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Line 6 vs Helix Floor vs Fractal Axe FX III

DFauvre

Inspired
I've been a HUGE Fractal Axe FX III fan. That said, I've been surprised to keep hearing well known guitarists also recommend the Line 6 Helix Floor unit which supposedly has their flagship best modeling and effects. Am very curious to hearing from anyone here whose owned both. Which has the better amp emulation? Etc?
 

chris

Legend!
I’d try a search. There are tons of threads on this, usually around the time each unit was released. Just search for the other gear.
 

Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
I have both, since I haven't sold my Helix yet, though I haven't touched it since I got my III.

But that's very misleading.
I prefer the the Axe, but the Helix is great too, its on-unit UI is the benchmark for speed and usability, and it's significant;y less expensive.
The capacitive touch knobs mean there are really a lot of controls super close to hand, and the ability to directly control up to (I think) 32 parameters separately per scene is both better and worse than the block channel concept in the Axe.

I like the Axe's modeling better, it has way more models available, the grid concept is super flexible, and the pace of development is kind of astounding.
The constant firmware changes have the downside of needing to review presets you really care about pretty often, but then again, you don't have to upgrade if you don't want to, and you get a lot of new toys for your trouble.

It's a cliche, but it really is a great time to be a guitarist, especially if you're comfortable with modeling, so many seriously great options out there.
 

Jvstrat

Experienced
Just recently sold my Helix floor. It’s not even close in my opinion. Amps and effects are better. The touch response is so much better on the Axe models.
 

Lkdog

Experienced
Have owned all of the Line 6 products since the Axsys 212 in the late 90s.
Have also owned every Fractal product.
Somewhere during the Axe Fx 2 versions development Fractal just became so much better it was not even close.
I had the Helix and it had some nice amps. Otherwise not impressed.
Required a lot of tweaking on many of the amps to not sound like ass.
 

Doctor Wu

Inspired
I have both, and although the Axe is £1000 more, I'd say it's infinitely better value for money

As Dave Merrill said, the capacitive touch knobs on the Helix are very handy and having control over 64 separate parameters per preset is great, though I wouldn't swap that for the Axe's channels system. The UI on the Helix is simpler, but I'd say that's because the device itself is less complicated. It's meters, which were a bolted on afterthought, are laughable.

I can get some decent sounds out of the Helix, but it takes more fiddling and time to do so than with the Axe, and the resulting tones are not nearly as satisfying. We have hundreds more amps and cabs to choose from, with pages and pages of things to twiddle with. The depth and breadth of the Axe's arsenal of effects is astounding and on a completely different level to Line 6's, quality wise.

I'm on the waiting list for the FM3, once I get it I'd like to sell the Helix, but I probably won't because some of it's buttons have become squidgy and unresponsive, every time I move the joystick selector knob it feels like it's going to break.

The Helix editing software, HX Edit, is not very good at all. It uses fiddly thin lines which are difficult to 'grab' hold of with the mouse rather than our nice big clear knobs and switches. I find it very frustrating to use.

The last Helix firmware update was in April, what have we had, 10, 15 updates since then? How is it that a tiny company like FAS, when compared to the monster that is Yamaha, can deliver so much more? Maybe the question should be the other way around.

And finally, there's the Helix forum, which is ruined by a handful of power users, who take any comment which is not a glowing endorsement, as a personal insult.

Pound for pound, the AXE leaves the Helix standing IMO.
 
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Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
@Doctor Wu, have you talked to Line 6 support about your hardware issues?
They've been pretty extraordinary in my and many others' experience.
I assume it's not under the original or extended warranty, or you would have just gone that route, yes?

When I had joystick issue, it was fixed locally and quickly.
Authorized service can get parts (or could when I had my issue), and in the end it turned out to be a broken solder joint anyway, not the actual joystick.
 

Doctor Wu

Inspired
@Doctor Wu, have you talked to Line 6 support about your hardware issues?
They've been pretty extraordinary in my and many others' experience.
I assume it's not under the original or extended warranty, or you would have just gone that route, yes?

When I had joystick issue, it was fixed locally and quickly.
Authorized service can get parts (or could when I had my issue), and in the end it turned out to be a broken solder joint anyway, not the actual joystick.

No, must admit I haven't contacted support yet. It is out of warranty so didn't think there'd be much point. Maybe I'll drop them a line, see what happens. Thanks Dave.
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
No, must admit I haven't contacted support yet. It is out of warranty so didn't think there'd be much point. Maybe I'll drop them a line, see what happens. Thanks Dave.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As for the OP question, yes they are comparable. They are both the top models in the same market.

Better anything related to tone is subjective, and the fanboys on both sides of the isle will fight to the death over a battle they cant win.

Find what works for you, and to hell with whoever is telling you it's the wrong choice.
 

DFauvre

Inspired
It's not even close, IMHO. Fractal is miles better in amp modeling and FX.
That was what I assumed. However, I was quit surprised to learn from a sales person at Sweetwater who allegedly services Mastodon that they use the Helix live.....
 
I wonder if they ever used the III. I see a lot of references to the II for Mastodon.

The problem with reading comparisons from the past is that the updates to Fractal Axe III have been a game changer. In my opinion the Axe III sounds very different in 14.x vs pre-10.x.
 
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