The Helix audio processors are really something to be admired and enjoyed. To get its full effects, you will need a good or a good set of headphones.
To get Helix’s full modeling experience, the best amp will be a FRFR (Full Range Flat Response) speaker for Helix. These speakers are transparent and allows the natural full range of the Helix to be heard. Other guitar amps are usually have their own characteristics and will colored various models from Helix.
Just a concrete example, consider this: you want to run the Fender guitar modeling sound in Helix through brand X’s guitar amp, the eventually output will sound more like brand X than Fender.
This defeats the whole purpose of the Helix as it contains so many different guitar processor for you to experience with.
Only a FRFR speaker is a neutral and can allow each brand’s guitar characteristic to be heard correctly.
Buying Guide for Helix Amp
As mentioned above, the most important criteria for getting an amp for Helix is to avoid mixing the natural flavor from the amp, with the guitar processes that are in Helix.
That will leave the FRFR speaker as the best option.
Other guidelines to look out for:
- Venue of your playing: Depending on the size of the venue you are playing in, you will need amp with different power. For normal venues, churches and studio work, getting some like the Alto TS312 will be sufficient. For large venues, you might need something like the Mission Gemini 2.
- Price: There is a wide range of price availability, from below USD300 to over USD15000. Pick one that suits your budget and desired level of power.
- Type of audio sound: Some prefer a warm, “in your room” type of audio while others want the most accurate reflection. Normal guitar amps will usually cater to the formal while a FRFR speaker is for the latter.
- Size and weight: Someone who needs to gig often will probably want a more lightweight and portable model like the headrush series. If you are using it on a more permanent fixture basis like an apartment or studio, then you will have more choices.
Best affordable FRFR speaker for Helix
Most FRFR speakers will cost you around USD700 and upwards. The most extreme can be in the 5 digits.
The 2 most affordable FRFR speakers are the Headrush frfr 112 and the Alto TS310. These 2 models are less than USD300 but are more than sufficient for Helix to display its full ability. Their difference lies in the Headrush frfr 112 having no mic preamp while the Alto TS310 has.
Alto TS310 Review
The Alto TS310 makes speakers that are pretty similar to brands like QSC, JBL etc but at a lower price point.
This affordability has to be one of Alto TS310’s biggest draw.
The good news is that it doesn’t sacrifice power and range for its low price.
Instead the Alto TS310 does away with many of the bells and whistle effects that other similar speakers possess. For the Helix, these other effects will be totally unnecessary as they will be coming from the Helix itself.
What you need is just a powerful and clean speaker that projects what the Helix is capable of. This is what the Alto TS310 can do, at a price point that is affordable to most.
In terms of weakness, there isn’t too much to complaint about. I scoured forums, on top of my own experience, to see if there is anything negative being said. The search turned out empty. I guess for what it sets out to do, the Alto TS310 does it very well.
Headrush FRFR 112 Review
The Headrush FRFR 112 is another affordable FRFR speaker that can give you pretty audio output despite the low price.
There is some controversy on whether Headrush and Alto are identical machines. The story is that Headrush is meant to help increase Alto’s sales by having a higher price and a different branding but identical specs. This rumor wasn’t officially confirmed but there was strong evidence from the community.
If the above is true, it can explain why the Headrush FRFR 112’s audio quality is on the same level as the Alto TS310. It has strong bottom with clear, crisp highs. The output is loud and can cut through the mix.
The FRFR 112 is also very portable. It has handles for easy carrying and the weight is only 35 pounds or 15.8kg. For a stage level of speakers, that is pretty light.
Headrush FRFR 112 vs Alto TS310
The main difference between Headrush FRFR 112 and Alto TS310 lies in the latter having a mic preamp. As a result, the audio quality is pretty identical in terms of tone, color, sharpness and volume. The price is higher for the Headrush relative to the Alto.
Downside of a FRFR speaker
If you have never experience a FRFR speaker before, your initial experience might not be positive, especially when used in a public performance.
The disappointment will not be at the actual audio quality because it will sound sharp and clean, as well as being able to cut through the mix.
The disappointment will come from the tonality of the output. Specifically, it will sound more like a PA system, rather than through an guitar amp. This is especially acute if you mixed the Helix’s output with other live music. The resulting mix will sound a bit less ‘organic’ than before.
Whether that bothers you boils down to personal preferences.
Most folks like the Helix for the variety of guitar process and effects that one can play with. To get an accurate sound of these different modes and sounds, a FRFR speaker will be the best option because it is the most neutral. Any other types of amps will tend to color the Helix’s sound with its own flavor.