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Axe-Fx III tone/feel vs. Kemper?

I know this is a fractal forum and I will likely receive biased answers but im looking for some honest feedback from those of you who own both or have a lot of experience with both. I hear from time to time that the Kemper has a better tube "feel/tone" than even the newest the AXEIII. Maybe I just don't have super tone ears but in my limited experience with a Kemper and an AXe2 I didn't really "feel" or "hear" much of a difference when they were both setup on excellently made presets. The axeIII certainly blows the kemper out of the water on high gain tones and effects but just curious about the other less gainy tube tones and feel? Thanks
 

PBGas

Experienced
Well....here is my take....I think we are pretty lucky these days with the great choices we have and they all sound great to be honest with you.

From my end, I have had 2 Kemper units in the past. I liked them but was never really happy as I was always searching for a better profile. I didn't have to but you kind of are always curious with that unit to see if someone has created or shared something better. The lack of an editor was an inconvenience but no worse for wear. I used them for less then a year during the times that I had them. Both units had issues with the second one being a powered rack, had to be returned. It happens.

I have now had the Axe III for more than a year and half and I can honestly say, it is the be all to end all for me. I was never a fractal fan in the past but after I got this unit, I quickly changed my mind. Simply amazing and great sounding.
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
Rather than hash this out yet again, may I recommend you do a forum search here for years of this discussion....
but the short answer from me, user of both units for years, is similar to @PBGas , the III is king, but I was lucky to discover MBritt’s profiles, which for the dumbley and Guytron amps were alone for me worth the price of keeping the lunchbox, especially for some of the bestcleaner tones.I had heard....However , the recent iterations of III FW have brought the D-styles to a pretty dam equivalent level to my fave KPA Brittfiles.///and criminal that Kemper has been unable to produce an editor...
 
Rather than hash this out yet again, may I recommend you do a forum search here for years of this discussion....
but the short answer from me, user of both units for years, is similar to @PBGas , the III is king, but I was lucky to discover MBritt’s profiles, which for the dumbley and Guytron amps were alone for me worth the price of keeping the lunchbox, especially for some of the bestcleaner tones.I had heard....However , the recent iterations of III FW have brought the D-styles to a pretty dam equivalent level to my fave KPA Brittfiles.///and criminal that Kemper has been unable to produce an editor...
The AXEIII has just been released not too long ago and has not been out for years so your comment in the beginning was kind of a waste to me. I tried a forum search and it did not go well. thanks for your follow-up response though. So basically you are saying that from a cleaner tube tone perspective, the kemper was a winner in your book but there may be new releases to fractal that has brought it inline with Kemper for those tones?
 

mwd

Power User
It's kind of like asking Les Paul vs Fender Strat or Ginger vs Mary Ann. They're both good. My buddy has a Kemper and he gets stellar tones from his but stated that it was largely due to the MBritt profiles bradlake mentions. He gets a Marshall sound that is to die for. I tried profiling it but my skill set is not up to par. I'm sure the Axe III could match it once my editing improves with the new III. Kemper has some nice recording features as well.

Here is a long discussion that goes into much detail as well as here and a bit of a video demo here.
 

bdrepko

Fractal Fanatic
I had a Kemper PowerRack for a couple years. I liked it, but never felt it was vastly superior to any of the other modelers. With the AXE3, I currently have the best clean and low gain sounds I have been able to get with any modeler since I bought my GT10 years back.
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
It's kind of like asking Les Paul vs Fender Strat or Ginger vs Mary Ann. They're both good. My buddy has a Kemper and he gets stellar tones from his but stated that it was largely due to the MBritt profiles bradlake mentions. He gets a Marshall sound that is to die for. I tried profiling it but my skill set is not up to par. I'm sure the Axe III could match it once my editing improves with the new III. Kemper has some nice recording features as well.

Here is a long discussion that goes into much detail as well as here and a bit of a video demo here.
What? Mary Ann, no contest.
 

nateb

Inspired
What? Mary Ann, no contest.
You all go for gilligans island, I go for letterkenny


Betty-Anne: It's completely inappropriate. Mary-Anne over there is not a girl. When's the last time you saw a girl's tits sag so low, she could tuck 'em into her joggers?
Mary-Anne: You're right, Betty-Anne. To call us girls is wildly inappropriate. Look at you. When's the last time you saw a girl with enough pubic hair to lose her keys in? Along with the buoyant Canadian Tire key chain?
Betty-Anne: I'm even more offended by that. Tell me how Mary-Anne's a lady? Her Jill-strap's got more skid marks than a runaway truck laying on a coastal mountain highway.
Mary-Anne: Yes, I'm afraid you guys missed the mark again. Betty-Anne's no lady. She picks and flicks more boogers than a restless Dutch eight-year-old with Asperger's.
Betty-Anne: Well-done, Mary-Anne. You're unpredictably articulate for a girl who waves goodbye to her pee when she flushes the toilet.
Mary-Anne: You wanna talk about unpredictable, Betty-Anne? Who would have thought the girl who ingested mosquito eggs after drinking out of mud puddles would ever almost be accepted to community college?
 

luke

Fractal Fanatic
With the Axe you have the amp and can tweak to your hearts content. A Kemper profile is snap shot that is best left alone or nearly alone.
 

Tilt

Inspired
I've got both kpa and Axe III
There is no doubt that Axe III, globally, is the more powerful and complete unit on the market. There isn't much more to say.
After that, if we speak only about how an amp sounds, we could quietly say that they are both amazing, same top level, but once this is established, on Axe III you have possibility that you do not have on Kemper:

-complex routing
-better effects quality
-spectacular editor
-more i / o possibilities
-a much more modern interface with color display,
-a much more versatile and modern pedalboard with color LEDs, LCD display and the possibility to configure it (with the same editor) 100% freely.

Next step, doing coffee :cool:
 

Rafa Diaz

Experienced
I think if you give a guy like @2112 a Kemper or a Line 6 or an obsolete POD he will sound better than all of us with the best equipment ever, use your fingers and ears and get the best of your device.
That said, AXE 3
 

muudrock

Experienced
I currently have both and I think what you're describing is the compression the Kemper has, particularly in the mid range. I think people feel that under the fingers and interpret it as "more tubey". I remember Cliff posting that you can simulate it by using the output compression parameters in the amp block. I also don't think the Kemper has the same clarity in the upper mids/highs as the Axe III (or any Fractal unit) which may contribute to the comments you're referring to.
 

Handyman

Inspired
So what's the deal with the Kemper compression? I can tell its a thing, but not understanding why its there in the first place. An attempt to deal with the limitations of a fixed point DSP?
 

bshaw92

Experienced
An attempt to deal with the limitations of a fixed point DSP?
No one can answer that but CK.

Speculation may be to provide a more tube like feel and response that they felt appeared during testing.

I am going to try and make a tone match of an amp I have profiled and see about the results comparing the two units. You can hear a difference in the tonematch video Leon made compared to the Axe amp. There is a little girth/depth.... whatever you want to call it that adds to the amp characteristic. I have been playing with speaker Hi-cut, depth and the fat switch to try and get there. The two are close, but have differences. I know what I hear there are just many variables and I'm working on getting there. Better would be an open ended argument depending on where you post it.
 

AxtEffekt

Member
In 2016 I bought a Kemper and coming from earlier effects units, it was a revelation soundwise. I knew about some of the drawbacks (such as no editor, clunky interface...) but thought that tone should be king. Well, I didn't use the unit as much as I thought I would. The lack of an editor and the fact that there's no easy USB connection to your computer were more of a dealbreaker than I had originally anticipated. Too many cables necessary for recording (plus one extra interface).

The feel of the unit was great, no question. I was at first a bit disappointed by many of the presets, though. It's like others have said before: You really need to go and find rigs that fit you and your playing style - that's the part I didn't enjoy. Of course, I went ahead and bought commercial rig packs, but the amps therein all sounded same-ish (because they were most likely captured through the same chain, just with the amps exchanged).

I find the Kemper more suited to live playing compared to home or studio work. Some guitarists don't care much about which gear they play through (and still sound great!), which I envy. For them, it could be as easy as dialling up that M.Britt Marshall, add reverb and be done with it. Being more concerned with tailoring my tone, the Kemper didn't deliver in that aspect. With the Axe FX III, I feel like standing in front of a big shelf with all the amps, speakers and effects in the world from which to choose a tasty combination. With the Kemper, it comes down to endless rig and effect browsing with a clunky interface.

So, usability and what you actually need the unit for is a big factor, in my opinion.

But since you were asking about the tone: I really liked the clean and driven tones. Many times you can read this is something the Kemper excels at. I won't deny the fact that the Fenders and Voxes etc. sounded great. However, with gainier amps, I felt there wasn't so much difference between actual models and there's always this compression in the mids, which was mentioned here, that at first makes it feel super-fluid under your fingers but is ultimately not quite realistic. Also, over time, I noticed a cocked wah tone in most of the higher gain models that I couldn't dial out or unhear. On the Axe FX III I was floored by the fact how different the amp models feel and react under your fingers. To my ears, the tone is more open with better high-end extension.

When I got the Kemper, it already felt like a unit in the latter part of its lifecycle. Years earlier, it would have wowed me to a much greater extent, I'm sure. The Axe FX III to me is just the next level in evolution. I didn't appreciate the general opinion on the Kemper forums that the product has been created more or less perfect, proven by the fact it's basically an unaltered unit since 2011 with no need to go any further than that, being rather complacent and smug about it. I believe that technology needs to progress and the boundary needs to be pushed, like the Axe FX III does. How is it possible that in 2019 despite some substantial Kemper updates (delays and reverbs and such) there's still no editor? It's coming soon (tm).

I got the Axe FX III in autumn 2018 with the firmware 1.18. Now we're on 6.04 with substantial and clearly audible improvements to the amp, cab, drive and effect blocks and much more. That to me is the biggest difference.
 
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App12

Inspired
I have both. KPA users will often say that they spend less time tweaking but truth is you can also spend a lot of time hunting for the right profile. And the moment you tweak that, it is no longer a profile but now using modeling, and the Axe excels at modeling. Development cycle on the Axe is really fast and they take feedback from users, on the KPA it can take years to do what FA does in a week!
 
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