Early in 2016 I bought a pair of Yamaha DBR10 powered speakers to monitor my Kemper Profiler. I bought my it in the summer of 2013 and for the first 2 years I used it exclusively in my home studio. Then with the advent of my band Banda de la Casa it made a real sense to use the Profiler live. I wanted to have my amazing Kemper effects, honed to perfection in the studio, available live. I also wanted to be able to drastically change the sound of my guitar mid-song. From clean, mellow, dynamic tone I use most of the time, via the rich, smooth distortion to crystal clean, compressed rhythm. My Kemper was the answer. But how do I amplify my Kemper Profiler?
I play small venues, often with dodgy PA systems, so I wanted to be in control of my sound. I wanted my rig to be as light as possible, easily transportable and easy to set up. A pair of powered speakers was the answer. I read loads of online reviews and honed it down to Yamaha DXR or DBR – I wanted quality for a reasonable price. Yamaha kit is very popular in New Zealand, so I was able to test it easily. I simply couldn’t afford the DXRs, so the final choice was between DBR10s and DBR12s. I made a nuisance of myself at The Shearer’s Music Works by playing loudly through the 10s and 12s and finally settled on the 10s. Reasons: I liked the slightly tighter bottom end of the DBR10s, I loved their compact size and most importantly, I could actually afford them!
So now after several small and big venue gigs, here are some observations on Kemper Profiler/Yamaha DBR10 combination:
- Generally, this setup works for me very well. However, it took a little while to get used to the sound of closely miked virtual amp coming out of the full range speakers. I mean the actual Kemper profile out of the Yamaha DBR10s. Initially it felt somewhat overproduced – I don’t know how to explain it better.
- The DBR10s are rated at 325 W continuous power each, that is 650 W together. As expected, my Two-Rock Studio Pro 35 is, rated at… 35 W is significantly louder than 650 W. Go figure…
- On bigger gigs, I place the speakers facing me, like the normal wedge monitors. Then I let the engineer have the XLR line-outs to deal with the front of house sound. I get the most delicious sound this way: I can hear myself perfectly and never deafen anyone.
- On smaller gigs, I keep one speaker close to me and the other somewhere where the rest of the band can hear it properly. That way there is plenty of control and no one gets deafened.
Caveat: I only use the Kemer/Yamaha setup on quieter jazzy gigs. I am yet to use it in a rock/blues context, I am afraid that they won’t be loud and punchy enough. I will try it one day soon and will do a report.
[Added 9/12/2016] I posted this article on FB Kemper Profiling Amp / KPA User Group and got an amazingly useful response from Doug Clark. In fact so useful that I thought I’ll post it here – THANKS DOUG!:
First off, wattage DOES NOT equal volume. Clean amps and those intended for sound reproduction aim for very low THD numbers. A standard guitar amp can get 5% or 10% THD and sound great – and it’s actually a desired effect. THD through clean amps (such as the Class D amp in the powered Kemper, the Matrix GT1000, or near about every PA speaker) needs to be closer to 0.1%. So while a 50w tube guitar amp can be pushed to a full 50w, a solid state equivalent may max out at 25w, requiring that extra 25w of power for headroom and clarity. Those numbers are just examples and don’t represent actual amps, but the concept stands regardless.
That said, my guess for the loudness issue is that you’re using the main outs.
If you’re sending the mains to the house, you’ve probably got the output set at a hard, locked -20dB to -30dB. Any hotter and the sound engineer is probably cursing you – maybe even to your face. Or, worst case scenario – they’re just throwing on a gain reduction and a compression plugin to their digital board and absolutely destroying your tone. Mixers, especially digital ones, have a hard time with louder levels, and finding pads on some of them is almost impossible (I still can’t get over the fact my Focusrite 18i20 interface only has pads on two of the eight input channels). That’s not the case with powered speakers – they can take a lot of input volume and still be fine. You don’t want to ever be too hot, but you can certainly be hotter than the -20 or -30 from the main outs.
What I’d recommend is using the monitor out and the direct out. You can set one to be left, and the other to be right, or set them each to mono. This way, you can block the main out volume from being adjusted with the master volume, and tie the master volume control to both the monitor and direct outs. That means you’ll not have to reach behind the speakers to bump the volume unless they’re significantly lower, and you’ll get a much hotter signal going to your speakers.
If you’re using mono all the time (which, likely you are because it just doesn’t make a lot of sense in a live situation, but I’m sure you definitely are in the smaller venue setting – one pointed at you, with the other pointed at the band), you can simply chain the two speakers, and only use the monitor out. While it’s just basically relocating a cable, it is one less cable you have to run from the back of the Kemper, which can make for a cleaner stage. You can continue to use the volume control on the front of the amp from the setup I described above and just use the monitor out – it’ll adjust the direct out as well, but that doesn’t matter.
However Doug didn’t stop here, he came up with this as well:
Mono simply doesn’t get translated well to venues. Most will simply mix you to mono anyway, unless you have your own engineer. But, even so, you have to really be in a sweet spot in the audience to really hear the stereo field.
That said, running out of the other outs gives you the options to have luscious stereo on stage, and send mono to the house. You can pick and choose what you want.
Also, it gives you the flexibility to EQ your main outs to the house. Say the house has very treble-heavy speakers. I played one venue where my normally warmer guitar tone sounded like I was playing through a DS-1. I was using a setup similar to yours at the time, except using a power amp through the other outs (as I don’t have a powered Kemper). I couldn’t make any changes, and the house engineer was worthless, so I’m sure I cut people’s heads off during the set.
Now you can set your monitor/direct EQ how you like, and start with a flat main out EQ, and adjust as desired/needed for the venue.