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Helix or Helix It for bass

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Would love some input on the full Helix or the lt for bass. I am currently still using ny bass pod xt live. I know, I know great back in the day but I find myself going direct more and more. Looks like the Helix will even serve a bowl of soup! Kidding aside I use a mix of active and passive basses. Even got an acoustic to play with. I play live quite a bit but still using an amp. Looking to cut down or eliminate any large amp. Go direct at larger gigs and use a small very neutral sounding amp at smaller ones. I love the amp modeling. I don't use any additional effects other than a tuner. Doing some basic recording but don't want to regret it if I end up limiting myself down the road. I know the Lt vs my bass pod is like going from a Yugo (yes I'm that old) to a Corvette. Is the full Helix overkill for a bass player? Or is the Ferrari justified? Thanks

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I'm a guitar player, not bass so... But I have the floor Helix since day one and for me, I use a lot of the I/O options for L6 link, 1/4 outs to amp, XLR to PA, FX loops to pedals.  I also use 2 additional expression pedals.  If you don't need all that for bass, and I don't think even Geddy would, you will probably be fine with the LT.  It still does everything the floor model does, just fewer I/O options really...

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Thanks. That was what I was thinking. What is the software that costs less for Helix and 200 more for Lt?

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Thanks. That was what I was thinking. What is the software that costs less for Helix and 200 more for Lt?

Yup...if you buy the big brother, they give you a break on the price for Helix Native.

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And I guess the next question is do I need it or are the Helix amps and effects more than enough?

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Helix Floor bass player here.

 

I was using a normal bass amp + bass cabs and didn't like that the range of sounds was limited by those two elements in my chain. I tried using a laptop and Amplitube for a while, but it was too unstable - the application crashing in the middle of a gig is something you don't want to experience twice. I was also using a Boss GT-10B multieffect at that time  and I liked the idea of having a single unit that I just have to hook up and go.

An Axe FX was too expensive and seemed like overkill since I don't want to model any real amps as accurately as possible, but just have a "good" sound and enough options to customize it. Units like the Avid Eleven focused too much on guitars. I thought about building my own rack with a Mesa Triaxis. but the FX and MIDI switching efforts would have made that project huge. I liked the idea of something like a Triaxis though since I work a lot with overdriven and distorted sounds. I also tinker a lot with my instrument.

The Helix seemed a natural choice for me: My band needed a PA anyways, the Helix can simulate any cabinet I can think of (via IR) so I'm not limited to a single tone anymore. I can simulate guitar amps and bass amps, mix them, EQ them and switch them all with a single button. And I can take that entire collection of amps and setups home and spend hours finding the perfect gain setting instead of annoying my bandmates with it.

 

So much for myself. Now, I would generally recommend a Helix in two cases:

1. If you don't want to carry and maintain (tube amps!) a real amp. Depending on where you gig you may still have to carry a PA and/or monitor. In a large enough place you won't need that either, instead you'd have a single unit. The FOH guy is also happy because he can right away get a clean DI signal.

2. If you want versatility. If you regularly switch between a vintage Ampeg rig, a modern Mesa into a 4x10 and an overdriven Marshall, this is the right tool for the job. Also if you have FX pedals or rackmount units that you want to keep using by taking advantage of the Helix' FX loops.

 

If you are more happy with an actual amp for whatever reason and/or you don't need that much variety, I would recommend getting something smaller instead to save money. A Helix might also not be ideal for those who really dislike too many options, buttons, knobs etc. - If you prefer a tone knob over a 10-band EQ, the Helix could become annoying.

 

Another aspect is the bass pod you mentioned. I did not have one, but the Helix definitely sounds better than my GT-10B. I would assume it's an upgrade to the bass pod as well.

 

You've already mentioned in your post that you don't have any pedals that could go into the FX loop and that you prefer to not use your own amp, but I thought I'd still list those things for the sake of a complete opinion. I cannot offer any advice on Floor vs. LT though. I got mine when there was no LT available yet, and I would still prefer it for versatility.

 

[Edit] What I forgot: The Helix didn't have many bass amps when it came out, but their number has been constantly increasing. And that's the big difference to most other multi FX and ampsims, at least when I made my decision for the Helix. So don't be tempted to think that the Helix is a guitar unit and also has a bit of bass stuff thrown in because someone at marketing said "it's necessary". I use it exclusively for bass and never felt like I'm not the target audience for this unit. It's something I'd like to give Line6 big credit for, it's one of the few products made for creative bassists.

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I use Helix for guitar in one band and bass in another, though I primarily got it for guitar. At this point, the only time I use a real amp is at our practice space (since we don't have a full PA) and at shows where they do not have a full PA. The bass amps on the Helix are truly wonderful, enough that I felt no need to keep my real Mesa 400+. The fuzzes are still a little lacking in their usefulness for bass, IMO, but I can tweak them to get close to what I want. I also really enjoy being able to do subtle things like have, say, a bit of reverb and chorus on one section, then switch to a distorted dry tone for the next. I have a lot of sonic possibilities that I could not do live before. Plus, as above, sound guy gets a DI signal that sounds exactly how I want it to sound (instead of like the lame facsimile of my tone that comes out of the DI out on the amp).

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Thanks all. I got tired of lugging my heads and cabinets around. My bass pod was great, but the output options are very limited. I see they modeled Billy Sherman's Pierce preamp that he loved for years. Whole he hasn't given up the amps and cabinets (who would with those royalties). But I have no doubts the Helix is a great step up. I think I'll get an Lt to use gigging and then get a full model for my home studio. I haven't expanded that too much yet and the full Helix would be a great tool. Plus being able to copy all my custom tones and effects to the Lt makes it even better. I'll post my updates once it comes. Going in the studio to record a new demo with my band in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I can get some comparisons with the Helix vs the studio racks.

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Using Helix floor or Native for studio mixes, I'm still not able to get a bass tone that works for rock, alt rock (think Tom Petty, Spoon) that wins out over my simple Cerebrus bass amp plug-in. I've tried using bass cab IRs, etc, but still not getting the tight round fat tone I want.

 

What do others use for Helix amp/cab settings?

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Using Helix floor or Native for studio mixes, I'm still not able to get a bass tone that works for rock, alt rock (think Tom Petty, Spoon) that wins out over my simple Cerebrus bass amp plug-in. I've tried using bass cab IRs, etc, but still not getting the tight round fat tone I want.

 

What do others use for Helix amp/cab settings?

 

I use the Mesa 400+ model, I think the ch. 2 version. For the cab, I think I am using one of the 15" models, but I can't recall off the top of my head. It is practically identical to the actual 400+ I had running into a 1x15" Markbass cab. I play mostly heavier music, but it depends on the song. For some (or metal songs) I go very heavy, using the Obsidian drive pedal to get a bit of distortion; for our more classic-rock inspired tunes, I just have a bit of compression and that's it. Keep in mind that the bass you use will have just as big of an effect on your tone. I am using a Stingray because it gives just the right amount of growl.

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Hey njglover (and everyone),

 

I’m a bass player and just got the Helix Floor. For some reason I’m having a hard time getting a clear bass tone. My guitar player has an Axe Fx and we were setting up the same bass patch on both units, Mesa amp into a 4x10. It was fairly easy to get it going on the Axe, but for some reason it still sounds muddy on the Helix.

 

Are you guys only using the amp and cab block for your basic sound? I can’t seem to get it to work. I’m aware that the processors are different, just hoping to get some advice on how to set up some basic patches. I bought some 3Sigma presets, but even those seem to be a little on the not so clear side.

 

I’m setting up patches via headphones for now (Sennheiser HD280), but the goal is to feed a stereo signal into a qsc power amp. I play NS/Stick. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

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I focus on an Ampeg SVT sound, and muddy is a good way to describe the typical results. Others have said they like the bass modeling, but I'm not jazzed about it.The most usable tones I have obtained were from splitting the signal and blending: one path straight "DI" (no blocks in the path) and one path with the amp on distorteding gain, lots of mid and treble with low bass eq, 3Sigma Ampeg IR mixed down a bit, and then blend the DI and amp paths to taste. The modeled tone should sound unusable on its own — its there to blend in some bite and character.

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If you have active electronics and like a little extra thump on the low end, the Helix will distort badly as the additional low end overdrives the Helix.  I have used it for a live gig but prefer my MarkBass Momark and 410 cab.  They are fairly light and compact.  I do love Helix for guitar though.  If I used passive basses, I would certainly use the Helix.

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I play a variety of music and constantly trying different amps and tones on both bass and guitar in native and helix. I can get a great tone with just some tweaking and seeing how it fits into the mix, but lately I have been recording three bass signals and than blending them: D.I. From my bass into my mixer/interface and than into native, D.I. From my bass amp (post effects) and a mic infront of my cab’s speaker. That way I get a very full tone and I often just use native for whatever seems to be lacking. My bass amp is a Line 6 Lowdown 175 I have been using for years but I have been wanting to upgrade to something that could intergrate better with.Helix(something with an effects loop and a couple of 10” speakers instead of the 15”) 

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2 hours ago, bigolsparky said:

If you have active electronics and like a little extra thump on the low end, the Helix will distort badly as the additional low end overdrives the Helix.  I have used it for a live gig but prefer my MarkBass Momark and 410 cab.  They are fairly light and compact.  I do love Helix for guitar though.  If I used passive basses, I would certainly use the Helix.

 

Did you try the input pad?

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I have active/passive guitars and basses and never distorted the signal with with them. Just a slight volume increase when I do use an active pickup instrument. 

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On 7/16/2018 at 11:43 PM, MEP1603 said:

Hey njglover (and everyone),

 

I’m a bass player and just got the Helix Floor. For some reason I’m having a hard time getting a clear bass tone. My guitar player has an Axe Fx and we were setting up the same bass patch on both units, Mesa amp into a 4x10. It was fairly easy to get it going on the Axe, but for some reason it still sounds muddy on the Helix.

 

Are you guys only using the amp and cab block for your basic sound? I can’t seem to get it to work. I’m aware that the processors are different, just hoping to get some advice on how to set up some basic patches. I bought some 3Sigma presets, but even those seem to be a little on the not so clear side.

 

I’m setting up patches via headphones for now (Sennheiser HD280), but the goal is to feed a stereo signal into a qsc power amp. I play NS/Stick. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

 

I use the amp and cab blocks separately, I think, though I probably don't need to. I'm actually using the Mesa 15" cab, I think, cuz I like the way it sounds. I don't find it to be muddy at all, but YMMV depending on the bass. I like Stingrays because of how they sound, and being active probably helps with clarity (but I leave the tone controls at the neutral/middle setting). IMO, it sounds so close to identical to the tone I was getting with an actual 400+ with a 1x15 Markbass cab that I sold the 400+. There was just absolutely no point in having the real thing. For most live gigs, I just plug straight into FOH, though for practice (or crappier venues) I still use a Markbass amp (just the power section) and the 1x15 cab.

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For those of you doing studio bass tracks, there is a new plug-in out from Kush that models the famous "red brick" Reddi tube preamp. The plug-in is getting me quickly to great studio bass sounds; recording the bass direct, then feeding the raw through Reddi, then eq and compress as needed. Bass sounds out of the Helix also sound better if you process the bass track through the Reddi plug, then into Helix or Helix Native for any additional processing, or splitting the DI through an amp/IR model.

 

https://www.thehouseofkush.com/plugins/reddi

 

It would be awesome if Line 6 could add a similar Reddi tube-pre model in the Helix for bass players!

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I'm currently using a TC electronic BH250 amp and Ashdown 4x10 300w cab.  I'm looking into the possibility of getting a Helix LT and put it through my Ashdown cab.  Can anyone recommend a power amp pedal that I'm going to need before I go through to my bass cab?

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Power amps typically do not come in pedal format because they require very large transformers for that kind of power. The two exceptions are the Magnum pedals from EH, but those are like 15 watts, nowhere near enough to even start powering your cab. You'd need to just go into the FX return of your current amp from the Helix LT.

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So there’s nothing really in pedal format for the bass like there is for guitar?  For example, The Seymour Duncan powerstage 170 Power amp pedal.  You don’t need an amp on your cab as this pedal does it for you. 

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A few years ago there was something similar to what you like. It was the "SWR Amplite", a power amplifier designed for bass. I don't know if they produce it any longer. My guess is that products like this were not too popular when a standard PA amplifier can do the same (or more) for less money.

 

As njglover said, I tend to think power amps in pedal format cannot provide enough power for bass in certain situations.

 

Some time ago I used my TC Electronic RH-750 as a power amp for my old Zoom B3 (using the power amp input). At the time I considered the possibility to swap it for an Ashdown Little Giant 1000 because the power stage (the only thing I was using) was comparable and the price lower. But I kept (and I still have) the RH750 just in case I decided to do a gig without any multi-effect.

 

I checked and noticed your BH250 does not have the independent power amplifier input. But I'd try to see if the "buil-in" EQ in your BH250 is acceptable for your needs. Possibly with some tweaks it will be good enough, then you can save for a really good powered FRFR cab that is perfect for bass.

 

In the last 7 years I've been using a standard PA power amplifier, first with the Zoom B3, then with the Helix. Something like the new Behringer NX1000 is inexpensive and probably good enough. I've been using the larger NU6000DSP to power my bi-amp "dream rig" since 2011. Now, if stolen or damaged, I'd buy a Barefaced FR800 active cab. Strictly equivalent to my rig when I leave 1 cab home, i.e. HUGE sounds, but weighting just 15 Kg!

 

In my opinion there is not much choice for powerful active FRFR speakers good enough for bass and that don't weight a ton.

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Certainly if you want a power amp worth having it will not fit very nicely on your pedal board. What you have now is about as small as they come for that amount of watts. What is the end goal of moving the amp to the front of stage anyway?

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I was seeing how small I could go without losing my sound quality.  Less to carry to gigs etc, small footprint.   If my current amp is the smallest it can go then so be it.  At least I can unify my pedal board to one unit.   Thanks for your help guys :)

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I'm a little late to this party, but here's my $.02:

 

I've had a Helix Rack for a year or so. I use it as a preamp and send the output to a Carvin DCM3000L power amp and then to an Ampeg 810e speaker cab. I use it for live sound only, no recording. I setup my presets to have a separate output path that can be sent to FOH. Sometimes the sound guy just gets the same feed I send to my power amp and he's ok with that; other times they want a separate feed so I can tweak the eq that I send to them.  I play in loud metal/rock bands, mostly tributes to Rush, Iron Maiden, and Godsmack. I have experimented with setting up presets for a DAW, but that's not how I use the Helix.

 

On 1/28/2018 at 9:46 AM, soundog said:

What do others use for Helix amp/cab settings?

 

I normally find that the Woody Blue (Acoustic 360) is the best starting point for the tone I want. I've tried others, but this one seems to work best for me. I also use a free IR that I downloaded from the web site "Studio Nord Bremen" called "Ampeg V4-B_TE_sm7.wav". That combination works well for me. And, yes, I use an IR even though I run into a real speaker cab. To me, the sound is way too boxy and wimpy without the IR.

 

On 7/16/2018 at 8:43 PM, MEP1603 said:

Hey njglover (and everyone),

Are you guys only using the amp and cab block for your basic sound? I can’t seem to get it to work. I’m aware that the processors are different, just hoping to get some advice on how to set up some basic patches. I bought some 3Sigma presets, but even those seem to be a little on the not so clear side.

 

I’m setting up patches via headphones for now (Sennheiser HD280), but the goal is to feed a stereo signal into a qsc power amp. I play NS/Stick. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

 

See my response above for what I use. I have found that setting up a preset for live sound is much more difficult than for headphones and/or DAW. And I haven't been successful with getting a good bass tone with the built-in amp and cab blocks. Without an IR, my results have been very poor, boxy and wimpy sounding.

 

On 9/29/2018 at 5:34 PM, s1lentb0b said:

I'm currently using a TC electronic BH250 amp and Ashdown 4x10 300w cab.  I'm looking into the possibility of getting a Helix LT and put it through my Ashdown cab.  Can anyone recommend a power amp pedal that I'm going to need before I go through to my bass cab?

 

Possibly the Quilter Bass Block 800??

 

--jack

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I'm thinking the new Helix Stomp might be ideal for many bass players. For some, the amount of switches and effects blocks would be more than enough.

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