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Helix with tube preamp?


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First time on the forum and I haven't found info on someone doing quite what I want to do with the helix so I figured I would start a new thread.


I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of a Helix Rack. The controller arrived a few days ago to tease me. Anyway, it shouldn't be too long now. I have an effectrode blackbird sr-71 that I really love and plan on integrating. The question is, has anyone run a tube pre with the helix? If so, pre helix or in effects loop. Would the tube pre play well with the amp models?


I am also going to try my effectrode compressor vs the helix LA compressor. That effectrode PC-2A compressor is phenomenal and I play with it on 100% of the time. I will report back on how the Helix LA Compressor compares.


I am initially keeping my H9 to run in effects loop. I like some of the ambient reverbs and will enjoy playing with the helix to pursue similar effects. Anyone who has headed down a similar path feel free to share your results.


I am also running a lrbaggs piezo bridge in my strat and will enjoy some acoustic ir's with dual voiced setup. I have played that way for years and love the flexibility.


Anyway, just looking forward to hearing your input while I patiently wait for my Helix delivery.

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I am using a Takamine TC132SC (nylon string, CTP-2 preamp/Palathetic pickup).


I found that  the tube preamp with the Helix gave me a great sound (suggested by someone in the Gear Page forum as I remember).  My basic sound is already excellent (with the Takamine system), so I don't need to eliminate piezo quack), but the Helix preamp gave me additional control and added to the fundamental sound -with its "sheen".


If you have an acoustic-electric (or even a piezo), the tube preamp is an excellent place to start...

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Yep I've used a tube preamp with mine before. Sounded fantastic. Especially back when I first got my Helix in Oct. of 2015.

Really warmed up the amp models.

Having said that...over the last few updates...the new amp models have improved to the point that I no longer need it. The PRS Archon model and the modded Marshall models are just freakin' incredible. 
Also the Boogie Mark V models. 

Back when I was using the Rectifier model mostly with the Helix cabs...it sounded good. But the tube preamp really brought that to life.

Now I'm using the Archon model for clean, crunch, and distortion along with an Ownhammer Marshall IR cab. 
No longer needed the tube preamp anymore. 

But go ahead and experiment. Just stick it in a loop. 
When I did it,  I had mine between the amp model and the cab in the chain. But you can experiment with it in any position to find the sweet spot you're looking for.

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I use an H9 with my Helix. Definitely a worthwhile piece of gear - particularly if you already own it.


While the H9 can only do one thing at a time, it generally does that thing really well. Not saying you can't get good FX sounds from the Helix - you definitely can; most of my patches do not use the H9. The H9 gives you more really good options.


And for some complex patches, being able to offload something to the H9 is really useful.


I mostly use my H9 for ambient sounds. Usually they are complex patches bumping into the Helix's DSP limits. The H9 helps a lot with that.


And, you can run the H9 in stereo. I've experimented with that and it sounds awesome. Haven't committed to going down that path yet, though. Most of the time, a lot of stereo separation is lost in a live setting, so I'm not convinced it is worth tying up the extra FX loop. If I did studio work, stereo would be a no-brainer.

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  • 1 year later...

I'm thinking of adding a tube preamp to my Helix Rack rig myself. A friend of mine uses an ART (not sure which model) and it really warms up his bass rig. I've been looking at a used PreSonus TubePre. Gonna give it try and see how I like it. I see talk about putting it on a loop. What other configurations are there? Pros? Cons?

Thanx everybody!

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A tube pre will not hurt and often can help. 


IMO... I would place it in a loop then include it on any patch you want, in any position your want, regardless of the input used. Simply adding things before or after the Helix will limit the opportunities. Not that it won't sound fine in those positions, I would just prefer the flexibility. The same applies to the compressor, although I would keep it on a different loop so I could place it independently. 


The only thing to keep in mind is that if these are MONO units and you place them in the effects loop(s), the loops have to be inserted prior to any stereo effects. 

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