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Bored to tears here in Cleveland, I spent some time with a Helix today. Went through the various patches, which btw were abnormally decent for Line 6 stock patches. I had my trusty Sennheiser HD380's with me, for comparison's sake.

It definitely is a step up from the POD HD stuff, even with stock IR's. The higher gain models were less fizzy than the older stuff is/was, and the lower gain stuff was pretty decent. However, I still struggle to say "yeah, this is a $1500 piece". That's a lot of money for something that quite honestly is on par with BIAS Amp or S-Gear, plugins that cost 10% of this thing. In fact, IMO S-Gear, while severely limited in comparison, is still much better for amp tones.

I also played a Friedman Runt 20. This. Thing. Rips. It is a little fucking beast of an amp, with a surprisingly good clean channel, and a fucking fantastic gain channel. Really impressed, and for the $1099 on sale, it's a helluva little amp. IMO, it slays the most comparable Marshall, the Mini Jubilee.

That's all. Just thought I'd follow up the many Helix jousting posts with an honest opinion. :D
 

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I have been checking one out for a couple weeks and its pretty good.

I finally figured out what I don't like about modelers tho. I dont like the jarring shift of amp character. I like that most multi channel amps, the general character of the sound is consistent thru the channels. On a modeler you have a Fender blackface clean and a Marshal or Mesa lead sound and its like WTF just happened to my sound. I dont like it and im not about to use a modeled distortion pedal into a modeled amp. I cant hang.
 

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I can't help but be curious about why Line 6 cannot model amps as well as other manufacturers. It always seems like they're at the bottom of the (digital) tone totem pole
 

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Interesting comparison Jeff. I keep debating going digital again, and the helix Lt seems like decent value - although modelling is my main concern and id be swayed to the atomic or ax8.

Although the regular helix has a lot of features - 4 loops, relay switching, those scribble strips. It's this features that add to the cost imo and how they justify so high a price.
 

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Also I saw that the headrush pedal has gone on sale now - there are 1 or 2 demos up - none of which are official demos from the makers - just new owners dicking about at home. Seems like a flop waiting to happen
 

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I can't help but be curious about why Line 6 cannot model amps as well as other manufacturers. It always seems like they're at the bottom of the (digital) tone totem pole
I suspect it's that they've never worked with someone who knows how to get great guitar sounds in the studio. All of their cab models sound like they just through a mic in front of the cab without moving it around to find the best sounding spot.

Their bass models are always solid, though.
 

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I've been using a Helix since it came out and I get complimented on my tone all the time by sound guys at clubs and other guitar players that are at the show. Even my other guitar player who is a bit of a tone snob was impressed with the tones I get. But I am not doing the high gain stuff. It's country and classic rock so I use mostly the Matchless and Tweed amps with a Fender Deluxe once in a while. I had an old rockabilly guy come up to me at a club one time and asked why I hid my amp, it sounded great and it should be out front showing off. When I told him I was using the Helix he was shocked. And I spent the entire break (two actually) showing him how it works and how I dialed in the sounds.

All my patches use two different mics and two different speakers and I send the FOH two signals that they blend. In my IEMs one is panned hard right and one is panned hard left.

The trick to the Helix is the global EQ. I set a HP and LP filter on it. I also dial back the gains on overdrive pedals since in a band setting with 5 guys it can get to be a shit show with too much gain.

The other thing is you really need to use FRFR speaker with it if you are going to use it like a regular amp. I use Rockit 8's at home in my studio and they tend to accentuate the high end. I go to the practice space and plug it into my PA and it sounds great.

Is it worth the $1500 I paid for it? Probably not. But the thing is built like a tank. You could run this thing over with a semi and it would still work. I don't trust the build quality on the new one they released since mine gets banged around quite a bit before and after gigs.

I've thought about the Axe8 and getting one to test out too, but I've been happy enough with the Helix to stick with it for now. Its not perfect, and you do have to spend quite a bit of time tweaking things little by little as you use it, but I get a great useable tone out it.

I have some gigging friends that use the Axe-Fx and some of them sound great, but then there is one guy I know that I have no clue how he fucked up the patches but it sounds like complete ass.
 

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I have been checking one out for a couple weeks and its pretty good.

I finally figured out what I don't like about modelers tho. I dont like the jarring shift of amp character. I like that most multi channel amps, the general character of the sound is consistent thru the channels. On a modeler you have a Fender blackface clean and a Marshal or Mesa lead sound and its like WTF just happened to my sound. I dont like it and im not about to use a modeled distortion pedal into a modeled amp. I cant hang.
I find this bothers me less when switching individual patches - because, let's be honest, Ch 1 and Ch 4 of a Roadster are pretty radically different sounding, although I'm with you on at least the sound sounds like it's coming out of the same cabinet and that helps "glue" things together more - than I am when I see someone playing covers through a modeler, and going from a Recto distorted rhythm patch in one song to a Marshall distorted rhyuthm in another to a 5150 in the third, etc, and the overall cohesiveness of the "band" sound is lost, instead trying to recreate the sound of an original recording. That always never sat well with me - it makes yous ound more like a human jukebox than an actual band.
 

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I have been checking one out for a couple weeks and its pretty good.

I finally figured out what I don't like about modelers tho. I dont like the jarring shift of amp character. I like that most multi channel amps, the general character of the sound is consistent thru the channels. On a modeler you have a Fender blackface clean and a Marshal or Mesa lead sound and its like WTF just happened to my sound. I dont like it and im not about to use a modeled distortion pedal into a modeled amp. I cant hang.
This is definitely a modeler shortcoming. The natural tendency for anyone is just to plow through presets and see what the thing sounds like, and your ears don't really have time to "reset" at all between them. So one second you're hearing a Mesa through a Recto cab model, then some crazy high gain thing through a Marshall, then a Fender twin through a 2x12, etc, etc. Instead of a whole bunch of "wow that sounds great"! it ends up being a whole lot of mush.

Edit: Shortcoming is probably the wrong word. The modeler is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. When you demo an amp in a store, you don't immediately run around plugging it into a half dozen cabinets - you change channels and adjust knobs, but for the most part the character of the cabinet never changes, and neither does the feel of the power section. The "right" way to A/B an amp vs any modeler would be to just tweak knobs on the modeler the same way you would with an amp. But nobody does that, because it's way more simple to just flip through presets.

Put FRFR into the mix and you have another thing that's almost apples/oranges when comparing modelers to amps. Even the best studio monitors don't sound as full, warm and resonant as an actual cabinet, yet most people demo and judge modelers based on them. Just like you need to own an amp for a while to find where the sweet spots are, modelers are the same way, just with a shitload more variables. What you get for the extra effort with modelers is a fuckload of convenience.
 

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I find this bothers me less when switching individual patches - because, let's be honest, Ch 1 and Ch 4 of a Roadster are pretty radically different sounding, although I'm with you on at least the sound sounds like it's coming out of the same cabinet and that helps "glue" things together more - than I am when I see someone playing covers through a modeler, and going from a Recto distorted rhythm patch in one song to a Marshall distorted rhyuthm in another to a 5150 in the third, etc, and the overall cohesiveness of the "band" sound is lost, instead trying to recreate the sound of an original recording. That always never sat well with me - it makes yous ound more like a human jukebox than an actual band.
This why most of my presets with the Helix are using the two matchless models and the Tweed. It covers pretty much all my bases and they are not that radically different. I even tweaked the pedals so that they sound the same-ish in each patch. So if I switch between patches tones change but not all that much different.

For the prog stuff I do, I have a completely different bank of patches that I do the same thing with. They are all pretty close to the same sounds, but different levels of gain and effects. I also have a bank setup for the classic rock band.
 

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For me, I judge a modeler by it's high gain tones, mostly. Cleans are generally easier to recreate; high gain sets the big boys apart from the toys. Granted, I'm no cleans expert. If it sounds clean, shimmery, and not dead I'll probably like the tone.

These are just general thoughts btw.
 

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For me, I judge a modeler by it's high gain tones, mostly. Cleans are generally easier to recreate; high gain sets the big boys apart from the toys. Granted, I'm no cleans expert. If it sounds clean, shimmery, and not dead I'll probably like the tone.

These are just general thoughts btw.
I'm the reverse, actually. I think an edge-of-breakup clean is one of the things that a lot of modelers really fall down on. The Axe does it extremely well, and much to my surprise, in the first generation of modeling the Johnson J-Station was actually pretty decent in this regard, too.
 

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"Channel to channel consistency" is some of the stupidest corksniffer shit I have heard.

If a dude has a Marshall and a Roland JC-120 on stage with a switcher it's fucking cool because he has two different physical amps and elitism bro.

But if a dude has a head/modeler from another brand that has a Roland like clean channel and a Marshall hi gain its, "uncultured plebian, what will the masses think of next, suffrage for women?"

The tonal aura of an amp has to remain unchanged when I switch channels, I measure it with a magic crystal I got.
 

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The roundness of the tone of a just about to breakup amp is what modelers have a problem with. The way the note pops when you play. Especially with chicken picking. That and the feeling of the sag and air moving of a tube amp that they can't quite seem to nail either.

I have a classic 30 and the Helix setup at my space and when I A/B them I can get really really close to the tone, but its just the way the tone hits you that just feels different.

The people in the audience never notice any of that anyways since its all coming through the mains. So its a moot point for them, even if you are a musician. But there is a definite difference when standing in front of an actual tube amp moving air.
 

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I'm the reverse, actually. I think an edge-of-breakup clean is one of the things that a lot of modelers really fall down on. The Axe does it extremely well, and much to my surprise, in the first generation of modeling the Johnson J-Station was actually pretty decent in this regard, too.
You're right about that, actually. That's another factor I forgot to add. The "tubes starting to get pushed" tone is a very good indicator of a modeler's accuracy. It's a subtle thing that you can't just make with noise/fizz and call it a day.
 

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People don't like playing with the good modelers because they are an accurate representation of what your playing sounds like mic'd.

A lot of people never get over the fact that they sound like gods chugging in their impeccably EQ'd amp in a forgiving reverberant room but they sound like shit mic'd.

Playing through modelers definitely improved my playing. Hearing things so clinically the way they actually sound to other people recorded or live is a way more objective way of knowing whether your playing was good. If you're playing to a click it's actually better than a metronome because you can immediately play it back.
 
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