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helix vs focusrite

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hi all,

 

I've been using focusrite saffire pro 14 for years now, it's a brilliant piece of equipment, stable drivers, pristine sound etc. I've done all kinds of stuff with it, daw recording, apmsims. When I got Helix and used it with my usual amp sims for the first time, I was blown away. The sound was SO MUCH clearer with Helix !! And now I am guessing if I was living in a bubble. Yes, ampsims with Saffire had some minor hiss but it was somewhat tolerable (yet I wouldn't gone live with that sound), but with Helix I can definitely bypass all the gates and denoizers whatsoever.

 

What do You think, is it really that big of a difference between these two, or might be something been wrong with my Saffire all along ? Yes, it's firewire, I am using fw to pci card, a cheap one, not the texasinstruments. Could it do much difference if changed ? What else can You suggest ? I am more than happy with Helix, it becomes really a centerpiece of my workflow, but I don't want to get rid of my Saffire, too, because it performs in DAW better than Helix and daw latency is much lower without artifacts. It's WIndows 8.1 machine x64, i5.

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I have a Saffire Pro 40 that I'm using with Helix Native and S-Gear. I think the major difference is that Helix guitar input was specifically designed for electric guitar. It has the right impedance and sufficient dynamic range. Saffire Pro 40 has an "Instrument" input that as greater than 1M Ohm input impedance, but its dynamic range is 109 dB compared to the 120 dB of Helix.

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BLUF: yes, I think it's a bubble, but it's great that you can discern the difference.

 

IMO, there are a LOT of better interface pres than the Focusrite stuff. I've only got an older Octopre, which is great, but the hi-z and mic pres on my RME UFX and on the Apogee One are much much better sounding to me. My old Yamaha I88x units were also much much better sounding.

 

But the Helix is so good that over never even bothered to compare.

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hi all,

 

I've been using focusrite saffire pro 14 for years now, it's a brilliant piece of equipment, stable drivers, pristine sound etc. I've done all kinds of stuff with it, daw recording, apmsims. When I got Helix and used it with my usual amp sims for the first time, I was blown away. The sound was SO MUCH clearer with Helix !! And now I am guessing if I was living in a bubble. Yes, ampsims with Saffire had some minor hiss but it was somewhat tolerable (yet I wouldn't gone live with that sound), but with Helix I can definitely bypass all the gates and denoizers whatsoever.

 

What do You think, is it really that big of a difference between these two, or might be something been wrong with my Saffire all along ? Yes, it's firewire, I am using fw to pci card, a cheap one, not the texasinstruments. Could it do much difference if changed ? What else can You suggest ? I am more than happy with Helix, it becomes really a centerpiece of my workflow, but I don't want to get rid of my Saffire, too, because it performs in DAW better than Helix and daw latency is much lower without artifacts. It's WIndows 8.1 machine x64, i5.

 

I have a Focusrite Scarlett that I actually purchased in anticipation of getting the Helix before the Helix was actually fully shipping.   While a lovely unit, at least for guitar, the Helix blows it away.  

 

And if I may...  when people do these comparison's of modelers, I think it's things like this that are soooo overlooked.  Not just the quality of the I/O for recording, but the fact that it even exists.  

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I have a Saffire Pro 40 that I'm using with Helix Native and S-Gear. I think the major difference is that Helix guitar input was specifically designed for electric guitar. It has the right impedance and sufficient dynamic range. Saffire Pro 40 has an "Instrument" input that as greater than 1M Ohm input impedance, but its dynamic range is 109 dB compared to the 120 dB of Helix.

 

I (probably) solved my incovenience with routing spdif from helix to saffire, this way I can use helix preamp and saffire latency advantage.

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IMO, there are a LOT of better interface pres than the Focusrite stuff. I've only got an older Octopre, which is great, but the hi-z and mic pres on my RME UFX and on the Apogee One are much much better sounding to me.

But the Helix is so good that over never even bothered to compare.

You know I tend to agree. The Pro 40 sounds dull to me too. I have an Apogee GiO which I think sounds better (but my ears aren't so good). Again I suspect its because the GiO's input is specifically designed for guitar, and its Apogee...

 

I wonder if mic pres are one thing, and Hi-Z inputs another. Maybe the Focusrite optimizes for the mic input and has some compromise for the instrument input. Hard to know.

 

I don't use my Helix for an input because its usually packed for gigs.

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I wonder how many of these issues are caused by interfaces whose instrument inputs aren't really instrument inputs...

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I wonder how many of these issues are caused by interfaces whose instrument inputs aren't really instrument inputs...

 

 

There's no doubt in my mind that the DI input (quality) affects results achieved with Helix Native.

 

Record a passive Fender bass (straight DI) thru a cheap DI box.  Sounds completely anemic...

Run the same bass thru a Neve Portico-II channel (just the preamp)... and it sounds great.

Both have Hi-Z inputs... but sound worlds apart.

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Likewise many might find Native unattractive (or not "ages ahead" of competition) with, say, scarlett pres

Now of course I could be wrong, but I don't think the developers had "winning a beauty contest" as their primary goal.

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I run my guitar into an aby box, one side to the Helix, one side to my 2nd gen Focusrite 18i20 set to Instrument.

Helix goes to one channel of my Alto TS210, Focusrite to the other channel. To record the Helix direct, I send the mono  XLR to the Focusrite too. Native should eliminate that need, unless I need to switch presets or turn fx on/off on the fly, and if they incorporate midi in Native (like all the other sims I use), I won't need to do that.

To A/B is as simple as pressing a button. I can't discern ANY difference in sound quality between the Helix hardware and Native. Either thru the Alto or my Rokit monitors. It's anything BUT muddy. Nor can I DETECT the additional 3.6ms that the Helix driver adds over the focusrite (16.7 vs 13.1).

As mentioned, I use a 2nd gen Focusrite 18i20 USB into a 7th gen i7 HP laptop with 16gb, Sonar Platinum DAW.

If you can't afford a UAD or RME, and you don't need the extra routing options (the 18i20 has all I need and more), stick with your Focusrite, it's terrific bang for the buck. At the same time, Helix is perfectly acceptable as an interface for us commoners.

As for the muddiness, look elsewhere, it's not the Focusrite.

 

BTW - the 2nd gen Focusrites addressed the Instrument input problems that previous versions had.

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