Performing Live With The Kemper

I have been using the Kemper Profiler PowerRack live for the past few months. At first, I used it just as an “amp”. One setting, fronted by a large pedalboard with the output of the Kemper PowerRack going into a stage monitor.

I was using a profile from Michael Britt, one from his Profile Pack 2, the Divided by 13 JRT 9/15. Great sounding amp, er, profile. The specific profile I am using most of the time is the /13 JRT 84 5. In other words, the JRT 9/15 using EL84 power tubes with a medium gain. Gives me a very dynamic edge of break-up tone.

I have been looking at a number of other profiles and no doubt I will broaden out my choices as I get more up to speed on the unit.

I made the big plunge last month by ditching my pedalboard and doing everything in the Kemper along with the Kemper Remote pedalboard. And I mean everything: compression, gain-staging, delays, reverbs. All of it. In a digital box. A digital box that eats the souls of amps.

As depressing as it may be for me to admit this, the Kemper really does sound good. I would even say that it sounds great. At times, I don’t even think I am playing through a computer. It sounds that good. And this is from someone who has played tube amps for over 40 years. I am a tone snob with respect to great sounding amps. I have a pretty large collection of boutique and classic amps that I hand selected over the years chasing after tone. I’ve tried numerous modellers over the years and really hated them.

For the past 20 years or so, almost all of my live performances were based on a lower wattage amp mic’d and presented to the audience through a PA. I was always fighting to get the kind of tone I would hear in my studio. So many variables in a live setting. For the more critical dates, I would bring two amps out just in case there were issues with tubes.

And now I bring out the Kemper and I get consistent great sounding tone to the Front of House.

Still takes work. I spend a lot of time on the front end to build out the performances for the profiler. I have some go-to presets that I use as a baseline — various levels of gain, various effects — and I have been building my song list as I go.

The Kemper does an incredible job profiling the sound of a mic’d guitar amp. The trick is to find profiles that have been recorded well and that render well in a studio and live setting. Fortunately the community of Kemper users have done a lot of the leg work to narrow down the best profiles in the market. Some are commercial, some are free.

The result for me is so close to the real thing that I do not miss playing with a real amp. The only area that required an adjustment was the amp in the room sound. What I hear back from my Kemper monitor is the sound of a mic’d guitar amp and not the sound of the amp in the room. That mic’d amp sound is definitely different from the sound of an amp washing about the room.

I would rather hear what the audience is hearing than what I think they might be hearing. The Kemper gives me tremendous choice in profiled amps, consistent sound venue after venue, and great tones.


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