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Quad Cortex vs Kemper vs Amp

In this video we compare the Quad Cortex and the Kemper Profiler to a tube amp (a Tyler HM30). We specifically wanted to hear how/if the three differed when we used a board with various effects into the front.

How we set up the experiment

We wanted to keep things as even as possible with this experiment, so this was our process:

  1. We mic’d the amp with an Earthworks SR25 and Royer 121. Both mics ran into a stereo Neve 1073 DPX preamp, where we applied EQ to taste.
  2. We then profiled and captured the amp without changing any settings. We refined the Kemper profile until it sounded as close to the amp as possible. At this point, the Kemper, Quad Cortex, and the amp were all at the same settings.
  3. We ran our guitar through a board into an RJM Effects Gizmo switcher. This allowed us to sent the same guitar signal to all three devices (QC, Kemper, and the amp) at the same time. For the playing samples, we recorded all three at once.

What we heard

We noticed some trends as we dissected the audio from each source. Here are our findings…

  • At lower gain settings, all three sound very similar. Quad Cortex seems to have less gain than the amp or the Kemper profile
  • As gain is turned up, Kemper gets slightly warmer/darker than the amp, and the Quad Cortex gets slightly brighter than the amp. To us, the Quad Cortex is the most like the amp in how it reacts to gain pedals, except for fuzz, where we preferred Kemper to Quad Cortex.
  • With wet effects, we feel the Quad Cortex reacts more like the amp than Kemper.

A few final thoughts

In conclusion, we preferred the amp in every scenario. You may read in forums or see other people say that we’ve come to a point where you can’t hear the difference between a real amp and a Kemper profile or Quad Cortex capture (or an Axe-FX or a Helix), but in this example, we can. We prefer the amp, but…

The differences are VERY minimal. We feel it would be pretty difficult to tell a difference if you weren’t able to A/B/C them back to back to back. In a mix, we suspect it would also be nearly impossible to tell them apart.

We live in a golden age of gear. You can get great tone out of most anything these days, and the old adage is true: if it sounds good, it is good.

Let us know what you think!

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