Profiler Rack review by Kemper

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  • Ease of Use: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (2 votes)
Kemper: Profiler Rack

Ease of Use — 9
I feel like I've more than covered that it's pretty easy to get a pleasant tone out of the Kemper. Its editability is as easy as the POD I've played, and even without that type of practice, you simply press the amplifier button, tweak eq, click any effects button and the knobs that you used for eq become the parameters for your effect. Every part of the Kemper is like this. Click, tweak, save, done. The manual is extremely helpful and they have a more in-depth downloadable menu which was necessary for me so I could look up the MIDI listings for turning on and off effects. This made the process of turning my floorboard POD HD500X into an effective controller for turning on and off effects, tap-tempo, and rig changing. After about a half hour of digging and setting up, it really has increased the simplicity of my tap-dancer tendencies on staqe, to which I (And probably the audience) are both grateful for). The Kemper was shipped with the latest firmware, and I have had zero issues with how it handles!

Sound — 10
The Kemper Profiler Rack is an incredibly versatile piece of gear that fits my needs of playing ambient/ethereal guitar and searing leads and powerful rhythms. I myself play somewhere in the alternative rock/post-rock vein, and occasionally learn some metal here and there, and I've found it pretty easy to pull up setups that cater to this with relative ease. The Kemper has probably one of the more unique input setups than I've dealt with guitar effects/rack/modeling in the past. On top of the noise gate that the guitar passes through initially, the Kemper has 2 other parameters that help shape and protect your guitar's signal before hitting any effects or amplifiers. These are the clean sense and the distortion sense functions: They help attenuate the output of your guitar and act somewhere between a pre-gain knob and a compressor, where you affect how your guitar's ability to overdrive the amps as well as control the level of clarity it does while overdriving.

As far as sounds go, I'm a big fan of how Kemper operates, with the user forum, you have access to literally any mic'd amplifier out there! I was pretty skeptical of the Kemper's ability to "steal the soul of amp," however the Kemper delivers pretty well on this statement. I'm not going to be a part of the crowd that says that the Kemper 100% copies the amplifier, but I will say that it does an incredible job at fooling you that it is the amplifier and cabinet that it profiled.

The Kemper has 400+ profiles on tap when you purchase it, and profiled amps range from AC30s, Bbassmans, Twin Reverbs, Two-Rock, Mesas, Marshalls, Bogners, as well as many many different mic and cabinet options for each and more! There's plenty of character between all of these snapshots, I also found it cool that many of these profiles were made by Ola Englund of YouTube fame. I will say that almost all profiles need tweeking between amplifier, cabinet selection, and eq. In saying that I still was able to make a catalogue of sounds that I really liked very quickly. One last thing to note in my endless rambling of this piece of gear is that a big selling point to me is when you swap rigs the transition is nearly seamless (say the initial rig is an AC30 with heavy effects of any sort, and you swap to a dry triple rectifier; all the effects spill over to the next rig (as in the repeats from the delay or the decay from the reverb etc. finish out), which to me was HUGE!). All in all, I'm very impressed with the sounds, the dynamics, and editability of sounds that the Kemper offers.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The rack unit is a lot lighter than it looks, but seems to have a sturdy chassis. The knobs feel quality, and I feel that it is indeed a durable unit that will last. I do gig with it now dual XLR out into the PA and use in-ears for monitoring and have had no issues with it. Comparing it to other products of a similar build, I've had and used both the POD HD500X and the Line 6 M13, both of which are of similar build quality to the Kemper, and I have had no problems with them. I expect similar results from the Kemper (especially for the cost.

Overall Impression — 10
As I said earlier, I play mostly ambient/post-rock-ish kind of stuff as well as some metal, and between the amps on tap (and or downloadable) and the effects, I'm easily where I want to be. I've been playing for 10 years now, and have worked in a music store for several years as well, and I feel with all the amps I've tried and owned that I'm pretty satisfied with this addition to my gear. Make no mistake, I love tube amps, and have had a few to date, but because of the sound inconsistency I've faced when playing live because I can't drive my amp to the point of preferential breakup in every instance. This is where the Kemper to me provides what I desire: consistency. It's with this consistency that I get a fantastic representation of the amps I love sounding like more like an actual mic'd amplifier and less like how other modeler's I've dealt with where the mics just sound like different filter presets. I'm not going to say that the Kemper is for everyone, but in my application, I am more than pleased with its results. For a long time I've been using a POD HD500x and I've gotten decent mileage out of it, it's a great unit that is excellent prep for jumping into something like this or likely even the Axe FX products. My only real wish for the Kemper is a user friendly midi controller for the Kemper. If you are someone reading this looking for a potential new piece of rack guitar gear in place of your amplifier, I invite you to try the Kemper! This review is not designed to sway those who love their amps and stand by them, this is for those who are looking for what this product offers. I would say definitely try out every option you can, who knows, maybe this isn't for you, but I have found myself super-satisfied with how it sounds and responds.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I also find that with any multi-fx unit, you typically stick to the same 4-5 patches. The Axe Fx seems to offer so friggin' much, is it worth it. In regard to the Kemper, how are the sounds with the factory settings (presuming a person does not have access to other amps in which to profile)? Do you have any sound files you can link to?
    Yeah, definitely not knocking what the Axe Fx does. I would venture to say if you're interested in creating some really synthetic sounds, that the Axe Fx would be a more suitable piece of equipment. There are some great factory sounds, however, as a tweaker I heavily edited 3 of the presets, which I only really use those 3 now: 2 being the profile of a two-rock amp, and one being a Triple Rectifier at mid gain. The Triple Rectifier profile is an Ola Englund upload, and I basically went in and gave the profile more mids and edited the cabinet settings. This was all pretty easy to do. What's neat is that if you don't want to tweak, there's the user forums where people upload their profiles of many many more amps, as well as official packs if you wanted to purchase some (if you have more confidence in that). No sound files yet, the USB is only for profile swapping, but I may in the future with an external audio interface.
    How much is it? I heard several users claim it sounds more realistic or better than the Axe-Fx (then you have people like Vai, Satriani and Petrucci using the Axe Fx).
    it's about $2,100 new. Yeah I've read the same, I can't speak for them as I haven't gotten to play an Axe Fx, but I do know based on what both models offer that the Axe has a lot more editing features, and a wider range of effects, as well as using dual amps. But I feel like that also boosts the temptation to over-use these features. I ran into that using dual amps on the Pod; at the end of the day, it just didn't sound better. I think Satch,Vai, and Petrucci all only use the axe for the effects section, not the amp section.