What don't you like about Fractal's modeling?

aptfx

Member
Messages
227
The HX Stomp is a victim of its form factor. It would be a great unit if it was a bit larger with the full Helix UI. The Stomp is a no go for me because of its UI compromises. I'm of the mind that the more physical knobs you have the better. That's why I like the QC "tap a thing on screen, twist knobs" thing a lot.

Same with me - the QC here is definitely on the right track in that way.

The things I don't like about the full Helix UI are pretty small. The stock option of "turn joystick = change model" is an awful default but thankfully can be changed to "select a thing". Having buttons on both sides of the screen is a bit pointless as IMO there is no need for the dedicated presets knob. Everything could be on the right side just fine.

I agree

What makes the Helix UI work is the combination of hardware and software. The capacitive footswitches make it very fast to jump between blocks by simply touching a footswitch. Perhaps not as good on the rack unit but I haven't owned that. Assigning footswitches is super easy too. The joystick/knob also makes it pretty quick to move around as you can use the knob to move a lot and joystick to move a little.

Don't get me wrong - it definitely works, but so is the Fractal one. Both are quite arcane and fiddly though. So instead of arguing about "so good Helix ui" vs. "unusable Fractal" I would actually call that both soso bearable uis. I'm a software developer with mostly frontend stuff and just are puzzled any time someone argues for Helix being a role model here.

I preferred using the Helix from the front panel and did so most of the time. Don't love HX Edit with its fiddly sliders, bad scrolling behavior etc. Fractal on the other hand I mainly use via Axe-Edit because it's simply easier for nearly all tasks. I've gotten pretty adept at using the front panel but it's never really that great.

I also didn't like HX Edit for quite the same reasons I don't like the hardware units UI too. HX Edit doesn't makes good use of the platforms features.

Very much this. L6 evidently put a lot of work on designing Helix's UI, and it shows. The HX Stomp does a commendable job of condensing that experience to a stompbox format IMHO, but, like everything in life, it comes with compromises.

It is compromised yes - but I disagree here that they did a commendable job here. The first point is designing a hardware that simply is not capable of what it is asked for ui-wise. Its like putting a DAW in a wrist watch. Even then - they could have used a larger display, touch and more sane knob layout to call it a commendable job. This is a 2018 device! So we already had 11 years of modern small form factor UI design completely ignored.

Overall, i think most newcomers to Helix would need very little time to find their way around the UI - without ever needing a manual. This is simply not the case with FAS products.

For light tasks the Helix UI works without the manual. There are lots of things though, you would have to either look up in a manual or some video clip. Its far from an intuitive self documenting device. I only can see a arguably small insignificant edge here with Helix vs. FAS. Yes there are things that are easier to do in Helix in a holistic view - but it still is fiddly.

HX Edit is another interesting UI use case. The main reason it looks the way it looks is that it is designed to look and feel like its hardware counterpart. The goal is to have it seamlessly integrate with the rest of the Helix family, as much as humanly possible.
Yes thats true - and it is its biggest flaw actually. It is a good idea gone bad. They compromise the PC editor UI by choosing a design that draws that heavily from the hardware units. To me its not seamless integration, it is intentionally crippling the UI. The whole idea of UI design is adapting to the constraints of the human/machine interface. They are completely ignoring platform standards in UI concepts. Its a UI created by engineers... actually the same as FAS. Both vendors would profit from dedicated UX specialists.
 

benifin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,730
It is compromised yes - but I disagree here that they did a commendable job here. The first point is designing a hardware that simply is not capable of what it is asked for ui-wise. Its like putting a DAW in a wrist watch. Even then - they could have used a larger display, touch and more sane knob layout to call it a commendable job. This is a 2018 device! So we already had 11 years of modern small form factor UI design completely ignored.

Re: ^^ this ^^ ...... I respectively could not disagree more. It packs basically the full sonic power of a full blown helix - only limited by Blocks - into a form factor that is almost smaller than 2 Boss Pedals.

It is a stone cold classic and nothing touch's it for size and sound quality.

You want to talk about "2018" devices :) ? ........ Just look at the design of the FM3 ... calling its design "2018" is probably flattering it by almost a decade ... and I own one :)

All the best,
Ben
 

PLysander

Member
Messages
316
It is compromised yes - but I disagree here that they did a commendable job here. The first point is designing a hardware that simply is not capable of what it is asked for ui-wise. Its like putting a DAW in a wrist watch. Even then - they could have used a larger display, touch and more sane knob layout to call it a commendable job. This is a 2018 device! So we already had 11 years of modern small form factor UI design completely ignored.

I legit can't imagine a better UI given the HX Stomp's constraints. Yes, the bigger Helices are definitely more comfortable to work with, but that doesn't mean the HX Stomp experience is worse in a meaningful way.

The "better device" you're describing is basically the GT-1000 Core, whose UI is, IMHO, inferior on every single level. There's more to this than just screen sizes and knob layouts.

For light tasks the Helix UI works without the manual. There are lots of things though, you would have to either look up in a manual or some video clip.

i don't know about the rest, but i have literally never had to crack open the manual to work around Helix's UI. Definitely not the same experience with the FM3.

Its a UI created by engineers... actually the same as FAS. Both vendors would profit from dedicated UX specialists.

Strong disagree here. L6 has been very upfront about why HX Edit (or Helix Native) looks and feels like it does - and yes, a lot of UX/UI design iterations went into it. Whether you agree with the product decisions leading to the final product is a different story.
 
Last edited:

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,805
Don't get me wrong - it definitely works, but so is the Fractal one. Both are quite arcane and fiddly though. So instead of arguing about "so good Helix ui" vs. "unusable Fractal" I would actually call that both soso bearable uis. I'm a software developer with mostly frontend stuff and just are puzzled any time someone argues for Helix being a role model here.

It is compromised yes - but I disagree here that they did a commendable job here. The first point is designing a hardware that simply is not capable of what it is asked for ui-wise. Its like putting a DAW in a wrist watch. Even then - they could have used a larger display, touch and more sane knob layout to call it a commendable job. This is a 2018 device! So we already had 11 years of modern small form factor UI design completely ignored.



For light tasks the Helix UI works without the manual. There are lots of things though, you would have to either look up in a manual or some video clip. Its far from an intuitive self documenting device. I only can see a arguably small insignificant edge here with Helix vs. FAS. Yes there are things that are easier to do in Helix in a holistic view - but it still is fiddly.


Yes thats true - and it is its biggest flaw actually. It is a good idea gone bad. They compromise the PC editor UI by choosing a design that draws that heavily from the hardware units. To me its not seamless integration, it is intentionally crippling the UI. The whole idea of UI design is adapting to the constraints of the human/machine interface. They are completely ignoring platform standards in UI concepts. Its a UI created by engineers... actually the same as FAS. Both vendors would profit from dedicated UX specialists.
Did you know the Line6 guys actually wanted a touchscreen on the Helix but the powers that be voted against that? I think for a traditionally driven UI it does very well within its constraints. The capacitive footswitches, pedal edit mode and all that are thoughtful features that help with this.

I don't think HX Edit replicating the onboard UI is a bad idea at all. It actually does make it easier to switch between the two when they look and operate the same. I think the app's issues are entirely in what is around the parts lifted from the hw UI.

For the hardware UI the most difficult concepts are getting around the two paths and splitting them. It's not particularly intuitive but it's a compromise due to the hardware. They could have opted for a similar pattern as Fractal where you dedicate a core to specific blocks in exchange for simpler routing but the drawback is that if you don't use those blocks you now have DSP you can't utilize. Within the constraints of the Helix's processing power I think their compromise works. Can these be made smarter in the future where they can figure out lowest latency, maximized usage DSP allocation automatically so the user does not have to deal with it? Probably.

The HX Stomp is not a 2018 device. It's an iteration on a 2015 device. Obviously the design of these is probably at least 3 years earlier than that considering it takes a long time to develop a new platform. Similarly the FM3 and FM9 are iterations of the 2018 Axe-Fx 3, again developed years earlier.

Music gear has always been behind the times in terms of UI if you compare to something like smartphones. Part of that has been due to costs for both parts and implementation where you can't order a million touchscreen displays because you are not Apple or Samsung etc. Parts costs are a game of nickel and dime where just using a $1 more expensive part may be a big cost when you are making a lot of them.

Now we are starting to see more and more devices adopt ARM SoCs for doing both UI and DSP processing. This has led to a weird place where obscure brands may seem more advanced for UI but then just don't compare in terms of actual sound quality.

Meanwhile things like the Boss GX100 don't impress. Its touchscreen UI is sluggish and the way it operates seems more like "touchscreen for touchscreen's sake" rather than to making it easier to use. I think this sort of stuff is still in its infancy for music gear and the better approach might be to move the UI side to tablet/phone/computer where you already have a powerful device to handle it and have the device itself be a processing and I/O box.
 

aflynt

Member
Messages
1,826
Don’t get me started on the HX Stomp UI… Why did they think that capacitive touch footswitches were a good idea when they were 2 inches away from the actual buttons and it‘s nearly impossible (for me at least) to NOT hit them accidentally every time you do something? And you can sort-of disable them, but even then, you’ll still accidentally trigger the stupid “swap blocks” pop up every time you use the thing… somehow.

UI inconsistencies aside, the FM3 front-panel has been a dream for me to use in contrast.

-Aaron
 
Last edited:

Tito83

Member
Messages
3,166
Don't get me wrong - it definitely works, but so is the Fractal one. Both are quite arcane and fiddly though. So instead of arguing about "so good Helix ui" vs. "unusable Fractal" I would actually call that both soso bearable uis.

I agree that Helix's UI isn't as good as a lot of people give it credit for... But not by a long shot I'd equate it with Fractal's.
 

aptfx

Member
Messages
227
Re: ^^ this ^^ ...... I respectively could not disagree more. It packs basically the full sonic power of a full blown helix - only limited by Blocks - into a form factor that is almost smaller than 2 Boss Pedals.

You might get my point wrong here. I was merely talking about the UI and not about the product (and the idea behind it) itself. I agree, that the idea of a similar power device in small form factor is good. The UI is abysmal though - and the _UI_ is not worthy to exist in a 2018 device.

I legit can't imagine a better UI given the HX Stomp's constraints. Yes, the bigger Helices are definitely more comfortable to work with, but that doesn't mean the HX Stomp experience is worse in a meaningful way.

I can imagine much better UI in a similar small form factor device. And the HX Stomp UI is a frontend designers nightmare. Fortunately I'm used to see bad stuff and don't wake up in agony every night ^^. I know the little stomp is a nice thing - but its just honest to call out its UI for what it is. The same thing is said by some about the FAS frontend and... frankly... the FAS one is definitely better here (again within the constraints that it also isn't "good" its just significantly less horrible).

The "better device" you're describing is basically the GT-1000 Core, whose UI is, IMHO, inferior on every single level. There's more to this than just screen sizes and knob layouts.

I don't know the GT-1000 Core

Strong disagree here. L6 has been very upfront about why HX Edit (or Helix Native) looks and feels like it does - and yes, a lot of UX/UI design iterations went into it. Whether you agree with the product decisions leading to the final product is a different story.

I didn't argue that they were not upfront with it. It still is a bad UX decision to create a completely homegrown non-platform UI and if you then even limit it by orienting it to hardware ui constraints it even gets worse. The whole idea of the UI being as similar as the hardware is crude. Should Lightroom or Photoshop look and work like a camera interface? If this is the result of a lot of UX/UI design iterations then well... sad thing. So yes - I disagree with the product decisions - as a user of such products and as a frontend engineer since 20 years. Maybe windows users are more easy with accepting a wild chaotic mess of UIs ;)

Did you know the Line6 guys actually wanted a touchscreen on the Helix but the powers that be voted against that? I think for a traditionally driven UI it does very well within its constraints. The capacitive footswitches, pedal edit mode and all that are thoughtful features that help with this.

I know that yes. You are right that it is okayish for such an UI. It definitely is thoughtful in the sense that a lot of thoughts went into it. This doesn't necessarily make it a role model though. A completely new modeler might have a vastly different UI (hopefully).

I don't think HX Edit replicating the onboard UI is a bad idea at all. It actually does make it easier to switch between the two when they look and operate the same. I think the app's issues are entirely in what is around the parts lifted from the hw UI.

Thats against anything UI designers learn.

The HX Stomp is not a 2018 device. It's an iteration on a 2015 device. Obviously the design of these is probably at least 3 years earlier than that considering it takes a long time to develop a new platform. Similarly the FM3 and FM9 are iterations of the 2018 Axe-Fx 3, again developed years earlier.

So substract 3 years from the 11 years - still makes it look bad. We are doing a lot of apologizing here don't we? Why is that so? My guess: Brand loyality to a vendor with a significant history and loyal following. Thats not different to the same criticism against the Fractal followers. Why is it ok for some and bad for others?

Music gear has always been behind the times in terms of UI if you compare to something like smartphones. Part of that has been due to costs for both parts and implementation where you can't order a million touchscreen displays because you are not Apple or Samsung etc. Parts costs are a game of nickel and dime where just using a $1 more expensive part may be a big cost when you are making a lot of them.

When Hotone has shown the Ampero MP-100 they already had a touch UI in 2018 - in a device significanly cheaper than the HX-Stomp and without the market reach of Line6. Headrush also put this into effect in 2017.

Now we are starting to see more and more devices adopt ARM SoCs for doing both UI and DSP processing. This has led to a weird place where obscure brands may seem more advanced for UI but then just don't compare in terms of actual sound quality.

I think this might broaden the discussion much beyond pure UI topics. I would say that new modelers using ARM SoCs are now in a range to be valid alternatives soundwise to devices like a HX Stomp. The progress in sound quality is even bigger than any progress in UI may have been.

Meanwhile things like the Boss GX100 don't impress. Its touchscreen UI is sluggish and the way it operates seems more like "touchscreen for touchscreen's sake" rather than to making it easier to use. I think this sort of stuff is still in its infancy for music gear and the better approach might be to move the UI side to tablet/phone/computer where you already have a powerful device to handle it and have the device itself be a processing and I/O box.
I really can't say much about the Boss stuff, as I never used any of them. Of course just using a touchscreen doesn't make it a better device.

I do agree, that using tablets/phones as a UI for more complex setup scenarios is a very viable alternative. It would have been another perfect solution to the HX stomp UI problem. With all that thoughts that have gone into this product they certainly have had this in mind.... erm... *duh* nope nothing and nothing in sight in 2022. This is really something I cannot understand. iPads are quite rock solid alternatives to a laptop to have with you on gigs. Its completely not understandable to me that Line 6 (and Fractal!) have ignored this for so long.
 
Last edited:

aptfx

Member
Messages
227
I agree that Helix's UI isn't as good as a lot of people give it credit for... But not by a long shot I'd equate it with Fractal's.
I don't want to equate them :) - they are both fiddly and bad though. One of them is a bit less fiddly and bad. But yes you're right, the main point was and is, that the praise the Helix UI gets here is undeserved.
 
Last edited:

JasonE

Member
Messages
734
There's a reason why everyone raves about their amazing destkop editor: it HAS to be amazing. I've seen people bringing laptop over to gigs to edit their Axe FX's II and III, because editing on the front panel is a pain in the butt.
I used to bring a laptop to my gigs way back in the day when I was trying to use my Axe FX Ultra to gig with. It was a pain. I gave up trying to use it for gigs and went back to an amp and pedal board. I still have it but will probably sell it now that I have an FM9. I find the FM9 easier to make adjustments on the unit itself. It isn't as easy as other units on the market but improved from what it used to be.
 

BuffDriver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
303
Well here we go again.. glad we refreshed this thread with another couple pages of the same old UI discussion. I was worried this thread would disappear/s.
 

Foxmeister

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,366
Even then - they could have used a larger display, touch and more sane knob layout to call it a commendable job. This is a 2018 device! So we already had 11 years of modern small form factor UI design completely ignored.
I would argue that the design ethos of the Stomp was to make it as small as possible whilst still remaining as flexible as possible.

If they used a large touchscreen display, it simply wouldn't be the HX Stomp, and instead be Helix Lite (not LT!).

In my experience, even though the Stomp's UI is small and has limited knobs, what L6 have done is create an incredibly usable and powerful UI on a tiny device.
 

Foxmeister

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,366
Absolutely. I think Line6 did a good job with the Helix and by comparison I don't feel the Catalyst for example is their best work both for how the hardware controls and the software operates.

W.r.t the Catalyst, I actually think that Line 6 mostly hit the mark with both the hardware controls and the software - the only “issue” I really have with it is that I genuinely think it would work better, “as a device”, if Line 6 had just included reverb and delay, and not bothered with the modulation and pitch effects.

On the software front, Catalyst Edit is essentially a repurposed THR Remote, which isn’t bad at all and significanly better than Boss Tone Studio, in my opinion.
 

PLysander

Member
Messages
316
If they used a large touchscreen display, it simply wouldn't be the HX Stomp, and instead be Helix Lite (not LT!).

There's also the issue of having a large touchscreen on a tiny stompbox.

When i mentioned "constraints" regarding the HX Stomp's form factor, i wasn't only talking about size.
 

hippietim

Member
Messages
6,855
People keep bringing this up and the issue is not the sheer number of parameters at all. Removing all of those advanced parameters would not make the Fractal easier to operate. At best it would save you from a few view changes.

If Line6 were to suddenly decide to add a ton of advanced params to the Helix blocks, they would make a new UI for them rather than just add more and more pages of 3-6 params.

Fractal has a lot of small inconsistencies everywhere that add more mental load to operating it. By mental load I don't mean "noo, I cannot do it", I mean things that require just that little bit of extra thinking that you would not have to do if the system worked more consistently or smarter. Stuff like:
  • I need to remember to press Edit instead of Enter in the Layout grid because this view operates on different logic to every other view where Enter = open this thing.
  • I need to remember to NOT use the navigation arrows in model selection view because it operates differently from the Presets view where Enter confirms selection. If I navigate I change models and lose all my settings.
  • I need to remember if value wheel = scroll or value wheel = change value.
  • I need to remember where the block I am editing is placed because I cannot see it if I am not on the layout grid. Axe-Edit does not have this issue which is part of why it works so much more effortlessly. Similarly Line6 Helix/QC rarely leave the grid so they help you keep your bearings while editing.
  • I cannot see a full list of available blocks but have to scroll through them one by one when adding or changing them. Again no problem in Axe-Edit.
  • I need to remember to add those Perform view controls beforehand because they cannot be added from the onboard UI at all.
Let's not forget that for years we did not have any method for quickly going to a previous block or into common blocks. The double click shortcuts made the onboard UI a lot more pleasant to work with because it reduced the amount of "spam enter to cycle blocks" and "spam exit and layout grid button" required. It's a small, simple improvement that made a big difference in how the unit is operated.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of a lot of small things that make the onboard UI more cumbersome to operate than it should be compared to their competitors. We just deal with it because we have to if we want to enjoy all the good things Fractal does like their excellent amp modeling and effects.

Fractal could really use a person who truly understands user interface and experience design. Everything they design has a very "engineer" mentality where the programming implementation often shines through rather than designing a feature around how it would be easiest to use.

The new scene ignore feature is a good example of this where it's shoehorned into existing systems but is pretty unintuitive to the end user because the system isn't at all clear about when it's active plus it does not work for every block seemingly only because there was no room for the toggle in the onboard UI (why do they have the Advanced page list view then if not for things like this?).

UI is simply an area where Fractal could do more. I don't think many of the issues with the design of the current UI are unsolvable or would require changing it massively.

I agree with much of what you wrote. There are inconsistencies and certainly plenty of shortcuts that could be added. The AX8 had a couple really annoying navigation problems, but it was worth it to me to have the best sounding rig. Same goes for now.

I have run into inconsistencies with pretty much every non-trivial device or application. Sometimes hard choices get made. Sometimes bad choices get made.

Fractal has steadily improved. And the editors are truly superb. The HX editor is pretty meh. The Boss editors are consistently mediocre at best.

I thought the QC UI was a mess. Lots of inconsistencies and unintuitive operation.

The Boss UI paradigm where all blocks are present always is obnoxious - so it's cumbersome but not difficult.

The Headrush UI was sluggish and surprisingly unintuitive for certain things. The touch screen was not much of a win compared to how other devices work.

I have to admit that I did not "get" the Helix UI at first and I hated the capacitive footswitches because I have this bad habit of putting my foot where it doesn't belong with that mode enabled. I think it looks nice and it does a good job for the feature set. I don't like the geometric symbols for blocks - I much prefer words.

I didn't like the Kemper UI when I had one years ago. I have no idea how it works these days. Back when I had it you had to reboot the thing to add new profiles. That was a terrible experience.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,805
So substract 3 years from the 11 years - still makes it look bad. We are doing a lot of apologizing here don't we? Why is that so? My guess: Brand loyality to a vendor with a significant history and loyal following. Thats not different to the same criticism against the Fractal followers. Why is it ok for some and bad for others?
I have owned the Helix Floor, Quad Cortex, Strymon Iridium, Yamaha THR100 and currently own an Axe-Fx 3 and a FM3. I use whatever I consider to be the best solution for my needs and don't consider myself to have much brand loyalty. I find good and bad in all of them.
 

stratzrus

Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,732
I'm sorry, I'm lost here.

Is this a Fractal thread or a Helix thread.

Or was this thread, designed to elicit complaints about Fractal gear, intended to be about the Helix all along?

:dunno

Post Script: Page 97 and we're still talking about the UI? Really? I've been a visitor in some nursing homes where people talk about the same thing over and over day after day but I didn't expect it to happen to people who weren't drifting into their twilight years.
 

hippietim

Member
Messages
6,855
Post Script: Page 97 and we're still talking about the UI? Really? I've been a visitor in some nursing homes where people talk about the same thing over and over day after day but I didn't expect it to happen to people who weren't drifting into their twilight years.
I turn 57 in a couple weeks. I think I'm drifting into my twilight years every day.
 

aptfx

Member
Messages
227
I have owned the Helix Floor, Quad Cortex, Strymon Iridium, Yamaha THR100 and currently own an Axe-Fx 3 and a FM3. I use whatever I consider to be the best solution for my needs and don't consider myself to have much brand loyalty. I find good and bad in all of them.
To be fair - this wasn’t directed at you personally but more a general ghost haunting this forum
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom