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2018 - Real amps vs Axe-Fx III vs Kemper Profiler

plexi59

Forum Addict
Might be too early considering your age, but here's a cure for GAS: take a look at the stock market over the past 20 years, and see what kind of compound gain you'd get if you invested $2-3K/mo into S&P500, like clockwork. Then consider that if you stopped burning cash on shit you don't need you could retire 10-15 years earlier, or have money to start your own business, or just be able to tell your boss to fuck himself and walk out without fearing for your family's bread and shelter. Financial independence is a great feeling. I mean, GAS is fun, but it's not as much fun as not having to work when you don't feel like it, especially if you can already achieve every conceivable tone out of the gear you already have.
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Might be too early considering your age, but here's a cure for GAS: take a look at the stock market over the past 20 years, and see what kind of compound gain you'd get if you invested $2-3K/mo into S&P500, like clockwork. Then consider that if you stopped burning cash on shit you don't need you could retire 10-15 years earlier, or have money to start your own business, or just be able to tell your boss to fuck himself and walk out without fearing for your family's bread and shelter. Financial independence is a great feeling. I mean, GAS is fun, but it's not as much fun as not having to work when you don't feel like it, especially if you can already achieve every conceivable tone out of the gear you already have.
I kind of lost my trust in the stock market back when it crashed and looking at the world right now seems like one particular person tweeting something strange is enough to make the world go crazy. The music gear will hold its value! :) I already have my dream job making these Cab Packs for you guys to enjoy. :)
 

maxdown

Fractal Fanatic
What is this thread ? A midlife crisis or an introduction to your next book of philosophy ? ;)
I was maybe slightly under the affluence of incahol at the time I posted ...... and I think one of the other contributors was perhaps post coital .... but other than that it's just harmless chewing the fat
 

plexi59

Forum Addict
>> I kind of lost my trust in the stock market back when it crashed

That's why I suggested looking at a 20 year interval and at a low-expense S&P500 fund. If you consider 20 years and ignore the bumps, stock market as a whole can't be beat by any type of investment. It "crashes" by 20-30% from time to time, but that's why you buy and let it sit there. To quote Warren Buffett: "The stock market is a wonderfully efficient mechanism for transferring wealth from the impatient to the patient."

That said, we're all adults here, it's your money, and this is not financial advice. This is merely what I've done for the past 20 years or so (with bouts of GAS every now and then). Amps aren't the worst thing you could be spending money on -- they at least can be sold. The worst thing is probably Starbucks, with female clothing, shoes, and accessories as the close second. The former you literally piss out in half an hour, the latter has no residual value and clutters up the closet.
 

Smilzo

Forum Addict
Sometimes I feel like I want to roll back to a super old firmware just to compare when the Axe-Fx sounded bad because I don't think it ever did. :D
Oh yeah! :)
To me, it takes a lot of efforts in the old standard to have a good sounding live setting. You have to adjust eq, set advance parameter, try various parameters controller. But, especially the high end harmonics were a bit off. Do you remember the infamous "crack" thread... ;)
With the AX8 the sound was there right from the start: every firmware gives different flavor, I adjust a bit of eq to my licking and there we go... no more eq taming, dynamic controller... the other modelers are still in the "harmonics a bit off".

Short story: in the standard days I could identify the difference between real amp, and discuss them with Cliff and you all. Nowdays I can't. :)
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
I have yet to play anything that compares to Fractal, and not because I'm a fanboy. If something was better, I'd switch...and I'm open to the possibility every time I plug in.

It's not just the tones, it's the feel, the response. Yes, you can make a Helix or KPA sound good to very good...but it never feels right.

As for the KPA, I hate how little control/interaction you have. Even with the commercial profiles, you have to deal with whatever cab they are using. I tried the MBritt stuff, and some of it sounded pretty good...but he used the same cab and speakers for most of the profiles. No matter how good a cab is, I don't want the same cab/speaker with a Matchless and a Plexi. Don't even get me started on the interface and lack of an editor.

I also don't think it's easier to dial in...By the time I audition tons of profiles, I could have spent 5 minutes and dialed in a tone that's just as good or better, feels better, and actually responds to the controls the way the real amp does.
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
I have yet to play anything that compares to Fractal, and not because I'm a fanboy. If something was better, I'd switch...and I'm open to the possibility every time I plug in.

It's not just the tones, it's the feel, the response. Yes, you can make a Helix or KPA sound good to very good...but it never feels right.

As for the KPA, I hate how little control/interaction you have. Even with the commercial profiles, you have to deal with whatever cab they are using. I tried the MBritt stuff, and some of it sounded pretty good...but he used the same cab and speakers for most of the profiles. No matter how good a cab is, I don't want the same cab/speaker with a Matchless and a Plexi. Don't even get me started on the interface and lack of an editor.

I also don't think it's easier to dial in...By the time I audition tons of profiles, I could have spent 5 minutes and dialed in a tone that's just as good or better, feels better, and actually responds to the controls the way the real amp does.
I definitely agree with you an all this. Playing the Kemper I notice myself going for the tweak and once I try a few of the settings I always feel like "it was better when I didn't mess with it" so in a way you're stuck with whatever the profile is.
 

Dimi84

New here
Well, my 2 euros.. my own, personal, subjective, relativistic opinion.

.. Profiled many amps I've owned... Oranges, Marshalls, mesas, laneys, all the while constantly being bombarded with the idea that profiles, when done right, are identical representations of a source tone at a given point. If not, the issue must by definition have been user error and/or one was paid by fractal and/or the differences were so small no sane person could possibly care.

.. Yet... I'd hear the same shortcomings elsewhere as well... And I'd have one producer or another confirm my observations, as did some profile sellers.

What I'd see with my own profiles is dips in mid lows (100-120), a weird cocked wah effect in the mids.. and I cannot truly say I was happy enough with these tones, most of the time at least. Yes, given a certain type of playing and PU they could confuse the listener. But as soon as I'd turn on my amps.. it would be "game over" in terms of feel. The depth I'd expect from these amps just wasn't there. It wasn't simply a matter of "just a bit different, but equally as good" either.

... And then.. I finally got the chance to try match my amps using an axe fx 2 we had at studio... Getting ready for that "fake, digital-modelling sound" that would make me puke, if dominant opinion in some parts of the web was to be believed, I expected the worst.

Oh well, was I in for a surprise.

Shooting IRs and tone matching, then comparing to my amps, I preferred the axe results to Kemper much of the time. More depth, less "cocked wah" focus, but most importantly a greater ability to fix problematic-to-me parts of the sound. Where as with Kemper I'd profile again and again, trying to dial in the amp a bit different just in case I get a more accurate profile, these problematic areas were fixable to a greater level with axe via the very convenient editor. Post controls of Kemper such as "definition" are cool, but not as clinical as what's available in axe, generally speaking.

Then the lack of editor became a pain on the shoulder quick.

There was another plus here with fractal. Axe fx allowed me to finally use dual distorting stages (say preamp + power amp disrortion) that Kemper wasn't designed to profile. Not everybody cares about these tones, granted, but I love having such control over a preamp and a Poweramp without being scared of where the "point of no return" comes and profiles go bollocks. Profiling my orange properly with master cranked was not possible for me... And while axe wasn't a perfect imitation of that tone, it definitely got closer, sounded and felt better to my perception.

Of course It wasn't all Rosey with axe either.

I did have a couple of amps in that I couldn't quite emulate as well as the kemper, using axe 2, due to lacking internal amp models. Perhaps it could have been done better. In my case, I felt the profiles were closer. The way Kemper does what it does, other than EQ matching, can also mean achieving good tones pretty fast, considering one has amps sitting there ready to be profiled -- and lacking an internal amp model isn't an issue the same way I felt it could be with axe.

But that's the thing.. even if axe doesn't have built in models for everything in existence, it's not like kemper would profile all Amps equally well. Add to that how innacuracies, imo, tend to be quite consistent along profiling different tones, and you kind of end up with more of a homogenous feel from profile to profile compared to axe Amp sims or the real amps, for that matter. It's relatively evident in the mutes and single notes for me.

Then i also factored in the fact that even altering gain levels on Kemper to fit my pickups = not a realistic representation of the amp.. (which can be a plus in some cases, but most often for me not so).. and editor.. man, there is a lot to appreciate about axe fx.

All that said I still like kemper quite a bit. Even with the shortcomings I think it has, it's a great unit, still able to do something nobody else does quite as well overall (and I mean calculating gain, ect, whatever goes on during profiling, which isn't only eq matching). I would have probably not used axe as much had it been for Kemper being more accurate in my profiling sessions, because I've always like the concept of profiling.

But after using both devices for quite a while, as well mostly real amps.. I've been closer to axe for a while now. I still feel that the amp Sims tend to lack some depth compared to the Amps I've compared them to (yes, even amps comparable to the amp sims) but the range of options usually has gotten me where I've wanted to go.

Perhaps this changes in the future if Kemper becomes more accurate and I think the feel is more accurately representated.. or not :) Who knows what the (gear) tide may bring. And yes I still prefer real Amps to all other choices !

Cheerios
 
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Texhex

Regular
I love real tube amps. I always have and there's no way around it. There's never been a point in my life where I didn't have a couple of tube amps around and right now I think I have found some of the best tube amps ever created. 1) Mesa Mark V and 2) Marshall DSL. The Mark V can nail all of my favorite Mesa sounds while the DSL is kind of like "the original Friedman HBE" or something like that. It can do the JCM800 thing but also the higher gain Recto type stuff if you want it to but obviously it's not as tight or pointy as the Mark V.
Still saving up for an AXE III, I miss my AX8. :( Almost traded for a Kemper, kinda glad I didn’t.

Mark V and a DSL? What more could anyone need...

:p :p :p :p

upload_2018-12-19_22-21-23.jpeg
 
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shemihazazel

Forum Addict
The only thing I miss about 'toobs' anymore is the look of an amp head + 4x12 on stage. There's just something so iconic about it. Anyway, Fractal cured the majority of my GAS a long time ago. Whenever I come across a pedal or amp that I haven't before, 99% of the time I lose interest, because the Axe-Fx can replicate it. Plus, by now there are simply too many things I do with it that would be impossible to replicate with 'real' gear.
 

addedc

Veteran
ML, you are a great contributor to this forum who has added a lot since you were Clark Kent. You are an excellent writer, too. Love the line, "...as pavement is to the sculpture of David."
 
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