The last amp I'll ever need
Bought the Kemper from Sweetwater in February. Best purchase I ever made for guitar. I've owned many modeling devices over the years, including the best alternative to date, the Pod HD500. I liked the Pod, but this thing is miles beyond it, no comparison. I've always needed the ability to get good amp tone at low volumes, as I'm primarily a church musician these days. Prior to this advice, every digital modeler I used always left something to be desired. Not with the Kemper. I've never had tone this good before, even compared to having owned many tube amps and boutique pedal. The thing is, this machine totally captures EVERY nuance of the profiled amp, so you can have the tone that someone spent tweaking for hours with the best mics, preamps, ect. forever, except now useable at any volume. Better yet, once captured you can do things to it with the innovative controls that are impossible with a real amp. For example, a good amp cleans up as you pick softer and back your guitar's volume off. If you back your guitar's volume too much, you'll lose too much volume to make it practical. However, with the built in compressor WITHIN the amp section, you can make it so that as you back off your guitar's volume, the amp still cleans up, but you don't lose as much volume. Since it's a knob, you can compensate just a little bit or a lot. This allows even a single profile to be more versatile than any real amp could be. There are so many other musical ways that your basic tone can be tweaked, they aren't gimmicks they are real professional tools. The built in effects are also very musical and hold there own against the best. (I previously owned a TC electronic G system prior to this and the Kemper's effects are in that quality range- and I loved my G system)
It's not the staggering number of sounds available, with thousands of free shared profiles on the Kemper web or the parameters that you can adjust. It's the musical, dimensional vibe that you can only get through a tube amp. Digital technology has finally caught up with the tube amp. Pair this with a quality powered PA speaker like the Yamaha dxr10 or QSCk10 and you'll never miss playing through a real amp again. Best yet, capture your best sound and have the ability to use it at more reasonable volumes.
If that's not enough, you can actually turn off the Cab modeling and run this thing through a real guitar cab. All you need is something to power your guitar cab with, any regular guitar amp with an effects loop will do this just fine, just plug the Kemper into the effects return jack. Actually it works the best through a solid state amp! If that's not enough, with several outputs, you can send a signal to the house with the cab modeling on, while sending a signal with the cab turned off in another output for your traditional guitar cab.
Best yet, this thing continues to get firmware upgrades. Recently, they added all sorts of pitch effects, and there are other things in the works, such as an integrated looper within the upcoming dedicated foot controller. For now, any standard midi board works fine. You can even use your old Pod or other multieffects device to control this thing, as they can send midi.
The ONLY negative. If you plug it in to garbage it might not sound that good. This isn't a flaw, as if you record something with your real amp amp play it back through $5 earbuds purchased at 711, it's not going to sound pretty. So plan on investing in a quality powered PA speaker (the best option) or use your favorite guitar cab powered by something. (or buy the powered version of the Kemper. Using a PA speaker is the most authentic option, as a Twin Reverb profile will sound different with the original open back 2x12 cab turned off and played through your Marshall 1960, for example.
Other likes: Amazing noise gate, no noise cutting in and out. I've forgotten what noise is. Amazing support community and documentation. Light and portable. No sacrifice recording direct. Best sound you could possibly get for your recordings, better than anything you're going to mic up yourself. But if you do, you can capture every nuance of that sound and dial it up the next day of tracking (after you've moved your mics and tore down for the day) or years later. Except now you have that sound direct!