Fractal AX8 vs Helix: The One Modeler That Gives You Better Tone

For guitarists, whether beginners or professionals, there’ll be a time that it’ll be hard for you to decide which gear to buy or which amp to use. Speaking of amps, there is just an overwhelming number of options ranging from tube amps, stand-alone amps, effects modelers, and more in different budget ranges. However, if you set your heart on floor-based amp modelers just focus on the Fractal AX8 vs Helix.

In this article, you’ll be able to know the unique features of each amp modeler and why are they a good choice for you. They are also compared in terms of operation, performance, sound, and price. By the end of the article, you’ll be enlightened and pick the one that will surely help you maximize your potential.

Fractal AX8 Overview

Fractal AX8 has all the features of the famous Axe-FXII if you happen to know or to use that one. As a great amp modeler, you’ll see a lot of demos on YouTube regarding this fella. You’ll enjoy over 130 effects in 23 different categories.

Additionally, the physical connectivity of this amp modeler is also well-thought. All ins and outs are well-arranged at the back. It also has a large monochrome LCD so you can easily check the settings related to your amp models or effects. Unfortunately, it lacks a headphone jack should you need to do silent practice. But, before walking away, check out the Helix or its other features.

Line 6 Helix Overview

When it comes to amps and effects modelers, Line 6 is an expert. It has the longest history in this product category, so the Helix is something very interesting. Helix has a DSP-powered modeling engine that offers 62 amp models and around 107 effects.

Like the Fractal AX8, it also has an LCD so you know some settings, including what the footswitch is currently controlling. At the rear panel, you’ll be surprised by the connectivity possibilities that you can make. Unlike the AX8, Helix has a headphone jack with independent volume control for silent practice.

Fractal AX8 vs Helix: Specs Comparison

When checking for an amp modeler, the first thing that you should do is to check the features and specifications (usually next to the price). So, for you to easily compare these two, here’s a quick comparison in a tabulated form:

SpecificationsFractal Audio AX8Line 6 Helix
Amp Models11974
Add/Load Additional Amps?NoYes
Cabinet Models13037
Load Extra Cabs?YesYes
Multiple Amps in Parallel?NoYes
No. of Mic ModelsN/A16
No. of Effects137200
Amp ControlMIDIMIDI + TRS
Built-in PedalsNo1 expression pedal
External Pedals4 Inputs2 Exp. Pedals
Dimensions10.3 x 16.1 x 4.0 inches22.05 x 11.85 x 3.58
Weight11.8lbs14.7lbs

Both modelers seem to offer more to the users. Based on numbers, though the AX8 offers more, Helix gives you more options. But the dimension and the weight speak that AX 8 is handier compared to the Helix. But, it’s not something everyone considers.

Fractal AX8 vs Helix: Ease of Use

The front panel of the AX8 and the Helix are ornamented with just enough footswitches and controls. It’s easy to navigate both their interface, especially with the LCD for each one. Helix has a larger and better display compared to the AX8.

Another advantage of the Helix is on creating new signal chains and editing them. Although the AX8 a computer-based software editor, as well as the Helix, it seems that it’s more convenient to do effects/rig editing with the latter. Lastly, if you will check the rear panel of these amp modelers, you can see how packed the back of the Helix is. So, it’s clear that Helix is the winner in terms of ease of use.

Fractal AX8 vs Helix: Performance and Sound

Both units are rugged and durable, they don’t feel flimsy. However, it seems that the AX8 is built to be more compact and sturdy. Since the AX8 is lighter and smaller, it’s very easy to carry the unit, inserting it into your laptop case.

They are both responsive and do what they are designed to do. Aside from all the effects and models, the AX8 has onboard memory capable of storing around 512 presets (each preset containing up to eight scenes). Helix, in contrast, can store up to 1024 presets (each can have eight snapshots with eight setlists). The presets will help you maximize the potential and capacity of each amp modeler.

In terms of sound output, AX8 and Helix might have a bit of difference. The models in Helix aren’t as accurate as those of the AX8. The effects onboard on AX8 are way better than those on Helix, although they are still good. But, if you’re the kind of musician who uses tons of effects, multi-amps setup and more, AX8 won’t suffice, but Helix can accommodate you better.

This YouTube video will help you understand the sound and performance of Fractal AX8 vs Helix:

Fractal AX8 vs Helix: Price

Checking the prices online, the Helix is more expensive than the AX8. You can attribute it to the tons of I/Os and more capability of the Helix. Though the bigger or more features the better, it doesn’t always mean you need those extras. They are both good buys, so you just have to decide which one fits your pocket and your preferences.

Conclusion

If you are purely seeking for better-sounding amp modeler, the AX8 is the one for you. But, if you want to have more options on the inputs and outputs, along with the availability of the headphone jack for silent practice, the Helix is for you. AX8 is more focused on giving you better tones, while Helix offers you a better user interface and ease of connectivity.

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