Models...no not those kind!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Clashcityrocker, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Clashcityrocker

    Clashcityrocker RedPilled

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    I'm thinking of going the Kemper or Axe FX route. I'd like to hear some pros and cons. I love amps but I kind of just want some different (good) tones and don't want to spend more money on different amps. I mainly play at home and record. I have a nice setup in the basement and I can play fairly loud without complaints. My wife wears hearing aides and takes them out when she goes to bed. This is good on weekends when I stay up late!
     
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  2. WEDGE

    WEDGE Almost was a FG22 owner..

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    Kemper is the real deal. NO it isn’t for Les and the tube amp purists, but for my pedestrian ears I hear every amp under the sun and I like it. On wise advice I also got a Headrush FRFR112 for super short money and I have a killer rig that can be quiet or rage all with the same tone.
     
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  3. Black Plaid

    Black Plaid just another Alan

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    Kemper -

    Pros:
    * Unlimited sounds out of one box.
    * Lightweight
    * Reliable
    * A unique appearance

    Cons:
    * Not an amp (it's a computer simulation of an amp)
    * It's a computer
    * Getting a new sound means paying for Impulse Responses if you want good ones.
    * As computers go, it's really expensive for what it is.
    * So many knobs
    * A "unique" appearance

    I've often toyed with the idea of getting one to see what it's all about, but haven't yet pulled the trigger.
     
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  4. WEDGE

    WEDGE Almost was a FG22 owner..

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    Soft rebuttal.....stock sounds and some inexpensive aftermarket ones, Michael Britt’s kill, are amazing and I would never need to dig into IR’s. Yes a ton of knobs but super intuitive and again without a super deep dive sounds are crazy good and easy to tweak like an amp. Yes you can go deeeeep but most won’t need to.

    I would argue against price, on par with a single average ‘good’ amp and it comes with tons including great bass tones. I got mine used for decent price and it’s clean, lots of reasonable units available.
     
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  5. WA Paul

    WA Paul It’s ok...I’m with Manny dog

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    I love tubes, but I don’t have the home environment to play at the volume level necessary to really enjoy even lower watt versions. So I bought a Kemper about a year ago.

    Regarding the sound quality a lot depends on the quality of the profile and how the author captured it (room dynamics, microphones, amp settings, guitar, pickups, etc) as well as your playback speaker choice (amp can, studio monitors, FRFR). Controls are quite easy and intuitive to use. Downsize is using a laptop to update software for unit and library manager.

    Since volume and SPL levels aren’t a limiting factor you’ll have plenty of options. Most will come down to budget. FRFR takes some getting used to coming from amp cabs since they tend to be brighter. I tend to use EQ filters to cut the highs at 7k (sometimes lower) and lows at 200k (sometimes lower) and get better results.

    There are plenty of high quality profiles out there that cover plenty of amp varieties for home use. I haven’t done home recording but supposed to be easy.

    Floorboard unit is a must. Might want to consider a used unit for lower price point.
     
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  6. Black Plaid

    Black Plaid just another Alan

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    For a pro amp, yeah, the price is reasonable, it's as a 'computer' that I think it's expensive.

    I guess it's really more of a software platform with bundled hardware that they keep updates coming to for free. so in that sense, it could be considered reasonable.

    But I *still* get hung up on the fact that it's computer hardware from 9 years ago that they are still charging so much for. I mean, would you pay $2000 for a laptop from 2010?
     
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  7. Herr Squid

    Herr Squid I was severely impressed

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    I've been an Axe-FX player and fan for years. It's probably the single most flexible device for making guitar (and other) noises ever. The amp models sound stellar, the number and quality of effects is stunning, and the number of ways to arrange them is pretty much unlimited. A major advantage of the Axe that it simulates the amplifiers' circuits with their quirks and "interesting" behaviors at the extremes of the control settings. Fractal has done a tremendous amount of work to make their models sound and feel like the real amps at all settings.


    List of amp models in the Axe-FX III here: http://wiki.fractalaudio.com/axefx2/index.php?title=Amplifier_models_list
    List of speaker Impulse Responses here: http://wiki.fractalaudio.com/axefx2/index.php?title=Cabinet_models_list#Axe-Fx_III_and_FM3
    List of effects here (note that amps and cabs count as "effects"):http://wiki.fractalaudio.com/axefx2/index.php?title=Effects_list
     
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  8. Clashcityrocker

    Clashcityrocker RedPilled

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    The Axe FX FM3 is the one I'm gassing for when it comes out.
     
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  9. Clashcityrocker

    Clashcityrocker RedPilled

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  10. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    You aren’t really paying for the computer. You’re paying for a highly specialized interface. There are a lot of buttons, but it is pretty intuitive to use.

    I think my used Kemper is great value.
     
  11. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    All I can add is two thumbs up for Wedge’s comments! A Kemper is a tool, a solution, and you can’t look at it by its parts. Having been involved in the earliest years of DSP integration in the late 80s (mostly military applications) I can compliment Kemper designers on achieving 8 years of life on the same hardware platform...brilliant! For a commercial application, that’s amazing. The only thing I’ll add is that the Kemper is stupid-fun! Think of a target sound, research, download/install, tweak, play...it’s that easy. Before, I’d research pedals to augment my base amplifier and spend weeks/months dialing it in, sometimes never hitting my goal. The cost could be huge. Now, I have a platform to dream, design, play to my heart’s content for no additional cost! (And no one in my bands or audiences can tell I’m playing thru a computer)
     
  12. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Slightly Older Than New Member

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    All the road guys I've talked to with kempers have at least 3 because they've all had reliability issues.

    I played through a kemper once in a studio and it was uncanny how accurate the amp was and would guess with it not ever being moved, it'll last a little longer.
     
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  13. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    I'd say Wedge and Boogie nailed it.
     
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  14. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    The Pro's of going digital have been discussed many times and whether the pro's outweigh the con's really depends on the player, where they play and/or what they are hoping to get out of it.

    In terms of value, digital cannot be beaten. There is no way you could buy as many Amps, Cabs, Mics and FX for the money. If you play live, your audience isn't going to notice and a Kemper, Axe-FX or Helix is much easier to set up in most cases. You can have a Patch for every song that has a 'different' Amp/Cab/FX and/or the settings of these. You can't exactly bend down after a song and change the pedal settings or your Amp settings but can have a new patch with different settings - even a different signal path too without having to physically change the pedal order on your board or have 2 of the same pedal to achieve the same.

    If you only play at home, these can be direct to your PC to record, don't need to be 'cranked' to get the sound you want - things that Valve amps do benefit from but not necessarily great for home use where volume has to be kept down. They are also great for experimentation - not sure if you would like a Fuzz well you can experiment with it - even its position in the chain (before or after a Wah. You can also experiment with FX before or after the pre-amp. You can experiment with different Amps, Cabs and mics too all without having to buy to get a good feel as you can't really do that in a shop setting.

    I could go on but as its been discussed many times, I am sure you can find information, video's etc. There is a good reason why many big name artists/groups are all using Digital - not just live either. There are ways to drive valve amps in a home situation by using isolation cabs and mics so they volume isn't an issue and there is NOTHING stopping you from using Valve Amps and/or analogue pedals - some digital modellers/multi-FX units also allow you to put individual Pedals into 'loops' and these loops can be placed in the signal path anywhere - even in different places with different patches. It doesn't have to be All Digital or All Analogue/traditional. You can use both - either together or separately for different occasions/situations. If the gigging you do needs a traditional set-up for the type of venue and facilities but its 'too much' for your home or you prefer to play valve amps in the studio/home but its too much hassle and too inconsistent to keep setting up and taking down for every gig, then modelling is a great tool for the musician. Its not like the old Kidney Bean Digital effects of years ago, the modern modellers are excellent and are dynamic too - roll down the volume or pluck softly, they clean up and react.

    A lot of friends I have are barely using any analogue, selling their Amps etc because it suits them and their situation. The difference isn't enough for them to merit keeping their amps when all they do is sat their gathering dust for months and months. That doesn't mean that you (or others) should sell your traditional gear for a more modern digital set-up. Both can work well together and are both 'tools' to do a job for the musician. Whether is the right tool for any aspect of your set-up, your musical needs and situation, only you will know. Unlike some viewpoints, you don't have to be all traditional OR all modern. I am looking at getting a Helix (has to wait a bit after just buying a PRS Special) but that doesn't mean I will be giving up my valve amps and pedals...
     
  15. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Slightly Older Than New Member

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    I have a helix and have put probably 120ish live shows on it if you or anyone has specific questions, shoot me a message and I'd be more than happy to drone on for far too long about it.

    On the digital subject of the OP, it's perfect. You get all the tones you can ever want and limitless options going beyond what's probably usable at volumes completely silent in the next room and if you ever take it out, hide it somewhere and no one will ever know it's not an amp (I've started asking people what they think I'm playing when they say my "amp" sounds good. Maybe I'll keep track and make a thread of all the responses eventually).
     
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  16. WEDGE

    WEDGE Almost was a FG22 owner..

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    I am sure there have been failures but any touring act brings spares of amps guitars etc. so the Kemper requiring a spare for touring is not a factor as I can tell.
     
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  17. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    Thanks for the offer and if some of my other Helix owning friends can't help or are not available to ask, I will shoot you a message.

    That might be a good idea for a thread here, if its allowed, to talk about digital settings, links to patches, IR's etc especially free ones to load in. A friend of mine has an Archon loaded into their Helix and its their favourite for clean tones. Finding great patches and/or tweaking the countless settings trying to find the right tone to compliment their PRS guitars.

    I can understand why it may not be allowed as PRS are not making a digital modeller - at least not yet anyway...
     
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  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Folks assume that I hate digital modelers - that’s not true, I don’t hate them. I have lots of software models for my computer system, and I use them as scratch pads in my work.

    It only bugs me when people assert that you can’t tell the difference between Kemper (or other modelers) and the real thing. Of course you can (or at least I can)!

    They sound different, especially under the microscope of a recording, where they mix differently due to the differences from a real amp in their ADSR envelopes and dynamic range. I can describe it as sounding ‘flattened out’. Without a lot of processing, they get lost in a mix, especially where other instruments are real, dynamic instruments like drums, bass, keys or other guitars. Getting lost in a mix is the result of less dynamic range and response.

    Whether that matters to the individual player is, of course, up to the player.

    On the ‘pros’ side, the Kemper is still a top-notch device for modeling amplifiers. IMHO they do best with very clean or higher gain sounds. Clean, because the differences are more subtle, and higher gain stuff because real amps in high gain mode are very compressed due to natural tube compression, so models don’t need as much dynamic range, and because an amp that’s heavily distorting is also compressed in the attack portion of its ADSR envelope, again, easier to model.

    The ‘cons’ are that they do less well with low-to-medium gain sounds, because they can’t respond as well as a real amp in those ‘transition sounds’ between clean and light crunch that a good player controls with pick attack, guitar controls, etc. Since that’s where I live as a player, I have to rule them out.

    There are a handful of basic amp tones I like to record with: Blackface, Tweed, Plexi, Mesa, and occasionally Vox. I have amps that do that. I keep my amps miked up for recording in my studio all the time, and it takes less time for me to set up a recording than it does to scroll through choices on a modeler.

    But YMMV, and I encourage you to follow your own experience with modelers.

    EDIT: note that I use sampled sounds in my own work fairly often; They’re less rich-sounding than the real thing, and that’s simply due to budgets. It’s a compromise I’m not happy about. However, It costs a lot more to hire a real orchestra than it does to buy ten amplifiers, so on some things, I’m just stuck. You may feel the same way about spending dough on real amps. I get it!
     
    #18 LSchefman, Jun 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  19. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    I have always said that the listener, the target audience generally cannot tell the difference - even in a Mix. As a player, you may feel a difference, may hear a difference and, if you have the tools to analyse to the nth degree, you could actually determine exactly where they differ. It may also depend on the player and their hearing and their experience. I doubt that there would be a vast difference to someone who hasn't got the experience of playing an Archon (for example) to know how far off the modeller actually is. You really need the experience to be able to know how the 'real' amps actually sound, how they respond etc.

    That still doesn't stop them being a great tool for musicians who can't afford or have the space for lots of Amps, Cabs etc - can't have an Isolation box to put a cab and mic in to use at home or to make it easier to go on tour and taking a heavy backline that also takes up a lot of space when you can just take a rack even just a floor unit and plug directly into a PA. Your audience may not notice and be surprised that no 'amp' was actually being used - even if you as an artist can amongst the rest of the band.

    There is also the point that whilst they may sound 'different', that someone may prefer the sound of the modeller in a blind test. They may 'feel' the difference or detect a difference if they are playing the instrument themselves but you also have to have the experience to know what to listen for. I don't know if you watch Anderton's blind test video's, but not everyone has the ability of Chappers to hear those microscopic differences even with the heightened hearing awareness thanks to the blindfold.

    I don't know you personally and I certainly wouldn't accuse you of hating or being exceptionally harsh on modelling because of being a traditionalist. If you are more like Chappers and can hear those differences clearly, have the experience and the means to own a big collection of 'real' amps, fantastic. As long as you can get everything you want and need without going the modelling route, fits in with your situation and circumstances, then it makes no sense to buy something that you won't or don't need to use for any reason at all.

    I am, and always have been a tube amp player but, now that I am not gigging or practising/rehearsing in a place where volume isn't an issue as well as living in a 'small' place, Its not practical or feasible for me to own multiple amps, cabs etc and couldn't realistically play them at a decent volume to get the best from Valve amps. An all in one system, that I can use headphones, play at 'bedroom' volumes, hook up to a PC to record direct with any combination of amp, cab, mic and FX with a small footprint is much more beneficial to me right now - hence I am looking at adding a Helix to my toolbox. Quite a few of my friends, as I said, have moved completely over to Helix because that suits them and their situation, others that use Helix in conjunction with great amps and some that use modelling for either gigging but use a real amp for home use and vice versa - just not together.

    Digital modelling has certainly improved over the years and probably will improve more in the future too. Right now, they are 'good enough' for a lot of people for various parts of their musical toolbox. The fact that they are an option nowadays is testament to how good they are, are useful they can be. Maybe they aren't exactly the same as a real tube amp - both in terms of audio and feel, but they can be good enough right now in numerous situations to be a viable option for a lot of people. Like everything though, they may not be good enough or viable for everyone.
     
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  20. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    One thing I’d like to highlight as a takeaway from Les’ stance: at least make an effort to know what a good tube amp is all about. Mozzi’s comment about how a modeler can be a great option for someone on a budget is very true, but it would behoove any player to own at least a Hotrod Deluxe/AC15/DSL40. Have an idea of what the digital side is trying to do so you can appreciate what it brings to the game. While I don’t have a big collection of real amps, I have a selection of big league beasts that I’ve spent the better part of 35 years learning. You don’t need a lot, you just need some knowledge.
     
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