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AXE 8 VS. Helix GAME Over!!!

Fretburner

Regular
I have been a Axe user since the early days of using the standard model then purchased the II when it came out. With all the buzz with the release of the Kemper I decided to jump ship and I sold the II years ago and got a Kemper. I also purchased a Helix back when they first came out. I have to say the Axe ALWAYS sounded awesome for all my gigs and never let me down so I decided to come back to the Fractal camp and ordered a Axe 8 as I was on the waiting list. I know it's not as easy to get around as the Helix is but having owned the other fractal units I know how to get around and with axe edit it should be a piece of cake. I'm really looking forward to putting it through the test. I have a feeling that I'm going to be very happy with the Axe-8
 

cj1974

New here
Hey guys. First post here. Just got my AX8 last week and am new to the Fractal Family. I can honestly say that I am completely blown away with the AX8! Still have a lot to learn to use everything like I want but the sounds are simply amazing. Used it yesterday at Church and everyone was blown away with the sound. I bought a Helix during the wait period and used it for three weeks before returning it and waiting on the AX8. I really wanted to love the Helix being a longtime L6 user. The Helix has a friendlier interface and probably has easier to use navigation features and options for on the fly changes, routing, and set up. However the Helix Amp models and Effects are no-where close to even in the same league as the AX8. I always felt like I was just settling with a few amp models that just sounded ok on the Helix and the effects got me close to where I wanted to be. I spent a lot of time looking for external IR's and trying others patches trying to get great sounds and just ended up with OK ones. The AX8 I am having trouble deciding which amp model to use for certain things because they ALL SOUND SO GOOD and dial in so quickly that I don't spend all my time tweaking. The effects are very easy to dial in in my opinion as well. The AX8 edit is also light years ahead of the Helix one as well. Just my two cents though. Everyone has their own opinion though!
 

bke

Regular
Hey guys. First post here. Just got my AX8 last week and am new to the Fractal Family. I can honestly say that I am completely blown away with the AX8! Still have a lot to learn to use everything like I want but the sounds are simply amazing. Used it yesterday at Church and everyone was blown away with the sound. I bought a Helix during the wait period and used it for three weeks before returning it and waiting on the AX8. I really wanted to love the Helix being a longtime L6 user. The Helix has a friendlier interface and probably has easier to use navigation features and options for on the fly changes, routing, and set up. However the Helix Amp models and Effects are no-where close to even in the same league as the AX8. I always felt like I was just settling with a few amp models that just sounded ok on the Helix and the effects got me close to where I wanted to be. I spent a lot of time looking for external IR's and trying others patches trying to get great sounds and just ended up with OK ones. The AX8 I am having trouble deciding which amp model to use for certain things because they ALL SOUND SO GOOD and dial in so quickly that I don't spend all my time tweaking. The effects are very easy to dial in in my opinion as well. The AX8 edit is also light years ahead of the Helix one as well. Just my two cents though. Everyone has their own opinion though!

Welcome to the forum - I was in a similar position, although my name on the AX8 waitlist came up just as I got a helix (had AXE 2's before but was without for some months) - really wanted to love the helix as its so easy to mess around with, but found I was spending time tweaking to to dial out stuff I didn't like in the tones, some amps didn't sound like they should to me, and the effects (delays, verbs, wah's, chorus are just way ahead for me on the ax8 - with the AX8 I just load it up and play - sometimes don't even know what amp I'm using - playing the two side by side through the same system was very revealing to me... helix works for lots of folks which is great, we all hear things differently and have different needs etc.. but for me, the AX8 sounds so good compared to anything (including 2 Ax2's, and Ax standard) that I had in the past - (I know the ax8 and the ax2 sound the same, just the firmware has evolved a lot since I had it, and maybe my ears a little too;-) - actually, when I DI down my amps and use them into the ax8 into FRFR using the ax8 for effects and Cabs, the amps sound really good... as you'd kinda expect - fun little experiment to have a real amp DI'd in and switch in the same patch from using the modeled version and the real version though the same CAB IR a and FRFR system... why do that when you have the AX8 - cause I can, and its fun!! ;-)
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
Welcome to the forum - I was in a similar position, although my name on the AX8 waitlist came up just as I got a helix (had AXE 2's before but was without for some months) - really wanted to love the helix as its so easy to mess around with, but found I was spending time tweaking to to dial out stuff I didn't like in the tones, some amps didn't sound like they should to me, and the effects (delays, verbs, wah's, chorus are just way ahead for me on the ax8 - with the AX8 I just load it up and play - sometimes don't even know what amp I'm using - playing the two side by side through the same system was very revealing to me... helix works for lots of folks which is great, we all hear things differently and have different needs etc.. but for me, the AX8 sounds so good compared to anything (including 2 Ax2's, and Ax standard) that I had in the past - (I know the ax8 and the ax2 sound the same, just the firmware has evolved a lot since I had it, and maybe my ears a little too;-) - actually, when I DI down my amps and use them into the ax8 into FRFR using the ax8 for effects and Cabs, the amps sound really good... as you'd kinda expect - fun little experiment to have a real amp DI'd in and switch in the same patch from using the modeled version and the real version though the same CAB IR a and FRFR system... why do that when you have the AX8 - cause I can, and its fun!! ;-)
Exactly! as I seem to have evolved into a true modeler addict, the real fun is getting all the gear to play nice together, and I'm sure a lot of us have evolved some real Frankensteinian rigs.. I'm now using my Helix mostly as a midi controller/audio routing for my AXFX II/FX8/Apollo rig , which plays to its strengths. ....
 

Fran_Garofano

New here
Hi guys,

I just wanted to share with you my experience regarding Fractal AX8.
I am a pure, good old metalhead raised with all the good stuff from the '80. A couple of years ago I bought a Fender Mustang 3 v2 and I was not happy 100% with the result (the amp is perfect if you like Fender amps but if you want to go metal you have very few options and the final result is not good enough for me). So I started thinking about going digital: I took into consideration Line 6 Firehawk (recently bought by a friend of mine). The Firehawk is not bad but it looks like a toy (I don't like all those colourful leds blinking, the expression pedal is not for heavy users, the pedalboard definitely does not sound like the real thing). Then I landed on the Line 6 Helix: It looks like a more expensive version of the Firehawk (If you ask me It does not look as professional as the Fractal AX8 (again all those colourful leds). Moreover, lots of Helix owners rely on third party cabs in order to compensate the poor array of built-in amps & cabs choices). Then I stumbled upon Fractal Audio AX8, I decided to buy one (there are some great YouTube videos out there, check X-Mann, James Ryan, AxeFxTutorials, Mark Day Guitar) and I could not be happier: I live in Dublin so I bought the thing via G66 (G66 staff is the just best KUDOS!). In less than 1 month I received the AX8 (added my name to the waiting list the 21 of July approx, received the AX8 the 9th of August). The thing is built like a tank! Yes, the screen is smaller than the Helix but it looks great anyway (great readability, it does not look like a videogame, very professional). Yes, it is not easy to learn how to use all the AX8 knobs and buttons but I am going to use the Editor anyway (which is amazing btw). Yes the AX8 is more expensive than the Helix (also, take into account the expression pedal is not included in the AX8) but that thing exudes quality and awesomeness (I sold the Mustang and I bought a couple of JBL LSR 305: great result!). Yes, the AX8 does not have customised labels (but to be honest with you I prefer a pedalboard without them). Last but not least, the Fractal Audio community (yes, you guys) is just the best. Just an example: Danny Danzi. He shared some fantastic Van Halen presets (check this: VIDEO From Van Halen I to 1984 (PATCHES INCLUDED)). Moreover, he helped me to sort out some issues with the cabs (I am still learning you know). More examples: check "Yek’s Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models" pdf.

Conclusions:
AX8 has got less connectivity options, no customised labels, no built-in expression pedal, smaller display but you know what? I don't care! AX8 has got the same technology of AXE FX II, it's built like a tank, it looks (and sounds) beautiful and has got a great community online!

Live Long and Prosper
 

skyhighrocks

Inspired
I just came from the Helix. I really wanted to like it because it is a very well thought out piece of gear...especially the routing options, ease of use and it looks beautiful. The FX were good, good enough for me. What killed it for me were the amp models/tone. It still has the Line 6 "sound" to it, if that makes sense. I had hoped they changed their modeling philosophy but I could not dial in a tone I was really happy with. I probably spent 5-6 hours a day (YES!) tweaking away on it for a month straight but couldn't find myself keeping it. I sold it after about 5 weeks.

I previously had played a kemper for around 3 years. Loved it but like many guitar players, I like changing my setup every year or 2. I'll own another Kemper someday. The AX8 is good for what I need right now. I'm not a huge fx guy, some verb, delay, phaser and flanger usually...so I don't find myself hitting the CPU limit at all. I'm using it with my 5153 and marshall 412 but have also been building presets using my amp for power only as the amp models are so much better than the Helix (to my ears). My band gigs some pretty cool stages so I'm looking forward to testing this out on saturday for the first time. We have a run of travel shows coming up in the next few weeks so I'll have a better idea of what the AX8 can and can't do.
 

X-Mann

Veteran
:cool:
Hi guys,

I just wanted to share with you my experience regarding Fractal AX8.
I am a pure, good old metalhead raised with all the good stuff from the '80. A couple of years ago I bought a Fender Mustang 3 v2 and I was not happy 100% with the result (the amp is perfect if you like Fender amps but if you want to go metal you have very few options and the final result is not good enough for me). So I started thinking about going digital: I took into consideration Line 6 Firehawk (recently bought by a friend of mine). The Firehawk is not bad but it looks like a toy (I don't like all those colourful leds blinking, the expression pedal is not for heavy users, the pedalboard definitely does not sound like the real thing). Then I landed on the Line 6 Helix: It looks like a more expensive version of the Firehawk (If you ask me It does not look as professional as the Fractal AX8 (again all those colourful leds). Moreover, lots of Helix owners rely on third party cabs in order to compensate the poor array of built-in amps & cabs choices). Then I stumbled upon Fractal Audio AX8, I decided to buy one (there are some great YouTube videos out there, check X-Mann, James Ryan, AxeFxTutorials, Mark Day Guitar) and I could not be happier: I live in Dublin so I bought the thing via G66 (G66 staff is the just best KUDOS!). In less than 1 month I received the AX8 (added my name to the waiting list the 21 of July approx, received the AX8 the 9th of August). The thing is built like a tank! Yes, the screen is smaller than the Helix but it looks great anyway (great readability, it does not look like a videogame, very professional). Yes, it is not easy to learn how to use all the AX8 knobs and buttons but I am going to use the Editor anyway (which is amazing btw). Yes the AX8 is more expensive than the Helix (also, take into account the expression pedal is not included in the AX8) but that thing exudes quality and awesomeness (I sold the Mustang and I bought a couple of JBL LSR 305: great result!). Yes, the AX8 does not have customised labels (but to be honest with you I prefer a pedalboard without them). Last but not least, the Fractal Audio community (yes, you guys) is just the best. Just an example: Danny Danzi. He shared some fantastic Van Halen presets (check this: VIDEO From Van Halen I to 1984 (PATCHES INCLUDED)). Moreover, he helped me to sort out some issues with the cabs (I am still learning you know). More examples: check "Yek’s Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models" pdf.

Conclusions:
AX8 has got less connectivity options, no customised labels, no built-in expression pedal, smaller display but you know what? I don't care! AX8 has got the same technology of AXE FX II, it's built like a tank, it looks (and sounds) beautiful and has got a great community online!

Live Long and Prosper
Hey Fran, sup? ;)

1st off, congrats to you & your new purchase! The AX8 is everything the modern guitarist needs to Rock Out like a boss.

2nd, you're right, the Fractal community is a fantastic bunch of great players, technically proficient teachers & just great people to talk & hang with on-line.

3rd, take your time getting to know the AX8. I'm NOT a smart Mann & it took me a little longer then most I'm sure. Once you wrap your head around it & find you favorite amps & cab IR's you'll be totally set.

4th, spend as much time as you can on the Cab IR's too. #veryimportant

I've tried a lot of other devices & the tones in the AX8 won me over BIG time.

Thanks for the shout-out & enjoy your journey brother! :cool:

Peace! X-Mann
 
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Fran_Garofano

New here
:cool:
Hey Fran, sup? ;)

1st off, congrats to you & your new purchase! The AX8 is everything the modern guitarist needs to Rock Out like a boss.

2nd, you're right, the Fractal community is a fantastic bunch of great players, technically proficient teachers & just great people to talk & hang with on-line.

3rd, take your time getting to know the AX8. I'm NOT a smart Mann & it took me a little longer then most I'm sure. Once you wrap your head around it & find you favorite amps & can IR's you'll be totally set.

4th, spend as much time as you can on the Cab IR's too. #veryimportant

I've tried a lot of other devices & the tones in the AX8 won me over BIG time.

Thanks for the shout-out & enjoy your journey brother! :cool:

Peace! X-Mann
WOW!

X-Mann thank YOU for your comment!
I appreciate your advice and will make a point to practice them.
I agree cabs are as important as amps and before buying some third party IRs I will make sure to explore all AX8 options (there is tons of good stuff for sure).
Thank you again for your contribution to Fractal community!
 

Fretburner

Regular
It took me a long time to realize but after having both units side by side this is this was a post that I put on the fractal audio forum in Facebook back in July.

Bye Bye Helix. I tried and tried to get to like you and hoped the tone would get better with the firmware updates but after 10 months trying to make you sound good with different FRFR speakers / different IR's & backline configurations I have finally given up. You just don't compare tone wise to the all mighty AX8!

Helix has a lot of very cool features but at the end of the day it's all about the tone!
 

daveycrocketb3

New here
I have to chuckle as I read all yall saying "I really *tried* to like the Helix" or "I really *wanted* to like the Helix" etc. SAME!! I had an AFII, sold it and patiently waited to see (hear!) for myself what the L6 boys had done. Fortunately I got to borrow a Helix and use it live and not shell out $$ to try one only to return it. That's all it took - one time on stage. It was an easy decision for me, and it all came down to tone and feel, and the AX8 has it all over the Helix to my ears.
 
Hey guys! I will be receiving my ax8 tomorrow!! I cannot begin to express my excitement. I am a long time tube amp user and finally am retiring my mesa dual recto with g major unit. I also was on the fence between the ax8 and helix. I had the chance to play a friends ax8 ajd axfx2 xl and then a friends helix to help me decide. The helix to me was too processed and still had a very fuzzy high gain. The ax8 and ax fx sounded identical and handled the high gain so well I had to make the jump. This is my first modeling processor since the line 6 pod hd500x. I kept the pod for 3 weeks before selling it because it sounded so bad. I have no doubt that I have made the right move!
 

ehamady

New here
I was sold on the AX8 over the Helix just from YouTube tone comparison videos recorded with room mics.
 
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2112

Fractal Fanatic
The Helix floor unit is about $400 more expensive than the AX8 here in Australia. So yeah, there's that too :p
 

Karl Houseknecht

Forum Addict
I had ignored my Helix for the better part of a year and a half, didn't even update the firmware until the recent update. But I have to say, it's come a long way. With the same IR, I put an A/B box in front of it and the AX8 and dialed up my go-to AC30 sound. With some work, I was able to match it on the Helix to the point where I even got confused and started to tweak the wrong unit. I also dialed up a Friedman BE type sound on the Helix that was remarkably close (using the Archon model), to the point where I'd choose either unit.

That's not to say it was easy. It took me a bit of work to get there, and some tweaking of the Helix's "deep" parameters. It is in no way as plug and play as the AX8 where you just drop in an amp, cab, reverb, and you're ready to go with almost zero tweaking. But I don't feel that the title of this thread is accurate anymore. It isn't "game over", not that simple. They are both capable units, each with their own strengths. 4CM is one of the Helix's strengths, as is UI simplicity. I still feel the AX8 has the edge in the amp modeling department, but it's not so clear cut anymore.

Anyway, keeping it real here. Let's not get too complacent. Competition in this space is a good thing, and I get the feeling Cliff thrives on it.
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
I had ignored my Helix for the better part of a year and a half, didn't even update the firmware until the recent update. But I have to say, it's come a long way. With the same IR, I put an A/B box in front of it and the AX8 and dialed up my go-to AC30 sound. With some work, I was able to match it on the Helix to the point where I even got confused and started to tweak the wrong unit. I also dialed up a Friedman BE type sound on the Helix that was remarkably close (using the Archon model), to the point where I'd choose either unit.

That's not to say it was easy. It took me a bit of work to get there, and some tweaking of the Helix's "deep" parameters. It is in no way as plug and play as the AX8 where you just drop in an amp, cab, reverb, and you're ready to go with almost zero tweaking. But I don't feel that the title of this thread is accurate anymore. It isn't "game over", not that simple. They are both capable units, each with their own strengths. 4CM is one of the Helix's strengths, as is UI simplicity. I still feel the AX8 has the edge in the amp modeling department, but it's not so clear cut anymore.

Anyway, keeping it real here. Let's not get too complacent. Competition in this space is a good thing, and I get the feeling Cliff thrives on it.
I agree completely, have had a very similar experience with Helix, used it mostly only as a router /MIDI floor controller for my other mostly FAS gear for a long time, but the recent FW s have indeed narrowed the tone gap, and have started using it in tandem with my FX8 for my B rig. Using the same IR s on both units can be especially telling, fer sure, but I think most folk who spend time with both units give FAS the tone advantage , as evidenced on a recent poll thread on TGP, which I believe you might have contributed to as well, Karl...
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/if-money-werent-an-object-helix-or-axe-fx-ii.1824008/
 
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