Recording

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Getting Started

The best way to get started with recording is IMO to get a little distance from the guitar. Getting a good mix depends to at least 70% on the drum and bass sound. So start with those. In the last years all those drum libraries made major leap towards regarding the sound quality. EZDrummer with all that little expansions is really a great way to start. If you combine this with a halfway decent bass sound you almost can´t go wrong with your guitars.

Monitoring

Recording equipment and sound is only as good as what it’s played on. You can have the best equipment, but will sound terrible in a uncontrolled room, likewise you can have cheap stuff sound great in a decent treated room!

Mixing and EQ

Here are a few tips...

  • Roll off the low end to about 100 Hz to make way for the kick and bass.
  • Pan the guitars into space, use central for lead playing (but there are no rules).
  • Double track (OR what I like to do, is track the guitar left, and add the reverb to the right) to get a wider sound (depending on song of course).
  • Trying using a filter sweep and search for any clashing freq (using notch pass at say 30 dB gain).

Ballpark here but...

  • Anything from 0 Hz – 80 Hz is sub bass, can’t be heard but felt, so good for bass and kick.
  • Anything from 150 Hz – 250 Hz will give the guitar some body (best on acoustic).
  • Anything from the 300 Hz - 400 Hz is muddy mids, can cut here by small amounts to bring out detail.
  • Anything around 800Hz can make the guitar sound cheap: small cuts here can go a long way (depending on style and gain structure).
  • Anything around 1.5 kHz – 2 kHz is first natural harmonic and then again at 3 kHz – 5 kHz anything beyond that is trouble and fizz.

Quite often, a recorded guitar track that sounds superb in a mix can sound terrible on its own. Try to listen in context and don’t worry about how it sounds alone. But I can’t stress enough, the source sound has to have all the ingredients to begin with!

As a rule, always try to cut and not boost - and only cut by small amounts. But only cut if its needed!

All that said, try and get a good source sound first that you’re happy with! Really is up to your ears.

Try to get some experience with mixing. It will help guitar players to understand that a guitar tone that sounds great while playing alone may often not work in a mix.

Just some more quick tips. Some of these are fairly obvious, but sure never hurts to get a refresher now and again!

  • Record a direct track from the guitar. Can save you in a pinch if the initial processed recording doesn’t fit with the mix.
  • Try double the guitar tracks and hard pan them opposite to one another. It'll give you a "huge" sound... of course, only do this if you WANT that sound... (Note - duplicating the original track and panning it opposite to the original is not the same thing)
  • If doubling, the more you layer, the more you reduce the gain per layered. Especially true for high gain sounds. Otherwise you end up with a wall of "fizz" and not enough tone. There is supposed to be a note in there after all!
  • Watch the brightness. Most beginners have the brightness way too high on their recordings.
  • Keep an eye on your treble and presence settings… see #3…
  • Some people will say "if you need to EQ it afterwards, you need to re-record it!". IMHO, not necessarily. Don’t be afraid to apply some EQ during the mix to help balance the tone with the rest of the instruments. However, if you find yourself applying a LOT of boosting and cutting, and doing so over a long time… and you are still not 100% happy with the result, then you are probably better off re-recording the part… or using your direct guitar recording (essentially the performance) and re-amping it until you get a tone that you are happy with.
  • When mixing, use a reference track! I can’t count the amount of times a reference track has pulled me back from the brink! your ears and brain will get tired and distracted when mixing. Use a reference to help to guide you. This is not the same as trying to completely duplicate the sound of the reference track. But mixing without one is very hard to do, at least, in the beginning.
  • When making comparisons, volume match the parts/effects first. Your ear will 99.999% of the time prefer the louder version, even though it could be detrimental to your mix! Balance the volume first between the before and after scenarios and then you can really hear that the change is doing to your tone...
  • Check the tuning between takes. Nothing worse than nailing that difficult part, then hearing that it sounds flat/sharp in the mix!

Always Record DI's

Always record an additional dry DI track using the direct out of the Profiler. Even if you are not using it now you then have the possibility to do reamping in the future. From my experience as a recording/mixing engineer I can say that the psychological effect of the fact, that you do not have to care about your sound while recording, is tremendous. It helps the artist to relax and really focus on the performance, not the sound.

I can only encourage everyone to always record the DI Track to a second track. Though you might never need it, it could save your life sometime. If you plan to mix the processed Profiler tones with the direct guitar tone in your DAW, be sure that both tracks are in phase correctly.

-tylerhb
 

Effects

Most recording engineers prefer to leave off Delay/Reverb when tracking. This way they can apply a global reverb, so that all the instruments sound more coherent; and they can fine-tune delays so that they fit the mix. They can also add compression or other effects that would sound better when applied before delay/reverb.

The Kemper has alternative output modes to accomodate this. The "Mod" output modes output the signal directly after the Mod effects slot, bypassing any delay/reverb on the Profiler. Yet the "Master" modes still apply delay/reverb. So if you put one set of outputs to "Master" and another to "Mod", this allows the musician to listen to the Profiler's delay/reverb while tracking, while the engineer records the signal without delay/reverb.

Reamping

Reamping is a recording technique where a completely unprocessed guitar signal is initially recorded and later re-recorded by being sent to an amplifier or other signal processor. This prevents the musician from having to repeat a (possibly difficult and time-consuming) performance to capture different tone settings. The initial dry recording can occur while monitoring or even recording a parallel "wet" (processed) signal, so that the musician's performance is improved by his comfort in hearing his playing how he believes it should sound, ability to generate feedback, etc. Some benefits of re-amping:

  • Ability to use processors/amps that were not available during the original recording
  • Can tweak the guitar tone while listening to playback so that it fits the mix better
  • Easier/Quicker experimentation
  • Can refactor performances that originally had different contexts (turn a distorted pre-chorus riff into a clean intro)
  • Can focus on laying down tracks even if there are technical issues getting the right sound at that moment

The Profiler can be re-amped like a normal amplifier using analog cables or using digital SPDIF connections.

Tracking DI's

There are many different ways to record a dry guitar signal from your Kemper Profiler and ReAmp it later. We're going to describe the process and the pros and cons of the different approaches here.

Guitar connected to Pros Cons
Audio Interface
  • No need to switch Inputs (and possibly Output modes) on Kemper between tracking and re-amping
  • More difficult to get levels correct
  • Requires a free analog input on interface
  • May introduce a slight latency between the dry and wet signals
Kemper Profiler
  • Levels should be more consistent
  • Requires no analog inputs on interface
  • no latency issues between dry and wet tracks
  • Requires changing inputs (and possibly output modes) when changing from tracking and re-amping
  • wet SPDIF output would be mono and not have delay/reverb

Inputs

The Kemper allows you to select input sources. If you plug your guitar directly into the Kemper, then you'd need to either change the input source to SPDIF or unplug that cable and run an analog cable from your interface to the guitar input when reamping. If you plug directly into your interface, there is no need to change anything.

NOTE: When using the Input Source of SPDIF Reamp, the Guitar Input is still active and sends a DI signal out on the left output. This is useful to punch in a DI quickly without having to change output modes. However, all the Kemper processing (effects, amp/cab profiles, eq, etc) will only apply to the signal from the SPDIF input. So you can only hear the "dry" signal - there is no capability for "wet" monitoring without changing the Input Source.

I tried to go direct to my interface, send the DI signal out the SPDIF out to the Profiler, and send the signal back to the interface via SPDIF. I thought I'd get a nice, clean signal, and could leave my Kemper Input Souce and my interface routing alone for a quick and simple setup. The problem was that my interface would clip on my guitar if I picked the strings powerfully. So I engaged the "pad" switch on my interface, but this lowered the signal too much. I tried to boost it to a good level with the input gain pot on my interface, but this seemed to introduce a LOT of noise. The only way to make this setup work would be to attenuate the signal before it hits the interface, but then I'd need to carefully monitor my DI levels so that they were consistent with plugging directly into the KPA. I ended up abandoning this setup and just routing my guitar directly into the KPA. With a lower output guitar, this setup could possibly work, but for leveling purposes, I recommend plugging into the KPA instead of your interface.

-meambobbo
 

Output Modes

The Kemper has a few different output modes, and different ones are available depending on the output selected:

  • Master - output of the entire signal chain
  • Mod - output of the entire signal chain through the Mod slot, Delay/Reverb are bypassed
  • Git - output of the completely unprocessed input signal

The SPDIF output features a "Git/Mod Mono" mode which features unprocessed signal on one of the stereo fields (Git) and a mono mixdown of the signal through the Mod slot on the other (Mod Mono). This is how you'd have to use the Kemper if you connected your guitar directly to it and wanted to only use SPDIF to send the signal to your interface. As mentioned above, most recording engineers like to add delay/reverb later; however, many guitarists prefer to hear their delay/reverb while tracking. It could be added in the DAW and monitored while tracking. If that's not feasible, you would have to use analog outputs (by themselves or in combination with SPDIF) to get the desired wet sound to the DAW while simultaneously recording the dry signal.

Phase Issues

Keep in mind that the analog output D/A conversion adds a very slight latency to the signal, but this is enough to create phase issues between it and a signal sent via SPDIF. So for instance if you tracked wet via analog and dry via SPDIF, and were monitoring them both simultaneously, you may notice a comb filter - try turning off monitoring on the dry track. Or if you then reamped the dry signal via SPDIF, and wanted to blend the original wet and the reamped wet together, there would be a mild phase issue since the analog would have a slight delay compared to the reamped track. This could be corrected by adjusting the latency on one track in the DAW; or you could avoid the entire issue by using SPDIF for all communication with the Kemper.

Output Routing

Q: I'm having some difficulties and perhaps doing something wrong but my knowledge about reamping is quite little. I got a dry track no problem but I can't reamp it. When I try to reamp it has a huge static or noise. Screaming (not sure what the correct term is) like a microphone squeal when too close to speakers. What is going wrong and how to correct this?

A: The most common issue in this case is a wrong output assignment. Make sure that the recorded dry track sends it's signal thru a specific audio output and that the recording track doesn't monitor from the same output. If you assign the monitoring of the recording track to the same output which feeds the Profiler you get squeals since it loops:

  • Wrong (creates a loop):
 Dry Track > Audio Output 1 > Profiler In > Profiler Out > Audio In > Reamped track > Audio output 1-2 > Monitor out
  • Right:
 Dry Track > Audio Output 5 > Profiler In > Profiler Out > Audio In > Reamped track > Audio Output 1-2 > Monitor Out

Also, in your interface control panel, make sure the SPDIF in isn't routed directly to the SPDIF out. This can cause a feedback loop. It's also usually a good idea to turn off any direct monitoring from the interface - you only want to hear the "software return" channel. Then you can choose which tracks you want to monitor in your DAW.

S/PDIF

The real benefit of the S/PDIF connections is when reamping. Normally you will have to deal with at least a bit of noise and signal loss. S/PDIF avoids a D/A-A/D conversion and any noise/interference that an analog signal can pick up. It also has a lower latency.

The S/PDIF will carry both the processed and dry signal (for Git/Stack or Git/Mod). If you want/have to stay analog, you can take a dry guitar signal from the Direct Out.

Since we have a lot of output sources with the new 1.5.0 version, I've been thinking about the best way to reamp. I guess that the best option is now to use S/PDIF out to record the dry instrument signal, instead of the analog direct output of the Profiler. At the same time we can also record the wet signal by using git/stack, git/mod left or git/mod mono.

Recent FW updates have added a Reamp Sense parameter for input - this operates basically the same as Dist Sense, but only applies to the SPDIF input.

Reamping Inputs

For getting the signal from your DAW to the Kemper, you can output the DI playback into the Guitar Input, Alternative Input, Return Input, or S/PDIF in. Each have some pro's and con's:

Input Pros Cons
Guitar
  • Easy Access
  • Low Noise
  • Expecting Instrument Level, not Line Level
  • May have to adjust Clean/Dist Sense settings, which will then have to be reverted when plugging directly into the unit.
Alternative
  • On rear panel - cleaner for a desktop space
  • Slightly higher Noise than Guitar in
  • Will not work if cable is connected to Guitar in
  • Cannot use Stereo Effects Loop because it requires this input as a return
Return
  • Line-Level
  • Accepts a balanced connection
  • Has dedicated Reamp Sense parameter
  • Still requires D/A - A/D conversion, introducing latency and slight signal degredation
S/PDIF
  • No D/A - A/D conversion - no latency or signal loss
  • Has dedicated Reamp Sense parameter
  • Requires that the Kemper is the clock source (Master)
  • Which means you must use 44.1 kHZ sample rate in your DAW

For me, the clear winner is S/PDIF. I record at 44.1 kHZ and have no other devices that connect via S/PDIF, so I have no issues with making the Kemper the clock source. Another bonus of the S/PDIF is that even when your input source is set to Reamp S/PDIF, the Guitar (front) input still works and sends the unprocessed signal on your outputs, so you can record more DI tracks without switching inputs.

Leveling

Proper gain staging is key in reamping. The Kemper manual suggests adjusting your DAW send level of the DI tracks to get near the same signal level for cleans as if you plugged into the front input. If you recorded the DI via SPDIF and are reamping via SPDIF, you should not need to worry about any such adjustments, so long as you never adjusted the signal level in your DAW prior to reamping. If you recorded the DI going straight to your interface, then you may need to make this adjustment.

As far as getting the same distortion levels, this is where the special Reamp Sense parameter comes in handy. Simply adjust this until the reamped tone has the appropriate level of distortion.

Compare this to traditional reamping (note: you do not need a reamping box unless you have a low-impedance device like a wah pedal in front your Kemper):

  1. Generate a test tone of known level. For this I use a 1 kHz@ - 10 dBFS sinewave generated in Sound Forge. Save this file out and import it back into your DAW.
  2. Reamp the very simplest case: DAW line out -> Reamp box -> DAW instrument in. Loop the signal in your DAW and adjust the instrument-level output trim on your Reamp box so that your DAW's instrument input reads -10dBFS. Your basic reamp loop is now properly gain-staged; any DI signal recorded to your DAW henceforth will reamp out at the exact same level. This is your starting point.
  3. Now connect your Reamp's instrument level out to the instrument level input of your guitar amp, and connect the output of your guitar amp to your DAW however you prefer.
  4. Generate some pink noise @ -10dBFS similar to step 1, and reamp this loop through your guitar amp.
  5. Adjust your guitar amp's output levels and/or mic trims until the signal being received from your guitar amp is also -10dBFS.

Your guitar amplifier is now properly gain-staged for reamping, and will generate consistent results from session to session.

Constant Latency

The Profiler adapts to the lowest latency possible. That is individual per rig. This will create latencies around 3 ms. When two (or more) profiles are fed by the identical audio source (like when using the same guitar track for reamping) the variable latency can yield to different phase relations.

-ckemper
 

There is a "constant" or "fixed" latency option in either the System or Output menu now. This will force all rigs to have the exact same latency of 4.5 ms.

Reamping with Reaper

Q: It would be very appreciated if someone could explain how I can reamp some guitar tracks using the Profiler, reaper and my interface, which is a Focusrite Scarlett 18i6. I've never done it, so use the reamping for dummies book please! I understand to use the direct out from the Profiler to get my dry track. I thought I could use the S/PDIF in/out back and forth between the Scarlett and Profiler.

A: Set the S/PDIF Output in Mixcontrol to let's say "DAW channel 6". Then put DAW Channel 6 in the Send Slot in Reaper (dry track of course). Press input on the Profiler and select "\PDIF input".


Q: I have Profiler’s sound playing along with the dry track now... is there any way to not hear the dry track?

A: Check the I/O Setup of the dry track. The signal shouldn't be sent to the Monitor channels (only to your S/PDIF Out), then you won't hear it.

Reamping with S/PDIF

  1. You will need two coax. S/PDIF cables (RCA phone connectors) and – of course – an audio adapter which has coax. S/PDIF Input and Output.
  2. Connect the first cable from the Kemper Profiler's S/PDIF Out to your audio adapter's S/PDIF In. Connect the second cable from your audio adapter's S/PDIF Out to Kemper Profiler's S/PDIF In. Please note that the Profiler must be S/PDIF Master! You have to syncronize your audio adapter to its S/PDIF Input and the sample rate has to be set to 44.1kHz.
  3. Set your Profiler's S/PDIF Output to GIT/STACK in the OUTPUT/MASTER menu. This way you will record one mono track dry and one mono track with amp tone.
  4. Set up 2 mono tracks for recording in your DAW, configure and select the appropriate inputs and different routings! It is important that you choose “channel 3” for instance for one mono track and “channel 4” for another one. Read up in the manual of your soundcard which inputs reflect the S/PDIF In, in the Saffire Pro it is 5 and 6, in the Roland Quad it is (strange, but true) 3-4 and 3-4(4).
  5. While you are playing the sound which suits you, your style and the song best: Record. Now you have recorded one wet track and one dry track.
  6. For the actual reamping you need to do as follows: you need to route the dry track out of your DAW via the S/PDIF Out (to the Profiler's S/PDIF In). Press the "Input" button once. Now change the right knob "Input Source" to the position "SPDIF Input". {(A hint for those on older Kemper OS: do not forget to “activate” the profile sound you want by checking in the INPUT section of the Kemper Profiler whether the checkbox of “S/PDIF In” is marked. If it is not (the default setting), activate it. Turn the knob.)} Choose a sound by using the browser knob. Listen to the sound by monitoring your Kemper Profiler.
  7. When you have found a profile that seems best for the reamping, set up a new track in your DAW for recording. If you want to record a mono track, which is recommended by many, you will have to record without the effects of the KPA. In the Kemper Profiler “OUTPUT section” you choose this time "STACK" for SPDIF out as you don't want to record another dry track again. Rewind, play, record. You now have actually recorded your first reamped track! If you want to record a stereo track with all of the effects from the Kemper, you will have to create a stereo track in your DAW and choose "Master Stereo" as SPDIF output constellation.

Pitfalls

  • Interface Inputs routed directly to Outputs (you'll hear wet + dry) for initial recording and can create a feeback loop when re-amping
  • Not routing dry tracks to SPDIF out bus
  • Sending multiple dry tracks to the KPA at the same time (you can only reamp one track at a time!)
  • Setting the KPA to the wrong Input
  • Using SPDIF Git/Stack on the KPA Output and using the wrong Input in your DAW for the reamped track (the KPA is receiving the dry track and sending it right back out on one side of the stereo fields - it sounds like it's not working, but it is on the other stereo field).
  • Not setting your interface to External Clock Sync (sometimes your DAW tries to override the interface setting, in which case you have to set things in a certain order to get it to maintain the proper settings)

Kemper ReAmping With S/PDIF Walkthrough Video (metal)

A short walkthrough of how you need to set up your recording interface, DAW and the Kemper Profiler for reamping.

This video was made by nakedzen.[1]


Recording & ReAmping with Profiler & Focusrite MixControl

A tutorial explaining how to use the Focusrite audio interfaces & MixControl software to record & reamp with the Kemper Profiler.

References

  1. ReAmping video posted on the Kemper Forum.