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Helix Bang for Buck


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I have seen references in many cases to the "cost" of the Helix.  For me while 1500-ish may be a lot for a single outlay, I find that in the long run the Helix is somewhat of a bargain mainly because I can't reproduce any of my rigs over the years for $1,500.


Here are some examples..  Most DO NOT include the amps because that is something we need regardless if it's FRFR or a combo or whatever.


RIG #1

I used to have a pedal board.

Vox Wah

LP-1 Booster

Mutron II

AD-80 Delay

CE-1 Chorus

Boss Sustain

Boss Noise Reduction

That's pretty much $1,500 right there, and I still haven't bought cables, battery eliminator system of some sort, no routing options, no programability, and... well it broke down a LOT..


RIG #2

SGX 2000


X15 Ultrafoot controller..

Yep... with tax, tags'n license..  that rig was about $1,500 smackeroonies.  This was a pretty flixible rig, but I never really got the sound I wanted out of it.  I wish Line 6 would have taken a que from the X-15 foot controller and put TWO pedals on the Helix.



Now this one I feel I HAD to add the amps because it was integral to the sound. I used this simple setup for many years.

Rockman X-100

Two Roland Bolt 60 amps.

The Bolt 60's were configured with different speakers (and miked separately live) so I had to include them. Just the amps in this configuration are more than $1,500.  While this was flexible enough for my gigs, I had just a few tones and that was it.


RIG #4

Rockman Sustainer

Two Rockman EQ's

Two Rockman Chorus/Delay

Rockman Echo

Rockman MIDI Pedal

Rockman MIDI Octopus

Rockman Smart Gate

Yeah... $1,500 is in the rear view mirror here for sure.



This rig got the longest run with me I think

Rockman XPR


Yamaha EQ

Lexicon MPX-1

The XPR was almost $1,500 by itself...  so...


RIG #6



I listed the Helix just to show the potential reliability factor of not having a gazillion cables and intricate MIDI routing devices as points of failure.  If I start gigging again, I'll just get another Helix and have it has backup.   


Now your mileage may vary, I get that...  but for me, especially when I consider everything I can do with the Helix outside of the gig from using the same gear to rehearse as play, to recording, the myriad of configurations, The ability to inject external devices into the chain, etc etc. etc...   YMMV but I see the Helix as somewhat of a bargain.


Your thoughts?


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Helix requires a bit more fiddling but... Just for another point of comparison, here are my normal rigs:


Pedal board:

-Pedaltrain PT-pro in flight case

-Digitech Whammy DT

-Royal Beaver

-Source Audio Nemesis Delay

-Source Audio Orbital Modulator

-Source Audio Dimension Reverb

-Malekko Compressor

-Boss TU-3

-Voodoo Lab Pedal Power Mondo


Pretty sure that's already over $1500


Amps that I might use:

-Orange Rockerverb 100 (well over $1500)

-Mesa/Boogie Roadster (well over $1500)

-Orange PPC212OB cab (about $700 or so, I think)


So, yeah. Helix doesn't really do perfect replications of any of that, but in my week with it I've found that I can get close enough to cover everything I need and I can now bring my entire rig in one trip. Even if I include the QSC K10 that I'll be using in venues without real PAs, it's almost certainly still cheaper.

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I bought my Helix for recording studio guitar and bass via a DAW. Its working so nicely that I'm selling my recording amps and a couple of mics. I soon figured out I could use the Helix as an outboard audio processor for recorded tracks via USB .... so there was no longer a need for me to shell out $500 for the Soundtoys 5 plug-in bundle I had been wanting. Yow!


Now I'm close to finding out a way to use it to replace most of my solo performance rig, which includes a Behringer XR digital mixer and various guitar stomp boxes and FX units.


If I could figure out a way to cook food with it, I could get some more cash for my microwave.

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Well for me without going into all the details (and yes, the weight rating are very close plus I did use the stereo amp setup quite a bit.)


1) Pedaltrain Pro with travel case m13, 2 exp and various effects for needed adds in some songs [weight 104lbs] $2,187.12 - my tax man loves me keeping good records) AND prior to the M13 add another $900.00 average for 80% less effects


2) Mesa Boogie III [87lbs] $1,432.84 repairs and mods


3) Mitchell Pro100, Mesa Heartbreaker, or Mesa .50 Caliber(the older 6BQ5) for second stereo sound based upon room [avg 98lbs] $900.00 avg with repairs


That does not count my various line conditioners or line/power cables carrying bags, etc.


Now with the the Helix, cables [power and XLR], & G50 Relay all in single case = $1,983.47 weighing in at 27lbs total


So, not only do I get more for the money I have saved on the chiropractor sessions, though I do need to hit the gym more to stay toned.





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It's possible that your audience can't hear the difference between you playing through a well-dialed in HD 500 and a well-dialed in Helix. It's also possible that you CAN and because of that, you play better.


so there's that.


Honestly, I think all the "problems" with modeling were solved int he HD 500 generation. I no longer felt like I was compromising, and my direct tone finally sounded better (yeah, better) in most cases than my amps, which I eventually sold.

But with Helix, the advances in flexibility are almost more significant than the bump in sound quality, which, in a dense mix, I'm not sure everyone can hear. 


But yeah. Worth it. That said, for the guy who can only afford an HD 500, that guy is still capable of making some treat tones and great music.

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