The gift of Helix keeps on giving – the new 3.1 firmware update of Line 6's hugely successful series of amp and FX modellers adds a new amp and five effects to an already huge array of onboard tones. And if that wasn't enough, there's additional improvements too.
The Helix Floor, Helix Rack, Helix LT, Helix Native, HX Stomp and latest HX Stomp XL model will all benefit from these upgrades.
The Ratatouille Dist is a new effect, based on the 1984 Pro Co RAT distortion pedal. This isn't the first time the RAT has been modelled on a Helix but Line 6 explains the addition: "Turns out our Vermin Dist model was broken," the company admits. "Sorry! We were going to replace it completely but a bunch of people had presets with the old version. On top of that, we found out our RAT's LM308 chip had crapped out since we modelled it last so we decided to get it into perfect working order and start from scratch."
Fair enough! Like the original there's three parameters: Gain sets the amount of distortion. Filter sets the amount of high cut (low pass) filter applied to the distortion; letting more treble through (lower values) or filtering it out (higher values). Level sets the overall level of the block.
Retro Reel is a mono Line 6 Original effect that "simulates playing a signal back from an analog tape machine". This signal can then be distorted, filtered to sound older or more lo-fi, and modulated with wow and flutter controls.
Euclidean Delay (Mono, Stereo) is another Line 6 Original effect based on its Euclidean algorithms. It creates multitap patterns by setting the length of the pattern (Steps) and the number of taps (Fill) in the pattern.
The Euclidean algorithm spaces taps as evenly as possible throughout the pattern, resulting in rhythms from traditional to highly complex. Sounds intriguing!
Finally, Dynamic Hall and Hot Springs are Line 6 original reverbs.
Other new features for 3.10 include increased oversampling. "Oversampling has been increased across the board," say Line 6, "resulting in higher fidelity, fewer aliasing artifacts, and smoother decay trails, especially when running multiple distortion stages or with higher gain tones. Many people might not notice a difference, but those highly sensitive to aliasing will appreciate 3.0's smoother response. Amp and effects models have been optimised to accommodate these improvements without increasing DSP usage."
HX Stomp and HX Stomp XL also get the customisable stomp switches and customisable Snapshot switches features already in Helix Floor, Helix Rack/Control, Helix LT, and HX Effects.
"As long as something is assigned to a stomp switch (bypass one or more blocks, toggle parameter Min/Max, or Command Center command), switches in Stomp Footswitch Mode can now have custom labels and colours," says Line 6 of the former. "This is especially helpful when multiple blocks, controls, or commands are assigned to the same switch; it doesn't have to read "MULTIPLE (X)" anymore."
Switches in Snapshot Footswitch Mode can now have custom labels and colours too.
All the Helix family will benefit from the very useful-sounding Tuner Trails feature too – a parameter that appears on the tuner screen. When set to on, "delay repeats and reverbs' decay continue to ring out and even the Looper keeps running when the tuner is engaged."
In theory this makes it easier to make tuning adjustments during songs – something live players will especially appreciate.
As if that wasn't enough, Poly Sustain and Glitch delays, 12-String and Shuffling Looper from the 3.0 update have all been expanded following feedback from players.
Other improvements include improved MIDI implementation and support for HX Edit with macOS 11 Big Sur.
To download Helix/HX 3.10 head over to Line 6