Kemper beats Helix hands down.

  • I think Helix has been discussed before on here, but I think I'll give it a review. I purchased a Helix and returned it after 10 days, having spent most of my vacation week playing with it all day. Initially I thought it might simplify things for me live. I'm one of the minority that find the head/remote combo awkward for my uses and would much prefer and all in one floor system, hence why I tried out the Helix. I also thought having a full-featured editor would be a big time saver. But I found several key weaknesses that the Kemper solves.


    1) Autovolume matching. Ever notice on the Kemper that the volume is always consistent unless you don't want it to be? Try adjusting gain on the Helix and you're saving, comparing to a base preset, going back adjusting, saving, etc.. Total pain and makes preset management a total pain. Not a unique problem to the Helix, but the definitional problem of every multi-effect/modeling digital preset-based product ever produced.


    2) Kemper's fast rig change. Notice that the gap between Rigs on the Kemper is instanenous, like switching channels on a real amp, and has nice spillover? Not so on the Helix. The gap is so big and noticeable with no spillover that it's useless whenever you need to change without a break in playing. Helix tries to solve this by giving you more options to turn things on and off without leaving the preset (snapshots). These are quite convenient, but also come with an annoying complexity. To avoid having to change presets mid song (to avoid the glitch) you have to make ridiculously complex presets with snapshots. Heaven forbid you do something like add a gain increase for the amp block with a switch and decide later you need to raise and lower it a bit. Now all your snapshots are screwed up, at least in regard to that, so now you have to go back and forth and hit all the snapshots, engage and disengage the gain stomp and finally hit save. Granted, if your needs aren't too complex, you might only need a single Preset for a set of songs, in which case the spillover issue would be a non issue.


    3) Locking blocks and saving effect presets. the ability on the Kemper to save presets be they single effects, the stack, or the entire stomps or effects section means you can recall this easily in a new rig. You can also lock a block you want to copy onto a ton of different rigs and make therefore make the same changes fairly quickly. On the Helix you can only copy and paste single blocks. So if you built a complex web of delay/reverbs in one preset on the Helix and want to copy them to another, you must go back and forth a dozen times. Thus the open architecture of the Helix in terms of routing makes a huge headache if you want to use the same things in many different presets.


    4) Kemper ducking and mix level. So many of the Kemper effects have mix controls and ducking abilities. I can set a nice hall reverb and use a ducking feature in the Kemper so that it goes away some when I strum out and reverberates more when I play single notes or let chords ring out, or arpeggiate. So I avoid having to turn the reverb on and off and/or don't have to compromise with chords that are too mushy and single notes and arpeggios that are too dry. The ducking feature alone makes the built in effects and even external effects much more useful because you can duck them.


    5) Helix is capable of good amp sounds, especially if you get some really good IR's to replace the built in cabs. But Kemper still wins in this category.


    6) Effects: Kemper's delays and pitch effects are better than what's in the Helix. Helix had more options in overdrive pedals. But given the number of profiles available with baked in OD pedals the advantage is diminished.


    In short, the only thing I liked more about the Helix was the ability to be an audio interface, being all-in-one, effects loops which I don't currently need, nice visual display, and the editor. However, I found that even with an editor, the Helix would long-term be a more time consuming product to tweak and keep the sounds I need organized. For a guy that only needs a half a dozen basic tones, but likes to use various combinations of other effects, sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle, for 50+ and growing songs, the Kemper is a much simpler way to stay organized and saves time even without an editor.

  • I started with the Helix, having purchased one over a year ago on whim, and found the exact same gripes as you @Grooguit
    Since I purchased a Kemper, I FINALLY have faith in digital modeling again (and trust me, while I'm not an expert in the field, I certainly spent a LOT of time with the Helix). I could never get the "wow" factor that everyone seemed to be able to achieve so easily. The Kemper on the other hand, was UNREAL right out of the box.


    Thanks for your review.

  • I think the useability of the Kemper is massively overlooked. It is very intuitive and actually seems like a tool created by guitarists. The main gripe of poor editor/management software remains.


    I would also like a foot based system BUT I often use a cab so the powered head/rack is another benefit over the helix.

  • I own the toaster for years. Love it.
    I also wanted a floor board solution. Bought an Helix LT. Indeed without IR's sound was dead. So I had to go find the right IR's to make it work. Even then I could not bond with it. I returned it after a week.
    BTW I couldn't bond with the DXR10 either, but Atomic CLR was instant love.
    Some things just work right away for me and some don't.

  • I also come from a Helix. Out of the box the amp sounds in the Kemper are much more ready to go. With the Helix I was always having to adjust amp or cabinet hi and low eq to reduce the boomy and fizzy sounds. I couldn't find or tune-in a slapback delay I liked.


    But, I am frustrated with using and managing the effects in the Kemper. Rig Manager seems geared toward just amp rigs. I am surprised the Rig Manager software doesn't seem to allow management of presets, stomps, effects, etc the same way you can manage, sort, delete, etc the rigs on the Kemper. I actually LIKE making the specific parameter adjustments for the amps and effects using the Kemper's knobs and buttons (as opposed to a computer interface). But a Rig Manager like computer interface to help see the big picture and manage all the stomps, mods, delays and reverbs would be helpful.

  • I have heard the Helix, but not played it, but honestly, haven't pined for another "solution". That said, I did trade up in price a guitar for an amp (Mesa) and that amp did sound rather nice. Not better than the Kemper, or worse, just both sound like an amp. The major difference was the Amp started up right away and the Kemper takes almost a minute.


    And so my point is, you forgot to mention that the Helix starts up a lot quicker than the Kemper. Which is a big deal for ppl running live if they have to reboot it. Or for impatient ppl like me, lol.
    Not worth getting a $1500 amp over, but it was nice while I had it (sold it tho, back to just the KPA)


    Once thing I do notice, the KPA does bug out and freeze sometimes (not using Beta) and I think it has something to do with playing around with it hard while using the Rig Manger. So there are some connectivity pains going on there that Helix doesn't seem to have. Or am I wrong? (and I've been lazy about trying to recreate it for reporting. Just something that never happened pre-RM)

  • I have heard the Helix, but not played it, but honestly, haven't pined for another "solution". That said, I did trade up in price a guitar for an amp (Mesa) and that amp did sound rather nice. Not better than the Kemper, or worse, just both sound like an amp. The major difference was the Amp started up right away and the Kemper takes almost a minute.


    And so my point is, you forgot to mention that the Helix starts up a lot quicker than the Kemper. Which is a big deal for ppl running live if they have to reboot it. Or for impatient ppl like me, lol.
    Not worth getting a $1500 amp over, but it was nice while I had it (sold it tho, back to just the KPA)


    Once thing I do notice, the KPA does bug out and freeze sometimes (not using Beta) and I think it has something to do with playing around with it hard while using the Rig Manger. So there are some connectivity pains going on there that Helix doesn't seem to have. Or am I wrong? (and I've been lazy about trying to recreate it for reporting. Just something that never happened pre-RM)

    Yes, it's like a computer which hangs up sometime and you dont know why.
    Power off/on solved every freezing for me. Last freeze was last week. I marked 6 rigs and setted the fav checkbox in rm. Rm asked if i would do this for these rigs, i click yes and the kpa freezes. Off/on , solved.


    I can say, that freezing issues on my kpa only come up when working with rm.
    But it's not so often ( prox. 2 times a month). Win 7 here.


    Cheers
    Frank

  • I don;t remember mine ever freezing and definitely not live.


    As for taking 1 minute to load, its no longer than waiting for a tube amp to fully warm up...


    I've done a few festivals and triple headliners and if you switch on early, its not the thing that slows you up. If you do everything else then boot up I can imagine it feels like a long time..I plug in my Kemper, then my remote, switch on, then get out my guitars, mount on stands, plug in wireless, by which time the Kemper is on and ready to tune.


    I'm up and running way before my fellow guitarist with a Helix is up and running ( although that's because he runs 2 alto monitors, a DI box, a drop tuner becuase the Helix doesn't have pitch shift and a separate wireless ( mine is in my rack pre-wired).

  • That's what I thought. In the four years I've owned mine, I believe that I had to restart it once; and I turn it on off 5 times a week average. The one time I did, was because I wasn't getting any signal and am more inclined to believe the sound guy had me unintentionally muted.

  • I have to stand up for the Helix here ^^
    No question i LOVE my Kemper srsly best freakin Sound unit ever.
    I instantly fell in love with the Kemper right out of the box. With the Helix is was pretty disappointed the first couple of days.
    And yes the Helix has no chance sound wise against the Kemper.


    BUT i use the Helix Floorboard to control my Kemper and the Kemper sits in an effects loop of the Helix.
    Because for me the effects on the Kemper are basically useless not in terms of sound quality but rather in terms of
    user experience and effects management.
    The Helix offers so much more potential to design your signal chain and channel or mode changes with its snapshots you
    can achieve so many things its awesome and thats what the kemper just can't provide.
    Sure you need to put a lot of time into the Helix in order to get into the possibilities.


    For me i couldn't spare either of those units. I just need them both.
    The Helix was pretty frustrating to dial in sounds or it was just impossible to get for example a Mark V amp sound.
    But it has its advantages over the Kemper for sure. If i had to chose one unit over the other i would no doubt go with the
    Kemper but i would miss so many things on the Helix.


    I have now 7-9 months of experience with both units and both run pretty good never freeze or anything.
    Although both units tend to let their owners down in various situations according to the facebook groups. So none of the units
    is better in that regards.


    The Helix vs Kemper discussion is in my opinion a pretty subjective one. As an long term owner of both units I can say they
    are both good in their respective fields. But in the end for me its the sound that is more important than anything else and here the
    Kemper is just out of competition. I mean I spend 1500€ on the Helix cause its exactly what i always wanted but the frustration
    with the sound was enough to spend an additional 1700€ on the Kemper. Without returning the Helix ;)
    Sure not many people are willing to spend that amount of money but they are both worth the money.


    But I'm just a bedroom guitarist ;)

  • Can you expand on the signal chain bit for effects? I only use basic effects in a similar way to external stomps so not sure what you mean.


    I really don;t understand why you need both....Are you just greedy :)...especially as a bedroom guitarist! Can I have you're job because it sounds like you have lots of money :) ha!


    The most consistent issue for people on the Kemper is Rig Manager and effects. I see criticism on the effects quality, some of that addressed with the delays but not really heard before set up issues although I know the helix has a really good interface for the signal chain.


    For me the effects are so easy to set up, you can put them pre or post in whatever order you need - but as I state I don't have a sophisticated set up so really curious on what is missing..


    BTW I think most people agree that both units are very good. I would certainly never diss the Helix...

  • Heh no you can't have my job i need the money to buy guitar related stuff ^^
    I'm a total gear nut and there is no szenario in which i really NEED these two systems.
    But I'm pretty picky with sound quality and how my rig has to work and sound.
    So yeah I spend a stupid amount of money but for me this is well spend cuz this stuff only
    exists cuz we all gonna buy this.
    And the Money doesn't hurt me much.


    One example what i mean with the chain management.
    I dont use many external pedals with the Helix but i have one that itself has some flaws.
    Its a pedal which provide me a drum track. Cuz the helix has no metronome or anything (poor).
    So this pedal listening to what i play and provide me a drum track. Its the Trio is you curious.
    Its sounds crappy but i only need the timing.
    This Pedal has basically only in and out so i needed a way to integrate it into my chain without messing
    with the guitar sound. This Pedal isn't designed to do so.
    So i set up a parallel signal path into the trio which i can mute on demand. So the guitar signal isn't really send to
    the trio when i dont need it. I also had to send the output of only this one external pedal directly to the output without
    going through my second signal chain where i do all the modeling. Or else the drums would go through my reverb/delay section.
    The Helix is fantastic in doing that kind of stuff. I can easily chose in which state the signal is passed through which
    effects loop. or which loop has to be bypassed or what so ever. I don't think the kemper would be able to do this stuff.


    I can also setup specific dynamic blocks that shape the signal before it goes through specific signal paths and everything.
    Its not only about setting a reverb in serial or parallel or such. The Helix can do sooo much more.


    Another szenario is that i can set up snapshots that completely change my entire effects blocks etc als also send various midi signals
    to the kemper so i can change my performance on the kemper in basically any way i want. So its not only capable of dealing with itself
    but can also send the kemper alot of midi messages. I would like to use the helix exp pedal to use the morphing on the kemper but i already
    use it in two different modes. I guess on that point the Helix hasn't much more to offer ^^

  • Your drum track pedal is pretty unique to yes I can see in that instance its not something you can easily do with the Kemper.


    Funnily enough my move to Kemper was to simplify, which is why I now don't use any external effects.


    I have all the switching options I need, and more, but only 1 cable from remote to Kemper and then just power and output! I use a wireless so no cables there...perfection for me :)

  • I thought that the supposed advanced signal routing on the Helix would be great, but found it to be more trouble than it's worth. And the comparison of having 8 snapshots per preset to the Kemper's 2 morph states is fallacious.


    The comparison is a bit apples and oranges. Consider: Instead of comparing Kemper Rigs to Helix presets, compare Kemper PERFORMANCES to Helix Presets. On the Kemper you have 5 Rigs in a performance with spillover between them and instant switching without any sort of drop off that would mar your playing to switch between song, whereas there's a terribly overt audio gap between Helix presets and zero spillover. However on the Kemper, If you've tweaked one Rig in a performance, you can copy and paste and save it to the other 4 slots in the performance in about 20 seconds without even using rig manager. From there you could tweak each one to taste, giving you the essentially same flexibility of having 5 Snapshots.


    Not only that, but if you wanted to, you could swap out the amp profile and individual effects for each Rig in the performance. If you wanted to you could have 8 unique effects using the 8 pre and post effect slots and even unique amps and cabs in each of those 5 Rigs. That's equivalent to having 50 modules in the Helix, which is more than double the DSP limit of a single Helix Preset. Plus, each Rig in the performance can send midi messages to two different devices. Then if that's not enough, each of those five rigs in that performance can have two morph states which can either be instantaneous or all the inbetweens using a expression pedal or even gradual based on a number of seconds of your choice with a single stomp.


    The Helix lover would reply, yeah but the Helix gives you banks of 4 or 8 presets. But these additional presets have a terrible audio gap between and no spillover. On the Kemper, if having 5 rigs in a performance times 2 morph states isn't enough, with the two midi messsages per rig isn't enough, you can always hit one button (Bank up or Down) to access the next or previous performance, but without the poor audio gap like between Helix presets.


    In other words, if you'd use a single preset for a song on the Helix, you could do just as much and in fact more using a single Kemper performance for a song. (Not to discount the Helix advantage of midi messages than one could possibly need and the additional external effects loops:) If you play a set of songs using the Helix and you need to switch presets even between songs, you may run into issues if you ever do two songs seamlessly because of the audio gap. You could live in one Kemper performance for an entire set easier than you could in a single Helix preset.

  • I based my Helix VS. Kemper on sound alone. The Helix has a metric ton of cool features and bells and whistles; but if I can't get the tone where I want it to be; who cares? Kemper all day everday. I will echo my statements from TGP that a HelixFX (especially with updated verbs) would be AMAZING in conjunction with the Kemper as outboard FX and midi controller. The Helix drives are great and most of the other fx are good as well. I just don't like the amp modeling (and probably more specifically; their cab block as a whole). I don't like the way the Helix handles the cab portion. Whether it is included cabs or external IRs. There is a muddiness and a bluntness to it I found. I will leave the usual "user error" disclaimer in place, but that was my experience twice with the Helix.