After a month or so with the Kemper I thought I would share my experience.
So far I have only really used the Kemper reamped into Cubase using an UR824 soundcard.
I mostly write Hard Rock/Grunge and I am the main writer, singer, lead guitarist and general pain in the arse.
When I first started to use the Kemper I was seriously impressed. Not only was the amp profiling providing more than what I expected a recommended commercial pack of the JVM was an eye opener. I instantly did not miss my JVM.
I found from the moment I plugged it in it was very intuitive. The menu structure, whilst vast is memorable when used and I have yet to think to myself "where was that setting?" which is something I always struggled with when using modellers.
Few Weeks In
After updating, purchasing a few commercial profiles and getting Rig Manager I was ready to record. I found the Kemper extremely easy to use. The manual was very rarely referenced and the few videos I did watch were enough to get me going.
Once I was settled on a few commercial packs I started to record a few riffs. Now let’s just say the profiles are awesome and park the profiles for a second. The effects are brilliant. I absolutely adore the modulation effects, they don’t mix into the profile, they seem to sit underneath complementing the sound. What I mean by thid is the modellers I have used have always been too extreme, they kind of alter the initial sound to the point you are trying to EQ the basic sound back into the model. With the Kemper you have an amp profile, you turn up the delay and it does not really alter the amp sound just adds repetitions. In a nutshell the modulation effects can be very subtle.
Now I did run into a few issues, crap sound, not enough gain, hiss etc. and guess what…..it was all of my making. I changed my gain on the UR824 and was annoyed that I was back fiddling until I realised it was all my fault
The other thing I like is when I think “I wish I could do xxx” I find it in the Kemper. Can I save the input? Yes, can I save the output? Yes, can I blank off the profiles and upload my own? Yes. The saving of outputs and inputs is probably the biggest thing that made me gasp. It's no good creating an easy to cable live and studio rig if you have to spend 20 minutes setting up levels, setting EQ etc, no need to just save away, even save per venue, per practice room...... Brilliant.
Now Rig Manager I loved to start with, I used it as part of my work flow very quickly. Open Cubase, create a session, name it, open up Rig Manager, Create a performance, Name it the same as the song, record a riff, reamp it, check which amps I want to use, add this to the Performance…..done.
Now whilst the Kemper does perform above expectations unfortunately Rig Manger does not perform even fundamentally with how it’s designed; well not for me anyway. Example:
- Open up Cubase
- Create a session
- Name the Session
- Open up Rig Manager
- Create a Performance
- Name the performance
- Record a riff
Now the problems start.
Rig Manager will allow you to audition a sound without issue, but in Performance mode it does not always save to the Kemper, even worse the performance you are in does not always correlate with the Kemper meaning you sometimes overwrite settings you have worked extremely hard on for another track. This is my only really area of frustration with the Kemper as a free Times it has sucked me out of the creative process to sit and recover the sounds from a backup or have to remember and recreate the sounds.
A Month In
Well I love this device and my writing has improved. I also find when I am struggling to build on a riff having so many fantastic sounds at my fingertips has lead me in the right direction. I find the unit inspiring and fun to use.
There is one thing that is a huge bonus and the reason I love this more than anything……..I play and don’t edit. I was honestly scared of moving back to a modeller/profiler after owning a tube amp as once I bought an amp my playing greatly improved. I started to love having limited options but with the Kemper if you want to have 1000 amps and tweak away you can, if you want to buy your favourite profiles and stick with them you can do that too.
What would I change?
Rig Manager and its synchronisation needs to be improved.
Can I say editor without being lynched LOL.
I honestly do not think the unit needs one as the unit is extremely simply to use but the fact the Kemper is in the studio, then moved to a practice room, and then back again means it cannot sit in a fixed rack on the desk all cabled in and within arms reach. It’s in a 6u shallow Gator case across the room of placed untidy and inconveniently within arms length. It would be great to be able to place the Kemper in an area where I practice at home (no computer distraction) which is close enough to edit whilst practicing then I can leave it there, run a long USB cable to the PC and not have to move it when recording.
What do I love?
Variation of sound
As simple as you need meaning if you want a simple, amp with a few pedals setup, you can have it. If you want to alter sag (shame women over a certain age don't come with this feature), deep level EQ, every knob possible on a delay you can.
The sheer simplicity in the design ensuring it’s easy to edit.
Less cabling than using pedals although I have still yet to connect the 2 Mission pedals.
And a big thank you
To the guys and gals profiling amps and providing free/commercial profiles to us thank you.
Also a big thank you to Monkey_Man who via PM recommending some awesome profiles of the JVM providing me with a fantastic reference point.