Help me decide if the Helix/Kemper plunge is the right thing

1973Marshall

Member
Messages
6,775
There are many threads like this but this one is my own.

Like many folks here I am pretty simple in terms of rig. Classic guitar (Strat, LP, Tele, etc) -> pedal board (with dirt, delay mod, boost) into a tube amp. There are some variations where I might use the tube amps dirt and run mod effects through an FX loop but as a general rule I keep it simple.

Digital modeling gear has made steps and I started using Eventide H9s a few years ago because they drop seamlessly onto my board (no volume or tone changes), are a breeze to configure using the iPhone app and they can be made to create classic sounds (delays, trems, reverbs) as well as more exotic sounds (doublers, harmonizers, arps).

Now stage life has changed and more and more my amps are conversational level quiet while a sound man controls everything through the house system. Studios are often home studios where cranked tones are out of bounds but the need to create great sounds is needed. It might be time to revisit modelers. My last foray was the Line 6 Pod XT Live year ago.

Concerns:
  • Cost - Kemper Stage is my best stage option ($1700) where Line 6 has the Hx Stomp (and Hx Effects and Helix LT) as lower much lower cost options
  • Demo - There's no way to try a Kemper outside of buy and return (which I loathe doing). I recently tried the Hx Stomp into a Fender Deluxe Reverb and found a few useful sounds. The Hx didn't feel 10 miles better than the XT Live but it was an improvement (and I have yet to try IRs). I could imagine buying an Hx, using it alongside my pedals and H9s and honing in on some key sounds. However, friends I trust deeply insist the Kemper is way more my style in terms of feel, tone and setup. Is an Hx Stomp v Kemper comparison remotely fair?
  • Purchasing sounds - after the H9 learning period I have no intention of going down a rabbit hole with modelers. I'd likely buy some core basic sounds, keep a couple of dirt pedals as well and keep it simple. Have you bought sounds and been impressed?
  • How good have modelers been for you? Specifically hoping to learn BOTH live into an amp AND direct how much you have liked it. Going direct is increasingly becoming a reality at some gigs. Also, for those who record, did you find it a convenient and viable alternative to create final sounds that can 'make the record' (so far computer plug-ins have left me flat - great to demo and that's it).
For those who did not sell everything and the kitchen sink to get into Kemper (Stage) and Helix how have your results fared? Any warnings or things you would advise the next person before they take the leap?
 

GravityWell

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
517
I took the leap about two years ago. I was basically a tube purist prior to that. I dabbled with the VG stuff in the early 2000s, but it was more to amuse myself than to actually use in front of people (I only gigged that thing once...). I don't regret the switch at all, and have surprisingly sold off all of my amps, and a good chunk of actual pedals too (due to not using them). So how it went for me? I am basically all modeling all the time now.

My basic recommendation is this: if you aren't sure, get an HX stomp and just play with it for a while. Get used to how it works, how to tweak it. It is well worth the money, even if you decide not to go full modeler. It is basically all I use anymore, I reserve the full floor unit for very specific gigs these days. Search my post history to find me saying basically this over and over... The big benefit is that you can ease into modeler-land because the stomp is just another pedal to add to your existing rig, and you can try all sorts of different use cases for it while you still have your main rig. And it sounds great on bass/keyboards too! If you go this route, don't buy any presets, just play with it and watch videos (of which there are many) to get a sense of how to build patches. It isn't that hard and it will benefit you in the long run.

Alternative recommendation:
A. Get the Helix Native trial for 14 days, it was what sold me in the end to buy the Helix Floor. I could tell and hear that what I was looking for at the time was in there. It has only gotten better since. Try it out anyway.
B. If you feel that the Kemper is the best option and don't have any reservations about spending the cash, get it! You will probably love it. Lots of people do! If you don't, there are hordes of folks that will buy it from you for very little capital lost (or just return it, even though you don't like doing that).

Also, get ready, before this even turns into page two you will be recommended every other modeler there is. (Why not atomic/boss/fractal/mooer!?!?) Go with your gut, there isn't really a wrong choice these days.
 

phil_m

How did this get here? I'm not good at computer.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,196
I'd be interested to hear your friend's reasoning as to why they believe the Kemper is more your style. I actually don't associate any of the modelers with any particular style nowadays. I can find artists playing all kinds of different styles using all kind of different modelers. It really just comes down to what kind of form factor and workflow suits you.

The one thing I'd say is that I don't think going the modeler route always requires a complete "buy in" in that it has to replace your whole rig right away. That's really the thing I love about the Helix. I have used it in so many ways over the past four years, that it's really an invaluable piece of gear for me. I've done plenty of gigs where I've gone direct with it. I've recorded studio sessions with it. I've used it on gigs where I've had to switch between electric, acoustic and mandolin. I've used as a pedalboard replacement in front of an amp. And I've used it as a preamp/effects unit with my DT25... I'm talking about the Helix Floor here, but the LT has many of the same feature (just more limited I/O options).

As far as the Kemper, I personally don't find it as fun to play with and set up sounds, but that's just me. Others here certainly will disagree with me. It really is best if you can at least try it for yourself a bit.
 

Lord N

Member
Messages
2,577
lso, for those who record, did you find it a convenient and viable alternative to create final sounds that can 'make the record' (so far computer plug-ins have left me flat - great to demo and that's it).
That highly depends on the tones/genres/band you are trying to record and numerous other factors. I find it sometimes faster and easier to just slap a mic in front of an amp. That being said, you can most definitely and very easily record with a modeler and the convenience of modelers is undeniable.

Worth noting that the Kemper - while being a great recording tool - does not work as an audio interface. You'd need to get that extra if you don't have one.
(Kemper makes up for it by sounding much better though.)
 

tjontheroad

Just Wanna Be Misunderstood
Messages
8,536
I’ve owned Helix 2x and now a Kemper. Both can and do sound awesome. I found Helix takes a bit more tweaking to get there. OTOH, Helix has better FX for the most part. They may not matter to you. Kemper Stage and 2 H9s would be a killer rig.

Buy and return is the best way to see how either one works for you. It’s PITA to do, but it is the only get the gear in your environment.
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,595
IMHO, the Kemper with the right profile is going to be the best modeling option...but requires a full range PA style monitor to come to life. If you're planing on running it into a a Deluxe Reverb (the way you auditioned the HX Stomp) or really any traditional guitar amp you will most likely absolutely hate it. And it takes some time to find good profiles. Been a few years since I owned one (and I do regret selling it), but IME a vast majority of the free profiles I auditioned were pretty bad. Maybe things have gotten better, no idea.

The HX Stomp is an incredible piece of gear. The effects are top notch, the modeling is very good, and it is extremely flexible in terms of use cases. For a first foray into modeling, it's may be easier to wrap one's head around as you can if needed avoid the modeling entirely and just use the excellent modeled dirtboxes and effects into a traditional amp.

In terms of recording, probably been a decade or longer since I last miced up an amp...
 

Ejay

Member
Messages
5,276
Id consider a modeler a “must” for an active player getting himself in different conditions.
Low volume, low weight, IEM gigs, recording...imho those are no longer the domain of tune amps.

Since im a bit biased against line 6 ..If I were to start again id look into fractals fm3 cause of its formfactor, or Kemper cause either its stage with plenty of knobs..or the head cause of its poweramp.

Ive been a happy Kemper user for 3 years...never even considered something else...and dont expect to do so for many years to come...good=good.
What carved it in stone was profiling my own amps...where I couldnt hear or feel the difference between real and profile...what more can you want?

For recording...Offcourse with real amps you can get equally good results...but the thing is, not many can, even in great conditions...good sounding room, good engineer, good preamps and mics....even then id probably grab the Kemper cause it comes with certain results. (Check my signature for what I get out of it)

Good luck deciding / going on a modeling journey!
 

jhideout

Member
Messages
674
I bought a kemper stage 2 months ago...I picked up a helix floor a few weeks ago.

From every review Read to every YouTube demo watched, I convinced myself the Kemper was for me.

I sold the kemper 2 days ago and am keeping the helix.


The helix is more ruggedly built and has every feature under the sun. The work flow/interface is phenomenal. Dead simple. Just like tweaking a real amp.

The kemper has the most realistic feel (though the helix is no slouch) but it was very frustrating for me. Unless you own a bunch of amps where you can profile them yourself, I recommend getting the helix. I wasted a lot of money on profiles that still needed lots of tweaking. There are a ton of garbage profiles you have to weed through on rig exchange for a few good ones...very exhaustive. My biggest complaint with the kemper is you rely on getting quality profiles that you spend good money on only to find that they don’t sound the same with your own speakers/equipment. Then you waste more time trying to eq out all the mud to be able to cut through the mix (adding eq in the effects chain) Too many variables for me. The helix is instant plug and play. Just my experience.
 

gtr37

Member
Messages
6,008
I bought a kemper stage 2 months ago...I picked up a helix floor a few weeks ago.

From every review Read to every YouTube demo watched, I convinced myself the Kemper was for me.

I sold the kemper 2 days ago and am keeping the helix.


The helix is more ruggedly built and has every feature under the sun. The work flow/interface is phenomenal. Dead simple. Just like tweaking a real amp.

The kemper has the most realistic feel (though the helix is no slouch) but it was very frustrating for me. Unless you own a bunch of amps where you can profile them yourself, I recommend getting the helix. I wasted a lot of money on profiles that still needed lots of tweaking. There are a ton of garbage profiles you have to weed through on rig exchange for a few good ones...very exhaustive. My biggest complaint with the kemper is you rely on getting quality profiles that you spend good money on only to find that they don’t sound the same with your own speakers/equipment. Then you waste more time trying to eq out all the mud to be able to cut through the mix (adding eq in the effects chain) Too many variables for me. The helix is instant plug and play. Just my experience.
Hmm interesting
I think the Kemper profile hunt is likely a pain but
The good news is I think
Enough people have gone through a ton , so if you know the amps you like
Some on this forum shoukd be able to steer you in right direction

As you said Kemper into a tube combo would not be best choice

An FRFR like the Headrush
Or a a small power amp like the seymour duncan would probably work better
 
Last edited:

Shades of Blue

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,237
I’ve owned several different iterations of the Helix, and never quite got the hype. When I got Stomp, I spent a lot more time dialing things in and then BOOM I figured out some EQing patterns that really made everything open up and sound more real, especially through Powercab.

I have a Helix Floor on the way now and will have an all new respect for it.
 

Dave Merrill

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,451
Hmm interesting
I think the Kemper profile hunt is likely a pain but
The good news is I think
Enough people have gone through a ton , so if you know the amps you like
Some on this forum shoukd be able to steer you in right direction
For me, a lot of the fun of modelers is trying amps I don't know, without spending any money on those experiments. Having to buy a bunch of stuff to find out if I'll like it would be frustrating.



Kinda like buying IRs...
 

brokenvail

Member
Messages
762
Contrary what I am reading here I believe the Kemper is the easiest to get a good sound from fast. It sounds great and feels great. if you get a good profile you are good to go. Michael Britt and Tone Junkie are probably the Kemper kings. Lots of people over look Tone Junkie because be does church stuff but his profiles are killer.
 

Saxon68

Member
Messages
1,107
There are many threads like this but this one is my own.

Like many folks here I am pretty simple in terms of rig. Classic guitar (Strat, LP, Tele, etc) -> pedal board (with dirt, delay mod, boost) into a tube amp. There are some variations where I might use the tube amps dirt and run mod effects through an FX loop but as a general rule I keep it simple.

Digital modeling gear has made steps and I started using Eventide H9s a few years ago because they drop seamlessly onto my board (no volume or tone changes), are a breeze to configure using the iPhone app and they can be made to create classic sounds (delays, trems, reverbs) as well as more exotic sounds (doublers, harmonizers, arps).

Now stage life has changed and more and more my amps are conversational level quiet while a sound man controls everything through the house system. Studios are often home studios where cranked tones are out of bounds but the need to create great sounds is needed. It might be time to revisit modelers. My last foray was the Line 6 Pod XT Live year ago.

Concerns:
  • Cost - Kemper Stage is my best stage option ($1700) where Line 6 has the Hx Stomp (and Hx Effects and Helix LT) as lower much lower cost options
  • Demo - There's no way to try a Kemper outside of buy and return (which I loathe doing). I recently tried the Hx Stomp into a Fender Deluxe Reverb and found a few useful sounds. The Hx didn't feel 10 miles better than the XT Live but it was an improvement (and I have yet to try IRs). I could imagine buying an Hx, using it alongside my pedals and H9s and honing in on some key sounds. However, friends I trust deeply insist the Kemper is way more my style in terms of feel, tone and setup. Is an Hx Stomp v Kemper comparison remotely fair?
  • Purchasing sounds - after the H9 learning period I have no intention of going down a rabbit hole with modelers. I'd likely buy some core basic sounds, keep a couple of dirt pedals as well and keep it simple. Have you bought sounds and been impressed?
  • How good have modelers been for you? Specifically hoping to learn BOTH live into an amp AND direct how much you have liked it. Going direct is increasingly becoming a reality at some gigs. Also, for those who record, did you find it a convenient and viable alternative to create final sounds that can 'make the record' (so far computer plug-ins have left me flat - great to demo and that's it).
For those who did not sell everything and the kitchen sink to get into Kemper (Stage) and Helix how have your results fared? Any warnings or things you would advise the next person before they take the leap?
I’ve got Kemper Stage and HX Stomp.
Both sound great, Kemper has better “feel”, Helix has better editor, and can be used as a recording interface, much smaller footprint, easy to add a couple more buttons for a total of 5.

Kemper will be my primary for gigging, HX Stomp ain’t leaving yet, super easy to whip out and record or jam.

I’ve got a 4x12 and can use either rig with the EHX44magnum power amp, and also have the Headrush 108 and 112.

honestly most of my playing these days is the Kemper and 108, which gets stupid loud. But Kemper is the new toy at home so it’d get more time. I’d just as quickly use either for a jam or gig.
 

1973Marshall

Member
Messages
6,775
So here's an update. I got myself an HxStomp. As @GravityWell and @Will Chen put it the HxS seemed like a good gateway into this world without upending my entire rig or spending a ton.

It's been immediate joy. I am getting sounds that augment my recording workflow so that I can maybe add in cranked amp and fuzz without blowing up the room lol. Early tests with my live rig show it can sit on the board and add some additional sounds with a small footprint and allow me to go direct to PA. The unit sounds pretty good through the right clean amps as well.

The size and form factor are also a win because I can just throw it in a bag and go.

What a great piece of gear. Next question is whether to fo down the IR path.
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
10,004
So here's an update. I got myself an HxStomp. As @GravityWell and @Will Chen put it the HxS seemed like a good gateway into this world without upending my entire rig or spending a ton.

It's been immediate joy. I am getting sounds that augment my recording workflow so that I can maybe add in cranked amp and fuzz without blowing up the room lol. Early tests with my live rig show it can sit on the board and add some additional sounds with a small footprint and allow me to go direct to PA. The unit sounds pretty good through the right clean amps as well.

The size and form factor are also a win because I can just throw it in a bag and go.

What a great piece of gear. Next question is whether to fo down the IR path.
I didn't use IRs at all until Celestion started offering them....found a few I liked but hated the process of sorting thru them. Live Ready Sound Powercabs have been nothing but success for me...two options per speaker and they sound normal to me.

The other approach might be to pick up the MBritt or Glenn DeLaune presets - pretty sure both those guys include custom IRs. My ears really like the MBritt stuff - his Kemper stuff resonated with me.

But you will continue to get better tones by just learning more about using the cabs. I find that simply choosing a different mic and changing the distance is all it takes. Try the SM7 mic - it's the last one so it took me awhile to scroll that far over and try it.
 

MattC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,580
Funny people say Kemper profiles don’t sound as advertised when you get them on your rig. That was my experience with presets on the Ax8 and Helix, not so with Kemper. When i load up an MBritt, SinMix, or Tone Junkie profile, it sounds pretty much how the demo clips do.
 




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