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Helix vs AX8

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Ola´s review :

 

 

Have to say that AX8 sounds better on that video and i do own Helix but that is just one video :)

 

Another review !!

 

 

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Not a metal fan but the comparison was interesting. The IR's really balanced the base out. With the limited information provided it would be hard to determine if every avenue was pursued when adjusting the presets to match. Based on the amps used the variances can be simply in the amps used during programming. It also seemed that the gain was a little less on the Helix but again not know the settings prohibits any further discussion on what minor changes could be made on either side. Both sounded like an amp. Adjust to suite and rock on.

 

 

Another comparison but it matters not. Choose wisely and move on. It is better to play guitar than piddle with settings for days upon end.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL2yCPTlGVk

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Having played both on multiple occasions, and owning a Helix, my personal take on it is that the feature set was the deciding factor.  They both sounded great, but Helix brought a lot more to the table for what I needed to use it for.  Others maybe not.  

 

Things that made a difference for me:

 

USB audio interface

UI ease of use

Routing and effect block flexibility

Scribble strips

Variax integration

 

There are other things I could mention, but those things jump out when I think about the differences.  

 

I do want to stress that both are great units and capable of creating amazing tone.  

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There is an inbuilt human tendency, nay desire to 

 

a) Lament about the product you handed money over for

b) Be critical of the competitor's solution you chose against.

 

Who wants to feel they bought the lemon. More importantly who doesn't want the dude who bought the other product and puts it above your choice, not to feel like they bought the lemon.

 

Ultimately, and has been said many many times. You can get great tone out of a Helix. You can get great tone out of a Fractal. Neither are going to make a poor player sound great or a great player sound poor. The rest, is just ether.

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There is an inbuilt human tendency, nay desire to 

 

a) Lament about the product you handed money over for

B) Be critical of the competitor's solution you chose against.

 

Who wants to feel they bought the lemon. More importantly who doesn't want the dude who bought the other product and puts it above your choice, not to feel like they bought the lemon.

 

Ultimately, and has been said many many times. You can get great tone out of a Helix. You can get great tone out of a Fractal. Neither are going to make a poor player sound great or a great player sound poor. The rest, is just ether.

 

Glad they are both out there, they provide choice, healthy competition, and encourage and inspire each other to innovate and play Leapfrog. It's all good!

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I honestly thought the ax8 sounded better in that demo, and it well may be "more realistic" sounding in general. I kinda figured that before I bought a helix, so I'm not too upset.

 

And the reason is that if sounding true to an amp was the only thing I cared about, I'd get a kemper - full stop. See also, the most recent Anderson's kemper shootout. And also, Cliff is a douche and I don't wanna give him money.

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Hey guys, thanks for watching the video. Just a comment on me having more time with the AX8 is not entirely true, I've only been using the FX with the AX8 for my touring rig, other than that I haven't spent more or less time with the AX8 or the Helix amp and cab simulation. 

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First of all, a big Thank you to ola for creating that Video. He definetely knows his high gains and therefore i think it's safe to consider the presented sounds as a good general image of what can be achieved with both units without digging too deep in all the parameters and tricks that are there. I liked the ax8 better in that video too, and I do own the helix since january.

Nevertheless i was wondering if the helix fizzines that is obvious in that video is a result of internal clipping. Unfortunately the helix lacks a clipping Meter (maybe in the next Version). I recently discovered that lowering the Level Output (-16db by default i think) of my IR-Blocks about 4-5db gives me more natural and rounder sounding tones. Since the sounds ola created have this kind of clipping tone that i was experiencing with my device, before lowering the Output as described it might be, that this might also help with Olas Patches.

After all, like ola stated, both units are good sounding and I doubt wether anyone except us gear nerds would actually care the subtle differences of both devices. I doubt that either the purchase of a ax8 or a helix could be legitimately called buying a lemon!

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Mature talking  :) but i think Ola would notice if the clipping was happening in his daw that for sure.

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Excellent and interesting explorations.

 

REALLY interesting the way Ola's own IR levelled the playing field a lot to my ears.

Great sounds all around - now, to figure out that elusive little 'something' from the Fractal which imparts that bit of 'in the room' sound & feel...

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... He definetely knows his high gains and therefore i think it's safe to consider the presented sounds as a good general image of what can be achieved with both units without digging too deep in all the parameters and tricks that are there...

 

Maybe, but it's hard to tell a persons motive from a video. Is he equally vested in both products? I don't know him so I approach it as skeptical, but informative. In the second video I posted you can actually see the parameters which also gives you an indication of some slight variances within the programming structure. i.e. the AX has more gain at the same value. Based on this when comparing you will know you might need to add a couple notches on the helix for "like" gain structure. The IR's are huge. The "fizz" can be reduced on the stock cabinets with a high cut back down to speaker cabinet territory (5-9).....or IR's for that matter.

 

Good videos and appreciated. If you can it is probably better to compare your settings and sound against an amp though - not the alternative products. You will condition yourself to the response and sounds of an amp which is far better of a guide (if you have them available of course.)

 

Having said that I do like hearing whatever differences may be present between the products.

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I'm not talking clipping the daw input or outputwise. Internal clipping in the helix signal path is what i meant. Lowering the Level in helix internal signal chain helped with my own Patches, might help with others too.

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I'm not talking clipping the daw input or outputwise. Internal clipping in the helix signal path is what i meant. Lowering the Level in helix internal signal chain helped with my own Patches, might help with others too.

 ^ This!!!

 

Internal Clipping is happening, I'm almost sure of it, thats what it sounds like to me...

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Maybe, but it's hard to tell a persons motive from a video. Is he equally vested in both products?

Just to respond to this, I don't have a deal with any of these brands and I haven't received any money or gear to make the comparison. It was a coincidence that I had the units at the same time. I made the video because I know people want a video like this to happen. People who know me know that I go unbiased even WITH the brands I'm endorsed by, a good product is a good product.

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I'm not talking clipping the daw input or outputwise. Internal clipping in the helix signal path is what i meant. Lowering the Level in helix internal signal chain helped with my own Patches, might help with others too.

Interesting, I didn't know this when I had the unit so that might have affected some of the sounds

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It took me 7 months of playing and coincidentally reading a forum post before i even thought about rethinking the level structure of my helix Patches. It's not a very obvious issue but thinking about it and making changes according to my findings helped my sounds.

That must not necessarily mean that there was the same issue in the patches from your video, that was just my 2 Cents

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on a side note....I am having troubles finding how to link the videos from YouTube as is the first post. I linked with the link function, but the first post shows the full view. I'm looking through the options but seem to be missing it.

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One of the challenges with these comparison videos is actually getting the presets on both units to be set as similarly as possible. I understand that using a 3rd party IR allows both units to be compared with the same cab sound which is probably the element that makes the most profound difference to the sound. However this does little to give you a feel for what the unit will sound like with the native built-in cabs. Any given 3rd party cab may interact better with the amps on one MFX than another. Sometimes I think the best test would just be what do the default sounds on the native amp and cab on the Helix vs. Fractal sound like with no tweaking whatsoever. Even this does not truly give you an idea of which unit has the capability to sound better with proper tweaking, only which unit sounds better out of the box. In other words, which company did a better job of releasing the stock settings.

 

I think my ideal head to head comparison would involve two teams of "experts", one Fractal team and one Helix team. They would both have extensive time in programming their respective units and be great musicians with good ears. Each team would be tasked with coming up with either one version or multiple versions of the best amp sound they could get out of their MFX for each of a set of given amps. To me this would give a much better idea of what each unit is truly capable of. Maybe we need an "MFX Olympics". The benefit would be that they could make the presets they designed available to the public after the competition. Just think of the endorsements and groupies these guys could go home with after the "Olympics"  :D

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To further that idea -

 

Setup a couple amps with various channel settings that are "in common" based on a known artist or someone that is well respected. That setup would be mic'd up and ran through the FOH. The competition would be for the groups to setup their product in such a way to reproduce that amp sound. Bring the guitarist back up and have an A/B/C etc. switch where there are no knowns except the guitar and cable (all equipment is unknown). Play through the various presets and then it becomes interesting. See if the guitarist can even tell the difference. Have a few other people see if they can tell any differences. Seems like a PR opportunity for the modeling/profiling industry.

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To further that idea -

 

Setup a couple amps with various channel settings that are "in common" based on a known artist or someone that is well respected. That setup would be mic'd up and ran through the FOH. The competition would be for the groups to setup their product in such a way to reproduce that amp sound. Bring the guitarist back up and have an A/B/C etc. switch where there are no knowns except the guitar and cable (all equipment is unknown). Play through the various presets and then it becomes interesting. See if the guitarist can even tell the difference. Have a few other people see if they can tell any differences. Seems like a PR opportunity for the modeling/profiling industry.

Grin, looks like we have a submission for our first event at the upcoming(first?) "MFX Olympics". Instead of a Bronze, Silver, and Gold, we can award say a "Clapton", "Morse", "Hendrix" (insert your favorite guitar players for consideration in whatever order you deem appropriate, I can easily think of 100 other worthy nominations for naming the trophies). When do we start the qualifying rounds for the programmers/musicians who make it on to the official representing teams?

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The sound sample is limited chugging and not really representing a cross section of styles.

It seemed the Axe 8 sounded better and the Helix rather brash especially onboard cabs..

My guess is the demo guy is already an Axe FX user as I am certain some tweaking would bring the best out of the Helix.

I did think his summation at the end was un biased based on what he got from it. All good  Pros and Cons but 

hitting the Helix in the Amp sounds is a knockout really.

So perhaps biased is correct 

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Sounds like a terrific shoot out comparison for the 2017 Winter NAMM show!

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I like my Helix but we are supposed to like what we have. As far as "better", I have never been much of a fan of "shootouts" as so much variant cannot be all taken into account and IRs are another infinite variable. Seems more an EQ thing to me between the two, there is so much than can be adjusted and tweaked. Helix is a hell of a unit in my universe, I do not regret getting it one little bit. If I had an AX8 I am sure that would be sounding great as well. There is no "better" here. And as usual I find A/B shootouts rather meaningless. I've heard others side by side and a Kemper and if you tell the difference when they are tweaked to be matched your ears must be better than mine. I am happy with the Helix and while I used to dream of being able to afford a Fractal or a Kemper I do not so much care anymore, 

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I like my Helix but we are supposed to like what we have. As far as "better", I have never been much of a fan of "shootouts" as so much variant cannot be all taken into account and IRs are another infinite variable. Seems more an EQ thing to me between the two, there is so much than can be adjusted and tweaked. Helix is a hell of a unit in my universe, I do not regret getting it one little bit. If I had an AX8 I am sure that would be sounding great as well. There is no "better" here. And as usual I find A/B shootouts rather meaningless. I've heard others side by side and a Kemper and if you tell the difference when they are tweaked to be matched your ears must be better than mine. I am happy with the Helix and while I used to dream of being able to afford a Fractal or a Kemper I do not so much care anymore, 

 

I hear ya, the Kemper, Fractal, and Helix are all great devices and there is more to compare on them than just the amp sounds. And yes, I am more than happy with my Helix and don't spend my time lusting after its competitors (much).  But... I still like the idea of a competition that would yield some epic presets and encourage all the companies involved to bring new features and improved models. Probably generate some buzz and sell a lot of merch in the process. Could be good for all parties involved. (or probably just a truly goofball idea that will never happen, just spitballin' here). Even if this just happened online it would be fun to see. I really appreciate the folks who put so much effort into these video comparisons but the videos just seem to have too many variables (some of which I pointed out in my post above) and require too much work for one person to truly demonstrate the best these units have to offer.  Takes a village to get the best out of a complex MFX. Perhaps an "Olympic village"?  :P

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I did put another review top of this topic  :D

 

I guess i can put it here too :)

 

 

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This is the one my link goes to. How do you link to show the link as you have it?

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Why are we even concerned with this sort of lollipop?

 

In this forum we nearly all have Helix.

 

If you spend the time and learn:

  • what real amps sound like when recorded using different mics
  • what guitar/pedal/amp combos work well together
  • how to programme patches to recreate your physical gear (or new exciting setups)
  • how EQ affects your signal - from a scientific perspective or relatively using experience

you will be more than happy with Helix...or Axe-FX...or Kemper.

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One of the challenges with these comparison videos is actually getting the presets on both units to be set as similarly as possible. I understand that using a 3rd party IR allows both units to be compared with the same cab sound which is probably the element that makes the most profound difference to the sound. However this does little to give you a feel for what the unit will sound like with the native built-in cabs. Any given 3rd party cab may interact better with the amps on one MFX than another. Sometimes I think the best test would just be what do the default sounds on the native amp and cab on the Helix vs. Fractal sound like with no tweaking whatsoever. Even this does not truly give you an idea of which unit has the capability to sound better with proper tweaking, only which unit sounds better out of the box. In other words, which company did a better job of releasing the stock settings.

 

I think my ideal head to head comparison would involve two teams of "experts", one Fractal team and one Helix team. They would both have extensive time in programming their respective units and be great musicians with good ears. Each team would be tasked with coming up with either one version or multiple versions of the best amp sound they could get out of their MFX for each of a set of given amps. To me this would give a much better idea of what each unit is truly capable of. Maybe we need an "MFX Olympics". The benefit would be that they could make the presets they designed available to the public after the competition. Just think of the endorsements and groupies these guys could go home with after the "Olympics"  :D

But does Axe have cabs like Helix where they can change mics and distance of mic to cab?

If not than third party IR is the only fair way to compare the units.

As i.m.o Helix cabs dont sound good

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But does Axe have cabs like Helix where they can change mics and distance of mic to cab?

If not than third party IR is the only fair way to compare the units.

As i.m.o Helix cabs dont sound good

 

I've actually come to the conclusion that I like the Helix cabs more than most IRs I hear. Most samples of IRs I hear sound, I don't know, too hyped up or something. It's hard to explain, but there's like a polish I hear on a lot of samples with IRs that doesn't sound realistic to me. It's almost like a guitar tone after it's undergone mastering on an album. I can understand why people like them, but I prefer the raw sound of the Helix cab models. They just feel and sound better to me... It was my impression when trying the AX8 in person as well. That's just my opinion and experience, though. It really should have no bearing on anyone but me.

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Yeah IR´s are over hyped thats for sure ;)  I am very very happy Helix owner but its always good that there is competition going on  :D

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I did put another review top of this topic  :D

 

I guess i can put it here too :)

 

 

 

I find this review very useful, and maybe that's because it re-enforces what I have been saying for nearly a year now.. and that is..  They are BOTH great units.   I am absolutely convinced that  rather than setting both to the same settings, one could adjust one unit or the other (or both) to sound like it's counterpart by digging deep into adjusting gain and eq and working with the hum, sag, ripple, bias controls.   At least close enough that  you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two units in a blind test.  And as far as sounding or "feeling" like the real amp that is being modeled..  well the same issue is there.  How old are the tubes, are there any mods, condition of the speaker, mic and placement, etc etc etc..  Either unit and I'll add the Kemper to be fair, can get whatever sound you need.

 

But SOUND is NOT the only reason to buy one of these units.  If you are just interested in "sound" than just buy or rent the amps you need.   But... even at that... trust me.   My one test attempting to match a restored B15 Fliptop against the Helix taught me, that I'm best off just using the Helix cause there are too many other variables involved in recording an actual amp, or worse, having to come back in another session and get it to sound the same....   it's just not worth it.   

 

But... as I said above.. it's not just about the sound.  It's the routing, the interface, the control, etc..   One should decide which unit to buy really based on everything EXCEPT the tone.   Pick the UNIT that fits what you need to use if for.   That's the real difference between the units...  You can make any of these units pretty much sound like what you need it to.

 

JMHO... YMMV

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I own both. Yes, I am insane. Overall, the Helix just cannot even be compared to the AX8. It has a massive amount of features that the AX8 does not including the ability to use the Helix as an audio interface. You cannot use the AX8 as an audio interface. THIS IS HUGE to me. Yes, I think the AX8 has slightly better sounding "stock" models and cab sims out of the box. However, you can tweak the living crap out of all of that on each unit. I don't think I have ever met anyone worth a crap who doesn't EQ guitar tracks when recording.

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I own both. Yes, I am insane. Overall, the Helix just cannot even be compared to the AX8. It has a massive amount of features that the AX8 does not including the ability to use the Helix as an audio interface. You cannot use the AX8 as an audio interface. THIS IS HUGE to me. Yes, I think the AX8 has slightly better sounding "stock" models and cab sims out of the box. However, you can tweak the living crap out of all of that on each unit. I don't think I have ever met anyone worth a crap who doesn't EQ guitar tracks when recording.

I own both as well and can get all the tones through the Helix that I can on the AX8. The only reason I like the AX8 is for the amount of amps and FX compared to the Helix. 

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I own both the Kemper and the Helix. I may be with you on the cabs within the AX8, but not the amps. I've A/B'd with purchased and free profiles and even made profiles of my Helix settings and I would make the statement that my Helix presets and profiles are as good and many times better. The stock cabs just need adjusted. They come in with a wide range on the settings. Once narrowed down they are back in the ballpark. I also compare those sounds to a tube amp running into a weber load box and then into a Two Notes cab (so I have a mic'd sound from the tube amp into the PA) as well as switching to just speaker cabs (212 EVH 5153 12H30's & Orange 412 V30's). There are no losers in this scenario. It only continues to prove how much the technology has developed.

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