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Should you buy a Fractal FM9 or Line 6 Helix - an in depth user experience comparison
- Published on Mar 29, 2023 veröffentlicht
- Should you buy a Fractal FM9 or Line 6 Helix - an in depth user experience
After spending a lot of time with these two amazing units, I compiled my thoughts on the pluses and minuses of each from a user experience perspective. The main focus here is to compare features and workflows that work best for me on each unit. Which will you choose?!
00:00 Intro and Initial Thoughts
3:28 Size comparison
4:43 Layouts and Views
8:25 Building Presets - Software
14:33 Building Presets - Hardware
17:00 Editing on the fly
19:42 Format, Signal Path and Limitations
23:53 Ins and Outs Comparison
24:48 FX and Final thoughts unit vs unit
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Comments • 207
What do you want to see next vid? I am thinking "Snapshots vs Scenes"
Buy me a beer for Christmas? Tip Jar - paypal.me/stevensterlacci
Would love to see if it is possible to use the Helix with vst plugins, like Valhalla vst reverbs or TC Electronic 1210, 2290 vst’s.
@Adam D'Agosto they're the best part about Helix! Lol
Yes I'm still not getting snapshots. Help!!
Great video as always Steve - thank you. Well, I have owned the Helix Floor (since 2016) and the Stomp. I also have owned an AX8, Axe FX III, FM3 and FC6. At first listen, I thought the Fractal stuff sounded way better. Certainly the factory presets do. But for the stuff I play (NOT massive slick produced sounds - basic clean and crunch), I actually found the Fractals to be too sparkly and pristine. Also, I'm a long time Timmy user on my analog board. I can dial up the sound and feel of my real Timmy v2 (A/B in a send) exactly on the Helix Teemah. On the Fractals, even with multiple Timmy versions and endless rabbitt-hole editing, I could never make any of the versions match it. I also much prefer sound and feel of the compressors on the Helix (I'm a 35 year sound production engineer/educator - not being arrogant - just saying I know compressors). I can get the Helix Deluxe comp to feel like my Barber Tone Press - not so the Fractal Comps. And believe it or not, I even prefer the Line 6 Delays as well. The Fractals sound beautiful, but I have never been able to get self-oscillations on the Fractals tweaked to warp, distort, decay the way I like, even after hours rabbit-holing. The Helix just does it. And Switching layouts? Switching independent from Presets (other than limited and confusing Per Presets) just doesn't work. It gets insanely complicated and what works for one preset doesn't work for others. With my Fractals I spent literally days chasing down rabbit holes planning and tweaking and testing complicated layouts, never quite finding the right combination. So in the end, after several years of owning both, both Fractals are gone and I'm back with my Helixes. For my uses, they actually sound better (though I do mostly use IRs), they're way easier to use, and let me focus more on playing than endless programming. This is me, and I'm often weird. But for me, after sinking $$$ and endless time into Fractals, I'm back with Helix. I don't hate the Fractals at all - they're fabulous units. Brilliant and innovative. And the Axe III was made in New England like me! I WANTED to prefer it. But for my uses, the Helixes just work, and even sound better. And at 63, I need to use my time to make music, not chase literally endless rabbits. :)
I use a Fractal AX8. I work in software, so I am no slouch when it comes to complex technology, but the last thing I want to do is be diving into menus and tweaking parameters when I am not working and playing guitar. People often say that Fractal sounds better, but I am not much of a cork sniffer, and it seems that both Fractal and Line 6 will get the job done a live band situation. I used a POD HD500 as my first attempt to get away from a tube amp and pedal board. It worked out very well. I bought it used from a guy who used it live for big shows in way better venues than I played. I moved to an AX8, because I felt like spending money and I wanted something more professional. It's not too complicated, but complicated enough that I don't enjoy playing around with it after working on a computer all day. Sometimes I want something that I can dial in quickly, like a tube amp and pedals. My very first modeler was a POD 2.0. That thing had almost no parameters to mess with, but used it for band rehearsal, and I could dial in a decent sound in seconds. I may be a computer nerd, but when I am in a band setting with an electric guitar hanging around my neck, simpler is better. I'm thinking about looking at a Helix.
It sounds like you spend more time hunting rabbits than playing guitar these days, so I say you change your YT name to some variation of Elmer Fudd.
We agree on many points! I apparently stirred a pot in Fractal land by saying I didnt like the drives, so I am glad to not be alone there 😅. I appreciate the great additions to the conversation
You can actually tell Output 2 to mirror Output 1 so you don't have to create a separate path on the FM9. Thanks for the video.
I played with the FM9 and was consider getting because I sold my Helix. Well I just got my new helix floor last week. I just love the thing and I have no problem with the stock cabs. They sound amazing. I always get the sound I am looking for.
The new stock cabs are even better! Something about Helix keeps me around too
I picked the helix LT as with another $100 you can also get the VST version (Helix Native). That combination (For recording) is unbeatable. Yes, the AXFX stuff is incredible... maybe you can even nit pick it sounds better here, or not as good there... But as an overall package for studio stuff Helix + Helix Native is pretty unstoppable.
Been a while since I've seen a break down video from you. I love the visual you were able to show for the fr9 and with the helix. A lot of my buddies have lived by the fractal life. The helix just feels like home.
Agree on feeling like home! But I am getting very cozy with the FM9!
On Helix I found the best way to get rid of any high end harshness in clean tones and to some extent dirty tones is to simply move the mic in the cab section back past 3 or 4 inches even 5 or 6 inches and it rounds it off nicely and sounds sweeter. Just adjust the amp EQ after that to correct and it's nice.
That was super useful. I received my FM3 today and am a bit overwhelmed. I'm a geek, so it's fun though. Have 15 day window to decide. The other option was an Helix LT or Stomp XL. Not owning one your vid is the best I can do.
Thanks! Glad to help. I have tons of vids of each on the channel
you said two things that many people underestimate about multifx units, but they're instead very important: Ease of use for stage tweaking AND replacement units availability in case you send your current unit back for repair or in case it breaks!
Great video. I have had this year the Helix Floor, QC and FM9. All three are amazing units. QC still need to improve in terms of functionality to be at the same level of Helix and FM9, I would say. I decided to keep just the FM9 with me (even when I hate that crappy Ui). Helix left some time ago and now it’s the time for the QC to leave. I will save cash for when Line 6 releases the new flagship, because I’m pretty sure will be outstanding.
I agree! If I were to sell one, itd be the QC right now
I have the Helix and the AX8. After a battle back and forth, I rather not be spending a lot of time tweaking. I just got put on the Fm9 waiting list. The sound I am getting from the AX8 playing throught two tube amps is amazing!!!
Sounds like that can be a huge sound! You wont be disappointed with the fm9
Great comparison. Thanks. Your videos helped me decide on the Helix Floor to replace my heavy ass pedalboard and a 1/2 stack which has made moving around a lot more enjoyable. I imagine I'll checkout the FM9 and the Quad some day. Cheers.
Thank you for watching! They are all great options. Its hard to consider any one better than the other. Comes down to workflow
I think I will go back to a traditional pedalboard, with additional MIDI capabilities...after selling everything for a Helix.. I miss all those knobs so much 😁. Thank you for this very interesting video!!!
Thanks for watching! I don't miss the old days at all! Sometimes, I think I do. Then i pull out the board and hate it in 2 minutes
Great review. Thanks very much for this. A useability comparison between these units was much needed. I've seen plenty of tone comparisons between Helix and Fractal and I agree that they both have the ability to sound great. For playing live with a band, I'd argue it's more important to be able to easily select the functions you need while playing, or between songs, than it is to achieve that last 5% of tonal perfection so thanks for the great comparison on this topic. I'd also say that high-end harshness you mentioned in the Helix probably helps it cut through in a mix better. Let's face it....most of the great tube amps have some kind of harshness in their texture and high-end which is hard to listen to when playing by itself but which is important for cutting through when playing with a band.
That is very true! A lot people, and I have begun adopting this mentality, believe that the Axe FX is more of an "idealized" version of the amps set up. Where Helix is more raw as if you really had the mic on the amp in another room. Much to debate! Much to tinker with!
Great video as usual. Love the part at the beginning about the sound being pretty much equal for both, I feel the same way.
I was really torn and almost switched back to the helix, I still might.
You said you can only use two amps in the helix definitely had presets with 4 Amps In them.
Yeah, definitely not practical. Just for fun.
Definitely can! I just never saw a need to so I said it wrong lol possible, but I wouldn't call it practical
I am a multi-effects Virgin. I have never bought any! This video was great for making me decide which environment I would be most comfortable with. I am not much of a tweaker so my decision rests with the FM9 to get great sounds with minimum tweaking. I know the helix has an easier GUI on the unit and that would be important for a tweaker. Great video Steve since you use both units! Merry Christmas 🎄
Thanks for checking it out! I hope the learning curve is quick for ya!
I am very comfortable with my Helix.Even after playing my tube amps for weeks on end .I was expecting a downer when returning to the Helix ...but no....I still enjoy it to the max.I just have to learn the nth degree of button control !! Have a Great, Safe, Happy Christmas and Thank You for all your videos !
Glad you had the same experience I had! It just continues to do the job and be the best unit for me
I think you also need to factor in how future proof each device is. The FM9 is new and the Helix is now old. Fractal made some interesting, and apparently wise, design decisions with the FM9 like giving the reverbs their own core so you can run multiple hi res reverbs without affecting the overall dsp use. Though perhaps Line 6's dynamic dsp is better? But L6 is putting out some great new blocks but they take up SO much of the unit's dsp, they become less useful. I think if buying today, I'd buy the FM9 or wait for the next gen Helix, however long that takes. OR, buy a used Helix or LT cheap if you don't want to wait for an FM9. Then, of course, is the question of the Quad Cortex which will hopefully be updated enough to meet our expectations and needs. Unfortunately, they're still fixing poor design decisions.
For sure! From what I have seen, however, fractal will introduce a new hardware and forget about older stuff. I could have that wrong. But 6 years later, Helix is still getting updates that keep it as good as the new kids
Sounds comparison videos for modelers are stupid. This is WAY more informative! Great video 👏👏👏 I'll probably always stay with helix but now I know what I am or am not missing. Can't wait for more of these videos!
You said it dude. I couldn’t agree more
Glad we're on the same page!! Thanks for watching
Also, I noticed a huge difference in tone and feel between the Helix and the FM3. I mean like day and night.
@Steve Sterlacci read up on the Amp block tabs. You can really get even better tones (and feel/response) when you start tweaking them. Good luck with this new toy.
I definitely thought I was feeling the same thing. As I used them back and forth consistently, i for some reason always expected helix to sound and feel worse. I guess from all the internet people saying so! Lol but i find them not so different sounding. Definitely not enough to warrant the new learning curve IMO. I will keep going back and forth since its still a bit unfair that I have 4 years of Helix vs a few months on FM9
@Steve Sterlacci I no longer have the Helix but when the FM3 arrived and I went through the presets, I never looked back. It's hard to explain but it just felt more 3-dimensional and real? Kind of like how mixing in the box on a DAW was compared to using analog summing back in the day before DAWs had a better mixing DSP engine. I know some can't deal with option option paralysis, but I love tweaking the preamp and the power amp tabs and even the speaker impedance curve, pre and post EQ, etc to really dial in the perfect tone that I can't even get out of a real tube amp and pedals. I also use a Fryette PowerStation as a power amp into a 2x12 or 4x12 cab to get an amp-in-the-room tone that crushes!!! I hope this post doesn't sound too cork-sniffy.
I sometimes think I do as well, then the more I go back and forth, the less I am convinced
I went from a Helix to a Headrush. They are all comparable at this point. The headrush is a bit more dynamic, it doesn't have the routing the Helix has but it just sounds (a touch) better and the touchscreen interface is killer. Its all personal choice as they all do it well.
I'm a HR user as well. I like the sounds and the UI is very intuitive. Hooking up to a computer and editing in software is not for me. I'm curious what Steve thinks about the sound compared to the Helix and FM9.
Interesting! I know the HR is old avid 11 rack tech, but that stuff is great too!
I have a Helix and an Axe-Fx III and I love them both. I look at it like this. You go to the music store and there's two identical amps. Same manufacturer, same model yet they sound different. That's how it is for me. I don't think one is better than the other. As you said, there are pluses and minuses to both units. Another thing is that the tones of the amps I think are a little better in the Fractal but on a gig no one is going to notice the difference. Either way you can't go wrong it's just a question of how much you need. BTW I also have an HX Stomp and a couple of pedalboards I made and I won't be selling any of it if that's any indication. The more tools in the toolbox the better off you are.
My thoughts exactly!
Awesome video. Thanks for the info. I recently bought a Helix LT, and I'm looking forward to learning it.
Thanks for watching ! Plenty of helix stuff to learn on the channel. Hope to help
Love you videos Steve , they’re meat and potato , I always learn so much 👍
Thanks so much! Means a lot
I have both and was surprised how easy the FM9 is to navigate. I went from an Axe Fx II to a Helix cus the Axe Fx II was a nightmare to program or use from someone who never used a multi-effects unit before. I was hesitate that the FM9 would be user friendly, but so far its been pretty easy. Some things are actually easier to use and program than the Helix, while I miss some things about the Helix like having a knob per effect (bass, treble, rtx.) Without having to scroll over or assign them in performance mode.
But in terms of everything else like stock cabs/amps, number of cabs/amps, tuner, looper, computer editor, and number of effects, it's not even close, the FM9 kills the Helix. The tuner on the Helix actually isn't that great I've noticed and unless it's something I'm doing wrong, usually sound a little sharp or flat. The FM9 is spot on. The FM9s looper is also very usable where I found the Helix's looper pretty bad. I think if you use third party IRs, the Helix gets much closer, but the stock amps and cabs on the FM9 are all good and when you play a string on thr FM9, it reacts way differently and more realistic than it does on the Helix.
Also, I used to think the Helix's onboard foot controller was a benefit until mine recently broke. Mine is a Helix Floor too, not an LT, so it was supposed to be more durable. I think I prefer saving on size with the FM9 and just using separate Mission expression pedals which have a better sweep than the Helix's pedal anyways.
However, one thing I do miss about the Helix Floor is the giant volume knob right in the middle, dedicated headphone volume knob, and also the toggle switch. I feel the switches and knobs to access things on the FM9 are kind of clunky and could have benefitted from the way the Helix has a knob that can be both a toggle switch and enter button.
Sounds like we are on the same page for the most part!
Excellent comparison! Thanks from those of us who don't have the resources to do our own comparison.
Thanks for Watching! I appreciate the support
Completely agree that in a mix,FOH,you couldn’t pick one from the other…I personally think the Fractal sounds much better in the room,but that comes down to personal preference…My biggest thing with the Helix,is power….The Helix is knocking on the ceiling of its DSP capabilities…The AxeFXIII will do more than the Helix without breaking a sweat….another thing for me,is the Fractal stuff lets you choose what to do with your dry signal when running a parallel path..also the Pitch block in the Fractal is better than Helix…The cab section,IR length resolution is miles better on the Fractal….the routing in the Fractal..meters…there are too many things for me to count that I like better in the Fractal….for me,the Fractal just suits my needs more than the Helix does….now,the next generation of Helix may be a different story,which given Helix’s age,is coming at some point…..all this stuff comes down to what you want or need….They both sound very good though…..Whatever works and inspires you to play guitar,that’s the one you pick…
Youre right! Next gen helix I think will be the best available
I think I'll stick with the Helix. Everybody in my band plays keys, drums, bass, guitar. So any of us can come to rehearsal with a new tune, and sometimes I make a new preset on the spot that fits the vibe. Making a new preset and assigning switches is so easy with the Helix.
You have the right piece of gear for the job then! I would stick with it
i tweak a lot on my presets on gigs, and i find the fractal workflow really hard to deal with
The performance page is really nice and definitely the way to go if you pick the right parameters for it
Both good . Love the Helix .
You know it!
Thanks for the great video! I’ve been a Helix user for a few years now and really like it. I got the FM3 & FC6 & of course they come out with the FM9 a few months later, lol. I also have a FX8 that I used for quite a while. I like the flexibility of the Helix & the FM3 but I think the Helix is definitely more user friendly when it comes to adjusting on the fly. I also really don’t like how the FM3 ( same on my FX8) does the switching on the ‘up’ as opposed to on the ‘down’ on the Helix. It’s really kind of annoying to me. I know I have to adjust to it whenever I use my Fractal units. That said, I just keep my FM3 in my studio for now. Trying to work a few more things out with it before I can’t feel free to use it live, & I do play out regularly.
@Raphael Naw, I'll just keep the FM3 and use it in my studio. I'm waiting too see if Line6 comes out with a new version of the HELIX soon. I think they're about due.
I'm in a similar boat.
Are you getting the FM9?
I'm thinking about it, and then selling the 3.
Totally get what you're saying!
I took a break in the middle of the video to play my tweed Deluxe because my head was spinning a bit. Seriously though I think they're both fantastic units. I've got an HX Stomp and will probably add either a full Helix, or an FM9 in 2022, but I wouldn't mind if there was a new stomp that had the same DSP power as the full Helix. I'd rather have that than one of the bigger units.
@Steve Sterlacci No apologies...I enjoyed it.
This stuff can surely be a headache lol the nerdery in this vid is really high, apologies
Great comparison, I've had the Helix for 1.5 years and had the AX8 for half of last year. You did an excellent job outlining how some things are just tedious with the Fractal ecosystem. BUT the Helix tones are missing a sprinkle of special magic that Fractal has in everything they do, that I don't have the patience, maybe the knowledge, or DSP to replicate.
Tweaking or setting up a patch is SO easy with Helix, even with your foot in pedal edit mode during a song. It passed the gig test for me already too, and sounds great through a real cab. So it will always win in ease of use, just brilliantly designed!
I've been using helix for a while and am going to try fractal at some point. I would load third party IRs though and I'm curious as to how close they would sound without the stock cabs in the equation.
Couldn't agree with this more. Fine assessment! Thanks for watching
Excellent review Steve. I can now see which one is best for me.
Hope you make the right decision!
So the lag, or delay, that you talk about when changing the bypass state (at approx 11:24)...is that just in the editing software? Or when you're playing that out in the real world, do you have to step on the switch earlier than you want a given sound? Or does the lag not exist on the hardware itself?
Merry Christmas, happy whatever you celebrate, btw!
@Steve Sterlacci glad to hear - I'm planning to buy one when my spot on the waiting list comes up - still love my helix, but just want to try something else. But that would have been a deal killer.
Nope! Its just visual in the editor. On the unit and audibly, no lags
Very very Informative video👏 Thank you so much for this video, Nobody had done a comparison video with the Helix vs Fm9 yet. I would love to watch your thoughts on The Amp model quality with both units, in terms of Dynamic response, Tone feel and instant result for the tone when you quickly through in a Amp and a Cab block etc..... Would love to watch how good does both unit sounds by not having them dailed in a very complex routing.
@Steve Sterlacci I am using Helix Lt for now. But last time when I tried the Axe Fx II, I was completely blown away. It was way too good.
@Steve Sterlacci What would you use personally? Helix or Fm9
I think I mention this towards the end of this video. FM9 beats the helix in all those above categories
Been using the helix for almost 6 years now. I love the interface and the workflow. Sounds decent and have more that I need in one unit.
Reverbs suck!!! I hate the sliders in HX Edit and some effects controllers are confusing. Flangers suck too!! Is not that easy to dial the amps. Some cheaper units sound good out of the box with minor tweaking, with the Helix is not that easy.
When compared to my friends Fractal the Fractal sounded better in my opinion.
In the end, I’ll stick with my Helix for now until the Helix II. The Helix is super versatile like a swiss army knife.
Has your mind changed on preferring touring with the Helix over the Fractal?
I use them both A LOT. I probably will take the FM9 to Europe because its smaller and does the 2 guitar thing better than the Helix. But its so close
I have the Helix floor and the power cab 1x12. My band has been playing alot and I have been wishing for something smaller. I was looking at the Helix xl because I finally know how to use the Helix and have it dialed in. I saw the Ampero for cheap at the music store and bought it just to try it. So far I like it better than my Helix. The Marshall 800 & 900 are so good without any tweaking. We have a gig once a month that is live streamed on Clip-Share and the Ampero sounded great. Sounds and feels better than the Helix and very little tweaking. I had to get creative because it only has 4 foot switches but they have duel functions with a long press. I also set the expression pedal to control multiple parameters. There are drawbacks but my main tones that I use the most sound better on the Ampero. There is a bit more tap dancing but I think I can work around it. I love that it fits in my gig bag.
nice! Glad you found something that works for you. I havent tried the ampero yet
While the price for both are pretty much the same, almost better deal to get a helix LT and FRFR amp for about the same price as the big units that would still need an FRFR of sorts on top. As a casual cover band guy, that was the deal breaker not going to a kemper either. Most of the audience wouldn't know or care about the sound difference. Good informative video Steve.
@Mc E lots of good comparison videos on the information superhighway who are better equipped to comment on that one
The best one you can afford
What’s a good frfr to buy?
Thanks Scott! At this point, LT may be the best buy until the new unit comes... if it ever doed
I totally agree. I would keep my Helix that FM 9 isn't very user-friendly.
Fair review, thank you sir.
Good video. Thanks. One thing though. It is possible to have more than two amps in a Helix preset, not that need to of course. I have presets where I use three (usually the three SLO's). Obviously that means having less effects in that preset but, it is doable.
@Steve Sterlacci No guessing required.
If you use the second path, i guess you can use 4! It just never seemed practical enough to think about i guess lol
I feel like you should explain that the lag is only on the display of the computer going over a USB cable but when you click the switches, the audio is instantaneous with no gap or lag when switching scenes
i do clarify that in my next video I believe. the example here is only showing the lag between software and hardware
Helix wins for ease of use. The tone differences are so minimal and or barely existent in most cases. Especially if you tweak and spent time building your patches. I don’t see spending an extra grand for just dsp. Love the channel. Hope you and yours are great!
Thanks! The differences at this point are very minimal!
Really good video Steve, thoroughly enjoyed and learned some new stuff on the fractal side. Merry Christmas to you, Jessica & Audrey.
Thanks bro! Merry Christmas!
I’m so jealous of your life haha.
I’m still on my helix because I can’t afford and or even get my hands on the quad or the FM9.
Carry on my friend. You are an inspiration
@Jeembo Jones I live in the Midwest where wages are very low so for me these things cost a couple house payments but someone from NY or LA can afford them on a weeks pay or so. I can’t imagine 5 months. I saved and saved to get a helix and I’d love a quad or Fm9 but it’s probably not in the cards for me. I can’t believe how many ppl have all 3 especially with the waiting lists. I’m love ppl like Steve who play them out. There are a lot of ppl that get first dibs and the units live in a bedroom there whole life. What a world.
lol in my country fm3 costs around 5 median montly salaries haha
Haha Well my wife is an equestrian sooooo I’ll never have two nickels to rub together but at least she can sing so we get to play shows together. As you know that’s pretty cool. Challenging but cool 😜
Thanks Brittin! Not much to be jealous of unless you like debt!
Steve, one of your best videos! Thanks for the clear and comprehensive comparison. I had a similar experience with QC and Helix. The QC is easier to edit and the amps and cabs do sound better (they don’t have that high end issue that Helix has). But by the time I added an MC8 and expression pedal, and put them is a pedal board, I ended up with something larger and more complex than Helix. Ultimately I love them both for different reasons and am happy to have the choice to use either one on different gigs.
Thanks Jim! I think a controller like that is really necessary with the QC
Both are great options. I had a Helix for nearly 6 years and it’s great. I’ve been onboard with Fractal for about 18 mos with FM3 & FM9. This was a great review, I think it really just comes down to workflow. Helix is the GUI champ. Way ahead of it’s time. But I prefer the tones, workflow and depth of the Fractal. I could never bond with the helix editor, and really didn’t need to, since it was so easy. Fractals editor is fantastic. It’s great to have such amazing options. Guitarists are spoiled lol.
Thank you for the insight Bryan! I can see myself getting more and more used to the FM9s depth too
I love the 'recent' Helix updates 3.0 etc and was wondering if you had the Helix for those ? Thanks and have a great Christmas too !
Totally agree those sliders are a killer no other guitar based product has them and no amp product defeats and not intuitive
Great video!!! Steve you rock!!!
i dont have fractal but i have an helix and a some tube amps (AC30modified to BM greg fryer spec, JVM410 and 410HJS, Mesa Mark V, Orange tiny terror, evh 5150 and peavey 5150). For me helix is really convenient live with snapshot. you can get sound identical to my amps but with matching eq (ozone). I did and use only IR of my mesa cab and my marshalls cabs (G1265, G12T75, V30 slash), my rivera, my 5150 block letter and my ac30 67 blue. I find it to sound better with my own IR
On the Helix Marshall plexi's are pretty bad, too much power amp distortion. i can't get smoothtone even with OD or treble booster, that I get with my JVM on plexi setting. that always sound quite spongy and mushy. Though, I can get ANY marshall sound with the placater, any EVH5150 with the revv purple and red, and any AC30 Brian may sound with fawn normal channel with my hardware treble booster. Fender deluxe and twin are very very good. Delay are great, chorus just ok, reverb so so (though i dont use verb).
Quite honestly on the helix with only revv, fender twin, ac30 and placacter and mesa mark IV is more than enough for me. no need to have 1000amps. better chorus would be great lika cold tc gmajor.
@Steve Sterlacci you have very good sound with your es335 still guitar. i do have a lots of guitar but not this one. but i am always impressed by the sound of it. it reminds me R Blackmore on child in time and ten year after at woodstock 69
The Placater is a go to as well! Try decreasing the sag when you have trouble with the mushy sounds! The Sag can drastically change that. Also, great call making your own IRs. I find doing things myself is always best for me too
@H K Yes park amps is good with master turn down a little a teema drive in front
You are totally right ! I like the Park amps too
pretty much bang on with my thoughts, I sold my Helix to fund the Axe-FX3 purchase and kinda should'a sold my kemper maybe but my logic is that Helix and Fractal are digital modellers so I was never gonna go back to the Helix once I owned the Axe FX. Anyway I digress ... good comparison.
Glad you're on the same page! Fm9 is getting better the more I use it
Wow. I wouldn't want spend so much setup time on the Fractal unit. Sounds would seem to be good but spending too much time editing cuts down on playing time. Love the Helix LT.
It's not necessary. It's about options. You can tweak things if you want, but you certainly don't have to, and 99% of the Fractal users don't. I'd rather have it and not need it than the other way around. If you can afford the Fractal by all means get it. I went through every cheaper iteration of everybody elses modelers on my way up the ladder and there was always a nagging voice in the back of my head that told me there was something missing. Once I acquired the AXE FX III, that notion immediately disappeared. It's like a flipping a switch on your entire idea of how modelers should sound. The people who don't think so, don't own one in almost every case I've come across. I had the Headrush, Atomic Amplifier, the Kemper that I found entirely over-rated and inflexible and then the Helix that I used for several months and was on the fence about keeping long term. But eventually I just had to know what the Fractal fuss was about. I purchased it knowing I could return it for a full refund in 14 days. But after day 2, I knew I was keeping it. And this was before all of the incremental and some massive improvements. I'll give the kwad kotex a try if they finally work out the issues and quit using customers as beta testers (a really low move on their part) and they can fundamentally prove that they provide something useful that I'm currently missing.
Honestly, I think the tone difference between a Helix and a Fractal are going to be lost on everybody but the user which does matter to some degree. For me? No. I am an approximalist. If it's close then I a happy. Helix is close enough to the quality of its best competition and so I am not itching to pay premium for something that's not enough better for me to care. Plus, the community around the Helix platform is massive. That is huge for me
The Helix community is much larger than the Fractal. Plus, helix presets are compatible with all HX devices within their DSP limits. The CustomTone portal for Helix is nothing short of enormous lol. They are both great units! I hope you are happy with whichever you choose
I've been considering going with a Helix because of the chip shortage and my Eleven Rack is feeling very dated. You can currently easily get a Helix, but you cannot currently get a (new) FM9. Your only choice for the FM9 is the used market, and it's currently full of scalpers taking advantage of the shortage and overcharging by nearly 2x the list price. That being said - a new Line 6 Helix is 1599.99. A new Fractal FM9 (direct from fractal) is also 1599.99. The fractal also has a huge community and the axexchange where you can share and download other people's patches. Really, the only premium for the fractal is the waitlist.
I can't disagree with anything here! 😅
Hi thanks for the video! I would like to know if i can have 2 signal out for 2 different amp. I use a bass and i split the signal out in 2. one signal goes to a guitar amp with an octaver up,the other signal goes to a ampeg vst. can i do it with the helix 6? thanks for the help!
Yes you can!
Dear Steve Sterlacci ,
We guitarists need in depth user reports from
- Technically knowledgeable users
- Power users who use mfx as a tool of their trade
- Reliable, unbiased users who can be believed by all
- Users who can explain things in an easy to understand manner
You are all four simultaneously !
Hence your viewpoints are valuable to the community.
Thanks for taking the time to make such informative reports.
Thank you so much! That really means a lot
8 years a fractal user 2 year helix rack !
On fm9 wait list
Could give you 15 reason right away most probably 20
This is base on the fact that the helix is older technology !
More and better pedal replication especially drives
Better amps more functions more detail and deeper editing
More and accurate irs
In room sound feel and sound
The editor has dials not crappy sliders
Easier to allocate pedals to effects
(Helix has easier workflow but if your picking workflow over sound well 🤪)
Effects hundreds more - strymon eventide quality if not better ! The effects in the helix rack !! Mmm I use 3rd party vst Valhalla as substitute for some reverbs on helix
Regular updates and forum input direct into product and new products
More processing power and routing
Fractals midi is rubbish midi commmand I’d great I’ll miss it
But overall the fm9 is 2020 helix is old tech
I will be interested in helix 2
But Fm9 is king - just have to wait till 2024 for it !!!
Interesting 🤔 I have tried the fractal against real life pedals including KOT and boss pedals and a couple of boutique pedals and found them pretty accurate
But again considerably more in the fractal
I’m not dissing the helix rack I do enjoy using ( can’t wait for Line 6 to bring out the new product )it and it’s far easier to to use
I would imagine that they’re working on it now and will bring all of the best functionality features and tech to the next generation
But the FM is king ATM just sounds Stella the effects ( I’m an effects guy ) are stunning and way above 👆 in quality quantity and usability than the helix
I’m currently using TC1210 TC2290 and TC8010 plugins to add to my helix effects to get the sound I need as the helix just don’t cut I for me
Cortex - most overhyped gear in history
Still they’ll sell you there new pretucci plugins but not put any of them in the quad 🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪
I recently bought an FM3 - I wanted an FM9, but I'm in the UK and we wont see any units available from G66 until H2 202w IMO.
There's a lot to like about the FM3, but the drive pedals isn't one of them when compared to the Helix (again, in my opinion).
First of all, I think the Helix drives actually sound better, which is totally subjective, but the other thing is that Line 6 seem to have modelled the entire pedal, whereas Fractal have only included basic options and have multiple models to reflect changes in dip switches (I'm looking at you Timmy!).
The KoT is a prime example - the Fractal model is very basic compared to the model on the Helix.
Currently I sway more to using my Helix than I do my FM3 - I won't even get into my Quad Cortex, which sees pretty much no use at the moment, and I should probably offload!
having pretty much all drive of the helix (ts, od1, teemah and so on) they sound exactly the same as mine. for me only chorus and reverb are average. however lve, i dont use verb or chorus. and in the box i use valhalla and waves doubler
Valid points! I do feel the drive pedals are lacking in FM9, but with such advanced amp parameters and channels, you really don't need them. I cover this towards the end, but i think reverbs, amps and cabs all go to fm9. Delays are a wash to me and reverbs definitely FM9. Mod fx i am still inconclusive currently
Thanks Steve, now i need both LOL. JK, for me, I think I would go Helix having had one already but got rid of it (long story) but thinking about buying again one of these two but if I di, i will be Helix. Thansk for your comparrison.
@Steve Sterlacci LOL
@Patrick Schea welcome to my life 🤣
@Steve Sterlacci Yeah but now I just watched another one of your vid's on the Fractal and i'm leaning towards that noe LOL. I'm so confused Ha HA
Thanks for checking it out! Welcome back to Helix land
Hi! does anyone know if the Helix Floor edit works with the new MACOS Monterey ?? thx!
great job Steve
How many effects can be assigned per preset? until DSP runs out?
Pretty much, yes. Fm9 has the limitations i mentioned though
Steve is your steel player like mine where he has the best tone in the band and you just can't beat it no matter what you do
He certainly is a great! Lol i am gonna do a video with him dialing up a steel tone
I have a big question, I have Helix Floor version and when I want to to add a specific clean headstock it comes with DRIVE, if I lower it there is no more sound, HOw can I achieve a clean clean sound sound from a specific headstock, .. what am I doing wrong?? I come from the analog world AC30 plus Pedals and guitar , no more so I want to fully understand how to configure it right.
I have plenty of clean tone vids. Use your channel volume all the way up if you need and gain very low
I hate line 6… that said the Helix is almost exactly the same as the real life amps and that’s why You hear it in the high frequencies.
The F - FM9 or 3 is like the ideal processed sounds of the real amps - eg after you low pass the amps in a good studio or - after you saturate the sound of the amp via tape or console transformers into DAW from good console or to tape.
As I said I hate line 6 and I’ve owned line 6 in the past as a effects option for shows. But I was completely shocked when I first heard the Helix via a prs - I know it was exactly the same sound as my prs into Mesa boogie rectifier and Mesa cab. Identical!
This is why it doesn’t sound out of the box as good as F FM9 or 3 - as when you mic up my gear in the best studio you can go to and use a Neve console with 1073s punched hard & recorded to DAW or tape it also doesn’t sound as good as the F FM9
So really that’s the situation. I think it’s not hard to rec guitar in a studio with good gear but there is a lot of processing and mixing that happens after the fact that makes it great. Whereas F FM9 & 3 is just perfect without a thing done to it. It’s cheating really which is what you want if you are going to modulate & fake a real amp or effect, may as well have it perfect yeah!😎
Just for reference plugins are a good generation away from either being the same as a real console or console module or being better.
No UAD Neve plug-in sounds 99.9% the same as the real thing it’s more like 70% it’s clearly not the same thing, and it also doesn’t sound better it just sounds different.
Same as N Engin plug-ins for guitar except 1 or 2 examples (Soldano) is very close and the capture feature from the pedal is really close at capturing the sound of a real amp.
Solid analysis! I think you are onto something for sure
I only play real amps and when I tried the fractal emulation of my actual amps I was blown away like what I felt when I tried the Kemper profiles of actual amps I ab'ed with. The helix/boss/headrush felt one step lower.
I still think fractal and to a certain extent Kemper are one step ahead and the rest are playing catch up, especially with the depth of tweaking you can fine tune your fractal to actually mimic your own gear.
Thank you for adding your experience!
Merry Christmas ☃️🎅🎁to you and yours Steve.. I love my Helix.👍😎
Thanks Gale! Merry Christmas!
I have been trying amps for ages,i havent played for 25 years,due to a accident,the new reissues stink,exept for the Marshall bass and treble 20 what,but that was sold,i tryed the helix next to a fender delux reverb reissue
Verry near,then i pluged the helix into a fender blues amp the small onset everything flat,bxxxx hxxxx it sounded excellent,i have tried side by side,
In Birmingham shop, the fender tweed deluxe,£2400 cris Stapleton Princeton,£1700,the fender tweed champ,verry lack lustre,the hand wired 20 w Marshall was incredible,but it was sold,but here is the thing from a grumpy old penshioner, who has had the sixtys baseman’s deluxe reverbs
Twins and super reverbs,the helix into a valve amp sound and feels excellent,how reliable are the helix,i have a tc hellicon voicelive 3 extreme
That just keeps braking down,can you reassure me abbout the helix reliability, if so i will get one tomorrow,
@bender diver snoop around the channel for a bit! Plenty of tips to go around and help
@Steve Sterlacci ive only gon and done it.i got the helix,ive got old guy buyers remorse,but ive had a word with myself,now i am enjoying it
so much better the the amps ive been trying, thanks for the review
Ive abused mine for 5 years all around the world and never once had an issue. Absolutely rock solid
On the 1/4 stereo out on helix can't you add a Walrus Audio Canvas Stereo Direct Injection Box
To add xlr to front of house ?
If you wanted to, sure. It has a stereo xlr out. Just the fm9 has 2
How does the Kemper Stage compare?
Never played one unfortunately!
FM9 or 3 nuff said.
So you would choose helix or fractal over quad cortex i take it>
At the moment, yes. But I am holding out for some good updates
I think they're equivalent in terms of tones but for me helix wins hand down in terms of support and policy...i don 't like the policy of fractal It doesn't male sense at all..
@Steve Sterlacci Yes boh but Fractal has a very strange policy...for example if you're american and you are going to purchase the fm3 the price Will be 999$. In Europe the same product Will cost 1354€...moreover any Fractal system seems having a shorter Life...you got FX3? Ok After few months they have the mkii...
Support definitely! They are so good with their customers
i have listened to so may modellers side by side on youtube, and the helix to me alwys always sounds better, even in a real amp vs helix i thought the real amp had to be the helix.....helix sounded better than a real amp.... then i watched a blind helix vs pod and i said helix HAD to be 2 4 6 and that was the pod. the pod i thought sounded best in a blind test lol.
@bachelor 101 yeah and some people just connect better with other workflows. And thats all okay! I have the QC also and still prefer the helix as an all in 1 floorboard
@Steve Sterlacci the guy who i bought the helix off had a mooer ge300, hekix, headrush, fractal but sold all to ger a quadcortex... My point is maybe it wasn't the modelers fault. Whatever u hsve is good just takes time to dial in.
Then that is whats best for you! There is no "better" other than what you think 🤘
Lol. Guys, I've been reading all these great comments about Helix, Fractal, and Quad Cortex. It's great. But then I just realized, .....lol, I don't think I want to buy another pedal anymore. "Today's new phone is tomorrow's old. " Lol. I do not want to continue buying pedals anymore. Now I know what I need to do. I'm going to buy a real amp I've been wanting for years. Thanks everyone's opinions. Peace.
Whatever makes you happy my friend
Fractal drives kinda stink (I think you said)? Whaaaat? I'd like to see a vid comparing Helix drives to Fractal's.
@Jeff Shirkey i literally LOVE the fractal and would def do a vid for that! It just feels like they overload the front end of the amp and add too much low end. Just one mans opinion. I am sure I will find a way that works as I use it more
@Steve Sterlacci Interesting. Is that something you'd want to do a video on? I know this video isn't about comparing tones between the two units, but that could be a big deal breaker for some potential buyers, if they don't get along with the Fractal drives. Most users I know really like them, and I think there are lots to choose from, so your comment definitely got my attention.
I don't get along with them personally. I almost always opt for a distorted amp over a pedal in the fm9
oooh, whats in that Heir Apparent setting?
Edit: NVM its not what I thought lol
@Russ O ah gotcha lol sorry to disappoint!!
@Steve Sterlacci lol sorry, I seen a setting called “Heir Apparent” and wondered if it was for the Opeth song of the same name. But I found in one of your older videos that it is actually a name for one of the drive pedals in the Helix.
You are conflating the lag in the software with lag in the hardware. These are two different things and the hardware does not lag.
I guess I could've made that more clear. I thought covering it in the software section would've meant it was only in software. I will add that to description. Thanks!
Looks like he’s doing everything on a laptop or computer setting his tones and knobs can you do the same thing right on front of the FM9 Front panel
Yes. I believe i show it in the video. The editor is way faster, but its possible to do it on board
Look, I get it if u are gigging live, A you tuber, or a pro guitar player. But for an old guy like me that plays every day in his guitar room, It's a little too much. How do I know, I bought one and was not Impressed for that kind of money.
@John not so. If he never had a digital solution like a Fractal, it can really be overwhelming. Especially if he is trying to run it through a real guitar cab rather than an FRFR monitor type unit. I would not say a Fractal is a good idea for someone as their first unit like that.
For a user like you, I'd highly recommend an HX Stomp. Great little unit, and very functional. Awesome sounds in there. It's very much more "plug and play" than the Fractal units and even the bigger Helix.
There is no way he got an FM3. Otherwise he would have loved it.