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About to break the bank - Axe Fx II XL+ or Kemper? Amp Sim & Guitar Effects Plugins
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
About to break the bank - Axe Fx II XL+ or Kemper?

I need some input from people with extensive experience in both these units.

I'm more after high-gain / djenty / grimey tones and yet also
something very versatile that is solid with cleans as well.

What I know so far is that the Kemper is a profiler (?) —
that being said, I have no access to any amplifiers so it's
safe to say I will not be doing any profiling whatsoever.

So —
excluding the Kempers ability to profile amps, is it possible to achieve
the same tones, just by obviously having to go about them in 2 different ways,
or is one superior to the other when it comes to tonal clarity?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterCrayle View Post
I need some input from people with extensive experience in both these units.

I'm more after high-gain / djenty / grimey tones and yet also
something very versatile that is solid with cleans as well.

What I know so far is that the Kemper is a profiler (?) —
that being said, I have no access to any amplifiers so it's
safe to say I will not be doing any profiling whatsoever.

So —
excluding the Kempers ability to profile amps, is it possible to achieve
the same tones, just by obviously having to go about them in 2 different ways,
or is one superior to the other when it comes to tonal clarity?
You have no access to any amplifiers? That's fine, but maybe a little unusual. [Or maybe its just modern, I don't know.]

Is it that you have never had a regular amp, or that you got rid of them because you want to "go digital"? Just trying to understand.




audioforce
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
You have no access to any amplifiers? That's fine, but maybe a little unusual. [Or maybe its just modern, I don't know.]

Is it that you have never had a regular amp, or that you got rid of them because you want to "go digital"? Just trying to understand.




audioforce
Sorry, I should have been a little more specific about my situation.
This is for studio use only, as I only produce/record, no live playing, etc.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 
italo de angelis's Avatar
 

Get a real amp!
So simple, so beautiful...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by italo de angelis View Post
Get a real amp!
So simple, so beautiful...
Trust me, I really would if I could.
I currently live in an apartment and 'beautiful' would be the last thing my neighbors would be experiencing....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterCrayle View Post
Trust me, I really would if I could.
I currently live in an apartment and 'beautiful' would be the last thing my neighbors would be experiencing....
Third option: real amp plus load box?


No first hand exp with other two options
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
Third option: real amp plus load box?


No first hand exp with other two options
Yeah, maybe a load box and IRs.

I don't know that much about it, but the Kemper seems a little bit over the top if you definitely aren't going to profile anything. I mean, that what it does, and that's what you are paying for when you buy one, I think.


audioforce
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
I don’t own any amps, but I do own a Kemper. It comes with so many great profiles, and gives you access to the user library, as well as 3rd party profile sets, that you will probably never ever want for your own. At least, I don’t. One thing that wasn’t totally clear to me, when I got it, was that each profile is really, really editable. I’ve found that almost every profile can sound to my liking with a few tweaks here and there. Making sure you set up your input level is crucial too. I think many claims of “I had one and didn’t like it” come from people who never properly set up their input gain. I also find it’s built in effects range from very good to great. I still keep a Blackstar HT-5 Dual and a EH Cockfight for those types of sounds.

The AxeFX is also very good. Better? Maybe. To me, it was a toss up. In the end I decided that I liked the Kemper a tiny bit more. It sounded a little less “polite” than the AxeFX. It was also considerably more expensive at the time. Do I miss not having an actual “model” of an amp? A little, but I added a few third party profile packs which include so many profiles of each amp that I never find myself unable to get a great sound. I will admit that the only time I actually demoed one was at a guy’s house (he was selling a guitar I was demoing) and I wasn’t bowled over. He wasn’t either, and then went on to show me how he would bypass it’s cab IR in favor of some software + IR setup he was using. (I forget which one it was) My take-a-way was that I had made the right decision with the Kemper. For the price of the AxeFX, I’d be angry if I found it sounded better using software IR.

One other thing that I considered, but passed on, was a couple of real tube amp heads and a Torpedo studio cab system. From my research, I think this would bring the ultimate in sonics, but at a huge price. By the time I bought the amps I wanted, the Torpedo, effects... I was hovering around $6000 USD. That’s because I’d want to cover old Fender, Vox, and Marshall style sounds, and some moder boutiques... Anyway, I’m in a very synthesizer phase of my music, so I’m fine with the Kemper, but I do think that at some point I may buy a cool boutique at some point and run it into a Torpedo. Maybe for Christmas?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by italo de angelis View Post
Get a real amp!
So simple, so beautiful...
...and heavy... loud... problematic recording in a small home studio situation if you live in a city. No doubt, they’re amazing, but sometimes having a simulation makes a lot of problems go away, and something like the AxeFX or Kemper are so good that it’s worth the compromise.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post

One other thing that I considered, but passed on, was a couple of real tube amp heads and a Torpedo studio cab system. From my research, I think this would bring the ultimate in sonics, but at a huge price. By the time I bought the amps I wanted, the Torpedo, effects... I was hovering around $6000 USD. That’s because I’d want to cover old Fender, Vox, and Marshall style sounds, and some moder boutiques... Anyway, I’m in a very synthesizer phase of my music, so I’m fine with the Kemper, but I do think that at some point I may buy a cool boutique at some point and run it into a Torpedo. Maybe for Christmas?
Without breaking the bank I've got a Mesa DC-10 and a Two Notes Torpedo Live, loaded with a few extra cab packs including the new Mesa official cabs.. Easy to set this up so you can record multiple tracks (dry amp, wet cab sim, etc) if you don't necessarily want to commit to something, or if you want to layer multiple sounds within Wall of Sound.

Also can plug anything into the Torpedo if you want, not exclusively a guitar gadget.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterCrayle View Post
I need some input from people with extensive experience in both these units.

I'm more after high-gain / djenty / grimey tones and yet also
something very versatile that is solid with cleans as well.

What I know so far is that the Kemper is a profiler (?) —
that being said, I have no access to any amplifiers so it's
safe to say I will not be doing any profiling whatsoever.

So —
excluding the Kempers ability to profile amps, is it possible to achieve
the same tones, just by obviously having to go about them in 2 different ways,
or is one superior to the other when it comes to tonal clarity?
I've used both a lot. Both are great and can get you great versatile tones.

But the Axe-Fx is better for high gain tones:
- It has better aliasing performance, which means less noise and more dynamics with high gain.
- It's way more tweakable, which is beneficial for extreme settings with high gain and low tuned guitars.
- The effects are way better and more useful, for example for djenty stuff the Kemper noise gate doesn't really do it.
- The Kemper can't do multiple gain stages (it's stated in the Kemper manual, and have been demonstrated in tests). It can't do an amp that's significantly distorting in both preamp and poweramp sections.
- For high gain stuff, Kemper has a "signature tone" it puts on everything. It's not bad sounding, but it's always there.

If you're not good at tweaking (lol) then get the Kemper cus it makes it easier -- you download other people's sounds, just find ones that work. But the Axe-Fx II is way more bang for the buck. It's cheaper now too since the III came out, kind of a no brainer IMHO.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Head
 

Don’t mind the amp scolds. Find a seller who has good policies and try them. Try the Helix too. Both Helix and Kemper have Matt Britt patches.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by yeky83 View Post
I've used both a lot. Both are great and can get you great versatile tones.

But the Axe-Fx is better for high gain tones:
- It has better aliasing performance, which means less noise and more dynamics with high gain.
- It's way more tweakable, which is beneficial for extreme settings with high gain and low tuned guitars.
- The effects are way better and more useful, for example for djenty stuff the Kemper noise gate doesn't really do it.
- The Kemper can't do multiple gain stages (it's stated in the Kemper manual, and have been demonstrated in tests). It can't do an amp that's significantly distorting in both preamp and poweramp sections.
- For high gain stuff, Kemper has a "signature tone" it puts on everything. It's not bad sounding, but it's always there..

Awesome!
Finally someone with experience with these units chimes in.
I am 99.999% sure I am gonna get the Axe Fx II XL+ —
just waiting for that credit card to hop into my mail box!

Have you tried software amp sims before?

How does the Axe Fx compare to amp sims?



Quote:
Originally Posted by barfwafl View Post
Don’t mind the amp scolds. Find a seller who has good policies and try them. Try the Helix too. Both Helix and Kemper have Matt Britt patches.

I've seen some shootouts on the Helix and it did not intrigue me at all, to me, it has that digital sound just the way software amp sims do.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterCrayle View Post
Awesome!
Finally someone with experience with these units chimes in.
I am 99.999% sure I am gonna get the Axe Fx II XL+ —
just waiting for that credit card to hop into my mail box!

Have you tried software amp sims before?

How does the Axe Fx compare to amp sims?
Software amp sims are great too. There's a lot...

For clean to mid-high gain stuff, S-Gear is my favorite. Easy to use, inexpensive, no frills, good basic effects, and most importantly great sounds. But it doesn't really do high gain djent-y stuff. This is the only software amp sim that rivals Axe-Fx & Kemper tones for me.

BIAS, it doesn't feel natural to me while playing, I don't like it. But the recorded end result sounds nice if that makes sense lol.

Helix Native is great too. Helix amp models are hit or miss I feel, but the good ones are good. I've had the Helix hardware along with Axe-Fx and Kemper. I still prefer the Axe-Fx for the various reasons I already listed, but they all sound good. You can't really judge it by Youtube videos and how someone else dials in the sound.

There's a lot I haven't tried but are popular, TH3, Amplitube, Thermionik, Revalver, Studio Devil, Guitar Rig, etc. There's some for free too like LePou (which for example Plini used for his early stuff).

At the end of the day, it's personal. But there's a lot of stuff that'll get you great results.

Impulse-responses/cabs are more than 50% of your guitar sound. So whatever you use, Axe-Fx, Kemper, software sims, etc., find IRs/cabs that match well and you can be happy.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Nut
 
TomPaul's Avatar
I love my Kemper...I have so many more great sounds at my finger tips. There is a library of free Michael Britt profiles on the Kemper Website too....maybe they come loaded on the new units. There are almost too many choices. I do not have the Axe so I can't compare...but I love the Kemper. I also have a 65 Deluxe Reverb and a Vox AC-15....but I use the Kemper more in the studio. I use the amps live and usually the Fender at that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Good Lord, I just bought the Axe-Fx II XL+
About to find the nearest cliff and do a good amount of contemplating....
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 
M.S.P.'s Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterCrayle View Post
Good Lord, I just bought the Axe-Fx II XL+
About to find the nearest cliff and do a good amount of contemplating....
Congrats, you bought a great unit.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by M.S.P. View Post
Congrats, you bought a great unit.
Thank you!
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