griff7628 wrote:Is this a good place to discuss the pros and cons of Kemper/Ax8?
I'm going for an Ax8 myself soon. I've heard some impressive patches and I'm a tweaker by nature.
Kemper seems to be an awesome unit for raw amp tones but much more expensive and a few shortcomings in tone when hooked up to certain power amps. Maybe better as a recording tool?
They are both amazing. I think I prefer the Fractal gear because I'm swayed by the effects and the tweakability. Even though I don't use much of what the Fractal is capable of, it is really nice having it there for when you want to play with it. Sometimes I will come up with an idea for an effect 3 months down the track and it is nice being able to just dial it in rather than buy more stuff!
I was showing one of my workmates how to run dual amps with the II a couple of weeks ago. We ended up messing with some of the really deep editing and came up with some pretty cool tones.
The AX-8 is pretty darn great for all the basic things - Not nearly as much power as the rack version if you like to run a lot of effects though.
Ah yes effects! This is another reason that Fractal wins. Routing flexibility and all that.
Here's something I think is worth sharing that I found on one of Leon Todds YT vids..
- "If you are a kemper/axe fx fanboy and connect your personal self-worth to a piece of gear, going after people who talk gear and conduct tests, feel free not to read on (not referring to you, Leon, BUT fanboys whose view youtube as some kind of a church where we must be super careful not to say anything evaluative about their toys). This concerns axe vs kemper. It will be informative to those with a real interest in being objective when it comes to these units. That said, it's just my take on the matter -- there is always, by definition, a degree of subjectivity here -- and people should make up their own minds. But at least do proper testing
Personally: any tone I can get with kemper I can get with axe. I find lack of proper testing to be the reason why people too quickly reach the conclusion of: kemper = best ever and axe = crap compared to KPA. I found this to be quite common after kemper was launched and the rather impressive videos starting coming out by the company itself. It's when axe fx forum had "past participle of get" super defensive, almost obsessive with Kemper. "Kemper over everything" attitudes are still kinda similar on kemper forum, but in other places I see some more objectivity when it comes to this. Anyway...
..Here's a good test... Take a merged profile. Use the axe software to clone the kemper cab. Then use that IR in axe and fire up an amp similar to what the kemper profiles. Chances are this will not be too challenging. Then compare (there is also a setting in the axe cab that matches it closer to kemper but I cannot remember the parameter's name now) while dialing in the amp model to get close to kemper. No eq matching needed, no nothing. And voila: there you will be, with two tones many wouldn't be able to tell apart in a recording, solo or in mix.
I usually can because I know what to expect from Kemper sounds -- they have a certain characteristic in the mids, low end, ect, ect. Axe also has a bit of its own "signature tone" in the highs, but I think less so than kemper. I find there to be more variety within the Axe in the amp modelling. Of course it will be said "but kemper matches the exact tone of your amp" -- but in my view, no, not really, and I've never seen a proper test when it did. It's super close, at times more than others, but never quite "identical" -- that's a strong word, "identical". And it is in these nuances where kemper rather consistently reproduces a similar tone from profile to profile. Super close, but you can tell it's kemper if you know what to look for.
It can also be that a player prefers "kemper tone" and hence likes kemper more. That happens often as well. No wonder as kemper has a bit of a "tighter" tone than your amp. You can minimize "kemper tone" the better you refine and also by playing with some post-profiling controls but my conclusions remain even then.
Another thing to consider: multiple distorting stages. Here Axe has no issue. You can dial in both preamp and power amp distortion, to your heart's content, and achieve good results. Not so with kemper. A "lightly compressing power amp" along with preamp gain is ok. But the more distortion you have on both sides of the spectrum the harder it gets to achieve accurate profiles. There are some cases of amps where, for some reason, it still works fine, but with many you reach a point where this very same "Kemper character" comes out much more: you get a "cocked wah" tone, which makes quite a difference in "feel" for me, congested low riffs, and a generally weird response.
Problem is some of my amps sounds best -- to me -- at the point where kemper starts to fail. Take for example my Orange amp. I like the preamp at about 1'o clock and power amp nearly maxed out. Dynamics, volume knob on guitar, everything comes to life then. It's how these amps were designed and tested anyway in development. But: then is when kemper starts to fail big time. It gets confused by the multiple distorting stages and the result is, for my standards, poor. So I end up having to decrease the power amp and reach a point where it works fine. It's still not identical, but very close; yet if I want the amp at its best I'd use something like a torperdo, not kemper, which has no issues with such settings.
Kemper themselves doesn't consider this to be a "problem" either. They didn't design kemper to profile multiple distorting stages. As they say, most recorded tones only utilize preamp or power amp distortion alone. "Most" yes, I agree. But there are plenty of tones that use both. And for me, for my preferences, I use both with a few of my amps to get the best result -- let alone a few vintage amps that operate in this manner anyway, like some dumble amps. Whether axe does power amp distortion to the same level of accuracy with all its amps or not (it varies, I find) I find it to be considerably better than kemper when it comes to doom-type tones or generally tones where you need that "visceral" tone/reaction from power amp + preamp.
All that is without touching Axe Fx 2 EQ matching, which is something you can utilize (not with Axe 8 of course) as well after you have set preamp + power amp settings of axe as close as possible to emulate the tone you are after.
I think ultimately both are great units. I use Kemper a lot because of its amp-like interface. If you know what you are doing with kemper and aren't interested as much in preamp + power amp distortion then you can get super close to your real amp set-ups. But if I absolutely have to chose between the two it will be axe fx (which I don't own, actually, but can use from time to time and have tested extensively as well) as I feel that with proper work I can get closer to the "tone in my head".
Stuff like this I like to hear. It's the nuances of gear that I like to know about. Depends how fussy you are I suppose.