Kemper / Helix demo at GG Glasgow

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Moe_ZambeekMoe_Zambeek Frets: 1813
edited June 19 in Amps
guitarguitar were doing a little Kemper / Helix demo over the weekend. I was in looking at acoustics next door so popped in for a listen.

They had the Kemper running in stereo through two QSC monitors (I think), and had it loaded up with MBritt profiles and a footboard hooked up. It sounded pretty good in stereo with mild chorus and a shimmery reverb. They hooked me up with a strat and a Matchless model and I gave it a blast. The Matchless model was pants, but the Trainwreck was ok. I tried a few other patches they had setup and was left with the same sensation I get every time I play one - playing guitar through one is like manipulating the control device for a recording of an electric guitar. You could just as well be triggering it with a keyboard. For me there is no feel at all, the whole thing is uncomfortably synthetic. Do not like.

The Helix frankly sounded insipid in comparison but I didn't spend any real time with it, so it could be down to the sounds dialled up by the demonstrator. it's an ugly piece of kit too.

Im glad I tried them again because the level of discussion recently had me considering the Helix and the demo killed the gas stone dead.

I came home and fired up my real amp and was reminded how happy I am with it and a couple of pedals.

I can see the attraction of the helix for cover / wedding / function events though, where convenience is the USP.
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  • FiftyshadesofjayFiftyshadesofjay Frets: 333
    edited June 19
    If they were hooked up through monitors then they were meant to be simulating a recorded guitar tone.

    Sounds to me like you just don't like the mic'd up tone back at you through a full range system. Nothing wrong with that but it's definitely completely missing the point if you're comparing it to an amp and a cab, apples to bananas. You need to imagine your amp mic'd up in isolation with the sound fed back at you through the QSC's, that's a fair comparison.

    You should have a listen to a powered Kemper through a traditional cab, that might be more your thing.
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 4165
    Agree with @Fiftyshadesofjay - playing a Kemper through a cab with your favourite speaker is night and day difference to playing it through full range monitors.
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 4607

    I can see the attraction of the helix for cover / wedding / function events though, where convenience is the USP.
    You're right there Moe - most of those guys who buy Helix are mainly cover, wedding, function, P&W guys.  They just want to hook it up, play and the crowd are so drunk they aren't going to worry what the band sound like, as long as they play songs they recognise.  
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 7032
    FRFR is only one application of Helix. I use mine in 4CM with my BadCat and it's fantastic. Being able to switch between the Badcat's own preamp, or a Plexi, DRRI, etc etc and have that come through the power amp and speaker is great. Then add fx on top and it's fantastic. Eveyr bit as good as a "real" amp
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  • FiftyshadesofjayFiftyshadesofjay Frets: 333
    edited June 19

    I can see the attraction of the helix for cover / wedding / function events though, where convenience is the USP.
    You're right there Moe - most of those guys who buy Helix are mainly cover, wedding, function, P&W guys.  They just want to hook it up, play and the crowd are so drunk they aren't going to worry what the band sound like, as long as they play songs they recognise.  
    I play in a function band as well as an original  band. I certainly don't think it's a compromise, in fact I think it sounds killer. It's useful for function work as you can go direct and easily control levels. 

    There's also tons of pro touring musicians running Kemper/Axe Fx/ Helix, probably a lot more than you realise. 

    And anyway, most people are really drunk when you play originals shows as well.
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 4607

    I can see the attraction of the helix for cover / wedding / function events though, where convenience is the USP.
    You're right there Moe - most of those guys who buy Helix are mainly cover, wedding, function, P&W guys.  They just want to hook it up, play and the crowd are so drunk they aren't going to worry what the band sound like, as long as they play songs they recognise.  
    I play in a function band as well as an original  band. I certainly don't think it's a compromise, in fact I think it sounds killer. It's useful for function work as you can go direct and easily control levels. 

    There's also tons of pro touring musicians running Kemper/Axe Fx/ Helix, probably a lot more than you realise. 

    And anyway, most people are really drunk when you play originals shows as well.
    I know mate I was just messing.  
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  • I can see the attraction of the helix for cover / wedding / function events though, where convenience is the USP.
    You're right there Moe - most of those guys who buy Helix are mainly cover, wedding, function, P&W guys.  They just want to hook it up, play and the crowd are so drunk they aren't going to worry what the band sound like, as long as they play songs they recognise.  
    I play in a function band as well as an original  band. I certainly don't think it's a compromise, in fact I think it sounds killer. It's useful for function work as you can go direct and easily control levels. 

    There's also tons of pro touring musicians running Kemper/Axe Fx/ Helix, probably a lot more than you realise. 

    And anyway, most people are really drunk when you play originals shows as well.
    I know mate I was just messing.  
    Ha ha, you never know in these parts ;)
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  • StuartMac290StuartMac290 Frets: 260
    edited June 19
    I've been avoiding the whole Kemper discussion for a while, but I have to say I agree with you. 

    I've just finished producing a record for a band I'd previously done an album for, only whereas before we used a good selection of amps, this time to save time and therefore money it was almost all Kemper. I found myself wanting to run it into cabs in the live room constantly so I  could at least mic the room properly and get some  real depth in there, and mixing the record became an exercise in frustration - especially when I revisited an old track to remix it and there was all this glorious weight to the guitars that I'd been missing, and I could pan the room mics wherever I wanted. 

    For me, having spent a good few weeks with them, I have to say I think they still have a long way to go before they replace a great amp setup. 
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  • RandallFlaggRandallFlagg Frets: 2803
    edited June 19

    I think I agree. I have tried the modeller/FRFR set up twice, once with AxeFX and once with Helix and it left me cold both times.

    Modeller direct into audio interface for recording and played back via studio monitors, I get it, it's a great and neat solution and in the mix the high quality modellers are superb.

    But, as a replacement for amp and effects played loud in the room they haven't done it for me, especially through an FRFR speaker.

    "I me mine, I me mine, I me mine"
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  • professorbenprofessorben Frets: 3583
    I've been avoiding the whole Kemper discussion for a while, but I have to say I agree with you. 

    I've just finished producing a record for a band I'd previously done an album for, only whereas before we used a good selection of amps, this time to save time and therefore money it was almost all Kemper. I found myself wanting to run it into cabs in the live room constantly so I  could at least mic the room properly and get some  real depth in there, and mixing the record became an exercise in frustration - especially when I revisited an old track to remix it and there was all this glorious weight to the guitars that I'd been missing, and I could pan the room mics wherever I wanted. 

    For me, having spent a good few weeks with them, I have to say I think they still have a long way to go before they replace a great amp setup. 
    This makes sense to me. 

    In my mind, modelling recreates great recorded tones and traditional amps create great recorded tones. 
    " Why does it smell of bum?" Mrs Professorben.
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  • Drew_TNBDDrew_TNBD Frets: 21703
    Saw a band with two bassists recently. Both had Kemper rigs running through 8x10's. It sounded kind of cack to be honest, but I put that down to it being a band with two bassists!!
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  • gordijigordiji Frets: 132
    Very Interesting. Is the point here that through monitors & frfr it doesn't cut it ? (i'm talking kemper here). I'm not surprised because recorded sounds differ somewhat than a real amp.
    Does the Kemper sound & behave like an amp in the room if using a guitar cab & not using cab sims ?
    I must know ffs. I'm thinking of buying one !
    I've been avoiding the whole Kemper discussion for a while, but I have to say I agree with you. 

    I've just finished producing a record for a band I'd previously done an album for, only whereas before we used a good selection of amps, this time to save time and therefore money it was almost all Kemper. I found myself wanting to run it into cabs in the live room constantly so I  could at least mic the room properly and get some  real depth in there, and mixing the record became an exercise in frustration - especially when I revisited an old track to remix it and there was all this glorious weight to the guitars that I'd been missing, and I could pan the room mics wherever I wanted. 

    For me, having spent a good few weeks with them, I have to say I think they still have a long way to go before they replace a great amp setup. 

                                              
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 1896
    Yes
    Im running my Kemper through a stereo poweramp and 2 2x12s
    It sounds very amp like
    the matchless model sounds amazing

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  • jimificationjimification Frets: 54
    edited June 19
    gordiji said:

    Does the Kemper sound & behave like an amp in the room if using a guitar cab & not using cab sims ?
    I must know ffs. I'm thinking of buying one !
    If you watch the Andertons Kemper videos then you'll see that they couldn't tell the Kemper from the real amp (at least when both were played through the same cab with certain, well tweaked profiles). 

    This very small sample set proves nothing, of course, but hopefully you can see that the concept works - given the right amp profile, when played through the same cab, the difference is small enough not to matter to most people.

    It's not the same as owning the real amp though - the profile only captures one snapshot of the amp, it doesn't model all the controls at different positions, and of course, if you go the cab route, you're effectively playing all the different amps back through the same cab / speaker. For example you can read many online comments from people saying they much prefer their Carr Rambler (with it's nice finger jointed pine cabinet) with the new Elsinore speaker than the old Eminence wizard, whereas you're going to be listening to a Rambler amp profile through your vintage 30 in a plywood cab, just the same as you'll be playing a JCM 800profile through a V30 with a 1x12 plywood cab....(just as an example)

    Given the contraints of the above though, yes, the best profiles sound (and feel) just like an amp through a cab.
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 2246
    You also need to think about the end result.  I've been to gigs where I saw a US band over here twice.  There first time I saw them the guitarist had a Marshall half stack on stage.  I saw them again a year later (my first encounter with a Kemper) and he had a Kemper.  Same band, same venue, same PA but the sound out front was much better with the Kemper.  This was very early days of the Kemper as well.  The software improvements and the available profiles make it much better now.

    Given all the constraints on volume at a lot of venues these days, you probably won't be able to get your valve amp to the levels where it is sounding at its best.  You also run into the old problem of the people at the front getting deafened by the backline amps while the people in other parts of the room can't hear it clearly.  Like it or not, modelling through a decent PA does give a better sound for the audience most of the time.
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  • gordijigordiji Frets: 132

    not the same as owning the real amp though - the profile only captures one snapshot of the amp, it doesn't model all the controls at different positions, and of course, if you go the cab route, you're effectively playing all the different amps back through the same cab / speaker. For example you can read many online comments from people saying they much prefer their Carr Rambler (with it's nice finger jointed pine cabinet) with the new Elsinore speaker than the old Eminence wizard, whereas you're going to be listening to a Rambler amp profile through your vintage 30 in a plywood cab, just the same as you'll be playing a JCM 800profile through a V30 with a 1x12 plywood cab....(just as an example)

    Given the contraints of the above though, yes, the best profiles sound (and feel) just like an amp through a cab.
    Yes, i realise this; it could be a bonus. If you snapshot the sweet spot as it were then with the kemper you can then move the volume up and down linearly keeping the quality of said sweetspot ?

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  • jimificationjimification Frets: 54
    Yes, i realise this; it could be a bonus. If you snapshot the sweet spot as it were then with the kemper you can then move the volume up and down linearly keeping the quality of said sweetspot ?

    Absolutely! and play your cranked vibrolux on heaphones :)
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