Which modeler is right for me?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by LZRFACE, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. LZRFACE

    LZRFACE Member

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    Warning wall of text incoming...

    Hello TGPers! This forum has been a valuable tool for me in the past when researching purchases, so I am hoping to get a little insight on my next major purchase: a fully digital modeling rig. It's not often I can invest in something like this, so I want something that will last and has the capability to expand after the initial purchase.

    A little about me: I have been playing guitar on and off since high school, but really only picked it up seriously over the last two years. I tend to jump all over the place in terms of what I like to play, from jazz to metal, so I guess I have yet to really define my own style. Gigging isn't something I am really interested in, but I would like to start recording my own material.

    I would like a stereo, rack based rig with an FRFR setup and a foot controller. I am settled on a Matrix power amp and a Mission Engineering Gemini 2P, (mainly because I prefer the traditional guitar cabinet aesthetic). I understand that a 2x12 cabinet is not ideal for stereo, but in my research purchasing two guitar cab styled FRFR speakers puts things over where I would like to be budget wise. Speaking of budget, granted the Matrix/Mission combo I have budget for any of the big three modelers out today.

    So now the million dollar question: Kemper, Fractal, or Helix. All three come in rack format, have foot controllers, and stereo outs. I have listened to tons of clips from all three and they all CAN sound amazing, so I'm not really looking for a X is superior to Y tone wise discussion.

    Initially I was pretty sold on Kemper, but with the with all the recent discussion around the Helix (as well as some wonderful sounding clips) it has me reconsidering things. Here's what I like and dislike about each:

    AxeFX
    Like: ultimate tweakibility, doubles as an audio interface, highest quality effects of all three units, tons of amp models available
    Dislike: foot controller is too expensive (have to go 3rd party), front panel isn't as intuitive and most tweaks will require working from a computer

    Kemper

    Like: so much variety with commercial and free profiles, hardware interface is the amp-like
    Dislike: no audio interface, weaker effects

    Helix
    Like: dead simple UI for adjustments, audio interface, price
    Strong Dislike: limited amp models

    Given my ADHD nature, the number of amp profiles is a big deal to me. The thought of having quality models for things like a Jim Kelly, D-style, and Mark IIc+in one box is what initials drew me to the modeling world. That said, I don't want to spend all of my time tweaking patches as opposed to playing (I'll leave that to the pros and don't mind paying). I'm sure I am missing other key elements of owning these devices, so I was hoping some owners could help me out.
     
  2. Bikedude

    Bikedude Gold Supporting Member

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    Helix, because it's fun building your own rigs that sound good, about as good as my Kemper purchased profiles(MBritt). It's easy to use for a guy like me that was intimidated by the AX8, and I really don't need 200 Amps, and it's generally accepted that the UI of the Helix is the best in the industry right now.
     
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  3. scook

    scook Member

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  4. veritechc

    veritechc Member

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    I have a Helix and a Axe Fx. I think you would be surprised at just how close the two sound. I know it seems the Axe FX has way for amps, and it does but really many are channels of the same amp. Id say you can cut that number down by 1/3 if you are talking about amps that don't sound the same. That is still a significant number.

    For me it comes down to price.

    A Helix Rack with the foot controller is $1800 brand new. You can get that from somewhere like American Musical Supply where they give you 12 months same as cash and a 45 day return policy.

    Axe FX 2 XL+ is $2250. No discounts and 15 day return policy. That is without any foot controller.

    Id advise you to get a Helix you could try out in your studio for 45 day. If you don't like it return it and get the Axe Fx 2.
     
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  5. vltjd

    vltjd Supporting Member

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    AX8.

    As for the Kemper, forget the free profiles. Most are awful but can be tweaked.
     
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  6. LZRFACE

    LZRFACE Member

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    I see what you did there.

    Yeah the Helix is sounding more and more appealing each day. I was watching @chuskey videos regarding patch editing and it seems like Helix Editor opens the door for a lot of customization.

    This was somewhat of a concern for me, lots of options but a lot of digging for gems as well. Also it seems like Line6 has plans for releasing more models as time goes on.
     
  7. Bikedude

    Bikedude Gold Supporting Member

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    Helix just released three new Matchless Amps in their latest update. They sound quite good out of the box.
     
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  8. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    I had the same concerns, and I definitely want more models.....buuuut the 41 guitar amp channels on there now are pretty versatile. Moreso than I gave them credit for.

    The Soldano lead (with a 800hz EQ boost in front) into a dual Greenback cabs with different mics or the Bogner V30/75 mix (both stock cabs) can absolutely get into Friedman/Cameron/hot-rodded Marshall territory.

    The Line 6 Epic with the dual stock Mesa cabs can absolutely get pretty close to Mesa Mark 2/4/5 tone.

    I've made patches for both and put them on Customtone. Highly rated and much downloaded.

    You gotta think of "models" as just labels. With loadable dual IRs, they are all infinitely expandable. Helix also has a pretty boss selection of drive pedals to tweak them even further.
     
  9. facefirst

    facefirst Member

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    I didn't read the OP. AmpliFIRE
     
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  10. GuitarGalah

    GuitarGalah Member

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    AxeFx? Yes!
    Kemper? Yes!
    Helix? Yes!

    p.s.
    Amplifire? Yes, probably!
     
  11. weshunter

    weshunter Supporting Member

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    If you're going to gig with it, Helix. If it's just for recording Axe fx might be a better choice for you since the ability to edit on the unit on the fly wouldn't be that big of a deal and since you say you like the idea of having a ton of amp models.

    From your op it sounds like you're building a live rig with a power amp and stereo cab but then you mentioned you want to record with it and don't mention gigging. My advice would be to invest in a nice set of studio monitors rather than the matrix FRFR stuff if you're only using the rig for recording.

    My personal preference is Helix but I play a lot of gigs.
     
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  12. Madmax25

    Madmax25 Member

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    Seems the OP has his/her heart set on the rack format, hence Amplifire seems out of the equation. Although, I guess you could put it in the rack and just control it via midi.

    Not sure why the rack format, though...

    BTW, I have nothing educated to say about the choice of modeler in this situation.
     
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  13. JCW308

    JCW308 Supporting Member

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    Gigging - Helix / Studio - Atomic Amplifire
     
  14. ivanh3

    ivanh3 Member

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    What is your budget? Will you be using a lot of patches in the same show? If so then a foot controller is going to be a big deal. I have an AX8 and the foot-switching is awesome and just works (I know you mentioned preferring a rack setup). The foot controller for the Helix looks awesome, and many here seem to like it. The only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on an Axe Fx II is that for my needs their proprietary controller is too big/bulky. My other thought is why stereo live? Even if FOH is wired for stereo, I don't think a whole lot of panning gets done. The audience near the stage will lose out on much of the program material. Having said that if stereo is a must and you want dual amp sims then that leaves it down to the Helix and Axe Fx, unless you want to go with older gear like Pod HD or Axe Fx ultra.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
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  15. partytrain

    partytrain Member

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    And how would you suggest he mounts the ax8 in the rack? When someone asks a question, it's important to read it in full before responding.
     
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  16. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    If you have no interest in gigging or playing with other musicians I'd skip the whole power amp and stereo cabinet purhcases and instead put the money into a great pair of studio monitors. You'll have full stereo FRFR, great monitors for recording and mixing probably way better than what you have now, and when listening to music in general the experience will be much better than on cheap computer speakers. The only downside is that you are tied to your computer when using it.

    Regarding which platform to choose, I'd say Kemper because portability is not an issue and you want rack mount. Helix if you want to take it out to jam or if you want a floor based form factor.
     
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  17. Nick Shephard

    Nick Shephard Member

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    What maydaynyc said. But if it's recording your interested then I would also look at software plugins as these will be very convenient to use in a DAW and save you some cash. S-Gear and Positive Grid make some great stuff.
     
  18. vltjd

    vltjd Supporting Member

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    True, but when someone says "I would like" and not "it has to be" doesn't mean that is the only solution. Also, if using the AXE, Helix or Kemper in a rack it would require a footpedal interface of some sort to truly be workable, as he mentions. Specifically, he doesn't like the AXE because of the cost with the footpedal. Avoid the rack, cut the cost, just get the footpedal.

    While it is important to read the entire post, it is equally important to think through a plausible, cost effective, solution. Essentially, he would save money and space.
     
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  19. partytrain

    partytrain Member

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    He mentioned wanting a rack unit multiple times. It was quite clear. Perhaps if you had stated the reasons that you think the AX8 is a viable option despite his insistence on having a rack unit, your post would've been more helpful. But as it was, your "AX8." post with no supporting information was worthless and indicated either a lack of reading or comprehension of the OP.
     
  20. scook

    scook Member

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    A bit off topic, but OP, if you're choosing the Mission Engineering cab primarily because of the "traditional" guitar cab aesthetic, you should look into the Firehawk 1500 as well. Cheaper, stereo FRFR, pretty classic look IMO. Just bypass the modeling.
     
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