Line 6 Helix LT
With great power comes great responsibility
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