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Helix FAQ

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What kind of modeling engine is Helix running?
Helix utilizes an all new advanced dual-DSP processor architecture we call the HX Modeling Engine. Although a few popular HD effects models have been meticulously converted (and enhanced with more control and nuance), the vast majority have been modeled in Helix from the ground up. Aside from our high-gain favorites Elektrik, Doom, and Epic, which have been rebuilt using the new architecture, all amps and cabs have been created from scratch in HX.

Can I load third-party or my own custom IRs (Impulse Responses)?
Yes. IRs are loaded into Helix via the Helix Mac/PC software. They will then be available from special IR blocks that can be placed anywhere on your signal paths. Helix can store up to 128 1024 or 2048-point IRs, and a preset can run up to four IRs simultaneously (DSP permitting).

Fourteen LCDs... Really?
Yes, really. All that feedback makes a huge difference in the heat of the gig, especially when you custom label and/or custom color your switches. It also means we have more feature design flexibility in the future, because functionality isn't restricted by chassis silkscreen.

Where are the tonestack knobs?
Under the big LCD. Since Helix can run up to four amps simultaneously (DSP permitting), pressing the AMP button quickly cycles through the tonestacks of any Amp+Cab, Amp, and Preamp blocks in a tone.

Where's the Looper switch?
The Looper block is treated like any other effect—It can be placed anywhere on any of the four paths, or even routed to its own output. You can assign it to a footswitch or ignore it completely.

Where are the FX Loops?
Helix has four sends and returns that can be used separately, used together as an FX loop, or stereo linked. They can also act as additional inputs and outputs for processing keyboards, drum machines, or even other modelers—simultaneously.

Can I reamp?
Yes. You can reamp two instruments simultaneously. You can even choose which two physical inputs will be sent dry to your DAW.

This all sounds pretty deep. Is Helix easy to use?
STUPIDLY so. Nearly all day-to-day tonesculpting—from Variax string tuning to deep amp parameters to output routing and everything in between—is accomplished from one unified home screen. Just touch the desired footswitch (they're capacitve touch) and turn the knobs. There—that's 90% of your tweaking. Read the included Helix Cheat Sheet and you'll be a power user before you open the box.

More advanced features such as footswitch and controller assignment have shortcuts to get you the results you want at nearly the speed of thought. For example, you can assign your Variax's tone knob to control delay feedback in roughly three seconds. Want Expression Pedal 3 to control looper playback level? Three seconds. The mod wheel on your MIDI keyboard to control rotary speaker speed? Three seconds. In most ways, it's actually faster to tweak from the hardware than it is the editor.

Helix also has this cool Pedal Edit mode, which lets you adjust all of your amp and effects parameters without taking your hands off the guitar.

How's the build quality?
Helix's top panel is extruded from a solid block of aluminum and its side panels and treadle are solid aluminum as well. There's no metal protection bar because our lead tester kicked the crap out of the metal knobs and they worked flawlessly. (I'm trying to convince Line 6 to upload the video.)

What's the difference between Helix and Helix Rack?
Along with the Helix Control remote, Helix Rack's workflow and feature set is virtually identical to that of Helix. Plus you get duplicate expression pedal jacks, a 1/4" analog bypass (buffered) output, AES/EBU in, and Wordclock in with terminator switch. Presets can be freely shared across both units with no file conversion required.

Why is Helix Rack 3 spaces? Couldn't you have crammed it into 2 spaces?
No, but we tried. The color screen is far too large and there are too many ins and outs to fit into 2RU.

What are the secret bootup shortcuts?

Hold FS5 and FS12 while powering Helix: Clears EVERYTHING

Hold FS5 and FS6 while powering Helix: Restores backdoor and user-selectable Global parameters to factory

Hold FS7 and FS8 while powering Helix: Restores presets and setlists to factory

Hold FS8 and FS9 while powering Helix: Restores presets, setlists, and IRs to factory

Hold FS9 and FS10 while powering Helix: Restores presets, setlists, IRs, and both backdoor and user-selectable Global parameters to factory

Hold FS10 and FS11 while powering Helix: Upgrades existing presets to latest format

Hold FS11 and FS12 while powering Helix: In the unlikely situation where Helix may freeze, clears only the current preset without affecting other setlists and presets

Hold FS6 and FS12 while powering Helix: In the unlikely situation where Helix may not boot, enters "Safe Mode," allowing for installing the newest firmware

Dimensions? Weight?
Helix—22.05 x 11.85 x 3.6 inches; 14.6 lbs.
Helix Rack—19 x 5.25 x 9.5 inches; 9.3 lbs.
Helix Control—17.2 x 9.4 x 2.5 inches; 7.2 lbs.

So how much is it?
Helix is $1499. Helix Rack is $1399. Helix Control is $399.

When is Helix available?
Now.

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On the Expression pedals, will the Mission Engineer pedals for L6 work with it? Or will it use new ones?

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Question: How deep would be implemented MIDI command for control external devices? It will be close to solution like Ground Control Pro? I.e.: 

under one switch it send for example messages for 5 devices on different channels and for every device it send 1-10 CC#, PC.

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Another MIDI question. Can the device be controlled by a DAW, USB-to-MIDI?

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Did you change the way the expression pedal switches between exp1 and exp2? I was always uncomfortable with the amount of force necessary to switch between the two.

 

Does the front panel operate in a "live" mode (display patch info versus signal chain or whatever)?

 

Do the effect tails remain across patch changes?

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On the Expression pedals, will the Mission Engineer pedals for L6 work with it? Or will it use new ones?

 

Yes, Mission's Line 6 pedals will work.

Question: How deep would be implemented MIDI command for control external devices? It will be close to solution like Ground Control Pro? I.e.: 

under one switch it send for example messages for 5 devices on different channels and for every device it send 1-10 CC#, PC.

 

 

It's only one message per switch (or two values, for CC Toggle and CV/Expression Toggle messages), but you also get up to six buffered commands that are instantly spit out when recalling the preset, even if they're not assigned to a switch.

Another MIDI question. Can the device be controlled by a DAW, USB-to-MIDI?

 

 

Yes, Helix sends and receives MIDI over USB. We have a setlist of template presets that include DAW remote capability.

Did you change the way the expression pedal switches between exp1 and exp2? I was always uncomfortable with the amount of force necessary to switch between the two.

 

Does the front panel operate in a "live" mode (display patch info versus signal chain or whatever)?

 

Do the effect tails remain across patch changes?

 

 

If you don't use external expression pedals, EXP 1 and EXP 2 switch in a similar manner, but you can do crazy routing things in the signal flow that can preclude this.

 

90% of your day-to-day editing is accomplished from the Home screen. The notion of multiple edit pages was actively avoided.

 

Helix won't have preset spillover at launch. We have some cool ideas on how this might be implemented in the future, but we can't promise anything. The good news is that Helix's routing is incredibly flexible, so you can do all sorts of inter-preset switching that can emulate spillover.

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It's only one message per switch (or two values, for CC Toggle and CV/Expression Toggle messages), but you also get up to six buffered commands that are instantly spit out when recalling the preset, even if they're not assigned to a switch.

 

 

Six commands like CC, PC? or SysEx :) on different channels? 

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With the multiple in/outs, could I actually process more than one guitar?  ie.  Plug my Variax in and go out to an amp, and to the mains mixer, and a second guitar plugged in go to the mixer as well, or another powered speaker/amp?

 

How about a bass guitar too?

 

If this could be the board for the "whole bass/guitar band" that would be amazing. 

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Six commands like CC, PC? or SysEx :) on different channels? 

 

The six instant commands can be CC, Bank/Prog (MSB, LSB, PC), MMC, External Amp 1/2/1&2, or CV. MIDI commands can follow the Base Channel or be set to their own channel.

 

No creation of big custom SysEx strings, but if it's something you'd like to see, IdeaScale that sucka!

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Sorry I wasn't being clear...

 

Looking at the image for the front panel (home screen)...how would I know what patches are available if I bank up for example? Are the scribble strips used to show patch names or whatever? I am probably thinking in terms of the HD500...I am just trying to understand  how I would know what patches are available and where in a live setting.

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With the multiple in/outs, could I actually process more than one guitar?  ie.  Plug my Variax in and go out to an amp, and to the mains mixer, and a second guitar plugged in go to the mixer as well, or another powered speaker/amp?

 

How about a bass guitar too?

 

If this could be the board for the "whole bass/guitar band" that would be amazing. 

 

Yes.

 

Yes.

 

Yes, but don't expect to run tons of processing blocks for every band member.

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Sorry I wasn't being clear...

 

Looking at the image for the front panel (home screen)...how would I know what patches are available if I bank up for example? Are the scribble strips used to show patch names or whatever? I am probably thinking in terms of the HD500...I am just trying to understand  how I would know what patches are available and where in a live setting.

 

Oh, you mean the footswitches?

 

By default, there are two footswitch modes—Preset and Stomp. You toggle them with the MODE switch. In Preset mode, you get eight presets, in Stomp mode, you get eight stomps.

 

You can also customize how the switches appear. In Preset mode, you can choose to view four stomps on the top row (like HD500X) or the bottom row, and in Stomp mode, you can swap out Bank Up/Down for two more stomp switches. You can also repurpose Bank Up/Down as Preset Up/Down.

 

If you press Bank Up or Down, you'll queue the next eight presets (they'll flash). Then hit the desired preset switch.

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Okay, again on the expression pedal thing.  

 

I hated that i had to push one thing up all the way to switch to exp 2.  For instance, if i had volume on 1 and wah on 2, the only way for me to click over to the wah was the turn the volume all the way up.  Truly stupid.  Is there a way to switch between exp 1 and 2 without using the toe switch now?

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how does it handle output modes or does it even use them? Can I send Studio Direct to the board and Comb/Stack to my amp at the same time?

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Will the rack-mount unit have support for the current FBV controllers?

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No.

 

Will the rack-mount unit have support for the current FBV controllers?

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Okay, again on the expression pedal thing.  

 

I hated that i had to push one thing up all the way to switch to exp 2.  For instance, if i had volume on 1 and wah on 2, the only way for me to click over to the wah was the turn the volume all the way up.  Truly stupid.  Is there a way to switch between exp 1 and 2 without using the toe switch now?

 

Just like in HD500X, assign volume and wah to a different footswitch—or use an external expression pedal for volume. Ignore the toe switch altogether if you'd like.

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Will the rack-mount unit have support for the current FBV controllers?

 

You wouldn't want to use an FBV anyway. The whole so-simple-you-already-know-how-to-use-it UX is intrinsically tied into the touch-sensitive footswitches, RGB switch LEDs, and scribble strip displays. Supporting FBV would radically alter how Helix Rack is laid out, and seriously slow down the process of creating tones.

 

Helix Rack with Helix Control behaves exactly like Helix floor. That was a very top-level goal in its design.

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Can the Helix Control unit be used as a MIDI controller (MIDI in/out ports) without the corresponding rackmount Helix? 

 

Will The Helix Control be backwards compatible with existing POD HDs?

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Yes.

 

Yes.

 

Yes, but don't expect to run tons of processing blocks for every band member.

Wow.  That really improves the value proposition for this even more.  

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how does it handle output modes or does it even use them? Can I send Studio Direct to the board and Comb/Stack to my amp at the same time?

 

Helix has no output modes, by design. Instead, if offers way more flexibility and lets you route whatever you want pretty much anywhere.

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Can the Helix Control unit be used as a MIDI controller (MIDI in/out ports) without the corresponding rackmount Helix? 

 

Will The Helix Control be backwards compatible with existing POD HDs?

 

Helix Control has no MIDI jacks. Its USB port is designated "for potential future use (TBD)."

 

Currently, it only works with Helix Rack, but later—who knows?

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Looks fantastic!!! I see it's got Variax input and Line6 Link output; both good signs. 8 in / 8 out audio interface with reamping? Crazy cool. Four effects loops! Yowzer.. Well, I guess I better get that Reverb.com store page up and get some old stuff sold off to fund the coin for this thing! :)

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Also, just curious, what DSPs are you implementing for the HELIX series (Analog Devices SHARC? TigerSHARC?, Freescale Symphony? Etc.)

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Just wanted to say WOW!!! and double WOW, this is the agresive new modeling product i was dreaming about from line 6 for some years now, well done Line6!!!! You once again have set the bar high for future products to come.

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No.

no wireless connections at all... just USB for mac/PC

but it does have an amazingly nice large screen and can be edited from the footswitch without lifting a finger!

 

Does it have Bluetooth for control by mobile apps?

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Does it have Bluetooth for control by mobile apps?

 

No. Originally, we wanted it to, but Helix's 1,024 presets would take forever to sync over current Bluetooth solutions.

 

EDIT: Sorry, Dennis! You keep beating me to the punch. As you can expect, it's pretty busy at the Line 6 offices today.

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Helix is running two of the fastest non-TigerSHARC SHARCs you can buy—the 450 MHz ADSP-21469s—with dual MCUs (one for audio duties and another dedicated to nothing but UI). If I've read between the lines correctly, they're the exact same DSPs that'll be in Fractal's AX8, but I'm just making an educated guess here.

 

But also note that we have 20 years of experience. Squeezing the most out of existing resources to make everything sound and feel as authentic as possible requires a ton of know-how and finesse. It's still ALL about the code.

Thanks for the info!

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This is THE most beautiful guitar processor I've ever seen! It looks absolutely perfect. I had a TC G-System, but it was useless as far as external control's concerned - from what I've red so far, Helix far exceeds the G-System's capabilities.

 

You wouldn't want to use an FBV anyway. The whole so-simple-you-already-know-how-to-use-it UX is intrinsically tied into the touch-sensitive footswitches, RGB switch LEDs, and scribble strip displays. Supporting FBV would radically alter how Helix Rack is laid out, and seriously slow down the process of creating tones.

 

Helix Rack with Helix Control behaves exactly like Helix floor. That was a very top-level goal in its design.

I think the rack/pedal combo would be my preferred option, but from the start, I'm most interested in the controller. If it could be made to control MIDI over USB like the FBV MkII, I reckon you'd sell tons! It's like a really sleek version of Livid's Liquid Foot. I'll see if Ideascale lets me add that as a suggestion ;-)

 

Is the rack version 3U or 4U? Can't quite tell from the pics.

 

Plenty time to save my pennies ;-) Looks like I picked the perfect time to sell my HD Pro X!

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3u

 

pretty sure most of that was the screen size...

but lots of inputs and outputs to make room for...

 

This is THE most beautiful guitar processor I've ever seen! It looks absolutely perfect. I had a TC G-System, but it was useless as far as external control's concerned - from what I've red so far, Helix far exceeds the G-System's capabilities.


I think the rack/pedal combo would be my preferred option, but from the start, I'm most interested in the controller. If it could be made to control MIDI over USB like the FBV MkII, I reckon you'd sell tons! It's like a really sleek version of Livid's Liquid Foot. I'll see if Ideascale lets me add that as a suggestion ;-)

Is the rack version 3U or 4U? Can't quite tell from the pics.

Plenty time to save my pennies ;-) Looks like I picked the perfect time to sell my HD Pro X!

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But also note that we have 20 years of experience. Squeezing the most out of existing resources to make everything sound and feel as authentic as possible requires a ton of know-how and finesse. It's still ALL about the code.

 

Don't forget all that experience delivering solid hardware! The hardware on this looks top notch. Can't wait to see/hear it in person.

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This is revolutionary!! :) Congratulations line 6. This reinforces my early impressions of line 6 delivering extremely smart products that lead and push the industry forward. "Brilliantly simple, simply brilliant "  this phrase should be used to accompany this product literature. 

Igloo, your presence here is very crucial in keeping customers feeling connected (at least to me). Is there a list of the amp models that you can divulge?

 

With respect,

 

Dean

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Will the line 6 link control a DT amp like a HDPOD500x?

From another thread, @Digital_Igloo responded:

 

It's important to note that Helix does not behave like HD500X when it comes to L6 LINK communication. It acts much more like HD500X and StageSource; that is, one DT will receive a mono signal and two will split the signal hard left and right. There's no tapping off from various points in the signal, although Helix's flexible routing makes this very easy to accomplish this manually. Unfortunately, at launch, there will also be no automatic topology recall, although if you're willing to hook up a MIDI cable as well, some of this can be accomplished via the Command Center page's Instant commands.

 

Helix's engine is completely different from HD500X's, and much of the functionality of the current DT Dream Rig simply can't apply to the new routing architecture. We're still not sure how deep down the L6 LINK rabbit hole we want to go, so anything's possible.

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Is there a list of the amp models that you can divulge?

 

It's difficult, given that listing the original amps we modeled requires a lot of copyright fine print. Working on it.

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With my HD500, the volume of different patches/effects was often WILDLY different, and I know I wasn't the only one that had this issue.  (And my band mates gave me hell for it)

 

Is there anything in the Helix setup to try to address that?

 

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With my HD500, the volume of different patches/effects was often WILDLY different, and I know I wasn't the only one that had this issue. (And my band mates gave me hell for it)

 

Is there anything in the Helix setup to try to address that?

Well, if you're talking about some sort of normalization for the volumes across patches, no. But every effect, amp, and can block has a level parameter. So there are literally probably more than a dozen ways to tweak the volume of a preset when you're in it. It's very intuitive to use and set up that tweaking volumes is a breeze.

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