Should I buy the FM9 when I own a Kemper

Occam

Member
Messages
4,339
So my spot on the FM9 waitlist came up on Friday but they sold out before I could make the purchase. I already own a Kemper so I signed up just in case and I figure there isn’t a great harm in buying it if it didn’t work out but now that I have till February or March when the next batch is expected I figured I’d think about it a little more to distract me from the pain of real life.

I love that I can profile my Matamp’s on my Kemper. Modelers rarely if ever have them or they have a modern Orange they think is equivalent but isn’t at all. But I don’t like that when dialing in a sound I basically need to profile a bunch of various versions of my amps to get the amp clean vs various levels of gain or different boosted sounds, the Fractal seems much better at this. I use other profiles all the time and it’s a great way to try out amps before buying but I’m not sure I’ll be gigging much in the future, I’m mainly a recording only guy plus I have amps I’m happy with but I also can’t imagine using either digital option live, I’m a full stack, huge stage volume player.
Part of my concern is that the Kemper is getting old. I’d like to record two amps at once, using Neural plugins do this great. I also love experimenting with ambient and other odd noises and Kempers effects have gotten much better over the years but Fractal seems to be the leader here. So…what’s your take?
 

stratzrus

Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,727
I figure there isn’t a great harm in buying it if it didn’t work out...

So…what’s your take?

Given your situation, with recording being a priority, I don't see any harm in buying one and using the two week return window to decide if you want to keep it or not.

My only caveat, and I've said this before, is that if you're new to Fractal gear you're not likely to hear it at it's best within two weeks unless you prep in advance and dedicate significant time in the first week to setting it up and dialing it in.

I'd watch whichever Leon Todd videos are relevant to what you want to do, as well as instructional videos by others, then use some of those techniques when it arrives to cut down time spent on the learning curve.

To oversimplify it, and along the lines of what you said, the Kemper is more "what you see is what you get" and the Fractal is more "what you get is what you make out of it". One big differences is with the Kemper you'll spend more time auditioning profiles (as you know) and with the FM9 you'll spend more time dialing it in (but far less time than in years past).

Good luck no matter what you decide. I'm really happy with the FM9 and it's fine for my preferred workflow. Once you check it out you'll know if it's the same for you.
 

JiveTurkey

Trumpets and Tants
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25,165
Correct me if I am wrong; but aren't they sold out till something like June now? Or are more coming? If so; I probably would just put it on the mental backburner till the option was a reality. I don't need 6 months to decide on whether or not I want something. Or to torture myself with the possibilities :bkw :roll
 

JasonE

Member
Messages
732
I have both. They come from different angles for sure. If you are high gain player, you may like the FM9 better. If you are a clean/low/medium gain player you may like your Kemper better. I like having both of them. To me the raw amp sounds are closer to real life in the Kemper. The amps in the FM9 have way more gain in them than the real life amps. I would never buy an amp based off of what I experienced with the model of it in the FM9. That would be setting yourself up for disappointment IMHO.

I would not worry about the Kemper getting old. It is still one of the biggest selling units out there and is used by professional musicians around the world, on big tours as well. It will always be able to do what it does today. The same can be said for any of the Fractal devices. They are always going to be able to do what they do today. I know people that are sill using an Axe-FX Ultra as part of their gig rig. If you don't feel the need to have the latest device on the market and you like what you are hearing you can get a long life out of these units.
 

randombastage

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,612
Honestly this is one of those questions that N+1 is the correct answer.
(N=number of digital devices you currently have when asking the question)
 

CapnRex

Member
Messages
2,079
I have a Kemper and am on the FM9 waitlist. I plan to do a shootout and only keep one. Hoping for the FM9 to win out since I'm getting a bit tired of my Kemper.

Btw you said your waitlist invite ran out - how long did it take from receiving the email until it was too late? Don't tell me it was like 20 minutes or something ridiculously short :worried
 

Occam

Member
Messages
4,339
Correct me if I am wrong; but aren't they sold out till something like June now? Or are more coming? If so; I probably would just put it on the mental backburner till the option was a reality. I don't need 6 months to decide on whether or not I want something. Or to torture myself with the possibilities :bkw :roll
My number came up, I waited just a few hours and then got a message saying it'll be February or March. I haven't heard about June, maybe that's for people further back on the list. I don't really get why they said my spot was up and yet didn't have enough to cover those whose turn had come up. I really just waited till the end of my work day so it's not like I sat on the decision for a day or more.
 

Foxmeister

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,362
The amps in the FM9 have way more gain in them than the real life amps.

Is this true? The reason I ask is during my comparisons between the FM3 and Helix, I noticed that I had to turn the gain up on the Helix to get a comparable level of gain.

In @Guitarjon 's recent blind test, I could see that he also had the gain higher on the Helix than the Axe FX, but the actual amp gain looked closer to the Axe FX settings.

I know that the real amp wasn't an actual BE, and I don't think the two models used necessarily matched each other either, but on the face of it it does look like Helix may be "under-gained" rather than the Axe FX being "over-gained".

That being said, both may well be in tolerance compared to the original amp they modelled.
 

CapnRex

Member
Messages
2,079
tired of the Kemper?how is that?Kemper is awesome

Unlike many user reports, over my 5 years with the Kemper, I have always struggled with getting the tone I wanted. I will go through hundreds of profiles just to find one that works, and then after tweaking it to taste, there is sometimes an annoying aspect to it that I can't get rid of.

I now have a fair bit of good profiles, but I can't quite nail the Mesa JP-2C sound that I really want but that I can hear in a lot of Fractal clips. In the end, I feel like most profiles in a certain gain range end up sounding too similar. The JP-2C profiles I have sound an awful bit similar to the JCM-900 tones and the 5150 tones. A little different, but not as different as the real amps, I don't think.
 

JasonE

Member
Messages
732
Is this true? The reason I ask is during my comparisons between the FM3 and Helix, I noticed that I had to turn the gain up on the Helix to get a comparable level of gain.

In @Guitarjon 's recent blind test, I could see that he also had the gain higher on the Helix than the Axe FX, but the actual amp gain looked closer to the Axe FX settings.

I know that the real amp wasn't an actual BE, and I don't think the two models used necessarily matched each other either, but on the face of it it does look like Helix may be "under-gained" rather than the Axe FX being "over-gained".

That being said, both may well be in tolerance compared to the original amp they modelled.

In my testing this is what my experience was. I was comparing a Kemper with Dirty Shirley profiles from Tone Junky, the FM9 with it's two different models of the Dirty Shirley amp and my actual Friedman Twin Sister amp (two Dirty Shirley circuits in the same amp) with a 112 cabinet with a Celestion creamback speaker in it. The Kemper profiles sounded like my real amp. I had to dial the gain way back (1.5 or 2) on the FM9 to even get in the ballpark.
 

JasonE

Member
Messages
732
Unlike many user reports, over my 5 years with the Kemper, I have always struggled with getting the tone I wanted. I will go through hundreds of profiles just to find one that works, and then after tweaking it to taste, there is sometimes an annoying aspect to it that I can't get rid of.

I now have a fair bit of good profiles, but I can't quite nail the Mesa JP-2C sound that I really want but that I can hear in a lot of Fractal clips. In the end, I feel like most profiles in a certain gain range end up sounding too similar. The JP-2C profiles I have sound an awful bit similar to the JCM-900 tones and the 5150 tones. A little different, but not as different as the real amps, I don't think.

I think it is pretty common to experience all amps sounding similar in these devices once you get to a certain gain level on them. The way to get the different tones from that point is how you EQ it. I believe you will experience this same thing with real amps. Once you compress something to a certain point it will all start sounding the same.
 

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
26,012
In my testing this is what my experience was. I was comparing a Kemper with Dirty Shirley profiles from Tone Junky, the FM9 with it's two different models of the Dirty Shirley amp and my actual Friedman Twin Sister amp (two Dirty Shirley circuits in the same amp) with a 112 cabinet with a Celestion creamback speaker in it. The Kemper profiles sounded like my real amp. I had to dial the gain way back (1.5 or 2) on the FM9 to even get in the ballpark.

Just curious, what is keeping you from selling the Twin Sister if the Kemper sounds exactly like it? Is there something beyond just the tone?
 

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
26,012
To the OP, why not grab a used FM3? They are bottoming out in price, I have seen headphone version FM3's for ~$875 which is a complete steal. I think on Fractal site they are $999 which is also an excellent price. This would at least give you all of the amp/cab/FX tones to check out while you wait for FM9 to compare vs. your Kemper. You could certainly decide by then if the FM9 even makes sense and you could flip (or return) the FM3 with minimal $$$ loss. I would consider it a rental of sorts.
 

JasonE

Member
Messages
732
Just curious, what is keeping you from selling the Twin Sister if the Kemper sounds exactly like it? Is there something beyond just the tone?

I still like having a few amps. I like having options available. I am also heading down this road of trying to have a rig for gigs that is an all in one unit. I am not playing any gigs right now and am not sure how well it is going to work out. I am planning on going with IEMs and I know that if the whole band doesn't do that it can be problematic. Who knows, I may sell it down the road but don't have any desire to sell it right now.

Also to note, I have 8 tube amps. I am planning on selling 5 of them so I am definitely scaling back since I have the Kemper and the FM9.
 

RevDrucifer

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,233
Is this true? The reason I ask is during my comparisons between the FM3 and Helix, I noticed that I had to turn the gain up on the Helix to get a comparable level of gain.

In @Guitarjon 's recent blind test, I could see that he also had the gain higher on the Helix than the Axe FX, but the actual amp gain looked closer to the Axe FX settings.

I know that the real amp wasn't an actual BE, and I don't think the two models used necessarily matched each other either, but on the face of it it does look like Helix may be "under-gained" rather than the Axe FX being "over-gained".

That being said, both may well be in tolerance compared to the original amp they modelled.

I can’t say it’s the same experience I’ve had with my III/FM9 in comparison to the amps I’ve owned/played through….which are all high gain amps. The Mesa’s are quite spot-on as is the 6160 (5150), Ecstasy, Legacy, Friedman’s…

That said, the Master Volumes are all cranked pretty high in the models, which definitely leads to them having a lot more gain than they would at normal levels. I end up backing them all down to between 2-4 because it makes the amps mush out. If I didn’t know that going into it, I’d assume they had way more distortion/gain going on than the real amps. While I’ve done some pretty crazy things to myself over the years, assaulting my ears with a Dual or Triple Rec with the Master on 10 is not one of them. :roll
 
Last edited:

Fractal Audio

Member
Messages
1,282
Is this true? The reason I ask is during my comparisons between the FM3 and Helix, I noticed that I had to turn the gain up on the Helix to get a comparable level of gain.

In @Guitarjon 's recent blind test, I could see that he also had the gain higher on the Helix than the Axe FX, but the actual amp gain looked closer to the Axe FX settings.
No, it's not true. We spend a great deal of time matching the gain of the models to the amp and making sure the taper of the Drive control matches that of the amp.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom