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Studio Life: Racks, Kempers and Preamps!

So, I had a plan to improve my day to day set up.

I decided I needed an extra rack mount with two more more preamps, a kemper and a power conditioner. I did a little doodle…


First off I bought two Golden Age Projects 73 microphone preamps. I already owned one, which I loved, but I was sharing it between vocals, acoustics and guitar/bass DI. This involved lots of faffing and changing levels whenever a new instrument was needed that wanted to use the 73.

I already have lots of inputs on my Focurite Pro 40 interface, all with pretty good mic pre’s , but this is a specialised ‘coloured’ preamp, designed to sound just like the legendary Neve 1073.

It ended up being a bit of a nightmare as the pre’s a ordered ended up in Japan by mistake, then turned up damaged, but I eventually worked it all out with the seller and got a replacement for the broken one, so all’s good now.

Now I have one dedicated for Vocals (with a Neumann TM103), one for Acoustic Guitar (with a AKG c414) and one for Bass/Gtr . Much better!


Then I got a second rack mount and added the Kemper Rack and a Furman power conditioner.


The kemper is mindblowing to be honest. Maybe the best piece of Studio gear I’ve bought in years.

If you’re a studio user and/or a guitar player who records and you’re not sure what the kemper is or does, please google it. It’ll change your life.

Basically, in the past,if you wanted a decent guitar sound on record, you had to get valve amp, crank it and stick a mic in front of the speaker. Valve amps are incredibly loud things, it’s possible to have them set quiet, but everybody agrees, they only sound really fantastic when you crank them right up. They just don’t sound that great quiet. To capture that great tone, you ideally want them turned right up, almost at the point of feedback.

This lead to lots of producers and studio musicians using guitar modellers and reampers to get around the issue. One one hand it was great, you could usually get a pretty good guitar sound at a manageable volume without upsetting the whole neighbourhood, but it still wasn’t amazing. You still missed the ‘really’ great tones, but it was close enough to make lots of people want to compromise.

Like many others, I was getting a bit frustrated with my recorded guitar sounds. I owned several quality Fender and Marshall Valve amps, but was using reampers in the studio, mainly because it was quieter to record, easier and quicker to set up.

I heard about the Kemper Amp Rack online, and was intrigued. The Kemper isn’t a modeller, it’s a profiler. Basically people all over the world ‘profile’ their real life amps and save the profile to their Kemper. ie: Someone in NYC hooks up their Marshall JCM800 stack to their Kemper and ‘captures’ the profile. The next time they record, they don’t even have to turn their amp on, they just plug into the Kemper and the exact same sound is all there, fully customisable and perfect, even at low volumes.

The best bit is, they can then share their recorded profiles with other Kemper users all over the world. You get to download them all for free. The Kemper comes loaded with hundreds of profiled Fender, Marshall, Orange, Vox, name it. They’re all there, but if you need more or different profiles, either profile your own amps or just download new ones (for free) from the rig manager.

It’s blown my mind how great it sounds. My Fender Valve amp was on sale on eBay within hours of me hooking it up. It’s that good!

So, if you get me to record any bass or electric guitar for you from now on… it’s more than likely to be played through the Kemper. The best bit is, you can ask me for any amp sound in the world and I’ll probably have it.


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