Line 6 was a pioneer of cheap amp modeling hardware, by the initial POD through its numerous successors. Lately, though, a new breed of amp modelers have occupied the limelight. The Fractal Axe-Fx and the Kemper Profiler’s likes offer massively increased processing power for modeling that gets closer to the sound and feel of the real thing.
Now, Line 6 has responded with all the dual-DSP-powered Helix, which unites effects and amp models in a big, rocky floor pedal. Keep reading Fidlar’s post to see our Line 6 Helix Reviews.
Table of Contents
Line 6 Helix Review
- Pedal Type: Multi-FX
- Analog/Digital: Digital
- Number of Effects: Over 200 effects (latest firmware), 9 x effects types simultaneously
- Effects Types: Distortion, Delay, Reverb, Modulation, Pitch shift, Synth filter, Compressor/Limiter, Wah
- Amp Modeling: Over 100 Amp, Cab and Mic Models (latest firmware)
- Impulse Response: IR support
- Looper: 60 seconds (mono), 30 seconds (stereo) full speed
- Inputs: 1 x XLR (mic), 1 x 1/4″ (guitar), 1 x 1/4″ (aux), 4 x 1/4″ (return)
- Digital Inputs: 1 x Coax (S/PDIF), 1 x RJ45 (Variax)
- Outputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4″, 4 x 1/4″ (Send)
- Digital Outputs: 1 x Coax (S/PDIF), 1 x XLR (AES/EBU, Link out)
- MIDI I/O: In, Out/Thru
- USB: 1 x Type B (8 x 8)
- Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
- Other I/O: 1 x 1/4″ (control voltage), 1 x 1/4″ (ext amp switching)
- Expression Control: Built-in, 2 x 1/4″ (expression pedals)
- Compatibility: OS X 10.10 or later, Windows 7 SP1 or later
- Power Source: Standard IEC AC cable
- Height: 3.58″
- Width: 22.05″
- Depth: 11.85″
- Weight: 14.6 lbs.
- Manufacturer Part Number: 99-060-0105
- Dual DSP-powered HX modeling engine with four discrete stereo signal paths, 45 amps, 30 cabs, 16 mics and 70 effects Imports 3rd party 1024/2048 cab IR' (impulse responses) 12 capacitive-sensing footswitches and customizable scribble strips - touch to edit, hold to assign, press to engage Hands-free Pedal Edit mode lays out effect parameters across switches and expression pedal Near-instant footswitch and controller assignment Up to three expression pedals, CV/Expression o
Inputs & Outputs
The Rack’s back panel reflects the flexibility of its signal-processing paths using a range of output and input, both analog and digital. On the front, the guitar input provides a range of impedances plus a switchable pad, and also, on the back, is a 10kΩ as in, designed for busy guitars and basses.
Alongside this sits a balanced XLR mic input with software-switchable 48V phantom power. The analog outputs that can be independently switchable between line and instrument levels include four send and four return jacks (accessible independently or paired in loops), along with a set of left (mono)/appropriate outputs on both balanced XLR and unbalanced quarter-inch T.S. jacks. A guitar carries a parallel input signal in the front-panel input.
The Rack can function as an eight-in/eight-out 24-bit/96kHz audio interface using its USB socket, which could also carry MIDI data and act as a ship and return to re-amping functions.
For electronic I/O, you can choose either S/PDIF (RCA phono) or AES3 (XLR), and a BNC word-clock synchronization input signal is also fitted. A Cat5 connector enables two-way communication involving the Helix and a Line 6 Variax guitar and another Cat5 connector abilities and communicates with the Control.
This is followed closely by MIDI in, out, and thru sockets, along with a set of quarter-inch jacks, the top of which functions as a standard single or dual-amplifier reverb on-off or channel-change switch.
The reduce jack is designed to induce an external expression-pedal input or provide a Control Panel to some synth that could accept you. In the end, there are jacks for the optional footswitch and three-term pedals.
The Control gets the same four expression-pedal and footswitch jacks, but its USB connector is “reserved for future use.” Its DC input signal is likewise booked; however, if your Control is at the end of a very long Cat5 cable and brief of electricity, it is possible to plug into a Line 6 DC-3G electricity supply (not provided ).
The floor-mounted variant of the Helix, which was not delivered for inspection, combines this Rack and Control’s performance. It provides nearly precisely the very same features and amenities.
Still, it is not fitted with Control, word-clock, or guitar through straps and, because it’s an integral expression pedal, joins to just two outside expression pedals.
Helix is an ambitious multi-effector with almost 200 amp and pedal versions, a built-in expression pedal, and unique rear-panel connectivity.
It sounds made to go head-to-head and simulate channels like Fractal Audio’s Axe-Fx II and the Kemper Profiling Amplifier. However, it is configured as a pedalboard as opposed to a rackmount box or thoughts.
Meanwhile, the Helix’s $1,499 road cost is below that of its rival products, and here you edit noises using a big, full-color LED display, rather than the somewhat stingy LCD dividers of its rivals. (Though in most instances, users may connect to a pc via USB and tap onto a dedicated applications interface).
Crafty guitarists may use Helix for just about any component of their music creating: writing and sound-designing while tracking through headphones, monitoring to DAW through Helix’s caliber convertors, and rehearsing and gigging by bumping to a P.A. or even a clean-toned, full-frequency amp, or even bypassing Helix’s amp/cab simulations and enjoying via a traditional amp.
Two functionality modes allow you to switch between up to eight collections up to 128 spots each or use Helix as a static pedalboard with easy on/of switches for every delegated result.
More On The Floor
It’s possible to output dry and effected tones concurrently, observe with impacts, then re-map the dry signal via an analog amp. (you might also use Helix as your re-amping apparatus in the studio.)
There are just two 1/4 ” guitar inputs, stereo 1/4″ and XLR outs, S/PDIF, and AES/EBU digital ins and outs, along with a mic input with phantom power.
The Control can be assigned to any combination of parameters. Also, you can save sets of missions per patch. (You change between duties using a toe-forward pedal movement. It is almost like getting two controls onboard.)
Helix performs nicely with different toys. Four mono/stereo effect loops make it easy to add outside stompboxes at any moment in your result chain and spare the routing data with your patches, according to a committed effect looper.
You can track signals from the built-in Control to an external apparatus or assign external controls to Helix parameters. MIDI in and out jacks allow you to change patches and tweak parameters on MIDI-equipped pedals or utilize those pedals to command Helix parameters
Helix’s physical bundle is as impressive as its features. The enclosure, pedal, jacks, knobs, and switches are sturdy alloy no bank plastic garbage.
The footswitch encircles boast bright multicolored LEDs, and every switch involves an electronic scribble strip showing the presently assigned result or parameter. (The visibility is outstanding. You can probably read the Helix recorder from halfway across the stage.)
And believe it or not, you’re able to edit and arrange sounds with just your toes due to the oversized knobs, a huge joystick encoder, and capacitive footswitches that execute several tasks based on if they are clicked or just touched.
The Helix versions are usually excellent. According to other Line 6 products, versions derive from name-brand effects and amps, using a mixture of noises you would expect and fun surprises.
Helix hosts a more powerful processor than preceding Line 6 products, providing tactile, three-dimensional tones. If the comparatively grainy, lo-def modeling of elderly Line 6 products frustrated you, then it is time to get a new tune. Note assault is nuanced, and responsiveness and personality differ from model to model.
The metallic amps have a harsh, face-spitting effect, although the tweed and Supro tones boast convincingly funky looseness and sag. You can combine cupboards and cabinets and choose the versions and places of virtual microphones.
Helix supports up to four concurrent signal paths, all in stereo, which means that you may route completely different tones to different amps or enter stations, or produce tricky patches with double signal chains that get reunited in the output point. Helix excels in over-the-top, effect-laden stains.
Nonetheless, it is a step of the versions’ realism that minor stains seem as engaging as highly processed ones. I will say the only bad thing about the versions is that a few amps and distortion pedals do not tidy up when you reduce your guitar volume rather than they do in the analog world.
Theater Of Operations
Helix’s editing procedures are as considerate as its characteristic set. Because of some logical design, color-coding, and a user-sycophantic operating system, profound editing seems as easy as possible. Learning how to edit only took me around. well, to tell the truth, editing was not entirely intuitive by the time I completed analyzing.
I relied upon the added cheat sheet. (However, I believe I’d be eloquent after a second day or so.) Mastering Helix certainly involves a learning curve. However, odds are you are going to spend more time thinking, “Wow, that’s smart!” Compared to”Man, this could be so much simpler if they had done it differently.”
Compared with Line 6’s previous flagship product within this field (the Pod H.D. Pro X), the Helix Rack is a substantial update concerning functionality and cost.
It has contributed to it being contrasted with all the Kemper Profiling Amplifier (KPA), Fractal Audio’s ax-fx II XL+, as well as Atomic Amplifiers’ lower-cost Amplifire.
Although these units typically aim to get precisely the same thing, the paths they choose to get there specify their differences and similarities.
The KPA is an outlier in that, instead of copying and analyzing the inner workings of particular amps, Kemper’s approach is, broadly, to utilize its algorithms to make and keep a profile of the noise of amps that are specific, at particular configurations, through specific speakers, close-miked with specific mics.
This permits the KPA to reproduce the noise of a profiled amp right. The outcome is not as flexible as using the modeling approach, but that is paid for by the countless amp profiles accessible, many of which are rare or highly desired amps.
A KPA can save around 650 profiles in Performance mode and 1000 in Browse mode. However, multiple profiles of one amp could be required to pay different sounds.
The ax-fx II XL+ requires a similar approach to both the Helix Rack and the Amplifire. Still, the granular detail Fractal Sound set up to permit the in-depth editing of the amp models from the most subtle of manners is mind-blowing.
Tweak-head that I’m, I could spend many happy hours deep within the processor’s menus. Performance-wise, the boosters produce awe-inspiring benefits, and the mill load of 188 amplifiers and 159 cabinets, again comprising several sought-after versions, is more than sufficient. Mind you; this comes at a cost; the ax-fx II XL+ is undoubtedly the most expensive of the four rivals.
Finally, there is the Amplifire. The approach is quite much like that of the Helix, and the Amplifire’s editing facilities and sonic performance are broadly similar.
Still, its cost (it costs around a third the cost of a Helix Rack and Control) reflects the differences between the Amplifire’s decorative quality, restricted (though adequate) user interface, inner routing versatility, inputs, outputs, and control capacity, compared to Line 6 devices.
To me, despite how every one of the four components has its advantages and disadvantages, the Line 6 Helix Rack provides the complete general package.
It is probably the most functional, if just for its management capacities and its I/O match. When push comes to shove, you will need to audition a Helix on your own, but it certainly works for me!
Line 6 Helix is a powerful recording and performing instrument. It rivals pricier modeling products and surpasses them in some respects, especially with its big, glowing, and color-coded editing surfaces.
The design is slick, and the construction is roadworthy. Assessing models is a subjective business, but I guess most players will probably be floored by the quality and range of Helix’s tones.
Last update on 2020-12-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API