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colek98

Helix Native Day One

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Just tht I'd share my experience for those who might follow.

 

Well first of all let me remind you, it is December 6 and Cyber Week Deals are only available from December 2 to December 8—so don’t delay!

 

Last year I was hoping for a sale on Helix and didn't know my line 6 emails were going to spam so I missed it. Bagged myself a copy of HN this years tho. $279 marked down from 399 and includes a free copy of Cubase LE.

 

Before I do the long story, I will give you the short answer - I am indeed impressed with the sound of the Helix native. I spend a lot of time focused on the Mesa Boogie Rectifier model and played till my fingers ached happily. Long story and updates will follow ...

 

So I've been on a major tear trying to decide which direction to go musically. Been researching everything.

 

About a year ago, I bought a Les Paul and a Spider V 30. I wanted to find out if I had a real guitar would I be able to get to the next level musically. I liked the idea of the Spider cause of all the built in effects. I worked with it slowly no rush over the past year. I was kinda scared of the Les Paul - too much power - or maybe scared I'd still suck even with that.

 

After I got some more time on my hands I started working with it and noticed I couldn't really get a really good sound outta the spider. I tht a Les Paul shouldnt sound good - it shd sound incredible. Wasn't getting that. Started thinking I got a world class guitar and a junk amp.

 

Maybe I read something wrong or whatever, but it seemed like when I first got the Spider I couldn't download from customtone. Anyways I did eventually figure that out. And after downloading a couple nice patches with a couple of tweaks I did get the spider sounding pretty good. However, I still think no modeling amp can match the sound of a tube....

 

To be continued ...

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I realized I didn't know lollipop about amps. So i watched video after video comparing each. Then I watched shootouts between Helix and Kemper and Fractal. Then I watched blind tests between amp models and actual amps. Then I checked prices and weights. And local availability. And I visited a music store. And then some recording studios. Then I compared and priced home studio equipment vs professional studio costs vs amp costs and availability. Then I came across a story that said a fave band called In This Moment tours completely using Helix. 

 

Then Helix Native went on sale.

 

Last year when it was on sale it was $199 priced down from $399. This year it was $279. I was a bit disappointed - but who can complained? They're giving you the heart of a $1700 machine for 279? I'm a bit stingy, particularly around xmas, but I thought I would so regret it if I still have nothing two months from now. So i bagged it.

 

Issues: PC compatibility - It requires a DAW (although I have since learned about a VST host). My Studio One 3 Artist does not support VSTs! GRRR! They want an extra $200 for that.

The Cubase requires W7 SP1 plus some updates. Plus of course you need a PC that can handle a DAW plus HN - mine was getting a little fritzy. So the cost of a pc and or windows must be factored in. Maybe just memory. Maybe just reinstall the OS. Mines still a functional work in progress. 

 

I was mulling is it better to just buy the Helix since it has its own processor - thus offloading the CPU work. Anyways, after all that, I decided $279 is worth it just for the experiment. 

 

Next - Install, learning curve, and opin .....

 

 

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So - Helix Native journey update- major twist -

 

I went through the whole process of installing Helix Native - while I am sure that after enough time and experience with it you can probably get it running and get fluent with it. I got it running. I got to try out helix native - but after hours and hours of rebuilding the PC (full OS refresh), install cubase, install HN, make all the drivers work including audio drivers, figure out how to use cubase ultimately -

 

I concluded there were too many variable factors to be able to even know whether the sound of the Helix is good bad or indifferent. Kinda like listening to a great band using the top equipment through a dollar tree set of headphones.

 

So I threw it all out and went and picked up a HX Stomp. Matched it with some JBL monitors. This way I reduced complications from a huge mess of SW drivers etc to one cable in from the guitar and two cables out directly to the monitors. And yes it sounds awesome. My Stomp came w sw version 2.65 - I found the presets useful for getting a first look at what can be done - but the real magic of the box doesn't begin until you start setting up your own sound patches yourself. Frankly I feel I got better sound out just choosing a favorite amp (mine are the Rectifier and the virtual Marshalls) and tweaking that than anything presets or stuff I have heard on CustomTone.

 

So make your own sound patches. That's the way to go.

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On 12/12/2019 at 9:01 AM, colek98 said:

I found the presets useful for getting a first look at what can be done - but the real magic of the box doesn't begin until you start setting up your own sound patches yourself. Frankly I feel I got better sound out just choosing a favorite amp (mine are the Rectifier and the virtual Marshalls) and tweaking that than anything presets or stuff I have heard on CustomTone.

 

So make your own sound patches. That's the way to go.

 

I could not agree more. Whoever created presets is probably using a different guitar, different playing style, different pickups, different strings, different pick, etc. than you are. Sounds need to be matched to your playing style.

 

Quick story: I got some great sounds out of the original POD. When the next version came out, I was eagerly anticipating much better sounds. I ran through the presets, and the sound quality was horrible! I  couldn't believe Line 6 could lose the recipe so completely.

 

Long story short, turning down drive to about 2/3 of the preset value solved everything. It makes sense: I use fairly heavy gauge strings, play with a thumb pick, and hit the strings pretty hard. I was putting a lot more signal into the unit than the presets wanted to see.

 

 

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