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JLondon

Consistency In Creating/Sharing Presets

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I LOVE the Helix BUT, I have a wish.  Not with the Helix unit itself though.  I wish that users (or Line 6 themselves since they would be most knowledgeable/qualified to know where a potential sweet spot might be) would come up with some sort of a gold standard for creating/sharing presets where 'Helix output volume' is concerned.  I know presets are always going to sound differently depending upon the many variables in music genre/guitars/amps/headphones/studio equip/etc. But the enormous difference in volume levels ,and their effect on distortion/tone, among various shared presets (and admittedly even the ones coming with the unit itself) is ridiculous.  Contrary to my previous understanding, a preset does not sound the same regardless of Helix volume output knob setting being used anymore than an analog tube amp and pedal board will. I'm using a Stage-source L3t and you can't create a preset with a low Helix output volume level and expect it to sound the same when you turn the output volume up - or visa versa. 'In that particular aspect' I've found that the 4 cable method to back of an amp actually works a little better.  But it seems to me that problems could be diminished greatly for everyone if everyone had a 'reasonable' standard Helix volume output knov setting for every setup "method" being used to create the setup. One for those using four cable method, one for those who go to the front of an amp, those using headphones, Stage-source/FRFR speakers or like, etc. Maybe one volume setting could work for all. I don't know but why not at least narrow it down. Maybe simply tell others, when posting, where your Helix and general external equipment volume level was when you created it. And yes, of course you would still need to tweak tone settings to suit your own desired overall volume level for any future given venue or purpose. But at least you would have a much better idea, to start with, of what the pre-set's creator actually "intended" for it to sound like.  As it is now, downloading a decent preset seems like a crap shoot.  And more than likely almost all of them sound really great from the perspective of the creator and his unpredictable equipment settings.

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The volumes are all over the place because they are accurately modeling the various amps and effects.  What would be very helpful would be some sort of meter to adjust the final patch volume.  Then we could post patches with similar volume levels.

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I use Mac OS X AU Utility to set the Helix output levels of different patches. AU Utility just provides the missing output meters. It's also helpful in gain staging while designing a patch to make sure no block is in danger of clipping.

 

For actual volum levels, I use a DB meter to at least understand what volume level is being output. I try to keep things around 85 DB from my own amp. That provides some consistency in the actual production environment.

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I LOVE the Helix BUT, I have a wish...

 

...As it is now, downloading a decent preset seems like a crap shoot. And more than likely almost all of them sound really great from the perspective of the creator and his unpredictable equipment settings.

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Well, as the saying goes: "wish in one hand, $#!+ in the other, and see which one fills up first".

 

In order for any of this to work, you'd have to assume some sort of uniformity in how we perceive what we hear, and similar ability to distinguish subtle tonal nuances amongst all those sharing their patches. This will never happen...ever. I've met people who call themselves "musicians", who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, or distinguish a clarinet from a trumpet by ear. The lowest common denominators will always outnumber those who actually know what they're doing...doesn't matter if we're talking music, plumbing, or brain surgery. Want proof? Visit a Walmart...

 

Second, by nature most musicians are not the "rule book" sort...we improvise. Even amongst a group of people who are all using the same unit, everyone will tweak their patches in whatever way suits their needs. And the needs of the bedroom jammer will never be the same as the weekend cover band warrior, or the full time pro. The list of variables is so long, it's not even worth discussing...so your never gonna get any degree of "standard patch creation compliance" from Joe Guitarist.

 

Conceptually, Customtone is great...but so are lots of other things, until you actually try them out, then the love affair quickly ends. The degree of subjectivity involved makes it impossible to implement in any predictable or useful way. It will forever be a crap-shoot. Create what you need on your own. You'll waste much less time, and spare yourself tons of aggravation and disappointment.

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Well, as the saying goes: "wish in one hand, $#!+ in the other, and see which one fills up first".

 

In order for any of this to work, you'd have to assume some sort of uniformity in how we perceive what we hear, and similar ability to distinguish subtle tonal nuances amongst all those sharing their patches. This will never happen...ever. I've met people who call themselves "musicians", who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, or distinguish a clarinet from a trumpet by ear. The lowest common denominators will always outnumber those who actually know what they're doing...doesn't matter if we're talking music, plumbing, or brain surgery. Want proof? Visit a Walmart...

 

Second, by nature most musicians are not the "rule book" sort...we improvise. Even amongst a group of people who are all using the same unit, everyone will tweak their patches in whatever way suits their needs. And the needs of the bedroom jammer will never be the same as the weekend cover band warrior, or the full time pro. The list of variables is so long, it's not even worth discussing...so your never gonna get any degree of "standard patch creation compliance" from Joe Guitarist.

 

Conceptually, Customtone is great...but so are lots of other things, until you actually try them out, then the love affair quickly ends. The degree of subjectivity involved makes it impossible to implement in any predictable or useful way. It will forever be a crap-shoot. Create what you need on your own. You'll waste much less time, and spare yourself tons of aggravation and disappointment.

 

 

The volumes are all over the place because they are accurately modeling the various amps and effects.  What would be very helpful would be some sort of meter to adjust the final patch volume.  Then we could post patches with similar volume levels.

Thanks DarrellM5,  I do realize the differences between "various amps and effects".  But if I'm understanding you correctly (please correct me if I'm wrong), you (and I'm suspecting others) are suggesting an adjustment of the final patch volume using the main output volume knob 'after the fact'.  It's my experience that you can't do this because it completely changes the sound and colors the tone of the original.  Just like turning down the volume knob on a guitar will clean up a tone and turning up guitar volume will increase distortion.  This is much too my disappointment as I was under the impression that I was going to be able to create a patch at bedroom volume then simply crank up the output volume knob for the larger venue and the patch would sound the same, and visa versa.  This just hasn't turned out to be the case.  Some sort of standard would have to exist at the 'beginning' of the process then listened to by others using the same output level.  And yes volume increases between styles of presets will still exist, but will still be more in touch with reality compared to what we have now.  'Then' you could go into the standardized patch and edit it to sound the same for different volume levels.  As it is now we're sharing presets and IRs that have had a great deal of work put into them, and the person receiving them have absolutely no idea as to what they really sound like because everybody's got their own output volume level when checking them out.  I realize there is no perfect solution, but it just seems to me that there is some way of making this issue a lot better.

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Thanks DarrellM5, I do realize the differences between "various amps and effects". But if I'm understanding you correctly (please correct me if I'm wrong), you (and I'm suspecting others) are suggesting an adjustment of the final patch volume using the main output volume knob 'after the fact'. It's my experience that you can't do this because it completely changes the sound and colors the tone of the original. Just like turning down the volume knob on a guitar will clean up a tone and turning up guitar volume will increase distortion. This is much too my disappointment as I was under the impression that I was going to be able to create a patch at bedroom volume then simply crank up the output volume knob for the larger venue and the patch would sound the same, and visa versa. This just hasn't turned out to be the case. Some sort of standard would have to exist at the 'beginning' of the process then listened to by others using the same output level. And yes volume increases between styles of presets will still exist, but will still be more in touch with reality compared to what we have now. 'Then' you could go into the standardized patch and edit it to sound the same for different volume levels. As it is now we're sharing presets and IRs that have had a great deal of work put into them, and the person receiving them have absolutely no idea as to what they really sound like because everybody's got their own output volume level when checking them out. I realize there is no perfect solution, but it just seems to me that there is some way of making this issue a lot better.

Volume is the LEAST of your worries. And standardizing patch volumes still won't change the Fletcher-Munson curve. It is what it is, and it ain't going away.

 

The guitar, pickups, amp (or headphones), string guage, thin picks, thick picks...hell the room the guy was sitting in when he dialed in the patch, all contribute to why he thought it sounded just like Joe Satriani, and to you it sounds more like Joe Perry. Simply put, you're asking for the impossible. All the time wasted auditioning patches that someone else swears sounds just like Metallica, would be better spent jamming an ice pick through your ears...and depending on just how awful the patch in question turns out to be, it might just produce similar results.

 

1)Learn the gear

2)Tweak to taste

3)Play

 

Anything else is a waste of time.

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The volumes are all over the place because they are accurately modeling the various amps and effects.  What would be very helpful would be some sort of meter to adjust the final patch volume.  Then we could post patches with similar volume levels.

 

I'm finding the lack of any metering to be the #1 drawback with any other drawbacks being so far down the chain they aren't worth mentioning.  Maybe I'm picky, but I do pro sound.   Pretty hard to setup anything with a threshold or specific frequency response without some sort of meter to know you're activating the threshold.  No one's ears are that good.. although most of us can get close...   With a unit that sounds this good.... "close" just isn't acceptable for me.

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I'm finding the lack of any metering to be the #1 drawback with any other drawbacks being so far down the chain they aren't worth mentioning.  Maybe I'm picky, but I do pro sound.   Pretty hard to setup anything with a threshold or specific frequency response without some sort of meter to know you're activating the threshold.  No one's ears are that good.. although most of us can get close...   With a unit that sounds this good.... "close" just isn't acceptable for me.

 

Absolutely. There shoud be a meter showing the signal level in and out of each block. I mean, when you select a block to change its parameters, an I/O signal meter would be extremely useful.

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You could use a iPhone or iPad with the AudioTools app and a Send block in Helix to add metering and wave form analysis anywhere in the Helix signal chain. That wouldn't provide metering for compressors though that would show how many db of compression you're getting. 

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I use Mac OS X AU Utility to set the Helix output levels of different patches. AU Utility just provides the missing output meters. It's also helpful in gain staging while designing a patch to make sure no block is in danger of clipping.

For actual volum levels, I use a DB meter to at least understand what volume level is being output. I try to keep things around 85 DB from my own amp. That provides some consistency in the actual production environment.

85 db wouldn't even cut through our congregational singing...lol.

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What I mean is that setting a patch at 85 dB will scale up or down in volume in a live situation without changing tone too drastically. I should have said that's the level at which I finalize the patch.

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What I mean is that setting a patch at 85 dB will scale up or down in volume in a live situation without changing tone too drastically. I should have said that's the level at which I finalize the patch.

I doesn't come through in typing but I was being a smart a$$

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I tend to rely mainly and more quickly on my ears to find the right balance between the levels of the different tones/patches in order to save them..

 

It's worked for me for 20+ years, too.

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