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Eericc

Line 6 helix - would it be worth buying in my situation?

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Hello everyone!

I apologize for my selfish question (I didn't know where else to ask), but I would appreciate it if someone experienced with gear could give me a pointer how I should proceed. I'm a total gear noob.

I have been playing guitar for a long time, but I barely have any gear. My guitar is ESP Horizon iii, which is great (got it used, quite cheap), but my amplifiers have always been kinda subpar, currently using Roland cube 40XL. However, I'm a bedroom guitarist and don't need super good amp for gigging. I always dreamed of a nice tube amp and such, but it wouldn't make sense I think due to many neighbors. With SS amp I can play somewhat quietly and get an ok-ish tone. It also offers a wide variety of tones. I mainly play heavy distortion / rock, but I like other softer genres as well. I've been waiting on the upgrade, because I want to get something great that will last rather than the opposite.

I've started dreaming about upgrading my amplifier an some effects. I don't even have a wah! I've also gotten somewhat into recording stuff, but I don't have audio interface, microphone or any of that stuff. I used my phone (lol) to record some of my guitar parts and layered them on top of existing backing tracks and I kinda liked the result. Made me wonder what I could do with real audio interface and recording gear.

So the thing is that I would need to get bunch of stuff. I would need a wah, more ways to tweak my tone and ways to navigate different effects and tones easier (especially for recording, I would like to do everything in one take if possible and not record parts separately). New amp, some pedals and recording gear could end up costing a lot.

And my question is this: wouldn't the Line6 Helix multi fx cover for pretty much everything I need? I have almost no gear, and if I've understood correctly, the multi fx would do everything I described. It can offer all tones, effects and recording. It is very expensive, but so would be a new amp, different pedals and recording gear if I bought them all separately. Am I on the wrong track here?

In a way Line6 Helix can probably seem like an overkill for a bedroom guitarist like me, but I like the thought of just having that one piece of gear can do pretty much everything. I started looking into Helix when I read that The Doo from Youtube might be using it. I really like his tone, although I'm sure his tone comes mostly from his fingers and tweaking the audio (not delusional that I would sound like him).

Thank you for your time!

Eric

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A Helix would definitely cover everything I can think of that you would need. But I would not get a full on Helix. I'd get a Helix LT or even a POD Go. the LT is a Helix lght with less physical inputs and outputs but all of the software ability. The POD Go has most if not all of the Helix effects but is much more limited in the patch programming department. I think the Helix LT would actually cover all of your needs but the POD Go has most if not all of the amps/effects of the Helix. Helix-approx. $1500, Helix LT approx $1000, POD Go approx. $500. I would download the manuals and check out what each one offers. Then buy it from  place that offers a 30 day moneyback guarantee.

 

https://line6.com/support/manuals/

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Thanks a lot! I didn't realize that the LT is just the little brother of the full on Helix. I also thought that the Helix seems to have a huge amount of inputs that I probably wont need, so less is better for me. I will take a look at the POD Go as well, but LT definitely sounds tempting. 1000$ for everything it offers seems like awesome deal.

 

After I figure out which one would be more suitable, I guess I need to find suitable FRFR speaker for quiet'ish home use, seeing as it would be probably waste to run LT for example through a Roland cube 40xl. But man, the (eventual) upgrade will probably be out of this world after being used to cheap SS amps.

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2 hours ago, Eericc said:

After I figure out which one would be more suitable, I guess I need to find suitable FRFR speaker for quiet'ish home use, seeing as it would be probably waste to run LT for example through a Roland cube 40xl. But man, the (eventual) upgrade will probably be out of this world after being used to cheap SS amps.

 

Just get a decent pair of studio monitors and call it a day. If you're not gigging and/or don't want or need to get particularly loud, then this is by far the most versatile and dollar-friendly solution. Plus, since you've indicated an interest in recording, stereo output is a must anyway... you can't mix multi-track recordings in mono (well technically you could, but the finished product will sound like baked a$$). And even if you never record a single note, stereo reverbs and delays are glorious. You'll thank me later... lol

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Hi

 

I agree with brue58ski on the recommendation.

 

Have been at bedroom player for some years now and went for the Helix LT three years ago. Been a Line6 user since many years through POD (the bean), POD XT. POD HD Pro and now the LT. If money is not is the obstacle, then I can highly recommend the LT. It’s a platform to grow in when you want/need to. It has all sound, flexibility in the workflow, all important technical feature and a great user interface. I recommend it base on that and that you can focus on having fun and not run into limitations that you may on POD Go and Helix Stomp (absolutely no bad choices, there are videos on YT comparing those with Helix Floor and they do well). My decision 3 years ago, to go to Helix LT (from POD HD Pro), was above and that I was trigger of the next level of sound quality and the flexibility the platform gave me. I have all the tools I need, to stay simple or do something complex and what I need in that moment.

 

Some reflection.

  • Learning curve – There is a learning curve to be aware of. It’s a platform that take some work and time (true for all modelers in this league). There are tons with videos and documentation giving general info and info drilling down in specific areas. This great user forums with users that help you when/if you got stuck.
  • Speakers – There is users here that are more skilled in this area then me, they will correct me :-). If you play home a par of studio monitors will probably do, Yamaha HS 7 and 8 seems like popular references (search the forum). I have a par of passive PA-speakers and a power amp as my “FRFR”-speakers the last 10-12 years. Have the power amp connected to a mixer that hooks my Helix LT a soundcard from my PC and other sources, so I easily can have my PC as my “band mates” :-) and to record. A month ago, I invested in a Powercab 112 Plus. My motive for that was that bedroom player also want to have fun :-).  
  • Support - I did not leave Line6 as a platform as I set a high value on support and this is probably the best in class in this industry. But, that you get regardless based on what brue58ski proposed.   

So, I will have my 2 cent and a long motivation to go for the Helix LT.

 

Take care… //Per

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Does seem to me that Pod Go is the solution you are looking for.

The extra possibilities of the XT are totally valid, but for someone who has no experience of lots of amps and pedals, you will spend a lot of time getting lost, which is not fun!

You would still have a huge amount of flexibility, and money for good monitoring and other bits you will soon want if you start recording, like a good mic, an interface ( yes you could use the XT as an interface, but it's not great or easy for vocals and yet another place to get lost.) Also decent DAW software is not cheap, who knows, maybe you need a better computer?

I've also discovered that it doesn't take long going down the DAW path to recording before you want a basic keyboard and some form of pads, so if you don't keep some spare money you will find another batch of frustrations just round the corner.

It's not like the PodGo is second rate, they are full quality Helix sounds. And you can add lots more effects if you need them in the DAW software.

If recording is part of your plan don't try to be too "high end" about every part, unless you have both lots of money and lots of time for what can easily become a learning curve that could be years before you start to feel in control!

 

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I agree that the POD Go with a good pair of studio monitors (min. 6”) is the way to go. It will be the simplest introduction for you to the world of digital gear. 

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Thanks a ton for the replies everyone! As said before, the full Helix is definitely an overkill for me, good thing I asked. The price of LT isn't too bad, but of course I don't mind if I can get by a little bit cheaper, as I'm no Warren Buffett. The reason I was aiming for the top of the line models first was the worry that if I don't invest enough in the gear, I will just need to replace / sell it later and will regret it. I used to have just a cheap Les Paul copy as my only guitar for like 10 years, because I wanted to buy something of lasting value (the ESP) instead of a slightly better version of what I have.

 

The Pod Go seems actually really good though and looks like it offers everything I could ask for at my level. Honestly it didn't occur to me that you could get such good gear for around 500$ nowadays. I checked a few videos and it sounds awesome. I will need to acquaint myself with the options further, but it seems like the Pod Go with studio monitors is an excellent way to go. Seems simple too: Plug the Pod Go into your studio monitors via regular 1/4" guitar cables (no XLR connections?), plug in another 1/4" cable from the Pod Go into your guitar, connect it to your PC via USB for recording and you are good to go?

 

Thanks again!

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Depending on your choice in studio monitors you will probably have options of 1/4", XLR. or RCA inputs. Your POD Go outputs are 1/4" so you will want cables that are 1/4"  on one end and 1/4", XLR, or RCA on the other end. Fortunately your POD Go output signal level can be set to match any of these options. And don't worry if that last bit makes no sense to you right now. It soon will.

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@Eericc I was in a similar position recently and chose the Helix LT. For someone who isn't sure what they need, and wants to sample some of everything, the modern breed of modeler/multi-FX units are fantastic. I picked Line 6 not only because the LT had the right set of features for me, but because the software seems well supported. 

 

The Helix LT is absolutely overkill for someone like me who needs a minute to change chords. I didn't even know what a "cab" was 3 months ago. There is no specific sound I am hunting for... but it I really enjoy experimenting and knowing that I can probably recreate nearly any sound that catches my fancy... on bass, electric guitar, or acoustic guitar. That keeps me happy and practicing, so money well spent, I guess. 

 

Anyway, as a more experienced musician, I think you will really enjoy having something like the Helix. 

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I was in a very similar position to you, OP.  I initially had no interest in buying a multi-fx pedal (My previous and only experience was a Behringer V-amp which I didn't get on with) and was looking to go the same way as you, deciding on individual bits to improve and gradually put a rig together.  But, with neighbours above, below and to the side, volume was a serious consideration.  After a while running a couple of nice pedals through a Blackstar HT-1 at a neutered volume, I went to a music store and tried a Helix and a Kemper out of curiosity, and was blown away by the quality of both units.  I ended up purchasing a full fat Helix (Chose that over the Kemper shortly after purely based on the UI, even though I spent longer demoing the Kemper), and this was about 4 years ago.

 

My point with this story is I feel I was in the same position as you,  and purchased the Helix in the knowledge that it was overkill for me (Not sure the LT was an option at this point, this is probably what I would have got at the time) but looking back on it 4 years ago, I can definitely say that I would do it again without a thought - It can pretty much be as complicated as you want it to be, but it's also possible to just load an amp, cab and go.  The learning curve is not as steep as people would have you think, although you can spend forever getting things *just* right, but as far as I'm concerned that is just as likely to happen with analog gear.  The difference is that you have a much wider palette of amp sims, effects, etc.  It can be invaluable in working out what sort of effects and amps you gravitate towards, if you didn't already know.  It can also show you what effects you think you would use all the time (Whammy for me), and actually discover that it would have been pointless.

 

If you're not gigging, I would DEFINITELY use studio monitors if you are able to, the sound quality is much better, and it inspires you to play more often and longer.  Volume becomes far less of an issue with regards to tone, and I've found the headphone out to be a criminally under-rated feature - More volume is more fun but not always feasible, and the ability to deafen yourself whilst respecting everyone else's hearing is a practical, day-to-day godsend.  All of this skims over the recording ability, amongst other features - I'm never going to be a professional, but learning how it all works and recording your own playing can really highlight what you need and want to work on.

 

In short, if you can safely afford the LT or full Helix, do it, you will struggle to regret it.  Also, as they receive periodic updates, they are like a gift that keeps giving!  I'm not sure (Correct me if I am wrong) that the Pod Go gets updates.

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One warning that was mentioned here is the amount of choice you will have. It can be overwhelming. You will be tempted to try everything at once. I know I was. But the better way to treat it is as if you had the key a Guitar store late at night with access to everything they have for as long as you want. You wouldn't just run around an plug into a different amp every 5 minutes, you'd spend some time with each amp and then try different effects with each amp. At least that's what I'd do. So, spend some time with each amp/effect. I mean zip through them at first. Ya have to right? But take your time later on. And don't worry about all of those amp parameters at the bottom. Sag, bias, etc. Just stick with the basic amp parameters at first. Everything above but not including the Master parameter. What is the Master parameter? It's the power amp as opposed to the preamp. If an amp doesn't have a Master on it, it is generally set at 10. So a Marshall JCM 800 has a Master on it but a Fender Twin does not. So the Master parameter is set at 10. I hope I'm not already starting to confuse things. As said before there is a learning curve.

 

Also, I'm not sure what your experience is but know that you will not be experiencing what you would playing an amp in a room. What you will experience is what you would if you were in a recording studio sitting on the comfy couch, listening to the amp through the stuido monitors. Hence the mic and mic distance choices Good Luck!.

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I agree totally with Brue58ski, but what is interesting is the approach to the learning curve - I think it will depend entirely on your current level of experience with actual amps.  Certainly in my case, when it came to real amps I knew very little - Comparatively, still do.  But as my knowledge of real life amps was pretty negligible, perhaps there is less to "unlearn" before approaching the Helix?

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Another option: You could get Helix Native, a good audio interface (Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, for example), and a decent pair of studio monitors for a fraction of the price of a hardware Helix. The only thing missing from that setup is the expression pedal (wah, volume, etc.)

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Not to negate the previous post but Native is approx $500 however, if you get an LT, it's only approx $100. If you think you would use it. And if you have to get both an audio interface and monitors, the price starts getting closer to the LT. $500 plus the Focusrite 212-approx $160 and the monitors which, the cheapest (that you probably would not want) was approx $100. So now you're at $760. And you will probably want a better studio monitor so you're now probably at $800 to $900. You may already have all of that but it is something to think about. Then again, you'd probaly have to get studio monitors for the LT too, so that is not so much of an issue.

 

Also, remember it is a VST plug in and not a stand alone program. So you would have to have a DAW of some kind and use it inside that program. So you need to be comfortable doing that kind of thing. It's not just plug in and play. You'd have to do a little setting up before you could start strumming unless you kept your DAW running all the time. There are stand alone programs that will run VST plugins but it all is more hassle to use than an LT. And there will be some latency. This is all, of course, just my opinion.

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@brue58ski Well, OP had mentioned wanting to buy some studio monitors anyway, so I factored that into it. You could say the same about the DAW; if he wants to record, he's gonna need one regardless.

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In addition to what's already been said, if you've got decent hifi or A/V equipment you can run the Helix through that and not buy studio monitors.

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Thanks again everyone for the advice. I'm not in a huge rush yet to get new equipment, but I'll probably be making the acquisitions in a month or two. Just like  @errxn suggested, I once considered getting simply a guitar plugin for the PC and no amp / guitar specific hardware, but it seemed like you need to be more of a handyman and have some expertise in audio tech to go that route. Just like @brue58ski said, the possible latency also worried me and the guitar processors seem to make more sense to me and is less problematic. I don't mind needing to tweak and experiment with sounds to find something that I like (although I'm probably not picky, seeing as I've been playing with Roland cube 40xl for almost a decade), but I just want the hardware itself to be reliable and not too difficult to setup. And just like @Horseflesh said, Line6 hardware seems to have a lot of support (just like this forum), which is excellent.

 

Btw, some of you talked about the price of DAWs. I know next to nothing about them, but for my experimental projects I used one called "Cakewalk", it's free and seems pretty good for. However, I'm sure you might need to pay for a DAW when you become more familiar with recording.

 

And Btw#2, just like @PerS recommended, I've been looking into Yamaha S7. They seem to be 6", just like @silverhead suggested. I was thinking of getting a pair of those with stands (a bundle). At first I was wondering why would you get stands, but it seems to be more beneficial sound wise (affects your bass etc).

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The free Cakewalk is probably good enough. I'm assuming it allows you to use plugins. The best free "full featured" DAW that I'm aware of is called Reaper. it's not user friendly but a lot of people like it and there's a ton of info on how to use it out there.

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Like brueski said, Reaper is great. The basics are pretty easy, and you can definitely go down the rabbit hole of customization with it. The good news there is that it might be the most well-documented DAW on the planet. Starting with this guy on YouTube.

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