Axe FX vs Helix vs Kemper vs AmpliFIRE – Modelling Amps Shootout

Elliot Stent

Elliot Stent

Over the last few years, digital modelling amps have become incredibly advanced. They can now match the sound of real tube amps, effects and cabinets with amazing conviction. Offering immense versatility, not to mention better reliability, there are many reasons why guitarists are choosing to abandon their more traditional setups for these all-encompassing digital beasts.

With processing and technology rapidly improving year-after-year, now is a great time to look at the many different systems being offered on the market. The purpose of this article is to help you discover which one will suit your needs the most!

There are many options available today, with many companies jumping on the bandwagon and creating their own amp and effects modellers. But in this article, we will look at four of the main systems available today, detailing the pros and cons of each and comparing them against each other.

What will I learn in this article?

  • The main features of the Fractal Audio Axe FX, Line 6 Helix, Kemper Profiler and Atomic AmpliFIRE
  • The advantages of each of these units; identifying their pros and cons
  • The alternative units available within Fractal, Line 6, Kemper and Atomic’s ranges
  • Players that use these modelling amps and why

What is the Fractal Audio Axe FX?

When you think of high-end digital modelling amps, the Fractal Axe FX may be the first name that comes to mind. Whilst Line 6 have been making high-quality digital amp processors since the late 90s and early 00s, it was Fractal that made what can be considered as the first ‘pro-grade’ modeller.

Designed for touring musicians looking for optimal tonal consistency every night, studio geeks have also adored this feature-packed unit for its excellent, recording-ready tones. Emulating some of the most famous amplifiers around, the Axe FX is most synonymous with metal players, hugely popular for offering soaring high-gain tones with its 5150 and Mesa Boogie models – to name just a few!

Who uses the Fractal Audio Axe FX?

It was therefore no surprise that a raft of high-profile names flocked to Fractal a few years ago, taking advantage of the Axe FX’s renowned ease-of-use and high-fidelity sound quality. With massive names such as Devin Townsend and Misha Mansoor on Fractal’s roster, these pioneering players have used the Axe FX to break new ground in the guitar world.

But not all artists have deserted their tube amps and replaced them solely with this powerful and intuitive unit. That’s because the Axe FX is almost as famous for its amazing arsenal of effects as its amp models, with many players enjoying its gorgeous delay, reverb and modulation palettes. That’s why a handful of players prefer to use the Axe FX in conjunction with their classic tube amps, using it just for its premium-sounding effects. Steve Vai and John Petrucci are a couple of established names that use the Axe FX in this configuration.

What Axe FX modelling amps are out there?

Fractal have released several versions of their flagship Axe FX processor, and below we are going to look at their most recent offerings in great detail:

Axe FX II

The Axe FX II is powered by a pair of Analog Devices TigerSHARC DSPs (some of the most powerful in the world), and this high-spec has allowed Fractal to go overboard with other features. Capable of offering emulated dual-amp setups, you can achieve super-rich and unique tones by playing around with different amp sim combinations. Alongside its huge array of genuine-sounding effects, you can create huge, experimental sounds with next-to-zero audible latency.

Axe FX III

Now in its third generation, Fractal have taken this concept a step further with the new for 2018 Axe FX III. Boasting two Texas Instruments “Keystone” DSPs, these run at an eye-watering 1 GHz, coupled to 512 MB of high-speed RAM. The Axe FX III also has enough memory to store over 4000 cabinet impulse responses and 500 presets, giving you an insane amount of flexibility.

With an improved interface for more user-friendly operation, letting players craft their sounds with even more detail and refinement, the updated amp models offer even closer emulations of their real-life counterparts. With thousands of UltraRes™ speaker cab simulations, the amount of options is nearly endless.

Fractal Audio Axe FX – Pros & Cons

Unfortunately, the immense power and quality of the Axe FX comes at a cost. You can easily spend upwards of £2000 on the latest version of the Axe FX (the III), and even older versions are commonly sold on the used market for over £1000. Bear in mind that the Axe FX is by far the most expensive unit featured in this article, so don’t feel put off by the cost. Having said that, its price is indicative of just how unbelievably diverse and impressive it is.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that there are some things that it does not handle as well as other units. Although its ‘amp-matching’ feature is incredible, intelligently analysing a recorded guitar track and creating a patch based on its tonal qualities almost like-for like, it can’t however capture the sounds of your real amp collection via a conventional mic’ing process. So, if you want properly matched tones based on your own amplifiers, the Kemper Profiler is capable of doing that.

Another downside is that Fractal only sell their units direct, and not via retailers (unless you find a second-hand example). This means that you can’t try one of their units in person before purchasing, unless you know someone that owns one. This also means that if something goes wrong, there are very few service centres that can resolve any issues.

Back to the pros of this unit though, if you are constantly touring and moving from session to session, the unbridled versatility of the Axe FX makes it a great investment. The sound quality is unparalleled, and the control that you have over your patches with its deep editing and MIDI functionality makes it easy to alter and change your sounds on-the-fly.

What is the Line 6 Helix?

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  • With 45 amps, 30 cabs, 16 mics and 70 different effects built in!
  • The Line 6 Helix has taken the digital amplification world by storm. Line 6 are widely credited as pioneers of amp modelling and digital effects, leading the charge with classic products like the Pod - with the Helix, they have truly raised the bar, offering jaw-dropping tonal authenticity, unprecedented tweakability and a wealth of stunning effects. It truly has to be played to be believed! Using Line 6's dual DSP HX modelling engine, you really can attain that sound that's been floating around in your head. Got a function set that goes from '50s rock and roll to '90s Brit Pop? Or have you always fancied a Mesa Triple Rec for blistering crunch and a Fender Deluxe for your cleans, but had nightmares about the cost and practicality? With 45 amps, 30 cabs, 16 mics and 70 different effects built into the Helix, you truly have every imaginable studio-quality sound at your disposal. It doesn't get much better than this! [video_3]Every Nuance CapturedRumour has it that the clever folks at Line 6 literally dismantled their selection of amplifiers and effects, capturing every microscopic detail of their tonal variables several times over. Because of this, it took up to a month for them to complete each amp and effect model - it's this level of commitment that ensures that the Helix profiles are accurate beyond belief. The age-old argument about valve amps & analogue effects vs. amp modelling has long divided guitarists and producers alike. The Helix somehow manages to tread the fine line between digital tweakability and analog warmth, combining the best of both worlds for the ultimate amplification experience. More Options Than You Could Imagine! The Helix allows you to run up to four amplifiers simultaneously with up to 32 effects all running on four discrete stereo signal paths for ultimate clarity. This means you can take full advantage of the enormous number of options at your disposal to craft your perfect tone! This includes adjusting mic types and positioning, total control over signal chain, panning, studio-quality compression, multi-band EQ tweaking and much, much more. Ultimate ConnectivityThere's a chance you already own a rig that you've poured your heart and soul into. Line 6 have taken this on board, so they know that you aren't just going to ditch your boutique effects and amplifiers. They've kindly included extra connectivity options so you can use incorporate your own gear whilst making the most of the Helix's massive potential.You'll have the ability run four loops of your own external effects pedals, as well as change channels on your amplifier either via MIDI or 1/4" jack - it won't be long before the Helix becomes the true centrepoint of your entire rig! Reinvented InterfaceWe've all struggled with fiddly interfaces and overwhelming lists of menus, switches and parameters - this can make it difficult to change settings in real-time and adapt to your musical surroundings. Line 6 went above and beyond to make sure that wasn't the case with the Helix.The massive 6.2" LCD display shows your guitars signal path, and can be easily navigated using the 6 smart edit knobs and master control knob - you'll be setup and editing within 5 minutes of opening up the box!But that isn't easy to control while you are on stage. That is why Line 6 fitted a set of 12 touch-sensitive footswitches that let you adjust pretty much any parameter on the fly. Got too much reverb? Want to remove or bypass an effect? No problem - just touch or tap away! It really is that responsive!Follow The Light!We've all tried sticking electrical or masking tape onto our pedalboards so that we can dance our way around on a dark stage! Luckily, the Helix's footswitches are backlit and colour co-ordinated, so you'll have no problem differentiating your different presets. The colours and arrangement are also fully adjustable, so you can tweak and stomp in vivid fashion with easeRugged & Tour-ReadyThe Helix is built with the busy, touring musician in mind. Its solid aluminium construction and rugged switches can withstand even the bigge
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  • Over 200 amp, cab, mic, and effects models
  • The Line 6 Helix LT is a lighter, more streamlined version of the highly-popular Helix standard. Boasting all of the same amp and effect modelling technology of its bigger brother, but with less footswitches, a simplified interface and not as many inputs and outputs, the Helix LT is still a valid choice for the serious musician.With over 200 amp, effect, cabinet and microphone models available, the Helix LT is the epitome of a versatile, all-encompassing floorboard solution. It's fair to say that Line 6 has come a long way since its first digital amp modellers from 20 years ago. Now offering incredibly convincing reproductions of desirable, renowned amps and effects with its award-winning HX modelling engine and dual-DSP, there's a reason why many modern players are turning to products like the Helix LT. [video_8]Ergonomic, User-Friendly UnitThe Line 6 Helix LT is still very easy to navigate and set up patches with, thanks to its 6.2" LCD display. You can easily experiment with different amp and cabinet models via this simple interface, and even go into deeper editing modes. This includes applying effects to your base tones, and even re-ordering them via a simulated signal chain. Cabinet impulse responses enable further levels of flexibility, letting you match up emulated amps with different speaker sizes, types and combinations. And with multiple microphone models available too, you can essentially play the role of a recording engineer!Sporting 12 robust, road-worthy footswitches, the Helix LT lets you change up your sound on-the-fly. With the ability to switch between preset and stompbox modes, you can flick between your very own patches or treat the Helix LT like a traditional pedalboard, by engaging the digitally-recreated stompboxes. Bank switches mean that you're not just limited to 8 sounds at a time, and you can setup different preset or effects banks for particular songs in your setlist.Extra FeaturesWe've only scratched the surface of what the Helix LT can do, but there are some other noteworthy features. The Helix LT has an expression pedal built onto the top of the chassis, which allows you to control effect parameters. This works fantastically with its wah models for example, but you can also use it to affect the mix of a reverb or delay setting, letting you attain ethereal ambient drones.If one isn't enough, there's an input on the rear on the Helix LT for a second external expression pedal too. The unit also boasts two effects loops, meaning that if you want to use your favourite overdrive pedals or other units in conjunction with the Helix LT, it will seamlessly integrate them.MIDI-enabled, the Helix LT can act as a controller by communicating with other MIDI pedals, or receive commands from another MIDI device to change patches and effects within the LT itself. Stereo 1/4" and XLR outputs also let you record directly into an interface, or send a signal to a front-of-house PA system for a large, in-your-face live sound.Here’s what line 6 say about the Helix LT Floor Amp & FX Modelling Unit:The Helix LT guitar processor features the same advanced HX Modelling technology found in the Helix Floor and Helix Rack processors. With a streamlined I/O complement and hardware configuration, the Helix LT guitar processor delivers the highest levels of performance, flexibility and control in its class. The award-winning HX Modelling engine leverages powerful dual-DSP performance to capture and recreate amps, cabs, mics and effects with authenticity and responsiveness. A large LCD and touch-sensitive footswitches with colour LED rings enable easy usage and fast, smart control.The generous I/O complement, with extensive routing capabilities, makes it easy to integrate Helix LT into an existing rig and provides flexibility for a wide range of stage and studio applications. Helix LT has preset compatibility with existing Helix products and also offers Variax guitar control integration. With Helix LT, the world’s most powerful guitar processing platform is now more accessible than ever before.SpecificationsDual DSP-powered HX modelling enginePreset compatibility with existing Helix products
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  • Line 6 HX Effects brings the power of the Helix to your pedalboard with over 100+ Helix effects all put into one small package. [video_1]Helix is amazing and has found it's way into the rigs of guitarists all over the world. But if that was a bit too much or you only really wanted the effects side so you could use your own amp and other pedals this is the answer. Even without the amps you are still left with over 100+ HX effects and additional legacy effects from the M series of pedals along with the DL4, MM4, FM4 and DM4. Easy To UseLike all of the Helix units the HX Effects is incredibly easy to control and use. Things like the capacitive touch buttons and scribble strips make it so easy to see and feel what you are doing when changing effects and adjusting them on the go. No big LCD screen here, all the information you need is now displayed on the scribble strips so even if you have never used a multi effects unit before this is easy to get up and running with. The HubOne of the great things about the HX Effects is the connectivity, it becomes the hub of your rig without you even really needing to think about it. Stereo in and out, dual effects loops, two external control outs and MIDI operation means that if you have other amps and pedals, this is incredibly easy to get plugged in and working.
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It’s fair to say that Line 6 are the founding fathers of digital modelling amps. Their cutting-edge POD was released all the way back in 1998, and two decades later their formula has only improved heavily. Now boasting two flagship processor units, with the high-end Helix and more modestly-priced POD HD500X, Line 6 have catered for players of all budgets.

With our focus turned to the Helix for this article, this immense piece of gear is another all-encompassing processor that was designed with user experience in mind. Available as a rack-mountable unit like the Axe FX, one advantage that Line 6 has over Fractal is its floor-based iteration of the Helix.

Packing as much of a punch as the rackmount version, this ergonomically-designed pedalboard is a dream for gigging musicians. If you want a large selection of amp models, cabinet IRs and high-quality effects all crammed into one portable enclosure, the Helix fits the bill like a dream.

Line 6 Helix on Andertons TV:

It’s fair to say that a massive flaw with previous products similar to the Helix, is that it is easy to edit patches with the product’s accompanying computer software, but in the “heat of battle” it can take a long time to change up a sound quickly. The Helix doesn’t suffer from this potentially gig-destroying problem though, as its highly intuitive interface is very simple to navigate and make edits with.

From the capacitive touch buttons to the 6.2” colour display, not to mention the huge range of controls on the front panel, Line 6 has done everything possible to give you ultimate control over your tone. Of course, we can’t talk about this without giving a shout out to the Helix’s sensational sound quality. While the default patches may not be as strong or inspiring out-of-the-box as the Axe FX, with a bit of tweaking the quality is evident and matches up brilliantly.

Similarly powered by a pair of high-spec DSP processors, there is certainly enough punch to handle a stereo set of amps laden in effects. Trust us, this unit can cover all of the sounds you would ever need!

Who uses the Line 6 Helix?

The Line 6 Helix has become a popular product in its relatively short lifespan so far. With Dustin Kensrue (Thrice), Pete Thorn (Alicia Keys, Chris Cornell, Don Henley) and Chris Robertson (Black Stone Cherry) all using the Helix live and in the studio, it’s evident that it is a pro-standard piece of equipment.

A big perk with the Helix is its size and portability, making it easy for musicians to fly out with the unit on tour. It’s also easy to setup quickly for festival-type gigs, and less susceptible to failure with minimal cabling and routing required. This is something that a large, stompbox-loaded pedalboard is more prone to, with multiple patch cables connecting them all together.

What other Line 6 Helix modelling amps are available?

The Line 6 Helix range isn’t strictly limited to the floorboard and rack-mounted units previously described. In this next section, we’ll look at the other offerings in the Helix lineup:

Helix LT

Fractal have expanded their range with the AX8 floor unit, a scaled down version of the full-fat Axe FX. Made to compete with products such as the Helix, Line 6 has been slightly more savvy and diversified their Helix line to accommodate players with differing needs. For example, the Helix LT is a smaller and more portable version of the standard Helix, boasting all of the same amp and effect modelling technology of its bigger brother, but with less footswitches, a simplified interface and not as many inputs and outputs.

Line 6 Helix LT on Andertons TV:

Helix HX

The new for 2018 Helix HX is a recent addition to the lineup too, even smaller than the Helix LT. Purely a multi-effects unit, the Helix HX contains all of the top-quality effects from the standard Helix but without any of the amp or cab simulation technology. This makes it a fantastic unit for guitarists that don’t want to put together a big, expensive pedalboard, and of course for those who are keen to maintain their tube amp rig.

If you’re interested in finding out the difference between Line 6’s Helix products in greater detail, read our full ‘Line 6 Helix vs Helix LT vs HX Multi-Effects‘ article.

Line 6 Helix – Pros & Cons

Compared to the Axe FX and also the Kemper (coming up next), the Helix is missing a couple of extra features such as amp-matching, meaning that you are limited to only the amp models within the unit. You can obviously attempt to match your tone to a desirable sound manually, and with the large amount of amp and cab models available, you’d be able to closely imitate almost any amp tone with great conviction. Line 6 are also known for offering regular firmware updates, meaning you can expect new amp models and patches every few months.

Despite this minor flaw, the Helix is a unit that can be easily integrated into almost any rig. If you want to use the ‘four-cable method’ with your amplifier, or run it independently and straight to front-of-house, it is very easy to adapt it to any gigging or recording situation with a product as diverse as the Helix. Just don’t spill your drink on it!

What is the Kemper Profiling Amp?

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  • Please check system requirements to ensure that the Kemper Profiling Amp will work with your computer set up.The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is without doubt the biggest innovation we think we've seen in the last few years in amp technology. Emulating a classic amp is one thing but this is something quite different. Instead of relying on a company to do the profiling for you, choosing which amps you might want and what settings you'd use, you get all of that technology INCLUDED in the Kemper itself! That means YOU choose what amp you want to emulate, put a mic to the amp and let the kemper go about its business. It's a little bit like that bit in Ghostbusters where they catch the ghosts in that box. All the soul and subtly of the amp is sucked into the Kemper and stored digital allowing you to sound exactly like that exact amp any time anywhere. Trying to describe it in words is tough so take a look at some of the videos and you'll quickly understand why we're so excited about this piece of gear.Don't worry if you don't have vintage amps just lying around your house though because the Kemper already co ems preloaded with loads of awesome profiles and any user can share a profile with another, it's as simple as sending an email! You can get swapping profiles all over the globe!It's worth noting that while Kemper call this an 'amp' is doesn't have its own power section so you'll need to plug it into a PA or some active speakers. The reason for this is that the Kemper also profiles Cabinets and if you could use the Kemper with a cab your cab would colour the sound and it would no longer sound like the cab that was being modelled! So really it makes more sense to plug straight into a PA/mixing desk and cut out the cab all together!Now includes Bass Amp Presets!Kemper says: 'The Profiler now features numerous bass profiles in the factory rig content, including excellent direct profiles taken from the DI output of the bass amps. Additionally, of course players will like the mildly distorted profiles taken from tube-driven bass amps and speakers, captured by microphone.'In addition to the factory content, we have also released special rig packs containing excellent complete rigs for bass. These are available from the our download page. Players should also be sure to check out the Rig Exchange webpage to download rigs by other users, or even share their own.'[video_6]Inputs and OutputsFront Mounted HiZ Guitar inputFront Mounted Headphone outputDirect Send Jack (with Ground Lift)Return Jack (with Ground lift)Return Female XLR (with Ground lift)Motitor Output jack (with Ground lift)Footswitch Jack 1Footswitch Jack 2Midi InMidi outMidi ThruS/PDIF OutS/PDIF InUSB outUSB inNetwork PortMaster Output Left XLR (one Ground Lift shared by mast outputs)Master Output Right XLRMaster Output Left JackMaster Output Right JackHere's what Kemper say about the Kemper Profiling AmpAny Amp, Anytime, AnywhereThe new Kemper Profiling Amplifier enables you to do what generations of guitar players have been waiting for: to capture the soul of all your amps (and so many more) inside a lunchbox-sized amplifier.So, how does it work- We use cutting edge digital technology to capture the sonic DNA of virtually any guitar amp. The resulting Profiles are as living, vivid and dynamic as the original amps. Imagine you've used some sweet-sounding, well-maintained vintage tube amps in your last studio session. With the Kemper Profiling Amplifier, there's no need to leave those sounds behind anymore. Simply create your own Profiles from these amps and take them with you to use anywhere you like. Variations with alternative amp settings can be created and even the cabinet of a profiled combo amp can be exchanged at any time. Dozens of pro-grade onboard effects and stomp boxes can be used to spice up the Profiles. We even give you Profiles of many exceptional signature amps. Any amp. Any time. Anywhere. We mean it.Stomp BoxesThe Kemper Profiling Amplifier offers 4 independent stomp effec
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  • Kemper Profiling PowerHead 600w Black Front Guitar Amp Head
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  • Please check system requirements to ensure that the Kemper Profiling Amp will work with your computer set up.Since the original Kemper came out guitarists have been crying out for this: the Kemper Profiler PowerHead Amp! Now with a built in 600w Class D power amplifier the Kemper can drive your favourite guitar cab or can operate like the original Kemper through a powered monitor with cab-emulation. Finally you can take the comprehensive tone aresnal that is the Kemper Profiling Amp to the stage and us it with a proper guitar cab!What Is The Kemper Profiler?The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is without doubt the biggest innovation we think weve seen in the last few years in amp technology. Emulating a classic amp is one thing but this is something quite different. Instead of relying on a company to do the profiling for you, choosing which amps you might want and what settings youd use, you get all of that technology INCLUDED in the Kemper itself! That means YOU chose what amp you want to emulate, put a mic to the amp and let the kemper go about its business. Its a little bit like that bit in Ghostbusters where they catch the ghosts in that box. All the soul and subtly of the amp is sucked into the Kemper and stored digital allowing you to sound exactly like that exact amp any time anywhere. Trying to describe it in words is tough so take a look at some of the videos and youll quickly understand why were so excited about this piece of gear.Dont worry if you dont have vintage amps just lying around your house though because the Kemper already comes preloaded with loads of awesome profiles and any user can share a profile with another, its as simple as sending an email! You can get swapping profiles all over the globe!This power head can be connected directly to a guitar cabinet where you can turn off the cabinet emulation and use the kemper exactly as a guitar head. Or you can connect it directly to a PA system or mixing desk and have the cab emulation on to get amazing micd guitar cab sounds!Now includes Bass Amp Presets!Kemper says: The Profiler now features numerous bass profiles in the factory rig content, including excellent direct profiles taken from the DI output of the bass amps. Additionally, of course players will like the mildly distorted profiles taken from tube-driven bass amps and speakers, captured by microphone.In addition to the factory content, we have also released special rig packs containing excellent complete rigs for bass. These are available from the our download page. Players should also be sure to check out the Rig Exchange webpage to download rigs by other users, or even share their own.What Kemper say about the Kemper Profiling PowerHead 600w Black Front Guitar Amp Head:The Kemper Profiler PowerRack adds a built in 600 Watt power amp to the Kemper Profiler concept and turns the former recording solution into the most versatile guitar amplification system ever. Utilizing the Kemper CabDriver mode, guitarists now have the choice of playing through regular guitar cabinets or full range monitor systems. This extends the Kemper Profiler concept as the perfect solution for the rehearsal room and the stage.The 600 Watt Class D amplifier was carefully selected for the guitar amplification system to guarantee utmost performance. After extensive listening tests, a lot of measuring and looking thoroughly at the typical sonic behavior of power amps for guitar amplification on the market, it became clear that only the best components are capable of delivering impressive results.The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is without doubt the biggest innovation we think weve seen in the last few years in amp technology. Emultating a classic amp is one thing but this is somethign quite different. Instead of relying on a company to do the profiling for you, choosing which amps you might want and what settings youd use, you get all of that technology INCLUDED in the Kemper itself! That means YOU chose what amp you want to emulate, put a mic to the amp and let the kemper go about its business. Its a little bit like that bit in Ghostbusters where they catch the ghosts in that box. All the soul and subtly of the amp is sucked into the Kemper and stored digital allowing you to sound exactly like that exact amp any time anywhere. Trying to describe it in words is tough
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  • Kemper Amps
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  • Please check system requirements to ensure that the Kemper Profiling Amp will work with your computer set up.Since the original Kemper came out guitarists have been crying out for this: the Kemper Profiler PowerRack Amp! Now with a built in 600w Class D power amplifier the Kemper can drive your favourite guitar cab or can operate like the original Kemper through a powered monitor with cab-emulation. Finally you can take the comprehensive tone aresnal that is the Kemper Profiling Amp to the stage and use it with a proper guitar cab! Rack mountable on a standard rack for ultimate flexibility and protection!Now includes Bass Amp Presets!Kemper says: The Profiler now features numerous bass profiles in the factory rig content, including excellent direct profiles taken from the DI output of the bass amps. Additionally, of course players will like the mildly distorted profiles taken from tube-driven bass amps and speakers, captured by microphone.In addition to the factory content, we have also released special rig packs containing excellent complete rigs for bass. These are available from the our download page. Players should also be sure to check out the Rig Exchange webpage to download rigs by other users, or even share their own.Heres what Kemper say about the Kemper Profiler PowerRack AmpThe Kemper Profiler PowerRack adds a built in 600 Watt power amp to the Kemper Profiler concept and turns the former recording solution into the most versatile guitar amplification system ever. Utilizing the Kemper CabDriver mode, guitarists now have the choice of playing through regular guitar cabinets or full range monitor systems. This extends the Kemper Profiler concept as the perfect solution for the rehearsal room and the stage.The 600 Watt Class D amplifier was carefully selected for the guitar amplification system to guarantee utmost performance. After extensive listening tests, a lot of measuring and looking thoroughly at the typical sonic behavior of power amps for guitar amplification on the market, it became clear that only the best components are capable of delivering impressive results.Inputs and OutputsFront Mounted HiZ Guitar input Front Mounted Headphone output Direct Send Jack (with Ground Lift) Return Jack (with Ground lift) Return Female XLR (with Ground lift) Motitor Output jack (with Ground lift) Footswitch Jack 1 Footswitch Jack 2 Midi In Midi out Midi Thru S/PDIF Out S/PDIF In USB out USB in Network Port Master Output Left XLR (one Ground Lift shared by mast outputs) Master Output Right XLR Master Output Left Jack Master Output Right JackHeres what Kemper say about the Kemper Profiling AmpAny Amp, Anytime, AnywhereThe new Kemper Profiling Amplifier enables you to do what generations of guitar players have been waiting for: to capture the soul of all your amps (and so many more) inside a lunchbox-sized amplifier.So, how does it work- We use cutting edge digital technology to capture the sonic DNA of virtually any guitar amp. The resulting Profiles are as living, vivid and dynamic as the original amps. Imagine youve used some sweet-sounding, well-maintained vintage tube amps in your last studio session. With the Kemper Profiling Amplifier, theres no need to leave those sounds behind anymore. Simply create your own Profiles from these amps and take them with you to use anywhere you like. Variations with alternative amp settings can be created and even the cabinet of a profiled combo amp can be exchanged at any time. Dozens of pro-grade onboard effects and stomp boxes can be used to spice up the Profiles. We even give you Profiles of many exceptional signature amps. Any amp. Any time. Anywhere. We mean it.Stomp BoxesThe Kemper Profiling Amplifier offers 4 independent stomp effects slots which can host a full arsenal of stomp box effects including painstakingly modeled famous overdrive and distortion stomp boxes, compressor, reverb, several delays and LoFi algo- rithms, and a beautiful rotary speaker emulation.<
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  • Kemper Amps - 50% Off Amp Factory Download Pack!
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  • KEMPERREMOTE-BLK
  • Kemper Profiling Amp in Black plus Remote Footswitch Set
  • https://www.andertons.co.uk/kemper-profiling-amp-in-black-plus-remote-footswitch-set-kemperremote-blk
  • https://andertons-productimages.imgix.net/66291-tmpC691.jpg?w=400&h=400&&fit=fill&bg=FFFFFF
  • 1849.0000
  • 2
  • Kemper
  • Electric Guitar Amps
  • Modelling Amps
  • Please check system requirements to ensure that the Kemper Profiling Amp will work with your computer set up.The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is without doubt the biggest innovation we think weve seen in the last few years in amp technology. Emulating a classic amp is one thing but this is something quite different. Instead of relying on a company to do the profiling for you, choosing which amps you might want and what settings youd use, you get all of that technology INCLUDED in the Kemper itself! That means YOU chose what amp you want to emulate, put a mic to the amp and let the kemper go about its business. Its a little bit like that bit in Ghostbusters where they catch the ghosts in that box. All the soul and subtly of the amp is sucked into the Kemper and stored digital allowing you to sound exactly like that exact amp any time anywhere. Trying to describe it in words is tough so take a look at some of the videos and youll quickly understand why were so excited about this piece of gear.Dont worry if you dont have vintage amps just lying around your house though because the Kemper already comes preloaded with loads of awesome profiles and any user can share a profile with another, its as simple as sending an email! You can get swapping profiles all over the globe!Its worth noting that while Kemper call this an amp is doesnt have its own power section so youll need to plug it into a PA or some active speakers. The reason for this is that the Kemper also profiles Cabinets and if you could use the Kemper with a cab your cab would colour the sound and it would no longer sound like the cab that was being modelled! So really it makes more sense to plug straight into a PA/mixing desk and cut out the cab all together!Now includes Bass Amp Presets!Kemper says: The Profiler now features numerous bass profiles in the factory rig content, including excellent direct profiles taken from the DI output of the bass amps. Additionally, of course players will like the mildly distorted profiles taken from tube-driven bass amps and speakers, captured by microphone.In addition to the factory content, we have also released special rig packs containing excellent complete rigs for bass. These are available from the our download page. Players should also be sure to check out the Rig Exchange webpage to download rigs by other users, or even share their own.The RemoteThe Kemper Profiler is a must have for any studio that works a lot with guitarists as it allows you to capture the amps sound as you record it and store it just in case something goes wrong or you need to do some reamping later. With hundreds of amps available at your disposal why not take it to the stage as well? You now can with the Kemper Remote included in this bundle.This footswitch adds in extra control not only to select what patch you are on but it also gives you access to a 30 second looper, FX switches for instant changes to the patch you are on and with the ability to add 4 different separate expression pedals you really can take full control with your feet. The large screen built in also allows you to see exactly what patch you are on and what you have selected at any given time.Inputs and OutputsFront Mounted HiZ Guitar input Front Mounted Headphone output Direct Send Jack (with Ground Lift) Return Jack (with Ground lift) Return Female XLR (with Ground lift) Motitor Output jack (with Ground lift) Footswitch Jack 1 Footswitch Jack 2 Midi In Midi out Midi Thru S/PDIF Out S/PDIF In USB out USB in Network Port Master Output Left XLR (one Ground Lift shared by mast outputs) Master Output Right XLR Master Output Left Jack Master Output Right JackHeres what Kemper say about the Kemper Profiling AmpAny Amp, Anytime, AnywhereThe new Kemper Profiling Amplifier enables you to do what generations of guitar players have been waiting for: to capture the soul of all your amps (and so many more) inside a lunchbox-sized amplifier.So, how does it work- We use cutting edge digital technology to capture the sonic DNA of virtually any guitar amp. The resulting Profiles are as living, vivid and dyn
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  • Kemper Amps - 50% Off Amp Factory Download Pack!
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The Kemper Profiling Amp is a slightly more unique beast within its class. Different from other modelling amps, the Kemper units don’t use standard digital processing, but they instead profile real tube amps through a recording setup, to ultimately get the best possible recreation of your favourite amp, cabinet and room.

Of course, you don’t need to model just your own rig, as you can download thousands of ‘profiles’ online – created by players all over the world. With a number of studio-heads having access to some of the most desirable amplifiers ever made, including Dumbles and early Marshall Plexis, many owners will sell profiles of these incredible amps for just a fraction of their multi-thousand dollar cost, accessible to all Kemper users.

Kemper Profiler Demo with Rabea Massaad:

This is a huge advantage over other units that offer modelled patches, as with the Kemper you are limited to genuine amps that actually exist, giving you the most realistic imitation of their tonal characteristics and feel. Although this means that some of the more out-there, esoteric sounds are not as achievable as with the Axe FX or Helix, the Kemper would appeal strongly to conflicted purists interested in accepting digital alternatives.

It also has a plethora of built-in effects, and although these are not the easiest to control using the unit’s front panel, the dedicated Kemper Foot Controller or any MIDI floorboard will allow you to control almost any parameter at a moment’s notice. The Kemper is not held in as high regard for its effects as the previous two contenders, but they are still more than usable and recording-worthy.

Who uses the Kemper Profiler?

Kempers, like Axe FXs, are extremely popular with touring musicians. Saving them the massive costs of shipping large amplifiers all over the world, with a Kemper, everything they need is within one unit. With a huge amount of players taking advantage of Kemper’s near-identical amp emulations, many studio producers use these amazing units too, for the sheer amount of versatility they offer.

Renowned users of the Kemper include Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson (Testament), James “Munky” Shaffer (Korn) and Keith Merrow (Conquering Dystopia). But Kemper modelling amps are also popular with bassists for their brilliant bass amp profiles, with Billy Gould (Faith No More) and Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) taking advantage of the Profiler’s tones.

What other Kemper modelling amps are out there?

The Kemper range isn’t formed of just the standard head version however, as they also manufacture a powered version. Fitted with a 600w power amp, delivering a mighty amount of headroom, this can be run through an FRFR speaker for on-stage monitoring or through any standard guitar amp cabinet.

This is more expensive, but the powered version is even more all-encompassing than the standard model, meaning you don’t have to purchase a separate power amp for live use. Any Kemper unit, powered or non-powered, can be sent straight to front-of-house too, if you don’t want any onstage monitoring.

Kemper Profiler – Pros & Cons

There are very few downsides to the Kemper, apart from the size of the head version and the lack of a floorboard-oriented model. You do have the option of the slightly more compact rack-mountable versions, but the normal amp head is a fair amount bigger than the competition.

The inferior quality of the effects compared to the Axe FX and Helix modellers is also worthy of note, and the Kemper certainly isn’t as acclaimed for them. But if you’re someone that is keen maintain some analogue magic, the Kemper works fantastically with pedals. An effects loop allows you to run your time-based and modulation effects through the Kemper like a traditional amplifier, and of course the MIDI capabilities are an added bonus.

What is the Atomic Amplifire?

  • AMPLIFIRE6
  • Atomic AmpliFIRE 6 Amp Tone & Multi-effects Pedal
  • https://www.andertons.co.uk/atomic-amplifire-6-amp-tone-multi-effects-pedal-amplifire6
  • https://andertons-productimages.imgix.net/262153-1517483095447.png?w=400&h=400&&fit=fill&bg=FFFFFF
  • 529.0000
  • 64
  • Atomic
  • Electric Guitar Amps
  • Modelling Amps
  • The Amplifire 6 is the latest addition to Atomic’s award-winning Amplifire line and redefines the performance-to-size size paradigm in guitar processing, but remaining at an incredibly affordable price point! It merges the best of the top-notch Amplifire models with a brand new, significantly reduced footprint![video_4]Deceptively small enough to fit in your gig bag, the Amplifire 6 boasts typically incredible specs, including Atomic's famed patented modelling and effects processing technology, 6 assignable footswitches, a rugged exterior, MIDI connectivity and much more.It can faithfully recreate the experience of playing through the greatest guitar amps of all-time; it's just as capable of being a complete rig replacement or part of a larger pedal board and/or outboard processing rig - amazing! Key Features:AmpliFIRE’s award-winning, patented amp modeling and effects processing technology6 fully assignable silent foot-switchesProfessional I/O including proprietary guitar input circuitry, 2 sets of balanced outputs, aux input & stereo effects loopExtremely rugged, tiered extruded aluminum chassis2 dedicated expression pedal jacksMIDI in/out/throughHigh quality headphone ampPreset compatible with AmpliFIRE line of products
  • NAMM
  • 10% off Atomic CLR FRFR cab with modelling amps (June 2018)
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  • AMPLIFIRE12
  • Atomic AmpliFIRE 12 Amp Tone & Multi-effects Pedal
  • https://www.andertons.co.uk/atomic-amplifire-12-amp-tone-multi-effects-pedal-check-the-box-for-power-supply-at-dispatch-see-notes-amplifire12
  • https://andertons-productimages.imgix.net/122786-Amplifier1.jpg?w=400&h=400&&fit=fill&bg=FFFFFF
  • 649.0000
  • 1
  • Atomic
  • Brands
  • Atomic Amps
  • The Atomic Amplifire was an overnight success here at Andertons because of its amazing ability to give you high quality effects and incredible amp tones and cab simulation all in a small portable box. Atomic have now released a big brother to accompany the Amplifire called the Amplifire 12. The major difference being the fact that is has 10 programmable preset buttons with 2 bank footswitches that allow you to move up and down through all of your favourite presets with ease.The Amplifire 12 would be an easy way for guitarists to gig or record because you dont actually need an amp or a pedalboard anymore. It has stereo XLR or normal Jack outputs which makes it an absolute breeze to get your guitar sound out into the PA system.Digital amps have become a massive part of todays guitar market. Not only are they great for studio use where you can go direct in to your recording setup but they also work really well live either running through on stage speakers or straight to the PA. The Atomic Amplifire takes everything the world has learned from different digital systems and brings them to a compact floorboard format. [video_8]The SoundsThe Atomic Amplifire may not have the pedigree of other brands in this field but in terms of quality it matches them all the way and even beats them in some respect. By using high quality components and mixed with some of the best modelling software in the world you get some truly stunning tones every time you turn this on. We dont just mean for metal either.Whether it is true or not digital amps have grown a reputation for being great for high gain work but they lack the subtleties of tube tone nor the response to really work well for clean or crunch sounds. The Amplifire has been designed to resolve this issue so you get realistic breakup and response no matter what style you play.With models based after some of the worlds most iconic amplifiers the Amplifire can easily cover nearly any generation of guitar tones. From the Tweed 50s to the gold fronted amps of the 60s and 70s and into the more modern high gain sounds that came through in the 80s, 90s and 00s. So no matter if you wanted to play in a function band where you need to cover a bunch of styles or you just want to travel light with your originals this is a great choice.Getting Set UpThe Amplifire is very easy to get up and running no matter how you want to work. Out of the box it is loaded with a bunch of presets that cover most styles but you will want to dig in and get your own presets made. You can either plug it in to your computer and use the included software to start building up your sounds or you can do it straight from the unit itself.After you have made your sounds you can then decide exactly where and how you want to use the pedal. Do you want to run direct to the board live or in the studio? Or do you still want dedicated loudspeakers? If you are running in to a PA system or recording setup the built in dual XLR outs will do everything you need.However you have a few more options if you want to run through dedicated speakers. One obvious choice would be a guitar cabinet but this will require a power amp or a guitar amp with an effects loop that you can run the amplifire in to via the effects return. Yes you get all of the tones but your rig is still just as big as it was before. Another option is what they call Full Range Flat Response (FRFR) monitors. These speakers are powered by their own power supply and you can just plug straight in to the XLR on the back.Features:UNPARALLELED TONES: All new, state-of-the-art amp modeling based on Studio Devils highly acclaimed and patented technology! EFFECTS, EFFECTS, EFFECTS: Robust effects selection including drive, modulation, delay, reverb, eq, gate and more! INTUITIVE CONTROL: 10 configurable and rugged footswitches - with 2 Bank controls NOT A 1-TRICK PONY: Easy to use as a pedal or connect it to your desktop interface for recording INCREDIBLE DSP POWER: Blazing dual-DSP powered hardware allowing for complex and detailed algorithms TAKE CONTROL: Dedicated, physical amp control knobs for intuitive tone adjustments PRESETS GALORE: 128 MIDI controllable presets (yep, you can plug a midi controller into AmpliFire for extended control) <
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  • 10% off Atomic CLR FRFR cab with modelling amps (June 2018)
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Atomic are the underdogs in this list, but their products are definitely up there with the best. Their AmpliFIRE is a very interesting unit, and the quality of its amp, cabinet and effects models are almost as good as any of the other units in this list. But, the big plus point is that their standard model only costs half as much as the next cheapest alternative!

Atomic AmpliFIRE on Andertons TV:

Using a pair of SHARC processors, the AmpliFIRE has more than enough power to provide you with all of the amp emulation, cabinet IRs and effects you need to cover practically any genre. This has just as much juice as any other unit on the market, yet it is so much more portable in comparison. You can easily mount this unit onto a pedalboard, letting you have the centrepiece of your rig literally at your feet.

With just three switches on the top, these can be used to engage any assigned built-in effect and to switch between patches. If you’re not a fan of frequent tap-dancing and require more control however, you can set up a MIDI controller to manipulate every single internal parameter, whether that be amp or effects settings and patch changes. This makes it a very modular unit, easy to take with you anywhere and to adapt to any gigging situation.

What other AmpliFIRE modelling amps are available?

In similar style to Line 6, Atomic have expanded their AmpliFIRE range with additional models, to cater for players looking for something bigger and more functional:

AmpliFIRE 12

The AmpliFIRE 12 is like the standard unit but on steroids. With a far bigger enclosure and boasting a raft of footswitches, this unit is more of a direct contender to the Helix, but again, it is available for far less money. Featuring similar ins/outs as the base model, the AmpliFire 12 also sports two expression pedal inputs, allowing you to directly control effect parameters with external pedals.

With 12 footswitches, you have the ability to engage multiple effects and easily switch between patches. Dedicated ‘bank’ footswitches let you effortlessly switch between your preset selections, meaning that you can set up patches for a particular song in your setlist and swap to other banks for different ones.

Atomic AmpliFIRE 12 on Andertons TV:

AmpliFIRE 6

Fresh from NAMM 2018, the AmpliFIRE 6 gives you the best of both worlds. Featuring 6 footswitches (hence the name), this unit is exactly the same size as the standard model, but with the 3 extra switches to let you control it far more easily. Only slightly more expensive than the original AmpliFIRE, making the jump to the 6 is definitely recommended.

Atomic AmpliFIRE – Pros & Cons

Although its ergonomic size is an amazing benefit, because of this, the standard AmpliFIRE does have a few key disadvantages. For example, editing profiles on the go can be tricky and frustrating if you just want to make a quick tweak. Having said that, the free PC/Mac software is great, and allows you to get deep and really fine-tune your tones. Its small enclosure also means that there are far less inputs and outputs, however the essentials are covered – with stereo outs, MIDI in/out, an effects loop section, stereo aux outputs, and a headphone jack for silent practice.

If you want a powerful amp and effects modelling unit that doesn’t cost an arm and leg, the standard Atomic AmpliFIRE is a no-brainer. But, Atomic have expanded their range to offer users more flexibility and options…

Conclusion

It’s clear that all 4 of these modelling amps offer a lot, and any of them would serve as an amazing option. Whatever your budget is, we’re lucky to live at a time where you can attain excellent-quality tones even from relatively inexpensive units.

Fractal Audio Axe Fx Line 6 Helix Kemper Profiler Atomic Amplifire
Pros
  • Pro grade tones.
  • Great wiring options.
  • Well respected and endorsed.
  • Intuitive to use.
  • Great sounding HX models.
  • Long history of reliability.
  • Unlimited tone opportunities.
  • Great quality profiling of your amps.
  • Powered head available.
  • Small format.
  • Great value.
  • Powerful processing with pro grade sounds.
Cons
  • Very Expensive.
  • Not many places to go if something goes wrong.
  • No amp matching.
  • Presets are not the best.
  • Head versions are quite large in comparison.
  • Not the best integration in to analogue amp rigs.
  • Not as easy to program.
  • Lack of premium features like tone matching.

The Fractal Audio Axe FX is arguably the most powerful and all-encompassing processor. With almost endless wiring options, the Axe FX is easy to integrate into practically any setup. Its professional-grade tones and incredible selection of effects justify its expensive price-tag – but that is indeed the only downside.

The Line 6 Helix units, rack-mounted and floor-based, offer the best user experience. With an easy to navigate and intuitive user interface, you can experiment with different amp models and the effects signal chain. Those tones are fantastic, however they aren’t quite as legitimate as the ones offered by the Axe FX or Kemper Profilers. The amp-matching technology is a feature that is missing from the Helix too, but it’s not a deal-breaker as there is so much variety within this powerful unit.

There’s a reason why Kemper are so loved in the guitar world. And that’s because their profiled tones are so close to their real-world counterparts, that it can be incredibly difficult to even tell them apart. Just ask Chappers and the Captain!

Kemper Profiler vs. Real Tube Amps on Andertons TV:

With near-unlimited tonal opportunities and a powered iteration of the Profiler available, this unit is made for live and studio use. The size of the head version may be an issue for those looking to downsize their rigs, and it can be difficult to integrate the Kemper into an analogue amp setup, but its sheer amount of versatility and quality is unparalleled.

Last but not least, Atomic’s AmpliFIRE processors are incredible value for money. There would be absolutely no shame in picking up one of these stellar units, as the fabulous sound of the amp models and effects are professional-grade. The main advantage of these, especially the standard model and the AmpliFIRE 6, is that they are so portable and easy to add to your rig that no one would struggle to use them. It may not be the easiest unit to programme due to its small screen, but there’s a reason why we love them so much here at Andertons Music Co!

Interested in finding out more about music gear and expanding your knowledge? View all of our Learn articles by clicking here.

What are your experiences with these amp modellers? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Elliot Stent
Elliot Stent
Elliot is a digital content specialist at Andertons, a guitarist and a YouTube gear demonstrator. Having studied Music and Music Technology, his interests lie equally in both performance and production. Favouring Fender instruments and Marshall amps, Elliot is also a pedal fanatic with a large collection of effects.

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