Axe FX II and Kemper - some thoughts

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by tubiux, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. t3oi

    t3oi Supporting Member

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    Having worked at one of the major antenna manufacturers, I somewhat agree :bonk

    Yes. This is feeling creepily like my work day hasn't yet ended...let's talk tone instead.
     
  2. timowens316

    timowens316 Supporting Member

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    LOL, you're a cool dude, good night :)
     
  3. RobJ

    RobJ Gold Supporting Member

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    lol.....I nearly spewed my diet coke.
     
  4. greiswig

    greiswig Supporting Member

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    Great review. I have an Axe II now, but haven't used the Kemper. However, my graduate degree is in Cognitive Psychology specializing in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). I've been working as a Usability Specialist, UI designer and now User Experience Manager for nearly 20 years. So it is with some authority that I can say...

    ...if a feature isn't readily usable, it might as well not be there for most people.

    True, there are some who are willing to spend hours tweaking things to get just the right sound. Heck, I'm one of them...I've spent so much time tweaking and rebuilding my D-style amps that it's a little scary. So I honestly expected the AxeFX to be easier to do that with. To my surprise, it isn't. But at least I don't worry about high voltages with the AxeFX.

    You can get some really good amp sounds out of the AxeFX. Most of the patches it comes with do the unit a disservice, IMHO: they show off the effects more than they show off the amps. But trying to get down to basics (amp->reverb->cab-> out) reveals that even the settings they have on most of the amps don't really show them off for what they purport to be. And what is the difference between the low cut on the transformer versus on the speaker versus all the other places one finds a low cut control? And that's just one example.

    I've done enough UI design on enough hardware and software that I know you can accommodate both: have things like default parameters and presets that make it work for 80% of your users, and allow the other 20% to dive in deep and change things. Have a set of presets that are purpose-built to sound like the bare-bones models they represent, then have another section where you show off the effects. It can be done. And I think Fractal would benefit from having someone involved in professional Usability work with them on the UI of the unit itself as well as their editing software.

    If the Kemper and other competitors are about as good in the sonic realm and are easier to get the good sounds out of, Fractal may learn the hard way that usability is indeed a key market differentiator. Most guitar players would rather play music than try to figure out what controls in a heavily-laden UI do.
     
  5. zentman

    zentman Member

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  6. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    SonicGator: You make me proud to be a hoser. Great smarts & attitude. Like most of my buds over here in TO. Wouldn't say sh*t if you had a mouthful. Maybe accept in a coupla shades of grey. You guys on the left water spell gat*r with an "O" eh? I go by gatEr here in toronto. Great thread, carry on..
     
  7. hippietim

    hippietim Supporting Member

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    So far a lot of the clips from the Kemper have sounded very good to me.

    I don't use AxeEdit unless I'm doing a lot of patch shuffling. It is clunky and quirky. I just edit from the front panel.

    Another thing worth keeping in mind is that Kemper is just getting started. The Kemper clips sound better to me than early Axe-FX clips. When I got my Ultra it had 3.x software and while the effects were excellent the amp modeling was not where it needed to be. The reason I got into the Axe-FX is because it was pretty clear early on that Cliff was committed to making it better and better. Hopefully Kemper follows that path.
     
  8. m~Dan

    m~Dan Member

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    I studied electrical engineering - but I don't understand most of this stuff... I'm more into embedded systems :D

    But BTT:
    What I tried with my Kemper ist taking 2 profiles of an amp with different cabs/micpositions. Those 2 profiles sound completely different when playing with FRFR. Though... if I went into an ENGL 50 watt poweramp and my HUghes Kettner 212 cab and remove the cab in those 2 profiles - the profiles sound VERY close - I think in an A/B I couldn't tell.

    You might also check this... it's in german, but looking at what I'm doing you should get the point.



    What I'm trying to say: You shouldn't discuss that much HOW it could be possible (but it's very interesting though, I love forums for those kind of discussion) but try it by yourself and see that it works actually quite well. Is it a 100% thing? surely not. Is it close enough for me. Yeah, absolutely :)
     
  9. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    Rock(what's Left) is about what feels good not what matheticians can work out with a pencil.
     
  10. tubiux

    tubiux Member

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    Great reading guys.

    @Greiswig: I fully agree with your points.

    There's one thing I just think we should touch upon and that is the question of what you need vs what you MIGHT need. I think we can all agree that Axe will serve all you possible needs in the future. Most multi effect boxes are at least in part designed and marketed as in order to fullfill needs we don't have at the time of purchase. I'm the first admit that I dive into this head first. My ego likes the fact that the box sitting on my desk/rack/... can do pretty much anything. I do have some projects coming up later this year, where I most likely will need a fairly wide array of sounds at my disposal. The problem is I don't know which ones.
    The Axe Fx would answer any such call, but for what I do today, it's overkill by far, especially taking my other gear into consideration. I chose to sell it, which puts me back on square one in terms of my future needs. The gear I own today, can handle all my present needs.

    Is this bad research on my behalf? is my ego getting caught up in the hype/*gas*? yes and yes, but what's wrong with that. I like to check out new gear, and every now and then I find something I really like.
    I like the KPA, I just don't know if I really like it. For sure, it won't handle all my future needs, but that's not the point of this unit, not in terms of effects at least.

    I loved the multitap delay in the Axe, and I'm going to see if I can find a pedal or whatever, which can make the same sounds. I probably should look into the Eventide Time Factor.
     
  11. stratzrus

    stratzrus Silver Supporting Member

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    +1

    I think most familiar with my posts would agree that I am fully in the Axe FX camp and think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread but Greiswig makes some valid points. I'm not a designer but the notion that it could be made more user friendly, the editor too, rings true. With that said, Cliff has done a spectacular job and has moved the entire modeling field forward by a quantum leap. In time, as firmware upgrades are offered, I hope that improvements continue to be made to both functionality and user friendliness.

    Agree.

    Dan has said what I've been trying to say but better because it's based on personal experience with the actual unit. The fact that, with the cab removed, the profiles sounded very close proves that the function works very well. The fact that they don't sound the same proves that it's an approximation not an actual removal. Most players would agree that if the two were very close that's all that's needed and as such serves the intended purpose, even if not with 100% accuracy.

    But of course music isn't only about rock and the culture/values associated with it. Rock in it's purest form is about simplicity and modelers, from a design perspective, most certainly are not.

    Thanks to all who contributed to the scientific discussion. I found it more educational than any other thread in recent memory. :aok
     
  12. paulmapp8306

    paulmapp8306 Member

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    Onl;y got this far in the thread - and held off comenting once but feel I have to now.

    there is a difference in you analogy. In the RF world when simulating the effect of antennas and thel ike - you know the antennas properties. With the KPA they dont know which speaker is used so therefore dont know its properties.

    IF you could tell the KPA "I used a V30, and an SM57" or "I Used a Greenback and U87" then Kemper could make a decent stab at removing that (nor perfect as mic distance and angle would not be known). the point is they dont.

    If you took a head, and played it through 7 different speakers taking profiles of each - then removed the cab part from each profile, for the process to work all 7 profiles should sound the same. While I dont have a KPA (love to get one to try) basic physics says that wont happen.

    If you take a forfile from just one speaker you dont really have that comparison to make - and in a single instance the "guess" the KPA makes may well be close enough. It may even sound very good. Im not debating that, but Im completely with Jay on this - its physically impiossible to remove A from B when you dont actually know what A is.
     
  13. paulmapp8306

    paulmapp8306 Member

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    After catching up on the rest of the thread - all my points have been highlighted - both the impossibility to be acurate, and that the cab vcan be removed from two prifiles taken with different ones - and sound roughly the same.

    Carry on :)
     
  14. guitarnet70

    guitarnet70 Member

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    Reading this thread I couldn't avoid to think about what Jay would be able to do with a KPA in his hands...with his knowledge and the technology that he can access, profiles made by him should be something....

    Christoph: are you reading this thread?;):D
     
  15. MaxTwang

    MaxTwang Member

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    I was thinking if Jay got his hands on a KPA, a few days later we'd be reading about his profiling experiments to better understand how the cab removal works.

    To those talking of too many unknowns to solve the equation, in the years of development Kemper may have done much study on standard guitar speakers and mics and compiled the information to infer which speaker/mic is used in a profile based on certain traits found in the profile that match the data on specific speakers and mics, then remove the assumed speaker & mic. It's not 100% but could have a high probability for success.

    edit:
    Since only the original profile is matching something that exists, then 'close enough' would be the standard for removing or replacing the cab & mic as we have no point of reference/comparison for the profiled amp w/ new cab. What would be interesting is to profile an amp twice, each time with a different cab - cab A and cab B, but all else the same, then in the first profile use the Kemper to switch Cab A to Cab B and see how close that is to the profile of the amp with cab B.

    Anyway, until the Kemper hits our shores, this is the only fun we can have with it. And this theorizing does make me want to play guitar. So I'm off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  16. stratzrus

    stratzrus Silver Supporting Member

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    See M~Dan's post #93 above.
     
  17. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    That simply means that the algorithm used to guess which part is the speaker works consistently. It does not establish anything about the accuracy of the guess. You have established that what is left after removing the "speaker" part of two different profiles sounds like an "amp" (the same "amp") in both cases. The relevant questions are:

    1. How closely does the "amp" portion match the physical amp when both are played through the same physical speaker?

    2. How closely do the "speaker" portions match the sounds of the physical cabs when the cabs are mic'ed the same as they were during profile acquisition?
     
  18. m~Dan

    m~Dan Member

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    Hm... I don't have an amp here (and no room where I could profile without my neighbors freaking out because they probably think a UFO has just landed).

    But I could try it with a preamp and different IRs instead of a real cab ... that should show how good it works too, right?
     
  19. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    A little tutorial is in order here. It appears that most of the participants here are unaware that there are many response features - thinking in the frequency domain for simplicity - that can be produced by either an amplifier or speaker. These generally fall into the realm of "smooth" response features. They include:

    1. Shelving - all frequencies above or below some "break" frequency are present at a different level, either higher or lower, than frequencies on the opposite side of the break frequency.

    2. Band boost/cut - a band of frequencies is present at a higher or lower level than frequencies outside of (higher and lower than) that band.

    3. Highpass/lowpass - frequencies above or below a given frequency "roll off" (decrease) at a level that is constant with respect to logarithmic frequency (6, 12, 18, ect., dB/octave).

    When a test of a system shows the presence of any of the above, and any of the elements in that system could produce any of those features on its own (this includes the mic as well), then any attempt to separate the contributions of the components constitutes a guess. There is no general set of speaker behaviors that can be used to identify whether the speaker is contributing any of the above; the speaker could be causing all (i.e., the amp's linear frequency response is "flat") or none (speaker response is flat) of them. This is why I point out the futility of guessing.

    If a person were interested in setting up a "profiling" system (actually a "modeling parameter-acquisition system" in the KPA's case) that could separate the amp from the cab, it could be accomplished. It would require accessing the electrical signal use to drive the speaker in addition to the signal from the mic.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  20. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    Does anyone have any concern over the loudness of the profiling session? I'm not too concerned now, because I will be relying heavily on others profiles. But if/when I profile, super loud UFO sounds don't sound like much fun. I mean, I use modelers because I can't turn an amp up in the first place. Now if I want to profile I have to get the amp into the sweet spot and than ET phones home?
    How loud are we talking?
    Is the loudness dependant on the volume of the amp you are profiling at the time?
    :huh
     

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