The Helix LT from Line 6 offers an all-in-one pedalboard that allows you to modify virtually every aspect of your guitar's sound. Better yet, the Helix LT comes loaded with a ton of presets to help you hit the ground running with sparkly cleans, beefy distortions, and a variety of colorful effects based on some of the most popular guitar tones in the music world.
The LT presents a slightly trimmed-down model of the bigger (and more feature-rich) Helix pedal. By sacrificing a few of the original Helix's features, Line 6 found a way to offer a more affordable all-in-one pedal with the same tone-flexing capabilities. In our Helix LT review, we'll run down some of the specs and features to help you understand this potent device's capabilities.
Things to Consider Before Buying an All-In-One Pedal
Some guitarists need a lot of different sounds throughout their set or studio session. A pedalboard loaded with stompboxes becomes cumbersome and sometimes even comes up short of what a high-quality processor like the Helix LT can do. With virtually infinite capabilities to adjust everything about your tone from the equalization to the distortion and effects, a good guitar processor can significantly simplify the physical elements of your rig while expanding the sonic possibilities.
If the price tag scares you off, consider what the same capabilities would cost if you were to do it pedal by pedal. An individual stompbox comes cheap compared to a processor, but when you need eight or ten pedals to achieve half of the range, the price starts to look much more reasonable.
Consider what you need out of your rig before opening up your wallet. But if you need maximum versatility, a guitar processor might suit you well.
Features and Benefits
The list of features on the Helix LT seems endless, but we will cover some of the more exciting elements below.
The exceptional sound on the Helix LT comes from the way Line 6 chose to craft their digital models. They recreated the entire signal chain of the amp or effect they model digitally, which gives the sound unparalleled authenticity.
But why stop there? The Helix LT not only models amps and guitars but even the microphones recording them. Users can also adjust the mic's virtual distance from the amp to help give a more spacious tone.
On top of its copious presets, this pedal allows for even more versatility with its snapshot feature. The snapshots enable you to take a preset and add up to 8 "presets-within-a-preset" to it accessible by the foot buttons.
I had an old pedalboard that allowed for personalized presets, but I was always limited to the pedal's four buttons. With eight buttons on the Helix LT, you can deploy eight presets with eight of their own variations. For those of you who struggle with times tables, that's sixty-four different tone settings available on the fly.
Cooler still, Line 6 has a "pedal edit mode" on their Helix products. In pedal edit mode, each button becomes associated with a specific parameter - drive, bass, treble, etc. - for a given effect. With this feature, you can adjust the sound without ever stopping playing.
For all its versatility, the Helix LT has a relatively user-friendly interface. Eight buttons switch between presets, effects, or snapshots depending on the current mode. An up and a down button on the left-hand side of the device scrolls through presets and parameters.
The buttons themselves have two means of engagement. Merely touching the side of the switch causes it to "wake up" so that you can start adjusting the settings for that particular bank. Clicking the button activates those adjustments, and a save button will keep them for later.
An expression pedal on the right controls volume, wah, and effects with a subtle adjustment. In other words, you can gradually dial up the reverb or delay using the expression pedal. On Variax guitars, you can use the volume and tone knobs the same way.
The screen holds a lot of information. While the original Helix had scribble strips under each button to tell you what that button did at the moment, the Helix LT displays that information on the home screen.
In "performance view," the entire signal chain is laid out - amp models, effects, etc. - so you know the exact construction of the tone. The color coordination between the buttons and the screen tells you which parameters would be engaged by which button and the up/down buttons allow you to adjust.The Helix LT also comes with a variety of connectivity options. XLR, MIDI, Digital Out, USB, and headphone jacks allow for just about any imaginable combination of inputs and outputs.
The back panel comes up a little short for those looking to use a lot of stompboxes in addition to the processor, but Line 6 did leave a little space for additional pedals.
If you have a Variax guitar, the Helix LT actually has a dedicated port just for your guitar. Through that connection, you can make adjustments to the sound from both the guitar and the pedal.
Most importantly, for all you can accomplish with just a few buttons, this pedal has a pretty friendly user interface. For the most part, the screen tells you what each button will do at the time, and the design has enough simplicity to let you start ripping right when you plug in.
The sound on this thing is just incredible. By modeling out every bit of the technology from the capacitors to the wiring, the Helix LT has a superb sound. It even does a convincing imitation of an acoustic guitar.
Coupled with the ability to tweak every element of the tone, the Helix LT allows you to find any sound you need quickly, save it, and return to it again and again.
The processing speed allows for no lag when switching between presents or effects - a critical shortcoming of some other guitar processors.
Social Proof of the Pedal
We did a little searching to see what the internet at large thought about the Helix LT. Bad reviews were few and far between, with most users utterly blown away by the incredible capabilities and performance of the processor.
One reviewer rightly found the pedal stunningly easy to use. I included this because it echoes our sentiment that this gear's versatility has no limits. The combination of ease and feature-richness makes it a great pedal for novice and expert players alike.
In another review, we see praise for the combination of usability and range. He also demonstrates the ability to "get crazy" with bizarre amp/cab/mic combinations few musicians would actually try on stage.
Last but not least, another reviewer ended up perhaps a little underwhelmed by the lack of "out there" sounds available through the Helix LT, but also showed his hand by saying he'd only scratched the surface… A lifetime of possibilities exists in this unassuming little unit, and Pierre will find that out soon enough.
The Helix LT boasts one of the most impressive combinations of technical capabilities and audio quality available in an effects processor.
Devices like this can help consolidate a messy pile of stompboxes into one easy-to-move unit and probably provide significantly more sonic range. On top of that, you can quickly switch between dramatically different tones without having to turn three or four effects on and off individually.
If you want to know more about the Helix LT, click here to check it out!