The recent Line 6 3.50 Update is an absolute game-changer for Helix users. Today we break down all the new features, and explain how they work. This was a long time coming!
Line 6 3.50 Update: The Best Gets Even BETTER!
Line 6 has been at the top of the game for multi-effects units for the last decade, and it just gets better as the technology gets pushed to the limits! We have talked a lot about the Helix, and we have even done deep dives into how to record guitar with the Helix. I thought we had covered every single aspect of this amazing all-in-one unit.
But the Line 6 3.50 update is absolutely full of surprises, and updates the unit to be even more efficient! But maybe you don’t have the Helix, and you just have some adjacent products like the HX Stomp unit. That’s ok, because the Line 6 3.50 update applies to YOU too!
Which Devices Does The Line 6 3.50 Update Work On?
- Helix Floor (Flagship Models)
- Helix LT
- Helix Pro Rack Units
- HX Effects
- HX Stomp
- HX Stomp XL
- Helix Native (Computer)
That being said, each unit requires a different method to get it into “update mode”. If you have never done an update on your Line 6 product, make sure you check out the guide HERE. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly, and the process should be completely smooth! Make sure you create a backup.
The Line 6 3.50 update is the biggest overhaul that the company has ever attempted. Not only does the update add some awesome amps and effects that are the core elements of the HX family, but it gives the cab system a much-needed overhaul. The new cab system also uses DSP more efficiently, up to 80% better. This means more room for effects in the chain, and better response!
But why is the Line 6 3.50 update such a huge deal? To be fair, Line 6 is always good about setting up updates for its products. Line 6 even updated to POD HD for years after the original release. The Helix is the flagship product for now, and the HX Series has never seen an update like this! But for Metal players, this update is even more important.
Line 6 has heard all of the comments from the Metal community, and a lot of our wishes have definitely been granted! We are going to go over why the Line 6 3.50 update is so great, but we are going to approach from the perspective of guitarists on the heavier side of things.
So let’s dive into the features, and talk about why the Line6 3.50 update is so impressive!
New IR Engine/Cab Engine
Note: I used what the amps and cabs are based on, not what Line 6 calls them due to copyright issues. I did not want this to be confusing, since the point of the update is for things to be simple.
The Line 6 3.50 update completely reworks the IR section when it comes to creating your own patches. This was my biggest gripe with Line 6. The cabinet selection system was a nightmare for me, and it has been completely streamlined. This seems to give you less options at first glance, but it makes the process easier.
Line 6 spent some serious time capturing the best impulse responses possible. The press release said that the team at Line 6 has captured THOUSANDS of different microphone and cab IRs. That may seem like a crazy amount of impulse responses, but the result means that we get some new stuff to play with!
The new interface layout has taken some cues from the popular STL Tones, Archetype, and the myriad of other amp sims that offer dual cab setups. This really simplifies everything, and I love this interface style. So the update gives you a few new cabs, and the cabs have been consolidated into 20 guitar cabs and 4 bass cabs.
- Single—One new cab
- Dual—Two new cabs
- Legacy Single—One older Hybrid cab
- Legacy Dual—Two older Hybrid cabs
Amp/Cab subcategories have been updated as well:
- Guitar—Guitar Amp plus new cab
- Bass—Bass Amp plus new cab
- Guitar Plus Legacy—Guitar Amp plus older Hybrid cab
- Bass Plus Legacy—Bass Amp plus older Hybrid cab
So Line 6 has simplified my biggest problem with programming a Helix. I think that having such a large collection of cabs and mics is good for some people, but I get option paralysis quickly when there is just a list in front of me. Especially when you have a massive list like Line 6 has been famous for over the years.
The Line 6 3.50 update gives the whole process of choosing a cab (or 2) much easier since it is more visual. Blending two cabs, or panning between two cabs is much easier for me now. Your experience may differ, but if you have been playing other amp sims then this will seem so familiar.
For Metal players specifically, we get some pretty important cabs to use. These classics are cabinets that we are familiar with using already, and while Line 6 already had a lot of them, the update makes it just a little easier to dial in. But the cabs that are definitely aimed at people that want to rock, are all here:
- 4×12″ Marshall 1960A T75
- 4×12″ MESA/Boogie
- 4×12″ Sunn Cab w/G75T
- 4×12″ Bogner Uberkab V30
- 4×12″ ENGL® XXL V30
Yes, I know that it is almost a meme at this point that a 4×12 with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers on it is the most overplayed sound in Metal. But that is exactly why the Line 6 3.50 Update is so cool, we have some interesting options. Some would be quite difficult to get ahold of in real life!
Whether you play the most technical Death-Metal, or you play some sludgy Doom riffs, there is a cab for you! For me, the Mesa 4×12 is one of my favorite cabs on the planet, and being able to pair it with a classic Marshall 1960 is an amazing feature! They blend so well together, and I would love to have this rig for real, on a big stage in stereo!
There are 15 other cabs in the collection that might suit you better if you play another genre of music. But something like the Sunn 4×12 will be a great pair with a low gain amp, and octave pedal with a ton of fuzz going through it! There are plenty of “classic” tones for people that dig that kind of thing. But for Metal? Exquisite.
You also get a varied collection of 12 microphones, and they will all look very familiar for anyone who has put a mic in front of a cab. You get a nice collection of dynamic, condenser, and ribbon mics. The famous Shure SM Series is all there, as well as some other studio favorites. Each mic can be moved:
- Position On Cab
- Mic Distance
- Mic Angle On The Cab
- Low Cut Filter
- High Pass Filter
- Pan (With Dual Cab Options)
- Stereo Delay (Dual Cab)
This overhaul makes dialing in a tone so much easier with your HX products. Having a high pass filter can dial out any fizziness from high gain tones, and the low cut filter can get rid of any “woof” resonance. The Line 6 3.50 update just makes everything so much cleaner. It honestly saves time, and there is beauty in limitation.
The process is just so simple now! You choose your cab, you choose your mic, and then you position the mic however you want it. Doing this in real time with your mouse in Tone Studio is super instinctual, and you can get the sound you want so quickly. The Line 6 3.50 update was something the Helix NEEDED.
But the cab system is not the only thing that the Line 6 3.50 update has to offer. I was not even going to write this article until I realized just how important it is for Metal guitarists. The new amps give us some AMAZING choices for everything from Shred to Sludge!
The Line 6 Helix LT does almost everything it's big brother does, with a few slight changes. The Helix LT is still a powerhouse "all in one" solution to your guitar rig!
Line 6 3.50 Update: New Amps!
Amps, amps, amps! Again, I know that Peavey Amp Sims are almost a meme at this point and yes, if you pair the new Vitriol Amps with a 4×12 with Celestion V30 speakers you will sound like “every other metal dude”. But thankfully, Line 6 has given us many more cab options so you can craft your own tones.
There are 4 new amps added to the already massive collection of HX amps, and due to copyright issues, Line 6 cannot just call them what they are. Thankfully Line 6 does let us know exactly what these amps were based on (or how the IR was captured), and these are some of the most requested amps from HX users:
- Sunn Model T Normal
- Sunn Model T Bright (Bright Switch Engaged)
- Sunn Model T “Jumped” Bright And Normal Channels Combined
- Peavey Invective Crunch Channel (Master Boost Off)
- Peavey Invective Lead
The Sunn Model T is one of the most legendary amps when it comes to Doom Metal. The Sunn Model T is essentially a Fender Bassman in nature. This means tons of clean headroom, which makes a perfect platform for fuzz! The pronounced midrange just begs to get distorted.
But it also gives you another option for clean tones. The Sunn Model T has a beautiful rounded clean tone that is perfect for some reverb and delay. These amps also have an interesting crunch channel that will vary depending on the pickups your guitar uses, especially actives. But it will roar if you want it!
Speaking of roaring, the Peavey Invective is the amp that Misha from Periphery designed with the same people that helped bring the 5150 to life. The Invective works great with the Bogner cabs to get a full, mid-focused lead tone. Not to mention the amount of chug you can get.
All of the versions of the new amps have something cool to offer to Metal guitarists. The Line 6 3.50 update can breathe some new life into your “tried and true” patches. Adding a new amp/cab to a patch where you already have the effects laid out is a great way to change up your sound.
If this was all that the Line 6 3.50 update had to offer, I would be more than happy. But we also get some great new pedals that can reignite some of your older patches! Because that is exactly what I am doing with these new features; recharging my old patches!
Line 6 3.50 Update: The Pedals!
Not only does the Line 6 3.50 update offer a complete overhaul of the cab sims, offers new amps, streamlines some of the programming features, but it ALSO adds some great pedals. These pedals fill a gap that the HX effects were lacking for so long.
In fact, these look and react a lot like some very popular boutique pedals that do very specific sounds. These are pedals that have been talked about a lot. Now you can always buy those pedals and add them to the Helix setup, how ever you use the device. But it is much easier if you just have those sounds at your disposal right?
- “Pillars” Earthquaker Devices Plumes Distortion
- “VITAL DIST” Earthquaker Devices Life
- ” VITAL Boost” Earthquaker Devices Life Boosted
- 4 Voice Chorus Pedal (Line 6 Original)
- Flex-O-Vibe (Line 6 Original)
- Dynamic Ambience (DSP-Saving Reverb)
- “B-Octave” BOSS OC-2
The Pillars distortion/overdrive can be mistaken for another green pedal that we all use as a boost option. But it does so much more than act as a preamp to “tighten up” your tone! You can do that boost with the “asymmetrical” option, but it also acts as a great crunch tone when you use the original Op-Amp diode. You get lots of different options, and it blends extremely well with amp distortion.
The VITAL is based on the famous pedal used by Sunn (The band, not the amps) and it features a rich overdrive that also has an octave blend that sounds MASSIVE. Try this one with a clean amp, with the distortion and octave at noon, and you will have this untamed, crushing tone. Doom lovers rejoice!
The 4 Voice Chorus pedal is a newly designed pedal for the Line 6 3.50 update. It can be ran in mono or stereo and it does the 80’s Goth sound perfectly. But as you add more voices you can get as much “warble” as you want. I like to dime the “rate” almost to zero, for singing distorted solos in stereo.
The Flex-O-Vibe is also a special design made for the Line 6 3.50 update, and I am not the best person to talk to about vibrato pedals. Usually, I would never use one, but this pedal has a lot of cool options to make some “warping” sounds. I used it like EVH may have, turning it on and off during certain parts of a riff. It sounds pretty cool, and you can make it as chaotic as you want!
The Dynamic Ambience is also brand new, and it gives you so much control over reverb and delay options. It can sound absolutely cavernous, like you are playing in an airplane hanger. The trails can go on literally forever, and the trails can even continue after you switch patches. This is one that you need to really play with, especially if you do ambient guitar stuff.
The B Octave pedal is something that is crazy fun to play with, and I have a version of this pedal on my BOSS Katana. You can set the pedal for one octave down, or two. If you you want to really beef up a rhythm track when you are recording, add this pedal to a distortion/fuzz and be amazed! This is also great if you are the only guitarist in a band, and use the pedal live to make choruses huge!
All in all, the Line 6 3.50 update comes with some great pedals that really fill a gap that I thought the Helix/HX series was always missing. You get some popular boutique pedals that everyone has been talking about lately, but you also get some weird stuff like the Octave pedal and the Ambient Reverb. There is a lot you can do on the “experimental’ side of guitar.
For players that do any type of heavy music, you have some killer tools here that can do all kinds of sounds. the octave pedal can make a guitar in standard tuning sound like the nastiest thing on the planet. I always felt like the Helix had a lot of “restraint” to it, and it always seemed a little too clean to me. These new effects can give you a drop tuned octave note that rings out in a cave!
Line 6 3.50 Update: This Deserves Some Applause!
The Line 6 3.50 update is a pretty brave move for the company. It isn’t every day that a company takes its flagship product and completely overhauls the way it works. Well, that might be a stretch. I wouldn’t say that the Helix is completely changed by this update. Just heavily modified, for the better in my opinion.
One of the problems I have had with Line 6 products since the POD HD Series is the sheer amount of cabinets and microphones. I don’t know how many hours I spent in front of the computer trying to choose “off axis” or some other option that I couldn’t visualize. With the HD Series I ended up using the same formula for cabs on every single patch, because I would get frustrated in the studio.
That’s the thing when it comes to digital amp sims, they should streamline the process instead of hindering it. I think the most important feature of the Line 6 3.50 update is the ease of use when it comes to getting a good tone. If you record a lot, or even for a living, you know that time is money.
I want to play guitar, I absolutely do not want to sit in front of a computer for hours trying to fine tune a tone. I need something usable and relatable when dialing in a tone/sound on digital gear. Especially when recording, and I don’t have a patch for the tone I need for a song. Otherwise, I would just mic an amp. The Line 6 3.50 update makes this so much easier for me.
There are some features that I didn’t even go over, like how the new cabs use 70-80% less DSP. Or how the cab system allows you a dual block so you can pan between two different cabinets however you see fit. Some of the interface options have also been updated, down to the way knobs work. The Line 6 3.50 update does a lot behind the scenes.
Let’s be real, I think this update has a lot to do with all of the other amp sim companies out there that are computer-based like STL, Positive Grid, and the Archetype Series. These plugins all have something in common; they are simple to use but also offer tons of tones. Line 6 is still at the top of the game being hardware-based, but there is some serious competition.
So I think the Line 6 3.50 update deserves a huge round of applause. This was a big risk that Line 6 decided to take, and it seems like it has been well reviewed. But it means even more to people that play Metal, and all of the wonderful subgenres of Metal. Like the BOSS update that we got earlier this year, Line 6 continues to push the boundaries.
Line 6 is at the forefront of modeling technology and digital effects. The HX Stomp was clearly designed to fit a niche that the Helix cannot. It is the compact solution to recording, adding to your effects chain, or using it as a stand-alone unit. The possibilities are crazy!
What Does the Line 6 3.50 Update Add?
The Line 6 3.5 Update (released November 3, 2022) offers some great new amp sims that mimic Sunn and the Peavey Invective. But the most important part is the streamlined cabinet IR system. You can now visually blend cabs and set mics by just clicking your mouse. You also get some amazing pedals like Octave, Sunn Life, and a brand new 4 Voice Chorus.
Which Line 6 Products Does The Line 6 3.50 Update Work On?
Helix Floor (Flagship Models)
Helix Pro Rack Units
HX Stomp XL
Helix Native (Computer)
Will the Line 6 3.50 Update Change Any Of My Patches?
Most likely, yes. But it is easy to dial in the tone you originally had. You can also create a digital backup of the original patches (highly recommended).
Do I have To Update Tone Studio For The Line 6 3.50 Update?
Does The Line 6 3.50 Update Work On POD GO?
No, the Line 6 POD GO had another update over the summer that you can read all about HERE. The POD GO got a brand new amp, and some new effects in this update.
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects at home in Georgia. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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