Helix vs FX8 - Effects Only

Tone Jones

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
140
In the threads I've scrubbed, it looks like Helix has the edge for UI/ease of use. It also appears Helix's effects may have some "character" pre-baked into them where Fractal starts out pristine with the ability to dirty them up (albeit with some deep-diving).

For those of you who have done side by side comparisons, from an effects-only perspective, can the Helix also get as pristine as the FX8? Also curious how the shimmer and crystals effects compares between the two.
 

gtr37

Senior Member
Messages
7,505
My personal opinion

The pedal effects drives
Like OCD , superOd MxrFlanger Boss chorus etc
I prefer in the Helix they sound a bit more analog and warmer to my ear and are more limited in controls so it's easier to approximate the real pedals
They are also a bit noisier

If you are looking for rack style delays big dense verbs
Shimmer and crystals with pristine quality Fractal wins that one
Not that line6 delays are bad
Many may prefer them
But for special fx and. Pristine quality and depth of parameters that can be tweaked Fractal is stronger there
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
11,326
In the threads I've scrubbed, it looks like Helix has the edge for UI/ease of use. It also appears Helix's effects may have some "character" pre-baked into them where Fractal starts out pristine with the ability to dirty them up (albeit with some deep-diving).

For those of you who have done side by side comparisons, from an effects-only perspective, can the Helix also get as pristine as the FX8? Also curious how the shimmer and crystals effects compares between the two.

OP: I think the challenge is that these discussions just degenerate into who likes which modeling manufacturer better. Based on your initial post I would be inclined to vote FX8. I think ultimately you really have to try them for yourself just like any two effect units.

I have had the Ultra and AX8 (briefly) and the Helix is my personal choice for a myriad of reasons. I tried mostly drives, reverbs, delays, modulation effects and just tried to find a great sounding version of things I like. I didn't mess with synth/filter effects because I just don't use them.

I give a clear edge to the Fractal for reverbs. They sounded much "richer" to my ears. Lots more models available and they all seem to share a phenomenal depth and image to the reverb effects...even in there "low-resolution" mode. And, like all Fractal gear, the level of control for tweaking/editing is unmatched.

The modulation, drives, delays - I found I preferred the Helix. I think that is definitely linked to the differences in the UI and ease of use.

I'm sure with more time I could have gotten phenomenal (and possibly better) results with the Fractal. But my tolerances for tweaking tones is limited. If I can't get something that sounds right to my ears fairly quickly I just move on to something that does. The Helix wins every time for me in that regard. I am able to very quickly find an effect, engage it with stock settings and it typically sounds just like I expect it to. The controls mirror what I am used to and I just tweak the basic parameters and move on. And most importantly for me, when I'm on a gig and need to make a quick tweak to the depth of the delay mix, etc. I find the Helix just so easy to operate that it doesn't distract me from playing.

I'll use this as an example: I had the Strymon Timeline, Brigadier and AnalogMan ARDX20 w/Amazeo. The Timeline I hated in real use...sounds absolutely phenomenal, easily on par with any top studio grade effects I've used. But all the tweaking and myraid of delay algorithms meant nothing to me practically. Brigadier was great and relatively simple to use. AnalogMan - wow, simple, warm and sounds great with no muss/fuss...only gripe was pedalboard real estate. I am as happy with the Helix delays (Adriatic Delay) as I was with the AnalogMan. I personally don't need 25 different delay algorithms with the ability to tweak every element of them. I can live with just one if it really works for me.

So that's basically been my Helix experience for the last year and a half using it with my tube amps as an effects unit. It's so simple to use that it makes it enjoyable and the tones are just stellar. By the way, I'd highly recommend considering the AX8 vs. the FX8. The option to use amp modeling in conjunction with a good amp is simply phenomenal and you have a built-in backup to the PA if your amp ever dies on the gig. I think hybrid rigs are the way to go as a starting point.

I'm going to do a more detailed write up after a few more gigs but I tried an entirely new rig setup for my gig last night (full digital models into a Crown poweramp feeding two 1x12 Boogie cabs. I was able to do that from the front panel of the Helix very quickly with zero issues. And for many of the effects I barely tweaked a parameter beyond some simple stuff like mix and enabling tap tempo. One great gig isn't enough for me to definitively conclude much but I will say that it was one of the best sounding guitar rigs I've ever used. And I own, and have used a lot of really great gear over the years and am really picky about what sounds good to me. First time in my entire experience where a fully digital signal path sounded equivalent/superior to my tube amps at full gig volumes.

Again, if you can afford the expense and time you really should try them both side by side. No amount of opinions are going to substitute for that.
 
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jageya

Senior Member
Messages
4,251
i posted on a diff thread but it may be cool to see a helix released without any amp modeling but with effects only??? in the same helix format with pedal/in-outs and nice gui and editor?? At a lot less pricepoint...
 

SteveO

Member
Messages
17,015
i posted on a diff thread but it may be cool to see a helix released without any amp modeling but with effects only??? in the same helix format with pedal/in-outs and nice gui and editor?? At a lot less pricepoint...

It would take a LOT more than simply omitting the amp models to drastically reduce the price point. Hardware would have to be changed out. Plastic or steel case, no scribble strips, no capacitive switches, only one processor, etc. Basically, it wouldn't be a Helix anymore.
 

jageya

Senior Member
Messages
4,251
It would take a LOT more than simply omitting the amp models to drastically reduce the price point. Hardware would have to be changed out. Plastic or steel case, no scribble strips, no capacitive switches, only one processor, etc. Basically, it wouldn't be a Helix anymore.
i like all the things you just omitted...lol....i mean to keep it all the same but remove the preamping and poweramping and speaker ir but keep the format the same cant be that hard? And would likely drop the helix in price i would think. But i am just guessing...and likely way off. It was just a thought to take away all the amp modeling- even lose the pedal(can add your own via jack) and shrink it in size. I mean isnt the amp modeling the crux of the helix pricepoint?
 

SteveO

Member
Messages
17,015
i like all the things you just omitted...lol....i mean to keep it all the same but remove the preamping and poweramping and speaker ir but keep the format the same cant be that hard? And would likely drop the helix in price i would think. But i am just guessing...and likely way off. It was just a thought to take away all the amp modeling- even lose the pedal(can add your own via jack) and shrink it in size. I mean isnt the amp modeling the crux of the helix pricepoint?

Digital Igloo has loosely broken the costs down in a few different threads, and simply withholding some of the software wouldn't have an appreciable impact on the price.
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
11,326
i like all the things you just omitted...lol....i mean to keep it all the same but remove the preamping and poweramping and speaker ir but keep the format the same cant be that hard? And would likely drop the helix in price i would think. But i am just guessing...and likely way off. It was just a thought to take away all the amp modeling- even lose the pedal(can add your own via jack) and shrink it in size. I mean isnt the amp modeling the crux of the helix pricepoint?

I think it's more like a computer, the hardware has most of the cost at this point. Dropping the amp models wouldn't change the cost. A smaller physical version of the Helix with less interfaces would be cheaper, but again the total hardware costs are a only a component in the entire manufacturing and distribution costs.
 

phil_m

Trying is the first step towards failure.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,618
One thing I didn't see mentioned yet is that the Helix literally has twice the processing power available as the FX8 for running effects. That may or may not matter to you, but the one that I really like about the Helix is that if I have a preset where I don't need amp or cab modeling, I can use that extra DSP for other stuff if I want. Also, if you ever play acoustic, you can load acoustic IRs in the Helix and use it as a full-blown acoustic processor as well. I also personally love having access to the four effects loops (4 mono/2 stereo) on the Helix. Also the scribble strips... As far as effects quality, I guess I won't go too deep into those woods. Everyone has their own opinion. Personally, I'm very happy using the Helix as a pedalboard replacement right now.

Personally, if I were going the Fractal route, I think I'd consider the AX8 over the FX8, unless I knew I was going down the 4CM method road, even then, I've read reports of people having success with the AX8 and 4CM. It just seems like for the value, spending an extra $50 to get the Fractal amp models seems kind of like an easy decision.
 

sonofiam

Member
Messages
1,105
The only Line6 comparison I can make is the M9 vs the FX8. Unless Line6 has greatly improved their effects, the FX8 wins for me. I struggled to get usable effects with the M9 and ended up using it for a couple of delays and reverbs. The FX8 is, without compromise, the best effects platform I've ever used. It's replaced every pedal I used to use and given me more than I ever thought I'd use.
 




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