Looking for Line 6 Helix opinions

Silverburst

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I'm in need of some advice and looking for opinions of people who actually own or have owned the Helix and preferable an Axe Fx 2. (if you want to skip the background, the questions are below)

The thing is I used to have an Axe Fx 2, but played the Friedman BE-100 model 90% of the time, and time also proved that I am not that big of an FX slut (generally verb and delay, drives, a phaser and wah 90% of the time). So I decided to just get a real BE-100 instead with some pedals. No modeller can beat that... I do miss the convenience of the USB capabilities of the Axe Fx 2, for easy recording and jam-alongs via a PC using headphones. I didn't like the hassle of programming and labeling the Behringer FCB1010 I had (very cool piece for the price though, undebatable) and found a dedicated midi pedal way too freaking expensive. Then I came across Pete Thorn's demo of the Helix, and that is where my head turned... hello what have we here ?... Someone has been thinking here...

Pete Thorn: "Imagine a bank of presets tailored for use with an amp and cab. Next, imagine a second bank of identical presets (except tailored for use with a load box) and adding an IR in the effects chain on each patch for speaker simulation. Now consider a third bank of presets that add an amp model to each patch so you can use Helix direct to the board and travel light. The beauty of this is that you’re using the same “pedalboard” and won’t have to get used to tap dancing on a different rig for each of your setups. "

ok, that is too perfect... the perfect blend between home studio use, the ability the pair up with a real amp easily, rooting options for my specific drive pedals... I think the the Helix is absolutely great in the practical sense! It even senses difference between fingers and shoes hotdamn, for incredible easy programming! It looks extremele user friendly. Also scrible strips... ok I'm convinced there, no doubt! But I'm used to the audio qualities of the Axe Fx 2. Although I don't need the 1001 parameters, I need good use-able tone with easy adjustability. The Axe Fx 2 gave me a tech indigestion at time, my god.

Now to get to my question. Not just this one is better compared to that one... :
1. How do the amp models from the Helix compare to the Axe Fx 2. There a less for now I know, but In terms of feel, harmonics, being true to the original. Did you try with 3rd party IR's?
2. How to the fx from the Helix compare to the Axe Fx 2.
3. How does the Helix perform with 4CM and a real amp. I do hate tone suck! Every multi fx unity I owned in the past like Boss GT-10, Pod X3... suffered from this. I would be really pleased to hear exactly my amp, the same bite and balls, with the Helix connected while no fx in the path. 100% transparent. Even the AX8 does not offre that. The FX8 should though, but misses all the advantages I'd love to have.
4. How are the Helix's drives working in front of a real amp?
5. How are real drives working in front of Helix amp models?

In fact, if the models are decent, the fx are good and the unit doesn't suck my amp's base tone, I'm sold. It would be better than a g-system for example

Thx !
 

jensvonbustenskjol

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Hi Silver,
Don't have complete answers, but I do have some.
I've tried a Helix, and I own a HD500, and I have tried an AF2.

I just want to fill in something first: I know that this forum hates Line6 more than anything in the world. I believe they have only tried Guitarport and PODs. I have been using Line6 products since 2002 for home practice, and since 2012 for gigging (HD500). Helix is the first real “pro” attempt from Line 6 which I'm pretty exited for :D

1. Sorry, haven't done a next-too-compare between AF2 and Helix, but I have tried HD500 against Orange and Marshalls. Harmonics, dynamics and compression is pretty good.
2. Sorry, haven't done a next-too-compare.
3. The HD500 at least have the option of selecting “type” of interface: full range monitors, mixer, or guitar amp. I’ve used to active full range monitors, and I’ve used it with a stereo amp in a guitar cabinet. Sounds good either way. May need some tweeking for each option. Cannot compare to X3, GT-10 etc
4. Se point above
5. I’ve used a tubescreamer, and wah without problem in front of HD500.

I have to add a point:
HMI/VDU – the AF2 is hard to use. It’s a small screen, and a lot of work. The Helix is easier to use. For me, it’s important to minimize tweaking time.
 

ricksteruk

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Silverburst you are asking the right questions IMO :)

I'm seriously considering the Helix to replace my FX unit and MIDI switcher - it looks so convenient - the control system and scribble strips are a dream!

For me the No 1 biggie is going to be tone suck. I expect that Helix will sound fine in the amps FX loop, but I will be surprised if there's no change in feel (if not tone) when using it in front of the amp in 4CM.

Biggie No2 is spillover (or lack of it). The Axe FX8 can do it if you set it up right. I just can't bear the thought of half second silences between patches - apart that's not even mentioning the fact I like to hit a big delay and reverb at the end of a solo section and leave it ringing while I go back to clean rhythm.

The new FX8 firmware that came out last week gives it's footswitchs a much greater degree of assignability - but those scribble strips on the Helix are still king IMO.

If they sort out spillover on the Helix I will buy one and post my thoughts on your questions. It will definitely improve my set up even if I find there is tone suck and just use it in my amps FX loop.
 

Silverburst

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thx jensvonbustenskjol. So when you tried a Helix, how did it compare rougly to your HD500 ?

Ricksteruk: Yeah I've come to read about the switching delay, however when you stay in 1 patch you can for example set up up to 4 amps and cabs with fx, and do some switching there, which appear to be faster. Now at namm, the 1.06 firmware was released and will be available soon. Maybe they addressed the problem. As for spillovers, I suppose the same trick could work. If you switch to a patch that carries a memory intensive IR for example, I guess a loading time is unavoidable. never tested this in the Axe Fx actually, so I don't know.

I'm travelling next weekend and am contemplating to pick one up at a store that seem to have some in stock... uhm uhm...
 

jensvonbustenskjol

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thx jensvonbustenskjol. So when you tried a Helix, how did it compare rougly to your HD500 ?

It has been thought through. Better engineered, and more quality.
The HD500 is built like a tank, at the same time it feels sloppy. The Helix is like anything from Apogee; clean, solid and well engineered.

Sound wise, the responds to the primary signal is superb. Try a blues breaker with a tubescreamer in front: dialing down your guitar volume really clean the tone up.

Sadly, I didn't have much time with it. I would love to spent some time with it, and try out different chain positions:
- infront of an amp
- in FX
- monitors

and more.

Helix, combined with in-ear-monitoring could really decrease live rigging, checking etc.
 

Silverburst

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This is a good example of how a patch has been set up like a 3 channel amp (a different model for each channel actually) that works very well with switching and spill overs.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S879raBLkwE[/ame]
 

Silverburst

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I've been looking at all kinds of video's reviews... honestly. There is almost nothing not to like about this product. It is the perfect all in 1 solution that offers you to best of both world: interaction and hq fx with a real amp, and the total portability and studio/silent practice tool with very decent models that can be combined with IR's.

Just not looking at this because it is line 6 would be silly. All in all, Line 6 is the very first company to do modeling for about 20 years. got into the budget zone, but then end 2013 was bought by Yamaha.

This product will be a game changer I tell you. I'm getting one.
 

ricksteruk

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I hear you Silverburst!

I think it's an amazing product - just having a superb control surface and FX unit in one package is enough for me to justify the price - even if the modelling sucked (which I am sure it does not)

As soon as the "scene" mode or spillover comes out I will be getting one. I know there are work arounds - but they just don't cut it in my opinion.
 

Vinsanitizer

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Still nobody using a helix over here???

Possibly it's because this is the Marshall forum and most folks here already have a Marshall or tube amp they've soaked $$$ into? And the The Helix is like, $1,500 - not exactly a "run out and buy it now" price for most.

I think the Helix looks cool. If they could make those things WAY easier to get the blues/rock Marshall tones I like I'd love to be able to show up everywhere with a clean amp and that, or even just that. But I've tried so many modeling gadgets and floorboards and every time it was a disaster trying to figure out connection types and endless programming: should this be set for a combo amp or a full range powered speaker? Guitar amp or house PA? Front of amp or FX loop? 2CM or 4CM? Cab sim or no cab sim? Mic placement - type, angle & distance? Speaker cab - brand, size & distance? Speaker type? And then off course there's your preamp settings and then the FX, and still you have yet to tweak it at all your band rehearsals and gigs.

I've heard maybe two players out of 50 sound excellent live onstage with any modeling floorboard. Studio = much more convincing of course, but live has always been the same : either clean or high gain, never a fantastic and convincing blues/rock sound. I want to hear those things do late-70's Marshall sounds like Thin Lizzy, Frampton, Kiss, Schenker, Cheap Trick, Heart, old Journey, Yes, Zeppelin, and not just the typical Fender clean, Scholz Rockman and Death Metal sounds.

Just figured I'd throw my frustrations out there in case anyone can comment on that. I'd love to go everywhere with just a floorboard and be ready to plug in at the flick of a switch and not have to constantly tweak my tones all the time. But after using nearly a dozen of those units since the advent of the Johnson J-Station, right up through the XT-Live and the DigiTech RP300 (my "best" results ironically, yet still falling short into in-ear monitors and combo front-ends), it's all been such a frustrating waste for me. Might sum it up in that Helix video above, at: 0:43 - 1:05 is what I could never get on with the most about those boards for live use: "so complex he can't even explain it" - I can't have that and actually expect to play the guitar too. :D
 

Silverburst

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Well I was expecting 2CM or 4CM solutions here and what I'd use it for with a tube amp. It looks like the ideal replacement of the gsystem right? Which I'm sure is used quite a bit here. As soon as people see modelling or line6 they run away

But aside that, the silent recording, pracitse possibilities are just awesome, no?

So I think this product just can be different... I'm getting one as soon as they are available again.
 

Vinsanitizer

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Well I was expecting 2CM or 4CM solutions here and what I'd use it for with a tube amp. It looks like the ideal replacement of the gsystem right? Which I'm sure is used quite a bit here. As soon as people see modelling or line6 they run away

But aside that, the silent recording, pracitse possibilities are just awesome, no?

So I think this product just can be different... I'm getting one as soon as they are available again.

In my experience since 2007 modeling isn't getting quite the rejection that it appears to be. Maybe the majority are rejecting it, but there's a whole generation and culture that's using modeling, and occasionally, with excellent results. My own personal issue with modeling devices is the complexity of their use and their use on "silent" stages where everyone uses in-ear monitors instead of amps and wedges.
 

chiliphil1

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Well I was expecting 2CM or 4CM solutions here and what I'd use it for with a tube amp. It looks like the ideal replacement of the gsystem right? Which I'm sure is used quite a bit here. As soon as people see modelling or line6 they run away

But aside that, the silent recording, pracitse possibilities are just awesome, no?

So I think this product just can be different... I'm getting one as soon as they are available again.

I haven't played one, so take my words how you want. I think the helix would be awesome for 4CM. the models are supposed to be great, all the effects are spot on, so I think it would work very well for this. However, I don't know if the price increase over the HD500 is worth it. I think a lot of guys on this forum will tell you to go kemper or axefx, they all seem to hate line6:lol:
 

Mystic38

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Ditto..

At the point in time you spend more effort and time tweaking the details of a preset to attempt to mimic something that you can do in seconds in front of your real amp the glitz disappears.. and that is where i was ending up.. my playing time in front of an amp is 95%, in front of the POD HD it was like 30%.

My own personal issue with modeling devices is the complexity of their use .
 

Rodney

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$2000 Australian dollars , I don't think so , though if you add up all your individual stomp boxes it may be close , one of my pedals being a TS808HW cost me $450.
 

Silverburst

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I like instant tweakablity as well. The Helix's UI is apparently very user friendly.

Another thing I'm always fighting with external pedals is hum, hiss etc, eventhough I use planet wave cables, a trex power source with grounded outputs etc... makes me want to pull my hair out. Some pedals dont like specific other pedals or amps and so on. A disadvantage rarely spoken about when multifx are discussed. Want to use another preamp type pedal in your setup that goes straight to the poweramp defined in a patch, no prob... I'm looking at the ADA mp-1-channel for example

If I get my hands on one, I'll review and let you know how much pedals I'd clear as well as the budget freed up.
 

Rodney

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Wow !!!

$450 for a tube screamer ... :scratch:

Yeah I know its crazy , its a limited run of the TS808HW , 350 units world wide ,must say though I tried a number of Tube screamers and it beats em hands down I reckon, more bottom end and very detailed tone.
 

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