AA12 vs Helix LT

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Slartibartfarst42, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. Slartibartfarst42

    Slartibartfarst42 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I currently have an AA3 that I use with a Crybaby Wah, Midi Mouse and a Presonus audio interface for when I want to record something. For the most part the amp tones suit me very well. For cleans I have a preset using a Twin that I really like and I find the Plexi, especially with a TS model in front of it, to be absolutely godly. For higher gain stuff, the Freedman BE, Brit800, Hot Brit and SLO are all very good. This pretty much covers all of my tonal needs but I've been thinking of switching to the AA12 as just having 3 buttons can be a bit limiting for effects, especially if you're wanting to use tap tempo and presumably this would also mean I could get rid of the Midi Mouse so it wouldn't actually take up any more space. The thing is, I then noticed that the Helix LT is now within spitting distance of the AA12 in terms of price and it would also allow me to sell on my Wah pedal and the Presonus, effectively making the Helix a cheaper option for me and as an 'all-in-one' solution, it would take up less space. On top of that, most people seem to find the effects better on the Helix, though I'm not a massive effects user. Chorus, delay, overdrive and volume boost has me pretty much sorted, though I will sometimes dabble in other things like flanger, phaser, harmonizer etc.

    On the face of it, the Helix LT is a better proposition for me and there will be a much larger online community where patches can be exchanged but of course the key question is how the Helix stands up against the AmpliFire for the amp tones I've mentioned. Now I realise that I'm on an Atomic forum but I've always found the comments here to be pretty balanced and fair for the most part so if anyone has tried/owns both, I'd appreciate your thoughts. As I live in the Falklands, it's impossible for me to try a Helix before buying as I'd need to take my AA3 to the UK with me to sell next time I visit and then return with my new purchase.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. NelsonP

    NelsonP Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    43
    There's been quite a few posts about this in the past, on here and over at the gear page.

    I may be subject to a little confirmation bias, but my view is that on raw tone, amplifire beats helix, but there's not a massive amount in it.

    Helix has a built in pedal. I bought a separate expression pedal (moog ep3) for my amplifire but hardly use it.

    Helix has usb audio. I would like this. But you already have an interface.

    Editing on helix is apparently much easier.

    I'm sure Wyatt will be along soon. He went from amplifire to helix to plugins and is definitely a man to listen to.

    Have a read
    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...ne-6-helix-battle-royale-with-cheese.1833480/
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  3. Wyatt McConnell

    Wyatt McConnell Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2017
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    288
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I went from AA3 to Helix LT to Firebox (sold the AA3 when I got the Helix; sold the Helix not long after getting the firebox). Some things to consider:

    In general, I do find Marshall tones that I like to be a good bit easier/faster to dial in on the Atomic platform and I like them better than the ones I had in Helix. I didn't aggressively dislike the Marshall tones in Helix, but it did feel like a little bit of a step backwards.

    Helix offers a lot more routing flexibility with effects, and its easier to get to some specific tones simply because of the way it works -- instead of having one comprehensive engine for each type of effect, you've got specific "models" to choose from so if you're looking for, say, a phase 90 sound...you can get there faster. I didn't necessarily think the effects sounded BETTER, and I didn't think there were delay sounds available in Helix that weren't available in Atomic -- but there were routing options that weren't available (use of multiple delays; reverb and delay in parallel; running a delay parallel, full wet, into a phaser to get phased delay, etc., etc.). In terms of UI, the on-unit UI in Helix is killer. If you're looking for footswitch-functionality yeah, the Helix is great there -- super easy to assign and even on the LT, super easy to know what switch does what in each preset. If you like moving amongst presets and around within presets via footswitches...the Helix will feel great.

    In terms of all-in-one that's a double-edged sword, imo. The Helix is BIG for me. This might be because I have a small studio. But its way bigger than an AA12 + expression pedal. Also, if you've got the Helix on the floor...now all the controls (including volume control) for your audio interface are on the floor, which...was really REALLY off-putting for me. Going in to adjust the monitor level vs. playback level required I think two button pushes before you could get to the volume knob to control that, which was also frustrating in comparison to the on-unit mix knob of my presonus audio interface.
     
  4. facefirst

    facefirst Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    51
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I’d go Helix just for the updates and customer service.
     
    GreatDane likes this.
  5. Slartibartfarst42

    Slartibartfarst42 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Some interesting points and the thread at TGP was particularly interesting. It really is a tough call. I naturally seem to like things fairly bright and that appears to characterise the Helix based on that thread. I also really like the idea of having the expression pedal built in so that I can sell my Crybaby as well as using it as an interface instead of having separate gear. There appears to be a lot more flexibility there than with the AA12 but the fly in the ointment is that from what I can gather, the Atomic is simply better at anything like a Marshall and the amp models I generally use for gain are the Plexi, JCM800 and the Hot Brit. Those three amp models constitute 95% of my playing. I don't need endless numbers of amp models but I do need those three to be very good and while the Helix looks a better bet in almost every area, it appears to be weaker in the one area I spend a lot of my time.
     
    JiveTurkey likes this.
  6. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    28
    You still have the AA3? Holding on to it for complaining's sake? :p:D

    OP; AA3 with external pedals (wah most definitely included). I liked the tones much better. Just know it is pretty much a static platform. At least for now. I didn't like the expression pedal on the Helix at all. The feel was way too tight (I know you can adjust it) and switching it on required what seemed to be like 1000lbs. of pressure. Amp tones were nothing to write home about to me whatsoever. I am in the minority on that o_O FX are good on the Helix and the Atomic but the Atomic are a little less obvious in their ease of use than the Helix.
     
  7. gonzoknife

    gonzoknife Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    My 2 cents: I think what's best depends on how you plan to use it. I use the AA3 on my pedalboard and use it with pedals. I treat is mostly as an amp replacement. I didn't want to go the Helix route as I have some pedals I need to use (no models for them) and some I prefer to use. At that point it was cheaper and simpler to use the AA3. I don't need lots of amp models and updates and I prefer the simplicity of pedals with knobs I can tweak easily on the fly.

    I cover a lot of ground in my band including synth guitar. If I had a narrower role or we played a more limited selection of music I'd be happy with a Helix or similar for the simplicity of setting it on the floor and playing. If I didn't have to do the guitar synth, I might even go the Firebox route. As of today, all of the floor processors are lacking things I need so I'm staying with my hybrid setup.
     
    JiveTurkey likes this.
  8. Gtrbldr

    Gtrbldr Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Have both an AA3 and helix LT. both are great, but the aa is now my backup.

    Mainly this is because In terms of ease of use, the helix wins by a landslide, for all the reasons mentioned above. The aa3 needs an external midi controller and that is a pita.

    In terms of raw sound they are not that different. Some models are a little better in the helix, some in the AA. They are however in spitting distance to my ears, and I did some close a/b-ing. For example the plexi in the aa seems a little more compact souning than in the helix, but the overall feel and sound is pretty close.

    Love both units and none is going anywhere. :)
     
  9. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Elaborate on the guitar synth portion of your rig and how you implement it in conjunction with the AA...
     
  10. facefirst

    facefirst Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    51
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I’ll hang onto it because it’s not worth it to sell it. Just planning on buying a whole other setup and use it solely as a backup. I have lost all faith in Atomic as a company and definitely would never buy another piece of gear from them.
     
    Andrei and Buddy like this.
  11. Buddy

    Buddy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2017
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Yes you are wright - i also keep it as a backup while planning to buy a cplt. different setup / fx machine or whatever. :).
    It's not worth it to sell it.

    It would be nice to have a fx unit which is as flexible as the aa12 but with a much better software.
    Easier to use - more effects - more updates and so one.
     
  12. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    28
    That's too bad man. Though pretty understandable for you at this point. There's still 4 days before the one year anniversary for them to turn it all around o_O

    In all seriousness; if we are talking "not going to happen/probably makes no sense after I actually think about it" wishlists; an AFB with midi control capabilities would be awesome.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
  13. Wyatt McConnell

    Wyatt McConnell Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2017
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    288
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Just download the Helix Native trial and take it for a spin. You won't get the UI, etc., but you can at least figure out if the tone works for you.
     
  14. Slartibartfarst42

    Slartibartfarst42 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Trying the Helix Native seems like a good idea and should give me a reasonable idea of how it compares to the Atomic.

    I don't need loads of amp models so the simplicity of the Atomic naturally appeals. I also don't need loads of effects and I find the effects on the Atomic just fine other than their complexity so again, the Atomic appeals. However, I really don't want to use external pedals as I'd prefer an all-in-one solution, though I could live with an external Wah. This certainly makes the Helix appeal more. It also seems to me that while I don't need hundreds of updates, it looks far more likely that Line6 will update and more importantly, improve their product over time. This also favours the Helix. I'm no sound engineer and the effects on the Atomic are a pain to set up for me whereas I never used to have much trouble when I used to use pedals. The fact that the Helix uses effects that are set up more simply certainly appeals. The delay especially on the Atomic is a real pain. Finally there is the far larger online community and therefore access to different good quality presets so again, the Helix wins.

    I suspect that my historic experience with Line6 is making me more cautious than I might be as I really didn't like anything any of the Pod lines have done, even the much heralded Pod HD500. So far the Atomic is the only multi-fx that has made me forget about the valve amps I used to swear by but I have to confess that the Helix seems like it's a massive step up from any Pod.
     
  15. NelsonP

    NelsonP Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I still have a pod xt and in certain areas it has the amplifire beaten. Particularly simplicity of effects and usb audio. But everywhere else the amplifire is better.

    I'd like simpler effects on amplifire. It seems odd that the overdrives are based on models but there isn't the same for modulation and delay etc. But there's a post on here by matticus, called something like 'a selection of effects presets' which gets you most of the way there.

    Personally I'd be happy with models of:
    Phase 90
    arion sch1
    Boss cs1
    Plus a few delays...digital, tape, multi tap with diffusion.

    All of those are easily possible on amplifire.

    I still have a feeling that helix LT might be a bit average in some areas though ( mid - high gain Marshall, stiff expression pedal, too big and heavy).

    And I've ordered an interface now anyway.

    ...and of course we'll be getting a Christmas update from atomic anyway ;-)
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  16. Meiannatee

    Meiannatee Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I'm also considering the switch from AA12 to Helix LT. Since I'm already using Native, makes sense to simplify my setup so the same presets can be used live and in my DAW. Any thoughts?
     
  17. Andrei

    Andrei Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2017
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    49
    Trophy Points:
    18
    For what is worth, I have tried Helix Native and imo Bias Amp blows it out of the water. I mean, Bias feels so much better and the sound is awesome too.
    Having said that, I think that neither of them feel as good as hardware (AA12), maybe because of lower latency or some psychological reasons.
     
    JiveTurkey likes this.
  18. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    28
    As does Sgear and Mercuriall Spark. If Marshall tones are your bag; the Atomic absolutely crushes the Line 6 offerings. Do not switch if those amps are your grail tones. At least pre-this last Helix FW update. I know they added a couple of variants of that type of tone this last go round.
     
  19. Slartibartfarst42

    Slartibartfarst42 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Yes, this is exactly the issue. The Plexi, Brit 800 and Hot Brit are my main amp models so while I appreciate that many other things are, without question, better on the Helix, if the core tones aren't there it could get very frustrating, very quickly. Other favoured amp models, though to a lesser degree, would be the Kornfield, Freedman BE and SLO. Other than the Twin, I don't really use any other amp models.

    How do you find those Marshall tones on Helix Native compared to Atomic?
     
  20. Meiannatee

    Meiannatee Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    18
    To be honest, I'm not a big Marshall guy. I do use the Kornfield a lot and the 800 occasionally, but I usually play in very busy mixes, so chimey/percussive tones work better than meaty Marshall tones that crowd the mix. It's fun to noodle with alone though.

    So, take this with a spoonful of salt. I find the Helix Marshall tones very usable AFTER using 3rd party IRs (Celestion), messing with the amp model parameters, and some general EQ. On the Amplifire, it's pretty much just mess with the gain and amp EQ knobs. But in the end, they both sound comparably good.
     

Share This Page

Share