On the Axe-Fx, there was a method of simulating feedback by setting a pitch block to an octave above, and then assigning an expression pedal to the mix parameter. As the expression pedal is pressed, the octave gradually gets mixed in until it reaches 100%. I’m guessing something similar might be possible with the Kemper?
Thank you for your thoughtful first impressions. You are way ahead of the curve in understanding/appreciating the Kemper so soon. Welcome!
Thanks! I watched A LOT of tutorial videos as I awaited the arrival of my Kemper.
I'm a new Kemper owner, and just wanted to share some of my initial impressions.
Prior to purchasing the Kemper, I was an Axe-Fx user. When the III was announced, I got on the waiting list, and sold my XL+ to fund it. In the meantime, I decided pick up a good tube amp and settled on a Victory V40 Deluxe head. Upon plugging into it for the first time, I fell in love all over again with tube amps, and decided to forego purchasing the III (although it was still mighty tempting to pull the trigger when I got the invite), and stick to a simple tube amp + pedals setup along with the Fractal X-Load for direct recording with Redwirez's mixIR2. As great a setup as this was, I still felt that I wasn't getting the versatility I needed, and since I love using my Atomic CLR live, I'd have to bring along the load box and an IR pedal (picked up a Mooer radar, which is a cool little pedal, BTW). This wasn't a huge issue, but it was just more stuff to bring. Since I didn't want to put myself back on the Axe-Fx III wait list, I decided to give the Kemper a try. Boy am I glad I did...
Raw Amp Tones
The first thing I noticed is that the Kemper feels just as good as the Victory V40 through the load box into my DAW, if not better. The sound is very present and up-front, if that makes sense. It feels more alive than any modeler I've ever used, including the Axe-Fx II. I will say though, that at least for me, the low end on many of the profiles is a little too prominent for my tastes. For some reason I'm very sensitive to low frequencies, so I always have to make adjustments regardless of whether or not I'm using a real or modeled amp. However, I've discovered the Definition and Clarity parameters, which, combined with some selective EQing has allowed me to bend most of the profiles to my will. Speaking of profiles, I've purchased a variety of 3rd party profile packs, and the MBritt ones are by far my favorite, but that really shouldn't surprise anyone.
My personal philosophy on effects is that they need to have a purpose, and must serve the music. If I use any effects at all, I tend to use them for composition, and in that regard, the Kemper has pretty much all the bases covered when it comes to creating interesting sounds and sonic landscapes. Sure, it doesn't have the routing capabilities of the Axe-Fx, but honestly I never took advantage of them when I owned one anyway, so I don't need to run a lot of parallel signal paths or anything like that. I find that too much of that sort of thing overly complicates one's tone, and tends to not translate well to a band setting. Compared to the Axe-Fx, I think the Kemper's delays, modulation, and pitch-based effects are roughly equal, with a slight advantage going to the Axe-Fx in certain instances. The Axe-Fx does beat the Kemper when it comes to drive pedals, but that really doesn't matter to me since I can just find a higher gain profile that suits my needs. One thing that I really like is that many of the effects, particularly the delays, are blank slates to mold as you see fit. In a way it's kind of liberating to not have an effect that's modeled off of anything in particular.
Of course, a lot has already been said about the reverbs in the Kemper, and from what I've read there are some will they/wont they rumors floating around regarding updates. For adding a little ambience to profiles, I think they work fine, but I recently picked up a Source Audio Ventris which I plan on using the majority of the time.
Ok, so I LOVE Fractal's Axe-Edit. It's probably the best PC editor I've used for any device. I know that people have been clamoring for a Kemper editor for a while, but here's the thing -- personally, I don't feel that one is really necessary. I've owned the Kemper for only 3 days, and I already feel like I can navigate the front panel with a good degree of confidence. Thinking back, I now realize that I was so reliant on Axe-Edit, that I never really learned how to edit parameters on the Axe-Fx hardware itself. I kind of lucked out, really, because if during any of my prior gigs I had to make any changes beyond basic amp EQ, I undoubtedly would have messed things up badly. With the Kemper, everything makes sense to me, and dialing in tones has been a breeze thus far.
A great tool is one that doesn't get in the way of your work, and the Kemper surely falls under that category. Over the past three days, I've been more productive musically than I have been in months, and I think the Kemper probably has something to do with it. Don't get me wrong, I had many musical epiphanies with the the Axe-Fx over the years, but because the Kemper is a little more focused in its scope, it's easier for me to filter out distractions (e.g. seeing what would happen if I attached an LFO to every possible parameter, putting everything on 10 including all the advanced controls, and other acts of unmusical lunacy) and just get to work. I appreciate how the profiles are what they are, and that they either work for you or they don't. With the Axe-Fx, I think I spent way too much time trying to get along with amp models that I thought I should like; maybe if I turn this parameter down a little, or that parameter up, or maybe I need a different IR or try a different mic, and so on. I mean, it's not that I had a hard time finding great tones on the Axe-Fx, but I think I think browsing through the Kemper profiles is more efficient. It's like the Tinder of amp sims.
In the end, I think the Kemper will be my tool of choice for the time being. I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to my gear, and like everything else I've owned, the Kemper will work for me until it doesn't, at which point I'll move on to something else. But for now I'm very happy, and am looking forward to contributing to the Kemper community!