Line 6 has introduced what looks like a game-changing firmware update to its Helix multi-effects and amp modeler family, which has been dubbed “the biggest sonic improvement to Helix since it first shipped back in 2015”.
Usually, such bold claims are viewed with caution, but it looks as though Line 6 has well and truly delivered on its word. As an overview, the free 3.50 update is impressively comprehensive, debuting five amps, seven effects and a swathe of new features.
More on that later, though, because the biggest news is the updated IR engine, which has been completely rebuilt in a bid to deliver improved sonic options and usability, the likes of which have never been seen in the Helix family since its inception.
With the new IR engine, Line 6 has also introduced 20 guitar cabs and four bass cabs, which can be paired with a choice of 12 microphones. When working in the HX Edit 3.50 application, players can also manipulate mic angle, position and distance, adding a boatload of new tonal possibilities. Otherwise, tweaks to the mic positions can be made in the HX unit.
Specifically, the guitar cab collection comprises a 1x10, three 1x12s, five 2x12s, a 4x10 and 10 – yes, 10 – 4x12s. The bass cab catalog, meanwhile, consists of 1x15, 2x15, 4x10 and 8x10 models.
Joining the cabs are five new guitar amp models, which, again, are a fairly big deal. Leading the way is the PV Vitriol Lead and PV Vitriol Crnch, both of which are based on the Lead and Crunch channels of the Misha Mansoor-developed Peavey Invective head.
Three models based on the Sunn Model T amp also make the cut, arriving in the form of the MOO)))N T Nrm, Brt and Jump. These deal with the Normal, Bright and Normal+Bright channels of the amp, respectively.
There’s also a lot to shout about in the effects department. Out of the seven new offerings, three are Line 6 Originals, and include the 4-Voice Chorus, FlexoVibe and Dynamic Ambience effects.
They’re joined by recreations of EarthQuaker Devices’ Plumes overdrive and Life Pedal distortion, dubbed the Pillars OD and Vital Dist, respectively. A second EarthQuaker Devices Life Pedal effect has also been debuted – the Vital Boost, which taps into the pedal’s boost side. A final effect, the Boctaver, takes inspiration from the Boss OC-2 Octaver.
Significant improvements have also been made in the way users can use IR blocks in their chain, with a new Dual IR function letting players link two different cabs to open up new tonal options such as delay offset and panning between cabs. And, as an added bonus, the new cabs and IRs now all use between 66-88% less DSP.
"The 3.50 update introduces the biggest sonic improvement to Helix since it first shipped back in 2015,” commented Eric Klein, Chief Product Design Architect, Line 6.
The Helix 3.50 firmware update is compatible with the Helix Floor, Helix LT, Helix Rack, HX Effects, HX Stomp, HX Stomp XL and Helix Native plugin.
To find out more, head over to Line 6.