Hello Helix users!
First time post for me. I wanted to give some feedback on amp models I have encountered. Maybe some of you can relate!
For reference, here's my current setup:
ESP Eclipse (EMG 81/60)
Signal chain: Guitar --- ISP Decimator ProRack G (pre) --- Helix --- ISP Decimator ProRack G (post) --- Mesa Boogie Stereo 2:50 Power amp --- 4x12 Stereo Cab (Celestion V30s)
For my setup here, I am primarily using the preamp models, so the majority of my feedback here is surrounding them, though I feel the full amp models are reflected in a very similar way.
Topic 1: The Cali IV Lead Gain/Drive - I'll preface this by saying I am a current Mark V owner, and have played various other Mesa Boogie Mark Series amplifiers. The gain saturation I am able to achieve from the real amplifiers is far more than the model is capable of. Seeking that Hetfield chug tone, I should conceivably be able to go straight from the guitar into a Mark IV and have all the gain necessary to get that tone, without having to put an overdrive in front of it (especially with active pickups). Overdrives, even with the tone control all the way down make the sound just a bit more tinny and thin. I have a good work-around right now, putting the Minotaur pedal in front with very low gain/tone, and turning the Lead Gain and Drive all the way up in the preamp model. Also, I've EQ-ed the crap out of it. To get that sharp bite I'm looking for, for boogies it's common that you must turn the bass control down, and adjust accordingly in the post EQ, which I've done. However, the Cali IV Lead model (in my humble opinion) should have loads more gain available to it that would be on par with say the "Line 6 Electrik" model. I'll finish this by saying that despite this one criticism, the Cali IV model sounds and acts SPOT ON to a Mark IV. Really impressed with it overall. And for anyone wanting to achieve that signature Boogie Hetfield tone (I would say the best representation of what I'm talking about is the song "Breadfan"), here's basically how I did it:
Minotaur Pedal - Gain 1, Tone, 1, Level 6
Cali IV Lead - Lead Gain 10, Lead Drive 10, Bass 0, Mid 5, Treble 8, Master 3, Five Band EQ is all flat, except for 750hz at -8.0, and 2200hz at +2.0
Parametric EQ - 80hz +12.0, 240hz -5.0, 795hz -8.0
Everyone knows that taking out 750-800hz will get that scooped sound, but adding on that, if you dial down the 240hz range, it sculps the deeper bass to emerge ever more prominently, resulting in a very thunderous thump for all of your galloping desires. Also, the overall tone is still maintained very full, as only very specific frequency ranges are tweaked. Just my experience.
Topic 2: All High Gain Models Are Muddy - After playing around with most of the high gain models, I've come to realize that I'm really only satisfied with the Cali IV (as mentioned above), and the Line 6 Electrik models. Reason being, on all of the other ones, to include the Rectifier, JCM800, 5150, and Soldano Lead, the higher the gain is turned up, the more muddy the bottom end turns into. Now, I own a Dual Rec, and have played on a JCM800 and 5150, and know that the bottom end of those amps is as sharp as a knife. I am aware as well that the Master control in these amp models has a direct effect on the tone of the amps. However, no matter where I have it set on any of them, it turns to muck when the gain goes up. I have also experimented with using amp blocks instead of preamp blocks and found there is little difference in regards to this specific issue. Granted, with the setup I have described above, it makes sense to use the preamp models, but at low/night time volume levels, the amp blocks sound good through my poweramp and cab as well.
I really look forward to any comments the community would like to share about my topics, as well as any feedback the Line 6 staff/techs may feel compelled to share.