line 6 HX ef­fects

Line 6 puts all of its Helix ef­fects and more in a smaller pack­age that could re­vamp, or re­place, your ped­al­board

Guitarist - - Contents - Video demo­taris­tex­tra Words Trevor Cur­wen Pho­tog­ra­phy Phil Barker

When it comes to hav­ing some­thing to plug a gui­tar into, the Line 6 Helix floor pro­ces­sors are all that some play­ers could pos­si­bly need. For oth­ers, how­ever, they are overkill. A gui­tar and a Helix that’s con­nected into the PA can be the sum to­tal of your live rig – as long as ex­pe­ri­enced ears are tak­ing care of the front of house sound and your on­stage mon­i­tor­ing – but many play­ers just want to use Helix for its ef­fects through their ex­ist­ing amp, largely con­sign­ing the on­board amp and speaker sim­u­la­tion to re­dun­dancy in live performance and leav­ing some pon­der­ing the need for all that ex­tra ca­pa­bil­ity and yearn­ing for some­thing smaller with just the ef­fects. Well, if that’s you, the wait is over. Line 6 says that this lat­est Helix HX Ef­fects is de­signed for the gui­tarist (and bassist) who em­braces tra­di­tional amp and ped­al­board rigs.

The HX Ef­fects is an eight-footswitch box with ver­sa­tile con­nec­tiv­ity that’s pretty com­pre­hen­sive as far as ef­fects are con­cerned. We get all 117 ef­fects from the Helix se­ries as well as an­other 77 from pre­vi­ous Line 6 ped­als, like the DL4, and the ones that the HX most re­sem­bles: the M9 and M13 stomp­box mod­ellers. These ef­fects are ar­ranged in pre­sets, con­structed from a chain of up to nine blocks, each of which can host an ef­fect so, DSP per­mit­ting, you can have up to nine ef­fects si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

You can use the HX ei­ther in Pre­set mode us­ing footswitches, or in Stomp mode where each footswitche en­gages a par­tic­u­lar ef­fect just like a stan­dard ped­al­board. Im­me­di­ate switch­ing be­tween Pre­set and Stomp modes is ac­com­plished with the Mode footswitch so per­haps the most prac­ti­cal view of the unit is as a col­lec­tion of ped­al­boards that can be called up for use in dif­fer­ent songs.

Although you prob­a­bly wouldn’t de­scribe the HX Ef­fects as com­pact, it’s only slightly big­ger than a cou­ple of Big Muffs side-by-side, so it’s small enough to fit onto a ped­al­board along­side other ped­als. Of course, it’s com­pletely fea­si­ble to use the HX Ef­fects in iso­la­tion but many more op­tions open up if you use it along­side other ped­als and, not just in-line ei­ther, as a cou­ple of on­board send/re­turn loops let you in­te­grate ex­ter­nal ped­als wher­ever you like in a HX pre­set sig­nal flow with switch­ing from the HX. A loop can, al­ter­na­tively, al­low amp con­nec­tion via the four-ca­ble method.


Set­ting things up is ex­tremely easy with just a few in­tu­itive con­trols. At the HX’s most ba­sic you can just use a mono in­put and out­put and have six footswitches for six ef­fects, but if you want to get deeper there’s so much more com­plex­ity to ex­plore here.

Not least, you can set it up as the com­mand cen­tre of your sys­tem: you can ar­range blocks in any or­der (in­clud­ing par­al­lel sig­nal paths), as­sign tasks to the footswitches (in­clud­ing as­sign­ing mul­ti­ple blocks to the same switch, chang­ing pa­ram­e­ter val­ues, etc), cre­ate snap­shots (re­callable vari­a­tions of the same pre­set), utilise the ex­ten­sive MIDI ca­pa­bil­ity and set up ex­ter­nal con­trollers – there are two in­puts to add ex­pres­sion ped­als and these can, al­ter­na­tively, be used for switch­ing an amp’s chan­nels or ef­fects. With wah, whammy and other foot-con­trolled ef­fects on­board, some might won­der at the lack of a built-in trea­dle but not ev­ery­one needs one, so, for those that do, us­ing ex­ter­nal ex­pres­sion ped­als makes per­fect sense and keeps the unit at a man­age­able size.

The ef­fects here are of uni­formly high qual­ity. Dig­i­tal mod­el­ling these days can pro­vide recre­ations of clas­sic ef­fects that in many cases are all but in­dis­tin­guish­able from the orig­i­nal and our A/B test­ing showed plenty of that go­ing on here, with quite pos­si­bly all the mod­u­la­tion, pitch and spa­tial ef­fects you’ll need plus an eclec­tic range of drives/dis­tor­tions. All this comes with mas­sive flex­i­bil­ity – with 128 on­board ‘ped­al­boards’ there’s noth­ing to stop you hav­ing six dif­fer­ent dis­tor­tions on the same ’board or a mod­u­la­tion mon­ster with cho­rus, phaser, flanger, ro­tary, tremolo and vibe.


The HX Ef­fects ex­cels both as a self­con­tained com­pact ped­al­board or a con­stituent part of a big­ger ’board where it could be a starter unit in build­ing your sys­tem or used to ex­pand your ex­ist­ing rig with a range of qual­ity ef­fects to cover all sonic even­tu­al­i­ties. At a street price of un­der £500 there’s not a lot you need to ask your­self be­fore part­ing with your cash. Pros All the Helix ef­fects and more, work­able size, ex­ter­nal loops, easy edit­ing cons May not work with your stan­dard ped­al­board power sup­ply unit

Line 6

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