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Former HD500x User Thinking About Getting The Helix Rack - Question


rlama5150
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Hi there...I used to own the HD500x and sold it years back. I am thinking about getting the Helix rack almost exclusively for recording at home direct into Pro-Tools. I dont gig.  I'm currently using BIASFX Pro and its fairly versatile and is easy to use in Pro-Tools but it has its limits. It sounds pretty good in a mix.  I am now looking at the Helix and AXEFX3 and reading as much as I can and watching every video I can. Putting aside the cost difference, which is not insignificant, my concern with the Helix is that I have read several times that the IRs on the Helix are considered by some to be "inferior" (maybe not the right word) and that in order to make the Helix sound on par with the AXEFX, you have to buy third-party IRs (cabinet simulations) from companies like Ownhammer etc. Do you Helix owners find this to be true?  Thanks. 

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3rd party IR's tend to be easier to use for me, I wouldn't say they are "better" than the Helix versions.  3rd party IR's tend to come setup for the most part, few parameters to mess with.  meanwhile the helix stock cabs have a butt load of options to mess with, it can be daunting and take time to master.  But its easy to get a great sound out of the stock cabs.  I bought a mess of IR's but most of the time I use the cabs I've spent time dialing in to my setup.

 

 

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There are no difference in IRs between units.  IRs are IRs no matter where they are used.  What they may have been referring to are the Helix cabinets which you can think of as dynamic IRs.  IR's are simply a file that contains a specific sound based on the speaker cabinet and microphone or microphones that were being used to capture the sound of the speaker cabinet and the position of those microphones relative to the distance away from the cabinet or between the cap and cone of the speaker.  If you want a different configuration of any of those things it will be in a different IR file.  Helix cabinets are configurable so you are able to change the mic, mic position, and a number of other configurable parameters at will.  Given you have a good grasp on how those parameters affect the sound you can get as good a sound from the Helix cabinets as you can from IR's in my opinion.  However 9 times out of 10 I'll opt to use an IR simply because it's a simpler operation to incorporate it than it is to go through tweaking parameters on a Helix cabinet since I have a set of IR's I commonly use and work well for me, and it's simpler to audition those IR's within a preset than to audition various Helix cabinet setups.  But that's not based on sound, only on convenience since I build a LOT of different presets.

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20 hours ago, rlama5150 said:

my concern with the Helix is that I have read several times that the IRs on the Helix are considered by some to be "inferior" (maybe not the right word) and that in order to make the Helix sound on par with the AXEFX, you have to buy third-party IRs (cabinet simulations) from companies like Ownhammer etc. Do you Helix owners find this to be true? 

 

This is one of those questions that doesn't really have an answer... it's entirely subjective. Some will tell you that Helix's stock cabs are perfect for their needs, and others will swear that they're the worst thing since smallpox, and 3rd party IR's are a necessity. They each have their pluses and minuses, and I use both.

 

Most of the companies that sell IR's will have a couple of free ones that you can try... but the paid ones are not terribly expensive anyway. Many packages are in the $10-$50 range, and typically contain dozens if not hundreds of individual files... quite possibly more than you'll have the patience to audition. 

 

Try some free ones, or drop twenty bucks on a package or two...compared to what you spend on Helix, it's a minor gamble. See which you prefer....there's no "right" answer. 

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I will say that with Helix, you can also get Helix Native (sold separately).  Presets interchangeable, and the sound is indistinguishable between Native, and Helix Rack... providing a quality front-end. (absolutely identical when using the Helix Rack as your audio interface)

 

With Bias you only get software

With AxeFX you only get hardware

With Helix you have access to both. Being able to completely meld the two like that has been a game changer for me in my studio.

 

Just thought I would throw that in there since you mentioned you will be primarily recording in your home studio.

 

Also I will point out for the price of a single AxeFXIII you can get a Helix rack, floor control, 2 mission expression pedals, Helix Native, and all the cables to use it. Then probably still have money left over. That said, AxeFXIII is a beast, I have heard some really great tones out of it. 

 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, Lachdanan0121 said:

I will say that with Helix, you can also get Helix Native (sold separately).  Presets interchangeable, and the sound is indistinguishable between Native, and Helix Rack... providing a quality front-end. (absolutely identical when using the Helix Rack as your audio interface)

 

With Bias you only get software

With AxeFX you only get hardware

With Helix you have access to both. Being able to completely meld the two like that has been a game changer for me in my studio.

 

Just thought I would throw that in there since you mentioned you will be primarily recording in your home studio.

 

Also I will point out for the price of a single AxeFXIII you can get a Helix rack, floor control, 2 mission expression pedals, Helix Native, and all the cables to use it. Then probably still have money left over. That said, AxeFXIII is a beast, I have heard some really great tones out of it. 

 

 

 

Thanks for the info. It all makes sense as far as the integration you mentioned etc. The reason I'm asking is that although there is nothing wrong with BIASFX for my needs (direct recording into PROTOOLS with EZ Drummer and sometimes backing tracks),  I'm looking to "upgrade" to a unit like Helix or Fractal. I know both aren't cheap (the Axefx especially) but I see it as a long-term investment that I'd prob keep for years so I'm not opposed to selling gear to get the Axe if turns out it's better for my needs. If the Helix bottom line sounds just as good, then it would be hard for me to justify the fractal. I know it probably comes down to trying out the Helix and then going from there. 

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Personally I think the cab models included with Helix are excellent quality.  I do still have a bunch of IRs that I use, but I also use the stock cabs (I'm probably 50/50) and I think that anyone saying the stock cabs aren't any good is probably just really used to using IRs and haven't gotten a handle on the Stock cabs yet.  

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5 minutes ago, litesnsirens said:

Personally I think the cab models included with Helix are excellent quality.  I do still have a bunch of IRs that I use, but I also use the stock cabs (I'm probably 50/50) and I think that anyone saying the stock cabs aren't any good is probably just really used to using IRs and haven't gotten a handle on the Stock cabs yet.  

It's just something I've read a few times or maybe it was on YouTube.  Probably just a few "cork sniffers" being overly critical but I wanted to ask here because you guys have more experience.  On a total side note, I'm curious how you guys think the helix rack compares to the Line 6 POD HD Pro X rack as far as sound and feel etc. Especially in a mix which is what I care about mostly.  

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and that in order to make the Helix sound on par with the AXEFX, you have to buy third-party IRs (cabinet simulations) from companies like Ownhammer etc. Do you Helix owners find this to be true?  Thanks. 

 

For Me, no. I do not use/have a single 3rd party IR installed in Helix. Why??  After watching Jason Sadites youtube videos and learning from him on how to make Helix patches work for me and sound great too (not hard at all BTW, just a better approach IMHO) I'm just needing what Line-6 provided now. Seriously I don't need them now, and I have many. Now I can and do use a few in my Kemper for "merged" profiles where the Amp is separated from the cab IR. (non-merged Amp & Cab & Mic together is also called a profile BTW). But no I do not need IR's for Helix, simply because what Line-6 has in there is plenty if used right. As always YMMV. ; )

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On 10/18/2018 at 2:58 PM, rlama5150 said:

It's just something I've read a few times or maybe it was on YouTube.  Probably just a few "cork sniffers" being overly critical but I wanted to ask here because you guys have more experience.  On a total side note, I'm curious how you guys think the helix rack compares to the Line 6 POD HD Pro X rack as far as sound and feel etc. Especially in a mix which is what I care about mostly.  

I came from the POD HD.  I do think most of the amps sound better, but the difference to me is how the Helix amps react to volume changes at the edge of break up.  The HD still sounds very good, but the dynamics were lacking when I play with the guitar volume.  The Helix us very convincing and that was a huge for me.

 

The other night I was comparing some of the legacy distortions with the HX models.  There's a clear difference, but I feel you can still use the old ones depending on the sound  your chasing.  The newer ones have more range so you probably have more headroom to get something to sit right in the mix, but I haven't really started recording with it other than laying down some basic tracks.

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