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Axe-Fx III vs Kemper Profiling Amp

skydog

Inspired
I play in a cover band. We are known for being very picky about precisely emulating each song.

I own a KPA. I just sold my FAS XL+, and bought an FAS III.

I have a nice collection of amps. I went down the KPA and FAS path, because I was tired of lugging three amps to each gig along with a monster pedal board and switching system.

Both sound great. In the context of being one instrument in a band mix, both sound as credible as any amp. As for precise emulation, it’s difficult to judge. I have two Twin Reverbs and two Super Reverbs, and they both each sound different from each other. Heck, sometimes the same amp sounds different one night to the next. In the videos above, the FAS III sounds better. More open. More air. Better tone.

The good news is that honestly, the FAS III continues to surpass the KPA in fidelity. It sounds beautiful. The bad news, is I have been locked into using the KPA on-stage. Two reasons: First, it was easier for me to normalize output levels for each performance rig on the KPA vs the XL+. Second, the KPA foot controller was much easier to operate compared to the MFC (for me, foot switches too close together and difficult to see on-stage). The FAS III meters have addressed output patch to patch. I believe the new FAS foot controllers (based upon rendered drawings posted) will fix my other issue. I can’t wait, to introduce the FAS III to my band mates and to our audience.
 
Great comparison. Both units sounded good to me with the Axe3 edging out the Kemper in most of the clips. Just curious...how do you have the input impedance set? I’ve found some of the models benefit from setting the input impedance a little lower.
 

Daveis

Inspired
Is there more reverb on the Axe3? I can listen to this over and over and some days I like the darker sounding Kemper and other days I think the Axe3 mids are a little too forward. When I play the Axe3 on my own monitors I don’t hear any excessive mids or brightness. It just sounds good. I’m not sure what to think other than maybe my hearing is faulty.
 

skydog

Inspired
Sounds like more reverb on the III, but who knows.
I own both.
The effects and routing are worlds better on the FAS.
The FAS has an editor, the KPA does not.
Tended toward the KPA when I owned an XL+. Don’t know why.
Now tend toward the FAS, with the III.
Don’t fully understand the claim about variety of amps. Kemper and FAS both have (virtual) tons. Yes, Michael Brit rigs are great. (As it turns out, the one amp I need is specifically available on the KPA, but not on the FAS - Marshall Model 1986, but I did a simple work-around, and I much prefer the FAS tone and characteristics.)
The KPA has an easily accessible gain adjustment.
When setting up a number of “FAS patches and scenes”, or “KPA rigs” for songs in a performance set list, the KPA is much easier to get the volume levels dialed in and saved on-the-fly.
Here’s a weird one that the smart guys at FAS can probably explain: I play a lot of slide (humbuckers only). When I’m at the upper end of the fretboard and beyond, the FAS can push the high frequency notes just like my Marshall amps. For some reason, the KPA “compresses” these same notes, and they almost disappear into the mix. This is critical for me. I consider this a qualitative limitation for the KPA.
The FAS forum offers more friendly technical support. FAS has demonstrated phenomenal customer support.
KPA has a phone number for customer technical support (yes, it’s in Germany), and a really helpful smart guy always answers the phone.
FAS’ creator is very actively engaged with his customer base. This is very positive.
For live performance, the KPA has an Ethernet foot controller. The FAS FC is not currently available, so I cannot use it live yet (no, I’m not interested in a midi controller). I’m on the list for an FC12. I’m hoping that it’s available and delivered in the next 30 days. If not, I will hope for the next 30 days.
The III is behaving more like an amp, when I use my guitar’s volume and tone control (which I need to do all the time).
With the III, the FAS is overall preferred over the KPA. I currently have to use the KPA live, but that’s just a shorter-term issue.
Some of these are subjective, but opinions are inherently so.
 

Rex

Legend!
Here’s a weird one that the smart guys at FAS can probably explain: I play a lot of slide (humbuckers only). When I’m at the upper end of the fretboard and beyond, the FAS can push the high frequency notes just like my Marshall amps. For some reason, the KPA “compresses” these same notes, and they almost disappear into the mix. This is critical for me. I consider this a qualitative limitation for the KPA.
The KPA has some built-in multiband compression. It works well for many tones. But it’s always on, even in situations where you wish it wasn’t.
 

skydog

Inspired
The KPA has some built-in multiband compression. It works well for many tones. But it’s always on, even in situations where you wish it wasn’t.
Well in this case, it’s a negative for me. For example, the original version of Layla. I play it just so, and the KPA backs it off.
 

rascarvalho

Inspired
Hi there!
Did anyone try to use Kemper to profile some AXE FX III or II preset and compare them? And the opposite (use AXE FX to match some Kemper profile)?
The idea is to know the behavior of both unit when tweaking (treble for example) after copy each other.

Thanks!!!
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
Hi there!
Did anyone try to use Kemper to profile some AXE FX III or II preset and compare them? And the opposite (use AXE FX to match some Kemper profile)?
The idea is to know the behavior of both unit when tweaking (treble for example) after copy each other.

Thanks!!!

I think it would be an irrelevant thing to do because both units sound good and amp-like to the point where I doubt anyone could reliably tell them apart in a track. I owned both of them for a while and they are different, but can indeed sound similar. It comes down to the feel, the editing/tweaking, what type of effects layouts you want to configure etc far more than it does sound wise. axe kpa.jpg
 

Jason Scott

Forum Addict
Hi there!
Did anyone try to use Kemper to profile some AXE FX III or II preset and compare them? And the opposite (use AXE FX to match some Kemper profile)?
The idea is to know the behavior of both unit when tweaking (treble for example) after copy each other.
If you capture the IR of the KPA's cab section using the Axe's built-in IR capture utility, you can reproduce the sound of just about any profile that has an equivalent amp model in the Axe. In my tests, I was able to reliably make the Axe sound indistinguishable to a number of KPA profiles to my ears with some tweaking. On the flip side, the KPA does a very good job of capturing the Axe FX's amps. There's often a minor difference in the low-end, but it's really close. Unless you're comparing them side-by-side and listening intently, you'd never know the difference though, in my opinion.
 

skydog

Inspired
Agree. Very similar. With my favourite Marshall sound I have both very close, without tone-matching or profiling each other. Like i said earlier (above), there’s something about the III that sounds a bit more close to my ears. Yeah, I don’t really know what close means either. But if my Marshall 50w was not in the closet, I’m hoping it would sound more like this than the other. Does that make sense? Lol.
 

Jason Scott

Forum Addict
Agree. Very similar. With my favourite Marshall sound I have both very close, without tone-matching or profiling each other. Like i said earlier (above), there’s something about the III that sounds a bit more close to my ears. Yeah, I don’t really know what close means either. But if my Marshall 50w was not in the closet, I’m hoping it would sound more like this than the other. Does that make sense? Lol.
The challenge with judging the KPA is that profile quality is extremely dependent on the person making them. I've heard some profiles that sound indistinguishable from the original amp to my ears, while others exhibit a noticeable discrepancy. The challenge with judging the Axe FX amp models is that there are only a few samples of both, the amp models and reference amps to compare in order to gauge the accuracy of the models.
 

Dimi84

New here
This is not so relevant to the video test, as I don't think the methodology shows any of this, but using axe 2, 3, even ax8 for a while and owning kemper for a long time, including tube amps..

.. I must say that "profiling" never made me truly happy. Who knows; if I didn't have tube amps maybe I'd think kemper perfectly replicates source tones. Maybe I'd think this how the amps truly sound and feel.

But having the reference (I rarely use other people's profiles) and the difference is obvious. It's not a "just a bit different" thing either, but for me personally, worse by a meaningful margin in certain scenarios.

Sure, Kemper is accurate enough to confuse people in plenty of scenarios... highly depends on the playing, even pickup used -- some reveal more of the "kemper tone" imo. I've made tests where most couldn't tell the difference.. Also others where most did. It's possible to play stuff that don't reveal differences as much, and call it a day.

To the point: for kemper to be accurate enough for me to feel like the Unit "steals" the soul of the amp", as people often say, it would have to replicate the "feel" of the amps considerably better. And it's not like "feel" is this thing that exists in another universe compared to "tone". The reason why kemper doesn't feel close enough to my amps, most of the time, is because the tone is off as well, whether that's easy to hear or not.

You may think that doesn't matter. That's perfectly fine -- but so many amp mods and other aspects of the signal chain can give such "slight" alterations. They can still be meaningful to many.

With axe fx the story has been a bit different for me.

First, using axe I've stopped making 300 profiles for every possible gain and/eq variation (gain control in kemper doesn't react like the amps; it's not just the eq). And I've tone matched most of my tube tones and have been happier with the results than the profiles most of the time. Of course in these cases the tones are more PU - dependent, but in all honesty, I haven't felt an absolute need to tone match either. Axe fx tone matching is not perfectly accurate, and that's also measurable, but innacuracies don't bother me as much as much kemper. There's also the advantage of being able to use dual distorting stages. Kemper is not designed to capture such tones properly -- and it doesn't, much of the time.

All that said I still like profiling as a process a lot. It's just that, considering inaccuracies (and other issues as well, but too much to go into) I don't feel like I'm missing much when using axe fx. I gain more than I loose, and that's in comparison to my amps. If kemper did what it said it does -- to the level where I truly cannot tell the difference when playing amp A vs profile -- then this could have been a different story. I probably wouldn't have bothered to test axe more, in search of a better solution to my needs,

But as things stand.. Nop. Axe fx comes out on top for me.

And for "feel" the difference from amp model to amp model seems bigger than profiles I've made of similar (real) amps. One could say that this is due to axe fx exaggerating some differences. Many factors could be involved. But what I feel is most likely is kemper simply tends to produce tones with the same innacuracies, most of the time, giving you a relatively similar "feel" at least when it comes to this segment of the tone.

On the other hand, even when there's innacuracies with axe, they don't seem to be of this type as much. They don't "follow you" on this level. I do like that. And I'm always comparing to my real amps, many of which comparable to axe models, even if not 100% same.
 
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Dimi84

New here
If I see a weakness in axe fx compared to kemper that can be important to me is the unit lacking an amp model that is close enough to a particular amp. Then there's a chance axe, even with tone matching, kemper does better (when it comes to my ability to use the units). But there's also the chance kemper doesn't profile the amp well enough either (with "well enough" suffering from known issues anyway, even is "slight ").
 

skydog

Inspired
The FAS AF3 sounds great. I like my Kemper, as well. I haven't detected any weakness in the AF3 vs the Kemper. I have an important performance coming up this Saturday. I would prefer to use my AF3 for the job, but I have to use my Kemper (the AF3 foot controller isn't available yet). But my preference is with the AF3. Can't succinctly state why, but it is qualitative. If forced to use one word, it would have to be "better". By a nose, as they say.
 

Dimi84

New here
The FAS AF3 sounds great. I like my Kemper, as well. I haven't detected any weakness in the AF3 vs the Kemper. I have an important performance coming up this Saturday. I would prefer to use my AF3 for the job, but I have to use my Kemper (the AF3 foot controller isn't available yet). But my preference is with the AF3. Can't succinctly state why, but it is qualitative. If forced to use one word, it would have to be "better". By a nose, as they say.
Do you own tube amps as well, have profiled them?
 

skydog

Inspired
Lol, here are some of them, but they aren’t the ones I typically would use. Not shown are some of the other small Fenders, a couple of old Marshall’s, a first-year Traynor, and a couple of Z’s.
This is why I bought a Kemper first.

1. I didn’t know much about Fractal. I’m a post-modeler reformed tube snob. (But man, my old hifi’s sound great!) 2. Oh, and the Blackstar is gone.
(Two edits)
 

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