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About JimGordon

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  1. JimGordon

    What to expect

    As Robbie said, Helix factory presets are....well, like any unit's factory presets, more geared towards a bland showcase of the models. I have not actually used a GT-100, but I took a peek at the manual and the specs out of curiosity. Obviously, first thing to do is upgrade the firmware, so you get the full range of models; the original Helix firmware is almost laughable compared to Helix 2.92. In comparison, the number of amp, distortion and effects models the Helix currently has crushes the GT-100. Just as important is the increased flexibility of routing compared to the GT-100. You can route effects, amps and cab sims in most any order you want, as long as you don't run out of DSP. In terms of DSP, you can actually space things out between 2 separate DSP paths that can be routed in serial so you can avoid running out of DSP. I use this for when I want to combine a preamp and full amp model to create a jury-rigged "unique" model (e.g. in my case, I've created my attempt at a Dumble SSS, as well as a Frankensteined Soldano/Friedman hybrid), and then have another full amp on the 2nd DSP path as a second channel. There are just a ton of options available. In addition, the amplifier models have controls for things like power tube sag, tube bias, and bias "excursion", which essentially means that each amp model can be modded "internally" in ways that most of us unskilled plebes could never do ourselves with the real thing. Finally, you can stack more than 1 effect of the same general type; if you want, you can send a Fuzzface into a tubescreamer, or layer a Dimension chorus on top of a CE-1 chorus effect....or both if you want. The tricky part is that it's almost as easy to make a crappy sound with all these parameters available as it is to make an awesome one. In other words, there is a definite learning curve, and you need patience and a willingness to research how the real life models work. For example, your first impulse for the Mark IV model might be to crank the bass control if you want that sweet Metallica sound.......but dig into the specs a bit, and you'll find that the bass control should be set low, as it pumps a lot bass into the input stage ahead of tubes, causing massive flabby mud....instead, you should crank the bass on the graphic EQ settings on the last page of the amplifier's settings. Speaking of EQ, always be ready to use at least 1 separate EQ block. Finally, keep in mind your method of output makes a HUGE difference. I prefer to plug it into a clean tube amp. Others prefer a digital audio workstation (which I feel sounds a little too tame and processed for my tastes), or a flat response full range studio speaker. For those options, you may need to check out impulse responses to make things sound a little more like "the real thing", or spend some significant time trying out the built-in cabinet modelling options. For the in-house cabinet modeling, I highly suggest using the dual cabs option to give the sound more depth and variety; even though I use a real amp and its speakers for output, I actually still use the cab modeling to add an extra layer of filtering and depth. Don't expect to immediately plug and play; you will just get frustrated if that's what you think you can do right away. If you spend the time needed, however, the results are worth it.
  2. It's funny how much effects have improved in the last 30 years; there's now such a wealth of deep dive editing that we have the first world problem of sorting through all the available options. Before I got the Helix last year, I was a bit concerned that the modeled amp count was still lower than my Digitech RP-1000. As it turns out, the Helix power amp parameters alone can make a single amplifier model have the potential to be the equivalent of several different Digitech models, just by adjusting the bias or sag options (absent, along with a number of other parameters, on the RP-1000). I'll tell you- I remember back in the early 90s when the Digitech RP-1 was considered the shiznit with its four (COUNT 'EM- FOUR!) distortion options. Now? I can have half a dozen or more distortion tones in the same patch with some creative footswitch assignments if I want. Ditto if I was using an Axe-FX, to be fair.
  3. To elaborate further, here's an example comparing 2 different models at the extreme ends of this. The Twin Reverb ("US Double") is a high-headroom, clean tube amp that doesn't distort until you reach ear-splitting levels, and then it's almost all power-tube distortion. The "master" control in this model will essentially determine how clean or distorted the amp is when you take the drive control all the way to 10. So if you set the master volume to 5 or so, the drive will generally just act as a volume control, and nothing else (maybe a little bit of breakup once you get to 10"). If master is at 10, then the drive will start acting less as a volume control towards the upper end of its range, and start adding distortion. On the other hand, an amp like the Engl Fireball (Angl Meteor), which has its high gain channel modeled, has a master volume AND a gain control. So essentially, the gain control just acts as the preamp gain, controlling how much pre-amp distortion is present. It really won't affect the volume. The master volume, strangely enough won't affect the volume much either, but will serve to alter the amount of the distortion that is coming out of the power amp. The channel volume is the one constant between various models, in that it will always act as a pure volume control. In between these extremes, you'll find that these controls end up acting in different ways along the spectrum. Sometimes, I've actually found that setting the drive quite low actually seems to boost the volume higher than a high drive setting on a few amps, if the master is already cranked. I think that's due to how the power amp is modeled to react to being overloaded.
  4. I would like the ability to assign a shortcut using two footswitches on the Helix Floor to switch setlists. Currently, you have to bend over, click the preset joystick (which broke right away on the first Helix I had gotten, leaving me stuck), and go through a list. I'd like something where you can just hit 2 switches at the same time, and it will take you to the next setlist, first patch.
  5. I was having similar issues with the 2.91 update. Try using the separate Helix Updater that's downloaded with HX Edit 2.92, while holding F6/F10. It seems that update mode doesn't recognize HX Edit's "update available" internal updater. Also check to make sure you have no malfunctioning drivers listed under "Helix" in your devices panel.
  6. I had the perfect storm of screw-ups when updating to 2.91. The update kept failing, my device connection kept dropping, and eventually led to a boot failure. It took a lot of steps to get back to normal I suggest checking some of these factors: 1. Don't use the HX Edit "update now?" button, at least if you have a boot failure and want to re-download the update. I tried using the "update mode" boot option with HX Edit, and it simply wouldn't recognize it. Use the separate Line 6 updater that is installed whenever installing HXEdit. 2. Boot mode is accessed by holding buttons 6 and 12 when turning the switch on. 3. Helix USB driver installation is a complete @#$@#show by default, at least on my Windows 7 computer. I found that when I plugged in, the device properties showed a "human interface driver" that was not working properly. The Line 6 drivers were still listed, but this one rogue driver was wreaking havoc with my USB connection. I ended up actually removing that driver from the Helix driver list, and then letting Windows find a "proper" driver to replace that one. That said, you will also need to make sure the Line 6 drivers have been installed as well; if you don't see any in the properties list, update the driver manually by finding it in the Line 6 program files folder, under "tools" and driver archive. 4. As others have said, the supplied USB cord is way too finicky.
  7. No problem. Also, you'll be surprised how well the HR can work while using the amp modeling as well, as long as you have the HR setting to be clean as possible. For that, you'd probably need to use the low input (so that the preamp isn't being overloaded), and keep the tone controls at 12 o'clock or below (adjust each to taste). I leave the bright switch on. You can also use the power amp in; however, if you do, first turn the Helix volume knob all the way down, as it will become your de-facto volume control for the amplifier. Then turn it up until you're at a good volume level. Also, using the power amp only darkens the tone greatly, so you'd probably need to adjust the global EQ to brighten it up.
  8. Have you checked the position of the big volume knob? If it's too low, it will definitely alter the sound, and cut off the low and high ends of the frequency spectrum. As stated above, the maximum setting is unity gain. I send my Helix into the low input of a Hot Rod Deville, and tend to set it around 4 o'clock or so myself, but I use a lot of EQ'ing in the Helix, so a slightly less than unity gain setting adjusts for the extra signal from those EQs. Also, check to see what your global EQ settings are.
  9. I actually made a halfway decent Testament patch that tries to cover a spectrum of their sounds. The key is to run the 2204 or 2204 mod preamp model into a JTM45 amp model with the gain on the amp model not high. Crank the channel volume for the preamp to the max, set the preamp drive to taste, and start low with the tone, drive and master controls on the amp. Increase those incrementally until you get a solid overall sound you are happy with. The key to getting that "Souls of Black" pushed bottom end is to boost the bass frequencies more than your instincts would normally say to. Selective mid cuts using a higher Q setting to preserve other mid frequencies you want to keep are also key. And of course, a decent amount of reverb helps- room or chamber is more appropriate for the rhythm tones, while either boosting the decay or switching to hall is good for Skolnick's big lead spaciness.
  10. I'm obsessive about making patches, and am now somewhere in the range of having made 140 or more patches. They range all over the place, with some using just amp gain, and some using the method you use- 1 or more distortion/overdrive pedals into either a clean, or at least lower gain amp. I have an "Old Savatage" patch that is basically 2 Super Overdrives daisy chained into a clean Marshall, which is sort of what Chris Oliva did. My "Imaginos" patch (inspired by mid-late 80's Blue Oyster Cult) has a couple different amps that I can switch between, but the basis of the distortion is mostly pedals (the "Heavy Distortion" does most of the lifting), while my ELO patch uses a Tone Sovereign with both drive sections into a low-ish gain Fender to get that "Do Ya" grindy crunch. "Chorus Lead" is essentially a Twin dressed up with chorus and 'verb (and delay is available), where I kick in a tube driver pedal for a sweet singing lead sound (and a booster if I want more gain). Those are just a couple of the ways to approach things. So many options...... Just to point this out- I think the Tone Sovereign may be one of the most versatile drive models on the Helix, as having 2 serial gain stages, each with 3 possible types of drive, 2 tone controls, and 2 levels of intensity, PLUS the battery voltage choice (which does actually affect the tone) really gives you a lot to work with in just one effect block (although it does consume more CPU power than your typical overdrive).
  11. I have a Hot Rod DeVille, which isn't "too" different, but is probably more on the treble-y side than the Deluxe. I actually go straight into the low input on the pre-amp (bright switch on, the normal "clean" non-drive channel), and keep the tone controls in various positions at noon or below (mids and presence around 9 o'clock). I use the full amp models, and usually use the cab emulation as a kind of last pass filter. I'll use either 1 or 2 EQ blocks after the amp models (at least 1 of these will be a parametric EQ), with EQs varying quite a bit per patch. I have the Global EQ on, with a high cut probably somewhere around 15K or so. Time based effects are almost always placed after the cab model or IR. Whenever I use it with this method, I have the big knob volume pretty high up. I usually don't use drastic cuts or boosts in the EQ, except when I'm going for a "big metal" frequency scoop, or a focused boost to impart a particular character. Sometimes if I'm using one patch where there are 2 amps I switch between with one of the footswitches, I find I have to assign an EQ or gain block to that switch to keep volume levels equal if one of the amps is a lot quieter at max volume than the other. I also tried going straight into the power amp, using the Helix volume as a replacement for the amp's volume knob. It was ok, but a lot darker than I'm used to. Then again, all my patches are calibrated for the clean preamp in method.
  12. I'd like to see a floor switch combo that lets you switch the setlist without having to go through that menu with the preset button. Or even better, give us the option to make the "up/down" bank button scroll through ALL presets, not just the ones in a particular setlist. If there has to be a pause when skipping to the next setlist group, so be it. I just would rather not have to be limited to one group of sounds without having to dive into menus while playing.
  13. Have you looked at the Q parameter for your EQ? Funny thing- I was using the Q parameter completely backwards until recently. The lower the Q, the *wider* the boost or cut effect will be across frequency bands. So maybe your Q is set too wide on both the mids and highs for what you are looking for. You may also want to look at making sure your EQ is placed *before* the cab sim and reverbs/delays, so that it's not somehow exaggerating whatever frequencies those effects are altering.
  14. Maybe one of your cords was shorting out and it started working again due to you shifting the position? I feel I've had pretty crap luck with guitar cables, and one thing I've noticed is that if a cord has an issue, if it's not the kind of problem where it buzzes horribly and loudly, it's usually a situation where the signal futzes out and becomes extra weak.
  15. Using an amp/cab block into a real amp is not a non-starter per se; I can safely say that in spite of some increased noise, if the amp is clean enough, you can get a pretty good sound. However, you'll need to completely adjust the patches to dial it in for whatever amp you are using for output. The factory presets are obviously engineered for DI use....
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