Fractal vs. Helix: The comparison series (Made by yours truly!)

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Mitch Baker, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. clintmartin

    clintmartin Member

    Messages:
    2,515
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Location:
    Arkansas
    These are very good, and informative videos. Great job Mitch!
    Hopefully Line 6 will improve the cab blocks by adding a second mic and a horizontal adjustment.
    cap, cap edge, cone, and cone edge should do, but the second mic would be huge.
    Currently by using two mono cabs in parallel you can get close, but for now IRs provide the best solution.
    To avoid the preset delay I like to use a clean amp and dirty amp in the same patch, and four mono cabs use too much dsp.
     
    mbenigni likes this.
  2. trower

    trower Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,242
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    Calif. Bay Area
    Some of the earlier points you related on the Fractal vs the Helix such as ports not needed and the larger amount of amps, not to mention (for me) physical size give the Fractal the edge...and since our ears can be trained/fooled to what's sounding right, I'd go with the Fractal myself.
     
  3. Phnurt

    Phnurt Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,641
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Location:
    Grove, OK
    Watched the first vid so far. Really thorough and well thought out! I'm a Helix guy myself and even though I like a couple of the AX8 models better than their Helix counterparts in your comparison, I have no desire to switch "sides". :) I agree for the most part with your closing statements too, but something I'd really like to see in this comparison series would be a UI shootout if you can manage.

    Slight differences aside, I believe either of these units can be tweaked to sound nearly identical to the other (except maybe the Vox, I really liked the AX8 model much better) so the main deciding factor could come down to physical features.

    And THANK YOU for your chord work! So many "demo" recordings only use twiddling single note runs. You really can't get a sense of how an amp or modeled amp or effect pedal etc. sounds with a blistering solo. Only chords will do, and you do it well.

    Excellent vid!
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  4. MIJLOVER

    MIJLOVER Member

    Messages:
    1,935
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2013
    Exactly this. I think a lot of people think of the plexi / JCM / sound rather than the JTM sound, when they think of a Marshall, but they're not supposed to be the same. When I have time I'll have to mess with that model again.

    Another thing to remember regarding this shoutout is that since Mitch is keeping the eq noon, you don't really get a clear picture of what each amp model CAN sound like, only what it sounds like if you set the control like that, and how they differ from each other when set that way. For comparison reasons that makes sense, but I hope that it's clear that you can tweak from there and get more or less brightness, bass and mid and so on. Helix amps models don't start with the controls at 5, but with some predefined setting that works better as a starting point (imo).

    I agree with the others who think this is a great comparison series. Keep up the good work, Mitch!
     
  5. onwingsoflead

    onwingsoflead Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsboro, NC
    Exactly. JTM needs treble and mid practically dimed
     
    Phnurt likes this.
  6. cliffc8488

    cliffc8488 Member

    Messages:
    1,037
    Joined:
    May 13, 2006
    Depends on the particular model and which channel you plug into.

    Our model is based on Channel 2 which is the bright channel. Also our reference amp has a 100 pF bright cap. Many JTM45s did not but I think they sound better with one. A JTM45 with a bright cap is similar to a Superlead.

    There are no absolutes when it comes to Marshalls. I have three Plexis and they are all different. Sometimes they'll have cathode bias caps, sometimes not. My best sounding (IMO) Plexi has 82K grid bias resistors on the power tubes as opposed to the usual 220K. This raises the corner frequency considerably. Sometimes they have 100 pF bright caps, sometimes 1000 pF, and sometimes 5000 pF.

    If you want the Channel 1 sound with an Axe-Fx use the Brit JM45 Jump model and turn the Treble Drive knob all the way down.
     
    Geiri, japanmoran, Cgkindler and 12 others like this.
  7. BjarneDa

    BjarneDa Member

    Messages:
    430
    Joined:
    May 7, 2016

    No not really
    Helix win over AX8 on a few models
    So AX8 isnt really that a winner tonewise to my ears as you say but you are a fanboy and will never admit that :)
    It all depends on what music genres you play
    AX8 is way better on very high gain amp models like Mesa and 5150,Engl and on a very few low gain models like the AC15.
    On some clean amps in Mitch videos Helix sounds better to my ears than Ax8 as Ax8 sounds dark and lifeless and muddy on some clean amp that is also in Helix.
    But you need to use IR not Helix stock cabs
     
  8. onwingsoflead

    onwingsoflead Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsboro, NC
    Cliff nailed it. Early Marshalls are kind of all over the place in terms of components. In general JTMs are dark, but especially as you get further into production things like bright caps start to change things. In other words, Fractal and Line 6 probably nailed the tones of whatever ones they had. All of the ones I've played were along the lines of the Helix model. But I do remember running across one with a bright cap that was super bright and clangy, especially with a Tele.
     
  9. BjarneDa

    BjarneDa Member

    Messages:
    430
    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    For what i remember reading back then that was the the biggest reason that Eddie make 5150 with Peavey he wanted to go in to a store anywhere on earth and pick up a 5150 and they would all sound the same..
    That wasnt the case with Marshall.
    I dont know if they did sound the same.
    I have only played on 3 5150 over the years but to my ears they where more close to eachother tonewise than when i compared a Marshall to another Marshall of the same model
    Marshall is more like guitars you can play 10 strats and they all have their own unique character.
     
    LordByron and mbenigni like this.
  10. BjarneDa

    BjarneDa Member

    Messages:
    430
    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    I would really like them to go for a bunch of well capture professional IR instead made by some pro companys only for Helix amp models.
    I dont think hybrid IR,s gonna sound equally good as a well captured IR.
    Then you should of course have the ability to add your own IR,s as a complement.
     
  11. clintmartin

    clintmartin Member

    Messages:
    2,515
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Plenty of tools in the Helix to get the stock cabs to sound great...You're just limited to one mic.
    I prefer to use the Ownhammer Scott P mixes, which I believe uses 3 mics (correct me if I'm wrong).
    I haven't tried my 3 Sigma or Redwirez Irs yet, but I'm sure good tones can be had with any option.
    I'm loving the Helix, but I'm sure the AX8 is great too. S-Gear can hang with both.
     
    CreamTele2 and Phnurt like this.
  12. Willowdale

    Willowdale Member

    Messages:
    1,763
    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2010
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale & Miami Beach
    Having all dials at noon & then folks trying to make up their minds on the strengths/weaknesses of a modelers amp models is ridiculous......

    There is nothing that one can get from this that means anything:dunno
     
  13. Phnurt

    Phnurt Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,641
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Location:
    Grove, OK
    Having watched all three vids now I have to admit the cab shootout was kinda useless. And I had to fire up the Helix and bring up the two vox models to ease my worried mind. ;) With a simple twist of a few knobs (maybe 10 seconds of "work") they sounded waaaaaay better than the example above.

    Sorry Mitch. I know ya meant well but this comparison just doesn't reflect the reality of these two fine units.
     
    Lisa K. and clintmartin like this.
  14. nicolasrivera

    nicolasrivera Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,317
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Location:
    Honduras
    Many real amps don't sound as amazing as you believe them to sound in recordings, many things happen to the captured sound once in the hands of producers and mixing engineers.

    I hear Fractal amps sounding just like the real ones before anything happens to the sound, many of Helix amp tones sound like some kind of polishing has started to happen to the sound, this is not saying they sound ad or unreal, just more processed.
     
    Geiri and mojah like this.
  15. orogeny

    orogeny Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,394
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Yardville, NJ
    requests?
    throw in some watery univibe and an envelope filter if there is one
    those are two pedals on my board i don't think can be replaced by an ax8
    i'd love to be proven wrong
    honestly, with the state of things, i could sell my tru tron and megavibe and be most of the way to an ax8. throw in the timeline and i'd be all the way home. . .
     
  16. MIJLOVER

    MIJLOVER Member

    Messages:
    1,935
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2013
    Well this is the point I tried to avoid making, because I do not want to take anyway from Mitch and his efforts to compare the two units, but maybe down the line the series could include some examples of dialed in sounds between the two? I don't want to pretend I know how this could've been done instead, and I do believe you get a sense of what the differences are between the units, not only from the sounds but also from what Mitch thinks of them.

    It's all good :)
     
    LordByron, Frank Ritchotte and Phnurt like this.
  17. MIJLOVER

    MIJLOVER Member

    Messages:
    1,935
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2013
    Well, that was new :confused:

    I was of the impression that some people didn't like raw, fizzy, untamed nature of the Helix, and that Fractal was more polished, but whatever. I think they both sound great and real (as if that word hadn't lost it's meaning ages ago)o_O
     
  18. stratamania

    stratamania Member

    Messages:
    3,029
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    Location:
    UK and Europe
    4CM would still give the opportunity to focus on effects. You could do all effects into the front of the amp or 4CM to put time based effects into the loop. 4CM does not mean amp models are used.

    In fact 4CM on both units is a valid comparison with FX into the front of the amp and in the loop, for things such as transparency, ground hum or lack of it etc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
    LordByron, Donn Rowe and Phnurt like this.
  19. Mitch Baker

    Mitch Baker Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    The reason I'm not doing "dialed in" comparisons is because that's where my subjective tonal preferences get introduced, and that's not the point of this series. The point is to show you the differences between the units when they're set to do the same thing at the same settings; no more, no less. Whether or not that is helpful to you is your opinion. I'm not pretending like this series is going to answer everyone's curiosities about these units. OBVIOUSLY you can dial things in to suit your tastes, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take into account how their basic starting points sound and what each unit gives you to work with in the first place. In my opinion, this sort of thing is much more helpful than any other type of comparison, which is why I'm making them. If you don't like the tones I've produced so far, that's perfectly fine. Besides a couple, I don't like them either. But that's not the point. Unless you think I'm doing a bad job at doing what I'm actually trying to do, I'm not "misrepresenting" your chosen unit or whatever. It just doesn't sound the way you want it to at basic settings, which is totally fine.

    I'm considering doing a "less subjective" direct amp+cab comparison where I make things sound the way I like them to in the future, since I've now had quite a few people ask for that. I didn't start with that since I was worried I would have even more people angry at me for not dialing things in to sound the way they like, so I started off with the most non-subjective thing I could imagine. Thing is, it sometimes only takes a couple listens to realize I hate a certain tone I've recorded, which is what I'd be afraid of there. Not to mention I haven't developed much of a reputation on YouTube as some others have (like Ola, Fluff, Pete Thorn, Chappers, etc.) so no one has any real reason to trust where my tastes take me. That's really not meant to be self-deprecating, I just know I would have no reason to trust what some kid named "Mitch Baker" likes if I were in someone else's shoes haha. It's different when I'm giving my opinions on the function of a unit, since I can back that up with actual evidence, but when it comes to tones, the only supporting evidence I really have is "sounds good to me" if that makes any sense.
     
  20. Phnurt

    Phnurt Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,641
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Location:
    Grove, OK
    It would be nearly impossible to use proper scientific method on something as subjective as guitar tone but maybe you could try really pitting the two units against each other head to head.

    Dial up an amp on one unit and tweak it so it sounds the best it can TO YOU. And then try to match it as closely as you can with the same amp on the other unit. Then reverse the process.

    This might at least show which unit is easier to dial in the "tone in your head" with. And could reveal functional pros/cons and the inherent tonal "signatures" of each unit. Just thinking out loud.:)
     
    stratamania likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice