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Newb needing help with a bit of terminology


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Hi All, 

I considering the purchase of the Helix and I'm completely new to amp modeling, etc.  I keep seeing terms like "IR", "patches", and other terminology used in reference to these devices.  Can someone help me understand these, and whatever other terminology I'm likely to encounter, in conceptual terms? 


I'm also researching a couple other devices, for example the Kemper system.  Was it the case that when the Helix initially came out, the stock tones were not on the level of the Kemper but that over time Helix has closed the gap (if there ever was one in the first place)?   I ask this because I visited a Kemper forum and had seemed to see more and more converts to Helix in terms of general attitude in the posts towards the device over the past year or so.   So I'm wondering that as people have dialed in various tones on their Helixes via "tweaking" that perhaps things have improved over time?   And then, of course, I've seen a number of Youtube videos where the Fractal, Kemper, and the Helix are compared and honestly I have a hard time telling the difference between any of them and that it boils down (to me, anyway) the interface of which Helix has the best (again, in my opinion).  


So if anyone can address or help me out with the above points, I'd greatly appreciated it.   Thanks again. 




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IR = Impulse Response


Without getting too technical or more confusing, think of an IR as an acoustic photograph of a speaker cabinet, in which the characteristics of that cabinet are captured and stored in a digital format, such as a .wav file.


Helix comes with a bunch of speaker cabinets that compliment each amp head.  However there are 3rd party IRs that seemingly do a better job and sound better than the stock cabs.  So are the stock cabs useless?  Not at all.  


When you hear someone talk about a patch, they are talking about a particular preset they programmed, saved, and recalled via one of the foot switches on the board.  A patch would typically consist of, but not limited to, an amp, cabinet, reverb, delay, chorus, etc.  


I personally are not a fan of the stock patches out of the box.  But that is totally understandable because most every guitar is different.  I can tweak them and make them sound better.  But the gotten the best results by creating my own patches.  


I don't have a Kemper, so my knowledge is somewhat limited.  I can tell you that the biggest difference I've seen others talk about is how easy it is with the Helix to create a tone on the fly vs Kemper.  


Hopefully this will get the ball rolling for you.  I'm sure some others who are far more knowledgeable than I am will chime in and offer more/better useful advice.

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I think you've already got a pretty good idea on a couple of your questions, but I'll try to fill in a couple of gaps in terms of Kemper and Helix.


First of all they are two completely different types of technology.  The Helix is a modeler.  What that means is that all of the different types of components were modeled after the electronic characteristics of the actual unit.  Therefore, when you turn the Mid knob on the modeled amp you've chosen to use in your patch, it will have the same effect on the signal as would the real amp.  The same for the various effects and so forth.


The Kemper is not a modeler, but a profiler.  If you're familiar with the idea of sampled sounds like those used on electronic drums, it's similar to that.  In other words it copies the ACOUSTICAL characteristics and behaviors of an amp.


Subjectively I'd characterize the difference as more of a "live" sound on the Kemper versus a "studio" sound on the Helix.  What makes the Helix more flexible is that each component acts in a similar fashion to it's real world counterpart.  So changing things on the fly is very easy and very accurate.  A good example of this is on a Helix you can modify the SAG and BIAS on the amp which in the real world would require hardware changes, and is harder to do in the profiled world because you're not modifying electrical characteristics, you're modifying acoustic characteristics.  However there is a plus side to profiling in that it's very easy to create a new amp profile.  Even users can do it if they have access to the real amplifier, but it's a very long and detailed process in the modeling world.

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I've just recently switched from a Kemper to a Helix. They're different but both sound great. For me the change was a little difficult at first. The Kemper is plug and play. Not a whole lot of tweaking.....just trying different profiles. The Helix for me personally required a little bit of tweaking, but nothing major. On the plus side for the Helix are the effects and the routing. Kemper can not pull off the incredible routing that Helix has, and the Kemper effects while ok, you're limited to how many and where you can place them. I had the Kemper for 5 years and loved it. I've had the Helix for 2 weeks and don't miss the Kemper.  The Helix also has an editor which after 5 years of asking for an editor for the Kemper......it still does not. Both great boxes each unique in their own right. It really comes down to what you need, but you can't go wrong with either. I have no experience with Fractal products, but all the videos I've heard of it sound great.

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