While the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe is an attempt to recreate a classic vibe unit with complete faithfulness, the Helix Phaser takes an entirely opposite view. Sure, it’s designed to tap into classic sounds including the company’s own Phase12, but with a whole new world of possibilities and features you rarely if ever see on phaser pedals. This unit also features TC’s award-winning Tone Print technology, which lets you write and install your own presets or those made by the likes of John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert and Devin Townsend.
WHEN YOU SWOOSH UPON A STAR
TC has included the option of selecting between true bypass and buffered bypass to help you integrate it into any guitar rig. There are also stereo inputs and stereo outputs, so you can go for a more traditional mono sound or something altogether spacier. There are four knobs - Speed, Depth, Feedback and Mix - plus a three-way selector switch for Vintage, Smooth and Tone Print modes. I don’t know why more phaser pedals don’t have Mix and Feedback controls.
IT’S JUST A PHASE
The most fun thing about the Helix Phaser is that it can sound more organic and earthy or utterly alien and electronic, and each voice feels like it’s meant to be there rather than just tacked on like some multi-mode pedals. You can use it for a Van Halen-like ‘indefinable ambient swoosh’ kind of slow-phase effect to add some movement and life to an otherwise flat guitar tone, or you can call up a more liquid, hi-fi kind of sound for progressive rock/metal/djent clean tones. If there’s one area where the Helix lags behind it’s that it doesn’t seem to have a particularly distinctive voice: rather it gives you all sorts of great phaser sounds that can’t quite be pinned down to recreating any one famous phaser. For most players that’s a good thing though.
OUT OF THIS SWIRLED
This is a very flexible phaser, and the stereo ins and outs mean you can fit it into all sorts of different guitar rigs, from the traditional to the NASA approved, and the Tone Prints mean you can really create some out-there sounds or very finely sculpted traditional ones.
Hits and Misses
Handy stereo ins and outs
Great Tone Print flexibility
Not the most distinctive sounding pedal unless you get into deep editing.