Kemper, Strymon or BluG Amp1?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by SkyTwn, Dec 2, 2019 at 2:43 PM.

  1. SkyTwn

    SkyTwn Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm playing around a lot in this period so I need to carry my tube amp (very heavy head+cab) all the time. As fx I'm using a Helix floor which sometimes I use as a preamp as well.
    I'm happy with the effects inside the Helix but not that much with amps so that's why I never go direct to PA. Also, I'm a bit sick of carrying heavy weights around so I was thinking to buy something light like a Kemper (powerhead), Strymon Iridium or this Amp1 Mercury that now has caught my attention.

    The Kemper powerhead is expensive for me right now, so I'm undecided between a Strymon Iridium and an Amp1 Mercury.

    Has anyone of you had experience with one of them? What you guys suggest me to get in term of sounds and what are their pros and cons? Also, should I really wait, save some money and get the Kemper?

    Sorry too many questions.. but I'm always meticulous before buying something.

    In one of the latest videos Q&A regarding the Strymon Iridium, Dan from That Pedal Show said something like: "If you're in studio or your room with headphones or if you have to use in ears, I'd choose the Iridium, but if you're allowed to have sound on stage I'd go for the BluG Amp, I've had great sounds with it".

    That response is somehow stuck in my head and definitely a +1 for the BluG Amp1 but before making any decision, I would like to have your suggestions.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. sigmundc

    sigmundc Member

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    Having owned both--I had the BluGuitar 1 "original" edition, not the Mercury which I believe has a better built-in reverb than the original BluGuitar--I would gig with either the Iridium or BluGuitar without hesitation.

    If you care about stereo out, then the Strymon has an advantage in that regard. But I would say that the quality of the amp sounds is close enough with either unit that it really comes down to personal taste.

    BluGuitar has an FX loop; Strymon does not, but I simply run reverb/delay after the Iridium (overdrives in front, of course) and do not feel the lack of the loop. With this in mind, if you already have a pedal board with a power supply that will provide the Strymon with 300-500mA, then you could slide Iridium right into the middle of your pedal chain, dial in "your" sound, and be done with it.

    The same is more or less true with the BluGuitar 1, but it's a little pricier and takes up a bit more room on a board. The only thing that gives me pause here is the fact that you did NOT, apparently, love the amp sounds on Helix... it may be that you are a player for whom nothing less than a true tube amp sound/feel will do? No way to know until you try it out yourself, of course. Wherever you shop pick a vendor with a decent return policy!
     
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  3. ChrisVereb

    ChrisVereb Member

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    Another option for you to look at is the Atomic Amplifire Box. The modelling is definitely some of the best around, and if you already have an effects solution you like and just need to add an amp sim for direct to PA gigs, it's a really affordable option.
     
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  4. kdm1218

    kdm1218 Supporting Member

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    I would caution you that if you don’t like the Helix amps you may not like other modelers either. If you expect it to sound like a tube amp sitting behind you, no modeler will do that.
     
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  5. 108

    108 Member

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    I’ll sway the other way and say that the Helix leaves a lot to be desired and has a horrendous interface. There’s no reason not to explore other options. That said, I’ve owned neither the Iridium or Bluguitar yet. I have owned all three of the big modelers.
     
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  6. CarlGuitarist

    CarlGuitarist Member

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    The Amp1 sounded great to me but I did not care for the built in speaker sim
     
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  7. kdm1218

    kdm1218 Supporting Member

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    @108 what about the Helix UI did you think was horrendous? Especially compared to Kemper which it seems is a common complaint. I find Helix to be quite simple to set stuff up on personally but obviously YMMV with anything gear. I’m just curious.
     
  8. SkyTwn

    SkyTwn Member

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    I actually like Helix's interface to be honest, but what I'm interested in is sound and practicality; I don't care about anything else.

    What do you think about Kemper in comparison with the Helix?
     
  9. SkyTwn

    SkyTwn Member

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    Yeah I'm well aware of that and that's why I would buy it/them, play it for a few days and then decide to keep it or not.
    My biggest desire is to go to NAMM next month and then say "I've seen the new powered Strymon modeler. Or at least I dreamt I did." (Michael Scott)
     
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  10. SkyTwn

    SkyTwn Member

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    Thanks for your response.
    From what I've heard online (not relying on it 100% of course) they both sound good to me. I must say I prefer the Iridium sound but for practicality, I love the BluG.
    With the Amp1 I could always bypass its preamp and use those on the Helix, using only the nanotube poweramp; and if I need a very small rig for rehearsal etc.. I could just bring the Amp1 along (direct to PA or with a backline cab). The thing I'm worried the most is the sound though; can the difference of it between them be negligible? Having both pedals to A/B would be sweet but I'm in Italy at the moment and a clear return policy here is a dream.
    Thomann is an option for sure, we'll see.
    Anyway I'm waiting to buy this stuff after NAMM '20 cause you never know.

    Concerning the Helix, it's probably my fault in using them or I just don't like its amp sims at all. The thing is that some work well and I use them as preamps but for the most part they sound unpleasant to me. Also, it's very complex to make it sound good for my taste and before buying it I thought Helix was the easiest of modelers in this matter..
    Have you noticed any difference in sound between Helix and Iridium? Cause in my opinion, Iridium sounds way better.
     
  11. tonedover

    tonedover Supporting Member

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    none of the above

    Atomic !!
     
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  12. ljholland

    ljholland Silver Supporting Member

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    I have a Kemper power head, a Amp1 Mercury and have owned a Helix but now have the Stomp and an HXFX.

    While the Kemper has power for gigging, I would go with the Amp1. It’s way easier to deal with and the tones are phenomenal. I have a pedal train metro board with the Amp1 and the Line 6 HXFX. That’s it. So, I have all the effects of a Helix with the great amp tones of the Amp1 in a tiny package. The Amp1 also has a recording/headphone out that you could even run to FOH. I like the cabinet emulation on the recording out. But, the Amp1 into a nice bottom is just great plus you have 3 channels. I set up a couple of pedal arrangements on the HXFX and it covers anything.

    the Kemper is great for recording and is incredibly powerful but it’s a lot of complexity for just gigging. The other thing I’ve learned is that while you can dial in a zillion profiles on the Kemper, that doesn’t translate to those tones when run live into a cabinet. The cabinet is really 95% of the tone. So - if your cabinet is a green back 4x12, don’t expect a Princeton profile to sound anything like a Princeton - it’ll sound more like a Marshall. That isn’t saying that the powered Kemper doesn’t sound great - it does. It’s just limited to the tones of your cabinet.

    I’m not a big fan of any modeler into FRFR speakers. Been there and prefer real amps/speakers (BTW I consider the powered Kemper as real)
     
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  13. ljholland

    ljholland Silver Supporting Member

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    I owned an Atomic AFB and AA6 too. Nice amp tones but the interface is very difficult to deal with. Also, this approach only works if you want to go into the PA or an FRFR.

    I found that the tones on the Amp1 are better.
     
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  14. ljholland

    ljholland Silver Supporting Member

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    Annoying video but this’ll give you an idea of the versatility.

     
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  15. ljholland

    ljholland Silver Supporting Member

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    The amp sounds on the Kemper are better. However, you need to find the right profiles. I’ve found a bunch that are incredible. But, the Helix is far easier to set up effects.

    the general difference is that on the Kemper you “select” a great profile. On the Helix, you spend a bunch of time trying to dial in a model and need to add EQ and other tricks to nail a great tone. It’s just a different approach. The Atomic kinda wins here as the models sound pretty good right out of the box. But - for amp tones, the Kemper is just better and more realistic.
     
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  16. kdm1218

    kdm1218 Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  17. sigmundc

    sigmundc Member

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    Re: Helix v. Iridium for amp tones... I thought it was a close call with respect to the Fender and Vox models—very close, but for Marshall sounds I definitely preferred Iridium.
     
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  18. GaryMcT

    GaryMcT Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree on the Marshall tones. Way way better in Iridium, although I find that I need eq before and after. Cleans up with guitar volume really well which the Helix doesn’t. Iridium is the only modeler I’ve really gotten along with.
     
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  19. D K Souther

    D K Souther Member

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    The Bluguitar Amp 1 is powered. The Strymon is not. That may sway you also. I’d say go with the Amp 1 since you already have a Helix.
     
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