Kemper Profiling Amplifier Head WH by mdme_sadie
The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is a completely new approach in consumer amp simulation technology. Instead of being dependent on the company to program new amp models for the product you get to make your own with nothing more than a microphone, leads and a real guitar amp... and the Kemper of course. Given these ingredients you can "Profile" your amplifiers audio qualities and get an amazingly close digital facsimile of your amplifier. So close in fact that many times you wont be able to tell whether you're playing the original or the Kemper.
Sounds perfect right? The final answer. Well not quite. Firstly this product is still in Beta. This means that there are still ares of the GUI that don't work, there's a "Perform" mode that doesn't even exist yet, there's no USB to copmuter connectivity, instead you must load profiles and make backups using a USB stick, and build patches using the units own controls. New firmware betas are coming out more or less every week to two weeks and there are definite ares for improvement with the user interface, for instance there's no organization of the effects instead just a huge list to scroll through only sorted by effect type, and if you do make your own patches or "Rigs" as it likes to call them or make your own Profiles then naming them involves a hellish long trip through scrollwheel misery.
On top of all that, this is still early days on putting this sort of technology into consumers hands, and while it will pretty much nail close micing sounds even with the ability to separate the cab and mic from the amp stage with surprising accuracy (so you can swap out cab/mic combinations from other "Profiles"), it still has difficulty with far micing or getting any room ambience. This may or may not be an issue for you. Profiling also still leaves the line to the amp on while you switch and compare between amp and profile, which can be quite annoying forcing you to record to a DAW in order to actually compare and contrast.
However all of that is what we'll put under teething problems, stuff that will go away with successive firmware updates. Don't focus too hard on these negatives, because the point of this unit is how it sounds, and I'll be honest right now it sounds glorious. This is the first amp sim, of either software or hardware to actually sound like a real amp and not like a Pod. It sounds natural, it has harmonic complexity, it can feedback in a natural and musical manner, it reacts like your real amps it sounds like them. It's not just a rough approximation like a Match EQ but instead a very close model. The feel is there too, it's reactive, fast and tight, reduce volume and it cleans up like the real amp, dime it and you get the same reaction as your real amp too. It's transparent and you can really hear the way your guitars and their pickups sound and hear the player just as with a good tube amp.
So why should you care about that, you already have the amp right? The fact is though that getting a consistent sound day after day can be a pain in the ass, dialing in and micing up the perfect sound can take time. With the Kemper you can recall your sounds instantly. For every artist that comes through your studio you could re-amp parts of their track when they and their gear have long gone.
Still not impressed? The profiles themselves are under 4k in size, this makes it incredibly easy to store and share thousands of these. In fact there's already a substantial catalog of Profile Rigs available on the Kemper website, the free sharing of rigs is one of the biggest draws. You could have a friend profile a particular setup when working across multiple studios and get that same sound again anywhere else, download new profiles each day and it's like getting free new amps for your studio.
Oh and if you were thinking that these Profile Snapshots were just static captures of one point in time, then think again. You have access to the full set of normal amp controls as well as some amp sim controls for things like Sag, Definition, Pick Attack (transient design), Tube Shape etc. But most importantly you have control over the gain. You read that right, you can change how distorted the amp is after profiling it, clean up a great 5150 Profile while still retaining it's characteristics, or add some grit to a Fender Twin, and it just sounds natural and as you'd imagine it would if the real amp was even capable of doing that without deafening everyone in the vicinity. You can also adjust the Cab settings just like with most other amp sims, separating Cab from Amp, and turning off one or the other to allow for use as a digital preamp in live situations.
As a nice aside you can also use the KPA as a re-amp box on real amps via S/PDIF, so it's not just limited to normal duties as an amp sim.
Beyond the amp sim side itself you laos have a nice collection of "Stomps" and "FX", these are of high quality although the routing options are limited to four pre and four post in series (two of which in post can only be reverb and delay). This may be a concern if you were wanting the unit to double up as a general outboard FX unit, but for most guitarists this is all you'd want or need in a standard rig. External loops are also offered should you need them.
Build quality is great, metal chasis and case with a real leather strap for it's lunchbox format, Very solid, I can't see it falling apart even with heavy wear and tear for a long time.
Workflow in general is easy (apart from the aforementioned issues), nice big friendly, extremely visible and easy to use knobs in the standard layout for the actual amp control, a tuner that's always visible in the form of a three LED system, dedicated direct controls for Verb, Delay and Mod settings, controls are well laid out and clustered in a very clean and obvious way. It even has Copy/Paste/Undo/Redo controls on the faceplate. It couldn't be much more obvious or simpler to use.
I'd recommend it to anyone, this is by far the best sounding amp sim I've ever played, and even in terms of audio clips listening to this and all the others it's clearly the best if you need or want real amp like tones and feel.
If you consider this unit as nothing more than another actual amp (admittedly only with direct out and requiring a clean poweramp/speakers) then it's a great investment, I'd put it up there with the real amps.