Kemper Stage or Fractal FM3?

Mayfly said:
I would look into picking up an AX8 second-hand.
5 - speaking of second hand, my original AxFX ULTRA is for sale!  Comes with the fractal floor controller (loads of buttons there) and a custom road case to hold both.  It's a great unit.  Completely obsolete, but a great unit.  Want it?  :)

Mayfly, thanks so much for the offer. I think if I go modelling, I will go with state-of-the-art for a start. As much as I like the idea of saving money, I think I will go for one of the new models (i.e. FM3/FM9). And re the AX8, I like the unit as such much more but there is apparently a gap in quality compared to the new versions: [youtube][/youtube]

TBurst Std said:
Had a great conversation with Alex on this topic the other day.

Oh, I can only second that! This was one of the most helfpful conversations I had in a very long time. Thanks so much Mark!
...oh, and get ready for some pictures soon:

TonyFlyingSquirrel said:
I'm gassing for the Neural DSP Quad Cortex.

It seems a promising device though by various accounts from those that have them it is quite unfinished in terms of software maturity and features. Not to mention currently it is not very available.
TonyFlyingSquirrel said:
I'm gassing for the Neural DSP Quad Cortex.

Tbh, this was also my very first choice initially because I really like their plug-ins. However, most of the feedback I have heard was that - while bearing all the potential - it's just not market-ready yet and far from being able to compete with Kemper and Fractal. I might consider it if they enabled feeding in their plug-ins - however, that's been announced and not executed for 2 years already :-/
OK, I pulled the trigger on a Kemper Stage and I want to share the reasons for my decision.

After tons of research, trying units myself and chatting with owners, I concluded there are 4 modelling amps worth considering - Fractal, Kemper, Helix and Neural DSP. While Helix is amazing and considered the "best of the rest", Neural DSP does not seem to have put their hardware on par with their software yet. That said, I had to decide between the two champions - Fractal and Kemper.

Trying both, I can attest that there is virtually no difference in sound quality (at least to my ears). Both sound like the real deal - it's incredibly impressive to hear just how accurately algorithms can replicate a whole signal chain and get all the details right.

So it came down to philosophy - do I want full control over creating my sounds by being able to tweak every single part of the signal chain down to the smallest detail (Fractal) or do I want a bit more simplicity and rely on others' profiles to get me to the sound that I want (Kemper). Especially after talking to TBurst Std, I was ready to pull the trigger on a Fractal because the philosophy appealed more to me - but it was pretty much a 51/49 decision.

But then I decided to go for a Kemper, and here's the reason...

I was born in Düsseldorf which is around 30 minutes away from Recklinghausen where Kemper's HQ (and showroom is). Recklinghausen is in the heart of the "Ruhrgebiet" which used to be Germany's beating industrial and economic heart for dozens of decades thanks to the coal mining industry. People in this area are known to be very honest and hard-working - the kind that is usually hard to find. However, since the 90s, coal production has mostly shifted to Asia and given the rise of renewables it's becoming insignificant. Hence, the last active coal mine "Prosper-Haniel" was emotionally closed down on the 21st of December 2018. This development has led to an economic downfall in the entire area. Having been one of the most vibrant and flourishing areas in whole Europe, the Ruhrgebiet is now nothing but a shadow of itself and doing very poorly economically.

Going to the showroom in the middle of the Ruhrgebiet, so close to where I grew up and looking at the coal mine on the Kemper logo (yes, look closely!), I made my decision: I want to support the local community and that whole area that I hold so dearly. As TBurst Std said, it's like deciding between a BMW and a Mercedes - both will get you class-A quality. Attached, there are some pictures of the showroom in Recklinghausen (the last one with a close-up of the coal mine on the logo).

Long story short, I made my decision with the heart and I don't regret it :)


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Thanks for the update Alex, a great reason to make a choice  :icon_thumright:

Did you try the Stage with a Kemper Kabinet whilst at the showroom? How was the showroom experience in general?

Perhaps check out Tone Junkie for profiles as there is still a sale on.
Alex.  Glad you are happy with your choice. You made it with good investigation and decision making.  Enjoy, you’ll probably find this (either Kemper or Fractal), is the best musical decision you have made.
stratamania said:
Thanks for the update Alex, a great reason to make a choice  :icon_thumright:

Did you try the Stage with a Kemper Kabinet whilst at the showroom? How was the showroom experience in general?

Perhaps check out Tone Junkie for profiles as there is still a sale on.

Yeah, I tried the Kabinets - they're really really awesome and definitely worth getting! However, since they don't work with Valve amps (and I have one I want to keep) and I currently don't have the space/cash/need for two cabs, I decided to keep a normal cab and run the Kemper through my HS 7. Live I'll either use a cab with a SD Powerstage 170 or go straight through the PA. Definitely enough for now.

It is worth visiting. They have all products on display and you have a 1:1 session with an expert for 1.5 hours and can try everything. Plus they'll give you a discount when you buy on-site. I'd recommend to go if you're in the area - probably not worth a dedicated trip though.
Thanks Alex, I did wonder about it when we were discussing options earlier in the thread and saw the showroom. I think it would be about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive from me. But new gear is not in the budget at the moment but good to know it is reachable.

Good to hear you got to try various things out and arrived at a good solution. I have some HS5s and they used to work well with the Axe FXII so the HS7s should be good with the Kemper.