Guitar amp Modellers

For a long time, I was of the opinion that real amps were always better - and I’ve done plenty of recording of cranked cabs and combos, and gone through so many different speakers etc looking for different sounds.

I’ve got to say, though, a few months ago I got an amp modeller (this one’s a line 6 Helix) and I’m really, really happy with the recorded sound I’ve been getting from it. I spent a bit of time finding some 3rd party IRs I like and exploring a few of the available amp models, and I think the sound and workflow are both fantastic. Now I’ve found my way around it, I’m not even struggling with over-tweaking or option paralysis - over xmas I started recording guitars for a new album, and it’s been pretty painless.

So, I’m a convert to modelling, and a couple of months ago I sold my AC30. Really surprised myself.

In the grand scheme of things the Helix is cheaper than the Kemper of Axe FX 2, but it was still a lot of money for me to get the rack and floor controller. Then I worked out that over the last 10 years I’ve spent a similar amount of money in valves for my various amps, and suddenly it didn’t seem so crazy :rofl:


congrats in finding your new cup of tea. Im curious about the sounds you have achieved since you’ve always been an amp guy before and I was thinking your taste will be more realistic sounding than some of those who’ve started with amp sims (like me). Would you mind sharing some clips? :slight_smile:

Did you struggle with using the built-in Gate or do you use a separate gate? One thing I have found with sims is getting the Gate right, as sometimes there are digital artifacts as the signal is decaying.

Also, I have had some issues with sims making crackling noises in the DAW when running a low buffer and recording. Sometimes that may be due to lots of plugins on the session (PDC etc). Have you experienced that at all? I have not used the one you are talking about though.

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@brianinogang I wouldn’t like to say my taste is going to be more or less valid than anyone else’s! At the end of the day, whatever you use you just turn the knobs until it sounds and feels right to play through, to you.

This is a rough mix I was working on at christmas, there’s no automation or anything and the levels aren’t great, but all the guitars are my strat through Helix.

And on this tracks 1,2 & 6 are all Helix.

@Stan_Halen I have to admit, I’ve never touched the gate. I’ve not heard anything I’d call digital artefacts in the sustain of the signal. I actually did some tests on the digital signal level a few weeks ago and even with the quietest playing, the decay probably never goes below effectively 12 or 13 bits. Which isn’t amazing, but it still means the quantizing noise would be lost in the analogue noise floor, which occupies the first 30dB of signal ( -148dB is the theoretical limit of the 24 bit A/D converter, but the front end noise with nothing plugged is is 40db higher than that, around -110dB, the same as pretty much every interface)!

In fact, over on a UK-based guitar forum, I noticed people complaining about certain things sounding digital that sounded about par for the course recording a real amp - flubby low end, nasty resonances in the upper mids, harsh and unmusical sounding fizz up top… those people just playing guitar and listening to the amp sound in the room don’t necessarily realise how different it is when you stick a mic on a speaker!

And yes, I found with the native version of helix I was running out of CPU pretty quickly at low buffer settings. But with the hardware, it’s not an issue since I’m just plugging its output into a channel of my Audient interface - the Helix is doing all the processing.


Oh, I just realised, I have one video of it but there’s no guitar playing - I was trying to program a patch that’d do the synthy intro of U2’s “Where the Streets have no Name” :sweat_smile:

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What I have heard on some sims and real amps (not tube/valve) with the digital modeling feature is a kind of digital warbling sound. Kind of like mobile phones do when you have a bad connection.

That Helix is a pretty cool unit, I hadn’t heard of it before. It may be that quality/price is a determining factor in sims and digital modeling in general.

They just keep getting better. I went back and listened to some of my older stuff, and even a simple POD can make great recordings. A lot of the stuff people (myself included) complained about as far as the sound was concerned didn’t show up in the final sound of the track.
For me it was just that the sensation of playing was different. There was a perceived, mechanical latency that I couldn’t ignore that was immediately gone through a real amp. I did go to an HD-300, which was a little better, (if anyone wants one cheap let me know) and then Scuffham software, which I like, but it actually makes recording more difficult for me than slapping a mic in front of an amp.
If you’ve actually found something that truly works for you, both in sound and playability, that’s fantastic. It all boils down to how it works for you, and the advantage of having multiple amps and fx available is huge. Have fun with it!


It does sound great. cheers! and the song really rocks!!! I’m lovin it. I’m listening to the first link. Congrats man!