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tonysmyth

Is Helix floor right for me?

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I would love to get your opinions on if Helix floor is right for me.   I’m currently using a Fender American telecaster into an M13 for effects and then into a Savage Macht6 amplifier.  I love the sound out of this rig, but I can’t really use it at home because it’s too loud and I don’t play live as much anymore and any time I do, the amp is always isolated and mic’d Into the pa.   I’m wondering about the Helix so I can play at home more and have an easier to set up rig for live stuff. 

 

Im a little wary because I had the POD x3 live for awhile.  I loved the ease of it, but the sounds couldn’t compare to my Savage.  I’ve heard the Helix is much better in this regard.  What are your thoughts?  Will I like the Helix? 

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There are only 3 possible answers to this:

 

I LOVE IT!

MEH

I HATE IT!

 

Then there's the truth:

 

Broccoli

 

You won't know until you try it.

 

Get one from a store with a good returns policy, and play it 'til your ears bleed.

 

And, oh yeah, RTFM!!!!

 

I like mine, and I like it more the more I use it.

 

But then, I was never a tube amp snob, and a POD Bean still sounds good under the right conditions.

 

YMMV.

 

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Well, I have no hands-on with a Savage so a direct comparison isn't possible, but I can tell you this - any comparison with Helix to a POD series is pointless, they really have upped the game that much.  It's a whole new critter, from tonal accuracy to organic feel it sounds and responds like any amp I've ever owned - and in 47 years of playing I've owned a lot.

 

Best advice - buy from a place with a decent satisfaction return policy and find out for yourself.  It's been (subtlely) acknowledged by L6 that many of the firmware updates have included under-the-hood tweaks of the engine, and at this point it's hard to find a bad sounding amp in the bunch.  That's not saying they'd all be your cuppa tea, but compared to the initial release - where I'd be scrolling thru amps going "blech", "why bother", "who thought this sounded good?" - I now can pull up virtually any amp and find a use for it.

 

Give'er a whirl - my money says you'll keep it...

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Thanks guys, you are talking me into it!  I really was hoping that it’s true that they have improved things dramatically since the pod x3 days and it sounds like that’s the case.   Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated still as well.  Thanks for the help!

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I have used extensively both the POD X3 Live and now the Helix at home, home studio, professional studio's, and lots of live gigs as well.

I actually had very good experiences live with the X3 Live, and great recording experiences. I had lots of good sounding gigs using the X3 Live into tube amps fx loops, and all by itself a few times as well.

 

The Helix is definitely a significant step up improvement from the X3 Live. Everything is better although I still like LOTS of the legacy effects as well (and they are all present in the Helix in addition to the new models). The amps and cabs are definitely better in Helix and the Dirt boxes are much better. It is much easier to get great live straight to the PA sounds with the Helix providing everything (amps, fx, etc..). 

The scribble strips and snapshots are awesome features that make live changes way to easy, you can get super creative here if you want to.

 

I am very happy with the Helix, but you do certainly have to spend some time dialing in the sounds you want to accomplish (as with all modelers and most any rig as well)

 

Agreed with the others, buy it from Sweetwater or someone that has a good no questions asked return policy and try it out, you'll have fun.

 

 

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Had the flextone II for gigs back in the day, it was good enough and bet versatile for live but not 100% there for home. 

I just got the Helix floor for gigging, I love the sound of my Mesa Boogie Lone Star with a Digitech rp1000 in four cable mode but I got tired of the weight. I am keeping the Lone Star for home, but here's the thing, I'm having a blast with the Helix at home! If you get one of the better patches I can't tell it from a tube amp. On YouTube is a comparison between a Mesa and the Helix, I guessed wrong trying to spot the Helix vs tubes. 

One thing though, when you compare at home, the Helix will behave like a studio recording of a tube amp, cabinet microphone and studio room, then playing out your stereo speakers, or monitors. That won't be the same as the big juicy sound of your tube rig in the room with you.  A proper comparison would be to record your tube rig with similar settings as the Helix then compare them both recorded, back thru the same full range speakers.

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You've also got the options of considering a Helix LT vs. Helix Floor or the Helix Rack and Controller. Some subtle UI and IO differences. Sonically they are all identical. As is the ultra compact tiny footprint Helix Stomp. HX Stomp has only 1 DSP so there are fewer signal chain options and a maximum of 6 Blocks (excluding the Input and Output blocks). External Expression Pedals and additional external foot switches for HX Stomp would be user furnished.

Moreover, what you choose to use to listen to your Helix is paramount! Some prefer FRFR monitors, others, powered cabs for an amp in the room experience. Some use both or hybrid variations of each 4CM, dual Amps, etc. Just do not overlook what you'll use to listen to the Helix.

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Thanks for that and good point!  The rack is out for me, but I’m deciding between the LT and regular floor model.  The extra inputs and outputs don’t make much difference to me.  It’s mostly deciding if I want the scribble strips and also it seems like the expression pedal is better built on the regular model.  Any thoughts on those two things?

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If you are careful to arrange all your patches so that the same features are always on the same buttons (lead boost, chorus pedal, etc) then you could do without the scribble strips. You could use a label maker to neatly mark each button. You would want to rearrange any downloaded patches to match your labels.. I opted to go for the strips, even though I am organizing my patches to my standard button pattern..

 

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19 hours ago, gordwait said:

Had the flextone II for gigs back in the day, it was good enough and bet versatile for live but not 100% there for home. 

I just got the Helix floor for gigging, I love the sound of my Mesa Boogie Lone Star with a Digitech rp1000 in four cable mode but I got tired of the weight. I am keeping the Lone Star for home, but here's the thing, I'm having a blast with the Helix at home! If you get one of the better patches I can't tell it from a tube amp. On YouTube is a comparison between a Mesa and the Helix, I guessed wrong trying to spot the Helix vs tubes. 

One thing though, when you compare at home, the Helix will behave like a studio recording of a tube amp, cabinet microphone and studio room, then playing out your stereo speakers, or monitors. That won't be the same as the big juicy sound of your tube rig in the room with you.  A proper comparison would be to record your tube rig with similar settings as the Helix then compare them both recorded, back thru the same full range speakers.

 

The Canadian guy on YouTube who compared his LT to the Blue Angel right? Amazing comparison.

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Of course it’s subjective like most of the comments are advising.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’ll work for you.  If you have some competence in creating tones you can get the job done with this device.   The only other line 6 modeller I owned before this was the HD500 and I thought it wasn’t a bad modeller but the Helix is in another category altogether.  If you’re going to be using it direct live it’s best to craft your tones through some decent PA speakers.  I’ve found that the tones translate pretty well between various FRFR speakers.   So you should be able to just bring it to the gig plug into the PA and be happy.

 

I use Bose F1 system for my live PA,  I can set it up at home without the subs and the tone translates nicely with or without the subs and I’ve plugged directly into other PAs that are either installed at the gig or where there are other bands playing through a common PA.   I’ve been happy with the tone of my guitar in all of these circumstances.  

 

Other than that the Helix is easy, sounds rich and organic and is really versatile.   

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Hmmm, that is an interesting issue.  If I have to buy a PA system to dial in amps and get good results then I may as well keep my amp.  Part of the hope was being able to use it with headphones at home.  Can Good sounds be dialed in with a good set of headphones??  

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41 minutes ago, tonysmyth said:

Part of the hope was being able to use it with headphones at home.  Can Good sounds be dialed in with a good set of headphones??  

 

Yes. As an apartment dweller, a roaring tube amp is not an option for me. 95% of my home playing is in the wee hours through headphones, and I get very satisfying tones that way. What you cannot expect however, is for tones dialed in with headphones to sound the same through a PA at vastly increased volumes... but that doesn't mean you need to buy an entire PA system either. One sufficiently powered monitor will do. 

 

If your intent is to run straight to the PA live, you will need to dial in those patches through something similar, i.e. some sort of FRFR speaker(s), at the volume you intend to use them. I can't stress that last part enough. Our perception of tone varies drastically with volume... there's no way around that.

 

I have been using an L2T as a stage monitor for years now... with Helix, and previously my 500X.

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3 hours ago, tonysmyth said:

Hmmm, that is an interesting issue.  If I have to buy a PA system to dial in amps and get good results then I may as well keep my amp.  Part of the hope was being able to use it with headphones at home.  Can Good sounds be dialed in with a good set of headphones??  

 

2 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Yes. As an apartment dweller, a roaring tube amp is not an option for me. 95% of my home playing is in the wee hours through headphones, and I get very satisfying tones that way. What you cannot expect however, is for tones dialed in with headphones to sound the same through a PA at vastly increased volumes... but that doesn't mean you need to buy an entire PA system either. One sufficiently powered monitor will do. 

 

If your intent is to run straight to the PA live, you will need to dial in those patches through something similar, i.e. some sort of FRFR speaker(s), at the volume you intend to use them. I can't stress that last part enough. Our perception of tone varies drastically with volume... there's no way around that.

 

I have been using an L2T as a stage monitor for years now... with Helix, and previously my 500X.

 

I have a pair of studio monitors (Rokit6) that sound great at apartment level (and stereo is fun!). I also have a Headrush FRFR112 (replaced Alto TS210, which sounded good for guitar, but didn't quite get it for bass) for dialing in live tones (when the neighbors are out).

 

As cruisinon2 said, you do not need a whole PA, but a powerful enough PA type speaker to use live when you don't have FOH, that's close enough to FOH type sound that you won't have to tweak like crazy in either situation, will make life much easier. Keep in mind that what sounds good through an FRFR speaker will likely NOT sound good through a guitar amp and speaker. Different animals.

 

As for the scribble strips, the types of effects are color coded on the button LEDs so, while it won't tell you exactly which effect you're using, you'll at least know what type of effects are in the chain. However, if you get into more complex usage of the buttons, for instance, toggling multiple effects or settings, the scribble strips allow you to custom label the buttons.

 

If the difference between the price of the LT vs the full floor model is a critical factor, you don't lose a lot with the LT. But if you can afford it, get the full floor. No regrets later!

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On 12/24/2018 at 11:45 AM, gordwait said:

If you are careful to arrange all your patches so that the same features are always on the same buttons (lead boost, chorus pedal, etc) then you could do without the scribble strips. You could use a label maker to neatly mark each button.

 

Not required with an LT...

 

35 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

As for the scribble strips, the types of effects are color coded on the button LEDs so, while it won't tell you exactly which effect you're using, you'll at least know what type of effects are in the chain. However, if you get into more complex usage of the buttons, for instance, toggling multiple effects or settings, the scribble strips allow you to custom label the buttons.

 

People that don't use the LT have a misconception that nothing gets labelled on it because the scribbles are missing... this is not true. 

 

The LT has performance view to handle this, which is something the full version does not have. In performance view the screen shows every label of every switch, including custom names. You do not need to use the same layouts to remember where you are, you do not need to label it with a label maker, and you do not need to rely on the color coding. Just like the scribbles, they change accordingly as you jump between "preset mode", "snapshot mode" and "stomp mode". 

 

The labels are not DIRECTLY above each switch, but they are large and clear, and very easy to relate to each switch. I used to own an HX Effects (which has scribble strips) and I can honestly say I actually prefer the performance view from the LT. 


(this image from the net is washed out compared to how clear this view really is... but you get the gist of it. It's bright, it's vivid, and it's clear)

 

 

 

HelixLT-large.jpg

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4 hours ago, tonysmyth said:

Hmmm, that is an interesting issue.  If I have to buy a PA system to dial in amps and get good results then I may as well keep my amp.  Part of the hope was being able to use it with headphones at home.  Can Good sounds be dialed in with a good set of headphones??  

 

The HX Stomp, A.K.A. The Baby Helix ... has been a dream rig through headphones. So glad I did it.

 

The days I get to hook it up to traditional amps and FRFR, also awesome.

 

A full Helix is no different.

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How much extra tweaking does it take to get good sounds for live stuff?  I wouldn’t be using it live all that often, mostly through headphones, but I likely wouldn’t buy my own speaker to put it through.  In a live venue how easy is it to plug and play that way?  Will I need to do a lot of tweaking to get it sounding good?  

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9 minutes ago, tonysmyth said:

How much extra tweaking does it take to get good sounds for live stuff?  I wouldn’t be using it live all that often, mostly through headphones, but I likely wouldn’t buy my own speaker to put it through.  In a live venue how easy is it to plug and play that way?  Will I need to do a lot of tweaking to get it sounding good?  

 

In my opinion, no. Perhaps a tad more than the traditional approach, but still pretty easy. Keep some EQs in your chain and use them to tweak at events.

 

This is true of any gear through headphones. Biggest reason is alone you're it, so you keep the whole thing real. Live though you need to balance yourself against other band members. 

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33 minutes ago, tonysmyth said:

How much extra tweaking does it take to get good sounds for live stuff?  I wouldn’t be using it live all that often, mostly through headphones, but I likely wouldn’t buy my own speaker to put it through.  In a live venue how easy is it to plug and play that way?  Will I need to do a lot of tweaking to get it sounding good?  

 

Well... let me take this quote from your opening post....

 

On 12/23/2018 at 10:02 AM, tonysmyth said:

I don’t play live as much anymore and any time I do, the amp is always isolated and mic’d Into the pa.  

 

This means you are already used to hearing yourself through a monitor rig... and/or through the PA... that's half the battle. 

 

You would set up your Helix the same way you would your amp in isolation with a mic on it. The difference is... it's all in the Helix and there is no longer the need for an amp, isolation and a microphone.

 

That said.... I do recommend you give yourself a little time to get to know the thing :)

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2 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

Well... let me take this quote from your opening post....

 

 

This means you are already used to hearing yourself through a monitor rig... and/or through the PA... that's half the battle. 

 

You would set up your Helix the same way you would your amp in isolation with a mic on it. The difference is... it's all in the Helix and there is no longer the need for an amp, isolation and a microphone :)

 

True, my amp is really simple though and extremely easy to get good tone from.  It sounds like the Helix may be easy in this regard too, but it makes me a little nervous because my old POD took a lot of tweaking.  

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36 minutes ago, tonysmyth said:

but it makes me a little nervous because my old POD took a lot of tweaking.  

 

Your old X3 Live is not in the same ballpark as the Helix :) 

But still.... give yourself a little time to get used to it. There is a lot to learn in this box...

 

Your amp is not modeled in the Helix, but the M13 is there in the Legacy effects. If its any consolation, I run the Helix Deluxe Reverb EXACTLY the same as I run my real Deluxe Reverb... I don't have to re-think anything. If you can find an amp int he Helix that is similar to your amp, you shouldn't have any issues at all. 

 

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

Your old X3 Live is not in the same ballpark as the Helix :) 

But still.... give yourself a little time to get used to it. There is a lot to learn in this box...

 

Your amp is not modeled in the Helix, but the M13 is there in the Legacy effects. If its any consolation, I run the Helix Deluxe Reverb EXACTLY the same as I run my real Deluxe Reverb... I don't have to re-think anything. If you can find an amp int he Helix that is similar to your amp, you shouldn't have any issues at all. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds good!  Apparently the macht 6 is modeled after the DeArmond R5T, which I don’t know a whole lot about.  I’m leaning toward picking up the Helix 

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11 hours ago, tonysmyth said:

How much extra tweaking does it take to get good sounds for live stuff? Will I need to do a lot of tweaking to get it sounding good?  

 

How long it'll take to get a tone you like is almost entirely dependent on one's familiarity with the unit, and with modeling in general...the chosen output is nearly irrelevant.

 

Just keep in mind that it's not a guitar amp, and it won't be as simple as putting all your tone controls at 12 o'clock, and setting an appropriate volume. You're dealing with the virtual equivalent of a mic-ed amp/cab in a studio, and monitoring from the control room. If you're at all familiar with that scenario, then you've got a head start on many who make the switch from amps to modeling. If not, expect a bit of a learning curve. 

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