AX8 or Helix?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Eden, Oct 1, 2018.

Helix or AX8

  1. Helix

    53.2%
  2. AX8

    46.8%
  1. Eden

    Eden SS.org Regular

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    Been saving up for a modeler that I can use for home recording and practice, but could still run a digital rig for jamming with the boys. The Helix seems very cool to me, and I got the chance to play one at my local guitar center and was totally wowed by the sound and feel of it.

    However, a new AX8 is the same or less than a used Helix, and from what I've gathered from reviews, it has the better amp modeling, but is a little less UI friendly.

    Thoughts? With the Helix always being updated, does it have the capacity to get even better? Or should I get the Fractal? Because I feel like I'd be happy either way
     
  2. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Fractal updates their stuff too ;).

    Axe edit is pretty straightforward. It shouldn't be too hard to get good sounds if you are used to editing sounds in a program. Either way you'll want the manual handy when getting started.

    I vote fractal. I tried the HxFx and couldnt even make a basic dirt/delay/reverb using their startup guide. I was hopeful because the price is right. With the manual, the fx8 didnt take long to set up.
     
  3. makecamera

    makecamera SS.org Regular

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    I own an Axe Fx II XL and love it, but if it were between the Helix and AX8 for home use I'd go with the Helix. It's got the expression pedal, headphone out, and can act as an audio interface -- all things the AX8 doesn't have. You also said you tried one out and liked it, so you already have that going for you.

    Or buy both, compare them, and return the one you like the least :).
     
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  4. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Neither.

    If you have to save up to buy a $1000 modeller, then I'd recommend simply using plugins for home recording. They can sound identical, and cost far less. A huge portion of the sound is from the cabinet impulse anyway. Thermionik amp sims costs $8 each, and you can get huge packs of impulses from Ownhammer for $10-12 per cabinet. Or that new Fortin sim is €90. You also have the benefit of being able to change your sound after the fact without re-amping. Your DAW will have built in reverb, delay, chorus etc which are perfectly good enough for home practice and recording.

    And what do you mean by running a digital rig for jamming? Do you have a guitar cabinet? If so, then you need a power amp. Neither Helix nor Ax8 can plug directly into a guitar cabinet.

    To me, these hardware devices are only worthwhile if you are touring. They will be more reliable than running a laptop with plugins. Plus, being able to control it with your feet is a benefit. For home recording, neither of those is a factor.
     
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  5. Bentaycanada

    Bentaycanada SS.org Regular

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    KEMPER, seriously.
     
  6. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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    The helix sounds amazing these days
     
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  7. ryanscott6

    ryanscott6 SS.org Regular

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    Pick the one you can get the best deal on - all 3 of the top modellers kick ass.
     
  8. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    If amp sounds are a priority, then I say AX8. The tweakability of all the amp models in the AX8 is just superb. You can change tube types, tweak voltage and sag, speaker decay etc. It's like modding a real amp. The Helix amp sounds are not bad at all. They sound more present. But the Fractal amps in Quantum firmware is just warmer and more responsive. Plus the controls are very close to the real thing.

    For everything else, Helix. It has more features, you can use it for recording, and is easier to use.
     
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  9. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    AX8 has received a lot of updates in the past which is typical for Fractal, but it uses the same tech as the Axe FX II, which is now EOL and updates have slowed to a trickle as the III is taking up most of their time. I wouldn’t expect further updates, but if there are any, just treat them like a bonus.

    For example, Axe FX II received its most recent update in May. AX8 got an update in September but I’m not sure if that was just the Axe FX II’s update getting ported to the AX8. Same firmware number at least.

    On the up-side, it sounds great as-is, and doesn’t particularly need any further updates.

    Very tweakable, moreso than the Helix, this can be a blessing or a curse depending on you. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the level of deep editing you can do. If you’re used to amps it’s a learning curve.

    Front screen is very dated but usable, I generally don’t bother plugging my Axe FX II in unless I want to try someone else’s patch or something, I just edit from the front screen. Once you get it down, it’s easy enough to navigate.

    I only have limited experience with the helix, I tried helix native for a day back when the demo came out, since I was curious how it sounded. I thought it was pretty good! But at the time, not enough to make me want to sell my II to get one, as I was happy with my II.
     
  10. Sogradde

    Sogradde SS.org Regular

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    I'm a little biased because I recently bought a Helix LT but I'll try to explain why I prefer the Helix.

    Between the AX8 and the Helix (LT?) I'd pick the Helix because the DSP limitation on the AX8 would inhibit me personally but if you buy the Helix, you will have to spend a little extra cash on good IRs.
    Between the Helix and the Axe Fx 2/3 I'd pick the Helix simply because I want a floor unit, it is cheaper and easier to replace if it breaks while on tour.

    Sound wise it is assumed that the Axe sounds a little better. From the sound clips and comparisons I heard, I wouldn't call it "better" but different. The fractal units tend to interact better with the volume control of the guitar, being more dynamic but to me the Helix models sound a littler fuller than the Fractal units.

    At the end of the day, both have their merits and both are defnitely good enough for home recording, band practice and live gigs, it's just a matter of what features you want/need and what unit suits your work flow.
     
  11. hvdh

    hvdh SS.org Regular

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    None of both!
    Choose this one. Best solution for small homes for a small budget.
     
  12. maccayoung

    maccayoung SS.org Regular

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    This is a pretty good comparison video;
     
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  13. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    I owned the Axe-Fx 2 for years and got pretty close to its sound with the Helix. I would still give the Fractal units a slight edge but the main thing the Helix does 10x better is the user interface. Helix is almost as easy to use as a pedalboard of individual pedals. It's fast to select blocks to edit and change their settings.

    To me the UI trumped differences in sound, though I use my Helix mostly as an effects unit with a tube amp.
     
  14. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    It would have been legit couple of years ago, firmware developement changes things a lot.
     
  15. mikah912

    mikah912 SS.org Regular

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    If updates are important to you, that tilts heavily for Helix since the AX8 and Axe-FX 2 platforms are way down the Fractal priority ladder these days. It was awesome of Cliff to port whatever Ares algorithms he could to them, but they're clearly nearing EOL in terms of support. Helix, OTOH, has a roadmap of years ahead of it and at least one big firmware update around the corner right now.

    Also, the amp models vary on both platforms (I've had an AX8 and a Helix), so statements like "the amp modeling is better on X" don't apply. I liked some stuff better on Fractal and some better on Helix. Not a ton of overlap. The Helix Archon, Badonk and Cartographer amp models are my favorites, and you can't get them on Fractal. The Fractal 5153, Marshall JVM410HJS and FAS Modern models were my favorites there, and you can't get them on Helix. I'd say I preferred Fractal Fender sounds, Helix vox sounds, Fractal Marshalls, Fractal Mesa sounds and the Helix Friedman BE-100 sounds.

    The Helix Floor also does sooooooo much more than an AX8. Reamp box, 8x8 interface, headphone jack, expression pedal, scribble strips for live performance.....you get a lot more for your money.
     
  16. Captain Butterscotch

    Captain Butterscotch SS.org Regular

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    Get the Helix and also pay for some top notch cab IRs.
     
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  17. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands SS.org Regular

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    AX8 if you care more about amps and don't mind the tweaking, plus a bit of a learning curve using all the options. Lots and lots and lots of amps and cabs to choose from.

    Helix if you want more effects, more versatility via the 4CM, and something more user friendly. Also 3rd party IRs are pretty important.
     
  18. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    Helix and one of the ownhammer heavy hitters packs.... Good to go!!! I switched from stock cab sim to the OH IR it was like getting hit in the face with sound it made it so much meaner
     
  19. Eden

    Eden SS.org Regular

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    Fairly surprised in how split this poll has been! I'm trying to decide if all the extra tweaking that the AX8 will permit would be necessary for me, but I think I would just get lost in the sauce, so to speak.

    About how much do these Ownhammer IRs go for? They seem to be the most referenced ones from what I've seen
     
  20. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands SS.org Regular

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    You could get a IR pack for $50.
     

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