Kemper vs. Axe Fx

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by capac, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. ihunda

    ihunda SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,589
    Likes Received:
    390
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Just my 2 cents, I bought a Kemper twice, got amazed twice for a few weeks then sold it back.
    The reason for that is that the Kemper basically uses the same signal chain for overdrive/tone on all presets and after some time, I could always hear a specific Kemper structure to the tone that's impossible to dial away.

    On the other hand the axe fx really models the electronic circuitry of each amp and that gives you a much larger tonal palette and less ear fatigue in my opinion.

    Both are capable of incredibly great tones, impossible to differentiate from mic-ed tube amps in a live situation.
    Of course, sound in the room at a rehearsal space will be better with a real amp+cab but I rather optimise for studio and live.
     
  2. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    I sold my fractal because my Digitech 2101 sounded more open and "3D" honestly...similar idea to the axefx and for the late 90's the capabilities were/are AMAZING, and I never got on board with the whole idea of the kemper...if you feel you need specifically Marshall, mesa, diezel, tones (cover band?) then I get it. My buddy Steve has spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars to profile everyone's expensive amps, I don't understand why, and none of it has made him a better player... everyone jumps on these fads that are competing for your money (even me) and many fractal users have swapped again to something else. I took a loss selling my axefx after finding out a month later that my old carpeted Randall RG100es was still getting more use lol. It depends on what you're doing with it, but...I vote neither. I provided one alternative that sounds as good to me across the board. Flexibility needs vary but a lot of people with kids/families who can't afford this stuff are making stupid decisions because they think they won't sound good without these "show off" products...they are nice, just make sure you "need" it for what they're for.
     
    FILTHnFEAR and Unleash The Fury like this.
  3. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    Btw...they're both different...apples to oranges
     
  4. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

    Messages:
    4,152
    Likes Received:
    443
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    Location:
    Chester, UK
    If you're choosing between the two, start listening to clips. Make sure they're clips done in the last 12 months as firmware updates for both lead to improvements and old clips may no longer be representative.

    When I did this, I found the Axe clips tended to more often sound better (to me) so I got the Axe. In addition to this, I saw the Axe as full models of amps I could tweak how I want, whereas the kemper seemed more like snapshots of an amp at a particular time with someone else's settings. I don't know about you but I've never had any luck using other people's patches on other modelers, Axe included. Too many other variables that change the sound (speakers, poweramp, guitar, hands, playing style, room, etc). If I had a studio or a lot of real amps I could profile it would be my first choice over the axe (I think this is what was in mind when it was developed) but that's not my situation.

    I havent tried a kemper in real life though. I'm sure it's good and you can't go wrong with either. They're both high end professional grade modelers.

    As far as realism when using them, that's gonna depend how you're amplifying it. If you're running either through some cheap PA, it will sound cheap (I know from experience). If you're going into a good poweramp and guitar cab, this will sound much more like a real amp in the room, likely indistinguishable.

    Many people go FRFR, with a good PA or studio monitors at home. Just temper your expectations if you do this. The closest corralary to this would be micing an amp in an iso room and monitoring that through your monitors, since thats what an impulse is - a mic'd cab. Some don't like the close-mic'd cab sound.
     
  5. capac

    capac SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    11
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    I'll be using a pair of monitors to listen to it at home. I may get a power amp down the road.
     
  6. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    947
    Likes Received:
    77
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Location:
    Helsinki
    I don't agree with some of this. Axe-Edit makes life a lot easier but I don't think it's hard to get great sounds out of the unit. Most of my patches are not complex at all and are essentially amp + cab most of the time. The stock impulses are also perfectly fine and I haven't experienced that 3rd party ones are superior, just different. I've never been happier with the tone I've been getting.

    I've never had much luck using other people's patches either, just build a master patch of your own with your typical effects setup then copy and alter that for your other sounds.
     
  7. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    1,690
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    I think with either product, the thing is that it takes time to realize what you DON'T like about each one, besides just user error. I've owned an Ax-Fx Std since 2009, a Kemper since 2013, and my co-guitarist has had an Axe II since maybe 2012 or something. They all sound fantastic when you get started, because they're top-shelf gear, but after years of tweaking you slowly find the little things that cannot be tweaked out and then they stick out like a sore thumb. Every time I hear an Axe II, I hear things straight away that bothered me way back when I was using the original one, which ultimately led me to getting the Kemper. I've been a lot happier with the Kemper, but if I hadn't owned an Axe and spent years in Axe-Edit, I probably wouldn't be hearing those things. I know my co-guitarist couldn't imagine bothering with the hassle of profile-hunting that comes with the Kemper, he's diehard Axe II.

    I think the sad reality is you really need to spend a good 6 months with each to really get a feel for which one is right for you. If you can't do that, there's really not much the rest of us can say that can help you. For me, Kemper sounds more realistic, which is NOT the same thing as sounding better. I like tones that have a lot of personality and grit and finger noise, so the Kemper suits me better because the Axe sounds more polished and "tidy" by default. If I want more of that I use the character and pure cab parameters in the Kemper to get more of an even, play-nice tone. I was never able to get as much "good ugliness" out of the Axe, including the Axe II. But that's really the only tonal difference I hear between the two, everything else is just about the user experience (which is radically different between the two).

    - edit - Oh, and FWIW, the Helix sounds like a bad Axe-Fx to me. Bye!:vince:
     
    schwiz and J_Mac like this.
  8. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Blames it on "the rain"

    Messages:
    413
    Likes Received:
    108
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    Buy which ever one you can get for the best price. If you find a used Axe II grab it, if not get the Kemper. This debate has shades of PlayStation vs Xbox or Nintendo vs Sega for anyone born before 1990. Both are great, but shine in different ways.
    I prefer the Kemper personally, but I did have fun with the axe II as well, it was just option overload for me. The Kemper is setup like an amp and behaves like an amp so it was very intuitive at the basic to intermediate level. It's ridiculously easy to set up for recording via S/Pdif, only a couple buttons to re amp and it sounds phenomenal. We recently played a show with Starkill, and they use one axe II for both guitars, which I thought was a really cool way to pack light for a tour. You can't do that with a Kemper; though the sound guy did say we had the best sound out of 5 bands and we both run Kempers.
     
    capac likes this.
  9. capac

    capac SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    11
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    I hear kemper is good if you have your own amps to profile so you can really get them to sound the way you want them to. You can build your tone from scratch with axe, so it's more complicated.

    DudeManBrother, do you use your own profiles?
     
  10. jerm

    jerm SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,611
    Likes Received:
    166
    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal
    I don't even have my own amps to profile with my Kemper and I don't feel the need to go out and buy any.

    There are so many profiles out there that you don't need any other amp when you have a Kemper. Especially for my case, being a home studio musician.

    Oh, forgot to mention, the Kemper tones are out of this world. I got rid of my 6505+/halfstack after I got it.
     
    JohnIce likes this.
  11. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

    Messages:
    1,108
    Likes Received:
    101
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    Location:
    Burnsville, MN
    I own an Axe Fx II and have tried a Helix. Have never tried a Kemper before so I can't speak to that.

    What I will say about the Axe Fx II is that Fractal's support is really good. They are constantly releasing new firmware and software updates for the Axe Fx II and AX8, and will even release new models/cabs. They are putting the time and money into furthering the development of the Axe Fx which really helps instill confidence in me as a gear-buyer and end-user. They didn't just release it, then forget it. It does take some tweaking to really get a mix-ready tone through, and yes, there are certain things you can't dial out like JohnIce said, but overall it does do a really good job for what you get. What's nice is that on the AxeExchange, you can download other people's tone presets to give you a baseline. You can also load your own impulses into the unit, which is awesome!

    I've tried a Helix and the Helix Native plugin and needless to say I will never give Line 6 any of my money; poo.
     
  12. capac

    capac SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    11
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    I wasn't exactly blown away by helix either. It does the job for jamming and you''l eventually get some nicer tones if you tweak a lot, but I don't really like it.

    jerm, you could've profiled your 6505 before you sold it :p.

    It's a really hard choice. I could see myself being frustrated because of profile hunting... Than again, dialing the perfect tone with axe...
     
  13. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Blames it on "the rain"

    Messages:
    413
    Likes Received:
    108
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    I'd say it's ideal to profile your own amps IF you love your sound and have a decent setup to capture. We've messed around with the mesas and Peaveys in studio and have gotten some incredibly convincing results.
    I have found that learning how to EQ is ultimately what makes or breaks using others' profiles. You have to find a handful of cabs (or IR's) that consistently sound balanced and save them as your go-to cabs. Such a huge part of the Kemper sound is in the cabinet section. Then I like to run a para EQ in one of the pre slots and one in the X slot.
    Part of the fun with the Kemper is having access to VH4, Uberschall, Mk II c+, Dumble, etc. that you don't actually own, so spending a little time with how you can subtly change sounds goes a long way.
    But it's always nice to be able to fall back on your own 6505 or dual rectifier profiles when your on the search for "grail tones".
     
  14. crankyrayhanky

    crankyrayhanky SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    796
    Likes Received:
    71
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    Kemper is Awesome

    But after a few years I flipped it & snagged a TNL & FX8. I have a few amps, so this was a great move. In 15 years the TNL will still be a great power load, whereas Kemper/Axe will likely be surpassed
     
  15. Drezik27

    Drezik27 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    27
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2013
    Location:
    Michigan
    So I've had the Axe FX for a little over a year now. Recently I picked up a Kemper after reading a lot about them to give it a try and see what some of the hype is about.

    As soon as I plugged it in, I loved it. It has the "feel" that I dont get from my Axe Fx. That said, after a week of fiddling I am going to return the Kemper. It sounds great, better than the Axe when plugging into a real cab but overall the Axe is more versatile for me, easier to tweak, sounds better when recording direct, and just meets my needs a little more. I wish I could keep both, but I will end up keeping the Axe.
     
  16. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    1,690
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    That was my experience too, going from Axe Std to Kemper. It was primarily something in the "thump" of the Kemper that sounds more cab-like than any IR has given me. It also seems to respond to picking dynamics and volume knobs better, which I guess you could call "feel". There's something inconsistent about tube amps that the Kemper replicates better than any other modeller. That said, I am dusting off my Axe-Fx again after years of not using it, just to expand my options. If the resale value of an '09 Axe-Fx Standard had been better I would've sold it a long time ago but it's worth more to me than it is on ebay, so I might as well keep it around for all the cool FX it can do. It also has a much more extensive drive section than the KPA. They're a good team for sure.
     
    capac and Drezik27 like this.
  17. Casper777

    Casper777 Slow Player

    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    249
    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Location:
    Geneva, Switzerland
    Have quite some experience there, as I got my Kemper 2 years ago. Just received my Fractal AX8 a few months ago and currently own both!

    1) First, I haven't switched on my tube heads for 2 years now. And I own some good ones (2 ENGLs, a Hughes & Kettner and some tube combos). Most of them are for sale anyway ;)
    2) I really love the convenience the tone and the feel of modellers. Use them with FRFR solutions and I went to the point I much prefer this feel to the flubbyness of a 4x12 cab

    Now for the comparison... Well that's true that with the Kemper, you're really dependant on the profiling skills of people that do the profile. Stock profiles are so so, and you have to chase some great tones out there. Plenty of them though and it's part of the fun. Now it's also true that a profile is a kind of a picture of a particular setting of the amp. If you have a profile that has been done with high gain and scooped mids and you turn down the gain completely and boost mids and change setting, it will NOT sound like the profiled amp with the new setting... It will sound great yes but in this context not very accurate.

    Now I didn't get all the talks about the editor since I got my AX8.... Damn it's SO convenient vs the Kemper. It's super fun, quick and simple!!! Since them I find that tweaking sounds is a pain in the ...ss on the Kemper!! For this alone I would recommend going Fractal! yes...

    I also found that cleans and Crunch are more convincing on the Fractal Yep... always heard the opposite, but I actually like the dynamics better with the AX8. For effects... well... I guess nothing to say here, Fractal wins hands down.

    All in all I would recommend the AX8, which is one the the best solution, especially for that price!

    But you will sound good with either one! ;)
     
  18. capac

    capac SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    11
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    Nice! AX8 is a stripped down version of axe fx in pedalboard form? How's the processing power for running effects? It costs even less than kemper (not that much in Europe though).
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  19. Casper777

    Casper777 Slow Player

    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    249
    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Location:
    Geneva, Switzerland
    Yes big difference is that you can't run 2 amps at the same time (don't really care) and a bit less CPU power but it hasn't been a problem so far... should not be if you don't run 10 efffects + controllers + filters at the same time :)

    What I like is that I have a pedal board and that's it!

    definitely an alternative to consider.
     
  20. capac

    capac SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    11
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    Nice! Does not having headphone jack bother you? I'm gonna use it in the studio and have headphones connected to the interface anyway, but still...
     

Share This Page