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drb1982

Helix Modelled Pedals vs Real Pedals with the same settings

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I have a question about the helix modelled pedals. If you A/B them with the real pedal it is modelling, should they sound the same ? Or do you need to tweak the settings on the helix to make it sound the same? I’m just kind of curious how the modelling works. If I own a tube screamer and have it the settings set the way I like them, would the same settings with the helix model sound the same or very close? 

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You'd need to tweak the Helix to sound 'the same'. However, this would be the case with two analog pedals also; for one thing, the pots used in analog pedals are normally cheap and have a variance of 20% for the same part, meaning to get two of the same pedal to sound 'the same' you'd probably have to position the controls differently. Also there is some variance in the rest of the parts (resistors, capacitors etc); analog pedals really aren't that great in terms of being 'the same', even if it doesn't actually matter too much (i.e. if you need to move a gain knob a few more degrees, or if the knob isn't put on as straight on one pedal compared to another).

I used to manufacture analog FX pedals, and in part gave it up because digital is better in almost all aspects. No way I would go back to individual pedals again.

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I owned an HX Effects unit for a month constantly A B ing between real and models. More importantly I tried to just enjoy playing through it. 
 

There will be enough people here telling you how great the models are so it’s only fair that you hear another opinion. 
 

Basically I found most of them unusable. I could sometimes get close but the harmonic texture was lacking. Plus if you changed one setting like gain you had to reset everything else. I spent most time on basic distortion models, Fuzz Face (especially bad), DS1 etc. Interaction with guitar volume was also terrible.
 

I also tried the mods but again they just didn’t have that last bit of sparkle. I don’t know if it’s the bit/sampling rated or what but I have a Boss MD500 and the flangers, phasers, Univibe and chorus effects on that are superb and have actually replaced my analog pedals. 
 

My experience has put me off the current generation of Line 6 modelling completely. Shame because the user interfaces are fantastic. 
 

Basically you cannot them to sound “the same” or more importantly as good, according to my ears. I would also say that variances between tolerances on real pedals are not as great as people make out and rarely prevent you enjoying them. Maybe I have been lucky but sometimes I have owned two or even three of the same pedals and would not be able to pick them apart in a blind test unless for example a different type of Germanium transistor was used as in the Fulltone 69. I would definitely be able to pick out a real pedal from one of these models. Anyway that wasn’t the question being asked. 


Your use case may not require such accuracy but I’m telling it as it is. I have quite a collection of original pedals so know what I like. 

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Well, I've not only owned many original pedals, but I've built or manufactured some hundreds of them, including licensing back the production of the Mutron Biphase to the modern day Mutron. Calling the Line 6 models 'unusable' is a bit much, as obviously many people find them more than 'usable'. IMO if the model is 90% or more accurate, or gives you the same 'vibe' as the original, then that's enough, especially given the huge amount of flexibility and the low cost (relative to separate pedals) of the Helix (or in fact other comparable digital systems). And if there really are some pedal models that you aren't happy with, you can incorporate the original analog equivalents into your rig, it's not an either / or proposition.

The variances between analog pedals are a moot point, as most people aren't using duplicates in their rig, and even if they do slightly adjusting the controls to get the 'same sound' is hardly a problem. We had quite a complex calibration routine for the modern-day Biphase, and even then there is some variation between units, with 'good' and 'bad' ones. This is a direct result of the manufacture of hundreds of these particular pedals, so variation with components is certainly an issue, especially with complex designs. With digital stuff, any off-the-shelf unit will sound the same. IMO this is bloody awesome for working musicians. Far less to go wrong with a single digital unit too, as compared to multiple pedals with multiple footswitches, multiple power connections, multiple sockets,  multiple pots, multiple toggle switches.

Some people aren't happy with digital FX, for whatever reason, so the best thing the OP can is to try and see for themselves. Personally I found myself just playing music through my Stomp (and soon to be HX Effects as the Stomp was stolen) and not even thinking about any technical stuff.

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HX effects has models of a lot of the analog pedals I have on my board. I took a little time to A/B them one day and after a little tweaking, couldn't tell the difference. Your settings are a good place to start and adjust from there. I ran my HX in 4CM with my analog board in the effects loop of the HX.

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I think people (including me) sometimes get a little too hung up on the models being exactly like the real thing. I personally do not own many of the modeled effects so I can't speak to their accuracy. Some people think they are accurate, some don't, otheres are somewhere in the middle, as this thread demonstrates. I think a better way to try and think about it is use the modeled effect's original effect's sound as a starting point but maybe actually think about all of the models as new and different. Kind of like a lot of the custom pedals out there and how many are based on "classic" effect's circuits. That's how I try to think of it as I'm building patches. And if you think a particular model doesn't sound like the original and doesn't get you where you want to be, just try something else. i do this with everything in the Helix. Now, if you don't think any of them are musical or get you where you want to be, then the Helix ain't for you I guess. But you've got a reasonable size music store worth of amps and effects that would take months if not longer to squeeze every possible sound out them, so give yourself some time before you completely give up on the Helix.

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I personally haven't A/B'd any of the real pedals to the helix models, but a number of YouTube videos doing so were part of why I bought the Helix. Here are a few good blind comparisons:

 

 

 

 

There are more on YouTube if you search. For the most part, it seems the Helix gets very close to most. Some of the variation is probably in the model itself, while some might be hardware differences in the real pedal circuits.

 

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On 3/7/2020 at 11:59 PM, rograt said:

...

Basically I found most of them unusable. I could sometimes get close but the harmonic texture was lacking. Plus if you changed one setting like gain you had to reset everything else. I spent most time on basic distortion models, Fuzz Face (especially bad), DS1 etc. Interaction with guitar volume was also terrible.
...

 

 

I don't doubt your experience here. Just curious if you matched the ordering of the pedals the same as real-life. The reason being, if the HX Effects works like the Helix, it sets the input impedance of guitar input to the value of the first unit in your chain. Fuzzes in particular have low input impedance, which makes pickups sound darker. Also if you had a fuzz as the first model but bypassed, you'd still have that same low impedance loading the pickups. Not saying that was the issue, just tossing out ideas that would affect both how the fuzzes sound and cut out 'sparkle'.

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I've had my Helix Floor for about two years now. I've recently started building out my analog pedalboard again and have been doing a lot of A/B. 

 

If you are a tone snob like me you will come to the conclusion that Helix is super convenient in terms of single package, and if you spend a lot of time fiddling, you can get the tones to sound really good... Maybe 85-90% of the way to the analog counterparts. However, it takes a lot of tedious tweaking and in the end it doesn't sound or feel the same. Not as enjoyable to play and not as easy to just bend down and dial in quickly as analog. With analog just a couple turns off a knob here or there and wallah you have a stellar tone. With Helix you have to tweak and tweak and tweak often spending more time tweaking than playing. Things don't always respond the same when drive stacking and such as well. The tones are missing some key upper and lowrr end harmonics and always have some irritating freqs in the upper end that always have to be tamed with tons of parametric eq. Im really enjoying being back to a simple analog pedal board that just rocks and feels good out of the gate. 

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On 3/10/2020 at 3:24 PM, qwerty42 said:

I personally haven't A/B'd any of the real pedals to the helix models, but a number of YouTube videos doing so were part of why I bought the Helix. Here are a few good blind comparisons:

 

 

 

 

There are more on YouTube if you search. For the most part, it seems the Helix gets very close to most. Some of the variation is probably in the model itself, while some might be hardware differences in the real pedal circuits.

 

 

These comparisons are valid ONLY with regard to recorded tone. Helix, especially Native are super tools for quickly recording music without needing to mic. Unfortunately, these videos dont do a good job of comparing amp in the room tone and harmonics through a real amp and cab as well as the response of different volume pot and dynamic response, and drive stacking response.

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On 3/8/2020 at 12:27 AM, MikeBoth said:

Well, I've not only owned many original pedals, but I've built or manufactured some hundreds of them, including licensing back the production of the Mutron Biphase to the modern day Mutron. Calling the Line 6 models 'unusable' is a bit much, as obviously many people find them more than 'usable'. IMO if the model is 90% or more accurate, or gives you the same 'vibe' as the original, then that's enough, especially given the huge amount of flexibility and the low cost (relative to separate pedals) of the Helix (or in fact other comparable digital systems). And if there really are some pedal models that you aren't happy with, you can incorporate the original analog equivalents into your rig, it's not an either / or proposition.

The variances between analog pedals are a moot point, as most people aren't using duplicates in their rig, and even if they do slightly adjusting the controls to get the 'same sound' is hardly a problem. We had quite a complex calibration routine for the modern-day Biphase, and even then there is some variation between units, with 'good' and 'bad' ones. This is a direct result of the manufacture of hundreds of these particular pedals, so variation with components is certainly an issue, especially with complex designs. With digital stuff, any off-the-shelf unit will sound the same. IMO this is bloody awesome for working musicians. Far less to go wrong with a single digital unit too, as compared to multiple pedals with multiple footswitches, multiple power connections, multiple sockets,  multiple pots, multiple toggle switches.

Some people aren't happy with digital FX, for whatever reason, so the best thing the OP can is to try and see for themselves. Personally I found myself just playing music through my Stomp (and soon to be HX Effects as the Stomp was stolen) and not even thinking about any technical stuff.

 

I agree the Helix is very usable and convenient on a gig. Theyve also done a great job on the models and interfaces. Its just not as enjoyable for me in terms of final tone, feel, and immediate gratification/ease of operation.

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8 hours ago, xpios said:

However, it takes a lot of tedious tweaking and in the end it doesn't sound or feel the same.

 

This is not my experience... not even close. The Helix has been the most "set it and forget it" piece of gear I've owned. It sounds the same every time I turn it on, the most consistently great tones I've had in my 40+ years of tours/gigs.  

 

If a user doesn't know how to get certain sounds, I can see them getting frustrated with option overload but how is that the fault of a modeler? 

For those of us that know what we are after and how to get it... it's a piece of cake! 

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