While this post is still related to guitar gear, it is a little bit different since I’m reviewing a digital modeler as opposed to all analog gear previously. While the Kemper Profiling amp is the only high end modeler I’ve been able to own and play with, I already know it’s different from other modelers because of how it creates different amp sounds. Rather than recreate a digital version of a tube amplifier’s wiring schematic in an attempt to create a similar sound, the Kemper will analyze the signal taken from a microphone in front of a regular amp and cab and create a profile of that sound. Almost like a snapshot of audio, this profile can then be saved and taken anywhere within the Kemper without the need to also carry around the original amp and cab. The Kemper has various outputs on the back to either run the profiled sound to a mixing board like you would a microphone signal, into outboard effects units, or into a power amp and cabinet, which is a bridge between the digital and analog worlds of gear. You also have the option to combine any number of these outputs for flexibility in any live, practice, or recording situation.
The biggest pros of the Kemper are its ease of use, core tone, size, and versatility. The user interface is very simple, and all of the knobs and buttons have a clearly labeled function. Over the last few years, I’ve seen several internationally touring bands make the change over from traditional amps to Kemper units in order to save money on freight while also keeping a more consistent sound from night to night with little to no perceivable difference in tone from their analog setups. This means that extra funds can be used for merchandise, lighting and other on-stage production, hiring more tour crew, or even adding more dates to tours.
However, there are a few minor drawbacks to the Kemper, at least for me. Firstly, the Kemper lacks the ability to run in true stereo since each profile is focused on the sound of one amp. The option is there to run a mono signal with stereo effects through an external stereo power amp, but it will have the same effect and sound as a single amp through two cabs. Close, but no cigar. Second, the built-in effects and stomp boxes are good, but not great in my opinion. Honestly more than enough for most bands touring or recording with them, but it really comes down to taste. All of the modulation, filter, and noise gate blocks are very high quality, but any gain-based stomp boxes like an overdrive or fuzz are noticeably a digital imitation, which can at least be “fixed” with enough tweaking of parameters. My only complaint with the delays and reverbs would be that there aren’t many options to choose from, and few parameters to tweak them. The sounds that are available from them, though, are top notch.