Field Test: Kemper Profiler Remote

If you’ve been reading this magazine for the past few years, you know that we are mightily impressed with the Kemper Profiling Amplifier.
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If you’ve been reading this magazine for the past few years, you know that we are mightily impressed with the Kemper Profiling Amplifier. If you haven’t, here’s a thumbnail sketch of what you’ve been missing. The original KPA came loaded with a bunch of great sounding amp models or “profiles.” What set it apart from every other piece of gear in history was its ability to profile any amp that you could stick a mic on—unreal! The only gripe that some people really had with the Profiler was the fact that you needed an amp or power amp to gig with it if you didn’t want to run direct. Kemper rectified that when they introduced the Kemper Power Head and Power Rack shortly thereafter, with a perfectly voiced (and loud-as-hell) 600-watt class-D power amp built in. Yay!

The only gripe some people then had was that there was no dedicated footcontroller for gigging with the Kemper. Sure, you could make do with any number of MIDI pedals or multi-effectors, but wouldn’t it be cool if there was a footcontroller that really understood the KPA and really maximized its obvious gifts? Well, now there is. The Profiler Remote ($599 retail) speaks Kemper more fluently than any controller out there and is the final link in what might just be the signal chain of the future.

The Remote is an incredibly rugged piece of gear that houses 14 durable switches, four expression pedal jacks (for controlling volume, wah, pitch, and other effects), a big LCD screen, and one Ethernet jack that gives the Remote life. Its colors and vibe echo those of the Profiler and the whole thing exudes quality and “do it right” longevity.

So, the Remote connects to the Profiler via a very sturdy Ethernet cable (included). I got fine results with a normal Ethernet cable, so go ahead and steal a long one from your company’s IT department for a backup. [Ed. note: Guitar Player does not condone stealing of any kind, other than blues licks, picks, and clever phrases to use in gear reviews.] This means a couple of things. First, this is not a “MIDI controller.” You can’t directly control anything other than the Kemper with the Remote. (Because the Profiler has a MIDI Out, however, you can still send messages to any piece of MIDI gear you choose.) More importantly, it means that you don’t need to run any other cables to the Remote if you don’t want to, because it gets power and two-way communication through the Ethernet cable. Cool.

Once you’re connected, you’ll want to start organizing “Performances.” These are basically like banks on other footcontrollers. You can select five different rigs on the Kemper for each Performance. Then, you can program buttons I-IIII (why not IV?) for effects that you can kick in and out on the fly. This makes for an amazingly flexible array of sounds at your feet. Here’s how I used it.

I have a killer AC30 profile. I put that in the first “slot” of a Performance. I chose a Treble Boost effect (see where I’m going here?) as one of the four effects on the Profiler, but I kept it turned off. Then, to store it to button I, all I had to do was step on button I on the Remote while I touched the button for the Boost on the Profile and pow! That Remote button now had a boost ready to go, all I had to do was hit it. I put a Diezel Herbert profile in the second slot for a slightly crunchy rhythm tone. I programmed a boost for button I (my “more” button), a VHstyle flange for button II, and a rotary sound for button III. All of these are off when I call up that patch, but can be activated at any time. I placed profiles of varying distortion and volume in the other slots, so I have a clean, crunch, lead, and freak-out tone available at all times. And that’s just one Performance.

The Remote also comes with dedicated Looper buttons to control the 30-second looper in the Profiler. I’ve never been a big looping guy (we miss you Barry Cleveland!), but I found Kemper’s to be intuitive, musical, and inspiring. After you select the Looper with its dedicated button, the other footswitches change duty to govern Start, Stop, Overdub, Erase, Reverse, and Halftime. Bonus!

Kemper’s tuner is always active and readable via the three LEDs at the upper right of the Remote. If you engage the Tuner button, you get a big clinometer-style readout on the LCD screen. Better still, if you have an expression pedal dedicated to volume, turning it all the way down automatically engages the tuner as well as (duh) muting your signal.

There are a few ways you could employ this cool footcontroller. If you didn’t need expression pedals, you could show up to the gig with a Kemper, a 1x12 cab, the Remote, the Remote’s cable, and an instrument cable and be set up in less than five minutes with no part of your rig weighing more than 15 pounds. I go with the above setup, plus a Boss EV-5 for volume and a tiny battery-powered Red Witch Violetta delay on the ground. That only takes about a minute longer to set up, gives me an additional 20' of cable, and an infinite repeat delay I can stomp on anytime. You could also work the Remote into a larger pedalboard, where you could have effects in front of the Kemper and in the loop, as well as multiple expression pedals. No matter how you use it, this is a powerful, well-thought-out controller. Kemper clearly does not release any product before its time, and the Remote is quite obviously ready for prime time.

Kudos Rugged construction. Powerful features. Easy to use.
Concerns Can’t be used without a Kemper Profiler.