Another "which modeler is right for me" thread

atallen

Member
Messages
786
I am looking to get into a modeling rig and having a very tough time deciding which route I want to take. I've always been leaning towards the Torpedo CAB, but lately have been wondering if the Kemper or Helix would be a better option for me. My only real experience with any sort of modeling equipment was the Roland V-Bass about 15 years ago.

I have a newborn at home, and my music room is directly below his bedroom, so the vast majority of my playing at home will be with headphones. That said, I still want the full high-quality rig experience, not something like a little output-jack headphone amp. I'm used to vintage amps and want to still feel like I'm using those amps.

The main sounds I'm looking for are Fender blackface and tweed tones, JTM-style Marshall, and the odd Hiwatt or Ampeg crunch here and there (think Faces-era Ron Wood).

I'm leaning towards the CAB for a few reasons: I already have a few preamp pedals that I like and do enjoy the tactile sensation of physical equipment, looks to be very easy to move between settings (especially with a midi controller), power amp/cab simulation only, small size.

I'm starting to lean more towards the Helix/Kemper for a few reasons: full modeling (preamp included), onboard effects that seem to be of high quality, reasonably plug-and-play - massive tweaking not required, still relatively small.

Cost isn't really a factor. Even if I go to the CAB route, I'll still plan on picking up a few more stompboxes that will ultimately end up costing about the same as going all-inclusive with the Helix/Kemper.

Please, sell me on one of these three units and end my indecisiveness!
 

-Empire

Member
Messages
5,975
Modelers have advanced to the point where the limit on the quality of tones you can get is your ability to hear and dial in what you want, not the quality of the modeling in the units themselves. They're all excellent. So pick the one that has the features you like best and go for it. I opted for helix for the standard features it has that the others don't: built in expression pedal, audio interface, scribble strips, etc. Just as easily could have gone with AX8 though. Switched from a kemper for the convenience of all-in-one.

Broken record: Modelers recreate the sound coming from a mic in front of a cab (i.e. what the audience hears through FOH), not a cranked tube amp in the room with you at 115db. So if you're not used to monitoring mic'd amps with headphones, you're probably in for a disappointment unless you are willing to adjust your expectations in the same way you'd have to if you started isolating and micing up your amps, and monitoring them with headphones.

Some videos to demonstrate what I'm talking about:

 
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JerEvil

Vendor
Messages
4,697
I would not recommend the Helix for anything above crunch tones. I have yet to hear a mid to high gain tone the I liked personally. Kemper is great as is the AX8. I owned the Kemper for 2+ years and recently switched to the AX8. Can't go wrong with either for what you are looking to do.
 

Hackdog69

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,055
I would not recommend the Helix for anything above crunch tones. I have yet to hear a mid to high gain tone the I liked personally

Did you even read his post????

The main sounds I'm looking for are Fender blackface and tweed tones, JTM-style Marshall, and the odd Hiwatt or Ampeg crunch here and there (think Faces-era Ron Wood).

Many of us own multiple modelers and have software on our DAW's... any of the big 3 can get pretty much any sound you need or would like...

there are more things to consider, the UI on the unit, output options ( headphone, multiple outs, routing ) and size of the unit...
I would really put some time into thinking about those issues as well.. there are so many demo's comparing the Helix and Fractal units you could spend days watching them. I own both and like them equally for what they bring to the table

good luck!
 

KenG

Member
Messages
1,510
If you don't have amps to profile then you'll be stuck with whatever you can find (free or purchase) for the Kemper. That may not be a big deal but you'd never use the "profiling" function on the amp you paid for.
 

mikah912

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,963
If you're looking for that type of tone in Helix....



Don't be put off by the "Dumble" title. That's the Litigator amp model, and it's versatile enough to cover a LOT of classic territory.
 

JerEvil

Vendor
Messages
4,697
Did you even read his post????



Many of us own multiple modelers and have software on our DAW's... any of the big 3 can get pretty much any sound you need or would like...

there are more things to consider, the UI on the unit, output options ( headphone, multiple outs, routing ) and size of the unit...
I would really put some time into thinking about those issues as well.. there are so many demo's comparing the Helix and Fractal units you could spend days watching them. I own both and like them equally for what they bring to the table

good luck!
Yes! Did you even read mine??? Just because he listed those particular amps doesn't mean he is NOT EVER going to be interested in higher gain tones... Good Lord!
 

TJontheRoad

Just Wanna Be Misunderstood
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
9,781
I'd start with S-Gear first to see if you like the whole idea of playing under the hood (headphones) with modeling. That is just because it's cheap and you can download a demo to try out. This is not on your radar per your post but highly suggested before going down the modeling rabbit hole.
 

ColdFrixion

Member
Messages
5,736
If amp tones are your primary focus, then the Kemper is second to none, in my opinion. If you value amp tones and effects equally, you may be better off with the AX8 or Helix. Don't get me wrong, the Kemper's effects aren't bad by any stretch. They're just not on par with the AX8. However, the Kemper's the most plug and play of the lot, in my opinion.
 

mikah912

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,963
Yes! Did you even read mine??? Just because he listed those particular amps doesn't mean he is NOT EVER going to be interested in higher gain tones... Good Lord!

But that's the first two sentences you led with....?

Which is interesting, given that you are judging it on clips rather than firsthand ownership. In any case, Teramaze.tv, Guitarjon and plenty of others have created widely praised high gain clips with Helix.
 

JiveTurkey

Trumpets and Tants
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25,707
I don't use it and have more great profiles than I know what to do with. If you own amps, awesome, profile them. If not, it's not a big deal, in my opinion.
Really just wrapping your mind around a different sort of thought process is all it takes. Onboard buttons for pretty much everything without having to dive 16 sub-menus deep is an excellent bonus as well.
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,328
Cheap and works well, Boss GT-1, if you need an amp to take to gigs, Boss Katana, if you want full flexibility Fractal AX8, if you are a touring guitar player Fractal AXE, if you already have a DAW and mostly do recording, get Logic and/or various guitar amp/cab sim plug-ins, those are my recommendations.
 

JiveTurkey

Trumpets and Tants
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25,707
With so many great profiles to choose from, I rarely feel the need to do much tweaking.
I find myself just copying my standard effects from one profile to another at the very most. That's the most of my tweaking time. Other than trying new profiles :D Really easy to work with.
 

JiveTurkey

Trumpets and Tants
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25,707
Helix clips that guys post up here sound fantastic. @Tito83 , @3dognate , @PearlyGates . All fantastic. Guitarjon gets a pass because duh! It's the IRL Helix experience that left me cold. I think you wouldn't be hurting anything by giving it a try. Only you are going to know what workflow and device work best for you.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,211
I am looking to get into a modeling rig and having a very tough time deciding which route I want to take. I've always been leaning towards the Torpedo CAB, but lately have been wondering if the Kemper or Helix would be a better option for me. My only real experience with any sort of modeling equipment was the Roland V-Bass about 15 years ago.

Thanks for starting a new thread, I forgot about your old one. Thanks for the info as well, hopefully we can give some good recommendations!

First off, congrats! Second, I've got two little kids and I was never super concerned about them hearing noises while sleeping. They will get used to it and adjust. If your walls aren't paper thin and the kid can sleep with TV volume levels, you might want to explore a pair of small studio monitors. That will get you out of headphones at least occasionally.

It sounds like you don't want to be tied to a computer, and it also sounds like you need a headphone jack at least occasionally. That would rule out software sims (Scuffham, Bias, Amplifire, etc) and some hardware units (Amplifire, AX8).

Honestly, the first unit I would explore would be the Helix for a number of reasons.

The big thing is that you don't need a computer to set up your patches and it's very easy to use. It's also very flexible, so you can add all your pedals to it and use that when you want, or just use the models on the amp, or combine them. And you can go out to headphones, a PA system, a guitar amp, whatever you want.

The other big thing is that it's easy to find with a great return policy. GC gives 45 days, so you can give it a long test drive without worrying about buyers remorse. You can also sometimes find coupons and discounts.

Even though you can integrate your pedals, I'd give it an honest shot to do all your modeling first. It's got the JTM 45, Plexis, Tweed and BF Fenders, a Hiwatt, and some other similar style boutique amps. The upshot is that you can plug the Helix into the wall, plug in headphones, plug in your guitar, and that's it.

Situations I'd recommend other gear...

If you're extremely picky about having the absolute best amp modeling in the world and don't really care about effects and routing options, I'd look at the Kemper. You're going to have to spend a lot more to get a foot controller though, and it's going to have to live on a table or desk or shelf.

If you want a lot more amp and effects models with more of a polished and mature modeling approach, look at the Fractal stuff. I prefer the sound through monitors compared to the Helix as it seems a little more natural and smooth to me. I like the mid gain sounds more. But you're giving up the great screen interface and headphones with the AX8. You'd have to use a computer and possibly an external interface to do headphones.

If you just want to have a pedalboard and not deal with modelers, check out the Torpedo CAB. I don't know what the midi integration is like...maybe you just pick one cab and stick with it. Otherwise you need an external controller. But that whole setup could be great if you just want to use pedals.
 

JerEvil

Vendor
Messages
4,697
But that's the first two sentences you led with....?

Which is interesting, given that you are judging it on clips rather than firsthand ownership. In any case, Teramaze.tv, Guitarjon and plenty of others have created widely praised high gain clips with Helix.
That's ok. I judge the Amplifire the same way. I have yet to hear a high gain clip that compelled me to try it in person. From people I know and trust from a gear usage and tone perspective, I made a judgment that I am comfortable with. I know MORE than a handful of people that own all 3 who's opinions on tone I respect, as I said. That, coupled with full mix and YouTube bedroom clips have told me neither the AF or Helix would never get my vote.

People are welcome to make their own choice just as I am free to give my opinion. It's not like I am pulling a @nicolasrivera (that was sarcasm by the way... :))
 




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