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coachz

Replacing a JCM800?

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Feel is identical to me. I’m not missing anything in terms of dynamics. The Helix models clean up when you roll the volume down (especially the Plexi) and there is no noticeable latency. The real deal has to be cranked up pretty loud to get the power stage distortion you can get on Helix at any volume. This was always very limiting to me in rehearsals and on small stages. Helix can give you this too, with the right monitor, if you want it. You really do have to think in terms of the “finished” sound when using FRFR, which I have discovered sounds more natural in a band mix once you get used to it. I no longer have the 2204, but I have experimented with Helix FRFR vs Mesa mini-stack using Helix’s Lonestar preamp into the Mesa mini-stack and the Helix’s Lonestar amp into FRFR. Unless the stack is cranked, I prefer the FRFR rig. With the stack cranked, I would say it is pretty even in terms of tone quality. I would gig with either one. For a gigging musician, I can’t over emphasize the advantage of Helix snapshots. My presets each have four snapshots, a Fender clean, a Marshall with no OD, a Marshall with OD in front (TS-808), and a lead tone Marshall with OD and boost/effects. It would cost me thousands to replicate this on stage and I would be lugging a heavy combo amp, two different tube heads, at least one 4x12 and a large pedal board with complex switching.

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51 minutes ago, ric1966 said:

Feel is identical to me. I’m not missing anything in terms of dynamics. The Helix models clean up when you roll the volume down (especially the Plexi) and there is no noticeable latency. The real deal has to be cranked up pretty loud to get the power stage distortion you can get on Helix at any volume. This was always very limiting to me in rehearsals and on small stages. Helix can give you this too, with the right monitor, if you want it. You really do have to think in terms of the “finished” sound when using FRFR, which I have discovered sounds more natural in a band mix once you get used to it. I no longer have the 2204, but I have experimented with Helix FRFR vs Mesa mini-stack using Helix’s Lonestar preamp into the Mesa mini-stack and the Helix’s Lonestar amp into FRFR. Unless the stack is cranked, I prefer the FRFR rig. With the stack cranked, I would say it is pretty even in terms of tone quality. I would gig with either one. For a gigging musician, I can’t over emphasize the advantage of Helix snapshots. My presets each have four snapshots, a Fender clean, a Marshall with no OD, a Marshall with OD in front (TS-808), and a lead tone Marshall with OD and boost/effects. It would cost me thousands to replicate this on stage and I would be lugging a heavy combo amp, two different tube heads, at least one 4x12 and a large pedal board with complex switching.

 

Thanks so much.  That's the kind of gigging info I am looking for.  I have watched a ton of helix videos and see the power of this unit.   Stupid question.....how does it hold up in the rain?   Have you had any close calls playing out?   Is the joystick a fragile component?  I read some posts of a few problems with it.  The 3 yr extended year by year warranty seems like cheap insurance.  Thanks again for taking the time to relate your reality to me.  At 58 yr old I don't want to lift big cabinets.

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My valve rig is a Marshall JMP1 preamp with either a Marshall EL34 20/20 or a Marshall 9100 power amp and a TC GMajor.  When I gig it, I generally use a pair of Marshall 1912 speakers, but if I'm supporting and the main act has a stereo 4x12 I'll plug into that instead.

 

I've not used my Helix live yet, but I have used my Roland VG99 into a Marshall power amp - the 1u valve state set to PA mode, the 8080 I think - and into the speakers, turning off any mic and speaker emulation.  The result feels just like an amp in the room ... because it is an amp in the room.  I have also used the VG direct into the PA with monitor wedges, and it sounds pretty much like a real amp miked up through monitor wedges.  

I expect the Helix to be more realistic - the models capture more of the faults of the original gear whereas the VG is a little less detailed and idealised - but having removed the speaker/mic impulse responses from the signal flow, you're going to sound pretty much there.  With my gear I would expect Marshall based sounds to be within natural variation - so the JCM800 would sound like an 800, but things like an AC30 to be coloured and less convincing, but still good.

At the end of the day, the important thing is how do you feel playing it, not if you could tell the difference doing an A-B.  Rock and roll's foundations are built on imperfections after all.  The VG was good enough to forget I didn't have my Marshall rig, I'm confident the Helix will be the same.

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Glad to help! Have not had it in the rain, but it deals with heat well. Wouldn’t recommend getting it wet if you can help it. I do worry about audience beer spills during the breaks! No problems with the joystick on mine or the other guitarist’s so far. He’s had his about a year longer. Neither of us have had any issues in rehearsal or on stage (knock on wood). Would definitely go for the warranty and have a back up plan for gigs (mine is Firehawk). I’m with you on lugging gear... 51 myself with a bad lower back! Also want to mention the ability to load IRs. For me this and the snapshots are game changers when compared with previous modelers I have owned (RP500, AMPLIFi and Firehawk). If you haven’t already, check out some of Jason Sadites’ videos on YouTube. He is an expert at dialing in tones and you will get a good idea how great Helix can sound.

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10 minutes ago, ric1966 said:

Glad to help! Have not had it in the rain, but it deals with heat well. Wouldn’t recommend getting it wet if you can help it. I do worry about audience beer spills during the breaks! No problems with the joystick on mine or the other guitarist’s so far. He’s had his about a year longer. Neither of us have had any issues in rehearsal or on stage (knock on wood). Would definitely go for the warranty and have a back up plan for gigs (mine is Firehawk). I’m with you on lugging gear... 51 myself with a bad lower back! Also want to mention the ability to load IRs. For me this and the snapshots are game changers when compared with previous modelers I have owned (RP500, AMPLIFi and Firehawk). If you haven’t already, check out some of Jason Sadites’ videos on YouTube. He is an expert at dialing in tones and you will get a good idea how great Helix can sound.

 

Great info.  Thanks!  Jason has awesome videos.  Very informative.   I'm a very technical guy but it took me a while to learn about the signal paths on the screen.  I may still be wrong but tell me if this is right.   It starts with two stereo paths but you can either branch off or break them out in two completely separate paths for a total of four stereo paths. Damned if this didn't take me hours to figure out even though they claim the interface is very intuitive. It does seem damn intuitive once I know that nugget. Am I close?

 

 Also once you go to the modeler world it's like your stage changes too. Now you can go towards inner ear monitors and not need the stage amps. And something like an inexpensive boss katana might be a great monitor to sit behind me to aim at  the audience and not break the bank while I try to come up with an inexpensive in-ear monitor plus a couple of decent floor wedges

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RE:Helix durability. Go to :34 in this video. They don't show it but it was said that yes it did work after the beating.

 

 

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My advice is to keep yer amp heads and use Helix as an interface between them. Works great with my DSL-100h, and best of both worlds.

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25 minutes ago, spikey said:

My advice is to keep yer amp heads and use Helix as an interface between them. Works great with my DSL-100h, and best of both worlds.

Why not just get the HX then?

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I can tell you this: I own a JCM800 with a Marshall 4x12 loaded with greenbacks. I play in a cover band and have for 30 years. I've miced that cabinet with an Sm57 for most of that time. I also own a Helix Lt. The JCM800 model using the 57 mic version Ir OwnHammer greenback sounds nearly identical coming out of our PA as the real deal. In fact, some nights it sounds better. 

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4 minutes ago, jmwhite38 said:

I can tell you this: I own a JCM800 with a Marshall 4x12 loaded with greenbacks. I play in a cover band and have for 30 years. I've miced that cabinet with an Sm57 for most of that time. I also own a Helix Lt. The JCM800 model using the 57 mic version Ir OwnHammer greenback sounds nearly identical coming out of our PA as the real deal. In fact, some nights it sounds better. 

 

Sounds nearly identical or even better. Totally agree!

 

But can you feel any difference while playing the real tube amp and the Helix? It is very subjective matter but, for example, I can’t achieve that tube feel without tube power amp.

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6 hours ago, JazzMetalBear said:

 

Sounds nearly identical or even better. Totally agree!

 

But can you feel any difference while playing the real tube amp and the Helix? It is very subjective matter but, for example, I can’t achieve that tube feel without tube power amp.

I would think a different feel might be a latency.

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13 hours ago, coachz said:

I would think a different feel might be a latency.

 

You seem determined to believe some urban myth that 'latency' is an issue in modelling systems like Helix. Unless you live in a different cosmos or dimension or such, sorry, it's not.

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4 minutes ago, Vanilla_Icecream said:

 

You seem determined to believe some urban myth that 'latency' is an issue in modelling systems like Helix. Unless you live in a different cosmos or dimension or such, sorry, it's not.

I'm asking,  not telling.   if the poster above is unable to get the tube feel that he knows then in my mind it either has to be a latency issue or the modeler. I'm just trying to learn so feel free to let me know what would be the likely reason. Very interested

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1 hour ago, coachz said:

I'm asking,  not telling.   if the poster above is unable to get the tube feel that he knows then in my mind it either has to be a latency issue or the modeler. I'm just trying to learn so feel free to let me know what would be the likely reason. Very interested

 

"Tube feel", or the lack thereof, has nothing whatsoever to do with latency. Latency either happens, or it doesn't...and when it happens, it is entirely due to how one's various components are connected. If you're running Helix (or some other modeler)  into a DAW, and are trying to monitor through the computer, then yes... you may experience some latency, but it's the result of the signal's round trip into the computer and back out again. However, it's easily avoided by disabling "direct monitoring" in the DAW, using Helix as the interface, and monitoring directly from the unit. Or, running straight into an amp or powered speaker. In either scenario, you will hear no latency whatsoever. If there were, they'd never have sold a single unit. It is a non-issue.

 

All that being said, whether or not you'll decide that Helix's modeling technology is up to snuff, and adequately reproduces the "feel" of a tube amp, is a separate issue entirely. It's also 100% subjective, depending largely on what you play and how you play it, among other factors. As such, it's not a question that anybody else can answer for you. There is but one way to find out...

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2 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

"Tube feel", or the lack thereof, has nothing whatsoever to do with latency. Latency either happens, or it doesn't...and when it happens, it is entirely due to how one's various components are connected. If you're running Helix (or some other modeler)  into a DAW, and are trying to monitor through the computer, then yes... you may experience some latency. But using Helix as the interface, and monitoring directly from the unit, or running it straight into an amp or powered speaker, you will hear no latency whatsoever. If there were, they'd never have sold a single unit. It is a non-issue.

 

Whether or not you'll decide that Helix's modeling technology is up to snuff, and adequately reproduces the "feel" of a tube amp, is a separate issue entirely. It's also 100% subjective, depending largely on what you play and how you play it, among other factors. As such, it's not a question that anybody else can answer for you. There is but one way to find out...

Makes sense, thanks.

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Yeah, that's what I was saying. The questions you're asking can really only be answered by you. You have to try one and see how it feels to you. And even if it doesn't exactly mimic me having the amp in the room, so what? If you like the experience then that's all you need. That's where I'm at. It doesn't mimic my experience with a live amp, but I like this experience a lot better. So I haven't played through a guitar amp in about 4 years now. I am very happy, no matter what other's opinions are about how "real", for lack of a better word, my experience might be. I like it, and I'm not gonna stop. Thank goodness a lot of the guitar players from the 1930's - 40's through today, really, aren't either. We'd still be playing acoustics.

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16 hours ago, coachz said:

I'm asking,  not telling.   if the poster above is unable to get the tube feel that he knows then in my mind it either has to be a latency issue or the modeler. I'm just trying to learn so feel free to let me know what would be the likely reason. Very interested

I don't claim to be an expert on this stuff by any means - there are a lot more qualified folks than I on it, some of which have given you great information in this thread.

 

Helix does have a "sag" parameter which can be an important factor for getting that tube feel as it pertains to the power amp section and how it responds under load. There's no specific setting for it for all amp models, but for any given amp model, if you crank up the "master volume" (not channel volume") and then adjust the "sag" to the sweet spot for that amp and master vol setting, it can have subtle and not-so-subtle tonal changes, but also change the playability feel and touch dynamics.

 

And, of course, cranking up the overall volume through your FRFR or whatever you're playing through to a good loud healthy setting is huge factor in feel also. Any time I get the opportunity to do that, it sounds just incredible. I wish I could play at those volumes more often, but my neighbors would not appreciate it, not to mention my wife would not be very forgiving either.

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Good point on the sag parameter, bsd512. It’s been so long since I set up my presets, I had almost forgotten that I raised the sag up to around 7 on the Marshall Plexi model. With the master dimed, that really helps to get the sound of an overdriven power section. The Helix does react differently to your playing when you start tweaking the deep editing parameters. I also raised the bias slightly and reduced the bias excursion on the Plexi. I use the 2204 model for more of a modern tone, focused on preamp distortion. I think the OP has done due diligence with research here. At this point it’s just a matter of trying one out. Unfortunately going to the local music store and auditing the factory presets won’t get it done. If you seriously want to take the plunge, I would suggest finding a retailer with a thirty day return policy and making the purchase. The Helix experience is different, but I actually prefer it overall. I have a collection of high quality tube amps gathering dust, and I don’t feel like I am sacrificing anything!

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