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drb1982

Best Power Amp for Helix

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Hey Guys,

 

I’m looking for some info about some power amp products out there that I’m not aware of for use with my Helix. I currently run my Helix through the fx return of my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. I use only the Helix Preamps. I don’t use mic or cabinet modelling.

 

First off, I want to say that I’m really happy with this set up. It sounds great to me. I have a FRFR speaker, but I prefer my HRD. I don’t want this to be a debate about frfr vs guitar speakers. They both sound great it’s just personal preference.

 

What I’m looking for is what are some power amp / cab options that people are using with their helix? Are there products out there that combine a power amp and cab, like the tech 21 power engine? If so, how comparable would it be to what I’m using now? Basically, I’m looking to see if there any high end options for this type of setup? As I said, I’m really happy with my current set up, but I’m always curious about better options. Thanks!

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4 hours ago, knoxdaz10 said:

powercab no good?

I don’t know a lot about it. Isn’t it an frfr speaker?

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22 hours ago, drb1982 said:

I have a FRFR speaker, but I prefer my HRD - What I’m looking for is what are some power amp / cab options that people are using with their helix? 

 

That's why I didn't mention the Powercab Plus and went the Matrix route. But its more than an FRFR speaker, much more in fact. It has its own speaker and mic emulations with mic distances, and with L6-Link you can control what you want per patch in Helix. I know you like the HotRod Deluxe, but the Powercab Plus is worth investigating. GO to the Line 6 site or Youtube and start reading! It's worth your time. And finally, yes some of this stuff is expensive, but unless you have a buddy that in the music business that can get it for you wholesale it is what it is. That said, the Powercab Plus isn't that much considering what it can do now that the 2.8 patch fixed L6-link. 

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4 hours ago, spikey said:

 

That's why I didn't mention the Powercab Plus and went the Matrix route. But its more than an FRFR speaker, much more in fact. It has its own speaker and mic emulations with mic distances, and with L6-Link you can control what you want per patch in Helix. I know you like the HotRod Deluxe, but the Powercab Plus is worth investigating. GO to the Line 6 site or Youtube and start reading! It's worth your time. And finally, yes some of this stuff is expensive, but unless you have a buddy that in the music business that can get it for you wholesale it is what it is. That said, the Powercab Plus isn't that much considering what it can do now that the 2.8 patch fixed L6-link. 

I’ll definitey check it out. It sounds interesting. I tried running my helix through a Headrush frfr and it sounded good but every patch took a lot of tweaking to get it to sound the way I wanted. But When i went through my amps fx return i was able to get the sounds I wanted really quickly. It kind of made me feel like I really liked the amps and effects but not the cab and mic simulation. That’s kind of why I’m looking into a real power amp and cab set up.

 

It seems like most people who are using the Matrix stuff are using the Helix rack unit. Is there a reason for that? I have the LT floor unit. 

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Is there a power amp that doesnt color the sound or change the feel of Helix?  Basically something like the amp in the powered version of Kemper?

 

Powercab is a nice option but 90% of what I play is open back Fender cabs and Marshall  4x12s.  I'd love to have a power option and then run to my own cabinets.  

 

Line 6 would do well to put out their own clean power amp and then a line of unpowered cabs, open back, 4x12, closed back, etc.  I imagine you can still model the individual speaker, but you'd have the enclosure and power source nailed.  Line 6 would pretty much dominate the market IMO.

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16 hours ago, erabjohns said:

Is there a power amp that doesnt color the sound or change the feel of Helix?  Basically something like the amp in the powered version of Kemper?

 

Powercab is a nice option but 90% of what I play is open back Fender cabs and Marshall  4x12s.  I'd love to have a power option and then run to my own cabinets.  

 

Line 6 would do well to put out their own clean power amp and then a line of unpowered cabs, open back, 4x12, closed back, etc.  I imagine you can still model the individual speaker, but you'd have the enclosure and power source nailed.  Line 6 would pretty much dominate the market IMO.

I think what I would love to see is a product where a high quality power amp and cabinet are combined and made especially for monitors so you could run a helix or axe or Headrush through it and it be your entire rig. Maybe there is already a bunch of options for this, but I just haven’t seen them. Although from looking at the matrix website it seems like this can be an options with them. 

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Rocktron Velocity 120 and velocity 300.
Used both and both sounded great! A lot better than using in my amp's return and I used so many different amps.

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I'm using an ISP Stealth. It weighs a single pound, is a half rack space, and has PLENTY of power, both in bridged mono and stereo modes. Couldn't be happier with it!

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I use the effects return of several of my tube heads and it sounds great, I prefer tube power because it gives me the feel and tone that I am used to. I have a Fryette PS2 inbound to make things more compact, it should work great too...not to mention it can do a lot of other things.

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1 hour ago, swturpin said:

I use the effects return of several of my tube heads and it sounds great, I prefer tube power because it gives me the feel and tone that I am used to. I have a Fryette PS2 inbound to make things more compact, it should work great too...not to mention it can do a lot of other things.

When you use the effects return of your tube heads, how do you set your patches? Are you using just the preamp models?

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One other thing I am worried about using this method is the possibility that all my patches will sound basically the same. I really like the tone I get from using the Helix with an actual power amp and speaker, but I do wonder if some time down the road this might happen. Do you find using this set up leads to a homogenized tone?

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1 hour ago, drb1982 said:

One other thing I am worried about using this method is the possibility that all my patches will sound basically the same. I really like the tone I get from using the Helix with an actual power amp and speaker, but I do wonder if some time down the road this might happen. Do you find using this set up leads to a homogenized tone?

 

To a degree, yes it will.

 

Heinz sold novelty green ketchup a while back, but FDC green dye #5 didn't make it taste like pickles. Similarly, you can't stop a Marshall cabinet (or Boogie, or whatever else you pick) from sounding like what it is, no matter what amp model you pump through it. That may or may not be a bad thing.... and that's entirely up to you, and your own personal preferences/needs, etc. But if for example, the goal is to accurately emulate the sparkly cleans of a Strat into a Fender Twin, a 4x12 Recto cabinet won't help get you there. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that you won't like what you hear, but by not using the clean slate that an FRFR output provides, you are somewhat limiting what Helix (or any other modeler for that matter) can do.

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Quilter just released the toneblock 202.   It has an option for FRFR mode.   

I haven;t tried it but i did end up using a Bass Block in an emergency one time at a gig, and it sounded beyond good and it was a bass amp. 

 

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On 7/22/2019 at 12:15 PM, drb1982 said:

When you use the effects return of your tube heads, how do you set your patches? Are you using just the preamp models?

 

14 hours ago, drb1982 said:

One other thing I am worried about using this method is the possibility that all my patches will sound basically the same. I really like the tone I get from using the Helix with an actual power amp and speaker, but I do wonder if some time down the road this might happen. Do you find using this set up leads to a homogenized tone?

 

I am using the full amp models, it sounds better to me than using just the preamp models. No cab sims to the power amp/cab, and an IR to the XLR for direct to board sounds. Works great for me...I don't have a problem with all of my patches sounding the same, they all sound great, both direct to the PA and also to my cab. It's a very versatile setup, since I can go direct or use it as a traditional amp, or both. Plus I have redundancy if the amp goes down, I still have the direct signal. I've tried the FRFR thing, and it's just not for me, I much prefer a traditional amp sound and feel.

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10 hours ago, swturpin said:

 

 

I am using the full amp models, it sounds better to me than using just the preamp models. No cab sims to the power amp/cab, and an IR to the XLR for direct to board sounds. Works great for me...I don't have a problem with all of my patches sounding the same, they all sound great, both direct to the PA and also to my cab. It's a very versatile setup, since I can go direct or use it as a traditional amp, or both. Plus I have redundancy if the amp goes down, I still have the direct signal. I've tried the FRFR thing, and it's just not for me, I much prefer a traditional amp sound and feel.

Yea, this is basically how I am handling my patches. I also couldn't get into the FRFR style. I really like the feel and sound of a traditional amplifier. I actually think I'm going to explore the 4 cable method too. I have some amps that I love and am not ready to get rid of. I can either use the helix as a pedalboard with an actual amp with some patches, and just the power amp with a helix preamp in other patches.

 

If there is one thing I don't love about the Helix,  it is the fact that it makes searching/buying gear seem pointless. I kind of miss searching stores for new gear. But you just can't beat the convenience of this thing.

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4CM can sound great, but is much more complex and you need to make sure the levels going in and out of the helix to the front of the amp are setup properly...one of my requirements because of multi-band shows was an extremely quick setup and teardown, so one cable running to the effects return is perfect for me, and it still sounds great.

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Look for a used DT25 or DT50.  Then you can have all of the power amp topologies you referenced and use your own cabinets if you want.  And yes, you can control the power amp settings from your patches in firmware 2.8.   It's pretty flexible.

 

 

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When you play live in this set up, do you ever just mic the amp? Or does you always have a parallel path with a cab IR?

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On 7/24/2019 at 12:56 PM, drb1982 said:

When you play live in this set up, do you ever just mic the amp? Or does you always have a parallel path with a cab IR?

That's the beauty of this setup, you can mic the cab, or go direct...or do both. The Fryette Power Station 2 came in, and works great...seems very high quality, sounds great, and is pretty light and compact compared to a tube head.

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SD Powerstage 170 is Perfect. Love the size and the sound. Loud enough for almost everything. Could even go on my pedalboard beneath my stomp.

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23 hours ago, swturpin said:

That's the beauty of this setup, you can mic the cab, or go direct...or do both. The Fryette Power Station 2 came in, and works great...seems very high quality, sounds great, and is pretty light and compact compared to a tube head.

I think this is the route I’m eventually going to go when I have the extra money. What cabinet are you running it into? 

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I was gifted a Fender Frontman 65r, solid state powered, open back cab with a stock FMIC speaker and effects loop with TONS of clean headroom (110db before I decided I had enough). I eventually swapped out the speaker for a Creamback and have been using that for my cover band where the PA is vocals-only and the open back cab fills the room better than my K8.2.

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On 7/26/2019 at 6:58 PM, drb1982 said:

I think this is the route I’m eventually going to go when I have the extra money. What cabinet are you running it into? 

I have a bunch of cabs, but am primarily using some Jet City 2X12 cabs that I fitted with Celestion Century Vintage Neo speakers for less weight for gigs...the speakers sound great too!!

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