Line 6 Helix LT

I Bought A Line 6 Helix LT- A Short Review

A few weeks ago a lovely new Line 6 Helix LT landed at Guitar Noodle HQ.

A bit of background info. I’ve been playing the guitar and various other instruments for around 25 years now. During that time I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on equipment. I use to be pretty seriously into recording my own music but that got pushed to one side due to starting a family. A scenario I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with.

Recently, I’ve started to play a lot more again and wanted to get back into recording again. I owned a Line 6 HD500x which was a decent sounding pedal but it took me forever to adjust the settings to get the sounds I wanted from it.

I know a lot of people who shared the same view as me. Great sounds when you spent enough time tweaking it but an awful user interface.

Enter the Line 6 Helix

Line 6 Helix LT

I did a lot of research before I ordered the Helix. I wanted to get the best amp modeller/simulator I could because I don’t plan on upgrading it any time soon. It had to sound good but also be easy to adjust for any sound I needed.

There are some other great units available such as the Kemper and Axe-FX but the Helix stood out to me. The others sounded great but they didn’t seem as flexible and as easy to edit. Ultimately, I think it comes down to what you really need as far as sounds, connections and editability. I can certainly see why the other units would make great choices for other people but the Helix seemed like the best fit for me.

I also chose the LT version because I didn’t need the extra inputs and outputs of the regular Helix pedal and not having scribble strips doesn’t matter to me.

Line 6 Helix LT Rear

Onto the pedal itself.

When I unboxed the Helix LT I was immediately impressed by the feel and look of it. You can tell Line 6 have put a lot of thought and effort into creating a quality unit. It’s very solid and looks great. Upon switching it on you’re greeted with a fantastic looking screen. It’s a huge improvement over the HD500x.

I’m not a big fan of reading manuals. I like to dive in and find out for myself how things work. Within minutes I was creating my own patches and getting some killer sounds. Honestly, I think it’s the most user-friendly amp simulator or multi-effects pedal I’ve ever tried. Everything is laid out in a very logical way and it takes no time at all to feel comfortable using it. This was exactly what I wanted but I was still shocked at how easy it was to use. After a few weeks, I still find myself editing it on the pedal most of the time rather than using the editing software because it’s so simple.

And the sounds?

Pretty amazing. We seem to have finally reached the point where it’s not about how much different the devices sound compared to a real amp. The top units all sound great and when compared to a recording made the traditional way it’s pretty much impossible to tell which is which. In a mix, you simply wouldn’t be able to tell what was used.

The amount of flexibility with the Helix means you can tweak as much as you like, but getting a good sound is very quick. I’ve found myself dialling in a tone within a minute or two to get an idea recorded with then only adjusting it slightly later to get it perfect but you can go much further.

With all of the different amp models and settings for each one, you have a huge pallet to start with. Then there are the cabs, mics and various settings for each of those. Plus all the effects, EQs, and the option of using impulse responses to replace the cabinets. It’s pretty mind-blowing how many tonal options are at your fingertips (or should that be feet?).

Added to all of this is the way you can run your signal path. Dual amps are a great way to achieve sounds you struggle to obtain from a single amp and the Helix makes it very easy to add an extra amp to a chain. You can run two heads into a single cab, have different cabs for each one or even have a totally different signal path set up for each amp.

All of these options might make it sound like the Helix LT would be complicated to used but it really isn’t. The options are there if you want them but they don’t have to be used. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. Either way, you’ll achieve a great tone.

An added bonus for me is how good the bass amps sound. I used to use software amps for recording bass with but now I’ve switched to the Helix. I do usually use a fairly basic bass tone but I’ve found myself experimenting a bit because it’s so easy to do and I have a number of very nice sounding patches now to give my bass some different colours.

Have I mentioned the Helix Native software yet?

Line 6 Helix Native

No, I will leave that for another day. I wasn’t going to buy it but Line 6 had an offer on last week for Helix LT owners and it was too good to miss. Look out for a post about Native in the future. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty impressed with it so far.

In summary, I think the Line 6 Helix LT is one of the best purchases I’ve made. I still haven’t pushed it to its limits and I probably have much more to discover. So far, the sound and usability have more than convinced me the price is worth every penny.