I saw the Musikmesse announcement today that a new model of the Helix was just released – the Helix LT. At first, I kinda panicked – thinking I just bought into the Helix, and they’ve already released a new model with the same processing power and audio quality, but at a significantly lower price?!
However, after looking at the specs and reading about the differences, I’m no longer doubting my my purchase. Of course, I’m also trying to make myself feel better and justify the expense, but I think I’m on fairly solid ground.
From the Helix LT FAQ, the differences are:
• No scribble strip LCDs (middle eight footswitch assignments appear on Helix LT’s new colorful Performance view)
• Fewer Ins and Outs:
– 2 Sends/Returns as opposed to 4 (can be stereo linked)
– No mic preamp
– No Aux In
– No S/PDIF In/Out
– Exp 2 In and dual Ext Amp Out share a single jack (function is globally selectable)
– No Exp 3 jack
– No CV Out jack
• Less expensive chassis:
– Folded steel top chassis as opposed to extruded aluminum
– Folded steel expression pedal as opposed to cast aluminum
– Impact-resistant ABS side panels with rubber overmolding (like those on Helix Control) as opposed to cast aluminum side panels
• No separate Phones knob (headphone volume is controlled by main Volume knob)
• No 10 Stomp footswitch mode; Stomp mode is limited to 8 switches
• Pedal Edit select view displays 8 blocks at a time instead of 10
• Registered Helix LT owners can purchase the Helix Native plug-in for $299 (normally $399; registered Helix and Helix Rack owners get it for $99)
I absolutely love the scribble strip displays above the switches on the Helix (above left), and that’s the primary thing I would miss from the Helix LT. Yes, I don’t really need them, and it looks like the Helix LT does a reasonably nice job in its new Performance display (above right).
However, in direct sunlight, the Helix scribble strips are very legible, while the main screen is more difficult to see, and the light-rings disappear. So I’d worry about depending on the main screen on the Helix LT at sunny gigs.
It’s not totally clear from the Helix LT pictures, but the new wah treadle definitely looks more like the HD500X than the Helix. So I wonder if it will be prone to the wah failures in sunlight that afflicted the HD500X. The Helix wah treadle was specifically designed to minimize sunlight hitting its optical sensor. Hopefully they’ve taking this into account with the new Helix LT treadle.
The extruded aluminum chassis on the Helix is just awesomely heavy-duty, compared to the folded steel and plastic side panels of the Helix LT.
Lastly, while I don’t currently need the extensive I/O on the Helix, I’m comfortable knowing its there for the future.
Ok, so I’m feeling alright about my Helix purchase! But the Helix LT can produce the same sounds as the Helix at a lower price, so if the differences I listed don’t matter to you, then buy one right now! They’re already in stock at Guitar Center, Sweetwater, etc.