Goodbye Kemperverse! (My final review)

  • Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to say goodbye to everyone in this forum since I sold my Kemper and am moving on to a different setup.

    I've received many helpful replies on this forum and want to say thank you to everyone who was always so eager to help. The Kemper is a complex device and this forum is something like an ever-growing manual. I'm sure you will keep it going as long as there are Kemper users, and that's a growing group of musicians.

    It took me more than a year now to realize that the Kemper isn't for me. I don't think it's a bad machine at all, but in the end, it produced more frustration than joy.

    I know I'm not alone on this forum. There are many of you (most even) who swear on the Kemper. For those, it's the best investment ever made. But the hundreds of pages here in the forum are also a good indication for the amount of people who aren't quite satisfied with their sound and want to figure out how to make the Kemper a better experience.

    Reading all the positive comments and defenses for the Kemper I thought for over a year now that I must have been doing something wrong. Maybe I just didn't like my guitar? Sold it and bought a new one. Maybe my new guitar needs better pickups? Bought better pickups. Maybe my headphones are wrong, or my monitor speakers, or I'm doing something wrong with the Kabinet? Watched hours of youtube tutorials. Maybe change the definition, cab shift, use Cut the Mix EQ etc.

    For over a year now, the Kemper kept me very busy trying to dial in a tone I liked while the forum tried to convince me that this was just how it's supposed to sound and that I just wasn't used to the miced amp sound. I knew this couldn't be quite true (since I actually know the sound of mic'ed amps much better than the amp in the room sound) but in the end I just told myself I'd probably have to believe it.

    I was okay doing all of this at home, but the first time I went into a rehearsal with a bigger band and a few days later into the recording studio, the Kemper just completely failed on me. You cannot search within hundreds of profiles, change definition, use EQ presets etc. while the band is waiting for you. I used a real amp instead, took me 5 minutes to sound good in the mix with each of my guitars. Better sound, better experience.

    I now bought the Fender Tone Master Super Reverb with some Catalinbread pedals and plugged it in. Within 10 minutes I was able to produce tones that I couldn't achieve with the Kemper in 13 months. It just sounded beautiful, exactly what I had hoped for. It sounded great via both the speaker cabinet (4 real P10Rs just sound better than the Kemper cab trying to reproduce one of them) and via the cab sim XLR out and the simulated ribbon mic. Even more so, the sound in the monitor speakers matched the sound coming from the real cab. That's something I never managed to achieve with the Kemper Kabinet. I know many on this forum had the same experience and read that some here even switched out their favorite profiles because they didn't sound good with the Kabinet.

    The main difference here is that with a real amp I could dial in the sound perfectly for each guitar and pickup configuration. When I use M Britt, Tone Junkie or any of the others, all I can do is hope that their snapshots fit my guitar. And most often than not that wasn't the case.

    The snapshot concept of the Kemper is my biggest gripe with it. There's so much you can do with a real amp, especially if it has an EQ section that is highly interactive. When you change the EQ on a Kemper profile it doesn't work like the real amp would. If a profile is too far off in EQ settings, there's not much you can do. That's why I paid hundreds of dollars for profiles without ever finding my holy grail tone.

    I hope that one a day a new version of the Kemper will adapt the EQ section of a profiled amp. I don't think this technology would be impossible. While profiling the musician would turn and twist all the amp's knobs for the Kemper to study how they react. Or one would produce several profiles in different settings that then can be morphed into a master profile. When that day has come, I'll give the Kemper another chance.

    My final verdict is that the Kemper is great for everyone who can profile their own amps. Then it's unbeatable (at least for going into FOH). It's a machine for people who already know a lot about amps and effects and have the tone they want already in their head.

    I don't think the Kemper is perfect for those who are beginners, just joining a band and not having tried hundreds of amps. It's a great tool to somewhat educate yourself about sound differences, but it's not a great tool to find sounds if you don't already expect a certain sound. It's the opposite of plug and play. It's the opposite of intuitive.

    Anyway, I don't regret having owned a Kemper and I learned a lot about guitar recording on this forum. Most of that knowledge I will be able to use for my new setup too. Again, I want to thank this community and hope you all will continue to play and make music.

    So long, take care everyone.

  • I also wish you good luck, and sympathise with a lot of what you say, although I've had a different experience to yours. I found my expensive 'real' amps were just unusable in the home environment, so tried a Helix, and instantly started playing more again. I'm not a 'tweaker' though, so had a similar experience in that regard, but after a while I focused on keeping it simple, built my own presets and only had around three or four really basic presets (other than for specific songs) that I used regularly, and could get a good live tone with fairly quickly.

    At this point I was now using my electrics so much more, my expensive acoustic was getting no playing whatsoever, so I sold it and bought a Kemper Stage to dive a little deeper into the modelling world... I am playing even more, currently, and love some of the Kemper's features and approach, but do find the 'auditioning' quite draining for new Rigs. I am also yet to try it in anger with the band, so will see how that goes in a couple of weeks. I have been playing at home at 'band' volume and getting some great sounds, but we will see, as it's never quite the same.

    And if it doesn't work out, there's always Fractal next... ;)

    (then real amps...rinse...repeat.....)

  • Good luck with your new rig, man. If it makes you happy, that is ALL that matters.

    I've had the direct opposite experience. Bought my Kemper in early July 2021, and within a few minutes, I had the best tones ever in over 30+ years. After a couple of months, the Kemper's complexity was forgotten & I cannot stop playing the thing. It literally changed my life, not just guitar playing. The tones, flexibility, portability & ease of use has made it invaluable...I could not imagine playing anything else.

    Like I said man, good luck out there!

  • I understand your frustration, given what you've said about your experience. I wouldn't try to set it up on the fly with the band waiting, that's for sure. Not until I find my way around all of the settings.

    I did find right away that different pickups reacted differently to different models (which makes sense, you'd have the same issue to some extent with any amp or pedal). My approach so far (and I'm still very much a n00b here) has been to take an evening, sit down with one of my guitars, and try to set up a Performance going (loosely speaking) from clean to heavy, with #3 usually being a lightly crunchy tone. For example:

    - A nice Fender clean sound
    - A different clean sound, maybe with an effected tone like a rotary or a delay
    - A light overdriven rock tone that cleans up a bit with the volume knob, but can be pushed for more grind
    - A distorted tone that could still do rhythm, like a good Marshall or such
    - A heavily driven "guitar hero" sound

    So I save that rig with the name of the guitar I used. Next time, grab a different one, or a bass; and repeat. This way I've got a good set of jumping-off tones for each guitar that I don't have to over-think when it's time to play - if I grab my Reverend RG I just call up that performance and I'm ready to go. If I switch to my Tele, then I switch to the Tele performance.

    Over time I'll take those evenings to work on refining these a bit too - but I'll tell ya, I LOVE not having to futz around with things too much when I feel inspired. :)

  • I can totally get where Kashko is coming from. You watch all these videos of people with amazing tone on their Kemper and you just cant find it when you get it home. So you start tweaking and twisting away. Some find it, some dont, some buy profiles, etc. One of the great things about the Kemper, its ability to make amazing tones, can also be its downfall when you cant get it sounding the way you want.

    Like all music gear, you have to know how and why it works to get it just right.


    One problem is "what are you listening to it on?". With an Amp, you have your speaker cab. That is it. With a Kemper you have your cabinet, Kabinet, FRFR, FOH, studio monitors, headphones, etc. All of those have drastically different frequency responses. Nothing can sound good on all of those. You have to pick one. And even then it will sound different at different volumes if you are not careful.

    In fact, I dont think you can even dial in a decent metal sound on headphones. The high frequency peaks will cause bleeding of the ears or a seizure first.

    Things that would make the whole process easier:

    - a great video on how to adjust a profile to get it where you want.

    - What exactly does the profile refine do. How should one play during it. How hard. How easy. How long.

    - More IR/Cabinet options. Most of the built-in cabs have specific sounds that you cant EQ out easily. Need more generics.

    - Video on setting EQ for your specific application. Like adjust 10k for your FRFR but dont send a lot of it to your FOH.


    As Kashko stated, I think most guitar players are used to amps being played at their waist or lower. So the high frequencies are never heard. So Kemper has to do things to make the Kemper sound like so users are happy. But those features should not be used if you are using it to record in your DAW for example. It will sound dead and lifeless.

    Guitar speakers roll off at around 4-5kHz and do not really reproduce a lot above that. But going straight out of your Kemper into your DAW you may have a ton of sound above 5k in your signal. This will sound thin and harsh.

    The mic'ed sound is further complicated because the speaker has an impulse and frequency response. And so does the microphone. And so does the guitar being used. So you are getting multiple frequency boosts and suckouts. Which are very hard to EQ out later when dialing in your sound. If the profile does not perfectly match what you want, you may spend time trying to solve this issue. Some give up and go back to an amp where this issue does not even exist to some extent.

    If you are used to hearing your guitar thru a 4x12 cab cranked to 11. Hearing it quiet thru your 3" studio monitors will never be the same.


    As I stated above, you really need to have a feel for where and how you are using the Kemper before you start your tone journey. Unless you are like me, a person who lives to tweak the knobs on the Kemper and find amazing stuff every day.

  • In fact, I dont think you can even dial in a decent metal sound on headphones. The high frequency peaks will cause bleeding of the ears or a seizure first.

    Respectfully disagree. I'm a Metal guy, been playing Metal for over 30 years. The high gain, ultra-saturated, realistic-sounding tones I get through my Shure in-ears would undoubtedly change your mind. In fact, most of the time, I prefer the tones in my headphones, compared to studio monitors. There has been no bleeding or seizures, just blissful Metal riffing at all hours of the day and night. :) The PRS MT-15 and Archon through a 5150 cab are god-like.

  • Interesting that you went from a digital Kemper to a digital Fender amp :/ I do understand having just one amp and go from there but… you could have easily done the same thing with the Kemper choosing a Fender profile and just use the front knobs to control Bass, Mid, Treble and Reverb. And added pedals.

    But I get that sometimes the simplicity of a traditional amp layout is just easier.

    Glad that you found your amp and sound, those new Fender amps do sound great BTW.

    All the best in your musical journey!

  • Interesting that you went from a digital Kemper to a digital Fender amp :/ I do understand having just one amp and go from there but… you could have easily done the same thing with the Kemper choosing a Fender profile and just use the front knobs to control Bass, Mid, Treble and Reverb. And added pedals.

    That is a misconception. The Kemper profiles are only snapshots. The Kemper EQ doesn't work like the real amp EQ. The Kemper also takes pedals differently and it doesn't come with a speaker Kabinet that perfectly matches the profile. But of course, YMMV. When I exchanged the Kemper with the Tone Master, the sound engineer looked at me and smiled. Everybody in the room (6 band members) could immediately tell that the sound was far better than the ten or so profiles we tried on the first day of recording. Different tastes, different solutions.