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drew_fx

I used the Helix today!

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Went down to the Yamaha store here in London today to checkout the Helix. Met the fabulous Paul Hindmarsh and had a bit of a walk-through of the unit. I managed to have a play for about 10 minutes myself also. I posted my thoughts elsewhere so excuse the copy pasta:

 

There is a limit to how much you can explore at something like this, small crowd of people that me and Hug scared off, limited time to dig down into menus and such things. But...

- I was impressed with the variety of midi/switching options.
- It isn't really possible to emulate a "scenes" mode right now. You need to workaround it - lots of ways to do that.
- High gain amps all sounded pretty decent, particularly the Soldano channels.
- I was impressed at how different the distortion stomps all sounded from one another. The RAT did indeed sound like a RAT.
- When assigning switches to the bypass of effects, it's toggle behaviour only. IE: You can't specify a min and max value for the switches. You cannot currently say "make this switch *always* bypass effect regardless of it's current state" - which is a bit of a bummer. Something I was hoping for.

- Obviously you can still assign a min and max for actual effect parameters.

We had the volume fairly low, so I can't talk about the feel too much. But I wouldn't say the tones or the feel were in anyway inferior to the Axe FX II and the Kemper. In fact I think we've just reached the point where it's all about "flavour" rather than superiority. You'd be hard pressed to pick a "better sounding" unit between the three of them. I truly believe that, and having owned the Kemper and Axe FX II, I don't feel I am talking out of my arse. Whereas the Pod HD was probably 80% of the way there to matching the Axe and Kemper... the Helix is definitely an equal for raw amp quality.

I can say it didn't feel like standing next to an amp. Obviously. If you're expecting that, then you're a loon and you probably need to be put down. No, it felt like a mic'd up amp in a live room and with us monitoring from the control room. And it felt good. The built in cabs. I only went through the 4x12s quickly, but they were head and shoulders above anything inside of the Pod HD unit.

The delays and reverbs all sounded very nice, though I didn't explore them as much as I would've liked.

All in all, I think the hype is justified. I'm now in the position of having to figure out if I should get one. My gut says YEEESSSS definitely!! My head is going through all the possible ramifications of my band ending, and if it does how that will impact my real world needs. I guess at that point, the Helix comes into it's own as a studio recording tool. But right now I'm really looking at it as a pedalboard replacement unit.

If you've got any questions throw 'em at me and I'll try to answer them.

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Did you get to use the expression pedal, and if you did, how does it feel? If you've tried HD's pedal how does it compare?

 

Maybe an odd question, but did you happen to notice how warm Helix gets?

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Sorry, we mostly remained in one patch as all my questions were related to routing and assigning footswitches. I don't know what the latency was like.

 

The thing sat on a desk, so I didn't have much chance to use the expression pedal. But it looked solid!

 

It didn't feel warm at all.

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Btw... I would kinda say that people are getting hyped about the IR features... I don't think you're really going to need it. The built in cabs sounded great.

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Btw... I would kinda say that people are getting hyped about the IR features... I don't think you're really going to need it. The built in cabs sounded great.

That is good to know, but the IR features are just added awesomeness. 

I will be using this Helix Rack, with my Eleven Rack, for all sorts of great sounding amp models.  It can also in a way give my 11r custom IRs. 

I am really looking forward to Helix. 

 

I hope the majority of Effects in it are really high quality. I plan on using this thing to processess (ReAmp) all sorts of stuff from my DAW.

 

Question:  Was the navigation through its interface as intuitive, smooth, and fast as they claim, and show in the videos? This is something I hope for.  Even though I will be using basically exclusively in the studio, I don't want to use any virtual screen space to do stuff in the PC editor for the Helix, if the on-board Helix interface will do it just as well.

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the onboard interface will be exactly the same as the computer editor...

very few things would be easier on the computer (renaming presets for instance)

 

 I don't want to use any virtual screen space to do stuff in the PC editor for the Helix, if the on-board Helix interface will do it just as well.

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Thanks for your feedback on it.

Especially from someone not talking out their arse.

 

The IRs are a feature that allow you to make your very own no-one else has got patch.

I am keen to find out if cab IRs improve on what is there. If not you might be right about them not needed.

 

That the cabs are better than in the HD500 is very promising.

 

But, The IRs are a very real selling point especially if they can be as good quality wise and the advantage is flavor. 

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Were the reverbs better than the HD versions?  I know they are the same pretty much but was wondering if they did sound better.  You say that the high gain amps sounded pretty decent but do you feel that way about the Kemper and Axe FX II?  It's  great the hear that the cam sims were way better than the HD ones because the HD cabs are pretty bad.  It would be cool to have a modeler that doesn't need IRs to sound great.  Is it really worth getting one if you already own a Pod HD because unfortunately they both have the same exact amps.

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the onboard interface will be exactly the same as the computer editor...

very few things would be easier on the computer (renaming presets for instance)

For me the most valuable part of a computer editor is not having to bend down to make adjustments.  That's a huge pain.  I'm someone who is always tweaking too.

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For me the most valuable part of a computer editor is not having to bend down to make adjustments.  That's a huge pain.  I'm someone who is always tweaking too.

Any computer editor still requires you take your hands off the guitar. It's a huge distraction. That's why Helix has Pedal Edit mode. You can edit your tones without bending down, using a computer, or taking your hands off the guitar.

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Any computer editor still requires you take your hands off the guitar. It's a huge distraction. That's why Helix has Pedal Edit mode. You can edit your tones without bending down, using a computer, or taking your hands off the guitar.

Right I actually forgot about that although you can't do everything via the pedal edit mode though right?  could you scroll between amps and cabs via pedal edit mode?

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Right I actually forgot about that although you can't do everything via the pedal edit mode though right?  could you scroll between amps and cabs via pedal edit mode?

Not currently. If Pedal Edit mode ends up really resonating with people, we have solutions already mapped out.

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yeah that's too bad.  That's something I do all the time.  I'm always switching between amps and cabs and stuff and that's the biggest pain when it comes to editing on a floor unit.  Oh well, at least I can just use the computer edit.

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yeah that's too bad.  That's something I do all the time.  I'm always switching between amps and cabs and stuff and that's the biggest pain when it comes to editing on a floor unit.  Oh well, at least I can just use the computer edit.

Interestingly enough, you can select mics and IRs with your feet, because they're done with the six knobs below the screen. For this reason, you can also toggle between two mics or two IRs with a footswitch (or MIDI CC).

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- When assigning switches to effects, it's toggle behaviour only. IE: You can't specify a min and max value for the switches. You cannot currently say "make this switch *always* bypass effect regardless of it's current state" - which is a bit of a bummer. Something I was hoping for.

 

 

 

That sounds like a great idea to put up on Ideascale.

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Interestingly enough, you can select mics and IRs with your feet, because they're done with the six knobs below the screen. For this reason, you can also toggle between two mics or two IRs with a footswitch (or MIDI CC).

Cool to know!

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drew_fx  What guitar did you use with the Helix?

 

My Orville Les Paul Custom with Seymour Duncan Distortions in both the neck and the bridge.

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Were the reverbs better than the HD versions?  I know they are the same pretty much but was wondering if they did sound better.  You say that the high gain amps sounded pretty decent but do you feel that way about the Kemper and Axe FX II?  It's  great the hear that the cam sims were way better than the HD ones because the HD cabs are pretty bad.  It would be cool to have a modeler that doesn't need IRs to sound great.  Is it really worth getting one if you already own a Pod HD because unfortunately they both have the same exact amps.

 

Reverbs: Yes. Quite a bit better I'd say. The change from a regular tone knob to a low-cut and high-cut is welcome too.

High-gain: They sound as good as the Kemper and Axe FX II to me. I'd be happy to use any of them in a recording situation, but there is still that niggling part of me that can't drop the valve amps.

 

I'd say it's definitely worth upgrading.

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the onboard interface will be exactly the same as the computer editor...

very few things would be easier on the computer (renaming presets for instance)

Thats what I have read from Line 6. (and heard in all those videos)

That being said I was wanting to get the OP's impression on the UI, and ease of use with the on-board interface. That was my intention from my post.

 

Not calling Line 6 liars, but I am more of a person of skepticism, and wanting more information than just relying on marketing words, and input from staff, especially on stuff like this. A customer's first time impression is a valuable piece of information here, and just another to add to the pie. :)

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When assigning switches to effects, it's toggle behaviour only. IE: You can't specify a min and max value for the switches.

That's a drag, and really surprising. DI, can you confirm that this is true? I suppose there are workarounds, e.g. using two instances of a given effect in the same preset, set to different parameter values, then toggling one on and the other off, and vice-versa. But this approach often results in audible volume anomalies while switching.

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That's a drag, and really surprising. DI, can you confirm that this is true? I suppose there are workarounds, e.g. using two instances of a given effect in the same preset, set to different parameter values, then toggling one on and the other off, and vice-versa. But this approach often results in audible volume anomalies while switching.

 

You can assign controller functions to switches as well as assigning on/off functionality of certain blocks to them. So in that sense, you can have min/max capability. Say, for example, you wanted to create a solo boost. One way to do it rather than turning on a specific effect is to assign the mid control of the amp to a switch along with maybe the gain control of an overdrive. You could assign both of those to one switch and have an instant boost.

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You can assign controller functions to switches as well as assigning on/off functionality of certain blocks to them. So in that sense, you can have min/max capability. Say, for example, you wanted to create a solo boost. One way to do it rather than turning on a specific effect is to assign the mid control of the amp to a switch along with maybe the gain control of an overdrive. You could assign both of those to one switch and have an instant boost.

This is much better news. So am I missing something or is the post I quoted a moment ago essentially inaccurate? Will know for sure once I start digging in myself; anyway it sounds like there are ways of getting things done.

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This is much better news. So am I missing something or is the post I quoted a moment ago essentially inaccurate? Will know for sure once I start digging in myself; anyway it sounds like there are ways of getting things done.

 

Let me clarify - when you assign a switch to control the bypass of an effect, it's toggle only. Meaning you cannot enforce an effect to be bypassed by a switch. You can only toggle it.

 

So if your effect is on, and you hit the switch.. the effect will turn off even if you wanted it to remain on. If the effect is off and you hit the switch, the effect will turn on even if you wanted it to remain off.

 

This is something I wanted to be able to do, for the purposes of stacking up commands on a switch. So you'd have something like this:

 

Switch 1 - sends out a program change to a guitar amp to switch to the clean channel, and ensures that a boost is disabled.

Switch 2 - sends out a program change to a guitar amp to switch to the rhythm channel, and ensures that the boost is enabled.

Switch 3 - sends out a program change to a guitar amp to switch to the lead channel, and ensures that the boost is disabled.

Switch 4 - sends out a program change to a guitar amp to switch to the lead channel, and ensures that the boost is enabled.

 

Now lets imagine you pressed switch 2 and then switch 4... what you wanted was the lead channel with the boost enabled. What you will get is the lead channel with the boost disabled.

 

Make sense?

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Thanks a lot for the review and replies!

 

How was the Mesa cab compared to the Pod HD series?  It's almost unusable to me in the HD series even though it's one of my favorite cabs.

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Thanks a lot for the review and replies!

 

How was the Mesa cab compared to the Pod HD series?  It's almost unusable to me in the HD series even though it's one of my favorite cabs.

 

Way better dude. I know what you mean, on the HD series the cabs all sounded a bit... I dunno.. muffled and bass heavy, with very little definition. The Helix sounded very good to me, and palm mutes did not go all farty like they do on the HD.

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I've used the Helix. Not a line6 employee... not a marketing... anything...

i was expressly answering the part about the computer interface which is why i trimmed the quote.

 

was not addressing his first impression in any manner... that will speak for itself.

 

Thats what I have read from Line 6. (and heard in all those videos)

That being said I was wanting to get the OP's impression on the UI, and ease of use with the on-board interface. That was my intention from my post.

 

Not calling Line 6 liars, but I am more of a person of skepticism, and wanting more information than just relying on marketing words, and input from staff, especially on stuff like this. A customer's first time impression is a valuable piece of information here, and just another to add to the pie. :)

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I've used the Helix. Not a line6 employee... not a marketing... anything...

 

 

Yet Still no official answer to this basic question: 

 

 

How was the latency between switching patches?

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You can assign controller functions to switches as well as assigning on/off functionality of certain blocks to them. So in that sense, you can have min/max capability. Say, for example, you wanted to create a solo boost. One way to do it rather than turning on a specific effect is to assign the mid control of the amp to a switch along with maybe the gain control of an overdrive. You could assign both of those to one switch and have an instant boost.

 

How exactly does this work? I can't make sense of this. The phrase 'assigning on/off functionality of certain blocks' is rather cryptic.

 

So if assigning the mid and gain parameters from two models, amp and overdrive effect, to one switch, and then the switch is engaged, what happens to the values? Do they go from what they were set at when the patch was saved to absolute maximum, since the min and max can't be defined (like with the expression pedal)? And does the mode a switch is in make a difference?

 

I guess I really don't see the point of being able to assign a parameter to a switch without also being able to define the range of that parameter. It seems like an unfinished, half-implementation. I have to agree with mbegigni that this is indeed a drag if true.

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How exactly does this work? I can't make sense of this. The phrase 'assigning on/off functionality of certain blocks' is rather cryptic.

 

So if assigning the mid and gain parameters from two models, amp and overdrive effect, to one switch, and then the switch is engaged, what happens to the values? Do they go from what they were set at when the patch was saved to absolute maximum, since the min and max can't be defined (like with the expression pedal)? And does the mode a switch is in make a difference?

 

I guess I really don't see the point of being able to assign a parameter to a switch without also being able to define the range of that parameter. It seems like an unfinished, half-implementation. I have to agree with mbegigni that this is indeed a drag if true.

 

The min and max can be assigned. If you assign parameters to be controlled by a switch, the switch in essence acts like an expression pedal that simply lets you toggle between the min and max values. And up to 8 controllers can be assigned to a switch, so this becomes a pretty powerful tool in dynamically controlling things in a preset. Also, you can make switches be momentary rather than latching if you want to, so you can do some pretty cool "hold for effect" things.

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The min and max can be assigned. If you assign parameters to be controlled by a switch, the switch in essence acts like an expression pedal that simply lets you toggle between the min and max values. And up to 8 controllers can be assigned to a switch, so this becomes a pretty powerful tool in dynamically controlling things in a preset. Also, you can make switches be momentary rather than latching if you want to, so you can do some pretty cool "hold for effect" things.

 

Ok. Thanks. Awesome. That's how I first thought it worked until I started reading some in this thread. Whew!

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Thanks for the clarification, drew_fx. I'm now wondering whether on/off state is a parameter like any other for a given effect. If so, based on what phil_m writes above, it should be possible to get the behaviour you're looking for by setting both min and max to "on" or "off" as required.

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Thanks for the clarification, drew_fx. I'm now wondering whether on/off state is a parameter like any other for a given effect. If so, based on what phil_m writes above, it should be possible to get the behaviour you're looking for by setting both min and max to "on" or "off" as required.

 

On effects with a mix parameter that could work. But the bypass, or on/state of a block, is different than a parameter in the block.

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Not currently. If Pedal Edit mode ends up really resonating with people, we have solutions already mapped out.

Editing with my FEET! LOL! Next thing you know I will be shelling pistachios with my toes  ; )

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It's not finished.... there's no accurate answer to be had.

stated a few times... pretty definitive.

 

Yet Still no official answer to this basic question: 

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so easy to think it's a peculiar feature... with limited appeal...

but spoils you so quick...

and before you know... it's just awesome, amazing, and one of those things you just gotta try for yourself.

 

Editing with my FEET! LOL! Next thing you know I will be shelling pistachios with my toes  ; )

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so easy to think it's a peculiar feature... with limited appeal...

but spoils you so quick...

and before you know... it's just awesome, amazing, and one of those things you just gotta try for yourself.

 

Is it easy to zero in on a very specific value, or does it take a lot of concentration towards your muscle movements to move the expression pedal very delicately?

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Is it easy to zero in on a very specific value, or does it take a lot of concentration towards your muscle movements to move the expression pedal very delicately?

While in Pedal Edit mode, press FS10/FS11 for fine increments/decrements.

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