Live gig sound: to FRFR or not to FRFR....that is the question...

  • First, a bit about myself.

    Although I am new to Kemper, I am not new to the rock guitar world. I am an old school and verifiable "old guy" who has come up playing through Fender, Marshall, Soldano, and the like in live situations all over the USA. Fame and fortune did not come, but boy I had fun! And I have partially deaf ears to prove it...

    When the Stage came out, I had to get one. Besides the problem (?) of too many excellent choices in sounds, I am struggling with the issue of using the profiles live through an FRFR, or ditching the cab profiles and playing through one of my decent cabs I have.

    My first thought is: this is what you buy something like this for, to get the profiles of the cabs as well as the amps and effects. I agree with the whole idea that you have never heard the "amp in the room" of your favorite guitarists, but either pushed through a PA live with EQ or on a record with Lord knows what tossed in the mix. I want to get the sounds like I hear on records, and the Kemper allows me to do that.

    But...personally over decades of playing everything from tiny clubs to large concert halls, I have never experienced anything but the "amp in the room." The closest I have come is the last band I worked with that had the luxury of the in-ears, which I absolutely loved, but I was using either an AC30 or my Plexi clone on stage. And loud!

    With my current band, I took the Kemper to rehearsal along with my FRFR this week. Now, I have a Headrush FRFR-112 and I know people either love or hate 'em, but please look at it from my perspective of my virgin voyage into FRFR-dom in a live situation. The FRFR sounds great at home, pretty cranked but with the band (trio: bass and drums) I was less than stoked. I did a bit of fast EQ-ing and it improved somewhat, but you know how when you have that perfect sound and your fingers feel like they can do no wrong? I didn't get that.

    I guess my main question is: is it me? Am I too set in my ways as far as live sound? Is this normal for someone like me using a setup like this for the first time? If I was in a situation where I always went direct into the board and had in-ears, I would not worry, but at some of my gigs, the sound I generate on stage is the sound that the audience will hear. Small clubs, only vocals and kick miked. I know that I will ultimately do what I need to do to get what I want/need to make me love what I am doing. If it is to ditch the FRFR and use a real cab, so be it. But I kind of feel like it would be a waste to not use those wonderful cab profiles.

    So, I seek advice. Please don't bash the Headrush; I am sure something else sounds better...and costs way more. I am talking about the whole experience of amp-in-the room vs full profiles live.

    Thank you for any advice you give!

  • I made the transition to FRFR long ago, even before the Profiler existed.

    And although I got very satisfactory results using different FRFR solutions from different price ranges I still think nothing beats a great cab miked when you are in a sweet spot on a great sounding stage listening to it (i.e. when the conditions are ideal).
    As we all know this is very rarely the case, so I'll continue with FRFR. ATM I'm using the Headrush 108 which is a great solution.

    The best advice I can give you is hang on, play loud and see if you like it better in a few weeks time.

    If not try a different FRFR (or your cab). ;).

  • I guess my main question is: is it me?

    Yes. And me as well. We are so much used to the amp-in-the-room feel.... and we enjoy it so much because it is such a cool thing. But: Another cool thing is perfect sound for your audience. And if not too much goes wrong in the signal chain then the Kemper with decent profiles will always give you that with high level of consistency. For that you trade in the great feeling of the amp-in-the-room and need to tweak the rest of your gear to come as close as it gets.

    FRFR is great, similar to In-Ears you really hear what the audience gets. But it is rarely shaking you like a decent 4x12. As Ingolf said: Play it loud (that's what I do, mostly because my bandmates are missing the power coming from my cabs).

    By the way: Welcome and have fun here in the forum and with your Kemper. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And you're definitely not the first one and not the only one to go through these thoughts.

  • Best of both worlds, or near-enough IMHO:

    KPA monitor out: Cab off, route to your favorite 'real' cab on stage. You get to 'hear it' your way.
    KPA main out: Cab on direct to FOH, the audience gets to hear it their way.

    The cab on stage is your personal monitor, the DI is for everyone else. It's worked great for me.


    Best of both worlds, or near-enough IMHO:

    KPA monitor out: Cab off, route to your favorite 'real' cab on stage. You get to 'hear it' your way.
    KPA main out: Cab on direct to FOH, the audience gets to hear it their way.

    The cab on stage is your personal monitor, the DI is for everyone else. It's worked great for me.

    Yes, considered this, but some of my gigs there is no FOH except for kick and vocals.


    Yes, considered this, but some of my gigs there is no FOH except for kick and vocals.

    If this is the case then you are relying on back line for front line sound ( which regardless of venue I try to avoid purely for balance of sound) so you will struggle either way, but I understand the limitation.

    As already said, FRFR does sound different regardless of the FRFR solution. Some people also think that you struggle to get Amp in the room even through a guitar cab...

    I switched from guitar cab to FRFR 3 years ago....why...

    1) It sounds the same as what the audience hears, which is a big advantage as I care more about my FOH sound than my back line these days

    2) For some reason I think it has a better spread - I get similar spread from a 1 x12 than I did from a 4 x12....might be my imagination!

    3) My FRFR solution is more portable (1 x12)

    4) If I use my FRFR wedge, the band can hear me better, as it points at them rather than to the side.

    So, are you imagining it? No, FRFR is definitely a different, fuller sound. However it also took me 1 year to accept that digital sounds as good as valve....

  • Although I also play GRFR (Redsound RS LG12 Neo, active 400 w 1x12 cab), I do miss my 2x12 diezel cab. At first I thought i'd want to fully benifit from FRFR and hear all the nuances in the sound ! At the end I suppose I couldn't care less , a good cab will sound good as well ! I must admit now I use a helix stomp as backup, which is really nice considering the active cab. It would be possible with a passive cab unless I'd buy a one of these small SS amps. So in a nutshell , I do miss playing through a 4x12 (probably get a vertical 2x12) but the convenience of an active cab is great as well. The redsound gives me the sound I want (it's class a/b amp), is loud as hell but the only downside is that it sits close to the floor (1x12) so you need to be at a fair distance to hear it properly ... tilting it would solve this I guess (lifting would loose the bass response).

    So in the end both have there pro's and con's ... Once you have one, you desire the other ;) , why can't we just settle huh !


    Kemper stage with 2 mission pedals (in a Thon line 6 FBV case) and a Zilla 212 (K-100/V30) , SD powerstage 700 poweramp

  • When I switched to Kemper 2 years ago, the other guitar player in the band was kind of horrified at first.

    He was missing that "pant flapping" experience behind us from my 50w 3x12 setup on stage.

    I noticed the change of course, but carried on pursuing my tones using the Yamaha DXR10 (similar to your Headrush).

    Over these past two years using either the DXR10, Bose L1 MII, or the XiTone MBritt 1x12, my buddy has gone wireless out to where the audience is/would be (as have I) and come back saying "that sounds great out there!" In our situation, the room is small enough that our backline is for us and audience, and the only thing the PA is used for is vocals.

    So as has been previously alluded to, I've become extremely happy with what I know the audience is hearing/getting, and caring less and less about that "stage feel".

    Everybody is different of course, and I'd never expect someone else to be perfectly happy with my setup/situation.

    That being said, I wait with anticipation for the Kemper Kone to come out, which apparently will fill some of this void.

    Best of luck @JRusidoff and welcome!


    Yes, considered this, but some of my gigs there is no FOH except for kick and vocals.

    I've done it where I used the Head Rush as my monitor and mains fed into the board. Honestly, it still sounds like a guitar through a monitor. I'm in the same spot as you. I want that "feel" you get with an amp. It's just not going to happen with the Head Rush. As others have talked up the Mission, I'd like to see it in action but yeah the price tag is hefty. I don't have any answers, just commiserating with you.

  • On big stages with in ears and for recording:

    - KPA + remote direct to desk with no cabs

    On small stages and clubs:

    - no KPA, but my custom made GrooveTone "Brüller No. 2" (handmade 30 W 2-Channel tube-combo) + Deeflexx + pedalboard (GigRig with 8 different pedals).

    I personally hate FRFR-cabs for guitars, I've tried various ones and I'm owning a Matrix Q12A, but I've never used it. If my ears get the direct signal of an amp (club, small stages), I need the response, overtones, and natural feedback of a "real" tube-amp and cab. If I'm playing on big stages with in ears, the KPA is perfect for me. Because I don't want to be killed by my neighbours by miking up my 100W-Plexi, the KPA is also perfect for recording guitars in my home-studio.

    I know that many are using FRFR- or guitar-cabs, but for me the KPA is made for going direct to desk and I don't get the right feel and response with Kemper + cabs, if I'm not using in ears or (good) studio-monitors.

    Just compare your Kemper + cab (FRFR or normal guitar-cab) with your favourite tube-amp and guitar-cab via A/B-switch and then you can decide what you will prefer.

    first name: Guenter / family name: Haas /

  • Funny how we all feel differently :).

    In summary I think most of us agree:

    The KPA will get you close to amp in the room but the consensus is that it misses something

    For FOH its fantastic

    FRFR will give you a sound more accurate to FOH, but is different - its personal taste as to whether you prefer this, either at home or live.

    The only person you are trying to please is yourself. Few other people care enough about the nuances we are talking about. I have never had so many compliments about my sound since using the KPA.

    I used FRFR almost exclusively live ( I don't use my KPA in the studio much - Im never there :). I don't like to sound in ears either. Regardless of your backline,. I would always try to go into the PA if possible.

    I have not used a vocal PA only in 10 years and I only play small venues but perhaps I'm just lucky.

  • FRFR takes some adjusting for sure, I stuck with it because I wanted to hear exactly what the audience hears. That way I know if a room is boomy or whatever in certain freqs, took a while to get my ears to like it but now I love it.

    Don't forget to always tweak at stage volume. Try different cab sims maybe thats what you aren't liking, get a profile of you fav cab or profile your own.

    And yes I will say it. Try Pure Cab. Many here bash it but for live it's awesome imho. I use it on 10 all the time. Not all profiles will like Pure Cab so it will take some digging. GL!

  • I think Ingolf summed it up perfectly. If you have been playing with tube amps and cabs, it is really hard to get any better than that. I mean, these devices are trying to mimic that traditional setup. It is always the best sounding. I will always love that tone.

    In my case, my back is not great, I go to rehearsals weekly and have gigs every week or every couple of weeks. I really don't want to be hauling a bunch of heavy gear anymore. I have done that for too many years now. I also don't want a complicated setup and teardown either. Previously, it was 55lb head, 65lb 212 cab, 4cm pedalboard, loadbox in rack. I never thought I would be able to go to FRFR monitors and a modeller. I tried years back and wasn't happy at all. However, when you have the right monitor that sounds great to your ears, that is half the battle. I have what works for me now and I've been really happy since I started using that setup back in the early summer.