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Another P&W "Helix Content" thread...

Discussion in 'Worship Service Players' started by mkdaws32, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Hi All,

    I had mentioned a while back that our church was looking at guitar backline equipment and, instead of a traditional setup, was leaning towards a high end all-in-one, silent stage solution. Contenders were AXE FX III, Helix, Kemper and HeadRush.

    We'll the choice was made a couple of months ago and Helix was the winner. Our church is very contemporary in style - Bethel, Vertical Church, Hillsong United, etc, but we do throw in traditional hymns without mangling them too badly ;) and the occasional "all acoustic" set.

    The Kemper and Helix made the short list, but we found the Helix to be a little more friendly for multiple guitarists' use and it seemed to have less of a learning curve (i.e. easy to set up basic patches and give a new guitarist a 10 minute run through and a "cheat sheet" to tweak the tone, amp and pedal settings to accommodate his/her guitar and style).

    We are fully silent stage, except for acoustic drums which are in an ISO booth, and the vocalists' voices. We are running 100% in-ear monitoring with stereo mixes that each musician can control, themselves.

    I have been left in charge of setting up the Helix, so I started with some of the excellent WorshipTutorials.com patches and tweaked them from there. I created variations with the "big 3" amps (Vox AC30, Marshall JTM 45, Fender Blackface Deluxe) and variations in gain for guitars with higher and lower output. Honestly, in the mix and in the monitors is sounds incredible and is incredibly easy to use, live. It is a perfect solution for us. It really comes through well for our online services and recordings, as well.

    All that to say, I have not been hauling my own rig to the church for a couple of months. As such, I started to contemplate if I should sell off all of my pedals and invest in a Helix for myself at home. I could get all the same tones and sounds from my rig, but it looked so big and un-elegant in comparison.

    I will always keep my old Bandit and my TubeMeister head and cab, mostly because that Bandit has been with me going on 40 years and is never going anywhere, and, well, tubes ;) Gotta have at least one, right?

    So I played around quite a bit and found that I much preferred the pre-amp of my TubeMeister head to the Helix amp models. The models are very good, but A/B'ing them back to back with the TubeMeister pre-amp in the Helix effect loop, the difference was more noticeable than I expected - could be I'm biased, though, because I really like that amp. (Note: I am using 3rd party IRs for cabinets and NOT using the Helix built-in cabinets. For A/B'ing with the real pre-amp, I used exactly the same IRs and effects in the Helix.)

    I also preferred my EHX Hot Wax dual overdrive to the models in the Helix. Again - not because it is better than the models, it's just that I went through a LOT of overdrives before finding this one and nothing in the Helix sounds quite like it.

    So I opted to sell most of my pedals and simplify my rig with an HX Effects, instead of the full Helix pedalboard. Hot Wax -> TubeMeister preamp -> EB jr volume pedal -> HX Effects. Done! I may add a an MXR compressor upfront down the road, but I don't know - I kinda like the compressor after the drives anyway. For me the HX Effects replaces a cabinet (via IR), noise gate, tuner, compressor, EQ, modulation effects (which I rarely use) and a myriad of reverbs and delays.

    I'm still in the honeymoon stage, but I'm loving this simplified rig right now both with my amps, and direct.

    Note that the HX Effects unit does have some limitations over a full Helix system:

    • HX Effects only supports 4 snapshots instead of 8;
    • HX Effects does not work as an audio interface to a computer - only a Midi controller;
    • HX Effects does not contain any amp models or Helix native cabinet simulations - only the IR loader;
    • HX Effects does not have a headphone jack for portable practicing (also, it's a small footprint, but deceivingly heavy);
    • HX Effects only supports 9 simultaneous effect blocks.
     
    black_doug likes this.
  2. lstdukestking

    lstdukestking Tele-Meister

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    Just my opinion. I prefer my pedalboard over a Helix. If something goes down, I can bypass it, switch it out, etc. I have options. The other electric player (who has moved away and only plays when he's in town visiting family now) has a Helix. He had an issue with it working one day. If it doesn't work, none of it works.

    Of course, if the church is paying...maybe i'd use it. But if I'm paying...
     
    mkdaws32 likes this.
  3. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I here you on both counts. I have stressed more than once the need for a backup system. We do have a Tiny Terror with a 112 Orange cabinet that can be mic’d out back if disaster struck with the Helix, but all effects have to be run from the board (we have a Waves LV1 system) which is not ideal, to say the least.

    Where the church is paying, and we need something simple to setup and use, the Helix works and I use it. I seriously considered getting a Helix Floor, or a Helix LT, or HeadRush Pedalboard for myself, but the solution I went with ultimately works better for me, and while not quite as modular as a full, traditional pedalboard, it doesn’t place all of my eggs in one basket and I do have a backup for each component.
     
  4. Lineville65

    Lineville65 TDPRI Member

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    A couple of years ago I decided I was done with tubes, channel switching, carrying an amp and pedals. I happened to be in a music store in Des Moines which had a used Helix LT. I asked for a demo, paced up and down, drove away and returned, deciding to buy it and go all in, no matter how long it took me. Surprisingly (for me) the learning curve was shallow and I had usable presets for the following Sunday.

    I use it just as I would an amp and pedalboard. Nothing exotic. I find I learn something every time I use it. For example, I don’t use any EQ blocks as I didn’t use any outboard EQ previously. I simply set it at the amp model block like I would any amp.

    Modeling doesn’t satisfy everyone’s personal tastes. Everyone’s different as I can’t seem to differentiate between IRs and the amp/cab models. So far I’m very happy. Especially when I stick it in a backpack and head home. I’m looking at going further down the rabbit hole with Snapshots. For home I connect it to a Headrush monitor.

    Still, I wanted an amp around the house. Even for there I bought a Fender Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb.
     
  5. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Oh - I live in snapshot mode on both the church’s Helix and my own HX Effects!
     
  6. Lineville65

    Lineville65 TDPRI Member

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    I understand it’s great. I’ll have to figure it out and try it.
     
  7. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    It's just like creating "scenes" within a preset and you can flip back and forth between snapshot mode and stomp mode on the fly by hitting the bank up and down buttons at the same time. Any "stomps" you switch on or off will modify the current snapshot until you reload the preset, which sets it back to default.

    For example. Say you have a Snapshot 1 "ambient clean" which is set up with low gain on the amp model, a delay and big hall reverb. Then you have Snapshot 2 "ambient lead" which kicks up the drive and midrange on the amp, and maybe kicks in an overdrive pedal and also has the same delay and reverb on. But for one song, you want the "ambient lead" to kick on a phaser, as well. Instead of having a separate patch with this one varuation, you can assign a pedal in stomp mode to the phaser and have it off in both snapshots by default. When you go to play the song where you want the pahser on for leads, you can activate the "lead ambient" snapshot, flip to stomp mode, turn the phaser on and then switch back to snapshot mode - all before starting the song. Now, as long as you do not reload the preset or switch to another one, every time you switch to the "clean ambient" snapshot, the phaser will be off, but when you switch to the "lead ambient" snapshot, it the phaser will come on. It's like it makes the phaser "temporarily" part of the "ambient lead" snapshot.

    Very cool and powerful, once you get your head around it!
     
    Lineville65 likes this.
  8. Lineville65

    Lineville65 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. Better explanation than the manual!
     
  9. mRtINY

    mRtINY Friend of Leo's

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    Like switching presets on my Quadraverb GT....
     
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