Jump to content
Lguitarjsm

Helix is it worth it?

Recommended Posts

Hi Everyone,

I am very interested in buying the helix.  There seems to be a lot of hype about it. The reason why I am posting this question is because I have been disappointed time and time again on multi-effects pedal for their sound quality.  They just don't sound real-organic.

 

However, there are many advantages to owning a multiple effects pedal, but the advantages don't necessarily outweigh their sound.

 

So, if possible, can members or some members of the line 6 forum give me some feed back as to how "authentic" the sounds are and sell my pedals and replace them with the helix. 

 

Also, the pedal seems sophisticated, is it difficult to get operational support if needed?

 

 

Thanks so much in advance,

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you are just gonna get different opinions.This is how i decided if it was something that i can work with and use.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really like terms like "organic" when it comes to describing tones, because, well, no one but the person saying it actually knows what it means... But I can honestly say that the Helix effects are so good that I haven't really had the desire to buy any new pedals in a long time. The one exception to that is that I've bought the new Meris pedals, but that is more because I want to support what those guys are doing, and I think they are pretty unique products... I don't really need them, though.

 

Are far the Helix being sophisticated, I'd say it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. If you only want to treat like a bunch of stompboxes, you can do that. If you want to do the more complex things, it's actually very simple once you understand the basic concepts. As far as support, it's readily available. Besides here, Line 6 employees hang out on other gear forums such as The Gear Page, and there's a huge Helix Facebook group with over 14,000 members.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love mine. Worth every penny, as far as I'm concerned. However....

 

If you're a "washed in the blood and filled with the spirit" tube amp and pedal guy, looking for the "amp in the room" sound, and you already have a track record of not liking other  modelers/multi-fx units, you may not like Helix either. Some guys just don't warm up to modelers. It happens...

 

It's it difficult to use? No. The UI is dead-simple... but it's not an amp. If you approach it like one, expecting to just "plug and play", fiddling with the amp model's basic tone controls and nothing else, as you would with their real world counterparts, you're likely to get frustrated quickly. You have to approach it as if you're in a studio... with a close mic-ed amp/cab in the room next door, listening through studio monitors in the control room... that's what is being modeled.  The finished product is what you'd hear on a recording, NOT the raw sound of an amp heard from a few feet away, and way off-axis. Depending on how you choose to monitor Helix (headphones, studio monitors,  straight to a PA, or through a "real" guitar cabinet),  various additional tweaking and EQ will be required, particularly hi/low cuts, to varying degrees depending on the circumstances.  

 

If you really want to take advantage of what the unit is capable of, some kind of FRFR speaker(s) is required. For example, if you take a Fender amp model and pump it through an actual Marshall cabinet, don't expect to hear much "Fender-y-ness"...if the last thing in the chain before your ears is a Marshall, then that's what you're gonna hear. Now that doesn't mean you wouldn't like the tone and plenty of guys have similar setups, but you'd be limiting yourself somewhat. You need a blank canvas that will color the tone as little as possible...which in this case is a neutral, flat response speaker. 

 

In short...I wouldn't go selling off everything you own to finance a Helix until you've given one a LENGTHY test drive. 20 minutes of noodling down at your local Megalomusic isn't gonna cut it... you need to spend some time with it. Doubly so if you're new to modeling. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bought Helix almost 2 years ago. After about 6 months, I sold all my other gear (pedals and amps). I just use Helix as my entire rig not going straight to FOH. Never going back. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made the transition over to Helix almost 3 years ago and it's not only my complete live rig, but it's also my total recording rig.  However, I have to say I've been playing around in the modeling world for several years now, so it's not a real surprise to me and I (more or less) know what I'm doing.

 

There's a LOT of really good observations above regarding subjective impressions of what's organic, as well as the complexity of modeling in general.  The two things somewhat relate when it comes to this technology.  I wouldn't say I've been looking for an "organic" sound as much as I've been pursuing a sound that's consistent with professionally recorded sounds in my live environment.  I think some people use the term "organic" to describe the raw sound of a traditional rig on stage with all it's warts and pimples.  If that's what you're after you may very well be disappointed.  My goal with the Helix was to do better than that and  achieve the same level of quality sound production achieved by major artists in their concert presentations, which is consistent with the sound quality of their recordings...because that's what audiences expect to hear nowadays.  That's very different from what you would normally hear in a bar or club unless it's a high end club such as a theater or cruise ship show or big vegas show act.  It's about precision, clarity, definition and polish.  That's what I was after and that's what I got with the Helix.  And when that's applied in a ,more typical club environment it differentiates you from the crowd...at least in my opinion and a lot of the folks that are fans of my band.  I'm not saying you can't get the more typical live stage sound with the Helix..many people do.  But that's not really getting the optimum result from the Helix IMHO.

 

In terms of complexity, it's complexity that's easy to use due to the interface.  But the complexity comes in understanding a broader range of technical disciplines than what's typically required in a traditional rig.  I've always said it's far more consistent with understanding the technical aspects used in a recording studio than the general plug in and play of amps and pedals.  You're dealing with a LOT more detail regarding how you lay out your signal chain, splitting and mixing signal chains, not just amp modeling, but dual amp blending, cabinet modeling, cabinet blending,  microphone modeling, and microphone placement modeling, not to mention effects layering and precision EQ and compression.  You don't HAVE to understand all of it, but the more you understand the more you can accomplish in terms of precision, clarity, definition and polish with your sound.

 

IMHO many people get turned off from modeling in many cases because they don't really understand the potential or aren't willing to put in the effort to learn all the technical aspects to get the sound they want.  In short, my rule of thumb with Helix, or any other high end modeler, is it's only as good as the knowledge and skills of the person using it.

  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TRY THE HELIX.

 

It's the only way you will ever know if you like it.  If the stores in your area don't have to try find someone on this forum or on the FB Helix page that lives in your area.  Find someone that plays the same kind of music as you.

 

I sold my 5150 III 50 watt and 2x12 cab and I don't miss it all.  I use two FRFRs for stereo sound and it is great.  Much easier to mix my band now with no guitar amp on stage and there is more room.  The advantages are vast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm new to the Helix, but not new to multi-FX pedals.  In the past I've used multi-FX pedals (Boss GT pedals to be exact) in 4CM with tube amps.  Overall, I'd say that I've been very pleased with the results.  Now, with the Helix and the Line6 Powercab - an FRFR speaker - I'm going full modeler mode.  The UI is great - I think it's much easier and more logical than the Fractal and the Kemper gear (which I have owned and tried).  My challenge is getting the amp and speaker / IR settings just right.  The Helix FX are great.  If, for whatever reason, I get dissatisfied with the Helix amp modeling then I'll use it in 4CM mode as a replacement for my old GT units.  As far as comparing the sound quality of the Helix vs Fractal vs Kemper vs Boss vs....etc...., once you get into these higher end units I think they all have the ability to sound pretty great.  Each one will have it's pros / cons and strengths / weaknesses - but I think we're talking about very slight differences.  So, for me, a major deciding factor was also the convenience and user-friendliness of the unit.

 

Generally speaking... How can you not love a multi-FX unit?  I really don't get the individual pedal thing.  Individual pedals and all that they require (additional cables, board, power supply) are more expensive, less flexible (you can't have preset patches of different combinations of FX with unique settings), are likely to be far more limiting in terms of FX options (unless you have a pedal board as big as basketball court), and with every additional pedal you're introducing another potential point of failure, noise, and / or signal degradation into your sound.  With today's technology and options, a rig with a bunch of individual pedals has no appeal to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, rbedsaul said:

Generally speaking... How can you not love a multi-FX unit?  I really don't get the individual pedal thing.  Individual pedals and all that they require (additional cables, board, power supply) are more expensive, less flexible (you can't have preset patches of different combinations of FX with unique settings), are likely to be far more limiting in terms of FX options (unless you have a pedal board as big as basketball court), and with every additional pedal you're introducing another potential point of failure, noise, and / or signal degradation into your sound.  With today's technology and options, a rig with a bunch of individual pedals has no appeal to me.

 

'Cause pedals are "real", man... lol

 

I don't get it either. Golden eared cork sniffers will forever maintain that modeling can never replace the "real thing". Well they can have fun lugging around and re-tubing all the "real" amps they want, and futzing with 19 different pedals and their power supplies or 9V batteries, on an enormous board that could anchor a cruise ship. I'll take the versatility, convenience, and consistency of Helix, and whatever unit eventually comes along to replace it...all with one trip from the car into the gig.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Worth it, sounds authentic, support is easy to find here in this forum and others online and youtube and Line 6 tech support is the best I've dealt with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second the kudos to Line 6 support, you'll find many excellent stories about them here.

 

I've been Helix-only for a bit over 2 years, really enjoying it. Easy to work with, super flexible on many levels, and just plain fun.

 

Can't really compare it with the real world devices it models, since in spite of playing for a really long time, I've never been anywhere near most of them, especially the amps.

 

What I can tell you is that it's like having a gigantic toybox to go rutting around in, without spending any further money. Every so often, new toys fall from the sky, and the most recent amps and some of the recent effects they added are outstanding.

 

You really need to try it to have any sense of how it'll be for you. Not for a half hour in a noisy store either. Find a retailer with a good return policy and dig in, for a while especially since it seems you're new to modelers. Like folks have said, the biggest differences for you would be that functionally it's a really whole recording chain, even if you're just using it live, and that you'll likely be playing through a full range speaker instead of a stack.

 

I'm blathering on here, but you get the idea. Just try one. Any of the top-tier modelers these days are excellent, and for me, Helix hits a great balance of ease of use, great sounds, great connectivity, and semi-affordability.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Download helix native as trial version. Same sounds with the floor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a Helix user since february of this year and I haven’t touched my amp since. Before my Helix LT I used a PodXT live pedal, together with a Fender Blues deluxe on the clean channel.

Now I use my HxLT with a set of Shure in ear monitors. I use a Behringer personal in ear monitor amplifier which receives my Helix XLR outputs. And then a mono signal from the 1/4” outputs to the mixer. This works great for rehearsal.

For gigging this setup might very a little regarding the way the FoH wants my signal. I can switch my IEM amplifier from stereo to 2x mono and mix my guitar signal with whe monitor signal from the mixer, or just receive a stereo monitor mix. Works great either way.

 

The only thing getting used to is that your guitar sound is much more “studio” feel than a direct amp sound. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing in my opinion. 

I love my current setup and do not have any reasons to go back. Might try 4cm as I still have my amps. But for gigging, I like the fact that I don’t have to haul all this gear. Just my guitar, fx board case and a backpack for additional cables and small stuff.

 

As for the default presets: they weren’t worth trying (my opinion). Just buy some presets online as an example and start from there building your own.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your great responses, I truly appreciate it.  Overall, it seems that the "helix" is worth the investment. 

So, I decided to buy a helix shortly,  and I will try to find a store with a good return policy.  Does anyone know of a non-grief return store?

 

As one response mentioned, don't see your current gear until you know that u are happy with the helix.

Some one mentioned that the support from line 6 is great, I hope so. 

I have been looking at some videos.

 

There is one I really Like: "Idiots" guide Helix, however, I I could only find 3 of this videos, and then there were supposedly more but I cannot seem to find them.  His name was Jeremy Varao, I watched this first 4 videos but he said that later on in the later series, he would talk about parallel chains, snapshots, etc, but I didn't see those.

 

Has anybody seen these video series and where the other ones would be.

 

Thank you,

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Lguitarjsm said:

  Does anyone know of a non-grief return store?

 

 

I buy nearly everything from Sweetwater at this point....shipping is fast (and free if you're spending over $100), 30 day return window, no questions asked. And on most* big ticket items, they tack on an extra year of service beyond the manufacturer's warranty. 

 

I have no affiliation with them whatsoever, just a happy customer...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds Great!!  Do you know if Sweet Water answers operation questions (if you can't seem to find out how to do it though You-Tube or a forum like this). (I know they have a technical support department, but, I don't think an operation questions would be considered Tech support)

Thanks so.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Lguitarjsm said:

  Does anyone know of a non-grief return store?

 

 

 

Sweetwater

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Lguitarjsm said:

Sounds Great!!  Do you know if Sweet Water answers operation questions (if you can't seem to find out how to do it though You-Tube or a forum like this). (I know they have a technical support department, but, I don't think an operation questions would be considered Tech support)

Thanks so.....

 

Probably not, but who knows? They are a pretty well informed bunch...I'm sure they'd help with technical issues, but I doubt they have the time for "what buttons do I push to sound like Slash? " requests. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also good experiences with Sweetwater. 

 

They mean to answer questions, but in all honesty, they can't put the time into every single product they sell to get as familiar as folks who use a specific one for hours every day. Here or The Gear Page is your best bet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a Helix to use in conjunction with my JTV59 for gigs where I don't have a lot of stage room and can only take a single guitar. I wanted a floor unit that I could run straight to FOH, and just use whatever monitor they had at the venue, leaving my cabinet at home. Sounds great, responds great, super-flexible routing monster. Change guitar model, amp model, and tuning on a single footswitch? Hell yeah! I have since found out that I can also hook it up to my iPad, and then use my guitar via Midi Guitar 2 iOS app to trigger synth apps on the iPad (?!?). I'm still wrapping my head around all the possibilities, but the iPad thing alone makes the Helix more than worth it for me - and that's not even what I bought it for originally...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whether Helix is right for you or not depends a lot on what you're trying to do. If your a professional guitarist like Matt Schofield or Andy Timmons with your own signature tone, then probably Helix is for you (although I'd really like to connect with Matt and see if we could create something he would like in Helix). 

 

If you're looking for something for home use and don't mind using a computer and setting up some MIDI control, its hard to beat S-Gear for quality, tone, ease of use and price. I can't recommend it enough. I have Helix Native, and S-Gear is till used in most of my guitar recordings - but with Helix Native effects in front of it!

 

But if you're like a lot of us and are semi-professional or a weekend club band doing a few gigs a month and playing a lot of covers, there's nothing that comes close to Helix and a JTV-69S in my opinion. I have lots of nice vintage gear (I'm pretty vintage myself). But Helix and a JTV-69S with SVL Daytona pickups are my goto gigging rig. I keep bringing other guitars, but rarely ever play them. And I love Helix for the flexibility, tones, ease of use, reliability, quite setup, and cool factor.

 

Now if you're worried about getting the wrong modeler and missing out on some magic tone - stop worrying! Helix, Kemper, and Axs-FX are all different, have their advantages and disadvantages, probably will sound different but are all great gear. Any of them can really do the job if you spend the time connecting with them and building your sound. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, zooey said:

Also good experiences with Sweetwater. 

 

They mean to answer questions, but in all honesty, they can't put the time into every single product they sell to get as familiar as folks who use a specific one for hours every day. Here or The Gear Page is your best bet.

 

Better yet, reading the manual seems to be the most efficient method of answering operational questions about the Helix...in spite of the lengths that some people go to avoid it.......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want something that will sound totes amazeballs the first second you sit down with it and play something, Helix is not gonna be for you. Neither is Axe FX.
If you are prepared to spend a week or two experimenting with settings and configuring things to your liking then you will love what Helix can do and the sounds it can make, as you would if you did the same with Axe FX.

I know quite a few people who bought a Helix and hated it for a few weeks until they had time to figure out how to get the sound they were looking for out of it.
The point here is, it can very likely make the sound you want with the vast selection of tools in the box, but you have to be prepared to put in some work to get it. If you aren't prepared to do that, keep saving your money and buy the actual gear that makes the sound you want rather than a modeller that can be configured to sound that way because that is the only way you will get that instant gratification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Everyone 

thanks for taking the time to respond. I took the plunge and bought the Helix,!  Should arrive on Thursday. I am super excited. 

Cant wait to start working with it 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should be a happy person in a few days!   I haven't turned on a tube amp in over two years other than just screwing around 

for an hour or two rarely.

 

I've had Fractal (Axe) products, a couple of Kempers, and have settled on Helix with a Helix LT for clone backup...

 

Love love love love love it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought my Helix for 2 reasons. 1-as a backup to my Fractal Axe FXII and 2- to use with a 5150iii for fx only. For FX it’s awesome! A few limitations to the fs design in my opinion but really awesome and easy to set up.

 

As a backup for my Axe FX II it’s pretty good and has replaced it in many scenarios. One place it can’t replace my AF2 (yet) is for recording. There’s a couple areas the Helix is lacking in modeling in my opinion.

1- Sound quality, the Helix doesn’t have the note separation or clarity the AF2 does. The notes sound kind of “smeared together” compared to FAS modeling.

 

2-Tweaking, in the FAS modeling you can edit quite a bit about the amps (change tube types and much more) and even better tweak the drive models. 

 

3- Accuracy, with my AF2 I know if I grab a model of  a Plexi, JCM 800, Dual Rec, Mark II or IV, AC30 etc, and a good IR I’m going to get 95% or better the experience of the real deal on my recording, jam or whatever. Also the power amp simulation doesn’t have the same mojo when running through a solid state poweramp that the AF2 does.

 

All that being said, I’m not bashing the Helix it’s an AWESOME piece of gear that’s very, very close to being able to run with the bigger dogs. I’m hoping in another fw or 2 it may be there, then I may have to think about parting with my FAS gear.

 

Ultimately for the price it’s darn good, especially love. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Glideman,

Thank you for your response.  You have added to my excitement of getting the helix.  I have been so worried and concerned about making the correct choice because I have been disappointed before and the unit is not cheap and so I am "gun-shy".

But the overall consensus is that the helix is most wonderful.  I looked at tons of videos on how to use it and what you can do with it is absolutely amazing.  The flexibility is second to none, in my opinion.  I also looked that the boss GT 1000 and the UI is nothing like the Helix as well as its flexibility.

 

I will be playing it through a Fender Hot Rod Deville IV.

 

Thanks so.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, shawnt113 said:

 

Hey Shawn

I hear you. The reason I stayed away from AF 2 is because it seems that the only viable way to get support is through email. And I had bad experiences with email support  because you keep going back and forth instead of a quick back and forth conversation and this is all new to me.    Before I finally decided to buy the helix I contacted line 6 and they were great 

I know the tone may not be as good as the AF2. But as you mentioned hopefully helix will be there in a few years

Thanks for your comments

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you get your bag of candy? It's been awhile since I've ordered anything from them but they used to send a little bag with like Smarties and jelly beans in it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I almost always wind up with Bit O Honey. I think if they ever stop sending that I may have to rethink where I order from!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×