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just got helix lt , may prefer my old gear

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just got helix lt today going direct into mackie mixer into mackie hr824's . initial impressions are very good.the scribble strips are not missed at all. modeling is very good. I thought the definite improvement over past modeling are the distorted amps.clean amps were just ok ( a bit thin[lack of bass],but going direct with global eq at default). effects are decent,but seemed to lack something, in particular,the delays in some way. presets are mostly weak.

 

now, here is my dilemma. I use 2 hybrid tube/solid state amps and a delay pedal and a line6 m5 (used sparingly) and just love the sound. I found I liked the sound much more than helix lt?! what is wrong with me?! this just cant be. but here is the thing, the amps just have this sound I love. I am sure with some editing I can come close with helix maybe.

 

only advantage I can hear is that I can go direct with helix for recording where as with my amps I have to mic them and hear chair creaks coughs etc...but the sound of my amps/effects just are perfect to my ears and blow away the helix for that type of sound.

 

now hi gain /distortion- no doubt the helix is very good. but I don't use distortion as often as I used to, in fact, I still find the pod xt live plenty for me and I don't dislike the sounds I get at all.the distortions in line 6 m5 are just ok ,but pod xt live is much better and helix is better than both.. I love the pod xt live as its just fun to play into 2 solid state amps though i need to add a bit of reverb/delay. globally with outboard effects.

 

just trying to justify  $1000 and just not sure I can;helix lt is a great unit,but for me it may not be the answer. perhaps a pod hd500x would be better for me as I do dislike the pod xt live not syncing time based effects to midi clock (I think the 500x does this).I tried the 500x and didn't like it much at the time,but might be enough for me).I just think the helix is overkill.I do like that steve vai hi gain patch though....

 

conclusion thus far, I am thrilled with my clean amps,delay pedal and m5 setup and even my pod xt live. I found the helix excellent but cant justify 1k for my needs.

 

Well,will try helix into my solid state amps and see if that works better for me

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It may simply be that approaching a Helix is not the same approaching a live traditional amp.  Getting the most out of a Helix is more like approaching a studio recording sound than it is a typical amp on stage.  What you're hearing from your amp setup is very definitely NOT the sound that's being recorded or projected out to the audience through the FOH in a traditional setup because, aside from chair creaks and noise, you tone will be influenced considerably by the mic used and how it's positioned on the cabinet.

 

Some people can adapt to that situation, some can't.  In a way it's like re-learning how to get a tone that presents itself well within a band mix, not just on stage...and that may not be what you want to do.

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I felt exactly the same way and after two days I'd convinced myself that I either had a faulty unit or it just wasn't as good as everyone was saying it was. However I've had the unit for a week now and I'm starting to figure it out. 

 

I come from a software modelling background (I've used Guitar rig for years but also tried numerous other ones) and was generally happy with the tones I could get. It's almost like I've had to retrain my ear to pick up the differences but the more I use the Helix the better the sounds are getting and I'm very glad I stuck with it. 

 

My advice would be to take your time and be patient. I know it's easier said than done but in my case it was worth sticking with it. The more I play with the unit the more I feel like there's any tone I could want inside it and part of the fun is finding it. 

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Direct into your interface is going to be lacking that Amp in the room sound you like.

If you got the Helix might as well give it a chance with those Amps and if you still feel

the same sell it and stick with what you love.

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Here's the deal from my experience.  Your audience is used to hearing professionally recorded studio sounds because that's what they listen to 99% of the time.  They don't particularly notice if that's missing when they go to a club or event with a live band.  But they DO notice when it's there, because it's clearly different from what they normally hear in clubs and is what they're used to listening to most of the time...so it stands out.  They may not be able to express what the difference is, but they notice the difference.

 

To me, it's worth the extra effort to master the process and give it to them because that differentiates our band's live sound from most others.

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As nice as the HR824s are... there's no way they're going to give the feel you're familiar with using a tradition amp.

The SPL is hugely different.

 

If you want to really give Helix a workout, get a nice FRFR powered (PA) speaker/s and dial in sounds using it/them.

Then, you'll have similar SPL... and you can tweak sounds at gig level.

 

FWIW, the more time you spend with Helix... the better your resultant sounds... and the more it'll sound like "you".

You'll learn/apply things like:

  • If you love the sound of your cab/s, you can create IRs of those cabs and load them into Helix
  • Using a high-pass filter before the Amp block - to tighten up the bottom end
  • Using high-pass and low-pass filters to limit the guitar frequency - to more closely approximate the sound coming out of a guitar cab
  • Using a compressor to simulate speaker compression

You'll discover tricks to getting sounds you like... and you can then use those presets as templates for others.

The beauty of Helix; If you can imagine it... you can do it.

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"Worst" case, if you really do like your amps better, Helix can integrate with and possibly control them in a bunch of different ways.

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A modeler through a PA speaker/FRFR/Studio monitor will never sound like an amp in the room. Ever. I promise.

 

It will sound like an amp in the next room, miked, and played through speakers in this room.

 

If you need, want, prefer, or can hang with that, the Helix makes an amazing amount of sense.

 

If not... get an amp, and get a room...

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Lol...

 

 

Well, sometimes I feel like I type that on a forum or Facebook 12 times a week. It's physics. Air moves differently from a guitar speaker than what is essentially a full-range PA speaker (all FRFR, studio monitors and PA speakers are essentially doing a similar thing... same with keyboard and acoustic guitar amps to a certain extent).

 

People have bad expectations going in, they should be disabused of them quickly.

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I've had mine for almost a year, and I am still tweaking things here and there, finding new combinations of effects and signal paths. 

 

You cannot measure the ability of the Helix in just one day. Lots of people go into Helix with the misconception that you will just plug in and it will be marvelous. That is not the case. However, its design makes it very easy to get around and adjust things as needed. 

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Lots of people go into Helix with the misconception that you will just plug in and it will be marvelous. That is not the case.

Ours is any instant gratification society...which has given rise to the following world view:

"Give me exactly what I want, right now with the touch of a button...if I see it on YouTube, it must therefore be simple for me to replicate with little to no effort."

 

If only...

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Let's add to that the fact that a LOT of people seem to cycle through different kinds of gear until they find the "holy grail". This exists in all markets. Digital Photography is the WORST with folks going form Canon to Nikon to Canon to Nikon to Sony to Nikon to Canon... UGH...

In the case of digital modeling, I guarantee you that if there are 4 different flagship products out there... and you buy the one that is the WORST, but you know how to use it the BEST... you will get a better tone than if you buy the one that is the best and know it the least.

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Just think of the Helix as a high maintenance woman, and ask yourself if your experience justifies the expense...

(Well, ok, the Helix isn't all THAT expensive by comparison  ... :)

 

And as far as more than one is concerned....

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I'll repeat what others have said here. The Helix is simple to get up and running, but it's still a complex piece of gear. There's a lot to explore from a tonal perspective, and it really just takes some patience. I've had mine for over two years, and I still discover new things. I find myself using amp models that I initially wrote off for whatever reason, and I'm finding there are tons of things for me to explore. The familiar is always going to be more comfortable because it's just that - it's what you're familiar with.

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And as far as more than one is concerned....

Can't ride two horses with one a$$...

 

Besides, the real cost is your sanity... after a while the money doesn't matter so much. ;)

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Can't ride two horses with one a$$...

 

Besides, the real cost is your sanity... after a while the money doesn't matter so much. ;)

 

Maybe so, but it sure would be fun to try if one has the money (in which case sanity is irrelevant... :)

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thanks for the responses, I confess that I was the same way when I first  got the pod xt live, man, after a day or so I was ready to send it back, years later its still is one my my favorites lol I do think I just need to spend much more time with it.I have not vet dialed in my own patches yet. I also wondered if I should have bought a full blown helix,but glad I didnt. The screen display on lt without the scribble strips works fine on the lt.

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I'll repeat what others have said here. The Helix is simple to get up and running, but it's still a complex piece of gear. There's a lot to explore from a tonal perspective, and it really just takes some patience. I've had mine for over two years, and I still discover new things.

 

 

OK and yes that's right Phil. To the OP- But usually, I try and research, and then figure out if an item works for me (for more than the time it takes to make coffee) by trial and error 1st, before posting/bashing it in a thread with things like, "I dunno it looks ok but I've probably had better", or "Just got Helix, may prefer my old gear"? Really? I know you probably did not intend on bashing Helix, but text is unforgiving. And that's fine if Helix or anything else is not for you. Move along. Nothing to see here. But I mean come on, would you rush out buy a product you don't yet know much about after browsing the forums and spot this? Or worse, not researching anything "at all" and then posting how much you like other gear better after buying it. Think man... Point is, not only does this kind of mindset have the ability to scare away 1st-time potential lookers, but you can't learn everything about "any" well-made guitar processor in one or two evenings. It is like Phil said, it takes a while. So, my thinking is to lose the instant gratification syndrome lots of people seem to have (about everything it seems). Otherwise, might as well start the topic with "I don't know anything yet but for the 1st two minutes I'm really disliking Helix"...  ;) Helix is not perfect, as nothing is. After a while and once you learn it do what I do, and lollipop away! But until then give it time and Im betting you will enjoy the tones.

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update day 2: ok, before buying helix lt i did tons of research. so day 2 , instead of going into mackie mixer and mackie hr428;s, I instead went into 2 solid state amps with jensen speakers and immediately the helix sounded much better. that thinness was gone. I especially like hat elephant man delay and the jazz patch and some other patches. I could never go direct and get a decent tone and so far helix is no different.I did some a/b with pod xt live (bout a hundred bucks to hundred fifty bucks used).obviously the feel on the pod xt live sucks compared to helix & tones in helix do sound better though the pod xt live has plenty of great tones.man, I just dont know if I can afford the helix lt. could get a used hd500-500x for $300-350. lol well I have the lt for a few more days. its true the more I use helix the more I like it.

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"A modeler through a PA speaker/FRFR/Studio monitor will never sound like an amp in the room. Ever. I promise.

 

It will sound like an amp in the next room, miked, and played through speakers in this room.

 

If you need, want, prefer, or can hang with that, the Helix makes an amazing amount of sense.

 

If not... get an amp, and get a room..."

 

Peter Hamm's post on this subject is the best explanation of what to expect from the Helix that i have read. I too struggled with what to expect from the Helix (i had a Helix LT and now have a Helix Rack unit). I also have my beloved Mesa Studio Preamp, Mesa Rectifier Preamp, and an ENGL E530 preamp.....all tube preamps of course and at least 2 of them, legendary for their sound qualities,...you be the judge as to which two... :) I also wanted the amazing flexibility that the Helix offered to vary my amplified sound and have effects configured in stereo with the same presets...(i also have Eventide, Strymon, Catlinbread, Empress effects and others that are high quality). A tough act to follow for both amps and effects...my initial expectation / hope was to replace all of that with a single Helix system and live happily ever after....alas...it was not that simple. I do almost all of my studio work through JBL powered studio monitors /sub bass with IR cab plugins in my DAW system. Good start to integrate the Helix in this case....but the modeled Helix tones both for clean and overdrive amps, as well as the  effects,  were completely different than what i get from my rack preamps / effects. The Helix was every bit as convenient as i was hoping it would be but seemed to be a compromise in the sound quality area in comparison. I have spent quite a few months learning and tweaking the Helix and realized it is probably as good as it will get at this point....but then i read Hamm's post and developed a new perspective...i need to stop comparing the Helix to my other system and enjoy it for what it is....The Helix is a really good model of the analog world....ahhhh....so liberating! Now I love the Helix and my rack system....i use both...and enjoy both.... :)

 

Thanks Man...

Daniel

 

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I bet the majority of people who drop a pound of money on any new tech to replace old tech feel the same way.  In the end, you might be right; the Helix isn't for you.  However keep in mind that it is a learning curve and it takes quite a bit of time to tame it.  Also keep in mind that all factory presets suck, so build from scratch, watch some vids, believe in your ears, get curious about it, and you might be surprised.  I can't live without mine now, but it took me about six months to get there.

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Thanks for the comments....oh yeah, i built all my own patches...i was worried for a while that i bought something i would end up selling after spending a lot of time on it though. But after a while, i  started getting a variety of really good amp sounds in particular...just different from the preamps that i mentioned...but that's OK...i  have more flavors to choose from now and I didn't buy the Mesa Triaxis i was considering before i bought this (already have enough MESA gear but loved the idea of having amp presets).....but i was driving myself crazy trying to get exact replacement amp sounds for a while...that was a mistake....I am much happier about the amp decision now...i am getting some really great amp sounds from the Helix and the preset control i wanted.  The real problem turned out to be the quality of the Helix effects...that was the big surprise...I expected the effects to be a real step forward from the HD effects (i have a POD HD Pro X unit that i still use for routing my preamps through the line inputs and then the stereo effects loop...nice clean SPDIF connection from the HD POD Pro X to my DAW too... ). But my studio/boutique effects just eat the Helix effects for lunch...no comparison at all...but that's OK...truth be told, i wasn't looking to replace the effects i have...they are awesome effects and on most pro and amateur players  boards for a reason...(Stymon Timeline, Eventide TimeFactor, PitchFactor, Space, Boss MD-500, RV-500, Echolution 2 Ultra Pro, Catlinbread Echorec, etc...i spent quite a bit of time and money building my effects processing boards to get to this point. I also found the overdrive and distortion pedal models on the Helix were weak...i still use my front of amp pedal board too.....it would have been nice though  :) But for the $1,000 i spent on the Helix Rack (bought it used on Reverb) I am very happy with the amp sounds i get from the Helix and the preset control which i use a lot.

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As nice as the HR824s are... there's no way they're going to give the feel you're familiar with using a tradition amp.

 

Jim, I never understood this and I've played thru tons of amps over 4 decades, and I have a pair of 824's now. Meaning that "if I close my eyes and it sounds just wonderful and loud" (Headphones/Speakers/etc) no matter what I am using as a sound source", I don't really care about the SPL's rattling the bottoms of my jeans at this point and I don't think the crowd enjoying the music does either. A Mack truck has better SPL's going down the road than a Corvette does, but both of um will get ya to work. I just prefer the Vette... ; )

 

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I agree that a really good pair of studio monitors (or a pair of studio monitors and a sub-bass monitor in my case) actually sound much better to me in stereo than just a guitar cab...even though the SPL is not blowing my hair back as you stated... i have already lost some hearing in my left ear from that...back in the bad old days before wireless guitar interfaces when you had to stand next to the boom stand to play and sing. In my case i had a natural tendency to turn my left ear towards my amp when i sang...of course 600 watts of combined monitor system power in my studio is enough to break something if i really wanted too....think i'll pass :) I have also found the IR cabs i use make a huge difference in the output sound and perceived SPL. I started using the Overloud TH3 cabs a couple of years ago...the best IR cabs i have tried overall for the sounds i am after...it uses a cab emulation process called ReSPIRE 2 that produces realistic sounding resonant cab fullness and SPL levels...it makes my monitors sound like cranked guitar cabs in other words but at much lower volumes...i have tried a lot of other IR's and cab emulators including Helix and none of them sound better on my system than the ones in this package...easy to use and also allows you to manage and load third party IR's if you want....the amps and effects are basically free..although some of them actually sound pretty good...the Cab emulation is the best and most unique feature of this package, great mic placement features too....it can be used stand alone on a PC or as a DAW plugin if these are options for you...i mostly play in my studio writing and recording music..not too much live playing any more...although i could be talked into it if i could play all original material...and the audience really likes it :)

 

https://www.overloud.com/products/th3-full

 

 

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Forgot to mention that the Overloud TH3 cabs (Mesa 4x12, ENGL 4x12, Lane 2x12) sound great with the Helix amp models with various mics and mic settings.

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Keith Richards said (paraphrasing) 'give me 5 minutes & I'll make it sound like me' when asked if he'd ever consider using a different guitar then what he's known for.

 

For me, this sums up my experience with the Helix (LT in my case). Sure, I'd enjoy standing in front of a dimed JTM45 & a '59 Les Paul, but for us working stiffs who have to cover everything from Johnny Cash to Guns & Roses it suits every need I have.

 

I had an X3L previously & thought it sounded okay until I got the LT. I'm probably the exception but I use it as a stomp with a high gain Blackstar amp for gigs, then as a modeler going to FOH at church on Sundays. I get a lot of compliments on my tone. One poster said I only use 10% but I get a ton of joy out of that 10%, & the usefulness (multiple footswitch assigns, block placement anywhere you want it, every possible type of delay you can imagine, all very visible in signal view format) far outweighs any sonic deficiencies, if there are any.

 

$0.02

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Yup....i bought the Helix thinking how much easier it would be if i start playing live again to use the Helix instead of all my other gear. I feel pretty good about the amps i have configured in the Helix...but OD/Distortion models....they still have a long way to go there....delays, modulation, and reverb are OK...could get by with it but most likely i would create a road worthy version of my pedals that i know and love....most of the high quality pedals have preset software these days and they can be dialed in to perfection. The Helix preamps i configured cover lots of different tones so i can use them in the studio with IR CAB software in my DAW,  or with a nice tube stereo power amp and a couple of 1x12 CABS for a live situation. I would still most likely use individual effects pedals live with the Helix amps....the stand alone and stacked stereo effects i get from my Boss MD-500,  Strymon Timeline, Eventide TimeFactor, Boss RV-500, and Eventide Space are just too diverse and sweet to give up...Of course.....lugging all that around for a few gigs might get me to loosen up about that requirement...it's been a while but i remember what a pain that was.. :)

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The obvious solution is to give your Helix to me.  You will feel good about your donation and I will give it a good and loving home. 

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I will beg to differ on one note...  Mission Engineering Gemini 2 FRFR 2x12 CAN sound like that "amp in the room" thingy...

That thing moves some serious air and is dead on when you dial your Helix tone in well.  Gemini 2 DEFINITELY does it!!!

 

 

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LOL...small clarification..i am very happy with my Helix rack unit...just had my expectations set a bit too high...for the money it is truly amazing. It does take a while to grow on you though...not using a killer tube amp for guitar just feels weird...the tones i get from my tube preamps are truly awesome, and it feels right....but after a year with Helix..i am getting past that and  enjoying the convenience, and the fact that i can save those preset sounds and dial them up exactly the same every time...even if this Helix unit breaks down...i can get a new one, load my presets, and have the exact same tones again....can't do that with a tube preamp...each amp, even the same models, are a little different. And then there is the tubes....each one of them is a little different too...i have my tube cocktails for each of my tube preamps really dialed in for perfection but i know i will have to do it again when it comes time to re-tube....never look forward to that.

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