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Helix into Tube Power Amp - Preamp or Full Amp?

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Hey guys, I'm running my helix floor into an atomic 50/50 tube power amp into an Orange PPC212 w/ V30s. It seems running the preamp models alone are too weak and the full amp models sound better. How are you guys running yours that are running tube power amps?

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Full Helix amp models to Line 6 Spider Valve HD100 tube power amp in and Mesa Recto 2x12 here.

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Conventional wisdom would suggest that preamps would be the way to go but my ears tell me that this is not always the case.  I'd recommend trying both ways.  On some amps you might find that the preamp sounds better and with others it might be the opposite.

 

One great thing about Helix is that it's very easy to put both in your patch and A/B between them.

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Your specific power amp is unique. I read the manual and in the very begining (page 4) it clearly states:

 

In other words, this is an amp without an opinion; it amplifies but does not alter the character of the sound.

 

If it was a Marshall, Mesa/Boogie, or other power amp with EL34s or something (or going into the FX return of a tube head), that would add another level of sound/EQ and you would only use the Pre-amps in the Helix.

 

For your particular power amp I would suggest using full amps because you want the color that the power amp modelling on the Helix adds.

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Oh totally agree that it's different depending on the neutrality of your tube amp.

 

When I first got Helix, i used it with my Mesa Simul 290 and Recto 212, I was using Helix preamps only as the full amp models sounded a little muddy (no cab models).

 

Then I snagged a Line 6 Spider Valve HD100, made for Line 6 modellers, for a smokin deal. I quickly switched back to Helix full amp models, even with my Recto 2x12 with V30s. No cab models still.

 

Sounds like that Atomic amp could be similar to the L6 SV, very neutral 6L6 tube amp.

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Thanks guys! Yeah I noticed a lot of the Preamp models are weak with my power amp, and the full amp models are where they should be. Loving the Brit Plexi Brt, US Deluxe Vib (sounds pretty darn close to my old deluxe I just sold), and Cali Rectifier models. Going to try it at practice today for the first time!

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don't be afraid to use the cab blocks with your amp too.  They definitely add their own flavor to the tone.  I found that I have to boost the cab output to max 6db to match the level without a cab block or it sounds like a wet blanket.

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Used the full amp model US Deluxe Vib and Cali Rectifier for practice through a Mesa 412 and it kept up with my other guitarist's 6505+

 

I'm very pleased!

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Anyonde could post the impressions on the difference between mono x stereo? 
I always used stereo in a 2x12 cab, but never really felt the stereo feeling. Maybe if I used 2 1x12's and some space between them...

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Anyonde could post the impressions on the difference between mono x stereo? 

I always used stereo in a 2x12 cab, but never really felt the stereo feeling. Maybe if I used 2 1x12's and some space between them...

 

I believe this is what ricksteruk on this forum does here with a pair of tube 1x12 combos and he loves it.   He knows his stuff too.  Hopefully he will chime in.

 

I know exactly what you mean about the old stereo 2x12's.  I have a mono Recto 2x12 I use currently and love.  I just picked up a second Mesa Mark V 1x12 combo shell and plan on testing it with my other MV 1x12 combo shell with my Mesa stereo Simul 2:90 power amp this weekend hopefully.

 

The Mesa 290 colored my Helix sound before, but I've gotten more experience with Helix since I last tried.  Also, I generally don't like open back combos, so if I do like the stereo thing, I will probably start experimenting with different rear panels from closed to different openness.  I can always go wet / dry / wet with the two MV 1x12 combo cabs and the Recto 2x12...with a roadie ;)

 

It will be fun either way.  I'll report back.

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Yes I'm using two 1x12 combos separated by about 6 to 8 feet ( I should measure it.. then I'd know.. lol )

There is a huge difference in the stereo spread and the feeling of space you get by doing this as opposed to a single cab.

 

A 4x12 or 2x12 does have it's own level of spaciousness compared to a single 1x12, but when you use two spaced 1x12's it takes it to the next level.

 

I don't think I'd want to go back to mono again now I've got used to it - and luckily my cabs are quite light so it's no bother to get them to gigs.

 

The thing that surprised me is that the bass end seems to get a lot fatter with two cabs active instead of one.. I wasn't expecting that.  The other thing that I wasn't expecting is that sometimes it really feels like the sound is actually coming from directly in front of you - out of the brick wall in the space between the cabs.. (or the sofa when at home) and not from the actual cabs themselves.. it's quite odd!  That's the stereo image at work I guess ;)

 

EDIT - Thanks for the kind words roscoe :)

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Hello I was wondering the same thing, I'm running my Helix rack 1/4" outs to a Marshall 9200 monoblock 2x100 watt all tube power amp with no tone stacks just a A/B voicing switch on each amp, xlr's are going to my studio monitor system I've been running amp/cab sim on and found some great sounds coming through the Marshall going into some 15" peavey floor wedges for now till I get some passive frfr 212 cabs, it's a heavy 80+ lbs beast but it stays in my live room sounds like a freight train coming through my studio tremendous volume! 

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5 minutes ago, FukinA15 said:

Hello I was wondering the same thing, I'm running my Helix rack 1/4" outs to a Marshall 9200 monoblock 2x100 watt all tube power amp with no tone stacks just a A/B voicing switch on each amp, xlr's are going to my studio monitor system I've been running amp/cab sim on and found some great sounds coming through the Marshall going into some 15" peavey floor wedges for now till I get some passive frfr 212 cabs, it's a heavy 80+ lbs beast but it stays in my live room sounds like a freight train coming through my studio tremendous volume! 

 

I'm sure there's a question buried somewhere in that massive sentence, but I'll be damned if I can find it, lol. ;)

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I'm just wondering what's the best way to run my set up, sorry so long a sentence.lol

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(9100 and EL84 20/20 owner here)

It isn't very difficult to change the presets to flip between preamp only and full amp with snapshots so you can seamlessly compare, which is what I would do - your ears are better than any inter web opinion.  If you were talking the EL34 or the EL84 20/20 rack amps, then I would have definitely said try the preamp only option first.  The 9100 and 9200 - I'm not so sure.  I have a feeling the preamps might work best, but I'd bet they are more neutral as a power amp.

 

I stopped gigging my 9100 (with JMP1/GMajor) because it was just too darn heavy.  Never had anything but compliments about my sound though ...

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The "best way" to run it is try using preamp only, then try using the full amp model. Whichever one sounds and feels the best to you is the best way to run it. 

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