I was a big fan of Line 6 POD Farm but it was time Line 6 elevated their plugin game. The Helix software has been around for their hardware products for some time and the Helix Native software followed later. Many people followed the development of the plugin pretty closely in anticipation.
Line 6 Helix is a full amp suite or max pack as I like to call them. With Helix you get 60+ amplifiers, 30+ cabs, 100+ effects and the list goes on.
It looks like Line 6 took some inspiration from the Axe FX Axe edit program with the design. You can choose a list or item view for selecting your components which is nice and as a whole, I really like the layout. The component view gives it a little of that POD Farm look with bright looking thumbnail sized pics of the gear. It’s smooth, easy to figure out and fun to use.
I notice the addition of some extra controls across all of the amps. Line 6 added Sag, Hum, Ripple Bias and Bias X settings to each amp to add even more tone shaping options while satisfying the guys that like to tweak and dial. You can find detailed explanation for these settings if you check the product link. You really have what feels like unlimited ways to alter and shape tone. The Ripple setting should always be on 0, I didn’t find many presets or settings that had it above 0 but it’s there if you want to experiment.
Line 6 included a ton of customizable presets that take you for a pretty good rip around the ton of features. Helix also includes plenty of space to save user presets. A snapshot function is included which also makes signal chains easy to save and share. You can find a ton of great Helix Native presets out there for sale and for free. So many possibilities.
Every single amp in Helix Native is either professional quality or hovering around professional quality somewhere. It’s without question the highest quality full amp suite that I have ever used.
The amp selection includes sims inspired by Mesa Boogie, Marshall, Bogner, Fender, Orange, Roland, Matchless, Friedman, PRS, Soldano and a ton more big names while also including Line 6 own in house creations. I have always been a fan of the Line 6 creations so I was excited to try a bunch of mystery amps.
There’s no genre, era, style or preference that hasn’t been considered in the amp selection provided with Helix Native. What you get is an incredible list of versatile amps mixed with some legendary one trick pony type amps. It makes for a perfect list that really satisfied every angle of my playing and needs. Glassy cleans to hi-gain juggernaut amps with stops at every genre in between is what is provided for amps.
This is not a hi-gain focused or even hi-gain biased amp selection by any means. It’s a very level headed list that if anything leans more towards the rock players than anything but then again, rock players outnumber all of us don’t they?
The Marshall offerings in the package are all really nice. You can feel the sleaze and machismo oozing from the amps in this bunch. You can almost feel the ripped tolex and smell the dust burning in a smokey bar.
The Soldano SLO sim was my all out favorite of the amps. It’s an amp that I have always loved a great deal so hearing it done right is a nice experience. I also really liked the Mesa, Fender, VOX, Trainwreck Circuits, Matchless, Dr.Z and Roland sims. Of the Line 6 creations, I was about 70/30 thumbs up or down but most of them were pretty fun to play around on. The Line 6 Litigator and Doom were the ones I enjoyed most.
The pedal selection you get with Helix is awe-inspiring. Every pedal included truthfully feels like it’s been meticulously developed because the quality of pedals is just incredible. Boosts, modulation, distortion, wah, pre and post effects, it’s just so much to go through but the journey is a lot of fun.
Someone at Line 6 loves their Stoner/Doom because Helix Native has a crazy selection of really high quality fuzz and muff pedals that when used with the right amps, created some of the best Stoner/Doom tones I’d ever created. Anyone that says you can’t do Stoner/Doom with plugins has never used Helix Native.
The quantity and quality of the 100+ stomps and other effects is just baffling when you first get into it. It’s just so easy to lose a week sucked into software like this. You just have endless amounts of ways at your disposal to create truthfully great tones for any genre or application. I spent literally days challenging myself to tone chases inside Helix while also getting to know the gear.
Line 6 tossed some really great cabinets into Helix Native. There’s a real diverse selection of impulses that mesh well with many of the amps but they also know how people are about impulses. Let’s face it, many of us have trusted go-to impulse libraries but Line 6 has all of us covered. All you have to do is drag and drop your impulses into the right area of Helix Native and poof, they are in the game and stored inside Helix with the Line 6 impulses for use anytime you are using the plugin.
UPS / DOWNS:
This is at this point the best full amp suite out there. Yes, it’s a bit pricey but think about it for a second. Many people have no issue forking over $80-120 for a single or dual amp plugin. Line 6 has 60+amps, 30+ cabs and 100+ effects that have been developed by a company with a long history of modeling the best gear out there. When you consider what you are getting and how much ground Helix Native covers, is it really too expensive?
Helix Native is our pick for the best full amp suite / max pack on the market today and I suspect it will hold that title for some time.
See more – Line 6 Movies overview of the Helix Native
For a good list of what real-world gear the Helix amps/cabs/fx are based on check Helix Help