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njglover

A tone snob's thorough review of the Helix

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Updated the OP to include some closing thoughts on having used the Helix for 9 months as my only piece of gear.

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Updated the OP to include some closing thoughts on having used the Helix for 9 months as my only piece of gear.

Thanks for the post and update. Your original post was my final tipping point into purchasing the Helix. I have since sold everything that was on my pedal board and just use the Helix. I am still on the fence about adding a Variax to my collection. I guess I need to find someone willing to lend one to me for a weekend to make my mind up. 

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Thanks for the post and update. Your original post was my final tipping point into purchasing the Helix. I have since sold everything that was on my pedal board and just use the Helix. I am still on the fence about adding a Variax to my collection. I guess I need to find someone willing to lend one to me for a weekend to make my mind up. 

 

That was what did it for me. I was never all that excited about the Variax, but my bandmate got one to go with his Helix and I was very impressed with its playability and general good tones. It's not perfect, though. The low E string has a weird, metallic resonance to it when using the modeled sounds that many people have experienced. I suspect it is easily remedied, but haven't dived into it that much as I only use modeled sounds for one song so far and it hasn't been that big a deal to me. It's integration with the Helix is a really killer feature, though. Can switch between models and even volume/tone knob settings at the push of a button. It's pretty crazy.

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If you don't go the Variax route or maybe even if you want to add additional control to the Variax this device seems pretty nifty as well. Not quite sure how it could be interfaced to the Helix though. I assume you would just connect it via the MIDI input. You could also use it in addition to the Helix to control a DAW. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GuitarWing?adpos=1o1&creative=55280653081&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&product_id=GuitarWing&gclid=CPbAx4_DhNECFcxXDQodaAkK5A

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You lost me at "im a tone snob whos been playing for a whopping 13 years"

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Yes. I use mid-volume FRFR as my reference, and expect to have to tweak that differently for both gig volume FRFR and again for headphones. So I think you'd really need three versions of your presets if you want them to sound right in all three situations. With Helix you might get away with a single version of all presets if you can make the Global EQ compensate for the different environments. I haven't fiddled around with that yet but theoretically it may work.

One thing to consider in this regard... when you are mixing an audio project in a DAW, it will sound different in headphones than it does they stereo monitors, as well as car speakers. Now, if the project is mixed properly, the sound will translate fairly well across all platforms. I have found it useful to tweak my presets on multiple sources and then double back to verify to sound. I found that once I got my sound worked out, I had to mess with the high and low cut a few times to attain that nice balance. Ultimately, each method of delivery will be different in some way or another, but the key is to find that happy medium between all of them and then your sound will be more consistent. Just my 2 cents anyways. What works for me may not work for you...

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One thing to consider in this regard... when you are mixing an audio project in a DAW, it will sound different in headphones than it does they stereo monitors, as well as car speakers. Now, if the project is mixed properly, the sound will translate fairly well across all platforms. I have found it useful to tweak my presets on multiple sources and then double back to verify to sound. I found that once I got my sound worked out, I had to mess with the high and low cut a few times to attain that nice balance. Ultimately, each method of delivery will be different in some way or another, but the key is to find that happy medium between all of them and then your sound will be more consistent. Just my 2 cents anyways. What works for me may not work for you...

 

 

Good stuff here. I'd add one tiny thing. Lo Cut is the thing you have to worry about least if you have a "real" sound guy. Because if you do, the first thing he does to your channel on the board is to cut all those lows anyway.

 

Hi Cut he will NOT think about, so be very careful and get that right.

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One thing to consider in this regard... when you are mixing an audio project in a DAW, it will sound different in headphones than it does they stereo monitors, as well as car speakers. Now, if the project is mixed properly, the sound will translate fairly well across all platforms.

Amen to that. It can get especially problematic when mixing with headphones, as anything but fully open-back designs with a super-flat response tend to suffer from some degree of bass build-up. This makes you pull down the low end...when you play that same mix on another set of speakers, the bass is suddenly absent. It's a balancing act, no doubt.

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Amen to that. It can get especially problematic when mixing with headphones, as anything but fully open-back designs with a super-flat response tend to suffer from some degree of bass build-up. This makes you pull down the low end...when you play that same mix on another set of speakers, the bass is suddenly absent. It's a balancing act, no doubt.

 

 

This is why when I HAVE to mix on headphones, I have 3 sets I switch between and one set of IEMs that I switch in, too.

 

Then I go and listen in the car and make notes.

 

My favorite open back headphones are 20 years old and the foam is destroyed and irreplaceable... Ugh... Haven't found something I like as much yet.

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This is why when I HAVE to mix on headphones, I have 3 sets I switch between and one set of IEMs that I switch in, too.

 

Then I go and listen in the car and make notes.

 

My favorite open back headphones are 20 years old and the foam is destroyed and irreplaceable... Ugh... Haven't found something I like as much yet.

I bought a pair of these (https://www.amazon.com/AKG-K701-Reference-premium-headphones/dp/B000EBBJ6Y%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q%26tag%3Dduckduckgo-d-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000EBBJ6Y) few months back. Love them...about as flat a response as there is.

 

Just don't buy them from any of the big music retailers, you'll pay almost twice as much...among the biggest price-gouges I've ever seen.

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Amen to that. It can get especially problematic when mixing with headphones, as anything but fully open-back designs with a super-flat response tend to suffer from some degree of bass build-up. This makes you pull down the low end...when you play that same mix on another set of speakers, the bass is suddenly absent. It's a balancing act, no doubt.

 

Exactly. That's why I say that even though headphones are a needed piece of studio gear, don't tweak patches in Helix with them, and then go on stage and expect your sounds to be the same or even close... This is NOT a Helix problem. It's a user problem.

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I bought a pair of these (https://www.amazon.com/AKG-K701-Reference-premium-headphones/dp/B000EBBJ6Y%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q%26tag%3Dduckduckgo-d-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000EBBJ6Y) few months back. Love them...about as flat a response as there is.

 

Just don't buy them from any of the big music retailers, you'll pay almost twice as much...among the biggest price-gouges I've ever seen.

 

AKG are serious quality cans. My gf uses the K702, and she loves them. I have a set if K712 Pro (the orange ones). Best I have used.

 

Totally right on where to buy, and where not to as well.

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Frankly, this is the kind of opening presentation I enjoy reading.

 

I play with 2 amps.

A Line 6 Amplifi 150.

And a Fuchs.

 

I enjoy them equally for what they do irrespective of what tone snobs (on the one hand) and tech creeps (on the other) have to say.

Shut up and play works for me.

 

If you can't honor the effort- and generosity!- displayed by Iknowathingortwo, then please go lollipop at Trump.

 

I thank him for opening a good and knowledgable discussion.

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