Fractal AX8 vs Line 6 Helix for stereo set up

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Michael_Ten, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Michael_Ten

    Michael_Ten blergh yas

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    Forgive me if this has been discussed ad nauseam on here already, but I'm looking for some experienced opinions here and couldn't find a relevant thread.

    Been working on it for a long time, and I just secured my dream amp rig. I run my guitar, first, into my tuner, then into a noise gate, then a 6 band graphic EQ (low end rolled off a touch, high end boosted a touch) into my Line 6 DL-4. The DL4 is run out in stereo to my two amps, a JCM800 and a Mesa Dual Rectifier. The reason I'm using the DL4 to split my signal is because I have the left side going dry into the JCM, and the right side I have my signal delayed by a just a few milliseconds running into the Rectifier. Neither side have any repeats, so you end up with your tone being panned and slightly offset between the two amps, making an INCREDIBLY thick sounding tone. Let me tell you, if you haven't tried running your amps in stereo this way, do yourself a big ol' fukkin favor and try it out. That tone is what dreams are made of, for real. It's the same difference for your live tone that you get in the studio by recording two separate audio tracks and panning them hard left and right.

    I told you that to ask you this: I want to be able to replicate this general set up, but not carry around two 100 watt amp heads, two separate cabs, and a big pedal board. What with digital amp modeling becoming actually really good, I think a floor based multi-effects processor/amp sim substitute would be more than adequate, so I'm looking at either the Fractal AX8 or the Line 6 Helix. If you have experience with either, do you know if there would be any problems with running this type of rig through either the Helix or the AX8? Do they have the ability to run stereo amps like that? For me, the pristine quality of the tone isn't as important as replicating the rig I have. If you have any other ideas for something that would work better than either of those units, I'm open to suggestions. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. op1e

    op1e Spirit Taker

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    No Dual Tone with AX8. I hear on the Helix you can run like 4 amps the DSP is so good. You might wanna go the preamp route and see what comes down the line with SYNERGY by Egnator. A couple of SYN1's running stereo with a Recto and HBE would slay. Many routes you could go. Pod's have always done the Recto model really well. If you wanna save money go the HD route.
     
  3. Alex Kenivel

    Alex Kenivel Stunt Guitar

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    An HD500x could totally do that for a fraction of the cost
     
  4. op1e

    op1e Spirit Taker

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    Ya from what I remember of mine, the Marshall sounds were good. Recto like all the other Pods was killer, but the Angel did a better job at that type of tone. I really wouldn't mind an HD Pro for the rack in the future.
     
  5. Michael_Ten

    Michael_Ten blergh yas

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    When I said the pristine quality of tone isn't as important as being able to replicate the rig, I do mean that tone quality is still important to me, just not as important as replicating the rig. Money isn't as big a deal, I have no problem investing in a quality piece of gear that does what I need. Since the AX8 can't give me what I need, what's the tonal difference between the HD500X and the Helix? Is it a huge difference, or not so much? Live experience with either?

    I do have limited experience with the POD HD. I should mention that, while in a bedroom and small amp the HD sounds great, just about every live show I've seen with someone running a POD HD (any version) it sounded absolutely awful, irredeemably so. I'm hoping that's chalked up to not knowing how to EQ your stuff, but even so, it's discouraging. So I'm hoping there is a big improvement between the HD and Helix.
     
  6. op1e

    op1e Spirit Taker

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    I've heard the same thing said about Kempers from my tube purist friends. But when I opened for Straight Line Stitch they used Pod HD Pro's with Velocity 300 power amps thru Mesa OS cabs (Angel model) and they sounded great. I gigged with one once (HD500), and let singer play thru it at the next show. Good tone, ya just gotta be a tweaker and invest a little time. I was just stuck on my 1101/Tube amp rig (still am) at the time and returned it within the 30 days. Like anything else, without a good power amp and cab to prop it up it can sound potato.
     
  7. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    If you're running a stereo floor unit, wouldnt you still be hauling around two 412 cabs?

    If your pedalboard is big, you can probably snug up onto a PT jr with what you run now.

    Unless you are trusting your sound to the venue PA (which some do, clearly) you are still hauling the cabs, so you might as well haul both heads (IMO). If you really want to cut down still, switch to 212 cabs on amp stands.
     
  8. Alex Kenivel

    Alex Kenivel Stunt Guitar

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    If you take time to know your way around an HD unit then quality of tone would be just fine. there's a lot of guys on the line 6 forum that say they can get the same tone from the HD that they do with the HX. I've even heard accounts of people taking the helix is back because they sound just like the HD tones they were getting.

    But I get it, if money were not a problem I'd spring for an HX myself. a lot of the requested fixes for the HD series ended up being added to the HX.

    I wonder if the ax8 is able to still produce a left and right channel even without two amps. like on the HD, instead of needing to separate amps in your chain, you can just place a delay pedal in one path and leave the other in real time
     
  9. Rachmaninoff

    Rachmaninoff Amateur porn actor

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    I agree with the above. :yesway:

    I currently own an HD500X, which I use to play live, with my hard rock band. My tone is great. However, I dedicated a lot of time to tweak it. Honestly, the Helix tones didn't impress me at all when I tried it.
     
  10. EdgeCrusher

    EdgeCrusher SS.org Regular

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    Are you wanting to go completely direct? If so I think an AXE-FX and a midi controller is the best bet. It's gonna be hard going from a stereo dream rig like yours to a direct to PA tone IMO.

    Otherwise, an HD500X into a quality tube power amp like a Mesa 2:100 with 2 2x12's would be a killer rig. That would do everything your looking for and be a good bit easier to move around and setup.

    I've recently been running my HD500 in stereo into my 6505+ combo and a 5150iii 50 watt head and 112 cab. I'm actually really impressed with the tones from the pod this way, much better than direct into my studio monitors with the stock cab sims. I had bought the 5150iii to replace the 6505+ combo for more versatility, but now I'm thinking I may sell them both for a Mesa 2:100 and just use the Hd500. I use a Soldano and Recto dual amp patch and it comes damn close to my real amps. Better in a lot of ways actually. I need to try out the stereo delay trick, never have before.
     
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  11. Michael_Ten

    Michael_Ten blergh yas

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    My original concept was, indeed, to try and go 100% direct with some floor mount unit, but I guess the general consensus is that just won't cut it.

    Dude, it's some next level sh*t. I was talking to (ironically) a bass player friend of mine who does a lot of session and studio work these days. We were talking about our rigs, and I told him about how I like to blend my JCM800 with my Mesa Recto, to get the pick attack and stringy-midrange from the Marshall and the saturation and umph of the Mesa. He asked if I was running it stereo and I was just like "why?" He told me about using a delay to offset the amps in time, said it was the secret sauce of players like Zakk Wylde and EVH, that, more than anything, that's what makes their live tone really come ALIVE.

    I was skeptical. But it was a good thing I had my DL-4 lying around collecting dust, so I set it up with my amps using a really fast slapback delay on the "Ping Pong" mode, but killing all the repeats and setting the left side to zero delay. With the amps blended before stereo, it was a very loud, kind of overly-saturated sound. Still better than any one amp individually, but the distortions kind of combatted each other when being played exactly at the same time, so I had to mangle the EQ on both amps to get a usable tone that didn't just sound like a woofy wash of nothing. After kicking in the stereo setting, the tone got a lot brighter and you could really hear everything. The delay was imperceptible, but you could hear the individual characteristics of each amp much more. I was able to restore normal EQ seettings and crank the gain on them a lot more than before for a much fatter, yet still cleaner and clearer, tone. And even though you don't really hear it, there's something about the slight delay that turns the tone in to something you can literally feel while you play. :hbang:

    I can honestly say that going from a mono guitar amp rig to a stereo amp rig is the same kind of jump like when you first started and got your first BOSS DS-1 so you can finally make your POS practice amp distort, or the first time you played through a tube amp after years of playing through a solid state. There's nothing like it and there's no going back.
     
  12. Michael_Ten

    Michael_Ten blergh yas

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    In case anyone is curious, I just emailed Fractal about the AX8. While it can't do two amp sims, the sales guy there told me I could put in a separate cab block with a delay and run a similar stereo configuration with cabinets and just one amp head sim.
     

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