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chuskey

Helix vs HD500X A/B

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Just picked up a helix this weekend and so far I'm loving it!  First order of business was to recreate my main patch that I've been using for years on my HD500X.  It's based on a Dr. Z model and I've been really happy tone wise.  Quite honestly it was the additional features, routing, options, etc that drew me to Helix.  I wasn't unhappy with my tone at all.  

 

So anyway I built the patch in Helix and thought it would be fun to A/B them.  Here's a link to it on Soundcloud.  Dr.Z amp and cab, some reverb, delay, and a couple of tube screamers.  I'll take a few guesses on which is which before I say what's what, just for fun :)

 

https://soundcloud.com/chuskey/helix-vs-hd500

 

Technical bits:  Used a Variax via the VDI.  Captured the dry signal via USB and reamped, so it's the same performance for both tracks.  

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Well....having owned both I'll have to say this was difficult for me. Maybe my ears are weak, but I just couldn't tell a huge difference. That being said I'll put myself out there and say I think A is the Helix and B is the HD500x. In the later clips I felt A was a slightly superior sound. Always nice to hear some Little Wing!

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I'm sure If you ask 100 musicians you will get no clear vote on "better" quality.

Your playing is so amazing that both tones work really fine.

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My HD 500 still sounds great. I have to use it from time to time. Not upsetting at all...

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Hard for me to tell honestly, partly because of the playing style but they are close. I am hearing some of what bart said with the harshness or "hardness" in the tone. Not a WAY-HUGE difference, but there is that hardness I hear, esp. since we are all trying to "knats-lollipop" the tones on your recordings. OTOH I am 100% sure however that Helix has the ability to leave the HD and many others in the dust in a multitude of ways simply because of its 2nd DSP processor and latest circuit architecture, 4 stereo paths etc etc... But Ill guess B is Helix. Just sounds a bit warmer to me.

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Thanks for the guesses.  Survey says:  A:  HX  B:  HD

 

I think the HD had the advantage of me having spent many hours over the course of years getting it "just right".  The HX had a little more top end on it which I think constituted the consensus that it was "harsher" and the other tone was "warmer".  I didn't have any early reflections dialed in..yet.  The HX patch was done rather quickly in an afternoon so there is still a lot of room for improvements. 

 

One of the things that surprised me was how well the HD tone help up in comparison and was some justification that I wasn't crazy, you could make that unit sound really good :)  Not so much on this forum, but the HD takes a lot of heat in other forums I won't mention for not being able to deliver the goods.  

 

Back on Helix I'm still blown away by the amount of routing, effect, and control options of the HX.  I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do.  It feels like if I can think up a scenario the Helix can accommodate it.  

 

The patch I'm using has 3 drive pedals, 3 reverbs, 4 delays, univibe, compressor, tremolo, solo boost and this  morning at church I used everything in the patch at some point except for the tremolo.  With one patch I'm able to literally cover every base I can think of.  And I haven't even started building a Plexi patch, AC30 patch, Fender combo patch, etc.  Not to mention wacky special effects type stuff.  I could lock myself in the studio for the next month solid and not run out of stuff to try.  

 

Thank you Line 6 for an amazing product!! 

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I'm sure If you ask 100 musicians you will get no clear vote on "better" quality.

Your playing is so amazing that both tones work really fine.

Thanks for the kind words on my playing!

 

Cheers

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Amazing! Thanks for the test. Tells me that the HD still has some life left in her!

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Heres another comparison done a few months ago... 

 

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So I guessed correct? I think this isn't really a diss on the Helix since you were trying to recreate the tone from the HD. I think the Helix has the ability to sound a lot better. One of the biggest things for me is the high gain patches are much easier to dial in from the start. In fact I sold my HD to a friend and I was trying to help him dial in some tones and had to go through another bit of frustration to get all the stuff I used to like to work with his guitar.

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I had to read this thread a few times.  To me, the Helix was clearly A without question.   Now I'm listening an a decent system and I wonder if that makes the difference?

 

The cleaner passages, the A version are clearly fuller and more ambient.  The higher gain parts it was so much that A shined but that B sounded like it was already EQ'd for mixing as they were "punchier" but to me missing the fullness of the A counterparts.  

 

Now to say one is better than the other...  that's tough especially using my observation about the highgain samples.  If they are assumed to be "raw" tracks, "A" is fuller, where "B" sounds like an isolated track from a mix.  

 

So to add more to the A/Bness of this... I wonder if the listening medium makes a big difference in the results.  I noticed a lot of folks saying it's "hard to tell" and on my system, they are completely different.

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The best comparison I have is multi platform video games. When developers were making games for both the PS3 and Xbox they used the Xbox to develop the games and then ported them to the PS3. Even though the games looked great they weren't taking full advantage of the PS3's capabilites. This is similar because you were looking to recreate a tone you loved on the HD500x. I'd be interested to see an A/B of the same HD tone vs a similar tone on the Helix built from scratch.

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So to add more to the A/Bness of this... I wonder if the listening medium makes a big difference in the results.  I noticed a lot of folks saying it's "hard to tell" and on my system, they are completely different.

The ears on these units are never built the same Im told...  ;)   :P

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The best comparison I have is multi platform video games. When developers were making games for both the PS3 and Xbox they used the Xbox to develop the games and then ported them to the PS3. Even though the games looked great they weren't taking full advantage of the PS3's capabilites. This is similar because you were looking to recreate a tone you loved on the HD500x. I'd be interested to see an A/B of the same HD tone vs a similar tone on the Helix built from scratch.

That's a great point and something I'll be looking into to trying.  First thing out of the gate was to get to a good starting point.  It's only uphill from here :)

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After listening to this demo, one thing is for sure, the hd500x is still a very capable unit and more than enough for a majority of guitarists.

 

If you dont need a very complicate routing and know how to dial your sound, it will reward you with great tones.

 

Not that I would not like to upgrade!!! But for now I'm more than happy with my pod hd500x

 

You can check it with one of my latest songs:

 

https://soundcloud.com/momogris/palabras

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Thanks for the comparison man. Good playing too. I couldn't really hear a difference until the heavy overdriven stuff, the I was convinced that B was the Helix because A sounded comparatively thinner to me. I have the money set aside and I've been torturing myself over the Helix. I have a DT50 and I'm about to start gigging in a tribute band in theater-style venues. The Helix is cool but I just ordered a POD HD500X, thinking the effects are the same, and I'll be using all presets to jump around between tones easily. 

 

Having used both, do you think the 500 is good enough? I have a Pod HD300 now, and it was a huge mistake in going for the lesser model to save some money (uh-oh, may have just answered my own question)

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If you already have an HD300, an HD500 is not going to be a quantitive difference. I'd say stick with that or get a Helix. 

 

The effects in Helix are not the same as the HD500X. I had a 500X and struggled to get useful tones out of it. But I have no problem with Helix at all and wouldn't hesitate to gig with it in any circumstance. 

 

To me there is no comparison between them. Helix is in an entirely different league. 

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The HD500 is good enough.  And I must admit the test above fooled me. The real question is will it be good enough in the back of your head later on, when you know you could have owned Helix and didn't.  The processing power alone between the two units should convince you. And, keep in mind that the test above was A/B'd with "one" very close tone between the two units. That is not to suggest that many other amp/cab tones will turn out in the same regard. Some will be close like the one above was i'm sure, but the majority? No I don't think so. So it comes down to what you really "really" want to own. No matter what anyone else says, that is the bottom line.  :)

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Wow... nice demo/comparison. The HX sounds a bit more "dynamic" to my ears, but the HD doesn't sound bad at all! For me it was a bit more telling with the crunch tones - there is a slight mid-range "honk" in the HD that I didn't hear in the HX. I'm still on the ($1500) fence about changing from the HD500X to Helix.. this makes that a bit harder now. ;)

 

That being said... I'm going to have to revisit the Dr. Z amp model on my HD.. was kind of digging that tone.

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Thanks for the comparison man. Good playing too. I couldn't really hear a difference until the heavy overdriven stuff, the I was convinced that B was the Helix because A sounded comparatively thinner to me. I have the money set aside and I've been torturing myself over the Helix. I have a DT50 and I'm about to start gigging in a tribute band in theater-style venues. The Helix is cool but I just ordered a POD HD500X, thinking the effects are the same, and I'll be using all presets to jump around between tones easily. 

 

Having used both, do you think the 500 is good enough? I have a Pod HD300 now, and it was a huge mistake in going for the lesser model to save some money (uh-oh, may have just answered my own question)

I'm glad the comparison was helpful!  Having now played the Helix for a few months I can probably give a better opinion now rather than when I first made this clip.  I had been using the HD500 for years and had it dialed in exactly how I liked it and was just learning the Helix. So here are my thoughts on your situation:

 

     The 500 is a great unit.  Especially with a DT50.  I got to mess around with that amp for a little bit at a buddy's house with the HD500 and it sounded awesome.  Where I think you'll be glad you upgraded from the 300 is where you can freely assign things to the 8 footswitches.  Adds a ton of flexibility and you can have more effects at one time.

 

     On the question of whether you should have spent the extra on Helix I can only share with you my personal opinion on Helix.  I never like to tell someone how they should or shouldn't spend $1500 :)  

 

     The more I play Helix the more I love it.  I haven't once regretted upgrading.  I waited several months after Helix came out because I was happy with the HD500 and couldn't justify spending the extra money.  Once I did though I haven't looked back since.  

 

     Once I started really building patches from scratch with no preconceived notions from how I did things on the HD500 I got better and better results.  It's like any other piece of gear, you have to get familiar with it and learn the ins and outs.  I ended up landing on the Matchless Jump amp model and that's literally the only amp model I use for electric guitar.  Even though there are plenty of other amp models in there that sound great!  I just tend to find the core tone I'm looking for and build everything up around that.  Just a personal preference.  

 

     The things that to me put it on another level are things like routing flexibility, number of available effects, much more DSP power, ability to have up to 4 signal paths with multiple/different inputs, high quality mic pre (I use it to process vocals live), snapshot feature (huge bonus!), scribble strips, more robust audio interface, etc.  

 

     I do think that the amp modelling is better than the HD series, no question, but honestly it's the feature set and things I listed above that make it worth the extra money to me.  Everyone has different needs and preferences though.  

 

     The Helix is just such a Swiss Army Knife of tools it's unbelievable.  Plus being a flagship product you know it's going to continue to get the lion's share of new firmware development.  

 

     So to sum up, will you be happy with the HD500X and DT50?  Most likely.  It is still a great combo. Don't feel like if you stay with that setup that you don't have amazing tools to work with.  So for sure it's "good enough".  

 

     Also if you spent the extra money would you feel like the Helix was worth it?  Most likely.  It's an amazing piece of gear for the reasons I've mentioned above.  It has more features and tone than the HD500, but it is 3x the price.  As far as value for your money goes I rank both units pretty evenly.  

 

     If you want to you can check out my YouTube channel.  I have a lot of Helix content on there that may be of some interest to you.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO9JwLO8HgC91MxohYw1Paw/videos

 

    Either way you go, rock on and have fun!! :)

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I compared them rigorously when I first got my Helix.

in the house and in the mix, to be honest, the HD 500 was good enough for me. Really. It was.

But I definitely like Helix better when you really listen, and it's way more flexible.

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It will be interesting to hear comparisons after some of you guys have gotten down pat the capabilities of the Helix.

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It will be interesting to hear comparisons after some of you guys have gotten down pat the capabilities of the Helix.

 

Except that, like me, most guys after using the Helix for a short while don't even own the HD 500 anymore...

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Except that, like me, most guys after using the Helix for a short while don't even own the HD 500 anymore...

 

Or they still own one, but only serves as a technological decoration.

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Except that, like me, most guys after using the Helix for a short while don't even own the HD 500 anymore...

Or use it for the missing effects that helix doesn't have....

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Good point!  I don't have mine anymore, but it would have made for some good added effects...

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no i def. don't have a lot of cash flow, and wouldn't mind a new unit, should i grab the hd for now?  anyhow it sounded like the hd farted on jimi lol.

imho, the HD 500 still holds up. If I had to use it and Helix didn't exist, I wouldn't necessarily be shopping for something new.

 

I don't have mine anymore, but may pick up a used one again as a backup.

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