Top 10 Reasons the Kemper is Better than a Tube Amp

Posted by Jim Humble on

I'm a huge fan of vacuum tube guitar amplifiers. They produce the guitar tones we have all grown to love. I have a large collection of tube amps that I cherish. However, I only use my Kemper now and those amps have been relegated to being used only as studio references for making Kemper profiles. Here are 10 reasons why.

1) The Kemper sounds better than a tube amp in almost all situations. When I show up to a gig and plug into my Kemper, I'm assured of getting a tone which was captured with a tube amp near maximum volume, likely through a rare/fragile/expensive vintage Celestion speaker. Getting a tone that good in a small-to-medium live venue ain't gonna happen. People rave about my live tone now. Unless you're in a professional studio with a skilled engineer and playing through a really good amp, you're probably going to sound better with a Kemper and a good sounding profile.

2) Top Jimi Kemper profiles have been carefully captured in a studio using the best microphones and mic techniques. Unlikely to be the case with the sound guy at the bar throwing an SM57 somewhere in front of your amp.

3) You can play through literally any amp you want with a few clicks of your mouse. There are seemingly limitless quantities of profiles available covering every amp imaginable. Some sound good, some don't, depending on the skill of the person who made the profiles. If you tried the Kemper and didn't like it, chances are you used bad profiles. 

4) The Kemper, even though it retails for about $2500, is actually cheaper than a really good tube amp. And that's for only one amp. The Kemper can literally take the place of hundreds of amps. Plus, there are no tubes to replace or need to periodically visit a service technician for maintenance.

5) The Kemper is incredibly reliable. When I was playing live with tube amps I wanted the juicy saturation you only get at high volumes. I was forced to use an attenuator, which negatively affects tone to at least some degree. Anyway, playing your Marshall on 9 - 10 devours power amp tubes. I remember at least 3 shows where the power tubes died and I had to go to a backup amp. I don't bother to carry a backup Kemper, as I've never had a single issue playing live with it.

6) Unless I change to a different profile, my guitar tone never varies. It's always 100% dialed in to exactly where I want it. Live, at home, or in the studio. Perfect.

7) Setting up my Kemper-centric guitar rig is a breeze and trouble-free. In the past, I used a close copy of Eddie Van Halen's Brown sound rig live, and it was prone to ground loop buzzing. I tried every method I could find online to isolate the ground loops. Sometimes it would work fine. Other nights I had to live with the buzzing throughout the gig, which really sucked. The Kemper eliminated these headaches completely.

8) When using the Kemper live I don't generate any stage volume. None. I plug direct into the board and use in-ear monitors. Gone are the days of on-stage volume wars between my amp and our lead singer's monitors. Gone are the days of the sound guy saying "your amp is too loud".

9) You can actually fix deficiencies in a tube amp's sound with a couple tweaks of its Kemper profile. It can sound even better than the carefully mic'd original source amp. Even before doing any tweaks to the profile, the tone never sounds worse than the original amp because the difference in tone between the source amp and the Kemper profiles is nearly imperceptible. Blindfolded people in tests I've seen have about a 50/50 chance of guessing which tone is the original tube amp and which is the Kemper.

10) The Kemper weighs about 1/10th as much as a Marshall half stack. It weighs at most 1/5th as much as a good tube combo amp. My back loves the Kemper.

Bonus Reason) You can load the Top Jimi Brown Sound profile pack into your Kemper and have Eddie's Brown Sound at your fingertips. People have been chasing that tone since 1978, when Van Halen I dropped. The tone is incredibly close to the original. People forget how amazing it is to have tones like this so easily available to anyone and everyone via the Kemper.

I love the Kemper. It has literally changed my entire musical life.


1 comment

  • I agree 100%! The Kemper is one of the greatest inventions in musical history.

    Darrin Johnson on

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