Posts by Der_JD

    You must have made a good IR. I can't tell a big difference between the real cab and the IR when you use the real 5150.

    The TSE, on the other hand... big difference between the real 5150. Not really worse, but definitely different.

    There are a lot of components involved in achieving the modern metal tones we love on today's albums. The tones we hear on albums today are quite processed and far from natural. Some have already been mentioned.

    Pick a good profile- for Merrow's tone, obviously his profiles are a good place to start.

    Multi-tracking- at least 2 takes (most often 4) panned L/R

    Additional processing- a lot of guys add tape saturation to each track. Compression, limiting, and gating will also affect the overall tone.

    The drums and bass- I cannot stress this enough. The overall sound of the drums and bass will affect the "perceived" guitar tone in a huge way. The actual guitar tracks when soloed will, of course, sound the same. But, in the mix (with the proper drums and bass) they'll sound much better and much bigger. In other words, learn how to record great drums/bass and fit them in the mix and you'll instantly improve your guitar sound.

    Your hands- Merrow, for example, has a very unique style that IMO is a big part of his tone. Study how he plays (what he does with his hands) and do your best to mimic it if you're going for that tone.

    Studio tricks- a lot of modern metal bands use quite a bit of studio trickery. Recording note by note, recording at slower speeds, copy>paste, etc. will also have some effects on the final product.

    I agree with the OP on some points, especially when it comes to buying commercial profiles. Sometimes, you just don't know what to expect.

    I generally have 2 uses for profiles: for use in a recorded mix or for use when practicing/jamming. For studio profiles, I prefer them to be pre-shaped or "mix-ready" (though, nothing's truly mix ready) right out of the box. I don't want to have to EQ them to death later. I'd much rather the creator of the profile make it mix ready (through micing techniques, etc., not EQ) from the start. EQing things to death later on results in an unnatural sound IMO. For practicing/jamming I'd much rather have the raw, full response profile.

    Seems to me that most of the high-gain commercial profile sellers are offering the "studio" variety of profiles. Makes sense as most of these sellers come from a production background and there's more of a market for these types of profiles. With low to medium gain sellers, it's more of a crapshoot in terms of what you'll get.

    I agree with the OP on many points. I used to own an Axe II as well.

    To me, the cab section was always its downfall. I always had to spend a lot of time EQing with the Axe in order to get things to sit right in a mix. IME, many of the factory cabs had an abundance of low mids and a lot of third-party IRs seemed overly bright and fizzy. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of money on third-party IRs, but never was fully satisfied. I think the magic of the Kemper lies in its ability to reflect the true nature of the interaction between the cab and amp. When I first got the KPA, I did some recordings to compare Axe and Kemper and immediately noticed the Kemper sounded more alive...more like a real mic'd amp in the mix.

    The flip side of that is that IMO separating the cab from the amp in the Kemper doesn't always end up with good results. I, too, have tried running the Axe and Kemper into the effects loop of a real amp. I achieved the best results with the Axe but I still felt that it sounded a bit too one-dimensional. It just didn't quite have as much character as the real thing.

    Like the OP, I felt that IRs just weren't for me since I was never satisfied using them with the Axe and various software sims. I blamed it all on the IR until just recently. Last week, I picked up a Torpedo Reload, which is basically an attenuator/load box/reamp box all-in-one. To use it in a recording situation, you generally run a real amp through it and then into a DAW and use cab simulation (IRs). IRs, of course, vary in terms of quality, but with good IRs I'm achieving incredible results using the Reload. Does it sound as good as the Kemper? Possibly...though that's entirely subjective and I'm still in the evaluation phase. Does it sound and feel as "alive", as "real" as a Kemper or a real cab mic'd up? First impressions are an overwhelming "yes!". I know...this is slightly off subject but the point is that IRs may not be entirely to blame here. I'm starting to think what matters the most is what equipment the IRs are used with.

    I also agree on the points made about the Axe presets. I found very few usable. I learned a lot from them in terms of effects and routing, but most would require extensive tweaking. Same thing with user presets on the "Axe-Change". Most of these were just downright horrible. I think a lot of that has to do with the equipment the creator was using when the preset was created. Who knows, it could have been dialed in with Apple earbuds. With the Kemper it's been different for me. Once you find a profile creator or seller that you seem to "bond" with, tonally speaking, you're in for a high success rate. For me, that's been Sinmix and Stymphalian for high gain profiles and TAF for cleans through mid-gain profiles. I do think, however, that people who have the ability to profile their own amps will get the absolute most out of the Kemper. Unfortunately, I don't really have this option. Therefore, I have to depend on others to create my tones, which generally works fine for me. Occasionally, though, I have a desire for something different and sometimes it's difficult or impossible to find. Tweaking of profiles only goes so far before it begins to sound unnatural.

    The Kemper works great with headphones, thanks to the "space" parameter, which gives a sense of space (similar to reverb). It makes the sound not so immediate and dry.

    The headphones you choose will have a drastic affect on the quality of sound. There is no such thing as headphones with a truly "flat" frequency response but some are flatter than others. I recommend getting some with as flat of a response as you can within your budget. This will help to avoid harshness in the highs and excessive low end. is a great resource for checking out headphones. You can look at frequency response graphs for a lot of models.

    I also suggest you use open back headphones or at least semi-open back if possible. They sound more natural and don't give you that closed in and isolated sound. The downfall is that a certain amount of sound will leak in and out, but I've found that it's minimal. Also consider the impedance of the headphones. The higher the impedance, the more likely you'll need a headphone amp to get them to proper volume.

    I use a set of Grado SR60i headphones. They're not perfectly flat but they have a good sound and I find that my settings still translate well to my studio monitor speakers. They're fairly cheap. I've tried some more expensive cans (including Beyerdynamic DT770s- hated them) but always came back to the Grados.

    It sounds like you'd be a good candidate for a Kemper. Your story sounds similar to my own in some ways. I used to have an Axe II but found myself tweaking and fussing with IRs more than I was playing. It offered far more than I really needed. I bought a Kemper on a whim and instantly liked it better. I prefer its workflow, interface, and I do think it offers a "simpler set of options". Also preferred the raw amp/cab tone, which is the first priority for me. Sounds like you already know that you'll like the workflow and's just a matter of whether you'll be as happy with the tones. Unfortunately, the only way to know is to try it for a while. Test it with some recordings.

    Make no mistake, though...still plenty of options available with the Kemper, especially when it comes to profiles. There are literally thousands of profiles available. I usually am in one of two states of mind. The first is when I'm perfectly happy with my "go-to" profiles. I practice with them. I record with them. Life is good. However, sometimes I get it in my head that I need to find something "better" or just different. It's those times where I still find the profile options out there to be mind-boggling. With the new Rig Manager, it's quick and easy to audition profiles. But it's easy to get caught up in a profile hunt and it's easy to find yourself spending a lot of additional money on commercial profiles. Commercial profiles constitute around 90% of the profiles I use on a regular basis but unfortunately I probably only end up using around 10% of what I buy. You can listen to demos all day long but you never really know if you're going to like a profile until you try it. It's for these reasons that I occasionally get frustrated with the Kemper (but nowhere to the extent that I did with the Axe II).

    Another option you might consider is one of the Two Notes Torpedo products. I'm actually thinking about trying out the Torpedo Reload. It's a loadbox, attenuator, and reamp box all-in-one. I find that for practicing I still generally prefer real amps over the Kemper. The Reload (with it's attenuation) would allow me to get better tones at lower levels with my amps. I'd still be able to practice or record silently with it as well because you can run your real amp into your interface and use the Wall of Sound cabinet emulation plug-in. If you're really happy with your current amp and effects this might be an option that would make things even simpler...however, you lose the possibility of trying out a wide variety of amps. Having a wide variety of amps (virtual) available used to be important to me too but in the end I've found that I always gravitate toward 2 or 3 main tones anyway.

    I currently do not own an Axe II. I sold mine right after FW 14 came out and just before the introduction of "ultra-res" IRs.

    I initially bought the Kemper on a whim thinking that I'd either return or sell whichever unit I liked the least. To my surprise, the Kemper won.

    There are a few things about the Kemper that sets it apart from other modelers, including the Axe. The Kemper captures the entire chain as opposed to the axe where you assemble the chain piece by piece. The IR (or cab) influences the end tone more than anything else. With the Axe, I struggled to find IRs that resulted in my desired tone. For me, it wasn't as simple as dialing up an amp and saying "let's combine that with a V30 equipped Mesa 4x12". Why? Because the IR not only reflects the cab used but also the mic and mic placement. Audition 100 different Mesa V30 4x12 IRs and I guarantee you that most will sound considerably different from one another. It's not like real life. In real life, a Mesa V30 4x12 sounds (to our ears) like a Mesa V30 4x12. The room itself may influence the sound but in general when you choose a cab and listen to it "in the room", you know what you're getting. Therefore, I spent more time tweaking presets and auditioning IRs than I did playing when I had the Axe.

    "Profiling" just makes more sense to me. The creator of the profile chooses the components of the entire chain based on the creator's intended end resulting tone. The KPA captures it all. The way I look at it either like a profile or you don't. No sense in trying to tweak it to death. Just move on to another profile. So, the KPA saves me a lot of time in terms of tweaking. Auditioning profiles is quick and easy now that we have Rig Manager.

    Another thing is that I feel that the KPA captures the interaction of the power amp with the cab and I have a feeling that may have been a main ingredient that was lacking when I had the Axe. I got great tones with it sure, but it always seemed to be lacking that last 5% or so of realism that I feel the KPA offers.

    The Axe is a great product and I know that many people find tones they love very easily with it but it just wasn't for me. I knew that the primary things I didn't like about it were never going to change, regardless of firmware updates.

    My preference in profiles greatly depends on the intended use and style/genre. I voted for Andy (TAF) simply because I have more of his profiles than anyone else and I tend to use them the most (when practicing/jamming). If I need a profile for high-gain recording I typically choose one from Sinmix, Stymphalian, or ArthurD (who I don't see on the poll, by the way). Each seller/creator of profiles tends to shine in certain areas. Very difficult to choose "the best" overall.


    The only thing that's going to get you what you feel you're missing is a larger speaker (or speakers). I know exactly what you mean. A lot of the more popular high gain commercial profiles are what I'd call "mix-ready" profiles. They sound great when double or quad-tracked in a mix but can seem thin and even somewhat harsh when played solo. Tweaking EQ can help (boost mids and bass, cut highs, reduce definition, etc.) but it's still not going to give you that feel of power and hugeness you get from playing through a larger speaker.

    A new guitar or new pickups is not the answer. Certainly your tone and the way things feel will change a bit with a new guitar or pickups and you may even consider it an improvement but you're not going to notice a massive difference that will equate to what you describe in your original post.

    I've noticed a lot of people selling used Kempers with commercial profiles included on ebay and various forums. What do you think about this? Personally, I haven't formed a strong opinion either way yet. It would be specifically interesting to hear the thoughts of commercial profile sellers.

    That's funny and interesting that Marshall would be in paranoid mode over TAF's profiles.

    I recently bought a Marshall amp. It's a DSL40c that's had the speaker swapped out for a Creamback 65 and I absolutely love it.

    Why did I buy it? Primarily because of Andy's various Marshall profiles! I've experimented with several different brands of amps over the years and I've bought a lot of commercial profiles of all kinds of amps. In the end, based on hands-on experience, profiles, videos, and soundclips I've come to the conclusion that I'm just a Marshall kind of guy...and it seems like I like just about all of them! No other amp brand seems to do it for me as much as Marshall. Guess it makes sense...most of the tones I grew up with and love came from Marshall amps.

    No doubt I will buy more Marshalls in the future and TAF has given me the unique opportunity to virtually "play" several different models that I'd never have the chance to come across in the real world.

    Looks like a really cool product to me.

    I think it will be most powerful in a studio environment. It would allow one to use a tube amp with nearly any IR on the market (through a DAW).

    I doubt that I'll get one but I'd love to try it with my tube amps and some good IRs and compare it to the Kemper. Actually, if I ever get something similar to this I'll probably pick up the Torpedo Reload since it also features attenuation (but a lot more money, of course).


    "The tones...hold their own with the Kemper", yet in your first post you wrote "I find its easier to find things I like (as is) with the Kemper" and "the tones seem a little more "ear friendly"".

    "I love learning and using new hardware so thats not an issue", yet originally you spoke of a learning curve with the Axe and "I just have to be more patient at this stage of my learning process".

    Also, the title of your thread is "My appreciation for Kemper is increased as learn Axe Fx 2".

    So, basically your thread starts out with some praise for the Kemper over the Axe in both the areas of tone and ease of use. Myself and others agreed with you. Now, you defend the Axe.

    Whatever. If you like the Axe...great. If you like the Kemper...great. Have fun.

    I sold my Axe II after owning it for about 18 months (I was on FW14). I spent that entire time tweaking it and never was fully satisfied. Bought a Kemper and did some recordings to compare the two units because sometimes I feel my ears play tricks on me if I try to evaluate tones while I'm actually playing. Listening back later works better for me. IMO, the Kemper won hands down for raw amp/cab tone and I feel it is immensely easier and quicker to find great tones. I don't see the point in owning both unless you just want to use the Axe primarily for effects.

    Ultimately, I feel that the Axe's weak point was dependence on IRs (which make up a massive chunk of your tone). "Profiling" with the Kemper just results in a more natural and realistic tone vs IRs in my opinion.

    Disclaimer: I have not tried Axe FW 15 or "ultra-res IRs" and most of the profiles I use with the KPA are commercial.

    To the OP, if you're bound and determined to get on with the Axe, expect to spend a huge amount of time with it. First, there's the learning curve (which never really ends) and then there's hours and hours tweaking. I have no regrets selling mine. Now I can actually play my guitar vs. twisting virtual knobs on a computer editor all the time!

    I'm not crazy about playing with headphones, but sometimes late at night it's a necessity. I find playing through the Kemper with cans more enjoyable than any other digital guitar solution I've tried, including the Axe II. As mentioned, using the "space" control is a must.

    A person's perception of their tone through headphones is extremely dependent on the headphones themselves. They have different frequency responses or "sonic signatures" and different models sound massively different from one another.

    Generally, it's best to choose as "flat" of a frequency response as possible, yet no pair of headphones is perfectly flat. Also, take into consideration the design of the headphones (closed back, open, semi-open). This makes a huge difference. Open-back designs leak sound both in and out of the headphones but a lot of people (including myself) find them much more enjoyable to play guitar through. They don't sound so boxed in or isolated.

    ATH M50s (mentioned previously) are a popular set of headphones and may be "flatter" than say, Dr. Dre Beats, but really are still far from flat. Anyone who doesn't believe me can just check out the response graph at Also, not a fan of the closed back desing of the M50s.

    I agree. The clarity control is, IMO, possibly the greatest feature in the Kemper! For me, it's essential in terms of finding "my" tones.

    It really lets the sound of the strings come through...if that makes any sense!

    It's really amazing how a lot of profiles can be improved 100% by just a few small tweaks (clarity, definition, power sag, and small adjustments to the main EQ controls are my "go-to" parameters).

    But that's fairly normal for high gain guitars, isn't it?
    When I play by myself I want the full body, but in the mix I gotta tame low frequencies if I want bass and kick drum to be heard. Distorted guitars are very frequency-greedy :)

    Absolutely. That is normal for high gain recording.

    My point is this- it seems to me that commercial profiles often come in one of 2 flavors. The first I would classify as going for a more "amp in the room" sound. They sound stellar right out of the box and have an immediate "wow" factor for solo playing. I'd put TAF's profiles in this category.

    The other flavor is what I would call "mix ready" profiles, which is what most of the current high gain profile sellers seem to be offering. These profiles were captured using equipment and micing techniques that aim for a tone that works well for recording with minimal tweaking. Often, a reference tone from another recording is used and the creator of the profile experiments with micing to try to come close to the reference. These profiles often don't sound great on their own (actually, sometimes they're very harsh) but put into a mix (especially with multiple tracks) they come to life.

    IMO, the main reason why TAF's profiles are so popular (talking about clean through medium gain) is that they sound so good out of the box played solo. I think when most people audition profiles, they don't immediately do it in the context of a recorded mix or live setting. That may come later, but initially they simply plug in and let it rip. TAF's profiles, to my ears, sound the most like a real amp sitting next to you. Most do not sound tweaked for recording or live use.

    When I'm just sitting at home practicing or jamming along to tunes, I've yet to find profiles I like more than TAF's. For recording...that's another story. I find that TAF profiles for cleans and low gain generally work fine for recording as is, but for medium to high gain they need a fair amount of tweaking (usually cutting lows and low mids and boosting highs/high mids).

    Awesome video demo and and these sound like they'd be really good.

    A little pricy for us Americans given the exchange rate. Not saying it's still not a good value as it looks like there's a lot of profiles included and I know profiling is a lot of work. I'll probably pick these up at some point but I'm already saturated with good Peavey metal profiles and the cost is definitely something I have to consider.