Any one been converted?

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dean111musicdean111music Frets: 66
edited January 11 in Amps
anyone sold all there amps and pedals to buy a line 6 helix, kemper, axe fx?

be interested to hear people's thoughts on this. I have never played through one. But would like to know which one is the simplist to use. I wouldn't need 1000 presets. But enough great sounds to get through a live set of function band material, blues rock etc

the bands I'm in are using in ear monitors now so I'm thinking this could be an interesting route to go down, practicing and recording decent tones at home at any volume.

do you plug straight into the PA? Do you go through a speaker cab? 

Or even something like the Roland blues cube? Playing live any good? 
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  • RandallFlaggRandallFlagg Frets: 3653
    edited January 11
    Yep but these days I mainly only play at home. I'm currently selling valve amp and pedalboard and have just bought a Helix.

    Over the last 2-3 years I have been through 3 rigs:

    1) Line 6 DT25 with POD HD500X. Found the sound disappointing and the PODHD frustrating to work with.


    2) Axe-FX II and Atomic CLR. Much better sound than the PODHD but hated the rabbit hole of tweaking endless options in the amps cabs and pedal models and the user interface was hard and I would often get lost. The constant stream of updates, seems like every other month was hard to keep up with as well. The CLR was too big and heavy for my needs.

    3) Victory V40 and small pedalboard. Ran this through 2016. Was very happy with the tone when played loud but was finding that I rarely got chance to play at a volume where it sounded the best. I bought an old PODXT for headphone practice and direct recording, but the sound of that is showing it's age. Was finding that I was playing less and less electric and getting frustrated.

    I am in the process of selling the V40, pedalboard and PODXT and have just bought a Helix. It's early days but the experience is much more fun that the Axe FX and the Helix is a joy to use. It's sounding great too. It's making me want to play more electric and I get get a really good pro sound at sensible volume through nearfield monitors and headphones.

    I plan to get an amp/speaker or powered FRFR cab for louder playing with the Helix but just taking my time to assess what to get. 

    The Helix has a great interface and workflow and is very simple and fun to use. Yes there's tweaking needed but I am finding that there is no more needed that with an amp and pedals. I am particulary impressed with the drive and distortion pedals in the Helix, I can get some very authentic tones.

    I am finding the Helix a much more enjoyable unit to use that the AxeFx but both sound great. The Helix with built in expression pedal and intuitive footswitch layout and customisable leds above each switch are really good.
    "King for a day, fool for a lifetime”
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  • FiftyshadesofjayFiftyshadesofjay Frets: 359
    edited January 11
    I use a Kemper with in ears for all my function work. In my opinion it sounds the best of the lot for amp tones.

    Axe Fx is great also, best effects but a pain to program. 

    Helix is good too, amp models not quite up there in my opinion. Effects are great too, works well with an amp. Mine died on me after 5 months so I wouldn't trust one now.


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  • RandallFlaggRandallFlagg Frets: 3653
    edited January 11
    I use a Kemper with in ears for all my function work. In my opinion it sounds the best of the lot for amp tones.

    Axe Fx is great also, best effects but a pain to program. 

    Helix is good too, amp models not quite up there in my opinion. Effects are great too, works well with an amp. Mine died on me after 5 months so I wouldn't trust one now.


    Agree that the Axe is a pain to program. 

    Did you try 3rd party IRs with your Helix? It's early days for me and I like what I'm hearing but have read that many people find the stock cabs not quite as good as 3rd party and using them appear to help the Helix amps sound better.

    That's concerning about your Helix dying, what happened?
    "King for a day, fool for a lifetime”
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  • If I had the money to do so and could sell fast, I'd sell my amp and all but a couple of special pedals and trade up to a helix and a small solid state amp for it - frfr? 

    It is a solution - such that it almost doesn't matter whether it sounds as good as "x" or not because it solves such a wide variety of problems. It would allow me to be a very happy bedroom tweaker and gig thousands should the need arise (which it wouldn't). 

    I'd need to keep some stomp boxes though, such as the digitech bass synth wah. 
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  • Agree that the Axe is a pain to program. 

    Did you try 3rd party IRs with your Helix? It's early days for me and I like what I'm hearing but have read that many people find the stock cabs not quite as good as 3rd party and using them appear to help the Helix amps sound better.

    That's concerning about your Helix dying, what happened?
    Yeah, I had a bunch of IR's I used, didn't like the built in cabs at all. Don't get me wrong it was pretty good but I thought the Kemper and Axe are another step up as far as amp modelling goes.

    My Helix developed a nasty distortion, had to send it back for repair and was told it'd be 4-6 weeks for the part to come in. Managed to get a replacement off the retailer after a bit of back and forth but sold it straight after as I didn't really trust using it after that, especially with so many gigs lined up.
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  • Actually, interesting helix based question - can you run two instruments in at once in separate chains, out into two amps? For example, a bass and a guitar? 

    Need not be amazing for it, just for home noodling with friends and such. That would make it even more incredible. 
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9123
    Actually, interesting helix based question - can you run two instruments in at once in separate chains, out into two amps? For example, a bass and a guitar? 

    Need not be amazing for it, just for home noodling with friends and such. That would make it even more incredible. 
    Yes.

    Some teachers do that. Guitar in the front, 2nd instrument into the Aux in on the back. Set the paths up separately.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9123
    I replaced my guitar set up with the Helix.
    I love it. It's got every sound I want. 
    I happen to like the internal cab models, but they do need more tweaking than a non-tweakable imported IR.

    The Helix hasn't fully replaced my bass rig yet, but if / when the specific bass drives appear then it is most likely. At the moment I use the loops to insert my traditional bass drives and synth into the chain wherever I want them.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1261
    I've been using an Axe FX for seven years. That's before Kemper, and long before the current wave of floor based devices. I go straight to PA, and use a Matrix Q12 for acoustic coupling with the guitar. That way I can use IEMs or not depending on the venue.

    For what I do, which is mainly clean or light overdrive plus FX, it has been very easy to set up. Initially I bought it because my GT-8 was getting flaky. The amps simulations were a bonus. The acoustic simulation is a big bonus. So I watch with interest all the talk about it being difficult to simulate xyz amp sound. I guess they are searching for something that I don't need.

    Yes, there are a lot more options to the settings, but you don't have to use them.  For a function band I use five presets. These cover five different overdrive and EQ settings of the same amp, plus a Santana type sound and an acoustic simulation.

    The Kemper uses a different approach to amp modelling. Some people prefer it, some don't. Most I've spoken to agree that the FX aren't as good as the Axe FX.

    If I were buying now then I'd probably go for the Helix. Although the sounds aren't up to the Axe FX quality they are good enough for my needs.
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  • ThorpyFXThorpyFX Frets: 3341
    I bought a HELIX to try and stop me buying all the amps in the world ever. With regards amps, I love the different feel, gain structure and curiosity often gets the better of me and i end up impulse buying or building which is daft as they are such large items compared to pedals. Anyway the Kemper gets very close towards  the response of a real amp and sounds great, where it struggles is the feel and immersion that a real map can give you.

    For me, I still prefer real amps, real pedals and I don't think that'll change, but I cant deny, the Kemper is a stunning bit of kit.
    Adrian Thorpe MBE | Owner of ThorpyFx Ltd | Email: thorpy@thorpyfx.com | Twitter: @ThorpyFx | Facebook: ThorpyFx Ltd | Website: www.thorpyfx.com
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  • TeetonetalTeetonetal Frets: 4501
    edited January 11
    Actually, interesting helix based question - can you run two instruments in at once in separate chains, out into two amps? For example, a bass and a guitar? 

    Need not be amazing for it, just for home noodling with friends and such. That would make it even more incredible. 
    Yes.

    Some teachers do that. Guitar in the front, 2nd instrument into the Aux in on the back. Set the paths up separately.
    I do exactly that when teaching
    I also use it for acoustic gigs with my guitar and vocals (mic in) both running through helix on separate paths.

    If you wanted you could setup 4 paths using AUX in, Mic in, Fx1 in and Fx2 in. each having thier own signal chain.

    The only thing that worries me with helix is the shitty short warranty. 2 years is not long for a unit that cost so much.

    For a live rig I still us tubes and pedals. I just think it looks cooler :) Sound no longer an issue.
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  • I think the Helix is the ideal mix of easy to use and decent sounds at a good price.

    I personally do not find the Axe FX 2 difficult to dial in - if anything I feel the amp sounds are very satisfying just by adjusting the master volume for feel and then the gain/EQ as normal.  The AX8 looks even more straightforward (though has least flexibility comparatively).  I don't do much crazy stuff with effects, so maybe that's why I don't find it difficult.

    Regardless, the Helix has the nicest user interface and the tones are good enough.

    Like Roland I'm more than happy with my Axe FX setup though if buying now I'd probably find it harder to justify getting one over the Helix.  I have still found I preferred the Fractal modelling in blind tests, and when I've had .wavs of the Helix and compared them to the same amp model on the Fractal... I just feel it (and the Kemper) can do that 'tracks the note' low end weight, and I feel like the Helix is less dynamic in that region, on higher gain amps anyway.  For lower gain sounds I don't feel there's as much of a difference.
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  • menamestommenamestom Frets: 1769


    I'd like a Helix or similar one day, but not instead of an amp or pedals.  I can see pedal wise going to a nano board and 4 high quality analog drives but not getting rid of everything and going all in.  I think this new Headrush thing could be the start of things getting on my radar, price wise I could raise a good chunk by selling most of my board and 1 amp, wheras the Helix would be sell everything, pretty much, for something that does a whole lot more than I already have, but only does what I have already 'nearly as good'.

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  • longilongi Frets: 57
    edited January 11
    I use both modelling and regular amps, I can't see myself ever selling any of my amps off. I use amp modelling (AX3000G) for outdoor gigs and a hybrid setup (amp + GT-100 4cm) for regular gigs. I love having both around and I also have a AMT Pangea CP100 if I want to use an amp without a speaker at a gig with a dummy load. I'm a bit weird like that.

    I'm more interested in ditching the speaker than the amp or going full amp modelling.
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  • I think the Helix is the ideal mix of easy to use and decent sounds at a good price.

    I personally do not find the Axe FX 2 difficult to dial in - if anything I feel the amp sounds are very satisfying just by adjusting the master volume for feel and then the gain/EQ as normal.  The AX8 looks even more straightforward (though has least flexibility comparatively).  I don't do much crazy stuff with effects, so maybe that's why I don't find it difficult.

    Regardless, the Helix has the nicest user interface and the tones are good enough.

    Like Roland I'm more than happy with my Axe FX setup though if buying now I'd probably find it harder to justify getting one over the Helix.  I have still found I preferred the Fractal modelling in blind tests, and when I've had .wavs of the Helix and compared them to the same amp model on the Fractal... I just feel it (and the Kemper) can do that 'tracks the note' low end weight, and I feel like the Helix is less dynamic in that region, on higher gain amps anyway.  For lower gain sounds I don't feel there's as much of a difference.
    I agree about the Axe Fx 2 regarding amp tones, it is actually extremely easy to get a decent basic tone and basic effects etc. It just did my head in programming parallel paths, then programming the switching on the scenes and then balancing all the volumes etc, took a lot longer than on the Kemper or Helix, but there's no denying it's pretty powerful if you're willing to put the time in.
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  • PVO_DavePVO_Dave Frets: 1213
    Sold my Marshall TSL and went to a POD HD live setup with a Tech 21 Power Engine, I was quite happy with it, but it was far from perfect.

    Sold that and went down the Kemper route and haven't looked back. I'm not currently playing in a band, but when I was, I used an FRFR monitor in place of an amp (Yamaha DXR10) I also have the Kemper Remote (at the time I had to use a cheapo midi board). The amp sounds are amazing, I have bought a couple of MBritt packs and a couple of TopJimi packs too. 

    I think there will continue to be a big leap for Kemper in relation to the FX included, the new delays added are mind blowing, reverbs next is the current rumour :) 
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  • Actually, interesting helix based question - can you run two instruments in at once in separate chains, out into two amps? For example, a bass and a guitar? 

    Need not be amazing for it, just for home noodling with friends and such. That would make it even more incredible. 
    Yes.

    Some teachers do that. Guitar in the front, 2nd instrument into the Aux in on the back. Set the paths up separately.

    Awesome. 

    Now I just need to persuade the girlfriend that it's a good idea to go halves on it :D 

    What's that pig doing in the sky? 
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 188
    Really interesting thread. I'm looking at replacing my POD XT with something better, but I can't bring myself to drop over £1k on whatever that might be. I plan to check out a few different things at different prices - modelling amps (Katana, THR etc), small valve combos and some mid level modellers (e.g. Atomic Amplifire). Will report back once I have.
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  • Never understood the comments about afx being hard to program.  I've always found it the most intuitive piece of digital gear I've ever used.
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  • drwiddlydrwiddly Frets: 242
    I started out with a Pod in the late 90's but I was never really convinced by the sounds. Fast forward 10 years, I was running a Rocktron Voodu Valve, then a Prophecy (which I didn't like as much as the VV).

    Went back to amps and pedals for a bit and then tried a Digitech GSP1101. That was a revelation as a) the modelling section was very impressive and b) it worked brilliantly into an amp via 4CM. I got a good deal on an Axe FX Ultra which was a pig to program but, once dialled in, sounded great. I used the Ultra for a while with a Mesa 2:90 as my main gigging amp (I still use it in my small gig set up). 

    I then then bought a Kemper but it took me a long while to love it. The stock profiles were meh and it wasn't until I bought some commercial profiles that I began to realise the potential. I then got the chance to buy a used Axe 2 in great condition for a very good price so I did. It was superior to the Ultra and much easier to program so I now alternate between the Kemper and the Axe 2 for normal gigs and recording, with the Ultra and GSP into the fx return of a 1x12 valve combo for small gigs/or cramped stages.

    I still have a couple of real amps and a few pedals but they don't get gigged. I don't find the digital gear any harder to dial in than an amp and pedalboard and I'm perfectly happy with the sounds I'm getting. I prefer to use a power amp and guitar cabs on stage with a feed to the P.A. I've tried FRFR briefly but I'm not convinced (I am in my 60's and have been doing this for over 40 years now and I like to hear an amp behind me!)

    Not tried a Helix (I think I have enough gear already!) but they do look impressive.
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  • John_PJohn_P Frets: 1374
    Never understood the comments about afx being hard to program.  I've always found it the most intuitive piece of digital gear I've ever used.
    I'd pretty much agree with that, especially using the pic editor.   Amplifire is easy to use that way as well (not so easy using the front panel).       

    All have there place,  I still have a bunch of big old amps that sometimes get used live but most weeks I use a modeller into an frfr cab as it's quick to set up and takes up less space and I can have a consistent sound.  
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  • wattingwatting Frets: 2
    Last year I bought a Line6 Firehawk to save having to take my amp head and pedal board to rehearsals.  To my unrefined ears the sounds are good enough, and the phone app editor is easy to use.  The problem I always have is option paralysis - there are simply too many amp models and effects for me to choose from.  I end up spending all my time fiddling with sounds, not enough time playing.  In that way I much prefer to have one amp and a handful of pedals.

    The advantage of anything like that is that it does everything - silent home practice through headphones, recording via the USB interface and rehearsals/gigs.
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  • VoxmanVoxman Frets: 1656
    edited January 12
    longi said:
    I use both modelling and regular amps, I can't see myself ever selling any of my amps off. I use amp modelling (AX3000G) for outdoor gigs and a hybrid setup (amp + GT-100 4cm) for regular gigs. I love having both around and I also have a AMT Pangea CP100 if I want to use an amp without a speaker at a gig with a dummy load. I'm a bit weird like that.

    I'm more interested in ditching the speaker than the amp or going full amp modelling.
    I'm the same.  I have 6 amps (1 modelling/valve hybrid, 3 all-valve, 1 solid-state/valve hybrid, and a little all-digital Vox Mini-3), a conventional pedal board, and 3 x MFX units (All Vox Tonelabs TLSE/TLLE/TLST).  Currently, I'm just using the TLSE with my band - for band practice plugged into the rehearsal room amp (Marshall Valve head/4x12 cab), and for gigging going direct through the PA.  

    At home I mainly use one of the amps, and for late night practice I use the headphone out of my Valvetronix AD120VTX.   
    I started out with nothing..... but I've still got most of it left (Seasick Steve)
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 4166
    edited January 12
    for teaching one student where I visit - I simply use a mini Kokko Booster with an external pp3 battery clip into a pair of PC speakers only!

    http://i63.tinypic.com/2evpvfm.jpg
                                                                                           (and yes it does have glow-in-the-dark dial markers!)




    <Vintage BOSS Upgrades>
    __________________________________
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3185
    Never understood the comments about afx being hard to program.  I've always found it the most intuitive piece of digital gear I've ever used.
    Sometimes, in the heat of the moment on a dark stage with loud music blasting through the PA and the nerves of a man about to play a set of his own music, I'd find an MXR micro amp hard to program.
    Captain Horizon (my band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • DrJazzTapDrJazzTap Frets: 720
    I I know it's not in the same ball park, but I did try out a Yamaha THR100 dual head a few weeks back. And that was very impressive. The overdrive and distorted sounds are very good. If I was thinking about buying one, I'd go back and test it with my guitar.
    I would love to change my username, but I fully understand the T&C's (it was an old band nickname). So please feel free to call me Dave.
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  • gearaddictgearaddict Frets: 387
    I have been thinking along these lines too. Our singer has had some health issues so we haven't gigged in a year and having 100w valve amps is just a bit overkill. I started to seriously think about it when I saw the Chappers vid where they couldn't identify the Kemper - to be honest, it would just be really cool to play through a load of classic amps without having to buy them all :) But 2K+ (with a foot controller) is a lot of cash for just a bit of fun.

    I have a bit of a tendency to try and get on with modelling / multi-fx and failing. Mainly due to option paralysis rather than anything to do with sound quality but it doesn't stop me wanting to try it again from time to time.

    In theory, I shouldn't need many pedals anyway since I have a H&K Switchblade which allows you to store patches with effects and sounds plenty good enough for my purposes. But I always seem to end up with an ever-expending pedalboard nevertheless. :)

    I am quite interested in the Digitech unit (the GSP1101 mentioned above) as that always gets good comments and is pretty cheap these days. I could run that straight into my Orange TH-30 clean channel which is pristine clean up to brain bursting volumes so should work well for that...I think if I went for one of the current crop it would probably be the helix mainly due to ease of use and price. It sounded pretty good on the Ola Englund comparison videos (which are worth checking out, if you haven't already).

    I assume the old POD 'feature' of a big pause between patches when you switch has been removed on the Helix? I had a PODxt for a bit and that was annoying.


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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9123
    I have been thinking along these lines too. Our singer has had some health issues so we haven't gigged in a year and having 100w valve amps is just a bit overkill. I started to seriously think about it when I saw the Chappers vid where they couldn't identify the Kemper - to be honest, it would just be really cool to play through a load of classic amps without having to buy them all :) But 2K+ (with a foot controller) is a lot of cash for just a bit of fun.

    I have a bit of a tendency to try and get on with modelling / multi-fx and failing. Mainly due to option paralysis rather than anything to do with sound quality but it doesn't stop me wanting to try it again from time to time.

    In theory, I shouldn't need many pedals anyway since I have a H&K Switchblade which allows you to store patches with effects and sounds plenty good enough for my purposes. But I always seem to end up with an ever-expending pedalboard nevertheless. :)

    I am quite interested in the Digitech unit (the GSP1101 mentioned above) as that always gets good comments and is pretty cheap these days. I could run that straight into my Orange TH-30 clean channel which is pristine clean up to brain bursting volumes so should work well for that...I think if I went for one of the current crop it would probably be the helix mainly due to ease of use and price. It sounded pretty good on the Ola Englund comparison videos (which are worth checking out, if you haven't already).

    I assume the old POD 'feature' of a big pause between patches when you switch has been removed on the Helix? I had a PODxt for a bit and that was annoying.


    If you load a total new patch then there is a pause.

    But instead you use Snapshots which is a single button recall of different settings within a patch. That is seamless.
    So as an example I have

    Snapshot 1: Fender  amp set clean, touch of chorus and reverb

    Snapshot 2: Dual Rec,, gain on about 5, bit of mid scooping

    Snapshot 3: Dual Rec, but this time with the gain on 8, higher mids, also turns on a short delay for thickening and a tubescreamer. All with 1 press.

    The Snapshot remembers the exact settings you are playing with. So set it up and save it. Then do No2 etc.

    You can squeeze 3 amp models into 1 patch if you use both signal paths and don't over do it on the FX that need a load of DSP power.
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  • very interesting. 

    I'm going to defiantly have a play and see how the helix feels under the fingers. On the videos i have seen it sounds very amp like. 

    The most important thing is does it inspire me, does it make me play in a certain (good way)

    I really don't think people in the crowd would notice the difference its just how the player feels. 

    I do love a good valve amp like most people. Something magical about it, so to be converted will be hard despite the practicalities. 


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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 3094
    Try the Fractal FX8/AX8 - it can replace every pedal Ive owned virtually
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