If You Own(ed) BOTH The AxeII AND Kemper

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by fakeox, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    Please just the people that have or have had both.. Strengths, weakness Thoughts, How they stack up for you. There has been several smart thorough reviews but they are scattered. If these lucky owners put their observations in one place this could be a great thread for people to figure out which box is a better fit for the readers. Keep it friendly!
     
  2. AdInfinitum

    AdInfinitum Member

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    Yeah, it's not like Fractal or Kemper have dedicated forums discussing each product in detail with strengths and weaknesses and comparisons to competitive products.
     
  3. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Another point to keep in mind is that both units are going rapid development; many of the opinions need to be tied to whatever version of firmware each unit was at when the opinion was formed.

    I bring that up because how you might feel at any given point in time about a box like the KPA or the II is going to be tied to the current firmware/capabilities for the version of the firmware available at the time you formed the opinion. For instance, someone that says the Axe-FX II is this or that 6 months ago and leaves it there... the box 6 months later is a very different box of animal crackers. ;)

    With the dedication to and development cycle of both the KPA and the II both very much a moving variable... keep that in mind.
     
  4. DigitalTube

    DigitalTube Member

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    I didn't buy the KPA, but yesterday had a gig, and extra time at sound check, so a friend of mine just got his KPA, I asked him to come down to sound check, since I was playing near his house, so we could hear both the Axe II and KPA thru a big 10.000 watt PA, only used the profiles that came with the KPA, I though the KPA was impressive, I liked playing it for rhythm, it seems to sound richer then the patches i had dialed on my AXE II, but for lead playing i thought the KPA still didn't sound like a good tube amp, the single notes were still a bit thin, but these were just the original profiles, i guess it's possible to create better ones, the Axe had more of a hi fi clear sound, but it's not better or worse depends what you like, I actually prefer more of a warm sound which the KPA had for chords, but the differences were something that could be matched with EQ I think, if we had more time, and for lead playing i preferred my patches, but then again didn't have much time to really program anything on the KPA, and my friend just got it and hasn't created any new sounds. For reference the other band on the show had a Bogner xtc, and I have to admit he had the best sound out of the 3, specially the single note lead playing, neither the Axe II or the many patches we tried on the KPA sounded as warm and thick and alive as the Bogner, but of course these are just my preferences in sound. I think i'll need to check with my doctor to see if my back can still handle moving a Bogner head and a 4/12 cab!.. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  5. SBRocket

    SBRocket Gold Supporting Member

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    I've got both and the 11r too, but to be fair I've only had the Kemper for a day or 2. I'm not trying to cop out but the truth is they are all amazing tools.

    I personally like the UI of the Kemper the best. I like knobs. In fact, the knobs were the reason I sold my first Axe Ultra to get the 11r. Then I needed some more FX so I got an Ultra again, then sold that for the Axe 2. I like the knobs of the 11r and the Axe 2 but the layout and UI of the Kemper is definitely the easiest for my mind to get around.

    The question is really, which one would one dedicate the most time too. In addition to gigging with my band I also have a full time job so my tweaking time is limited. I really should just pick one and stick with it. It gets so I forget which modeler I used on a track in the studio and don't remember which unit I'll need for a given song live.

    The comparisons are totally subjective anyway. One of the things I've read is that the KPA is not as touch sensitive as the Axe 2 which is not true in my experience. I've also heard the KPA sounds more like an amp in the room than the Axe 2, which is also untrue. The truth is they are all driving each other to bigger and better things. The KPA is going to make the Axe 2 much better and vice versa.

    I've been gigging amp-less for 4 years now and from my first no amp rig (a Tech 21 Liverpool and an m13) to now I can tell you that they can all sound good, some can sound amazing. The real advantage to any of them is the control you get. Going without an amp on stage is a very freeing experience. You actually get to hear the mix you want instead of the just the amp blaring at you from the hot spot on stage.

    It's a great time to be a guitarist.

    SB
     
  6. AdInfinitum

    AdInfinitum Member

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    I've had the KPA for a week and have to say that the biggest surprise is how much the KPA DOES sound exactly like an "amp in the room." It doesn't sound like a great recording or model of an amp in a room. It has a very raw, real sound to it. Yes, some profiles are better than others, but most sound spectacular. Plus, there are already plenty of third party profiles available for free (well except for a certain someone who is charging for his profiles). Don't like a profile, try a different one with a different mic, change the cab, tweak the EQ.
     
  7. DigitalTube

    DigitalTube Member

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    In the short time I had with the KPA, as far as touch sensitive, both Axe and KPA felt very good to play, and not much different then a tube amp, most of the presets on the KPA sounded like it was an amp miced, and a very natural sound, loved playing rhythm with it, seemed to work well in the mix(was jamming with drums and bass only at sound check) the only thing that i hoped and tried to get out of it was a thicker lead sound, but didn't have enough time to experiment, next gig i'm hoping to borrow it again for sound check and maybe read the manual too, but i have faith in profiling, and I'd be happy to see it on the Axe II.
     
  8. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    I figured I would merge my two posts which are basically my own reviews / pros and cons of the two units as I see it now. I want this to be my last word on the subject as my fingers are getting tired (from playing AND typing :). I should mention that I'm going to change my signature and I'm keeping the KPA. The II is sold already - the one nagging point that always bothered me with the II is having SO MUCH going unused for my purposes and that the price (coupon) was out of my personal comfort zone). I know that may seem silly to some people, but for some reason it factors into my decision making, always. Another reason is that I have recouped some cash from the difference in prices between the II (used market) and the KPA (new) and I can pay off all gear debt while being completely satisfied with my "rig" while I save up for FRFR and prep for gigging again. The stock profiles that come with the KPA right now are more than enough to keep me busy and happy for a long time. If I never profile an amp, it will still be a great purchase for me, but as it stands I'm going to do a meet with a close friend and have a profiling party to grab clean tones from his Heritage Victory and a friends Allesandro Working Dog ;) As I get more comfortable with this process I have not ruled out booking some studio time to hunt down treasures to profile so I can "give back" to the Kemper community (probably in the summer sometime). It will be fun, and that is what it's all about! (I will be cross posting this in the Kemper forum as well.

    Here are my musings:
    "The difference to me in direct recorded tone and through nearfields (and I therefore assume FRFR) is very close. Actually, even going into my EHX Magnum + cab is also very, very close (although I have not tested any profiles that were done with preamp's only or using the Palmer DI which are supposed to be the best ones to use with power amp + cab.
    I'm trying to find the right words to describe the actual available tones and I can't. I guess I would say the II is more "HI-FI" while the KPA seems a little more "earthy". Both are exceptional in every way. I honestly was not expecting the KPA to hang so close in virtually every aspect.
    Now, when I think about "workflow" and dialing in MY type of tones the KPA just sits so well in my wheelhouse. I explained before, most of the clips I did were done in minutes (seriously) with my kids berating me in the background many of these were dialed in on headphones or super low nearfields and I still think they capture the essence of the amps they are profiling. I did little to NO tweaking on most, except a little more indepth on the AFD, just to figure out how to do everything.
    A while back there was a big thread on nearfield & far field IR's. Jay Mitchell jumped in and helped out a lot with technical stuff, others jumped in talking about the speaker resonance controls in the II, then a new firmware came out that included more controls. At that time I was just starting to mix a far field and nearfield together and I was just getting close to thinking I had the cab/IR stuff figured out. But that thread was kind of a blessing and a curse (for me). I just could not get my head around it and my mind froze up thinking about still dialing in cabs to get where I wanted. I just DO NOT have time for anything like that, at all. 3 small kids, long hours, trying to get back into some semblence of shape, etc...
    I'm not thinking about any of that with the KPA because it's not there. The profile either works or it doesn't. The cab either fits, or it doesn't. If you are not getting there, you just have to move on.
    I also have barely scratched the surface with the FX. They are good quality but overall similar to say the 11R or so. The only drive I tried was a TS and that actually sounded great, do I want to dig into the drives. But again, I'm all about core amp tones and this is delivering, right out of the box, quickly.
    When I say HI-FI I mean the II (direct to disk and through nearfields) is very polished, all of the time. The high end sometimes seems a little "crunchy" to me as well. The KPA seems just a little rawer all around, sometimes the high end gets washy a bit, smeared... but it just works well in most cases.
    Finally, for me cost is a consideration and the KPA comes in $400 less than the II even if using a coupon. You're also not finding a II used for less than $2300 nowadays. That is a significant chunk of change to me because I can use that to flesh out the rest of my "rig".
    On the flip side the KPA is still technically beta and is not complete. I think they are going to get everything happening really soon and I'm confident we will see cool advancements, a software librarian / editor, dedicate foot control within the next year or so.
    The form factor goes to the II, but if you say a PIC of my home studio the KPA looks like it was meant to be here Plus using the EHX Magnum 44 the KPA head actually works better sitting on top of my cab, the Mag fits into the back nicely.
    Hope this helps."

    "Having now worked with both the AxeFX II and the KPA I feel very relaxed and chill. They are both amazing products, so far beyond the scope of what I could imagine needing (or wanting) for my purposes. If anyone now tells me one is way better than the other or there is a large gap between the two I will literally laugh in their face, because that is complete and utter bullsh*t.
    IMHO, the KPA feels no better than the II. As a matter of fact, I think the II might actually have the slightest of edges in the feel / volume knob interaction at this point, but it's ridiculously close. If the KPA form factor will not work for you (it is growing on me more and more, the look, size, fact that I can fit the EHX Magnum power amp in the back and use as head on a real cab, etc...) than there is no need to even consider a change until Kemper releases a rack version. And when that happens, the end user controls on the front panel will have to be compromised to some degree, which will change front panel access.
    I personally LOVE that the II offers USB audio/midi and it's implemented extremely well and most importantly, sounds GREAT. Better than results using my outboard Focusrite Scarlett, but the Scarlett has much more I/O which will come in handy (and also allow profiling with phantom power) and I also like not having my guitar processor tied to my audio needs / home studio all of the time.
    As far as FX, it is really not even close. I've mentioned before I use FX sparingly so this is not a huge deal for me AND the FX in the KPA are very good. The drives actually seem to be quite well done, probably the best I have heard out of any modeling unit, at least on par with the gen I or II of the AxeFX. Delays, verbs, all time based FX and pretty much everything else is crazy good on the II. The params are also much deeper on the II so now you can get the HI-FI stuff AND dial it into Low-fi... IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Personally, I have neither the time nor inclination to get into the FX that much, so this is not super high on my list.
    In the end I find it intriguing and comforting that there are now two geniuses heavily invested in their amazing creations that seem to have the passion, drive and determination to continue to push the envelope of guitar processing. Someone mentioned waiting until L6 starts doing profiling so that the tech will be less expensive in the future. Personally, I say "Good Luck". I just do not see the type of commitment that I believe is required to come up with this type of product and improve/enhance it at the level these two guys are doing. It's personal for them and it shows. I really feel like they think about the cost secondarily and the bottom line is not their priority, "margin" is not their prime motivator for doing what they are doing."
     
  9. Brick_top

    Brick_top Member

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    Never thought of that OIO and I have read those "amp in the room" claims.

    It really doesn't make much sense.

    Maybe it's just how someone felt about comparing the axe-fx II and the kemper and not the real amp where a profile might have come from.
     
  10. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm happy with the distortion, clean and in between "broken tones" that the KPA offers out of the box. No need for me to look any further.
     
  11. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    Great review Gasp and it confirms much of what I suspected.

    Thanks for a balanced overview and I think that a clear understanding of what is important to you led you to make a choice that will work well for you. I've always felt that the tonal differences, given the quality of both units, should be figured in with other factors that could prove important for a given player. You have clearly looked at the big picture and I think that approach will pay off for you.

    Congrats on your new journey and enjoy! :aok
     
  12. SBRocket

    SBRocket Gold Supporting Member

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    Great write up. I feel pretty much the same. The KPA sounds amazing to me as does the Axe 2 but I do like the UI and ease of use of the KPA a lot more.

    I'm also selling my Axe 2 and keeping the KPA and an M5 to cover the few FX I need until they get added to the KPA. In fact I'm selling the 11r too. I really just want one to work with and I feel like I could (and have) make each of them work for me and sound great but I just want the one now.

    SB
     
  13. OutterLimits

    OutterLimits Gold Supporting Member

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    I said it once, I willl say it again ... Kemper comes out with a rack unit, and it ships to my house.

    I am not interested in anything but rack units. Sure, you can have all the buttons you want on a unit that does NOT FIT IN A RACK SPACE. How hard is that? The point being racks are moduler, easy to bring to gigs, self protected and can have power conditioners etc. as part of the rack setup. Much easier to handle, carry, setup, take down. I am not going backwards at this point.

    As far as tones, the Kemper demos prove it is a great tool.
     
  14. OutterLimits

    OutterLimits Gold Supporting Member

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    How are you Kemper guys using the unit live? Direct to PA? I don't know enough about the output possibilities at this point. Can you monitor yourself separately and go direct to house?
     
  15. guitarnet70

    guitarnet70 Member

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  16. bmi

    bmi Senior Member

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    Are you sure?:p
     
  17. SBRocket

    SBRocket Gold Supporting Member

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    You can go direct out in stereo and have a separate monitor out. That is how I'll use it. Stereo outs to FOH and monitor out to either a EV Zxia or a qsc K10.

    Of course, If the FOH is too small, I'll go direct to the stereo FRFR.

    Funnily, as far as your rack comment goes, I'm kind of tired of my rack. It's huge and heavy. When we fly to shows, it's a real bummer. Now I can fit my KPA and everything I need in a small carry on bag.

    SB
     
  18. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    :mob

    Rest assured that Greg will buy whatever new shiny box ever comes down the tubes (d'oh... pun?) from whatever manufacturer. The world doesn't start/stop with Fractal and Kemper. ;) :D

    I think it's in his DNA; and that's why he's so appreciated here. Greg is a gearhound's gearhound. And that's a good thing for those of us that can't be on that crazy ride at the same time, we have guys like him to go out and try everything for us.

    I'm just glad he's here to share his journey(s).
     
  19. shasha

    shasha Member

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    I don't own both, but I just wanted to comment about how impressed I am with this thread in general.

    I know that the OP didn't ask for my two cents since I don't own a KPA, but I think that the biggest thing anyone has to ask themselves is whether they want to use profiling or traditional modelling. Two completely different cat skinning techniques.

    I do appreciate the perspectives though.
     
  20. sheguitarplayer

    sheguitarplayer Member

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    Nice review Gasp, and it really goes to highlight what I said when I chose the Kemper in that it really comes down to what your needs are.
    I wanted something that I could dial my amps tones into to take them all out live.
    The KPA fit that perfectly, and that in no way takes anything away from the axefx 2.
    If you have or have access to tube amps you like the sound of, the KPA is the way to go.
    If you don't, or if you like to tweak your sound from 'whats in the box' (in no way a derogatory remark) then I would suggest the axefx 2 is the way to go.
    Thats the way the units were designed and marketed.
     

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