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Helix High gain amp shootout


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I recently got hired for a guitar recording gig, and wanted to give the client a choice of guitar tones to pick from. This track is an attempt by me to decide on what to offer in terms of a metal guitar tone for the recording. I decided to share it as it might be of some value. The amps in the clip are all models in my Helix Rack, so it might be interesting to see how the Helix handles differences between models.

The guitar used for this comparison is my Jackson SL7 with D'Addario NYXL strings and a Duncan Distortion bridge pickup. All amps are passing through my own custom-shot IR based on a Marshall 1960A with G12T-75 speakers, with a mix of two SM57s.

The amps are dialled in similarly, but not always identically (I gave myself a few tenths on a few knobs to dial them in better toward the mix, but nothing is as much as one mark off). Gain is about 4 on all amps, bass is between 2 and 3, mids are around 5, treble and presence around 6-7. In all cases, I'm using an MXR 10-band EQ model for some tone shaping first, then a Klon Centaur model, into the amp of choice. There's a small touch of room reverb last in the chain in the Helix.

There's no post-EQ or compressor on the guitar bus in Cubase. 

Here's the sound file on Soundcloud. 

1. Friedman BE
2. Soldano SLO-100
3. PRS Archon
4. Peavey 5150
5. Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier
6. Revv Generator 120

The client chose the PRS Archon, by the way. Do you agree?

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I think they all sound great.  I give my nod to the Archon for slightly clearer articulation.  
Great post!


Also, for the lazy.  The loop seems to be a 20 second loop so the times below are for each amp

1. Friedman BE                             0 to 20 secs
2. Soldano SLO-100                     20 to 40 sec
3. PRS Archon                              40 to 60 sec
4. Peavey 5150                             1 min to 1 min 20 sec
5. Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier    1 min 20 sec to 1 min 40 sec
6. Revv Generator 120                 1 min 40 sec to 2 min.



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Thanks for that, exactly, it's just two riffs played after each other, looped and repeated with the different amps. 


What really strikes me is how much higher the gain on the Revv is compared to the other amps, considering they're all on 4. Also, the tone stack on the Rectifier sounds very different to the 5150 and the Soldano, despite ostensibly being based on the same preamp circuitry, which is very interesting. 


Overall I agree, the Archon suited this music the best!

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Next time try the Bodonk, too.




Her's my ratings... a lot of quality tones to pick from.


The Friedman, Archon, 5150 and Revv all sounded very good. I would rate them the same quality-wise.


Not a fan of the Mesa. The Soldano was nice but not as good as the other very good ones.


Of course this is all subjective. YMMV.


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Thanks for your feedback guys!


@kylotan - Initially I was pretty surprised that the Archon and the others sounded so alike as well. The Friedman/5150/Soldano thing I've noticed before in other amp sims as well, they just seem to share some basic tonal characteristics I suppose. The Revv and Mesa have their own identity in this mix I'd say, the Mesa's EQ is radically different and the Revv has twice the gain of the others for the same setting. The IR, however, is absolutely doing some heavy lifting here, and just goes to show how much of an impact it has. I originally shot it to basically get 'my sound' from the practice room to the studio, since I've been miking up cabinets with T75s for two decades, and most T75 IRs I heard didn't sound the way I wanted them to. 


I agree with @Rocco_Crocco that the Mesa wasn't my favorite at all. I would consider using it with one of the others as a quad-track partner though, to fill in some of the gaps in the spectrum for instance. Or, say, with a crossover, Sadites-style. Also, I just plain forgot about the Line 6 amps in this shootout. The Epic is one of my go-to lead tone amps, but I have to give the Badonk more time. I hear people on Youtube all the time who are getting great tone out of it. 

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