Kemper vs Load Box for quiet recording?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Frey, Apr 24, 2018.

Kemper or Load Box for quiet home recording?

  1. Kemper

    7 vote(s)
    58.3%
  2. Load Box

    5 vote(s)
    41.7%
  1. Frey

    Frey SS.org Regular

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    A fond hello to you all!

    BACKGROUND:
    Recording novice here that is desperately seeking a means of quiet home recording. I've only recently started to get the hang of traditional guitar recording ie micing a cab but I'm finding fewer and fewer opportunities to crank my 100W+ heads at the necessary volumes. I've tried plugins which I had no luck with and also recently bought an AX8 which I don't find much better. It may be pertinent to mention I play primarily metal.

    ACTUAL QUESTIONS:
    I was all but set on the Kemper as my next step but then I found out about load boxes and they seem to be very well thought of and sound great in the videos I've heard. The premise actually sounds to me like it may be an even better means of getting that organic tube sound and feel. I was also hoping for some direction as to what hardware and software might suit me best in as far as load boxes and IRS. Price isn't too much of a factor here. Also, is there a consensus at to whether proprietary cab sims or 3rd party should be a serious consideration ie a Two Notes Torpedo Captor with software IRs vs something with built in cab sims?

    Any input will be greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    I recently got a two notes captor and it is a great way to use your amps at bedroom levels and still get great recordings. The main issue when it comes to loadboxes is how to monitor yourself while recording. Running an IR in the box can have some latency depending on your setup. The captor does have a -20dB output which allows you to record with the poweramp doing some work while still not being too loud, but if you really want to crank the amp you have to do it without a cabinet.
     
  3. aqa

    aqa SS.org Regular

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    How many heads do you have? A load box like the suhr or torpedo would be a very nice choice, im very happy with the Captor. I can crank the shit out of the amp and use countless numbers of cabs

    Load boxes have a learning curve and can be difficult to dial at the begging, but you can do a lot of test without burning your ears
     
  4. Frey

    Frey SS.org Regular

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    Thank you for the replies!

    Regarding Sumsar's reply: So basically what you're saying is that the most likely solution to potential latency is to use that -20db output into some kind of speaker most likely a guitar cab? I'm not sure how much 20dbs actually is to the ears but that may a good fix then. I don't need to be dead quiet, I just fear invoking my neighborhoods wrath by cranking my heads on 2 or 3 during the evening. Being able to record later at night would be great too though.

    Regarding aqa's reply: I just have two, a 6505+ and a JSX. I use the 6505+ for rhythm stuff and use the JSX for leads if I'm not feeling lazy haha. While I dig the sounds I get through my Marshall 4x12 the potential to try other cabs as well is also very enticing. That said the learning curve is daunting. I've discovered that I have a special kind of ineptitude with recording/production. It may be that I'm impatient and get burned out by the technical stuff when I just want to be playing. May I ask what the learning curve entails exactly?

    Thank you both again!
     
  5. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    One of the reasons why I got the captor was also that I was not satisfied with the sounds I was getting when I was reamping through my cab, so the solution was either to buy different cabs until I found something I liked or just get a loadbox and being able to test IRs while I am mixing. Also I don't have to go to the rehearsal room to reamp (too loud to do at home), and now I can reamp in my appartment in the middle of the night without annoying anyone

    About the monitoring/attenuator thing:
    On my 6505 the attenuator means that I can have the lead post gain at around 2 - 3 before being too loud, whereas without attenuator I can only have the lead post gain at 1.01 before ripping my ears off.
    If you want to crank it louder to record you could do the following:
    1) Record the DI signal from the guitar while having the amp at a resonable level, purely for monitoring
    2) Reamp through your amp into the Captor without a cab connected, e.g. if you wanna crank the post gain to like 5 - 8.

    However In my experinece so far you can get pretty good results with the post gain at 2 - 3 and -20db of attenuation for monitoring. It is enough gain to have the power amp work a little where it sounds good.

    Dunno if that clarified things, I hope so :)
     
  6. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    For me, I think the question you need to answer here is "how happy are you with the sound of your current amp?" If you dig your tone, you just wish you could record it easier, then a load box and a good pack of Marshall 4x12 IRs are an awesome solution for you. If you're not 100% set on your tone, though, then maybe it makes sense to explore a modeler, just for some of the other options it can give you.

    One thing you could also try which might be a little more expensive but might work well is an attenuator with a line out. That way, you could monitor through your cab at neighbor-friendly volume (with the attenuator seriously reducing the output), but then run the line out into your DAW, record it there, and apply an IR in the mix. I've done this a little with a Hot Plate (though, so long ago that I don't remember if you could use the recording out while also sending a signal to the cab, or if it was only a silent out), and it was a totally workable option, but something like a Riviera Rock Crusher is probably a better attenuator (reactive load, for one), and appears to let you use the cab and the line out at once.
     
  7. Frey

    Frey SS.org Regular

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    Thank you yet again. You clarified things quite a bit! I still haven't experimented with the black magic of reamping so I don't quite get what you mean there, simple though it may be. I understand recording a dry signal and then throwing a plugin over that. If I may burden you with further questioning.. Is reamping with a load box a similar process?

    As for the monitoring; I usually have my 6505 post at about 2-2.5 so if the -20db from the captor indeed makes that bearable then I should be good. The JSX I crank a little harder. I've never tried cranking either beyond that range because it's just too darn loud. Now when you do have your 6505 at 2 or 3 is that just more tolerable bedroom levels or is it quiet enough to record at night kind of levels?



    Thank you for the input good sir! I'd say I'm about 90% satisfied with my tone (are there any folks that are 100%?) so I am indeed leaning more towards the load box route. I'll be taking stepping stones price-wise and if I'm somehow still unsatisfied then the Kemper is waiting for me. The Kemper being the likely more "plug and play" option of the two has been the strongest allure to me.

    May I ask what the difference between a load box and attenuator with a line out would be? Wouldn't the two effectively serve the same purpose? That said I'll have some thinking to do regarding hardware. The Rock Crusher you suggested seems to be very well thought of but the Fryette Power Station seems to be the Holy Grail. The Captor also seems fantastic and at half and nearly a third of the price of the oher two options respectively.
     
  8. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    I can try and explain it a bit better, I know it can be confusing when you don't have any of the things in front of you but are just imagining the setup.
    I actually have the whole 'reamp with a captor using a 6505 or engl powerball' setup going in my little home studio at the moment, so I should probably just post some pictures or a video where I go through what is happening, but that will have to wait till tomorrow europe time, since I am on my way out of the door.
     
  9. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    A load box is basically a replacement for a speaker, and lets you run a head without a cab hooked up to it. An attenuator with a line out is designed to work with a cab, but cut the volume down significantly before the signal hits the cab. Both allow you to send a line out into your DAW, but one would still have you playing through a cabinet and would be audible in the room (unless it has an option to cut the volume down to nothing), wile the other wouldn't be hooked up to a cab at all and would be silent.
     
  10. Elric

    Elric SS.org Regular

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    Kind of thinking outside the box, but you could demo some Amp plugins, too. There are some insanely good plugins like Kazrog and Mercuriall out there for not much $$ some folks have been doing some crushing recordings with them, no micing, no profiling, not much dough. If you have an interface you could try them out immediately.
     
  11. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    No offence man, but if you can't get good results from plugins (TSE X50, Kazrog etc) or an AX8, then the problem is definitely with you and I don't think buying a Kemper, or any other gear, will really help. An AX8 offers a massive amount of flexibility and customisation and countless pros have used them live and in the studio. If you can't find a tone you like in there, you're doing something wrong.

    Kempers are cool because they store a snapshot of a particular signal chain. But when you download other people's profiles, you're running a different guitar, different playing technique etc and so it won't sound exactly the same. If you had a great mic'd cab sound of your own that you love, but you can't crank your amp often, absolutely buy a Kemper and profile THAT sound to use for silent recording. But if you're hoping to get a Kemper and download other peoples' profiles and be happy, I think you'll be disappointed. I've tried for myself and it's hard to reproduce other peoples results.

    The plugins have developed now to a point where they really are indistinguishable from the real thing. I'd bet you that the $9.99 Kazrog Psycho C (5150 III) vs your 5150 head and a load box ($2000+) can't be told apart if you use the same cabinet impulse.

    Mic'ing your own cab and getting a good recorded tone is HARD. Microphone positioning is a skill, with tiny movements making huge differences. Every cab, speaker and mic sounds different. I am very sceptical that an amateur could produce better impulses than Ownhammer or Rosen or any of the other guys with massive studios of gear and years of experience.

    So for that reason, I'd say take another look at plugins for silent recording. A load box can work, but it's unnecessarily expensive IMO, and you'll be using commercial impulses anyway. The sound will be almost identical just using plugins.

    And, of course, you can RECORD silently and record a DI track with plugins - you can always re-amp the DIs later with your proper gear.
     
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  12. aqa

    aqa SS.org Regular

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    That´s a very good point, maybe people don´t know how IMPORTANT is to track NICE DI's , if you got professional tracked Di's, you can make sound Lepou sims better than expensive options
     
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  13. Frey

    Frey SS.org Regular

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    Thank you all again for the replies.

    Ah, the confusion was that I was under the impression that every load box also doubled as an attenuator. Thank you for clearing that up!

    Regarding you other fine folks:

    The problem I've had consistently with plugins and to a lesser degree the AX8 is getting a "fizzy-ness" with highly distorted tones. I haven't heard of/tried some of the plugins mentioned here so I will give them a whirl. I've tried Pod Farm, Lepou, and Bias so far and the fizz was intense. Bias sounded better to me but I also had a latency problem. I agree that there must be user error on my part because I've heard lots of amazing recordings with plugins. I think Paul Wardingham uses Pod Farm if I'm not mistaken! I have seen a lot of similar complaints regarding plugins though.

    I'm making progress with the AX8 and really do love the clean to mid-gain stuff but again I'm left wanting for anything high gain. Doing better with presets geared towards my 6s but it's flub city for my 7s and 8s. Again, I realize there must be user error on my part. It's frustrating because it's so easy to dial in a real amp by comparison. Plus I'm just finally feeling really competent with mic placements, pairings, etc.. and now it's back to square one what with the need of silence.

    I am finding myself veering more away from the Kemper as I don't to spend the $2200 just to take "snapshots" of my two amps. I have indeed been seeing more people voicing their frustration with other people's profiles. I think that I need to try some of the aforementioned plugins here and if anyone could steer me towards where to buy/acquire good cab sims I would be very grateful. I think I will give a load box or two a try just because things like the Captor are so inexpensive and I can always just return them.

    Lastly, I feel like I'm the only person that doesn't "get" reamping. I just don't get how people can record things like metal just hearing that clean signal and always capture the right dynamics of certain parts. I also didn't know you could reamp with real amps, very cool.

    BOTTOM LINE:

    I've actually got two load boxes coming (a Captor and a Fryette Power Load) and I'll be trying the plugins mentioned here. If anyone could suggest some good IRS I would REALLY appreciate it. If I still feel unsatisfied I'll then try the Kemper and won't bother you folks again for awhile (hopefully) :)
     
  14. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Some actually do!

    Thing is, recorded guitar tones (i.e. putting a real mic in front of a cab) ARE generally fizzy. So plugins plus cab impulses are also going to be fizzy out of the box. Pretty much everybody is adding high and low pass filters to their recorded guitar tones.

    I know there are commercial packs available for AXE-FX. I assume they work on AX8. Lasse Lambert just released a pack. I know Misha has one. They might be worth looking into. Again, you don't have the identical guitar and playing style that they do, but the AX8 lets you tweak more than the Kemper does.

    You can't really compare to your real amp "in the room" sound. It's easy to get a good live sound, but if you've ever tried to record your amp by putting a mic in front of the speaker, it's a whole different ball game.

    Yes, I think the Kemper makes little sense for you.

    No, no - you can track using plugins to monitor, but the actual signal recorded is the dry, clean DI. Hell, you could even split your signal and use a real amp and still record a DI.

    So you can tweak guitar tones by changing plugins, changing settings etc in the future - or use a "reamp box" to send that dry signal back OUT of your computer, into an amp, and then back INTO your computer through a microphone and monitor.

    Ownhammer - they're good, but are very raw sounding. Maybe "too" realistic for your purposes. Like, that's the sound you actually get if you put an SM57 in front of an ENGL cab with V30s... aka lots of fizz.

    You might have better luck with something like Rosen Digital or 3Sigma, where they promise impulses which have already been EQ'd and tweaked to be mix ready.
     
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  15. aqa

    aqa SS.org Regular

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    Try Ownhammer, for me the most natural IR's
     
  16. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    I always had this issue until I got my kemper. I find the kemper simple to use, and there are a lot of really high quality profiles. I don't spend time tweaking (which is what I always hated with PODs etc), I have a collection of profiles I love, and I'm done. I don't have GAS for amps any more.

    I have not profiled a single one of my amps either, I just use other peoples (and I'm getting rid of my amps). YMMV of course. But the amount of tweaking possible with some options really puts me off, I want to be playing my guitar, not tweaking.

    My 2 cents anyway :)
     
  17. Ji Sung

    Ji Sung SS.org Regular

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    Have you tried the FAS models? I was quite impressed when I tried them, especially the FAS 6160 and FAS Modern. The FAS Brootalz is really cool for low tuned stuff as well. Just watch your gain and don't be afraid to actually move knobs around.
     
  18. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    As a long time FAS user (axe II), the defining thing is...what's not sold with the hardware: the impulse you like. I went through TONS of them before finding what I wanted. Fractals don't require insane tweaking any longer, but you won't make amp X sound like you want if the cab is "wrong".
     
  19. Frey

    Frey SS.org Regular

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    Thank you all so much again for the input. I wanted to check back in as this little journey has been very enlightening for me. At the risk of creating a massively long reply, I won't quote everyone but every single reply was read and very much appreciated.

    Firstly; Some aftermarket IRs have indeed made a HUGE difference with the AX8. I've certainly had some learning to do regarding tweaking but the big break through was when I started trying some new IRs. I've dialed in some rhythm tones that I am in love with but still am not quite there with lead tone.

    Secondly; The load boxes are awesome! I have been totally blown away by how good a $200 Torpedo Captor and some free IRs can sound. It really sounds and feels like a real amp to me. Monitoring is indeed a bit of a frustration since I have to deal with some latency unless I switch to ASIO drivers which in turn complicates adjusting volume for everything else. That said when I don't have to be fully quiet and can run through my cab that problem is completely gone.

    Thirdly; I still need to try the Plugins mentioned here, I've just been busy digging into the AX8 and these load boxes. I am still very much interested in giving them a go though. I assume that IRs will be improve my Plugin experience considerably too. Also shout-out to Flappydoodle clearing up reamping, I FINALLY "get it" lol.

    Lastly; I'm feeling much better about everything and even though the Kemper is still intriguing I realize that I have more enough tools at my disposal. Trying out a lot of IRs has been the most important thing in this whole process. I'm not sure if I will be keeping the load boxes but I plan to do some AB recording/testing with them to share with anyone that's interested. Thanks again everyone. :cheers:
     
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  20. JesperX

    JesperX SS.org Regular

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    I’m running a 6505+ into a Torpedo Captor with Ownhammer IRs and I love it. Sure there are plenty of plugins and modelers out there and good results can be had, but I still prefer the sound and feel of a tube amp. If you didn’t have amps already it’s debatable whether the difference is worth it to you or not, but if you have ones you like, try a load box. I get more natural sounding distortion that’s easier to dial in this way.

    The other great side effect is using IRs effectively gives you an almost unlimited selection of cabs & mics to use with your tube amp. It’s such a massive part of the tone that often is overlooked.
     

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