Well...Finally got a Kemper after months of research..And...Not so good

  • After reading, reading, reading and watching endless hours of Youtube videos etc., I finally got down to purchasing a Powerhead and remote bundle. I updated everything thru the rig manager, hooked it up to my Hughes and Kettner 2 x 12 cabinet with Vintage 30's.....

    Went thru every rig pre-loaded on the head and then went thru and auditioned each of the available rigs to download in rig manager and I am completely dumbfounded.

    I will say this in no way trying to show any disrespect to anyone on this forum or using a Kemper. This is the worst sounding and feeling amp I have plugged into in 40 years of playing guitar. And I am saying that with confusion and not trying to be disrespectful in any way. I don't get it, I am completely bummed. I just don't get it. With so much hype around the Kemper I am just totally at a loss. I have heard countless sound samples on the net and Youtube and have heard great clips. I cannot get the Kemper to do anything remotely near what I have heard. I am not interested at this point with the FOH or thru recording software. First and foremost I need an amp and cabinet to sound and feel like a million bucks right up on stage near me. If I am not inspired to play like I play with what I am hearing coming out of that cabinet it is not going to matter what the FOH is getting.

    Yes I have turned off the cab sim in the monitor out section (also controls poweramp out connection) going to the 2 x 12. I have messed with the input settings to set up a good input level. I have messed with the definition and clarity of each rig. I found a few clean rigs that sounded decent, but anything with any level of gain from breakup thru fairly overdriven is just not hardly useable let alone decent sounding.

    Here are some of the main points that have just left me kind of shocked and confused with the Kemper:

    1. The feel of the Kemper does not feel anything at all like any tube amps that I have played. There is a complete lack of a connected feeling from guitar to the amp. Almost like there is this subtle latency and disconnect from what you are playing and what is going on soundwise. Very prominent on solo type work with lead playing especially.

    2. Most of the overdriven rigs all seem to have a awkward gain structure to them. They all seem overly gainey to get some push going for soloing etc., yet if you back down on the gain knob it's like you lose any type of what I would traditional call a natural compession from an output section of a tube amp. Most of the gain tends to be very raspy and fizzy. Very much more of a razor type drive. Backing down the Definition tames it down a bit, but it still seems like an unatural sounding overdrive.

    3. I have played several different variations of digital gear so I am not all that unfamiliar with it. I played thru a Line 6 AX212 for 15 years. A buddy of mine still has one and we put my Kemper setup next to that amp and the Line 6 just sounds so much more natural and plays and feels like an actual amp whereas the Kemper feels nothing like a real amp.

    I am using high end guitars so all of my other equipment is not lackluster. I use Suhr guitars. I was testing the Kemper with a SSH+ and SSV hum hum setup.

    I run this same guitar thru Scuffham's S-Gear and the Steeler amp in that software (basically an old marshall model) and it sounds and feels so good. I can play on that software for hours it sounds and feels so real. Unfortuneately it is on my recording desktop and it is not a gigging amp.

    Before I return the Kemper I just want to see if there are any of you out there that have any input as to what I could be doing wrong or what I may have missed. My only conclusion is that I have to being doing something wrong. I have to be missing something for my Kemper to sound this unpleasant from everybody else out there using it.

    Any help would be much appreciated so I can make sure to explore the Kemper thoroughly before returning it. On paper it is a dream come true for ease of use and setup for gigs etc. But I have had to borrow some tube amps for the last two gigs that I recently played because there is no way I could use the Kemper with what I am currently hearing and feeling coming out of it. Not by a long shot.

  • Hey brother, I feel your pain… Although I have made ‘some’ Progress over the last five months, (I bought the same bundle as you…)
    I tried to message you but because you are a new member it doesn’t work, please email me at [email protected] and I can send you some tools that will help you get better tone straight through a guitar cabinet…But I’m afraid it will never be exactly what you want to hear or what you are used to hearing… It’s just not there… I would say it’s about 80 percent through a guitar speaker cabinet… but it does sound massive and incredible through a PA though, which is what I use it for half of the time. You, like me, bought the powered head to use with a real speaker cabinet, which is what I play through at home 100 percent of the time.
    I would say most of the people on this forum do not use it this way, they use it through powered studio speakers. So, many of them do not understand us old tube guys! LOL
    You are absolutely right, mostly every rig (that comes in the Kemper) will not sound OR feel like a real tube amplifier, through a guitar speaker cabinet, even with cab sim off... your ears are just fine!
    I have been through this, I have played, just like you, through old Marshall amplifiers, Bogner amplifiers, SolDano amplifiers, Wizard amplifiers for the last 30 years, you are on the same page I am, hang in there…
    Email me,

  • You are absolutely right, mostly every rig in the Kemper will not sound good through a guitar cabinet, even with cab sim off... your ears are just fine!

    I disagree. In my opinion, there are countless profiles which sound exceptionally good through a guitar cab. I think it's simply that you don't have your Profiler set up correctly.
    What output settings are you using for Monitor Volume?

  • Hi Horspip, I am using master mono monitor output… Is this what you mean?
    Btw, You have no idea how overjoyed I would be if I do have something set up wrong! I feel like I’m going insane…

  • I'm really fussy, also used a Line 6 AX212 for years and I can't for the life of me understand how you've got yours set up that you think that old low tech junker is even close to the KPA, much less better.

    Mine sounds great and I can A/B it with my Bogner Shiva and love both.

  • I would guess that most people play an unpowered Kemper through a FRFR speaker as a monitor.... which is how I play as well.

    I have (still) an old VHT 2x12 cab which sounded great with my old VHT UL. It sounds like total and complete crap through my VHT with or without the cabinet on/off on the Kemper. I was using an old QSC amp I keep around from my passive PA to drive the speaker (which I find to be a nice amp). Nothing sounds right through it.

    Before you bail out on the Kemper, see if you can borrow a decent powered speaker from someone (The DXR10 gets great reviews here) and see how you like the sound.

    For me, getting the Kemper was all about lightening up my rig. As a result, going all IEM's and going direct into the mixer was a big time and weight saver. For lead work, I would highly recommend a monitor speaker on stage pointed at your guitar so you get some string action going.

  • Hi Horspip, I am using master mono monitor output… Is this what you mean?
    Btw, You have no idea how overjoyed I would be if I do have something set up wrong! I feel like I’m going insane…

    I'm an old tube hound but don't recognize what you're saying about the Kemper. Unless I'm missing something, it sounds as though you're plugging into Monitor Out when you want Speaker Out. (I made this mistake when I first got mine.)

  • Tonester88, troubleshooting is important and can be difficult when having new gear.
    It's always a bit of a learning curve with all gear. Here are some tips you can try.

    Some common things causing bad or unwanted sounds in the Kemper can be;
    -Unwanted locked or unlocked global settings of paramaters/effects. Go through them.
    -Noise gate setting(s) too high creates unnatural sound (there are three noise gates)
    -Proper gainstaging is very important, go through the level settings.
    -Check with other guitar and speaker cables and play through other guitars.
    -Wrong in/out
    -A second hand Kemper can have odd settings set by previous owner.
    -Test with profiles you know sound good when others play them (to leave out a bad profile cause).
    -Profile your own amp or amp sim.
    -Check the full manual for info

  • Wow, please understand guys, I am very pleased with my powered Kemper. For live use with in ear monitors, it is an amazing, incredible machine! The tones I get through any PA system have been nothing short of spectacular!
    Why is it so hard to believe that I can feel the difference between a real tube amplifier and the Kemper thru 4×12 cabinets? It’s nothing personal to any of you, please please Don’t take this as a personal attack…
    Hi Tramp, thank you for your reminder, but I do have the proper connections, speaker out, everything is right except the tone/feel (for me) is not 100 percent like a tube amplifier, this is OK, I have learned to live with it, I am fine with it…
    I was just responding to the original post offering everything I could to help him get closer to what I know he is looking for, because I am looking for the exact same thing. No one, NO ONE wants this to be exact more than me…
    I am hoping that I have missed something, it would be incredible if I have! I must thank you all, this forum is a wealth of knowledge with top-notch people!

  • To the OP: recent powerhead owner here as well.

    Using the kemper sometimes through my orange PPC212 2x12 120w cab with v30s. So not so different from your set up. Mine works great for my taste and I've totally stopped playing through other software like bias or amplitude, or line6 modelling stuff, which I also own.

    Also find the kemper compares very favourably to my orange rockerverb 100w head going through the same cab (made my own profiles of it to compare).

    Make sure you are using speaker out on the kemper to your cab and not monitor out.

    I also play at other times via studio monitors or akg headphones, also very satisfied with the feel and sound compared to my experience with tube amps.

    So if you are still having issues, seriously consider it might be a defective unit you got. Have you tried contacting support?

  • And more thoughts to the OP:

    - After trying the factory settings reset as suggested by penatuna above, if still not satisfied with the sound, try downloading the profiles from Anderton's Kemper video (look in the video description for the dropbox link) and compare your set up against what you hear in the video. Those are direct profiles of a marshall and a morgan.

    - Yes you won't be using the same cab, or same guitar, and theirs is a mic-d up demo gone through youtube video compression etc etc. BUT you should still get a sound that is in the same ballpark through your set up

    - At least I do when I play those profiles and compare to their video - it sounds close, very close. What you describe your kemper sounds like doesn't appear to be just your sound perception different from someone else, but something definitely wrong with the gear or the set up, because it shouldn't be that hard to get a good (or even great) sound from kemper straight into a cab. So long as you are using the red speaker out on the back and cab sim is off (which you said it is). Anyway, please do try those direct profiles and see how it goes.

    Keep us posted and good luck!

  • Try different guitars as well, I have a Fender Tele (Richie Kotzen), Strat, Les Paul Standard, PRS Custom - they all sound very different on the KPA not so much on my tube amps, which seem to even out the difference in sound. For me the Tele sounds best. Probably, one of the most under rated guitars Richie' s Tele. The LP does not sound that great.

    Good luck, it is quite a bit of a journey finding the right sound with the KPA. Unfortunately, it is not plug and play. Played a few gigs with the KPA through a dxr 10 speaker and the sound was good but still can be improved especially in the band context.

    I messed around with the KPA for 2 months before I used it for rehearsals with the band.

    It' s only Rock n Roll, but I like it :D:thumbup:<3