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robhicks666

Helix - How does the Audio Interface compare to dedicated interfaces?

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Hi folks

 

I'd be interest to tap into the experience in this forum to understand how the audio interface of the Helix (rack or floor) compares to some popular dedicated interfaces such as Apogee Duet 2, focusrite kit etc. 

 

I'm considering simplifying my setup. I have a Apogee Duet already but I'm looking to dive into the hardware guitar modelling/effects as the software plugins aren't doing it for me. If the interface quality was good, I could ditch the audio interface and sell it on. Simplification of the setup and audio quality being key. 

 

As an aside, I record guitars only and monitor through headphones or monitor speakers. 

 

Many thanks

 

Rob

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Helix is piece of cake simple. If you are using a Mac, connect the Helix and you automatically have 8 in and 8 out via usb. If you are using a Windows based system, you have to install a driver, but you get the same thing: 8 in and 8 out. Super easy to reamp dry tracks as well. 

 

It is actually as easy to set up and use as in this video. 

 

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Many thanks for that reply. The setup is not so much key, it's the audio quality I'm looking at. How might that compare against popular audio interfaces out there. Cheers

 

Rob

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Well, from my experience, the guitar quality is excellent. But it is different. Well for me. I no longer use any effects or amp models in software. Some people still love certain plugins. They won't change. But I'm generally recording fully processed sounds. That is processed by the Helix. That was not possible before. As just dry sound that you reamp, I don't do that.

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Many thanks for that reply. The setup is not so much key, it's the audio quality I'm looking at. How might that compare against popular audio interfaces out there. Cheers

 

Rob

There are those who will tell you that a direct USB connection to your computer is "better" than going through an interface, as there is one less round of A/D conversion. As far as I'm concerned the difference is imperceptible, and I'm as loony a tone-snob as anyone else around here. Blindfolded, the overwhelming majority of us mere mortals will never be able to tell the difference.

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The hardware quality (A/D, D/A, inputs, etc...) equal or surpass any of the basic interfaces out there. Helix has a dedicated guitar input, aux input, mic input, 4 loop in/outs, 1/4" outs, and XLR outs. So not only is it a great interface, but it has routing capabilities beyond so many other modeler/multi-effect out there. You also have 4 dedicated signal paths internally that you can control independently within the Helix. So you can have an electric guitar, acoustic guitar (via mic input), and bass (via Aux in) going at the same time with independent amp models/effects if you wanted. 

 

If you are already looking into diving into the modeling world, you get the added benefit of ditching the Apogee if you wanted.

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I'm gonna push back... a little... functionally, it does NOT beat a dedicated Audio Interface if you have to record anything more than 1 or 2 instruments at a time. You only have 1 mic in, the main guitar input is really only for electric guitar, and it can be a little clunky if you have to add on a mixer or something to mic a drum kit. So, if you're recording a band, and that's the MAIN thing you're doing...? Keep (or buy) your dedicated interface.

But...

...if you are a home studio geek like me who only records an instrument at a time...

...put it this way, I just recently sold my dedicated Audio Interface, because I don't use it anymore...

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Oh, and the audio quality is just peachy. Sounded as good as my MOTU interface I used to use, except that when I added the vintage mic pre to the signal chain for my vocals it sounded noticeably better.

 

Every instrument except Bass and midi tracks on this recording right here came from Helix if you're interested.

 

https://peterhamm.bandcamp.com/album/protest-songs

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Brilliant responses guys, many thanks. I generally record one thing at a time so this sounds ideal and there are certainly some reassurances over the sound quality. I assume the patches in the Helix can be edited and re-called in the DAW (in this case Logic Pro X)? 

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Brilliant responses guys, many thanks. I generally record one thing at a time so this sounds ideal and there are certainly some reassurances over the sound quality. I assume the patches in the Helix can be edited and re-called in the DAW (in this case Logic Pro X)? 

 

 

One thing at a time? Yup. DO it.

 

What I do is save the patch from the editor and keep a copy in the folder.

 

The forthcoming Helix Native Plug-in will probably change my whole workflow, however!

 

btw, the best thing about doing things this way in Helix is that you can record your guitar, through Helix, with all the FX and crap... and automatically simultaneously record the raw guitar to another track (I think it's USB 7) and then re-amp later if you want to.

 

You're gonna love it.

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btw, the best thing about doing things this way in Helix is that you can record your guitar, through Helix, with all the FX and crap... and automatically simultaneously record the raw guitar to another track (I think it's USB 7) and then re-amp later if you want to.

 

You're gonna love it.

Yep, USB 7 is dry. I do that on all tracks I lay down just in case I want to do something with it later. If I don't need it then I can just blow away the dry track. 

 

Since hearing about Native coming out, I started building a bunch of dry files with various guitars/pickups so I can build tones on my laptop without even picking up a guitar. 

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How might that compare against popular audio interfaces out there. Cheers

 

Rob

Hi Rob,

 

I got my Helix back in November 2015, at which point it replaced my old faithful Focusrite Safire for all audio recording and MIDI functions. Needless to say the Focusrite is now officially retired and gathering dust in the corner. There you have it - for a small studio, it does the job perfectly.

 

I think the only time you may require any other interface is if you needed lots of simultaneous in/outputs.

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I use another (UAD Apollo Quad) audio interface because of the built high quality plugins you can purchase taking some of the load off the Mac, and because I choose to. But it is nice that I have a backup in Helix if I ever needed one. 

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Ah, I really like the idea of the dry channel 7 at the same time as the coloured sound. I've used Native Instruments Guitar Rig for years and the "call up" of the exact patch sitting on top of the dry signal has been great. Their sound is no longer to my liking however, hence the review of my setup. 

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I think the question asked was pertaining to audio quality when compared to big names like Apogee etc.The Helix LT does not have a dedicated mic input,but the Helix does have one.Not sure about phantom power either.I use Apogee .Not sure if Helix can beat that quality when recording vocals.

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