Austin...you should already have a handle on the axefx2 vs the amplifire. I cannot afford all 3 like some here so we value opinions on the differences in amp tones/feel and effects. From what i have gathered from the internet the fractal has alot more amp models stock and more effects then the amplifire. the amplifire seems to have basic but good effects inside and in competition with the hd500x price wise is to most better sounding and has a more realistic feel.Since I have an Amplifire and will be getting a Helix and an AX8, I could theoretically do that if it weren't for the "all tweaked by someone who knows what they are doing" requirement . And anyway, I'm too lazy. I'll just pick the one (or 2) I want, move the rest and maybe post about why (or maybe not). Given that all these things have return windows, anyone sufficiently motivated could do something similar.
The other issue is the learning curve for the units. I mean, I had an Axe FX 2 for years, so I'll be able to get my sounds (which shouldn't be confused with "good" sounds ) out of the AX8 immediately. I've had an Amplifire for a month or so and I'm still learning my way around it. Who knows how long the Helix might take? And hearing a recording that make them sound comparable still doesn't mean you'll be able to dial them in to your satisfaction.
the helix from what i have seen and heard online is the leader in interface-amount of unique effects and hookup options. Again many of the tones from the helix i have heard have been ok to decent and some say it aint no pod-in that it is the next gen of modeling for line 6 so it "should" sound alot better at 3-4(for used)x the price of the hd500...but the interesting thing is at amplifires pricepoint(2-2.5x less then helix) i wonder how the amps sound in comparison because i know line6 effects are more versatile and plentiful as well as the interface more elaborate and hookup options more plentiful...
Enter the ax8- 1399 giving helix a run for the money and at 2x the amplifire seems competative.
Oh no 2 amps at same time or 4 amp paths and no 4 send and returns...but 216 amps-14 minute looper and
? likely great basic effects and as stated the same engine as the axfx2. so these are exciting times.
I also know it comes down to more then just prices but as someone who can only get 1 unit for now bang for the buck is important. I have never looked at Fractal untill now due to the very high price so this really throws me for a loop.