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Joe_M

Helix Amp Modelling

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So I'm considering a Helix rack as my main guitar setup and the only thing that I really want to know is how good are the amp models and IR's really? I've seen plenty of youtube reviews and testimonies online about how good the uni is as an 'fx' only box, but I'd love to use it as an amp sim while using my own pedals. I'd obviously be happy to use some of the inbuilt effects when I need them, but how do the amps hold up on their own is what I need to know.

 

Just to note as well, I mainly play clean or light crunch so I'm not hugely bothered about the Mesa or Soldano sims being 'fizzy' or whatever. Thanks in advance for the help!

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The only thing I can tell you is get one.

Stop thinking about it then go buy one some place that offers a return Sweetwater has 30 day return policy.

I went to Sweetwater with full intentions of buying a Kemper had spoke to a few guys that I respect that told me just that at least try it and bring it back if you don't like it. Then after hearing a few tracks that were recorded Direct on Helix LT that Don Carr was working on at Sweetwater I was convinced I wanted to play around with it and at least give it a shot.

I plugged mine in and I fell in love with it.

Yes. . They are good. Really good

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I think a lot of what you're asking about is really related to how well you understand the fundamentals of building complex signal chains.  Many things like the attributes of a given amp, the attributes of different cabinets and  of different microphones and their placement on those cabinets, and even the possibility of how to blend different cabinets and mic configurations together into a single signal chain.  And that's really all before you start getting into effects and how they might be best positioned within that signal chain.

 

The good news is you can start with simple setups that perform very convincingly and build your skills as you go.  But the Helix really provides almost limitless configuration possibilities, and it's real limitations come down to the knowledge and skill of the user and their understanding of how to best use all of these facilities to achieve the precise sound they want.

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When you hear stuff like this or that amp is "fizzy" you are hearing an inexperienced user who hasn't figured out the EQ yet. (personal opinion!)

Full range speakers (FRFR) need to have the non-guitar amp highs pulled out - those comments are by people who haven't figured that out.

The Amps are great - when you know what you are doing - and you expect to hear them treated as they are when you put a mic on a cab and sit in the control room.

It's a "recorded sound" which most of us think is better than an loud amp with directional speakers hitting us in the head!

It is the sound you hear from guitarists you love when you hear them recorded or produced through a decent PA and a sound guy who knows what he/she is doing.........

I used to use a lot of upmarket pedals - and I don't any more.......so the internal effects are good.

I'm not keen on outboard gain boxes though - but between the internal gain boxes and the subtle drive possibilities of the range of amps, I've not found myself missing my Lovepedal Eternity.

Having said that, if you own a Strymon Delay/reverb or similar - you might want to keep that.

The big difference is you might put it after the amp and cab - to give you a wider sound - especially for cleaner sounds - exactly like you would in the studio.

So there will be a bit of learning curve and some need to rethink what you are doing (think studio) - but you should love it!

If you are playing through an amp at the moment, you might have one killer clean sound and a few variations due to modulation and delay - now the core clean sound is open to lots of variation too.........try a lot of the amps that overdrive nicely - but run them at the clean end - or just on the edge - add a little compression.......mix it out through 2 totally different cabs - with slightly different reverb on each....... a hint of modulation.......heaven!

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Thanks for the responses, I'm definitely going to be heavily considering a Helix; I'm hoping to be able to try one out soon which I imagine will cement things for me!

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There are lots of people out there (including me) that use just the Helix and nothing else. It is a FANTASTIC piece of gear. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but if you have been playing with guitar gear/amps for a while, it comes naturally. 

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Thanks for the responses, I'm definitely going to be heavily considering a Helix; I'm hoping to be able to try one out soon which I imagine will cement things for me!

Be aware that 'trying out' Helix is not like trying out your average pedal when you walk into a guitar store. The salesman is likely to have little to no knowledge of how Helix works. He will probably sit you down with a guitar plugged into Helix and the 1/4" output connected to a regular guitar amp input. Then you'll wander through some presets (designed for an FRFR output) and you'll conclude that Helix sounds like $hite.

 

Ask that the Helix output be connected to an active (powered) studio monitor or PA speaker.

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Be aware that 'trying out' Helix is not like trying out your average pedal when you walk into a guitar store. The salesman is likely to have little to no knowledge of how Helix works. He will probably sit you down with a guitar plugged into Helix and the 1/4" output connected to a regular guitar amp input. Then you'll wander through some presets (designed for an FRFR output) and you'll conclude that Helix sounds like $hite.

 

Ask that the Helix output be connected to an active (powered) studio monitor or PA speaker.

 

Or they give you some consumer grade headphones with hyped bass and treble that distort when plugged into the headphone output of the Helix making it sound like dollars hite.

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Modeling has come a long way, all the nuance and magic that happens with tube driven cleans and light break-up/crunch can be reproduced by modeling. You can incorporate analog pedals with Helix and they will hit and react with the amp model the same as they would with the real life complement. I used a big ol'heavy Twin as well as an AC30 for a long time, now I'm very happy with the "Mail Order Twin" and Vox models in Helix. Also the Litigator amp model for more break up type sounds. Depending on the gig I still use some analog pedals in conjunction with effects inside of Helix. 

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You've also heard from people that have not heard just how "fizzy" a lot of real amps can be......  especially higher gain ones...

 

 

Whatever is there that I don't like, I can dial out with Helix.

I love my Kemper, too, and I liked the Axe FX II XL+ I had (owned the AX8 as well for several weeks).

 

I sold all the Fractal and kept Helix and Kemper.  I'm just as happy with Helix as I am/have been with the others.

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