* Full review and independent analysis of the Kemper Profiler Power Head & Remote by Australian Guitar magazine.
Ever wanted a famous classic tube amp, but can’t afford one? The Kemper amp allows you to record or download – and save a snapshot of – any amp’s tone. By Craig Carroll.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Built in 600W Power Amplifier
• Hundreds of preloaded amps and effects • Effects loop for your own stomp boxes
• Profile mode for capturing your own amp’s sound
• Performance mode for storing presets in the amp and remote with output to stage monitors, PA, mixing desk, cabinet, computer and more
To look at, The Kemper is a mad scientist’s control console from a 60s sci–fi movie, with its curved metal chassis, numerous dials and small flashing buttons. The technology inside, however, is far from dated. Rather than modelling an amp’s sound like other products on the market by Line 6 or Axe–FX – which use software to digitally simulate an amp’s sound – the Kemper takes an actual profile or snapshot by recording the sound coming out of the speaker. In Profile mode, the Kemper sends loud pulsating noises and static through the amp, to measure how the tubes and passive components respond. These allow the Kemper to recreate the characteristics of the amp with stunning results. Rather than copying the sound, the Kemper clones all the characteristics of the amp in its current setting and regurgitates it back out exactly the way it comes in.
You can profile an amp in a clean state and add gain afterwards, or record the amp with a distorted tone and clean it up later if need be by adjusting the gain dial. A clever noise gate is also included to get rid of any amp/guitar hiss, as well as bass, mid, treble EQ and presence dials that can be tweaked on the fly. If you want to record your pedals in the profile, this can be done as well, although adding delay and reverb is not recommended as the echo interferes with the profiling process. You can dial in the amount of headroom as well so the Kemper acts just like a tube amp, distorting when your turn the volume up on your guitar and cleaning it up when you turn it down.
Profiling at home is not as easy as just plugging your amp and guitar into the Kemper. Recording your tone is done through a microphone, so you’ll need a good quality one with a stand, as well as some sort of mixer to adjust the levels hooked up to isolated speakers so you can hear the results. For those who don’t have the gear, it’s easier to download profiles already created by the Kemper community. which can be sourced from the Kemper website, or purchased cheaply from reputable profiler who have the right gear, studio set up and know– how for recording an amp properly. The amp already comes preloaded with hundreds of amps and built–in effects in the browser, so it’s good to mess around with these first. Amp companies’ sales will definitely take a hit with the increasing popularity of these devices.
After you have created, downloaded or used an existing amp profile, you can plug in your own stomp boxes or use the built–in effects. Taking the built–in route – working from left to right across the top front panel – you start with the included effects used
in front of your profile amp, which includes distortion, fuzz, overdrive, wah–wah, ect, then move across to the rig section adjusting the amp head, its EQ, and even choosing the cabinet and speaker. After the amp, the modulation effects – for example, flangers, choruses, delay, phasers, reverb, and so on – can be selected and tweaked. There are four slots for pre amp effects and four for post. These can be saved into memory for future use.
Used in conjunction with the pedal board – or remote, as it is called – tap tempo and looping can be employed. However, there is no expression pedal included to control volume or wah–wah – that’s an added cost. The remote allows amps and effects to be tailored to your live gig with banks
of individual songs to be stored – for example, an intro sound followed by verse, prechorus, chorus, solo, outro set to each stomp bank.
To output your sounds, there is a headphone jack on the front – you can also look to the back of the unit to output your sound using a number of methods. Plug into your amp’s speaker cab for bedroom or gig playing, or go out to a mixing desk or into a computer using isolated speakers for studio recording. For playing live, there are also outputs for stage monitors or a PA, and the 600W power amp delivers plenty
of grunt. Where relevant, there are both XLR and quarter–inch TS jacks with ground lift buttons to avoid hum loops. There are also MIDI, USB and S/PDIF input/outputs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For a studio recorder, professional guitarist or amp enthusiast, the Kemper is a must. Its ability to accurately profile multiple amp tones and store it in one box is cost and space effective. However, for those playing at home or performing a pub gig when you just want to plug in and play, it’s probably overcomplicating things.built for the professional but priced for all of us. Best of all, it plays and sounds great, and that, after all, is what it’s all about.
WHAT WE RECKON
• Recreate any profiled amp’s sound
• Have multiple amp rigs on the one amp along with effects
• Great for studios or guitarists who use multiple amps
• Profiling requires more than just plugging your amp in
• Interface takes time to learn
• Requires a lot of setting up
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