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iamgeorge

Who's come across from Fractal to the Helix? Pro's? Con's? Both?!

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Hey guys, 

 

I'm about a week away from receiving my Helix floor unit - and I can't wait! 

 

Having been a Fractal user for the last 2 years, I've become quite accustomed to how the Axe FXii works, what it's limitations are, and to be fair, just how damn good that thing really is. 

 

I guess this is more of a question for the guys who have come across from Fractal to the Helix.. as the title suggests, what pro's/con's have you discovered?  Where does one lack where the other one is superior?  Any do's and don't's?  Amp sim options? 

 

I know it's all very personal and preferential, it could be a simple thing that the Fractal FX8 or AX8 do not have an expression pedal built in. Or, the fact the Helix is completely colour whereas the Axe FX looks like, as one of my friends have recently said, a 1986 Casio calculator! 

 

Apologies if this question has already been asked! 

 

Cheers

 

George

 

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I am unqualified to answer but I am well informed and the consensus seems to be that fractal have an abundance of amps and FX and mindboggling tweakabilty. 

 

I see it used on Tour with well known players where it is 95% used for it's one or two quality FX switchable on a pedal board or by Tech person and incorporated into a rig.

 

It is early days for the Helix but the quality is up there and the tweakability is a delight. No Menu after menu never used or rarely used. No need to have 250 amps to scroll thru to get one good to go.

The presets are where too many players live on other top devices where Helix can be created easily.

Best of all the Routing like navigating is leaps and bounds ahead.

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To me I would place the Helix just below the Fractal and Kemper on the food chain. They are the next step up and the money difference is pretty much the jump from POD to Helix but I rate the tech jump from POD to Helix an order of 7 while up to Fractal or Kemper from Helix maybe only a 2 or 3 at best. I have heard a lot of A/B tests where you honestly cannot tell much difference in the sound and tone. So really Helix gets my vote for best bang for the buck. If I had unlimited resources I would go Fractal and Kemper but the Helix does the deal for me. I am digging this unit I was using a GSP1101 which I liked a lot and I had and returned an Atomic Amp, both I consider better than POD in sound quality but the helix has it all over either of them. 

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I've had Axe Ultra, II XL+, AX8, Kemper, have another Kemper now...

 

I rank the Helix up there with both of them tone and feel wise. I rank Helix way above Fractal for interface and a little above Kemper... Kemper is simple.

 

I am fading in love with Kemper profiles all over again, but I fall in love with Helix again every time I play it, too.

 

I don't play fanboy games, either, and I'm technically inclined.

 

1. Helix

2. Kemper (almost a tie)

3. Fractal

 

Again, I'm not a side taker or a fanboy for anyone's stuff.

 

All three are great and I believe anyone that is able to try all 3 in depth will just narrow it down by little personal preferences. In my humble opinion, they are all equally bad@zz!

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I had the Ultra, the Axe FX II, and then the updated XL+. I still own my Kemper, and I now of course have Helix.

 

I love um all... I sold my last Axe FX XL+ cause it was the only way I thought id ever try anything else.

 

I play mostly blues rock and know what good tone sounds like. 46 years + playing.

 

Kemper is wonderful and great tone full of sweet stuff! But the bottom line for me is Helix tones are to "die" for.

 

Best of both worlds for me!  :D

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Nice to have both... hehehe!

 

We must be simliar... I tend to hug the blues to hard rock stuff.  Also been playing since right before 2nd grade...

I'm 48, so that puts me around a 42 year player...   aCk!!!  :P

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Yep sounds like it GM. In fact I just spent an hour rocking out on "Smoke on the Water" with the Park amp setup in Helix thru a Vetta II amp (using it as a monitor only).

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I was going to buy a afx or a helix and went with the helix for one big reason, the interface and usability.  I've had units and pedals that were "powerful".  But you had to go thru so many submenus and software to achieve the possibility and it was cumbersome.   I'll take a better user interface and screen all day over a basic screen that may have more potential.  Whats the use of something with so many options if you can't easily access or figure out how to achieve it.  

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I was going to buy a afx or a helix and went with the helix for one big reason, the interface and usability.  I've had units and pedals that were "powerful".  But you had to go thru so many submenus and software to achieve the possibility and it was cumbersome.   I'll take a better user interface and screen all day over a basic screen that may have more potential.  Whats the use of something with so many options if you can't easily access or figure out how to achieve it.  

 

Great point mate, totally agree with that.  A big colour screen with an easier-to-use interface should certainly win a lot of votes for the Helix. 

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I was going to buy a afx or a helix and went with the helix for one big reason, the interface and usability.  I've had units and pedals that were "powerful".  But you had to go thru so many submenus and software to achieve the possibility and it was cumbersome.   I'll take a better user interface and screen all day over a basic screen that may have more potential.  Whats the use of something with so many options if you can't easily access or figure out how to achieve it.  

 

Right on! This is what won me over to the Helix. Yes the sounds are killer, and on the comparisons I've seen, in the same zone as the AxeFX and Kemper. But the ease of use and display are vastly superior to anything else. Although the computer software is good, I don't need to use it to access the potential and tweakability of the unit. As an avowed pedals and amps guy, it took something really special to make me take this leap, and I don't regret it.

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Right on! This is what won me over to the Helix. Yes the sounds are killer, and on the comparisons I've seen, in the same zone as the AxeFX and Kemper. But the ease of use and display are vastly superior to anything else. Although the computer software is good, I don't need to use it to access the potential and tweakability of the unit. As an avowed pedals and amps guy, it took something really special to make me take this leap, and I don't regret it.

Its kinda crazy, I personally just sold off my 2nd to last amp.  I got rid of almost all my amp gear and went down to the Helix and a TS210.  I freed up alot of space and now have all the tones I can imagine.  Plus that money can be spent on more guitars.  :lol:

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Its kinda crazy, I personally just sold off my 2nd to last amp.  I got rid of almost all my amp gear and went down to the Helix and a TS210.  I freed up alot of space and now have all the tones I can imagine.  Plus that money can be spent on more guitars.  :lol:

Yes I'm at the point now where I have sold off almost all my secondary pedals that I never use to pay for the Helix.

And I'm seriously tempted to offload some of my more used pedals off my main large pedal board, which I (to be honest) can't see myself making much if any use of now. A new guitar is in my near future and the more cash I can raise the better!

 

But there's a few pedals I can't see myself parting with, some of which may be able to be used in conjunction with the Helix - Strymon BigSky & Timeline, El Capistan, H9 Max. I'll probably keep a couple of my favourite overdrives as well, but that's all.

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I have both a Kemper and a Helix.  The Kemper is great for quickly finding insanely great amp sounds-just scroll through the profiles until you hit the money shot, but the Helix is way more fun to use.  

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I had a Helix, sold it for an AX8, and went back to Helix after the 2.0 update. I have no regrets doing so.

 

You'll always be able to fins someone who tells you the Helix amp modeling is "not on the same level" as Fractal or Kemper, and it's up to you whether you want to believe that or not. With my firsthand experience, I feel I'm missing nothing, amp modeling-wise, going from AX8 to Helix. 

 

I like high gain, and between the new Mark IV, Fatality and 2204, I feel like I can cover almost every high gain amp model I really liked on the AX8. I feel like the Mark IV and Soldano cleans are everything I want in a clean tone too. But I honestly rely on Ownhammer IRs more for my tone than any given amp model. 

 

The only area I feel Line 6 is lacking when it comes to Fractal is reverbs. Helix needs some new, deep lush reverb algorithms. Fractal has them for days. 

 

Aside from that....Helix is everything my AX8 was and more. 

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A buddy of mine who is the first call musical theater guitar player in Chicago came over with his Fractal AxeFX II and we did an A/B shootout kind of thing with it and my Helix, using an FRFR powered speaker. We chose the same amp and cab models and set the volumes, tones and drives identically. There were differences, but they were very subtle, like one model would break up at a lower drive setting... things like that. IMO, the Helix held it's own against the Fractal. Of course the Fractal has more models to choose from, but there's more than enough in Helix for me. I don't think my friend is thinking of trading his Fractal, but even he had to admit that Helix's interface was much more user friendly and that the Fractal display doesn't hold a candle to the Helix one. I never even considered being able to afford an AxeFX II, but I have a Helix now and couldn't be happier!

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I'm not a fanboy of either company. Before purchasing I was playing through a tube amp/pedal setup.

 

I purchased the AX8 and spent a few weeks working with it. Then I bought the Helix and was able to do some fun A/B testing using the same IRs (Ownhammer Justin York Collection). I really expected the AX8 to outshine the Helix sonically because of all the hype. But I was surprised by how easily I could get the two to sound nearly identical. To my ears -- using headphones, studio monitors, and FRFR speakers -- any minute differences in sound/feel would be lost in a mix. At times I would look down and not be sure which unit I was playing.

 

I liked how the AX8 is more mature in sounds and options. I also liked having some of those rare, unique amp models, but the Helix's ease of use outweighed those advantages. For me, the Helix was much easier and much more fun to use. I could see where some guys would want the deep features of the AX8. I prefer the simplicity as it keeps me playing more than tweaking.

 

After a couple of weeks with both units, I found that I wasn't even turning the AX8 on any more. I put the AX8 on eBay and never looked back.

 

That said, I'm sure there are guys that went the other way. This was simply my experience. 

 

My recommendation? Buy both and try them out. See which one inspires you to play more. I was able to sell the AX8 for more than I bought it (even though that was not my intention).

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