• We would like to remind our members that this is a privately owned, run and supported forum. You are here at the invitation and discretion of the owners. As such, rules and standards of conduct will be applied that help keep this forum functioning as the owners desire. These include, but are not limited to, removing content and even access to the forum.

    Please give yourself a refresher on the forum rules you agreed to follow when you signed up.

Axe-Fx 3 & Kemper users advice

greetings!

I'm very curious about the AF3, my main use for wanting this I feel may go against what I'm reading I'm afraid.
I can use some straight advice.

I've always played tube amps and own a vintage Marshall 50 watt head 73', and a 66'Fender PR, I love these amps. My main gig amp is a Suhr Badger 30 due to the ability to play at lower volume levels.

So, mainly my tubes amps aren't house friendly and I'm looking for a straight to audio i/o (apollo) recording solution, maybe with the potential to do a DI as well for reamping. I just can't use the Marshall it's too loud for home use.

I have heard some stunning sounds from the Axe FX, but, they do seem to be coated with tons of effects. I've also heard a lot of really bad sounds from the AF, sounding very digital and brash at times, usually when not swimming in effects. which has me wondering if the whole bang of the AF is mainly efx?
I understand that the AF excels at effects, for my use, I would really be using effects post recording, so they don't appeal a whole lot, plus I'm not an atmospheric kind of player I guess. I'm after great straight amp tones, with a bit of delay or verb.

So, I've heard awesome sounds from the Kemper as well, and I know the effects are nowhere near the AF, but as that's not my main concern. I'm wondering if, since the AF users usually warn that I'd have to deep dive into parameters to get sounds realistic, if maybe the Kemper wouldn't be a better choice? It seems much simpler to operate and get a great sound quicker.

Can anyone who has both maybe offer an honest assessment on what's easier to play, with less fiddling, again for recording, not live use. I figure 'd have to buy a few good profiles but that's not a big deal.

Well, thanks for reading and any input.
PM
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
don't have the III yet, had a II for years. Also had a Kemper. The Kemper can sound good...that's the where the praises end. FX aren't good, you can't interact with the profile, there's a sameness, a KPA "tone" to everything.

The Axe FX only sounds bad if the person doesn't know how to dial it in. It's tones are amazing in every aspect, and it's controls and response authentic to the amp it models. IMHO nothing can touch Fractal's tone or fx, and it's not even close
 
Last edited:

phil92

Inspired
I don't own both, so can't comment on the Kemper.

But: when I jumped on the Axe FX III I was very happy with my Mesa Mark IV and regarded the amp sim as a sort of bonus, as I was planning to keep using the Mark IV for that.

Fast forward a few months: I haven't switched on the Mesa in a long time. The amp sim is just that good. It feels natural to me and is a lot of fun to play. I have been practicing some Dream Theater stuff lately, so was mostly in high gain land.
But just last night I grabbed my old Explorer on a whim and loaded up a simple Super Reverb and Vibroverb patch I made and couldn't stop playing for quite a while. I was getting strong vibes of early Santana and Allman Brothers. Very nice touch sensitivity and beautiful dynamics. Lots of sustain despite the low gain settings.

I find the Axe very easy to use and quick to dial in great tones. I use it just like I would an amp, most of the time not touching the advanced parameters at all. The arsenal of amps and effects you have at your fingertips is amazing and just keeps getting better.

The frequent firmware updates are such a great addition that make this box just so much more valuable in my opinion...
 
For me, without or with minimal effects... the Axe FX III sounds better than the tube amps it replaced while going direct. And that is with zero editing using factory presets and Austin Buddy’s Naked Amp Tones going in to Yamaha HS8 Monitors.

I haven’t tried the Kemper.
 
Last edited:
Hi Guys, thanks for all the input here, much appreciated. I guess it's a thing where I won't know until I give it a go. I'm not afraid of a bit tweaking, I just don't want to been bogged down with too much of that.
I've actually been getting surprising results recording silently with a Hotplate switched to "load" and running that straight into the apollo, I have some nice Ownhammer IRs for cab playback. sounds great and is simple to use.

thinking about my amps,...all of them only have 6 knobs each, stupid simple.

Think I may just have to give the Axe a whirl though.

thx again!

PM
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
its only as complex as you make it...I hardly ever use anything other than basic controls
 

2112

Fractal Fanatic
To be fair "Kemper is best for amps, Axe is best for effects" has been doing the rounds for a while now and both undersells how incredible the FAS amps are and how solid the Kemper effects are. I can understand the appeal of profiling but it didn't sound any better than a tone match with the Axe-III, and a simple AF3 amp + cab combo sounded way better than most of the profiles I tried.

These vids show you how easy it is to get great tones with minimal fuss, and how deep you can dive if that's what you want to do.


 

funknoodles

Regular
The amp models are the best available in a modeler. They're almost indistinguishable from a real recorded tube amp. The amp knobs reflect the exact way a real amp performs and 9 out of 10 times - the basic amp controls are enough to get it to sound great; no deep diving required. The only thing that you might need to experiment with is the cab block. Picking out a few go to cabs from the thousands of IRs can take a bit of time. As usual Leon's videos should make it clear how good the amp models sound. To my ears, they sound more like real amps than the Kemper which has a KPA mid range thing built in most times.
 

peteri

Inspired
Caveat - I've only played through a Kemper for a few hours.

I agree, that whilst sounding and reacting well - the Kemper did have a certain mid range, which in isolation I didn't like as much (could live with it but it was there).

My bigger 'issue' is a fundamental limitation with the technology - if the Kemper is absolutely perfect, it will be a completely accurate representation of a certain amp, on a certain day (variations in power etc) with a certain cab.

Any time I touch a control, I deviate from that.

That's not anti-Kemper, it's just a criticism of the technology/approach.

Whereas modelling (whoever writes it), if it gets to the same 'perfect model' state - will absolutely be the same as an idealised version of the amp wherever the controls are set.

That's an approach which I like much more, it matters to me that I can set a Marshall the same way I would in the real world - because that's an easy point of reference for me, and then when I'm using it in anger - I am used to how the BMT controls, the master, the gain will react and that's why modelling is more practical for me.

And this is why I am completely happy with the Fractal, it's the first modelling technology has reacted exactly as I expected and wanted it to do, I don't need to hack, to fiddle, to 'trick' it - I pull up a JCM 800 and it sounds like one, and I can adjust it just as I'd expect it to.

Kind of a basic test, but one most modellers I've used before (curve 5 I'm looking at you ;) ) - have failed at
 

Jason Scott

Forum Addict
greetings!

I'm very curious about the AF3, my main use for wanting this I feel may go against what I'm reading I'm afraid.
I can use some straight advice.

I've always played tube amps and own a vintage Marshall 50 watt head 73', and a 66'Fender PR, I love these amps. My main gig amp is a Suhr Badger 30 due to the ability to play at lower volume levels.

So, mainly my tubes amps aren't house friendly and I'm looking for a straight to audio i/o (apollo) recording solution, maybe with the potential to do a DI as well for reamping. I just can't use the Marshall it's too loud for home use.

I have heard some stunning sounds from the Axe FX, but, they do seem to be coated with tons of effects. I've also heard a lot of really bad sounds from the AF, sounding very digital and brash at times, usually when not swimming in effects. which has me wondering if the whole bang of the AF is mainly efx?
I understand that the AF excels at effects, for my use, I would really be using effects post recording, so they don't appeal a whole lot, plus I'm not an atmospheric kind of player I guess. I'm after great straight amp tones, with a bit of delay or verb.

So, I've heard awesome sounds from the Kemper as well, and I know the effects are nowhere near the AF, but as that's not my main concern. I'm wondering if, since the AF users usually warn that I'd have to deep dive into parameters to get sounds realistic, if maybe the Kemper wouldn't be a better choice? It seems much simpler to operate and get a great sound quicker.

Can anyone who has both maybe offer an honest assessment on what's easier to play, with less fiddling, again for recording, not live use. I figure 'd have to buy a few good profiles but that's not a big deal.

Well, thanks for reading and any input.
I'd need to know more about your use case, but here are some usage recommendations.

If you like / love the tone of your amps and prefer them specifically, I'd recommend the Kemper. Granted, you can use the Axe-Fx's Tone Matching feature to clone the sound of your amps, but future firmware updates have the potential to alter the sound of your Axe-Fx presets. Now, if you don't plan on updating the unit, then it doesn't matter, but free (and excellent) goodies (via firmware updates) is a big benefit of buying into the Fractal Audio ecosystem. If price is an important factor, the KPA is going to cost several hundred dollars less.

That said, the tone controls on the Axe-Fx respond and interact as they do on the actual amp, and the PC editor makes using the product an absolute joy / breeze. I consider Axe-Edit the absolute best in class. It's also worth noting that the Axe-Fx allows you to combine more than one amp / cab, assuming that holds any interest for you.

To sum up...

If:
  • Price is an issue
  • You prefer a more plug & play solution
  • You're not really into building rigs from scratch or tweaking
  • You prefer the sound of your specific amp(s)
Then I'd lean toward the Kemper.

However...

If:

Tone controls that react and interact like the real amp is important
You love building rigs from scratch and having the capability of tweaking an amp at the cellular level
You need or want access to a vast array of guitar amps in their entirety (rather than a snapshot)
You need / want an amazing PC editor

Then I'd lean toward the Axe-Fx.

For the record, I own, use and love both. They adhere to a different design philosophy, so it truly depends on your needs / wants. I would be sad if I had to give up either one.
 

Jason Scott

Forum Addict
don't have the III yet, had a II for years. Also had a Kemper. The Kemper can sound good...that's the where the praises end. FX aren't good, you can't interact with the profile, there's a sameness, a KPA "tone" to everything.

The Axe FX only sounds bad if the person doesn't know how to dial it in. It's tones are amazing in every aspect, and it's controls and response authentic to the amp it models. IMHO nothing can touch Fractal's tone or fx, and it's not even close
The Axe-Fx and Kemper can both sound amazing. While some of the KPA's effects aren't on par with the Axe FX, the quality of many KPA profiles I use are. The primary difference being that the Axe-Fx is far more versatile / flexible overall. The Axe-Fx allows me to build rigs from scratch and is infinitely more tweakable.
 
Last edited:

Jason Scott

Forum Addict
Any time I touch a control, I deviate from that.

That's not anti-Kemper, it's just a criticism of the technology/approach.
Okay, though to be fair, any time you add an EQ block, compressor, multi-band compressor, etc., you're deviating from the sound of the actual amp. In fact, any time you start modifying the advanced parameters, you're more/less deviating from the original sound of the actual amp.
 

peteri

Inspired
Okay, though to be fair, any time you add an EQ block, compressor, multi-band compressor, etc., you're deviating from the sound of the actual amp. In fact, any time you start modifying the advanced parameters, you're more/less deviating from the original sound of the actual amp.
Completely agreed, but not in the same way - I would contend there are significant differences where in a modelling approach you're able to simulate how re-biasing the amp, or (something I do a lot of) changing the mains power behaviour (I'm in the UK and the amps sound a lot more like I'm used to at 50Hz power - madness!) - because the underlying technology is effectively modelling components - these changes form part of the model.

Whereas in profiling, you have a profile - which is a very clever thing no doubt - and then you apply modifiers after the event. This means you're not able to get the same interaction.

For example, I used for years a Marshall Jubilee stack - I have a very clear mental image of what that sounded like, to me. I can get that with the Axe because I can tweak the advanced parameters to make the amp function as mine used to. Now given my amp was well used (by me - I owned it from new) the chances of a profile matching that are slim - components move and drift, but with modelling I can simulate that - I can't with profiling, not in the same way.
 

Jason Scott

Forum Addict
Completely agreed, but not in the same way - I would contend there are significant differences where in a modelling approach you're able to simulate how re-biasing the amp, or (something I do a lot of) changing the mains power behaviour (I'm in the UK and the amps sound a lot more like I'm used to at 50Hz power - madness!) - because the underlying technology is effectively modelling components - these changes form part of the model.
Many advanced parameters (eg. Dynamic Depth, Dynamic Presence, Output Compression, Definition, etc.) have no real-world equivalent with respect to the actual amp, thus modifying them results in a deviation from the original sound of the actual amp.

Whereas in profiling, you have a profile - which is a very clever thing no doubt - and then you apply modifiers after the event. This means you're not able to get the same interaction.
Well, some tone controls (eg. gain, bias, sag) do react authentically within a very limited range, though any time you add an external effect to an amp, you're deviating from the original sound of the actual amp.

For example, I used for years a Marshall Jubilee stack - I have a very clear mental image of what that sounded like, to me. I can get that with the Axe because I can tweak the advanced parameters to make the amp function as mine used to. Now given my amp was well used (by me - I owned it from new) the chances of a profile matching that are slim - components move and drift, but with modelling I can simulate that - I can't with profiling, not in the same way.
Even if tone memory weren't an issue, one advantage of the Kemper is that the sound of profiles never change due to firmware updates. That said, personally, I always look forward to improvements in the Axe's amp modeling, so that's not necessarily a deal breaker for me, but within the context of this discussion, it bears mention.
 

maxdown

Fractal Fanatic
I own an AxeFx and a Kemper.

I agree with all the comparisons stated above.

The huge pluses for the AxeFx is you're starting with the equivalent of amps fresh out of the box - you set them whatever way you want and add embellishments via the FX blocks as and when needed.

The AxeFX also is a USB audio interface device - so just a USB cable needed and you're hooked into your DAW and can monitor with zero latency via studio monitors or headphones with minimal fuss.

With the Kemper you are starting with a fixed snapshot of the state of an amp/settings/cab/mic and everything you do afterwards is destroying that captured 'perfect' starting point. The final fine tuning of the profile during it's creation is usually done with a guitar ..... and it's not your guitar if you're buying or using others' profiles.

Both devices are capable of capturing the tone of an amp and cab you own .... the Kemper's being perhaps the more streamlined process; but for optimal results with either device you'll need all the quality auxiliary equipment like mics, mic pre-amps etc. I'm sure the average Kemper user just buys profiles whereas the average AxeFx owner just selects the amp model and tweaks it into the shape they want.

The AxeFx I/O options are comprehensive - the Kemper's are somewhat lacking in comparison

The AxeFx is always being upgraded via regular firmware updates which can add new features - the KPA updates are sparse ...... to be perfectly honest I'm on the fence about which company has the best policy. You always have the choice to upgrade or not if it's anything more than a bug fix ... but psychologically you do tend to feel obliged to update and that might mean going back and tweaking your old presets.

To give some kudos to the Kemper, a powered 'toaster' KPA and it's footswitch fit into a double kick pedal padded case which makes for a very portable solution.

In the 'cave' or home studio the AxeFx just wins easily for me - a laptop, a USB cable and a set of headphones and I'm up and running playing a cranked Plexi along with backing tracks at any time of day or night without annoying anyone or needing to use an external interface.

With the AxeFx 3 you are joining it in it's early youth with all the new UI layout and hardware added on the back of learning from it's previous models - the KPA has yet to really address any improvements in those departments as it's still basically the same model that came out originally years back.

Just some points to ponder over.
 

brianv4

Forum Addict
You don't need to dive deep into advanced parameters within the AxeFxIII to get good tones quickly. It's really as simple as dialing in the gain and tone controls just like an actual amplifier.

The main thing about getting a great tone is finding the right IR. Fortunately it comes with more IR's than you'll ever need and the factory presets are a good starting point. Oh, and the amps in the Fractal sound amazing w/o any fx.

One more thing, this forum is the best. If you would have any difficulty achieving a certain tone, there's lot's of help here! Cheers
 
Guys, one other quick one,...anyone care to offer thoughts on using say a Suhr Reactive Load or Torpedo Captor with my existing amps,.since I'm after mainly straight amp tones for recording I think this is interesting as well as simple.
Thx!
PM
 

GlennO

Inspired
Can anyone who has both maybe offer an honest assessment on what's easier to play, with less fiddling, again for recording, not live use.
My 2 cents: The AxeFX III is in a totally different class than the Kemper. The AxeFX III has I/O, effects, cpu power, and flexibility that makes it suitable for a different kind of guitarist than the Kemper. And the higher price reflects that. The competitor for the Kemper is the AX8. That has similar I/O to the Kemper and similar cpu power. But the AX8 has a much lower price than the Kemper.

To your question, the past couple of years have shown improvements on the AX8 firmware, to make it much simpler to get a great tone. It's basically the same as using a real amp in that respect. Load up an amp, load up a cabinet, just use the basic amp controls, and you've got a tone that is faithful to the real amp. If you want to make your tone distinctive and different than the real amp, you can plunge into the advanced parameters, but that's definitely not necessary these days to get a great tone out of the AX8.
 
Top Bottom