just betting on paper without actually spending any money.

  • Progress is progress though. It's a good time to be a guitarist, that's for sure.


    I'm not pointing towards any deficiencies in the Kemper. Rather, I'm highlighting the fact that the competition is closing on, or has possibly even drawn level.


    I might try to score a second hand Fractal or Helix in the coming days. Worth checking out the grass on the other side. I figure it would be cool to pair with my tube amps as an FX unit at least.

    I can't argue with any of the above. Competition is indeed healthy for the market. As far as I'm concerned, rather than look at other multifx units, in the last number of years I've veered towards random effects pedals that did one thing well, and throw them in the Kemper's fx loop. But yes, you can't go far wrong with Fractal or Line6 these days.

  • I expect the next generation to be not much more than a pedal shaped interface for a laptop. Perhaps even Bluetooth connected.


    A PC based Kemper profile "player" that uses VSTs and interfaces directly in a DAW would be amazing. DSP limitations? Buy another DSP module.

    Line6 is basically doing that with their Helix code - I think they call it Helix Native.


    Key would be having something like a good old Tech21 SansAmp that works during boot-up and re-boot... something to support the "show must go on" moments.


    Exciting times. Sucks that we have massive supply line disruption and chip shortages during such exciting times, though.

  • There are other great products out there for sure. I myself had the Helix before coming over to the Kemper and loved it. The only reason I got rid of it was I got tired of spending more time tweaking and tone chasing. On the Kemper I never, well rarely, tone chase. I just check the tones out and if I like them down and or load them into a performance. The fact that I can test a profile on the rig exchange is amazing and I think that Kemper is the only ones that let you do the, could be wrong. The only thing I do miss about the old Helix is using it for the 4 cable method with my real amps. If I were to ever let go of my Kemper it would likely be for another tube amp and not for another digital platform.

  • One thing that I have become more familiar with in recent months is the fact that tweaking Kemper profiles can actually help you find a sound of your own that you might not get with a stock profile.


    In that sense, I've had to eat my own words that it's better to get a profile that suits your needs than tweaking an existing one, at least partially.


    I've found that you often get a great sound out of a profile you downloaded or purchased, but for best results, one should always spend some time after finding that "golden tone" to at least try to make it sound better. Some of the usual suspects are in the amp block, but it also pays to delve into the cab block. I'm not too fond of EQing with the base controls, but that often works really well in conjunction with an EQ block in the X slot.


    That kind of makes the Kemper an awesome hybrid of profiler as well as modeller, which goes against the common refrain that they are two entirely different things.


    Back on topic, though, I see some incredible possibilities with a modeller in conjunction with the Profiler.


    1) For one, with something like the Helix or Axe FX, you could route the Kemper into a loop on two separate channels - left and right or something else. Then you could route different stompboxes and EQing to create two entirely distinct sounds on each channel, then loop it back to the Kemper for output through a stereo slot. Alternatively, you could have the Kemper in the loop of the device.


    2) Another possibility that I'm kind of excited about is the idea of a WDW setup using the Kemper and another device. You don't really need to bother yourself with additional monitoring on the stage, just have one of the devices running into a cab. But route one of the devices in mono and the other device in stereo to the mixing board and have the audience enjoy all those spatial effects.


    3) Single rig processed to hell. Make use of all the additional stomps and FX that you could obtain from something like the Helix or Axe or QC and run it in the loop of the Kemper. This might make for some completely interesting possibilities when it comes to EQing or compression or FX to get a killer tone.


    4) Using something like automatic double tracking into the front of both devices for a huge sound. Again, this doesn't have to be monitored on stage, but you could definitely run it into the FOH for the effect to be heard by the audience.


    All of these possibilities doesn't obviate the possibility of getting a second Kemper for the purpose, of course. Personally, I don't see the point of having two of the same device, just given my financial constraints, but it may be of interest to other users.

  • I still have my Axe FX Ultra that I bought over 10 years ago. I keep it because I have it racked in my desk and can use it with my DAW. It is just another option for recording. I can still get good tones out of it even though Fractal abandoned that unit a long time ago. Kemper has also been doing great things for around a decade as well.


    For me it is all about the interface. I tried to use my Axe FX as a gigging unit. I had to have my laptop connected to it all the time because it takes forever to tweak something through the front of the unit. I also had to setup a remote for it. I used and still have a Ground Control Pro with 2 Boss expression pedals that I used with it.


    When the Kemper Stage came along, that looked like the perfect unit to me. I was able to profile my amp that I have been gigging with for 6+ years and have my typical sound. I don't need a separate controller for it because it is all one unit. I now don't have to carry an amp. It eliminated one heavy piece of gear from the gig rig. The Kemper is a ton easier to tweak from the face of the unit than the Axe FX. There is frequently something that I feel the need to tweak based on the room or how the rest of the band is playing that night. That is what killed the Axe FX as a gig rig for me.


    So far I am super happy with the Kemper Stage. It does everything that I wanted it to do. I know Fractal produced a floor unit similar to the Kemper Stage but for some reason they abandoned that as well. Kemp has continued to support their customer's and their units since the beginning. That was another huge reason I purchased the Stage. I was pretty offended when Fractal phased out my 2k piece of gear rather quickly after it was released. When you spend that kind of money on something you expect to get more life out of it than what they give you. I have amps that I have spent that much on that I am now able to profile and continue to have those tones to use. I would rather spend my money with a company that values it's customers enough to continue to support them for years to come instead of trying to push a new 2k unit on them every 2 or 3 years.


  • I agree. Longevity of a device is important. That's one reason I like the Kemper, I've had one for about 8 years, and it is still being developed.


    I think the thing to notice is that the original Axe FXII came out in 2011. The Axe FX III came out in 2018. The way I see it, I have about another 5 years before the current hardware is phased out. Sure, they came out with various iterations, but if you look at it, the processing power was never increased, all they did were some improvements to storage and inputs.


    In that sense, however, you see that the Kemper has been out for about nine years now, going on ten. In that regard, I honestly think the device has matured beautifully, with more features being added all the time.


    But if you look at the video I posted, you'll see that there are things that are unlikely to be achieved with the current hardware. The competition has also been improving its tones and features.


    That kind of is what the thread is about, the fact that while Kemper Amps hasn't been standing still, the competitors are no longer as far behind as we all thought they were.


    For example, check this out:


    I think you can do it with the Kemper, but it's the first time I'm seeing something like it done. That's what I find so refreshing, just the idea that the device is meant for tweaking, as opposed to the set and forget modus operandi for the Kemper.

  • I think you can do it with the Kemper, but it's the first time I'm seeing something like it done. That's what I find so refreshing, just the idea that the device is meant for tweaking, as opposed to the set and forget modus operandi for the Kemper.

    That was pretty cool. I never thought that Fractal was behind Kemper. In fact, I thought there were far too many parameters that can be adjusted in my Axe FX Ultra. It goes as deep as you want to go. However, if you are someone that is used to using a tube amp and some pedals and try to transition over to that unit, it can get over complicated quickly. I think Kemper does a better job in that respect. It is easier to understand for someone that is used to amps and pedals in my opinion.


    For me the most important part is still how easy can I make a couple of tweaks in an effect at a gig. Kemper is definitely easier to perform a few tweaks on the fly with. It offers a way to pull up that specific effect and adjust a parameter then save it. It isn't as fast as reaching down to tweak a knob on a pedal but it is much easier and faster than trying to do that on an Axe FX.


    I used to use a Boss GT-8 for gigging years ago. The main reason I selected that unit is because it has more knobs on it than other units like that and it was much easier to make a tweak and save. This is a deal breaker for me when it comes to being able to play gigs with units like these.


    Using any of these for in home recording is a completely different scenario. In this environment you have all the time you need to make tweaks and save settings. I think the playing filed is level for all of these units in that environment. I may choose the Axe FX in that scenario. In fact, I actually have an Eleven Rack in the desk right next to the Axe FX and I use them both. I look at my Kemper as a gigging solution, which is why I bought the Stage when I saw that was on the market. To me that is a very well thought out unit for gigging.

  • Here's a concrete example of a company like Fractal taking things up a notch. I couldn't ever have dreamed this kind of stuff was possible. But it is.


    The option itself was even there in the nineties at least regarding effects. The G-Force had such option. Eg. activate wha when pitch is beyond e“ or activate pitch shift when notes are below a‘. You could even tune Progression of expression pedals. Quite „simple stuff“. As the Kemper is already able to detect pitches and has transpose features etc. as well I always wonder why there is no pitch-based modifier yet available. I remember also the ADSR-modifiers with good old Rocktron times that seem to control the auto wah feature. I think Kemper should re-engineer the whole modifier scheme within the Kemper. I would also like to activate the morph feature by pitch. Sitar sounds on the high pitches and crude metal at the low strings. Apparently modifying gain with Kemper might be difficult as it is no real modeler. I hope that they go further into sound improvement of effects etc. after finishing the iOS-Wireless thing that at least for me is something really useless. I am a tone junkie not a smartphone nerd…