Kemper or Helix

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Magnatron, Apr 1, 2020.

  1. Magnatron

    Magnatron Member

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    I'm looking for a replacement for my Firehawk FX and wide open to considering options. I have it whittled down to the Kemper or the Helix.

    Which one should I get and why?

    No wrong answers here for sure!

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ejay

    Ejay Member

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    Why do you doubt between those 2?
    Those are very different machines, different ecosystems, some would say different quality of sound.
    Both have large amount of users....who all think they made the right choice....so this gonna be all over the place. ;)

    Here’s why kpa was the right choice for me.
    I choose Kemper within 5 minutes of trying it.
    I tried it to begin with cause it seemed to be the industry standard and played and praised by ppl I respect...so it got me curious about modeling again.
    I liked the option of having a powered modeler, very practical.
    I like the knobs and simple inteface.
    Sincethen im very pleased they added great verbs delays and and Kone.

    If something happened to my kpa...no doubt I would buy one again.
     
  3. tonegangster

    tonegangster Silver Supporting Member

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    Just pick one and buy it. You'll eventually buy the other one anyway.
     
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  4. Magnatron

    Magnatron Member

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    Ha! That's definitely me, but I swear I am going to resist the urge this time!
     
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  5. bigfoamfinger

    bigfoamfinger Supporting Member

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    I’d normally pick the Kemper but I personally can’t stand the work flow and 2002 Nokia phone black and white display. It sounds so good though
     
  6. AuntieDiluvian

    AuntieDiluvian Member

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    If you care about the sound above everything else, get the Kemper.

    If you want to duplicate your existing tube amps, get the Kemper.

    If obtuse user interfaces make you crazy, get the Helix.
     
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  7. dk_ace

    dk_ace Member

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    Both plus an Axe3 then you’ll never have to wonder if one of the others is better.

    On a serious note, think about how you would use it and that will largely guide you to the right choice probably. The Kemper just doesn’t work well for the way I want to use a unit live, which is the thing I care about more than anything. The Helix approach works better for me live than any rig I’ve ever had before, so it’s the obvious choice for me. Of course it had to live up to my sonic expectations and be capable of the feel I wanted too, and it does.

    D
     
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  8. burningyen

    burningyen Member

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    I found the Kemper UI a breeze. The Helix is also a breeze, which is a giant accomplishment given how much more powerful it is.

    When I was comparing my old Kemper lunchbox to the Helix Floor, it came down to:
    • They both sound equally "real," and with some effort I could get the Helix to sound equivalent. Commercial profiles by TheAmpFactory and MBritt did make getting to final polished tones on the Kemper easier and faster, though.
    • The Kemper has much better pitch FX, not even close, really. I prefer the Helix's FX for everything else.
    • The Kemper seemed incapable of getting messy, spitty, splatty, farty tones, like really ugly Fuzz Face or tweed blowing up tones. That made me sad when I was trying to get my Neil Young or pre-WYWH Gilmour on.
    • I'm so dependent on the Helix's parallel routing capabilities (vocal mic, keyboard, electric violin), that anything without that flexibility would make for a pretty big hassle.
    • Although the Helix's synth features are very basic, I still love them and get a lot of use out of them.
    • At the time, the Helix Floor's floorboard form factor was also a big deciding factor for me, but now of course the Kemper Stage finally exists.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
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  9. Magnatron

    Magnatron Member

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    Can you elaborate on that?
     
  10. Magnatron

    Magnatron Member

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  11. AndrewSimon

    AndrewSimon Member

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    Kemper, no tweaking just playing, no other modeler gave me that.

    ;)
     
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  12. Cheap Trick

    Cheap Trick Member

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  13. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    What features are you interested in and how do you plan to use them?

    How did you narrow it down to those two?
     
  14. Gforce013

    Gforce013 Silver Supporting Member

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    I watched the YouTube videos by Jason sadites and Richie castellano and I really liked the tones they got out of it and how easy it is to work with the helix. Richie has been using his on tour with blue oyster cult for years and he sounds really good live.

    another plus with the helix, customer service is incredible with line 6.
     
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  15. dk_ace

    dk_ace Member

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    Sure. I like to set up a virtual rig that has pretty much everything I want or need live in a variety of playing situations. Minimally that looks like two drives (or a drive and eq), an amp that’s able to go from clean to crunch with pick attack and volume knob, two delays, and two reverbs (room or spring and something more dramatic). I’d rather have that plus a fuzz, pre-drive reverb, spring reverb, rotary, wah, envelope filter, compressor(s), octave, and trem.

    So I want most of that stuff accessible instantly by footswitch in a situation where we’re improvising. I also want the ability to easily bend over and turn knobs just like I would with a physical pedalboard.

    When getting ready for a set, in rehearsals I figure out what I want for certain song parts in that full rig mode. I copy the patch for the song, set up snapshots for the parts (tweaking effects items as needed to make the part really pop), and save them. I can do that in 2-5 minutes per song usually including labels for the switches and patch name. I have the snapshots on the bottom row, the top row is effects I can bring in or out if I want to do something different than I planned.

    I’ve gone back and forth between modeler and normal rigs for years since the first axe-fx. This is the best rig for how I like to do things live. It gives me the power of a much larger rig with super easy and fast programmability for live work. The Kemper can’t do much of what I want to do. It can’t even handle my preferred signal chain. I dislike the effects implementation and find it really limiting. I’d have to add external gear to be happy with the Kemper, and I’ve tried enough of that before to know that I’m much happier when it’s all in one box.

    D
     
  16. Billinder33

    Billinder33 Member

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    I've owned and worked with both extensively. Let's preface this by saying, pretty much every TGP'er thinks sound/feel is very important. But for some of us, sound/feel trumps pretty much everything. IMO Kemper sounds and feels better than Helix, and it's not even close.

    That said, having read many of these threads, the general consensus of TGP seems to be about 40% of TGP'ers agree with me, about 40% think that the Helix can sound as good or almost as good as Kemper with some tweaking, and maybe 10%-20% actually think Helix sounds better than the Kemper. So if sound is your number 1, 2, and 3 most important thing, then get the Kemper because ballpark TGP statistics say that you are going to prefer Kemper's sound over Helix's. If you are the kind of guy who lines a $450 Eventide pedal into your rig and bemoans the fact that it sucks away 5% of your tone, then don't even bother worrying about this decision, just go ahead get the Kemper and don't look back.

    However, if features are important to you, almost as important as sound, then Helix is probably a better choice for a few of reasons:

    1) Helix has more FX. TGP consensus is that Helix's FX are better in quality and quantity. I don't necessarily agree Helix's FX quality beats Kemper's, but the fact that Helix has more quantity/variety of FX is undisputed. Helix's FX blocks attempt to mimic many classic FX pedals, whereas Kemper has less FX units overall, but often has more parameters for a given effect. For example, Helix tries to replicate several iconic compressors with parameters mimicking those iconic pedals, whereas Kemper just has one compressor with a bunch of parameters. IMO Kemper's one compressor kicks the snot out of the Helix's 8+ compressors, but the other FX blocks are a lot more competitive, with Helix winning out on modulations, pitch delays, and synths, just on variety alone.

    2) Routing. Helix can run 2 signal chains simultaneously, so in a recording scenario you can track two amp/FX/Cab chains at the same time. Or if live, you can run 2 different chains to two different speakers (or to the mixing board) and it will sound like you are playing through 2 amps at the same time. You can also build all kinds of crazy FX patches in Helix, splitting your chain and running parallel and then merging the signal back together at the same time. Put a cab or amp anywhere in a chain you want. Put a cab in front of an amp if you want. Put an amp in front of an amp if you want. All these things Helix can do are pretty cool, but at the end of the day, they may not be all that important to you. It wasn't for me, because I think the Kemper just sounds flat out better regardless of the all routing options Helix provides.

    Kemper allows only 1 signal chain, with a single layout. 4 FX in front of the amp/cab, 4 FX after the amp/cab. That's it. Sounds very limiting, and in a way it is. It's a deal-breaker for many TGP'ers. To me the Kemper just sounds better regardless of Helix's excellent routing options, so I've implemented workarounds and learned to live with it's limitations.

    3) Helix Floor has an onboard expression pedal, Kemper Stage doesn't, you'll have to buy one.

    4) Helix has an recording interface, You can line direct into your computer DAW to record, no external preamps/interface needed. Kemper doesn't.

    5) Adjusting Helix's settings via the front panel is tons easier than Kemper, IMO. I despise Kemper's front panel tweaking, but from what I can tell by reading these threads, I'm pretty much alone in that opinion. That said, I adjust all my settings via the Win/Mac editors, so front panel tweaking is a non-issue to me. Which leads to the final feature, an important one for me personally...

    6) Helix has a better Win/Mac editor, but Kemper's newly released editor is really nice. Maybe not quite as slick as Helix, but more than good enough to get the job done. Very slightest of edge to Helix here.


    Whatever you decide, good luck!!
     
  17. Uncle Pecos

    Uncle Pecos Member

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    For me, the Helix won. It's the one box that can do it all, and with an easy interface to boot. I basically bring it loaded with Michael Britt's patches, iPad, 2 x XLR cables, a guitar cable, an extension cord and backups. I can go nuts if I'm playing for someone else, but if it's my own gig, I basically use one patch only with a couple of snapshots. At home, I use it as my recording interface.

    One bag for the Helix, one bag for the guitar, good to go.
     
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  18. PianistPretender

    PianistPretender Member

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    Kemper - sounds better to me with much less effort - almost zero effort when you have the right profiles. I love Tone Junkie’s.

    I have both too.
     
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  19. Space Jazzer

    Space Jazzer Member

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    Just pick the one that sounds realerest :dunno
     

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