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Need Helix purchase advice.....is it good?


metalman1221
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Hey all, I am not new here though I have not been here in awhile. I have had many LINE 6 products from the Flextone to HD-147 to Spider Valve head and cabs for live.......and every POD as well. I still have my POD HD Bean but I switched to the Eleven Rack a few years ago. I am in the market for new gear and I was interested in the Fractal Axe Effect as well as this new Helix.I have watched a lot of You Tube comparison vids and the Helix sounds pretty damn good. I dont play live anymore but I do a alot of home recording so good gear and tone is important.So I am asking any Helix owners here.......Is it really that good and worth it? I would be buying the rack version. I also play mostly metal and some blues so I would be interested to know if Helix can handle high gain tones that sound great as well as blues rock.

Any info given as far as ease of use, amp tones would be really great.  

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Yes it is good. Yes, it will do the full range of guitar sounds really well. However so will the Fractal gear. It can reasonably be claimed to have the best interface and the best connectivity But again Fractal fans will still swear by their gear. I have come to believe that knowing how the thing works, knowing what you want and how to get it will probably count for more which device you chose as far as sound goes.

These are both great bits of kit!

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Since you do mostly home rrecording you will want to pay particular attention to using the device as an audio interface. I don't know about Fractal's abilities in this regard but I know that Helix is an excellent interface with 8 in/out channels via USB, direct recording of two simultaneous dry signals, and easy reamping.

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Thanks for the replies. Yes, I will be using this an interface into my DAW. The POD HD and my Eleven Rack are both excellent for this. An out of state friend has the Fractal and yes ,he swears by it. I know he says it is excellent for home recording. But man.......$2500    I don't mind spending money but the Helix is a thousand less and seems to sound great from what I heard online.

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Ive owned the Axe FX II XL+, the Helix and a Kemper. All 3 sound just KILLER and its a good time to be alive if you are a guitar player! I now do mostly home stuff and still have the Helix and Kemper. Ive been using Line 6 products since before the Variax had alternate tunings, and I can tell you that once you figure out Helix (which is easy compared to the Axe FX) it sounds amazing. Tones to die for. I would say that if the Axe FX II XL+ was priced at the same lvl as Helix, then Line 6 might have more competition. Is it better? Thats a matter of opinion. As always YMMV, but Im an old RocknRoller who's had many different rigs over 40 + years, and I have a Helix and Kemper now. I hope that tells you something. Good luck and Happy New Year in what you choose!

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I don't use mine the same way that you'll be using yours, but I haven't regretted my purchase at all. Coming from the HD500x where I know you can get good tones, but I struggled. I hope you enjoy it! I got mine around this time last year.

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Don't get the rack without control, and if price is an object just get the floor as the functionality is virtually identical.

 

Seriously, one of the best things about Helix is workflow, and Control is a huge part of it.

 

The rack is the one I am getting as my studio set up is optomized for rack units.......What do you mean by get it with control?

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The rack doesn't come with the floor control (foot pedals), it's an extra $400.  I have the rack and used it about a week without the floor controller and it's very doable, but it's a better experience with it.

 

Also, I was in your shoes a few weeks ago.  Had the Eleven Rack and wasn't sure about the Helix.  I gambled on it and I love it.  It's so much better than the 11R.

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The rack doesn't come with the floor control (foot pedals), it's an extra $400.  I have the rack and used it about a week without the floor controller and it's very doable, but it's a better experience with it.

 

Also, I was in your shoes a few weeks ago.  Had the Eleven Rack and wasn't sure about the Helix.  I gambled on it and I love it.  It's so much better than the 11R.

Lol.....Oh, you meant that. Yeah, I may add that in later. Not really needed right now. I had the FBV Floorboard when I played live using a Spider Valve head an cabinet.......It helped.

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Lol.....Oh, you meant that. Yeah, I may add that in later. Not really needed right now. I had the FBV Floorboard when I played live using a Spider Valve head an cabinet.......It helped.

 

 

The difference in added functionality is much more enormous with Helix than previous Line 6 products.

 

That said, if you don't need to switch sounds or turn FX on and off while playing, you'll be okay. You'll have more fun with it, but still...

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The difference in added functionality is much more enormous with Helix than previous Line 6 products.

 

That said, if you don't need to switch sounds or turn FX on and off while playing, you'll be okay. You'll have more fun with it, but still...

Yeah, with me as long as I have my dedicated rhythm tones and a lead tone, I am good. Since all of my stuff is recording into my DAW, I would not be switching up anything since I will be tracking my guitar parts (Rhythm tracks then lead tracks one at a time)....I am assuming Helix has some kind of online editor like POD has Line -6 Edit? That made it easy when I needed to switch tones......point ,click, play.....

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....I am assuming Helix has some kind of online editor like POD has Line -6 Edit? That made it easy when I needed to switch tones......point ,click, play.....

You assume correctly, the Helix editor is alive and well. Line 6 is taking it serious and keeping it in full improvement mode with updates along with their Helix hardware.

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Congrats! I think you'll love it as I do mine! I've owned a bunch of Line 6 gear too and I think Helix is miles ahead of anything they've previously come up with, both in terms of realism and ease of use. I was using a Pod HD500 previously and the difference is night and day! A buddy came over with his Fractal AxeFX II for an A/B comparison... and he ended up getting a Helix and putting his Fractal up for sale on eBay. I think it was the Helix's user interface that sold him, as the sounds were fairly similar in many cases. Fractal has more models, but imo, Helix has more than enough.

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Congrats! I think you'll love it as I do mine! I've owned a bunch of Line 6 gear too and I think Helix is miles ahead of anything they've previously come up with, both in terms of realism and ease of use. I was using a Pod HD500 previously and the difference is night and day! A buddy came over with his Fractal AxeFX II for an A/B comparison... and he ended up getting a Helix and putting his Fractal up for sale on eBay. I think it was the Helix's user interface that sold him, as the sounds were fairly similar in many cases. Fractal has more models, but imo, Helix has more than enough.

Agreed...Sometimes too many models is just too much.......I am simple.....nice cleans, nice distortion and great effects, that's what I need....I watched a lot of compare vids and I did not see that big of a difference between Fractal and Helix......not enough for a thousand dollar difference anyway. 

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Nothing to lose, you can send it back if you don't like it. I would recommend you take the time to do the update to 2.11 while in your tryout period. The first 1 or 2 times you update the Helix, you might get a bit flustered, but if you follow their steps exactly, the learning curve is quick. I had not played around with any of the factory presets much since first buying mine last year, but just the other night I went back and noodled around with some of their updated sounds in Ver 2.11 and I can tell a significant difference via my DAW and monitors, more of the factory presets are totally usable 'as is' now. Have fun, let us know what you think!?

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Nothing to lose, you can send it back if you don't like it. I would recommend you take the time to do the update to 2.11 while in your tryout period. The first 1 or 2 times you update the Helix, you might get a bit flustered, but if you follow their steps exactly, the learning curve is quick. I had not played around with any of the factory presets much since first buying mine last year, but just the other night I went back and noodled around with some of their updated sounds in Ver 2.11 and I can tell a significant difference via my DAW and monitors, more of the factory presets are totally usable 'as is' now. Have fun, let us know what you think!?

I'll give you all my feedback. I had a lot of Line 6 products and were happy with them over the years.....except when I owned the HD-147 head......man that head was a handful to dial in tones on.    :angry:

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Thanks again! I am ordering the Helix tomorrow.

Some things you may want to know.  The majority of folks do not like the native cabs. Especially myself. They are the least favorite of any i own. Including TH3, Redwirez, BIAS, and others.  So unless you have a healthy stock of IRs, plan on spending another $100 there. Of course you could scrimp by on less. The mic modelling isnt very realistic either. They all sound like about the same IR,  that have been EQ'd a little differently. They dont impart any of the characteristics that the real mic does....and you cant move them left and right so its always that same kind of static blah. You'll find very few if any,  real good Helix tones on the net using the native cabs. Esp not high gain.

 

Updates havent been the smoothest around here. The latest update was the first that all of my essentials were covered problem free, but thats just me. Others were still having problems, and it often seems like its more than just a handful of folks..

 

Helix has a good many descent sounding fx, and they come in handy, but thats not really how good recordings are done on a consistent basis. Fx in any unit are really more for live uses.  Tracking with fx not only takes some power out of your hands at mixdown, but getting it right every time you print a track just isnt realistic,,so while having all the fx is great, its not something that is real beneficial in a recording scenario.

 

Helix is finicky and can be hard to get good sound from. I wish i had a dollar from every poster here that asked how to get rid of the fizz or why "it just doesnt sound right". :) A lot of guys, even after a fairly long spell with helix, still seem to be looking for the right combination/set-up, throwing more money at FRFRs, trying alternative hookups to most of the gear they own. Tone chasing in short. 

 

Thje IR section comes up a little short. You will have to rename any IRs you import, and in alphabetical or numerical order, so they retain their order when backing up (you back everything up before you update software) or exporting your lists. Its a bit of a hassle. 

 

You dont seem to demand a whole lot in your quest, so maybe Helix and a few IRs will get you through.  Just a few things to consider, and things id sure want to know pre-sale. Good luck with everything. I hope you find what you are looking for.

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The M13 was my first and only other Line 6 product, I still have it and use it at church. It's a great product both tonally and ease of use - it's functionality and layout is simple and smart (like the Helix), it really got my attention re Line 6 gear. 

 

Good place to start! Mine is still active; I take it on the road with me and use it with a rented Mesa Triple Recto for 30 to 40 shows a year. It's held up amazingly well considering it stays in my checked luggage. To be honest, I haven't replaced that rig with my Helix because I'm afraid for it with the way those gorillas at the airline companies handle luggage. I suppose if the M13 lasted this long, the Helix would too; it's built like a tank after all! But you know, it's my newest baby and all... 

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...The majority of folks do not like the native cabs...

 

...Updates havent been the smoothest around here...

 

...Helix is finicky and can be hard to get good sound from...

 

 

No. 1 is debatable. I and others are having SMASHING success with the native cabs, especially used as dual cabs up and changing the mic model and distance from default. IRs certainly CAN be your friend here, but the stock cabs really do sound quite good. So... "most"? I doubt it.

 

No. 2 is not debatable. I have never had the problems others have had, and 90% or more of problems Line 6 gets when people call about this have missed a step in the directions, but the directions are hard and complicated for many, and Line 6 says they will address this in the coming year.

 

No. 3... From a few days out, I was able to get great sound from Helix in a very few minutes of programming. Once you learn the way the unit "thinks", it's easy.

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Some things you may want to know.  The majority of folks do not like the native cabs. Especially myself. They are the least favorite of any i own. Including TH3, Redwirez, BIAS, and others.  So unless you have a healthy stock of IRs, plan on spending another $100 there. Of course you could scrimp by on less. The mic modelling isnt very realistic either. They all sound like about the same IR,  that have been EQ'd a little differently. They dont impart any of the characteristics that the real mic does....and you cant move them left and right so its always that same kind of static blah. You'll find very few if any,  real good Helix tones on the net using the native cabs. Esp not high gain.

 

Updates havent been the smoothest around here. The latest update was the first that all of my essentials were covered problem free, but thats just me. Others were still having problems, and it often seems like its more than just a handful of folks..

 

Helix has a good many descent sounding fx, and they come in handy, but thats not really how good recordings are done on a consistent basis. Fx in any unit are really more for live uses.  Tracking with fx not only takes some power out of your hands at mixdown, but getting it right every time you print a track just isnt realistic,,so while having all the fx is great, its not something that is real beneficial in a recording scenario.

 

Helix is finicky and can be hard to get good sound from. I wish i had a dollar from every poster here that asked how to get rid of the fizz or why "it just doesnt sound right". :) A lot of guys, even after a fairly long spell with helix, still seem to be looking for the right combination/set-up, throwing more money at FRFRs, trying alternative hookups to most of the gear they own. Tone chasing in short. 

 

Thje IR section comes up a little short. You will have to rename any IRs you import, and in alphabetical or numerical order, so they retain their order when backing up (you back everything up before you update software) or exporting your lists. Its a bit of a hassle. 

 

You dont seem to demand a whole lot in your quest, so maybe Helix and a few IRs will get you through.  Just a few things to consider, and things id sure want to know pre-sale. Good luck with everything. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Ok, thanks for the info......I did not order it last night as planned as I watched way too many more comp vids. I watched a comp between this and a floor model Fractal unit and a lot of talk was about the Line 6 fizz........That caught my attention because the reason I stopped using the POD HD was because of this. Once I got the Eleven Rack there was no fizz.....so I was happy......until I heard the Fractal AxeII and the Helix........but now you say Helix has that fizz too? 

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Ok, thanks for the info......I did not order it last night as planned as I watched way too many more comp vids. I watched a comp between this and a floor model Fractal unit and a lot of talk was about the Line 6 fizz........That caught my attention because the reason I stopped using the POD HD was because of this. Once I got the Eleven Rack there was no fizz.....so I was happy......until I heard the Fractal AxeII and the Helix........but now you say Helix has that fizz too? 

 

See the above post by PeterHamm (#26). I agree with him that the onboard cab sims are good, way better than the last Pod HD ones at any rate. I haven't gotten any IRs yet and I may at some point, but I'm not displeased with the cabs in Helix like some are. As far as fizz, you may encounter it on some high gain amp models, but there's several ways to get rid of it. By my second day with Helix, I was getting some pretty great sounds. You'll find all kinds of opinions on any discussion forum and this is no exception. The only one that really matters is your own.

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See the above post by PeterHamm (#26). I agree with him that the onboard cab sims are good, way better than the last Pod HD ones at any rate. I haven't gotten any IRs yet and I may at some point, but I'm not displeased with the cabs in Helix like some are. As far as fizz, you may encounter it on some high gain amp models, but there's several ways to get rid of it. By my second day with Helix, I was getting some pretty great sounds. You'll find all kinds of opinions on any discussion forum and this is no exception. The only one that really matters is your own.

Thanks......And just 2 more questions please:  B)

1.  Does Helix have a smart harmony feature? I absolutely loved this effect in the POD HD.

2.  Can you download/share user made tones like before on other units?

 

Promise......I am close to stopping all my questions!  :ph34r:

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Metalman1221: Read this review on TGP: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/3-days-with-a-helix-for-an-axe-and-kemper-owner-user.1780565/

 

I too find Helix's stock cabs, once dialed in and blended in multi-cab configs, can deliver exceptional results. I have not yet felt compelled to buy IRs.

 

No Fizz encountered here.

 

The monitors you will be listening through will have a massive impact on how things sound. Choose them wisely!

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Metalman1221: Read this review on TGP: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/3-days-with-a-helix-for-an-axe-and-kemper-owner-user.1780565/

 

I too find Helix's stock cabs, once dialed in and blended in multi-cab configs, can deliver exceptional results. I have not yet felt compelled to buy IRs.

 

No Fizz encountered here.

 

The monitors you will be listening through will have a massive impact on how things sound. Choose them wisely!

Thanks! I have pretty decent studio monitors.......I also use my headphones while recording a lot of the time. I have really good Sennheisers. 

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Ok, thanks for the info......I did not order it last night as planned as I watched way too many more comp vids. I watched a comp between this and a floor model Fractal unit and a lot of talk was about the Line 6 fizz........That caught my attention because the reason I stopped using the POD HD was because of this. Once I got the Eleven Rack there was no fizz.....so I was happy......until I heard the Fractal AxeII and the Helix........but now you say Helix has that fizz too? 

Yeah, search fizz in the forum.  As others have said, it *can* be somewhat dialed out, but who wants to waste their time trying to dial something out that shouldnt be there in the first place? With IRs, y6ou slap on the right one and you spend your time trying to augment an already great sound instead of trying to dial out an annoyance. Bottom line is you can get better sounds than what Helix cabs have to offer.

 

Just a note about monitors. I have at least 6 sets. My working set is extremely high end. My Helix sounds best to most of us, thru a $500 set of Event TR8s.

 

I wont argue about it. Just trying to give the OP all angles to look at. It aint all roses. some posters act like he should spend his money on it with out even thinking about it.  I'll let him make up his own mind, and he can attest or deny whether the advice i gave him was reasonable or not.

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Ok, thanks for the info......I did not order it last night as planned as I watched way too many more comp vids. I watched a comp between this and a floor model Fractal unit and a lot of talk was about the Line 6 fizz........That caught my attention because the reason I stopped using the POD HD was because of this. Once I got the Eleven Rack there was no fizz.....so I was happy......until I heard the Fractal AxeII and the Helix........but now you say Helix has that fizz too? 

 

Made this video using the stock AC30 Fawn Normal preset and turned up the gain. All other amp/cab/mic settings are factory. Zero fizz. Also plenty of real amps are fizzy. You just can't hear it in a mix or a mastered record. 

 

https://youtu.be/8aRJNHI6EkM?t=43

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Made this video using the stock AC30 Fawn Normal preset and turned up the gain. All other amp/cab/mic settings are factory. Zero fizz. Also plenty of real amps are fizzy. You just can't hear it in a mix or a mastered record. 

 

https://youtu.be/8aRJNHI6EkM?t=43

Thats not an accurate statement. The first thing you ask a player is if he is hearing EXACTLY what he wants to from his amplifier. If there are excessive high end artifacts, you deal with it then and there. You cant record it and hope it doesnt show in the mix or tell the player "oh you'll never hear that". The sound you want to hear on the record, is the one you must have coming from your amp. Excessive high frequency information from the guitars causes frequency masking across the cymbals vocals and whatever else may have importance in that range. It absolutely can not be there if its not adding to the instrument sound or overall track.

 

Your guitar is not bad, but it does sound band limited in the top end...so no there wont be fizz.

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Thats not an accurate statement. The first thing you ask a player is if he is hearing EXACTLY what he wants to from his amplifier. If there are excessive high end artifacts, you deal with it then and there. You cant record it and hope it doesnt show in the mix or tell the player "oh you'll never hear that". The sound you want to hear on the record, is the one you must have coming from your amp. Excessive high frequency information from the guitars causes frequency masking across the cymbals vocals and whatever else may have importance in that range. It absolutely can not be there if its not adding to the instrument sound or overall track.

 

Your guitar is not bad, but it does sound band limited in the top end...so no there wont be fizz.

 

I totally agree. I meant that plenty of real amps have fizz that needs to be removed, so it's not a problem unique to modelers as is often claimed. 

 

Thanks for the comment about my video. Using the stock amp, cab, and mic settings with no eq or anything. 87 condenser, cab high cut off. 

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