Helix vs Kemper vs Axe FX 2 - My Experience

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by themightyjay, May 5, 2016.

  1. Jose7822

    Jose7822 Member

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    Like I mentioned, you're not alone in regards to how you feel about the current profile switching implementation. At first, it was distracting for me too. But now I've gotten used to it.

    As for using a MIDI Grande (or Forte) with the Kemper, keep in mind that this will not change the slow visual switching behavior shown in the Kemper. I hope adding it to your Rig helps though. Good luck!
     
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  2. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    I realize that. What it will offer is A/B switching via midi so I can pretty much ride one button per song instead of looking at my 15 times per song. You know what else has A/B switching? The Amplifire :hide
     
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  3. Jose7822

    Jose7822 Member

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    And here's a video showing the level of quality of the new delays in the Kemper (for the naysayers):



    "the kemper effects will never be on par with the best stomp effects"

    Pfff!
     
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  4. ShaunOsovs

    ShaunOsovs Member

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    The new delays on Kemper are incredible...one of my favorite delays ever though is on Helix (carried from M9 i believe), the sweep delay. It's like a filtered phasey echo that you can set to an inverted sine wave and its truly unique. Oz Noy uses it all the time on an M9. Haven't been able to get something like that on a Kemper yet.
     
  5. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    That's funny - I haven't even tried it yet but I think I know which one you mean. If it's on the original DL-4 I think it's called "filter delay" - really cool effect!

    Has anyone tried to get an Adrenalinn synced up with the Helix...that unit had some seriously great filter effects but it was always too klugey an interface for me to deal with live. Hmm...I can see the start of a second specialty board to chain to the Helix. MIDI control and going thru the effects loop.
     
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  6. MusicLaw

    MusicLaw Member

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    :rockin
    I get a boost of Adrenaline every time I use my Helix! :)
     
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  7. vinchan

    vinchan Member

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    I just bought a helix floor. It must be the best and everyone should use it and nothing else :banana
    :horse:hide2
     
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  8. Ed_Saxman

    Ed_Saxman Member

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    Well, you got the Line 6 Helix Control floor controller, so now you can start saving to buy the Helix Rack and you will have the complete kit.
     
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  9. vinchan

    vinchan Member

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    at least it looks pretty
     
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  10. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    Good info here.

    For me, the tones are close enough to be a wash between the three. What sold me on the Helix over the other two was the UI, the workflow, and the level of control it gives.
     
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  11. KelsterVonShredster

    KelsterVonShredster Member

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    Interesting. I've owned 2 kempers and 2 Axe FX II's...I got sick of wading through tens of thousands of profiles and once I understood that the Axe FX was a tone creation platform I stuck with the Axe. As time goes on, I can honestly say the Axe FX II is the single best piece of gear I have ever purchased and I am a 5 star general gear whore. Helix looks pretty but from what I've seen and heard Kemper/Fractal still rule in the modelling/profiling department.
     
  12. Occam

    Occam Member

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    Probably not my boards, I've got a lot of unique effects but integrating it would be cool.
     
  13. PianistPretender

    PianistPretender Member

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    Sorry for bumping an old thread, but I am interested in the latest opinions on this - specifically the Kemper vs. AX8. I've tried Helix Native and there are a number of things that I don't like, so not looking at that (way too many parameters to tweak, don't feel the sound of the amps is that good compared the Kemper samples I've heard or even some of UAD's amps).

    I'm not interested in tweaking forever - mainly plug and play with the ability to throw some basic effects in there. This will only be used for recording and practicing at home.

    Thanks!
     
  14. Ingolf

    Ingolf Member

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    People will recommend what they own.
    You need to make your mind up yourself.

     
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  15. Aquinas

    Aquinas Member

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    Holy double-necro thread, batman!

    If you are having issues with Helix Native and "too many parameters to tweak", stay the hell away from the Axe-FX line. As far as sound goes, it takes a bit of getting used to dialing in Helix or Axe sounds, and experience with the real amps that they are modeling helps a lot. I wasn't impressed with any of the modelers, no matter the price, when I first started messing with them. A bit of time, and now I can make any of them work for me. I've had all 3 big ones, but currently have "bought in" to the Helix ecosystem, mostly due to the round-tripping between the plug-in and hardware, and the ease of tweaking Helix compared to the Axe. I don't like the Kemper, for various reasons, one of which I'll get to in a sec, replying to two-year-old comments...

    BTW, I don't really agree with the premise of the original post. I don't think any of the "big 3" sounds "realer" than any of the others, in general. There are some models I like better in the Axe, some in the Helix, and the Kemper does its thing amazingly well with classic tones. The Axe has better "rack-like" effects, in general, and the Helix better "analog-like", and I don't know what to think of the Kemper's effects because I only used it as a studio tool when I had it. My point is that none is "better", but which is "best for you" is the one that prioritizes what you want from it. In my opinion, this is what you should be thinking:

    Helix if you want the friendliest interface and don't need super-tweakability.
    Axe if you want to deep-dive and prefer some of the models, or you need the more rack-like effects (which the Helix is catching up on).
    Kemper if you want plug-and-play and come into it knowing that live use with multiple profiles takes a time investment to achieve.

    Nonsense, and rampant fanboi-ism. It was nonsense then, it is still nonsense now. If you can't get a good "Fender" tone out of the Helix, the problem isn't with the Helix...

    ("Better" is subjective and perfectly reasonable to debate, but "Good" should be a given.)

    That is, unless you have amps the Kemper doesn't like to profile, or you start to hear the profiling in effect. Both happened to me, in a long process of building a commercial pack that never materialized when I realized it just wouldn't work. I simply could not get the Kemper to accurately profile the dynamic range or tonality of the Fryettes I was working with. Also couldn't get it to do an Ampeg V-4 profile that didn't sound/act like a Fender...

    Which is the issue with the Kemper's way of working. It sounds great at profiling the kinds of amps that were used to build the underlying models that the profiles are based upon - Marshalls, Fenders, and Mesas. It doesn't do so well when you start trying to feed it off-the-beaten-path amps, because it uses underlying models. Profiling those "otbp" amps makes that abundantly clear, and once you hear that underlying model, all the profiles start to sound pretty "samey".

    I'm not trying to insult the Kemper, far from it - it just didn't work for me, due to the types of amps I was interested in profiling.

    True, but once again, depends on the amps you are profiling. It works great with M-types, and F-types, and many high-gain amps that use similar topologies. It doesn't work as great with Voxes (better, but not perfect), Hiwatts (doesn't get the range), Ampegs (total fail), and "different" High Gain types (Fryette, limited success with Bad Cat Hot Cat) that aren't similar to what was in mind when the process was designed...

    Which, once again, isn't to say it sounds bad. It just isn't perfect, and it has its limitations. Which is fine. So does the Helix, so does the Axe, so do real amps!
     
  16. Hoth

    Hoth Silver Supporting Member

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    +100. Great post. I agree with just about all of it. I own all three of the big guys (and some of the smaller ones) and I would say they all have about 95% the same tone. I think the "sameyness" you are hearing in the Kemper has more to do with the fact that so many amps that share topologies are very similar at the end of the day, or at least can be dialed in similarly.

    I feel like at the end of the day I end up with like three sounds that no matter what amp I'm using - high, mid and low gain. Give me a Diezel and I'll dial in a flabbier low end than anyone else would like with it. Give me a Fender and I'll get it to quack with a heavy mid-focus. Give me a high-watt and I always want to sound like Gilmour with a fuzz in front or Townshend playing it more straight up.

    What I love about each of the modelers is the 5% that they don't overlap. I have a lot of fun in that small area.
     
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  17. PianistPretender

    PianistPretender Member

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    Thanks. I don’t know though - everything I’ve heard from the Kemper sounds pretty good (but I imagine people only post good samples), while the Helix reminds me of the type of sound you get from most plugins - that could be because I’m tweaking it wrong and it more easily veers into that territory. Maybe I just feel I’m already covered in that department with S-Gear and UAD.
     
  18. Watt McCo

    Watt McCo Supporting Member

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    Why are you interested in pushing past S-Gear and UAD? Have you heard Kemper clips that do what S-Gear and UAD do, but better, or is it because you've heard Kper clips that are similar to, but still different than, what you are able to get from S-Gear and UAD? If the latter - Kemper is your only option, really, because it's the only one that's a genuine bottomless pit of scratching for the "I want something a little different that what I've got" itch that we all get. If it's the former...I'd be surprised if it didn't take you quite a while to make a Kemper do what S-Gear and UAD do but more betterer. Keeping in mind it's the rare clip that is literally just "downloading this profile, put it in my Kemper, and now I'm playing it for the first time with nonpost-processng applied." .also keeping in mind that if you've only been playing for a year or two...you still have a LOOOOT to learn about how to adapt your playing (including pickup selector/volume/tone settings on your instrument) to different pieces of gear to get the most out of them, much less how to tweak the new gear itself.
     
  19. Watt McCo

    Watt McCo Supporting Member

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    Also, since youre pretty new player if I remember right - what guitar are you playing? Upgraded instrument very well might go waaaaaaaay further than "upgraded" modeling given that S-Gear and UAD are definitely within spitting range of cream of the crop for what they do.
     
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  20. Aquinas

    Aquinas Member

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    That is part of it, but not for the reason you think. The way the Kemper works - which is rather [in]genius - is to take a "base model", then use a very large set of dynamic filters (derived through the "profiling" process) to adapt that base to whatever is trying to be achieved. My issue is that I started to hear the "base models", and once I did, all the "magic" went away. The unit sounds great, and is a great idea, and works well for many people, but it does have its limitations. It isn't magic!

    That being said, @PianistPretender would probably get more out of a Kemper than the modeling options, given what they have said about their wants/needs. If classic tones are what you are after, the Kemper makes them easily accessible the fastest, and does them very well.

    Very true - the learning curve is a real thing, and the more "true to the original" the modeling gets, the harder it is going to be for a neophyte to plug in and get good results. You have to understand how the original amps worked, and understand that "treble" on a Mesa is a different thing than "treble" on a Marshall!

    Basically, if you are relatively new at this, it is important not to get caught in the "it's the gear" trap if you are having trouble dialing in sounds you like. It isn't the gear. It is your lack of experience in dialing it in. That isn't a bad thing. After all, it will eventually improve!

    Also true - input signal matters a lot.
     
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