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Helix VS Pod HD500X

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After he openly admitted he wasn't trying to get either unit to sound its best I realized it was a fool's errand to pay much attention. If you dial in the same amp model (say, the Twin) on each unit with the same settings, they'll sound different. Different modeling.

Look, here's what I've learned, having the HD 500 from day 1 and Helix Rack since Dec 2015.

Your audience can't tell the difference if you really know what you're doing when you dial it in.

You can.

 

Are you willing to pay for that?

Only you can decide. If not, and all the features of HD 500 are enough, imho, it's going to be a viable unit for years and years.

 

Also, he is right in the fat that features and flexibility and workflow are also really important.

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My take on this, or any other tone comparison of units in the universe, is that whether the tone is noticeably better is FAR more dependent on the knowledge and skill of the person using the unit than it is the technology.  A person that's very skilled and knowledgeable on the HD500X will get better tones out of it than an unskilled and unknowledgeable person using a Helix.

 

That's why it's probably better to spend one's time learning how to best build signal chains than watching comparison videos.....

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Is the Helix the winner for those who know both well - of cause it is!  Why would anyone upgrade if that were not the case? But everything that's said above is also true - it's all about how well you take advantage of it.

This particular reviewer at about the time of that video went out of his way to trash the Helix in a variety of reviews where he compared it to other units like the Fractal.

I love his body language...........do you get anything from that??

But simply what I said at the top is the truth - you can make any unit look good or bad - just depends on how you go about it.

So is the Helix better than the Fractal AX8? or the Kemper?  Very hard to say - they all can sound great!  Which either makes it a great time to be alive, or a massive dilemma that's going to bug you for ever!  If that's how you see your glass half empty!

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My take is Mitch is a Axe FX fanboy and the tests were an effort to discredit the Helix by giving the impression

it is a HD with a face lift.  

Now it might seem distrusting of me but below that seemingly impartial demeanor shown in his videos; he comes from the Fractal Camp well and truly.

But that said, he did try to give a fairly impartial review in comparing Hx to the Axe and given that he hasn't used the Helix as long as

he knows his Axe the Helix wins on ease of use and functionality but the very deep editing and amp tones of the Fractal remains his preferred choice; which is really a stab in the back for Helix where it counts.

To me Helix was as good and in many noticeably better.

The Axe seems to be overly complicated to be edited onboard and really requires the Edit software.

The supernumerary versions of Amps taylored to satisfy without editing. Just scroll the presets is laughable.

But the pros of the Axe is the FX that are in many Artist Rigs and their Ace.

 

I'd go Helix LT if I could afford it, meanwhile still loving the HD

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These videos crack me up. Doesn't matter how many of them you watch, or who made them. ALL modelers can be made to sound good, or like garbage. However, trying to extract some sort of objective truth from that which is entirely subjective, is a fool's errand.

 

You either like a piece of gear, or you don't. And much of it rests on whether or not you know what you're doing, and are willing to put the time in to learn how to get that unit (whatever it is) to produce the sounds you hear in your head. Put me on the track at the Indy 500, in a car with a couple of million dollars worth of race-tech engineering in it, and I'll still come in dead-a$$ last...but it wouldn't be the car's fault. It'd be because I'm not a race car driver. Same thing applies here.

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These videos crack me up. Doesn't matter how many of them you watch, or who made them. ALL modelers can be made to sound good, or like garbage. However, trying to extract some sort of objective truth from that which is entirely subjective, is a fool's errand.

 

You either like a piece of gear, or you don't. And much of it rests on whether or not you know what you're doing, and are willing to put the time in to learn how to get that unit (whatever it is) to produce the sounds you hear in your head. Put me on the track at the Indy 500, in a car with a couple of million dollars worth of race-tech engineering in it, and I'll still come in dead-a$$ last...but it wouldn't be the car's fault. It'd be because I'm not a race car driver. Same thing applies here.

Well said

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Same boat had an hd500 from day one and a helix as soon as one was released and I was on the waiting list.

 

The hd500 I only ever used with the dt50 the helix went straight into a PA.

 

I will say I had to learn a lot on the Helix to get it where I wanted, but this came from not ever having ran the hd500 regularly into FRFR systems. Since then I now have a PA. ....Did I mention I just got my new board! Si Impact just arrived. Woah... A.D.D. anyways. When I did try to run the hd500 into a board straight away it sounded like absolute crap to me. Sorry. And I did NOT spend the time with it to try anf make it work. Straight to the Helix. So maybe they can match maybe they cant. I dunno. Sometime I'll gice it a go.

 

The one thing that really brings the Helix to life, for me, is the use of IR cabs.

 

Those things suddenly made this thing sound like a dream. Lack of IRs available on the hd500 makes me feel I couldn't get it to where I currently have the Helix.

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I bought my HD500 when I was thrust into the "quiet stage" way of thinking.

I was kicking and screaming the whole way, having to ditch my tube amps and analog pedals.

I had a Rockin tone going, but after a year or so, with the HD500, I started liking my tone again.

I would probably still be rocking the HD, but one of the foot switches went bad, and I sent it to Line 6 for repair.

A year later the same button went out. I decided to invest in the Helix.

I've had it for about a couple years now, and really digging it...

The Helix has great tone. Better than the HD tone to my ears, and the interface has went farther towards my pedalboard layout.

On one hand, it went farther towards great tone and effects, and at the same time going farther back towards the feel of an analog pedalboard.

It just blossomed goodness in my world...

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I own an HD500X and you can get close to a Helix so if you're on a budget, I would recommend one. But, the Helix not only sounds a bit better, it feels A LOT better. It's hard to describe but I guess a good comparison would be a good tube amp. There is a feel to it that no one will know about but the player. The Helix has that. AND it's a lot easier to get a good sound out of it. The HD500 requires a lot of tweakin' to get those sounds close to a Helix's.

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For me, the HD500 eventually sounded very good, with add-on hardware and lots and lots and lots of tweaking.  The Helix sounded great on day one, but has much better workflow, flexibility, and headroom.  And there's tons of room to grow into, with the Helix.  It immediately eliminated two key pieces of hardware: an IR loader, and a MIDI translator. 

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One thing the HD series had over Helix was its L-6 Link port. It actually worked correctly. If you own a DT series amp that's a BIG deal, and we are STILL waiting for the control side update.

 

 

Sound wise on most presets I like Helix better.

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A second and third thing the HD has over Helix: a usable, lengthy collection of filter and synth effects, and a properly working auto-volume.

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For me, the HD500 eventually sounded very good, with add-on hardware and lots and lots and lots of tweaking.  The Helix sounded great on day one, but has much better workflow, flexibility, and headroom.  And there's tons of room to grow into, with the Helix.  It immediately eliminated two key pieces of hardware: an IR loader, and a MIDI translator. 

 

I agree 100%. I would add that Helix has better on-stage control, unless that was included in your workflow and flexibility comments. 

What I would say for anyone in the position of needing an inexpensive backup rig for the Helix, I would have said HD500 before Helix LT and the announcement of Helix Native.

I would still endorse HD500 as a backup if LT is still too expensive for you and playing through a laptop computer running Helix Native won't work for your purposes (the viability of which remains to be seen, of course, once it is released). I assume that, if you can't imagine running one gig through a laptop in a pinch, you aren't playing the same combination of basement dives on Saturday nights and church services for mostly elderly congregants on Sunday mornings, and you can probably just afford a second Helix outright. 

By the way, I'm curious whether/how many people earn enough playing music using Helix that they can write it off on their taxes? Like most, music is far from something I do for income, aside from the odd actual paying gig here and there, in which event we just earn enough to soften the blow of the band's alcohol bill for the night.

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For me, the HD500 eventually sounded very good, with add-on hardware and lots and lots and lots of tweaking.  The Helix sounded great on day one, but has much better workflow, flexibility, and headroom.  And there's tons of room to grow into, with the Helix.  It immediately eliminated two key pieces of hardware: an IR loader, and a MIDI translator. 

For me - this.  Had the HD for a couple years, and was still trying to dial it in right up to the end.  Way too many eq tweaks and deep diving fiddly bits to get to the tone.

 

Helix - I pulled up an amp, tweaked the existing eq's (without having to add others) and got busy.  Day and night - and each successive firmware update has just smoothed things out even more.

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I am reminded of a popular phrase... Is not what you got, it's what you do with it. Without doubt the Helix makes that more straight forward than its competitors. For my uses, the Helix covers all bases, a great amp simulator, an amazing effects collection and more ins and out than you can shake a stick at (for home studio aficionados it is just amazing) and the scribble scripts are hands down the best solution on the market. It WILL inspire you but sack off the presets (sure, check em out though!!), build you sounds from scratch and find that sound that YOU want. To be sure, I would say that for any piece of equipment and quite right too! What's that other phrase?.... tools... workman... blame...

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Yes the HD sure does require some to and fro to get it to sound decent. It is still a pretty good unit but I have discovered that listening to too many Helix demo's on good monitors and going back to the HD can be strangely disappointing. lol But eventually the tweaks get something adequate!

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