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Wiggy1956

Rediscovering how amazing the Helix is.

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I've had my Helix for around 2 yrs now. It was a replacement for my aging Lexicon MPX G2 which was possibly the first unit to give you multi effects via 4CM. I replicated what I had in terms of patches with this unit with the Helix switching a 3 channel Mesa Boogie and it has served me very well. I recently discovered the amazing guitarist Carter Arrington for myself on a video playing the Allman Bros In Memory of Elizabeth Reed with Dave Grissom. Carter's tone blew me away, so much so that I contacted him directly to find about his rig. He very kindly promptly replied telling me he uses some boutique pedals into a Class A Amp set clean. I was all for spending a shed full of cash on similar said items when I thought I would try this pedal into clean amp thing with the Helix. My early experiences using the Heir Apparent and Tone Sovereign models have blown me away again. I can't compare the sounds to the real pedals (there are plenty of You Tube videos achieving favorable results) all I know is that they sound utterly awesome and have added to my palette of great tones. I'm looking forward to exploring other pedal models and look at stacking various combinations. Any advice and pointers from people on this forum would be most welcome.

 

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6 hours ago, Wiggy1956 said:

Lexicon MPX G2 which was possibly the first unit to give you multi effects via 4CM

 

Don't want to spoil the party or split hairs, but for historical correctness, Roland released their GP-8 in 1987, more than 10 years before the Lexicon. And apart from the abysmal editing and the lack of reverb, it wasn't even bad (I owned one).

 

As far as using drive pedals with a clean(-ish) amp goes, I think it's quite crucial to find the right cab for the job. My favourites here often seem to be the 4x10 with a 160 Ribbon and the 4x12 Greenback 25 with quite some different mics, depending on the purpose. IMO the most relevant thing being to sort of tame the highs a bit, for me that's what makes or breaks dirt pedal capability.

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Actually the GP-8 was mostly analog. Only the delay and chorus wer digital.

Is sounded pretty darn good!

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The Lexicon MPX-G2 also had an analog front end with analog and digital distortion choices. It was a fantastic unit. I used one for years. The big thing this unit lacked is the ability to use IRs for speaker models. Tone shaping is OK, but not nearly as realistic.

 

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The Heir Apparent and Tone Sovereign you mention are emulations of the AnalogMan Prince of Tone and King of Tone pedals.  The King of Tone is essentially 2 Prince of Tone pedals in one box set up as a 2 stage drive.  Either side can be set for Boost, Overdrive, or Distortion.  There is a huge waiting list for the King of Tone, and I recently got mine after 3 years and 3 months on the waiting list (Yes - you did read that right!).  I am currently using my Helix into a Katana Artist Mk11, though I also have a couple of nice valve/tube amps.  Unfortunately I have a very electrically noisy house, and I just can't cope with the constant background noise from the valve amps when used in the house, particularly when using the Effects Loop and the 4 cable method which seems to make the noise 3 or 4 times worse.  I had to return a PRS amp because the noise made it totally unusable - 60db! -  it was fine in the shop.  The Katana is quiet unless the gain is way up.

I have tried the Helix emulations against the actual pedal, putting the pedal in a loop in an otherwise empty signal chain in Path A, and 2 Heir Apparents in Path B.  My King of Tone pedal is set for Overdrive into Boost, and I adjusted the settings so that I was getting 3 nice options of Boost, Overdrive, and Overdrive into Boost.  I then replicated the settings onto the Heir Apparent emulations, and A/B tested each of the options just by switching between Paths. My ears are not the best, but I could not detect any appreciable difference.  In fact, I frequently lost track of which path I was using. It is quite possible that there are significant differences between the real pedal and the emulations at more extreme settings, or using the Distortion setting, or into different amps.  I am sure that tone freaks, or those averse to digital modelling, would only want the real thing.  However, for me, the difference is too insignificant to worry about, and I would use either.  I will probably use the King of Tone in a mostly analog pedalboard into my valve amps, and use the Helix into the Katana.The Helix is a perfectly reasonable alternative to a 3 year wait, or the double-the-retail prices for second hand pedals.

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