Anyone Disappointed With Their KPA When It First Arrived, But Then........????

  • I had sent back my first unit that I bought the week the KPA came out here in the US. Most of that was because of user error and expecting it to work the way I wanted it to work. I thought I would try it again a few months later after reading some glowing testimonials from people I trusted. This time around I was more open to letting it guide me to its magic rather than forcing it to be what I wanted. It has been a bit of a bumpy road though, as to be expected with any cutting edge gear. But I have been really happy with he KPA for many months and have absolutely no regrets with my purchase.

  • Great idea! I think this should have it's own thread. Since this is your idea, do you want to start it? 8)


    We would also appreciate to hear what your favorite rigs are, as we are planning to compile a Best-Of.
    Feel free to list user-rigs as well.
    (We will not publish content without permission, of course)

  • I have to say that I'm still disappointed. I've had the Kemper for about 2 months now...sold my 11r to get it.

    I was initially overwhelmed at the number of rigs available so it has taken some time to really listen and tweak (just a little). I play blues, surf and rockabilly...no metal or really heavy stuff, mostly clean with light crunch.


    Everything seems to sound the same with just different gain, fx and eq settings...that's what I go to bed thinking.


    I'm listening through Samson Resolv monitors but I've tried it through JBL Eons as well. Admittedly not the best gear, but then how much should that really matter. If I'm trying to replace my tube amps for gigging, I can't always assume the FOH speakers are the best either and I don't want to lay out a fortune for a high end coaxial monitor until I'm happier than I am now.


    I REALLY want to love this thing as much as I love my Access Virus, (I think CK is a brilliant designer) but so far I'm still waiting for that magic moment.


    I've tweaked and tried commercial rigs (all of which sounded way better on the web sites than they do when I play them)...and I'm using pro level guitars.


    I know I'll keep pushing and maybe I'll get there...maybe not. Maybe I'm just too wedded to tubes but for now the KPA still sits next to my computer and I still take two tube amps to gigs.


    Maybe I need counseling ;-)


  • When I had this issue the fix for me was turning down the treble and presence a lot. Also, for some reason I have never gotten along with the headphone out so I monitor from the monitor out instead.


  • First step, disable all your FX except at most some reverb until you are totally comfortable with the amp in question. You bought the KPA for amp tones, keep it at that. Next step, tweak your monitoring situation, a modeler is only as good as the speakers it's going through. And don't forget to adjust your input sens settings and maybe disable the noise gate (until you lock them these are stored per rig, so be aware that they will switch back on/change settings as you switch rigs otherwise).


    If you can borrow someones real amp and profile it, record some stuff with the amp and then record the same stuff with the Kemper, learn how to use the reverb to bring back the "room" sound and "air", the verb in the KPA is more complex than your average pedal so it may take a little while.


    Restrict yourself down to just one or two profiles, and work with them as you would a real amp. If you keep on jumping through many amps you'll never get to the magic because you'll be comparing amps against other amps, and recorded amps do tend to all sound the same, it's just different guitarists that sound different.


    Which leads on to technique, it's hard to measure up against really great playing, you will always sound like yrouself no matter what kit you use, so if you want to start hearing variation then you need to start practicing different techniques and playing different styles yourself. The Kemper is also incredibly reactive to different picking techniques and of course different pickup combinations, remember that the most compressed and similar sounding tones come from the bridge pickup, the neck is where it's at for more organic tones. Once you're comfortable with a rig try sticking a green scream or treble booster in front and playing with compressions. Whatever you do remember you must contend with your own fingers.


    It may just be that you're fatigued with guitar and need a break and to play some other instruments, I get like that sometimes, there's only so much guitar you can take. And there's always the possibility that you just don't gel with the Kemper. Personally I find it to be a chameleon among modelers, capable of sounding and playing like any other modeler as well as close enough to fool most to the recorded sound of most real amps, but if you need that amp in the room sound then you're going to either need a real amp, or to push some real air and probably use a powered guitar style cab (with any modeler).


    It's a tough situation for you as you sold your previous modeler, which means you enver got to really try it side by side, and until you can do that, record them both, you playing, then you will always be comparing with the best moments you had with the previous modeler and seeing it through rose tinted spectacles. Until I sat down and actually played the Pod HD next to the Kemper trying to get the Pod HD to match even one of the basic patches in sound I was convinced it was a pretty weak upgrade, too trebly, not significantly better. Once I did the comparison my eyes were opened, the HD was muddy middle fizz, i could never get the fidelity, the responsiveness to the neck pickup, the clarity, the dynamics, I had thought the KPA was barely any better, but in my fumbling hands the difference was night and day, and I'm pretty good at tweaking this stuff. So i'm not sure what you can do about that except maybe borrow an 11r to do the same tests. Either way, keep at it, if it's not for you then dont' feel bad about it, there's no rule about loving every piece of kit out there, especially not just because it's more expensive.

  • I'd echo Per here. And I believe I can't stress enough how much of a difference a good loudspeaker system may make.
    I'd seriously advice you to go try the KPA with some professional monitoring system. Doesn't matter if they're out of your budget, but you need to "take its measures", as we say here in Italy. In case you decide to do so, use the rigs you've bought in their untweaked status at first. Once you're there, you might also want to ask someone to play while you listen: you usually discover a lot of interesting things doing so.
    :)

  • We would also appreciate to hear what your favorite rigs are, as we are planning to compile a Best-Of.
    Feel free to list user-rigs as well.
    (We will not publish content without permission, of course)

    Ok, i will start a new thread to compile ideas, before those should get their own genre specific subthreads, perhaps with some kind of voting.

  • Thanks guys, some pearls of wisdom there.


    >And I believe I can't stress enough how much of a difference a good loudspeaker system may make.
    Yup, I got that one...but again, my point is that even with mid range stuff such as I have, I should be happy, because let's face it, that's what the audience will be hearing through the FOH.


    >If you can borrow someones real amp and profile it,
    Yeah, maybe I SHOULD try and profile my own...I have a good selection of vintage Fender amps and some modern amps...might be a good test for my ears.


    >When I had this issue the fix for me was turning down the treble and presence a lot.
    Good point....I'm doing that...maybe I need to do more.


    >It may just be that you're fatigued with guitar and need a break and to play some other instruments, I get like that sometimes, there's only so much guitar you can take.
    At first I laughed when I read this but then I started to think...I've been playing for 40 years, currently play live with two bands...been breaking in a new drummer and sax player over the last month....maybe, just maybe, I am a bit guitarred-out and I can't really give it the attention it deserves....good call on this one.


    >you will always be comparing with the best moments you had with the previous modeler and seeing it through rose tinted spectacles.
    Another good point. I've had the Rocktron Chameleon, a Pod, Axe 1, 11R. It would be nice to A/B ....but then I also still compare to the real tube amps that I play through most days. I think that's part of the problem. Maybe I should lock them in a cupboard for a while ;-)


    Anyway, as I have said, I really want to love this. I recognise the clarity and flexibility that the KPA has....maybe subconsciously I don't want to give up my tubes.
    I'm going to persevere!!


    Ken

  • even with mid range stuff such as I have, I should be happy, because let's face it, that's what the audience will be hearing through the FOH.

    Big mistake! Two wrongs don't make a right! If you set up your sound on a bad monitor system then you just don't have a neutral reference. And then the flaws and mistakes of a bad FOH only add up to this! So you end up with two wrongs and nothing right.

    www.audiosemantics.de
    I have been away for quite a while. A few years ago I sold my KPA and since then played my own small tube amp with a Bad Cat Unleash. Now I am back because the DI-profile that I made from my amp sounds very much convincing to me.

  • Since it is a similar story with a so many of us, perhaps there should be something like a Top 20 Demo Rigs that should be named to be the first profiles when turning on the KPA for the first time. Since there are some all time favourites that nearly everybody seems to like in the same musical direction this could be a nice thing. Like 2 or 3 for every "major kind of taste" like clean, crunch, solo, metal and so on...

    The problem is with so many different tastes and differently voiced guitars, that 20 would be vastly different from person to person. Also, I doubt anyone has really sat down and spent time with all the stock, free, and commercial profiles dialing them in to perfection. that would leave zero time for actually playing. My favorite clean user profile is the Gene&Eddy Super. All my other favorites are commercial profiles and some personal stuff I've done.

  • Big mistake! Two wrongs don't make a right! If you set up your sound on a bad monitor system then you just don't have a neutral reference. And then the flaws and mistakes of a bad FOH only add up to this! So you end up with two wrongs and nothing right.


    OK, BUT....!


    I would expect that rigs I have purchased, (and many of the free ones) are done well enough to sound at least decent through average gear. (which is what I am listening through).


    How on earth is the performing musician expected to tweak a rig for every single PA system they will play through...I think not. Maybe a bit of eq'ing, but when I'm setting up for a gig, the last thing i want to be doing is tweaking.


    So I'm not sure where the two wrongs are. I'm trying to refine my rigs through average pro level gear to be played through average pro level gear...why should that cause them to all sound the same? (to me)


    Please don't think I'm down on the KPA , I'm definitely not... but I'm still not ready to go and spend another grand on something else quite yet!

  • Man, do you expect a Soldano sounding as a Soldano should by using a low level cab with some low level speakers?
    I don't think so.
    What i mean is that a gear must have a certain average quality, without having big quality peaks between the different pieces: spending 100€ for a studio monitor and 1400€ for a KPA probably works worse than having a 400€ powered monitor and a POD HD500.
    What i mean is: don't expect good quality stuff to sound as it should if you don't give it the "right" support.
    Many times you can find a good solution right in the middle, without spending thousands euros to get good results.
    I have a 350€ powered cab (paid 250 used) and it has been night and day if I compare it with my Yamaha MSP5 (which aren't very very cheap).

  • I would expect that rigs I have purchased, (and many of the free ones) are done well enough to sound at least decent through average gear.

    There is some truth in this: the guys who produce profiles in order to sell them will certainly tweak them so that they might hopefully be well balanced to sound good on as many different systems as possible. But basically this whole problem about speakers for the KPA is not so much about a linear scale from low quality stuff to "average gear" until really top quality units at the other end. It is much more a wide and large field where also different tastes and intentions as well as just "different types of imperfections" in the gear are important. A full range speaker that is good for one player does not necessarily be good for another one. I saw people here who were perfectly happy with some low cost speakers.

    How on earth is the performing musician expected to tweak a rig for every single PA system they will play through...I think not. Maybe a bit of eq'ing, but when I'm setting up for a gig, the last thing i want to be doing is tweaking.

    This is a bit of the basic problem of digital amps. On analog tube amps our amp-doctor was doing this dull work for us. And we payed him for it. Maybe soon we will find people who offer rig-customizing as a payed service soon? Like "Rig-Doctors"? "Kempists" like dentists - why not? I don't like tweaking either.

    So I'm not sure where the two wrongs are. I'm trying to refine my rigs through average pro level gear to be played through average pro level gear...why should that cause them to all sound the same? (to me)

    When you tweak your rig you do this so that it sounds good to you as you hear it right now out of the monitor that you are using in this moment. This also means that you correct some flaws of your monitor. For example: if your monitor is too bright on certain frequencies you will instinctively turn down these high frequencies. Now if you go somewhere else and play with foreign equipment that does not have the same brightness on these frequencies - then your sound will be too dark on this monitor even if both pieces of gear are the same "good" or "average" or whatever quality range.

    www.audiosemantics.de
    I have been away for quite a while. A few years ago I sold my KPA and since then played my own small tube amp with a Bad Cat Unleash. Now I am back because the DI-profile that I made from my amp sounds very much convincing to me.

  • You don't. You tweak for a performance scenario. Adjustments for the gig can be accomplished via Master EQ section and unless you're using reverb for specific effect, bypass it and lock it. The Kemper's master out EQ and the ability to lock down nearly every aspect allows for on the fly global customization the likes I've not experienced in a more affordable modeling unit and are a God-send for live players.

  • >"Rig-Doctors"? "Kempists" like dentists - why not?


    LOL


    >You don't. You tweak for a performance scenario. Adjustments for the gig can be accomplished via Master EQ section and unless you're using reverb for specific effect, bypass it and lock it. The Kemper's master out EQ and the ability to lock down nearly every aspect allows for on the fly global customization the likes I've not experienced in a more affordable modeling unit and are a God-send for live players.


    Exactly my point. So in some respects, if playing live and no control of the PA, we are better to refine our rigs for average gear because 9 times out of 10, thats what our FOH is anyway and its all about the sound for the audience.


    Anyway, some good input from you guys thanks. I feel like I've vented my frustration a bit and ready to try again with a vengeance!

  • When I ask for suggestions on "Studio Monitors" a while back, I remember several people saying the KPA sounds great through mid level monitors and you don't need expensive monitors because the KPA sounds great through less expensive speakers etc.

  • Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and - as it has been pointed out here above - some users are happy with cheap stuff as well. Since sonic tastes are subjective, no wonder you can find your personal nirvana with practically everything.
    But a simulator is supposed to more or less perfectly recreate a rig's behaviour, and under this aspect this requires high fidelity: it has to be 'faithful' in its job.


    From this preliminary statement, I personally get that the more hi-fi the loudspeaker(s) are, the better the air gets moved in a manner that resembles the original intention.
    I should stress that by hi-fi I don't mean a stereo system devoted to reproducing recorded music, which is usually hi-fi only when it comes to playback records. I rather mean a linear system able to return the original sound pressure, to move air in the same manner, and to not miss anything (as far as possible) of the incoming signal.


    A last thought: while you can be happy with a less-than-linear loudspeaker system, this usually implies two big limitations: both you are stuck with a limited palette (because it superimposes its personality to any signal) and\or you are obliged to heavily make use of EQ to try to be as linear as possible.
    For just a bit more complex reasons, the latter leads back to the previous point: if your 2k fader on the EQ is already maxed out (or all the way down) in the only effort to make the system more linear, then you might be left with no room for further adjustments if\when needed.


    HTH :)

  • I was not impressed at the beginning, but after a few months of learning how to properly use it I love it.. I did install a Solid State Hard Drive so I did not pickup the sound of the old HD motor... This is not unique to KPA, but it help me to be able to not have to relocate my computer far away from where I played the guitar..