Big multi-effects (Line 6 Helix)

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by pilotjones, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    I'm usually a bullet points guy, but this one requires a little exposition.

    I went to Guitar Center to return the Boss MS-3 that I had bought, before the 45 days were up. My hope in getting it had been that it would have the minimum I wanted to take with me for small/undemanding gigs, and then be able to integrate it into my board for heavier stuff, and fun. My minimum one-box hope was tuner, good octaves +1 and -1, some kind of distortion, envelope filter, and decent comp. Anything else is mostly frosting on the cake for these purposes for me. Also far in the back of my mind was the .1% chance it could replace my whole rig.

    But the tracking of the octaves or of any harmonizer-type patch was bad, not even getting down to open A, and with the harmony coming in like up to 150 ms late even in mono mode. So back to the store she went.

    When I returned it, I saw a couple of the big new multi-effects pedals in the used case. A Headrush that sells new for 1k selling used for 850, and a Line 6 Helix that sells new for 1500 selling used for 1000. Both were way more than what I'd want to spend, but what the hell, I'm here, right?

    First I tried the Headrush, and at first it was OK, nice touchscreen and whatnot, although it was pretty laggy changing patches. But when I found the octaver and harmony patches - Holy Crap! - tracking was absolutely horrendous! It wouldn't even track to a guitar low E, much less the bass open E. Take it away, mister guitar center guy!

    Then I tried the Helix. I found the bass-oriented patches, including a filter one that sounded OK. I was surprised to find one patch that actually made it sound like a thumpy no-sustain bass, though I don't know how they were doing it, but that was a cool thing. Then I hit an octave patch. It tracked. Down to the open E. Down the the open B! I couldn't believe it. Switched the pitch from -12 to +12 to be sure, and it not only tracked, but there was none of this delay/latency ****. So just as I'm getting excited, looking at the patch to see how to add some fuzz and an envelope filter to see if I could do the synthy thing, while thinking "could I possibly buy this bargain-priced but still expensive thing? Maybe if I sold my other pedals?," mister guitar center guy walks over.

    "You won't believe what just happened."
    "While you were trying it out, some guy just called the store and bought it. It's paid for. The other sales guy took the call."

    So, effects TBers, before I continue mentally manipulating cash that I don't really have -- do any of you have experience with this thing beyond the guitar store time that I got with it? Can it do the funky and synthy things? I'm pretty sure as far as the other effects it's got it all covered. What say?
  2. SirMoak


    Jan 6, 2017

    I've been researching these multis for the same reasons. Two days ago I tried a Helix LT to see if I should preorder HX Effects (it's like the MS-3, multi without amp sims), and the octaver didn't sound very convincing to me. When I tried the guitar synth effect it became obvious that there are still tracking issues.

    What I would recommend is to get a multi for for the other effects and loop switching which these high end units can do, and purchase a separate octaver. That's what I did, I preordered the HX Effects and will be keeping my TC Sub'N'Up in one of the effect loops.
    Novarocker likes this.
  3. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    Both of the guitarists in my band have a Helix, and I am so tempted to join them with an LT. It does everything I want and more. I currently use one of two pedals boards depending on the gig. The Helix would replace both of them at the press of a button.

    As far as pitch shifting goes, I used to have a Line 6 M5. I wasn't into upwards pitch shifting at the time, but the octave effect was the best tracking digital octave I had ever used with a bass (and I've owned quite a few multi-effects devices over the years). No warbles and right down to open E.

    The algorithms have been vastly improved the M series, so I'm not surprised the Helix tracks so well. But it might be worth investigating the older M pedals if you want something cheaper than the Helix. If not, there's always the new Helix HX. Smaller, simplified routing and no amp modelling, but has all the effects from the Helix line.
    acmeseed likes this.
  4. GMC

    GMC Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    For pitching I use an Eventide H9 Max and it's an astonishing pedal. The EXH Hog2 is pretty amazing too, but a little different. On the H9, I can play a single note and get latency free power chords, min 7ths or one patch allows 4 variable harmonised notes from a single bass note tuned to a specific chord.
    But if I was after a small but powerful board, a Boss ME-3 / Aftershock / H9 / H9 combo would be small and very hard to beat in terms of functionality and top drawer tonality. You'd have the base patches from the MS-3, the dirt from the Aftershock, pitch factor on one H9 and reverbs / delays on the other H9.
  5. SirMoak


    Jan 6, 2017
    I got a reply on this thread where the poster asked if I would really tell someone to not like something which they have already tried and liked (in this case the octaver algorythm in a Helix). The post is gone now (I only saw it on my phone briefly and when I got to the laptop it was gone), but let me reply anyway:
    Sure I would! The time spent in any guitar store trying out new equipment is always too little time. There are a lot of things to check, a lot of variables out of our control and we usually zero in on the specific unit instead of other combinations.

    So when I say something is not that perfect in my opinion, I do not mean any disrespect, I only try to say: check it out again, or check out a combination of effects, you might like an alternative version even more.

    I don't spend my whole life on TalkBass, but so far I have great respect for the community here, so please take my comment as a personal opinion and as critique.

  6. ChubbyJerk


    Apr 23, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    That was me and I was rushing out the door or I would have edited rather than deleted. I thought my post may have come off harsher than I intended, so I wanted to clarify. I felt it was better to delete and come back later to spend more time on the post instead of rushing it. Apologies if I seemed rude. Totally not my intention; quite the opposite.

    One of the reasons I wanted to edit it was because I realized I had missed where you had specifically answered a question from the OP regarding synth sounds. I focused on the octave portion, which he had said he was happy with.

    Secondly, the main part of what I said was this. Octave pedals are well known for being:
    1) extremely subjective. Some people love what others hate. Some hate the glitchiness of analog. Some hate the synthiness of digital. Some hate them all. Some love analog/digital but disagree on which.

    2) very sensitive to input. What bass, how hot the output is, what pickup you use, where you have the tone knob set, your specific play style, etc.

    Given those two key points, and the fact that he said he had tried it in person and been happy with it, I was confused as to why you would basically say (paraphrased), "you're wrong, the octave isn't good, get a real octave pedal."

    One thing to note on the Helix - they updated some of the tracking algorithms a while back. Then they had to roll it back because the patch caused other issues. I have no clue if that has been resolved or not. This was a year ago maybe? And there's no way to know what version either of you were playing on.

    Personally, I was quite happy with the octave on the Helix. I'm planning on getting the HX Effects soon.

    Side note - @pilotjones, the HX Effects might be the answer for you. It's cheaper and smaller but still packs in a ton.
  7. SirMoak


    Jan 6, 2017
    No harm intended from either side, so no harm done. It's also worth mentioning that the Helix LT I tried was taken out of the box for the first time, so no firmware updates were installed on it. Who knows how long has it been sitting there, so it might have missed quite a few updates. Still, I would not have ordered the HX if the LT wasn't phenomenal. And I did. So it was. :D
  8. ChubbyJerk


    Apr 23, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    Re-re-re-reading your post, your solution is actually not stupid. :D

    The HX Effects would give him enough savings (compared to a full Helix, even used) to add on a few specific pedals - an octave pedal or perhaps the Synth9 - and put them in the loop and still spend less overall.
  9. Callused Finger

    Callused Finger

    Feb 22, 2007
    New York
    Even used that's a grand worth of pedals!
    Kid, wife, house - grumble grumble grumble.
    CameronJohnson likes this.
  10. brocket

    brocket Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2017
    Coastal NC
    I had a Line 6 M9 that did all these pretty well- I especially liked the Tube Comp. I'd use the harmonizer (Smart Harmony?) for -1 and +1 octaves and never had any issues. If you never needed more than three at one time, I'd recommend picking up an M9, especially if they keep occasionally dropping the price to $250. The new Line 6 Helix HX would fit the bill if you needed more flexibility.
  11. The Bass Octaver on the Hélix/LT/HX is the same the M Stompoxes have?
    I have an M13 and i hate the Bass Octaver cos it has Oct -1 and Oct-2 always On! You can´t individually control them. And i don´t need the OCt-2.... That´s why is use Pitch Glide in -12 to get just one octave down. Sounds good but i'm not totally convinced.
  12. GMC

    GMC Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    True, but you don't need to buy it all at once. Also you don't need two H9 Maxes. Just one Max and one core.
  13. ChubbyJerk


    Apr 23, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    No. And also yes?
    This is what's currently on there for effects. All original to the Helix, I think.


    In patch 2.5, they're adding 77 "legacy" effects from the M13, DM4, etc. For pitch/octave/synth, that includes:
    bgmww likes this.
  14. SirMoak


    Jan 6, 2017
    That would be the general idea. I only wish the HX was announced about two years ago when I started building my current pedalboard. :D

    From what I've seen so far, the only major thing you lose with the HX are the amp simulations (and the nice big colour display).
    Personally, I'm not a big fan of amp simulations on bass, I only use a guitar multi (currently a Digitech RP360XP) on the octaver's upper octave. Since the upper octave usually sounds artificial (because it is :D), you'll never achieve an exceptional guitar sound with it. So for fake guitar I think you can get away with a distortion and an IR of some nice guitar cab. Time will tell, I'll try it both ways when the HX arrives. For other synthy/ethereal sounds you don't even need amp sims in my experience.

    Also, you couldn't be more right about the price. With the setup I'm planning to keep, I'm only about $100 over the price of a Helix LT, and this includes the following: TC SpectraComp, TC Sub'N'Up, Two-Notes Le Bass, Line 6 HX Effects. And these are prices as new, compared to the LT not the big Helix.
  15. So.. what's your choice for a pure oct-1 ?
  16. ChubbyJerk


    Apr 23, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    I very very rarely go with an octave down. But when I do, Pitch Wham.

    As I tend to put effects after it any time I use an octave (both up and down), tracking speed and accuracy trump tone for me on octave effects.

    I also liked the Dual Pitch very much.

    Keep in mind, I sold my Helix a while back for monetary issues, and am planning on getting an HX but don't have one yet, so this is all based off of my memory. I'm trying hard to provide helpful input but want to make sure I don't misspeak or misremember and lead somebody astray.
    bgmww likes this.
  17. Cool. thanks for your reply
  18. Do the guitarists use the Helix without an amp?

    The church I play at needs to replace the failing bass amp and they are looking into the Helix LT as a replacement; this would be connected directly to the board and I would use in-ears.

    I think it is overkill but the worship director saw it at NAMM and was sold on it, she used to work in the industry and can get a deep discount.

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.
  19. Band Mom

    Band Mom Not Actually a Mom

    Oct 2, 2017
    Austin, TX
    I've played quite a few gigs with my Line 6 Helix LT. Like others have said, I don't really use the amp modeling that much, but I do make use of their many bass-specific fx. I tend to run most everything through my fx loop, as I find the patches I use get a tad noisy when running straight into the input, but otherwise this is a great fx board that has replaced all of my traditional pedals.

    If the HX Effects had been announced a year earlier, I would have bought that instead, though I'll admit that their bass amp models aren't bad, and are a pleasant enough diversion for home recording.
  20. I've been using the Helix every single day for just under a year, and it's the one piece of gear I can truly say I will never be without again. I use it as my sound card for everyday computer use, it's my main recording interface, I use it for jamming, I use it live with my band, it's fantastic for bass, guitar, AND vocals, and it's built like a tank. I bought mine used for around $1250 (with the carrying bag) and it's the best money I can remember spending on a piece of gear.

    The fact that you can load a gazillion patches (that's the technical number it can do, I think lol) into this thing and edit them easily on the fly or on the super simple computer software is just phenomenal. In addition to that, they actually update it, and those updates have added some tasty effects for bass. Best of all, if you're looking for a particular type of tone you're not quite getting from the stock patches, Line 6 has a user-supplied database of patches you can download (it takes no time at all) for free and try out for yourself. Lastly, there are many premiere artists, producers, and sound engineers who have created patches for the Helix and they're available all over the web for free or cheap. Considering most patches people create are accompanied by a YouTube demo video, you really can't go wrong.
    BrentSimons, ChubbyJerk and Band Mom like this.