The Kemper Profiling Amp vs Two-Notes Torpedo
The professional studio and home studio revolution have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. Some of the best guitar recording technology you can have in a studio space is digital technology. This wasn’t the case even 5-10 years ago. Back in the day, you could “get away” with using digital technology but when it came to recording electric guitar amplifiers always sounded better.
What is the Kemper Profiling Amplifier?
The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is a studio and live-use guitar amplifier that allows you to have all the tones of your favourite amplifiers and signal chain in one device. You get the actual sound of your amplifier as it would be mic’d up in a studio situation. Depending on your amplifier settings, pedal settings, and also microphone placement your results will vary drastically. One of the models is passive rack unit (pictured below) and the other unit is a 400-watt powered head version. The powered version looks more like a 1950’s radio/lunchbox than the rack mount model seen below.
How does the Kemper Profiler Work?
The Kemper “profiles” your signal chain. The way this works is simple: You set your amplifier up how you like it and you run a microphone from the speaker to the Kemper. Once you have the microphone placement and sound how you like it you can then profile the amplifier. The profiling process takes about 40 seconds. At this time, the Kemper is running frequency sweeps through the amplifier and that is it. You now have the sound of your amplifier on the Kemper.
Changing the microphone type and microphone placement will change your results. Experiment around and see what works best for you. For me personally, I use Rode M3 microphones in the profiling process. The Rode M3 mics sound fantastic for electric guitar.
You can also run the clean channel of your amplifier with an overdrive going into it. This opens up a lot of opportunities when capturing your favourite tones and gear.
What is the Two Notes Torpedo Live?
The Two-Notes Torpedo is very different from the Kemper. The way it works is fairly simple too. Instead of recording your amplifier the conventional way with a microphone on the speaker. The Two-Notes torpedo replaces the speaker and microphone. Hooking up the Two-Notes requires you to bypass the speaker on your amplifier and running the load of the amplifier into the unit.
The Two-Notes is not only a speaker and microphone replacement it is also a load box and can handle up to 100 watts RMS at 8ohms. If your amplifier is 16ohms then you are out of luck. You need to make sure to use an 8ohm speaker output to use this unit. You can also use a 4ohm output and that will not damage either unit as long as the watts are also in the safe-zone.
How does the Two Notes Torpedo Work?
The Two-Notes Torpedo is a rack unit and can be hooked up to a PC or MAC or easier use. Unlike the Kemper, you get a very visual user interface which allows you to virtually see where you are moving the microphone in the studio space. A huge advantage of the Two-Notes is you are still using your favourite amplifier in conjunction with the unit so you are getting the “tube experience”.
What are the downsides to a Kemper?
One of the big downsides to the Kemper is the price and how expensive the additional footswitch actually is. With the costs aside from the good things far outweigh the bad things. The other downside of the Kemper is a slight learning curve. It’s not “too complicated” to the point you’ll even need to read the instructions but you will probably end up searching online for some answers. I covered the learning curve in more on this article. Another small downside for some guitarists might be that the Kemper doesn’t use any valves/tubes. Guitarists love their tube amps and the Kemper is really a totally different animal.
Does the Two-Notes or Kemper Profiling Amplifier Sound Better?
They are two different units and because of this, they sound very different from each other. I use these units in two different ways. The Kemper will be used for tracking guitars on guitar review videos and also for guitar parts but I will not use it for pedal reviews. I much prefer the Two-Notes Torpedo live for doing pedal reviews. The reason is I get the response of the tube amplifier and it feels and responds more like it would on the amplifier with the regular speaker connected.
In terms of clean tones, I think the Kemper kills the Two-Notes torpedo. It feels a lot more clean and full sounding for whatever reason. The Two-Notes can do a clean tone but it’s a lot easier to get the amplifier to clip unless you run the clean channel at a lower volume.
As far as distortion goes both are great. There’s no real advantage to either. I’ve shot hundreds of pedal reviews using the Two-Notes torpedo and once you have it set up and found a mic and speaker impulse response you like you’re done. I have also tracked guitars on my last album using the Two-Notes and the tones were fantastic.
Two Notes Torpedo Tips to Better Tones
A quick tip for making the Two-Notes sound amazing is to choose one of the condenser microphone models. This will make it sound warmer and fuller sounding. In conjunction with these microphone models, you can also use the built-in software EQ. The built-in EQ in the Two-Notes Live Software is fantastic. Just notch up the top end a little bit and you are in business.
One of the best things about the Two-Notes is you can load first and third-party Impulse Responses from Celestion for example. This allows you to get the real sound of a particular speaker and just drop it into the unit for accurate recordings.
What are the Downsides to a Two-Notes Torpedo Live?
One of the limitations of the Two-Notes is it can only handle up to 100 watts at 8ohms. If you have amplifiers that run at higher ratings I would not consider buying a Two-Notes torpedo. Another downside is it took me a little while to “work it out” and have it set up where worked best for me. The user interfaces while very visual is also a little bit confusing and will take you a little while to understand how it works. Another downside is unlike the Kemper, it doesn’t come with any “guitar effects pedals”.
Direct Bass Recordings
Both units can be used for bass recordings with or without a bass amplifier. The cool thing about the Two-Notes is you can just plug your bass into it directly and then fire up the Torpedo Live software and design your ideal bass rig. It’s not the most feature-rich option but it works great.
The Kemper profiling amplifier can be used for bass recordings but you also have the capability of adding a compressor or octave/fuzz pedal or something else at the time of recording. For this reason, again I am going to say the Kemper is a better option for bass players. If you buy the 400 watts powered Kemper profiling amplifier you can use it for gigs.
If you are looking for an “all in one” device that has all the effects under the sun then go for the Kemper Profiling Amplifier. Every guitar effect you need from overdrive, fuzz, distortion, delay, and more are included. The Two-Notes has none of these types of guitar effects. The Two-Notes does a good job of emulating different valve and tube configurations inside the unit for direct recording (if you so require it). Another advantage of the Kemper is you have controls right on the front of the unit to adjust the delay and reverbs.
Should I just buy both the Kemper and Two-Notes Torpedo?
If you own a lot of amplifiers and you want direct access to tones then just buy the Kemper. The reason I say this is you won’t have to continually keep setting it up time and again on different amplifiers. If you only have a couple of amplifiers then the Two-Notes might be the best option for you. If you’re a YouTuber doing pedal videos I feel like the Two-Notes is a better experience due to the “real amp” part of it as mentioned earlier. The Kemper is a guitarists dream in terms of recorded tones but they just don’t handle pedals in the same way.
There’s something about it that isn’t quite right to my ear using pedals into the Kemper. Some people swear they love using pedals into the Kemper and sure, they can be used like this but the “tube amp” thing is hard to beat. If you’re a serious studio musician then you might find great value in having both.
Software Updates on the Kemper vs the Two-Notes Torpedo Live
The Kemper software is updated more regularly than the Two-Notes Torpedo live software. With each Kemper update usually, there’s bug fixes as well as additional features added. I have had ZERO issues with either unit so for me, this isn’t a big deal.
Which is Better for Headphone Users
As expected the Kemper wins this again too. While the Two-Notes Torpedo sounds amazing into a sound card if you want direct headphone use the Kemper is the best tool for the job. While both units have headphone outputs the Two-Notes doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the Kemper while using headphones. For some reason, the Two-Notes has a bit of a harsh sound with the headphone output.
Which is better for Stereo Recordings
If stereo recordings are important for you then the Kemper wins this as well. You have 2 XLR outputs on the back making a stereo echo or stereo effect sound a lot more legitimate. The Two-Notes is a mono device so getting the stereo delay, for example, is something you will need to do in post-production with a VST plugin.
Ease of Use between the Two-Notes and Kemper
Both the Two-Notes and Kemper are very easy to “set and forget” once you have a sound you like. The Kemper might give some users “option paralysis” if you like to tinker with things. While the Two-Notes has fewer options I find myself hardly ever fiddling with it to test new things. I love the sound I get from the Two-Notes so I leave it as it.
Alternatives to the Kemper and Two-Notes Torpedo
If you aren’t sure about either of them your next best option would be software like Bias or TH3. There’s a lot of musicians getting excellent results from software-based amplifier rigs. The most reliable and re-creatable tones come from hardware and not software. Software always works differently depending on your hardware specifications. Sometimes it will work great and on older computers, it might not work properly at all. The other cheaper options for direct recordings would also be the Hotone Ampero and the Mooer GE-200.
Which is the best value?
In terms of how much you can justify spending on any piece of studio equipment is a totally subjective thing. For the price, the Two-Notes is a great unit as is the Kemper. The Kemper is about twice the price of the Two-Notes but it’s justified because it can do so much more. If you only own a few amplifiers go for the Two-Notes Torpedo Live. If you are tracking a lot of guitar amplifiers then go for the Kemper. Before you buy the Two-Notes check out their IR library and make sure you can find a speaker IR you love. For me, I use the 2×12 Swamp Thang speaker box called the Bayou. I got this from the Two-Notes torpedo website for around $10.
Please also note, if you plan on using the Kemper in a live situation and want to buy the official Kemper footswitch it will cost a small fortune as well. I really see both of these as studio tools more than live tools. Sure, you can use them live as many people do but this is more focused on how they work and compare in a home studio setup.
I hope this comparison and overview has been helpful. It was written after 12 months with the Kemper Profiling Amplifier and after 4 years using the Two-Notes Torpedo Live.