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Am I the only one...... ?

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Hi there folks!

 

For about 9 months or so I have only been using my Helix with a pair of ALTO TS315 FRFR speakers, and after some back and forth editing and testing, I have been able to find an awesome amp/IR solution for my taste.

 

Today, I went to a couple of guitar centers around my town to try different tube amp/cabs just for fun, and to my surprise, non of the amps/cabs I tested was as good sounding as my patches in my garage, where I only use Helix with a pair of FRFR speakers. I have really been adopting to the sound and feel of amp sims and IR's to a point where I actually like em better!! 

 

Is there anyone else here who has the same experience? 

 

Cheers!

 

 

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I dont bother anymore with amps. Helix is really awesome. 

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I can't really answer your question as intended because I never really had the money, or the access, to try a variety of good physical amps. (although I wanted it of course lol) Modelling has been my only avenue to getting the amps I want. By the the time I had real money that I could rationally spend on a good amp, Helix was announced. With the sound quality I was hearing from Axe FX II at the time Helix was announced I thought that a real high-end modeler was easily the choice to go with for myself. I do not regret that.


I will state that with the results I get out of Helix + studio monitors (with and without IRs), and have heard with Axe FX II & III, (Kemper too) I have don't even care about physical amps anymore.

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I gave up on the traditional approach a while ago and haven't looked back. I don't personally feel like I'm missing anything. 

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I quit using my tube amps over a year ago and I don’t miss them at all.  I favor the amp tones from my GT-1000 vs the Helix, but both units sound great through a pair of FRFRs.  At home, I use a pair of Alto TS310s, and for rehearsal, I carry a QSC CP8, which is more than loud enough.  It’s nice walking into rehearsal with a guitar in one hand, a lightweight monitor in the other, and the modeler and cables in a backpack.

 

I create a lot of song-specific patches with multiple effects that are engaged with a single pedal.  Delays and effects are synced exactly to the tempo of the song.  The tones I get are more closer to what I want than what I get when I’m dancing around on a pedalboard with an amp setup.  A few weeks ago I played around with my Friedman DSM for the first time in a while, and I really couldn’t coax any better tone from it than I’m getting from my GT-1000 patches.  Consider me “converted”.

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I also haven't used a traditional amp since the Helix, and I doubt I ever will. Like others who mentioned it above, I never really owned a high quality tube amp, so my comparison is only with crummy amps or the individual times I've played other people's good amps. For anyone who is interested, my take on the trade off is:

 

1. The only superior thing about a tube amp (in my opinion only), is the fact that it sounds exactly like the tube amp it is. Pretty obvious, but there is some ... thing ... about it that some guitarists really like that doesn't seem to be replicable. I haven't seen anyone do a really good job of describe what the difference actually is, but my theory is that a lot of what is going on is that you have to play a tube amp at much higher volumes than you can get away with on a modeler. And, despite what our parents told us all through high school, guitars really do sound better when louder. With Helix, and now with an easily annoyed wife and sleeping kid in the house, I usually play at much lower volumes and it definitely sounds worse. In fact, I only mess with settings for a preset to use in a performance when they are out of the house, so that I can play at full volume when I do.

 

2. Besides the obvious advantages of modelers (variety of sounds, light weight, etc.) I feel like they are more forgiving than tube amps; meaning, you have to be dialed in to just the right settings with a physical tube amp, and that setting is always too loud for the venue. Especially since I started using modelers, whenever I have played on a tube amp at appropriate volumes it has always felt delicate or out of control, like trying to put a sweater on a wet cat. You have to be real gentle and not make any sudden moves, and even then everyone in the room is still going to get scratched in the face. 

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I haven never gotten a modeler to sound better than a high end tube amp but I do love using Helix as a controller and for traveling light to rehearsals. It’s a venerable Swiss Army knife!

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Meh. Amps are way too limiting for my tonal palette needs. I just sold my Quilter Aviator 8, which I dearly loved but it always left me needing more sounds. I had a pedalboard but have pretty much gotten rid of all the individual pedals that I depended on. Still, when I had it it wasn’t as satisfying as what the Helix gives me. 

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The Helix is my first modeller and I'm totally overwhelmed about the functions, the sound, the variability. I had used a lot of amps over the years - H|H, Fender, Hiwatt, Marshall, Boogie...and none of them made me really lucky at the end. And don't aks for the money I spent on pedals. ;-) And now the times for tap-dancing on several pedals are over.

 

I'm certainly grateful to live in this age of digital modelling! :-) And there's still so much to explore!

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I went the modelling route years ago. I was always struck by how much room each of the devices I had allowed me to find new tones and explore different process categories, etc. It was also an ease of use thing for gigging a cover set. However, everything before the Helix was always just a "good enough" tone to gig with while the Helix, with my 2 Alto 210's, provides an excellent, comparable, but not exact, amp experience ( Peavey Classic 30 / Fender Deluxe Reverb) but it took a while to get that EQ right and that seems squarely at the delivery system vs. the actual modelling. (Amps have wood and directional cone vs a polypropyene cabinet and FR speaker system etc). Long story short, the amps have been solidly gathering dust since I got the thing. 

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When I used amps I learned young that the tone I heard on stage was not the same as the sound the crowd hear. For the most part (when possible) I always kept my amp volume lower and monitored through my monitor mix. This taught me how to dial in my guitar tones for the audience, not just for me. Making the transition to modeling was very easy for me... and something I've sort of been doing since the 90's with an original Sans Amp at the end of my pedal board. 

 

Before the Helix I was still balancing between modeling and amps.... depending on the gigs, and depending on the musicians I had to work with. Since I got the Helix I have NEVER brought an amp to the gig. If the monitor system is adequate, that's all I use.... if it isn't good enough (or non existent) I have a full range setup I roll in. Nobody notices or cares that I don't use an amp anymore... and the calls keep coming for gigs. 

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There are a lot of factors that contribute to good tone. But I think the most significant contributors are the things that touch the air: guitar, picks, strings, pickups on one end, and speaker and cabinet on the other. A tube amp in large part sounds the way it does because of the guitar cabinet in the room turned up loud. If you turn a tube amp down and use a lot of pedal or preamp distortion to get a low volume distorted sound, it won’t be the same. You, your guitar and your audience all respond differently to something that is loud.

 

Modeling solutions like Helix provide a lot of flexibility with cab models, mic models and IRs along with a good FRFR to produce a wide range of pretty good tones. But if you want that traditional amp in the room sound and feel, you kind of have to use an amp in the room. Helix into PA speakers can sound pretty good, but it isn’t going to sound like an amp in the room. You can do this using Helix in front of, or in the effects loop of a traditional guitar amp. But that requires still carrying around that big guitar amp you’re trying to avoid, and it looses a lot of the flexibility you get with Helix. You can’t really play acoustic guitar tones through Helix into a traditional guitar amp. You could simplify things a bit using a power amp and traditional guitar cabinet. But that’s still big, heavy and somewhat complicated.

 

I think the solution is Powercab+. I got one a while back and love it. I get the full flexibility of a JTV-69S Variax with Helix, while getting the amp in the room sound, look and feel. Powercab doesn’t feel like a compromise, it feels like an optimization. You get a relatively small, reasonably light weight powered cabinet that’s extremely easy to setup using Line6 Link. It starts with a good guitar speaker, and then extends it with EQ processing and a good tweeter rather than starting with a PA speaker and trying to shape a guitar tone with modeling. Its really a fantastic compliment to Helix.

 

I used a couple of JBL EON610s with my Helix for live gigs for a couple of years. They sounded fine, the setup was simple enough, and I liked having the stereo. But I never got a really satisfying thick, fat, warm tone out of them, and I constantly had problems cutting though the mix, no matter how loud I turned them up. Since switching to Powercab+, I have no problem getting the tones and feel I’ve been missing and everyone says they can finally hear what I’m playing. I suspect part of the reason is I put the Powercab on an amp stand. Getting it off the floor helps too. 

 

I think Line6 has hit it out of the park with Helix and Powercab+. With this combination, they have optimized the whole guitar signal chain into a complete ecosystem that includes one of the more critical components - the cabinet and speaker that actually deliver the sound.

 

Now if they produced a stereo Powercab+ using 2x10”s, I’d be all in for that.

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I really began to appreciate the benefits of an FRFR setup with my HD500X.  Since I began playing in bands in the late 60's I had all sorts of exposure to various amps and cabs, and I loved the sound I could get from them.  But that was of course in the days when PA's didn't always play a big role in a band's stage production and recording technology was pretty limited for the average guy.  It wasn't until the early part if the 21st century that I really began playing around seriously with modeling, first in the studio and then later on stage with some of the modeling amps as modeling began to get more and more sophisticated.
 

My big "leap" was when I went to the HD500X coming from a Mustang series amp.  For it's time the Mustang really did a remarkable job of providing a flexible platform for playing various genre's of music, but it still suffered from the deficiencies of all cabinets in that getting a consistent stage sound from venue to venue was always a challenge due to the limitations of the way cabinets produce sound differently depending on where it's positioned relative to you and to the rest of the band, and could often differ significantly through the FOH from the sound you had designed with the Mustang.  You could compensate for those deficiencies by routing your sound through the monitors.  So the natural next step for me was the POD HD500X using a typical FRFR monitor style speaker for which I chose the Yamaha DXR12 to give me a consistent sound from dialing in at home, to on stage, to the audience in the FOH.  I think my drive toward that kind of consistency came from working as a sound man for the same number of years as I'd been a musician, which drove me toward an appreciation of the sound I could get from a FRFR monitor, which was the FOH sound brought to the stage.


To my ear that's the polished production sound of a studio, but in a live environment.  To me that's always kind of been the ultimate goal.  Therefore, getting away from cabinets gave me what I really wanted which was to overcome the limitations that drove me crazy with cabinets.

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You’re not the only one! My Mesa rig is collecting dust since I learned how to closely replicate its sound with the Lonestar amp model in Helix and a Celestion IR. The Mesa still sounds as sweet as ever, but it has to be cranked up to impractical levels to get that sought-after power stage distortion that I can get at any volume with Helix into a JBL EON. That aspect, and the tonal consistently mentioned by several others here are the reasons I just don’t fire up the Mesa anymore. I’ve also discovered the same patch sounds pretty good in a practice setting through a Marshall Woburn speaker, which effectively acts as a low powered stereo studio monitor.

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I've been in that boat ever since I started to get into recording and going to school for audio engineering. Guitar cabs are really, for the most part, poorly designed speaker systems. The are very directional, very susceptible to room variation, and quite limited in frequency reproduction. I very much prefer to hear a "complete" tone through FOH, my backline, and my IEM. Guitar cabs were my biggest beef until I started going FRFR and direct. Get it sounding good in the rehearsal space...sounds like crap in a small venue. Get it sounding good in a small venue...sounds like crap in a bigger room. And it was rarely a small adjustment to fix it whereas now I pretty much just bump the bass knob on my monitor from 0 to -2 and I'm good to go on stage, while still sending a pristine, unadjusted tone to my IEM and the FOH. 

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I gave up on guitar amps in (believe it or not) 1968, and started using FRFR keyboard amps that were made by RMI. (Admittedly, this was because I created effects to give me the sound I wanted before hitting the amp, so the amp sound became less relevant.) At the time, tubes were getting inconsistent in terms of quality, and because I was playing over 250 dates a year, reliability was also an issue. I continued to use FRFR, and switched over to the Bose L1 when it came out because it could also feed FOH, and the line array was great for feedback by holding the guitar parallel to the speakers. On gigs with DJs in Europe, I didn't use any amp - just fed the AdrenaLinn output into the FOH, and got feedback by touching the headstock to the monitor speakers.

 

The only time I use physical amps any more is in the studio to get a specific tube amp sound, because of the miking options that are possible with a room and cabinet. But this is maybe 1% of the time. Helix Native and other amp sims are a) all I really need, and b) can get sounds that are difficult or impossible to obtain with conventional amps. If I had to use physical amps and crossovers to do my multiband presets, I'd go insane. And broke. Or both :)

 

I do find that amps have a certain kind of "feel" when playing live, which I believe has a lot to do with the room but also, a speaker cabinet is a very complex filter. So I think the comments about using Helix with a cab are spot on when you want that amp "feel."

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Feedback is a huge part of my playing and that's one area the tube amp has the Helix beat.  Until then, it's 4CM for me.  

 

At home, it's 100% Helix tho.  In my band, I need my Mesa + the Helix.  

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Nothing wrong with the fun of experimenting with or having both. "AFAIC", they are all gifts from Heaven even if money was involved in the purchase, and I love every amp and modeler I own! ; )

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3 minutes ago, spikey said:

Nothing wrong with the fun of experimenting with or having both.  I love every amp and modeler I own! ; )

Of course if you have the money, time, space, and strength... There is nothing wrong with owning a variety of amps/cabs/modellers of all shapes, and prices.

 

However, like most of us, I am limited in a few of the above criteria (and being completely honest I am limited in all 4 to some degree) Helix, 11rack, FRFR and my THR-10x do just fine for me.

 

I can't say I loved all my amps of the past. Didn't really like my Spider 2 2x12 combo. It was usable, but I get much better tones out of my little THR amp.

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31 minutes ago, Lachdanan0121 said:

Of course if you have the money, time, space, and strength...

 

Limitations in gear per person (pocketbook) are always as diverse and variable as good tone is. Grats to those richer and more importantly more talented, than I am. ; )

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2 hours ago, Lachdanan0121 said:

Of course if you have the money, time, space, and strength...

 

Yeah . . . I don't blame people who love owning them. Me personally, if I had the money, time, space, and strength . . . I STILL don't think I'd be buying traditional amps. 

 

I'm not exaggerating when I say that it doesn't do anything for me and I don't see the point.

 

However, I would buy WAY more guitars . . . which if I'm being honest with myself is probably equally pointless, or dubious at best. 

 

It just gives me a lot more joy though than an amp. 

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2 hours ago, Kilrahi said:

 

Yeah . . . I don't blame people who love owning them. Me personally, if I had the money, time, space, and strength . . . I STILL don't think I'd be buying traditional amps. 

 

I'm not exaggerating when I say that it doesn't do anything for me and I don't see the point.

 

However, I would buy WAY more guitars . . . which if I'm being honest with myself is probably equally pointless, or dubious at best. 

 

It just gives me a lot more joy though than an amp. 

Funny, we are similar in that regard. 

 

I too am not all that drawn to traditional amps anymore either, even if I had an abundance of all 4 of those criteria.  The closest I would get to that would be a few of the smaller amp packages. 

 

But I would definitely have quite a few guitars, so many that I couldn't possibly keep them all setup, with clean strings. Ok Ok, so I am probably gonna do this anyway regardless of those criteria above just to a lesser degree. I like to dedicate guitars to a specific tuning when I setup a tuning that I like with a guitar, I won't change it much except for a drop tuning when needed. 

:) I plan on having my "wife" learn to setup these instruments, (and other things in the studio) as I will slowly teach her over time. Unfortunately, this wouldn't work for most people. 

 

My goal is to have a modeler rig (or small amp such as the THR rigs) setup with a guitar in every room of the house. (except bathrooms)

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Many MANY extra nice Guitars is not the same as owning too many amps. Guitars are needed thing, as is AIR. There. Any more questions?

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