Line 6 Helix LT

With great power comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity

Total Guitar - - THE GAS STATION -

Line 6 mod­el­ling? We’ve been here be­fore...

Line 6 is the com­pany most as­so­ci­ated with con­sumer-grade mod­el­ling. Some ef­forts have aged bet­ter than oth­ers, many have be­come work­horses and bench­marks for the in­dus­try, like the DL4 de­lay and looper. The Helix falls into the lat­ter cat­e­gory.

How easy is it to pro­gram?

Most of the func­tion­al­ity of the unit can be ac­cessed with a few footswitch presses and a com­bi­na­tion of the joy­stick and the six pa­ram­e­ter con­trols un­der­neath the screen. Although more com­plex func­tion­al­ity will re­quire a bit of trial-and-er­ror, or in­deed read­ing the man­ual, there’s also a help­ful photo cheat-sheet in­cluded in the box that cov­ers the more com­mon func­tion­al­ity.

How does the user in­ter­face stack up?

The pixel screen is crisp and clear and, cru­cially, Line 6 seems to have spent a lot of time think­ing care­fully about how the in­ter­ac­tion with blocks should work for the player. Nav­i­gat­ing them and as­sign­ing rout­ing for sim­ple set­ups is a breeze, while power users will quickly suss out the ad­vanced op­tions on of­fer. The colour coding from screen to footswitches is clear and mem­o­rable once learned and the ‘tap to se­lect, press to ac­tu­ate’ dou­ble-func­tion footswitches speed up edit­ing and feel solid un­der­foot.

How good are the ef­fects and amps?

The clean amps are fan­tas­tic and the JTM 45-style Bri­tish amp was a par­tic­u­lar favourite at mid-gain set­tings. Roll the gain up, how­ever, and there’s a bit of the ‘fizz’ tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with dig­i­tal mod­el­ling. Tweak­ing the mic and cab set­tings can mit­i­gate this some­what and third party im­pulse re­sponses (IRs) are also an op­tion – Line 6 of­fers a free pack via its web­site, in fact. Nev­er­the­less, stereo set­ups are a breeze and a lot of fun can be had with the ar­se­nal of ef­fects when run through th­ese. Hours were lost dur­ing test­ing to a Roland Jazz Cho­rus and JTM-45 setup and the ping-pong de­lay in this con­text is noth­ing short of a rev­e­la­tion.

Can you use it to record?

Be­sides the usual XLR outs, there’s also a USB op­tion to use the Helix as an in­ter­face, DI and re-amp box.

Come on, there must be some neg­a­tives...

Some of the most in­ter­est­ing func­tion­al­ity lies in its deep in­te­gra­tion with L6’s DT amp se­ries and Variax gui­tars, for which there’s a ded­i­cated in­put on the back of the unit. In that sense, you’re miss­ing out on some fea­tures un­less you have all the kit, which is a bit of a shame but un­avoid­able.

TheHelixLTin­te­grateswith theL6’sDTampseriesand Variax gui­tars; the ded­i­cated in­puti­satthe­back­ofthe­unit

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