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Looking to upgrade to Helix (or AX-8) and build rig around it. Where to start?

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Long post, tl;dr at the bottom!


Hey there! I've picked up my guitar playing again after a couple years' hiatus, and I'm looking to bring my rig up to date as well as my playing. My rig is outdated and incomplete, and in dire need of some reinforcements... But I don't really know where to start, which is why I need your help!



WHAT I NEED

I'm a recreational guitarist. I mostly play solo at home, playing both cover songs (preferably over a backing track) and writing and recording my own music. That said, even if I'm just a hobbyist, I'm quite serious about my playing - I want to get better as a player, I want to really get to "know" the guitar as an instrument, and I'm willing to put in some work to get there.


Similarly, I also really care about my sound. As I said, I play a lot of cover songs, varying in style between pop/rock, folk, singer-songwriter, blues, hard rock, modern rock, indie rock and a bit of metal. I need my rig to cope well with all these styles - and I also need the ability to produce my own sounds, should I need any in my originals. Apart from that, my rig needs to work in a variety of settings: band rehearsals and (small) stages, low bedroom volumes, and with headphones/studio monitors. Lastly, as I do quite a bit of home recording, I need to be able to do that hassle-free.


This is why I narrowed my rig quest down to the modelling and FRFR speaker route. I know it's a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of deal with modellers, but in my situation that seems kind of perfect. A good modeller with a good speaker will do all of the things I just summed up - and then some. The problem is, though, it does need to be good gear - and this is where I need your help, because what I own now really isn't.



MY CURRENT RIG

The main issue with my current rig is partly that it's outdated, but mostly that it's incomplete. Here's what I currently own:


You see the problem here: I want to build a good modelling/FRFR rig, but I'm stuck with a pretty old and pretty outdated modeller with the GT-8, and no amp/speaker at all.



MY WISHLIST

So, a good modeller and a good amp/speaker what I'm currently in the market for. Problem is, there are so many options that I don't know what to pick, or where to start (what to upgrade first)... So far, after some research, I've narrowed my wishlist down to the following options:


MODELLER OPTIONS:


It's between the Line6 Helix and the Fractal AX-8 here - and the choice is tough!


From what I gather, the Line6 Helix has the nicer hardware and is easier to use, which is a major plus for me. I feel the best way to keep myself motivated to play, is to make sure that I can just pick up my guitar at any time and start playing, without too much hassle - which would otherwise easily become a hurdle! The Helix' ease of use would fit that role just perfectly. Not to forget, it produces some great tones...


... but on the other hand, not as great as the Fractal AX-8, which is still the gold standard in modelling! The AX-8 is quite a bit more expensive (especially with the optional but obligatory expression pedal), and quite a lot harder to come by in Europe (there's just one distributor for the whole of Europe). It seems, however, that it's worth the extra money - it's better sounding to begin with, and from the sounds of it, Fractal supports their products like no other, which means the AX-8 would be the most future-proof investment.


So, out of these two options, which do you think would suit my situation best?


Note that I don't care much for rack gear in my rig, I'd like to keep things as nice and simple as possible. The Kemper is basically out as well, as it doesn't exactly suit my needs as well as the Line6 and Fractal options do.


SPEAKER OPTIONS:


This one's tough as well. To be able to fully appreciate the sheer power of the Helix or AX-8, I need a good amp or speaker that can reproduce their respective tones accurately. I've pretty much decided I want a mid-to-high-tier powered FRFR speaker for that (unless you all drastically change my mind!) - and these are my options:



  • An Atomic CLR FRFR monitor, pretty much considered to be the gold standard in FRFR amplification for guitar modellers. Problem is, however, that these things are pretty hard to come by in Europe, and they come at a price as well - the Neo version, with VAT/shipping included, is about 1600 euros or something... and that's just too steep.




  • A similar option is the Dynacord AXM 12A active speaker, which has been mentioned on several modelling forums as "the European alternative for the Atomic CLR" because of its similar design and specs, but better price and availability. For a bit short of 1000€, you get a 12" speaker with Neo magnets as standard, 3 inputs (one of which is an AUX input, perfect for my backing tracks!), and a true full-range and flat response sound which comes close to the Atomic CLR. I'm quite set on this speaker, but it's still quite an investment at 1000€...




  • There are other, cheaper FRFR speakers out there as well, some of which are cheaper and might fit the bill just as well: the Yamaha DXR12, the QSC K12, and the Alto SXM112A or TS112A are a few options that spring to mind. All of these are cheaper (especially the Alto ones), but I lose out on sound quality and/or features with all of them. Anyone have any experience with any of these?




  • Other than the FRFR options, there's also the slightly more "cab-like" (or "GRFR") options like the Matrix Q12 or Camper 112CX... These will basically limit the tonal possibilities of the Helix/AX-8, as they sound more like traditional guitar cabs themselves and thus eliminate the possibility of using cab/IR modelling... So these options are a bit less attractive to me - unless you can convince me otherwise!




  • Lastly, there's still the option of getting a "regular" tube amp that works well with the Helix or AX-8. But I'm thinking that, after making a pretty huge investment in a full-featured modeller, it would be a shame to then limit its functionality to effects only, because I'm running it through a tube amp... I'm thinking no on this one.




WHICH ORDER?

This is my biggest conundrum right now. If I had unlimited cash, I'd just buy a AX-8 and Dynacord AXM 12A right now, and be done with it. But you see, this is the real world, and I don't - so I'm going to have to build my rig one step at a time, and I can't make my mind up on how to proceed!


If I go modeller first, FRFR speaker later, I immediately get to enjoy the superior tones from a brand-new modeller instead of my GT-8's old twaddle... but only through my headphones. I currently exclusively play on my own, but as I'm considering taking lessons soon and can't exclude the possibility that I might re-join a band in the (near) future, not having a speaker would not be ideal.


I can also go FRFR speaker first, modeller later, which would give me the opportunity to enjoy hearing my current rig played out loud rather than through headphones only. If I got the Dynacord, I could also plug in my phone and play backing tracks into the AUX input, which would be a major plus. A downside to this approach, however, is that I'd be stuck for some time with the best tones the GT-8 can produce - which aren't that great.


Another option is to get a cheaper speaker now (such as the Yamaha or Alto), get the new modeller next, andupgrade my speaker last. This would be the quickest way to get a fully functional rig, with the downside that I'd keep GAS'ing for a "good" speaker until I invest in one for a second time - which is kind of a waste.



TL;DR:

I want to build a quality modelling/FRFR rig for home playing, solo recording, and possibly gigging at small venues with a band. I currently own a Boss GT-8 and no amp/speaker. Looking to upgrade, but I have some questions:



  1. I need a good modeller. Line6 Helix or Fractal AX-8?




  2. I also need a good speaker for the modeller. FRFR (Atomic, Dynacord), GRFR (Matrix, Camper) or tube amp?




  3. What order to upgrade my rig in? Buy speaker now, and new modeller later? Upgrade GT-8 first, then get speaker later? Or should I get a "cheap" speaker temporarily?



Thanks in advance for brainstorming with me on this one!


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Lots of folks seem to use and like the Alto speakers here,

 

so I'd suggest getting a Helix first (or AX-8 if you prefer) and an Alto speaker soon after.

 

Remember at gigs you can always connect the Helix to the PA system for extra volume and probably better quality speakers.. so your Alto will be a monitor for rehearsals and small gigs with no stage monitors.

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Just my 2 cents worth- I have a helix, an axe8 and an amplifire. Not one of them is better than the other sound wise, although they all  sound a little different.

ax8 has more options, helix is so much more elegant UI, amplifire fits nicely onto a small pedalboard. You choose which suits your needs rthe best

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Just my 2 cents worth- I have a helix, an axe8 and an amplifire. Not one of them is better than the other sound wise, although they all sound a little different.

ax8 has more options, helix is so much more elegant UI, amplifire fits nicely onto a small pedalboard. You choose which suits your needs rthe best

You sound like the same similar opinion that I have. I had a Kemper Rack, Axe FX II XL+, and a Helix all at the same time. A few weeks later I sold the Kemper and the Axe... Only because the Helix gave me just as high a quality tone without the extra chore of toting an outboard controller/MIDI pedal around. LoL!

 

They're all similar, yet different, but high quality tone generators! It's really down to feature preferences and subtle nuances at this point in the game.

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I've never heard it called being a "recreational guitarist"! That is going to stick! Apt!

 

I used to be in gigging rock bands when youing but am now an older recreational player who records pretty much every jam I do.

An apt description would be a "musical pilgimage" as I squire new theory and apply acceptable breaking of musical rules. 

The idea is to actually release a CD but I keep shifting the goal posts as I master my craft further.

 

I am the bass player who puts down guitar parts to accompany., I have a drum kit and keyboards but due to time restraints mainly put a chord progression to Addictive Drums and layer in a bass or vice versa, sometimes lyrics are sung.

and I am influenced by some slightly younger than I guitarist mates who love metal.

 

As a bassist I tend to go funk and jazz, as a guitarist rock and jazz.

Lately I've realized that I am deficient in standard dance tunes on bass and have gone back to basic basic re learning standard dance genres. Samba Bossa, Tango's etc

 

Youtube is a god send for improving quickly.

 

My PA and Amps are mostly idle and I monitor via a pair of Rokits 

 

I mention the above as unless you plan to gig I'd suggest the best pair of Studio monitors utilizing your interface, apply some room treatment.

If you have a computer than test out some software modelling and save yourself a bungle.

I use a HD500 which for fills my needs and saves CPU on my old music PC.

I Would love a Helix and if money was no option I'd probably get one  over the Kemper.

If you do and your going to use it mainly at home use Studio monitors and if you do the occasional special guest appearance than go via the PA or a trusty Amp.

If you plan to gig regular then my advice is to do it with something reliable and fool proof ( PA can be hit and mis depending on sound guy)

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Long post, tl;dr at the bottom!

Hey there! I've picked up my guitar playing again after a couple years' hiatus, and I'm looking to bring my rig up to date as well as my playing. My rig is outdated and incomplete, and in dire need of some reinforcements... But I don't really know where to start, which is why I need your help!

WHAT I NEED

I'm a recreational guitarist. I mostly play solo at home, playing both cover songs (preferably over a backing track) and writing and recording my own music. That said, even if I'm just a hobbyist, I'm quite serious about my playing - I want to get better as a player, I want to really get to "know" the guitar as an instrument, and I'm willing to put in some work to get there.

Similarly, I also really care about my sound. As I said, I play a lot of cover songs, varying in style between pop/rock, folk, singer-songwriter, blues, hard rock, modern rock, indie rock and a bit of metal. I need my rig to cope well with all these styles - and I also need the ability to produce my own sounds, should I need any in my originals. Apart from that, my rig needs to work in a variety of settings: band rehearsals and (small) stages, low bedroom volumes, and with headphones/studio monitors. Lastly, as I do quite a bit of home recording, I need to be able to do that hassle-free.

This is why I narrowed my rig quest down to the modelling and FRFR speaker route. I know it's a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of deal with modellers, but in my situation that seems kind of perfect. A good modeller with a good speaker will do all of the things I just summed up - and then some. The problem is, though, it does need to be good gear - and this is where I need your help, because what I own now really isn't.

MY CURRENT RIG

The main issue with my current rig is partly that it's outdated, but mostly that it's incomplete. Here's what I currently own:

You see the problem here: I want to build a good modelling/FRFR rig, but I'm stuck with a pretty old and pretty outdated modeller with the GT-8, and no amp/speaker at all.

MY WISHLIST

So, a good modeller and a good amp/speaker what I'm currently in the market for. Problem is, there are so many options that I don't know what to pick, or where to start (what to upgrade first)... So far, after some research, I've narrowed my wishlist down to the following options:

MODELLER OPTIONS:

It's between the Line6 Helix and the Fractal AX-8 here - and the choice is tough!

From what I gather, the Line6 Helix has the nicer hardware and is easier to use, which is a major plus for me. I feel the best way to keep myself motivated to play, is to make sure that I can just pick up my guitar at any time and start playing, without too much hassle - which would otherwise easily become a hurdle! The Helix' ease of use would fit that role just perfectly. Not to forget, it produces some great tones...

... but on the other hand, not as great as the Fractal AX-8, which is still the gold standard in modelling! The AX-8 is quite a bit more expensive (especially with the optional but obligatory expression pedal), and quite a lot harder to come by in Europe (there's just one distributor for the whole of Europe). It seems, however, that it's worth the extra money - it's better sounding to begin with, and from the sounds of it, Fractal supports their products like no other, which means the AX-8 would be the most future-proof investment.

So, out of these two options, which do you think would suit my situation best?

Note that I don't care much for rack gear in my rig, I'd like to keep things as nice and simple as possible. The Kemper is basically out as well, as it doesn't exactly suit my needs as well as the Line6 and Fractal options do.

SPEAKER OPTIONS:

This one's tough as well. To be able to fully appreciate the sheer power of the Helix or AX-8, I need a good amp or speaker that can reproduce their respective tones accurately. I've pretty much decided I want a mid-to-high-tier powered FRFR speaker for that (unless you all drastically change my mind!) - and these are my options:

  • An Atomic CLR FRFR monitor, pretty much considered to be the gold standard in FRFR amplification for guitar modellers. Problem is, however, that these things are pretty hard to come by in Europe, and they come at a price as well - the Neo version, with VAT/shipping included, is about 1600 euros or something... and that's just too steep.

  • A similar option is the Dynacord AXM 12A active speaker, which has been mentioned on several modelling forums as "the European alternative for the Atomic CLR" because of its similar design and specs, but better price and availability. For a bit short of 1000€, you get a 12" speaker with Neo magnets as standard, 3 inputs (one of which is an AUX input, perfect for my backing tracks!), and a true full-range and flat response sound which comes close to the Atomic CLR. I'm quite set on this speaker, but it's still quite an investment at 1000€...

  • There are other, cheaper FRFR speakers out there as well, some of which are cheaper and might fit the bill just as well: the Yamaha DXR12, the QSC K12, and the Alto SXM112A or TS112A are a few options that spring to mind. All of these are cheaper (especially the Alto ones), but I lose out on sound quality and/or features with all of them. Anyone have any experience with any of these?

  • Other than the FRFR options, there's also the slightly more "cab-like" (or "GRFR") options like the Matrix Q12 or Camper 112CX... These will basically limit the tonal possibilities of the Helix/AX-8, as they sound more like traditional guitar cabs themselves and thus eliminate the possibility of using cab/IR modelling... So these options are a bit less attractive to me - unless you can convince me otherwise!

  • Lastly, there's still the option of getting a "regular" tube amp that works well with the Helix or AX-8. But I'm thinking that, after making a pretty huge investment in a full-featured modeller, it would be a shame to then limit its functionality to effects only, because I'm running it through a tube amp... I'm thinking no on this one.

WHICH ORDER?

This is my biggest conundrum right now. If I had unlimited cash, I'd just buy a AX-8 and Dynacord AXM 12A right now, and be done with it. But you see, this is the real world, and I don't - so I'm going to have to build my rig one step at a time, and I can't make my mind up on how to proceed!

If I go modeller first, FRFR speaker later, I immediately get to enjoy the superior tones from a brand-new modeller instead of my GT-8's old twaddle... but only through my headphones. I currently exclusively play on my own, but as I'm considering taking lessons soon and can't exclude the possibility that I might re-join a band in the (near) future, not having a speaker would not be ideal.

I can also go FRFR speaker first, modeller later, which would give me the opportunity to enjoy hearing my current rig played out loud rather than through headphones only. If I got the Dynacord, I could also plug in my phone and play backing tracks into the AUX input, which would be a major plus. A downside to this approach, however, is that I'd be stuck for some time with the best tones the GT-8 can produce - which aren't that great.

Another option is to get a cheaper speaker now (such as the Yamaha or Alto), get the new modeller next, andupgrade my speaker last. This would be the quickest way to get a fully functional rig, with the downside that I'd keep GAS'ing for a "good" speaker until I invest in one for a second time - which is kind of a waste.

TL;DR:

I want to build a quality modelling/FRFR rig for home playing, solo recording, and possibly gigging at small venues with a band. I currently own a Boss GT-8 and no amp/speaker. Looking to upgrade, but I have some questions:

  1. I need a good modeller. Line6 Helix or Fractal AX-8?

  2. I also need a good speaker for the modeller. FRFR (Atomic, Dynacord), GRFR (Matrix, Camper) or tube amp?

  3. What order to upgrade my rig in? Buy speaker now, and new modeller later? Upgrade GT-8 first, then get speaker later? Or should I get a "cheap" speaker temporarily?

Thanks in advance for brainstorming with me on this one!

 

Coming from the GT8 you're going to love either the Helix or the Ax8.  Personally I prefer the Helix.  I have a friend with the AX8 and we've spent some time comparing them.  Everyone has their own opinion, but I take the Helix all day long.  It just fits my particular needs really well.  Love the UI and the tones are great.  Has way more routing flexibility and it's so much easier to interact with.  In all honesty I don't feel like it gives up a thing in terms of tone.  

 

I use an Alto TS110A and love it.  I just posted a thread from a gig I did last week using the Alto and that's what you hear in the recording:  http://line6.com/support/topic/20242-helix-and-alto-ts110a/

 

I don't want to down the AX8, because obviously it's an awesome unit.  I'm sure you'd be happy with either one, but I'm just totally sold on Helix after using it for this last several weeks that I can't recommend it enough.  

 

Just my .02

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Be sure to ask this on the fractal forums as well for opposing views. They may have some useful advice as well. Good luck on your search!

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  1. I need a good modeller. Line6 Helix or Fractal AX-8?

  2. I also need a good speaker for the modeller. FRFR (Atomic, Dynacord), GRFR (Matrix, Camper) or tube amp?

  3. What order to upgrade my rig in? Buy speaker now, and new modeller later? Upgrade GT-8 first, then get speaker later? Or should I get a "cheap" speaker temporarily?

 

 

1. Only you can decide, but most people here probably prefer Helix. imho, it works like this:

 

Helix pluses - multiple amps/paths/inputs, easy UI and workflow, 4 FX loops (or two stereo), extreme flexibility.

AX8 pros: sheer number of FX and amps (HUNDREDS of 'em), maturity of modeling technology, Axe Edit (FANTASTIC editing environment on PC).

 

 

2. Different strokes for different folks. I prefer an FRFR that is as similar to my PA as possible. Tube amps don't work for me in my environment. Only you can decide (see a pattern here?)

 

 

3. For me, I'd upgrade the modeler first, but I have an amazingly awesome FRFR monitor anyway.

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First off, thanks for all the replies, everybody!

 

Just my 2 cents worth- I have a helix, an axe8 and an amplifire. Not one of them is better than the other sound wise, although they all  sound a little different.

ax8 has more options, helix is so much more elegant UI, amplifire fits nicely onto a small pedalboard. You choose which suits your needs rthe best

 

You sound like the same similar opinion that I have. I had a Kemper Rack, Axe FX II XL+, and a Helix all at the same time. A few weeks later I sold the Kemper and the Axe... Only because the Helix gave me just as high a quality tone without the extra chore of toting an outboard controller/MIDI pedal around. LoL!

They're all similar, yet different, but high quality tone generators! It's really down to feature preferences and subtle nuances at this point in the game.

 

Thanks for the advice! I figured as much, I feel that modelling tech has matured so much that the difference in tones has been reduced to subtle nuances, and the main difference between modelling units is the practical implementation: Kemper's "profiling" vs. Line6 and Fractal's "EQ modelling", the Helix's visual implementation vs. Fractal's menu diving, and so on. All of this makes me lean towards the Helix more and more...

 

 

I've never heard it called being a "recreational guitarist"! That is going to stick! Apt!

 

I'd have thought people would describe themselves that way more often. Relatively speaking, how many guitar players are professionals anyway?

 

 

Coming from the GT8 you're going to love either the Helix or the Ax8.  Personally I prefer the Helix.  I have a friend with the AX8 and we've spent some time comparing them.  Everyone has their own opinion, but I take the Helix all day long.  It just fits my particular needs really well.  Love the UI and the tones are great.  Has way more routing flexibility and it's so much easier to interact with.  In all honesty I don't feel like it gives up a thing in terms of tone.  

 

I use an Alto TS110A and love it.  I just posted a thread from a gig I did last week using the Alto and that's what you hear in the recording:  http://line6.com/support/topic/20242-helix-and-alto-ts110a/

 

I don't want to down the AX8, because obviously it's an awesome unit.  I'm sure you'd be happy with either one, but I'm just totally sold on Helix after using it for this last several weeks that I can't recommend it enough.  

 

Just my .02

 

Thanks! The Alto is definitely on my hitlist of "which powered FRFR speaker to buy"... Although, I think I might get me a nice pair of studio monitors first, and hold off on the powered speaker purchase until I start doing band rehearsals and/or gigging again. A pair of Yamaha HS7 would set me back just 400€, and from what I'm reading, they're amazing value.

 

 

Be sure to ask this on the fractal forums as well for opposing views. They may have some useful advice as well. Good luck on your search!

 

I have, and I've posted this on /r/Guitar as well. I've gotten some great advice on all fronts. Thanks!

 

 

1. Only you can decide, but most people here probably prefer Helix. imho, it works like this:

Helix pluses - multiple amps/paths/inputs, easy UI and workflow, 4 FX loops (or two stereo), extreme flexibility.

AX8 pros: sheer number of FX and amps (HUNDREDS of 'em), maturity of modeling technology, Axe Edit (FANTASTIC editing environment on PC).

 

 

2. Different strokes for different folks. I prefer an FRFR that is as similar to my PA as possible. Tube amps don't work for me in my environment. Only you can decide (see a pattern here?)

 

 

3. For me, I'd upgrade the modeler first, but I have an amazingly awesome FRFR monitor anyway.

 

1. At the moment, I'm leaning towards the Helix. The ease of use is swinging it for me - I feel like if I have to start menu diving to get the sounds I want, that's going to become a hurdle at some point, which might impact my motivation to keep playing. I think the best way to keep motivated is to make it as easy as possible for myself to just pick up my guitar and start playing, and in this regard the Helix takes the cake, I think!

 

2. The above is true for my choice of amp as well: a tube amp with its quirks and maintenance factor is going to become a hurdle at some point as well, I feel. A FRFR rig is just "plug and play", and translates perfectly well from home playing and recording to band and live situations too.

 

3. Like I said above, I think I might go down the studio monitor route to begin with - a pair of Yamaha HS7's is my first choice right now. I'll probably still need a FRFR later on for live situations, but I'll solve that problem when it presents itself!

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