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Overdrive/distortion tones not sounding good at all

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   Any patch that I set up with either an overdriven amp block or an overdrive/distortion pedal block has a harsh tone. It sounds like if you plugged your guitar into your stomp boxes and then straight into a PA system. Even the clean amp blocks need a lot of tweeking to get them to sound half decent. Is anybody else having this problem? I've tried a couple different setups and it doesn't seem to help much. They all seem to have that 'mushy' sound.

 

Heres what I've tried:

 

1. JTV 59 into Helix via VDI cable; Left/Mono XLR out (set to "mic") to Carvin RX1200L mixer via

    XLR cable (channel EQ set flat); then out to two L3t speakers via XLR cables, 

 

2. JTV 59 into Helix via VDI cable; L6 Link out to L3t via AES/EBU cable.

 

3. JTV 59 into Helix via VDI cable; L6 Link out to DT25 via AES/EBU cable.

 

4. I've even tried some of these combinations with a Strat style guitar and a guitar cable. Not much

    difference.

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Depends what your taste in distortion is like?

In those scenarios you will need some EQ

You can't have Global EQ on the digital outs for reasons that have not been adequately explained but if you use scenario one and roll a fair whack of top end off then you should get a better experience

Here is my tone

Everything including the bass is the helix direct

https://soundcloud.com/user2646262/prayprayvox

But you may not like that

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Skip the Carvin mixer for now, try Helix XLR outputs to the L3t back panel XLR input in each speaker. Just to further simplify, use 1/4" from JTV to Helix. Turn on global EQ, try these (Glenn DeLaune) settings as a starting point:

 

Low Gain, Mid Gain and High Gain are ALL set to Zero.

-the Low Cut set at 90Hz

-the High Cut set at 6.0 Hz

 

You could also try changing the Helix XLR output to mic level, it defaults to line level.

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Skip the Carvin mixer for now, try Helix XLR outputs to the L3t back panel XLR input in each speaker. Just to further simplify, use 1/4" from JTV to Helix. Turn on global EQ, try these (Glenn DeLaune) settings as a starting point:

 

Low Gain, Mid Gain and High Gain are ALL set to Zero.

-the Low Cut set at 90Hz

-the High Cut set at 6.0 Hz

 

You could also try changing the Helix XLR output to mic level, it defaults to line level.

 

You can also set the low cut and hugh cut on the cab sim, that's what I do.

I connect via L6-Link to my DT25

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You can also set the low cut and high cut on the cab sim, that's what I do.

I connect via L6-Link to my DT25

There ya go! I was wondering what to do for l6link global eq approximation.

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There ya go! I was wondering what to do for l6link global eq approximation.

Not quite global though is it, if it is per cab!

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 It sounds like if you plugged your guitar into your stomp boxes and then straight into a PA system.

 

Are you using Amp blocks, or Amp+Cab blocks?

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Anyhow, my point is - I plug my Helix XLR outs into a pair of L2t speakers (back panel XLR input), and using those global EQ settings, and Glenn DeLaune's bogner and bogner lead patches, early van halen, etc - the insanely high gain, very loud, very overdriven tone is *far* from harsh. It's actualy quite epic, really. Smooth, creamy, and makes-me-want-to-play kind of good.

 

So, to remain constructive, try some of Radatats DT-Helix patches.And if he has them posted or will send them to you, try his "wet-dry-wet, stereo PA with a DT in the middle" patch. Radatats also came up with a 3-channel amp patch, which I am going to try this weekend!

 

Those are some free options. Helix has the ability to sound amazing, or also really bad. That's not a limit, it's a feature keeping with the REAL equipment. Certain amp, cabinet, speaker and mic combinations are more pleasing and effective than others. How overdrive sounds is a big part of that! I had my analog stompbox type pedalboard dialed in perfectly with my DT25, using a Plexi Bright amp model. Then I tried to run the same pedalboard with same settings into a different - albeit on it's own nice sounding tube amp - and it sounded harsh, overly bright, all wrong. I had to tweak a bunch on that amp to get closer to the amp sound I was used to, and also tweak the pedals alot, mostly the drive pedals. Those are all Keeley and Fulltone; they sound amazing. But only through the right amp tone!

 

All that aside, check out Glenn's DeLaune's patches; particularly his Helix bundle and his new 3-channel amp patch. :) Good place to start! 

 

Also, one last note - keep in mind, the L3t and L3m speakers use that bottom speaker in more of a sub woofer capacity; it primarily pushes low end. One approach, is try putting the L3t on it's side, and using it's kick stand, set it up like a floor monitor. If that is what you were already doing, try orienting it vertically. Take a point to listen to the bottom speaker vs the top speakers, and position yourself and the speaker accordingly.

 

my L2t's are at the band rehearsal space now, so I will use them Friday night with Helix, and then use my pair of L3m at home Saturday night with Helix. I will try to note any significant difference between patches that I know to sound good on L2t, and compare them to how they sound with L3m..

 

Cheers!

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Thanks to everone for your help on this topic. I think I just needed to spend mote time tweaking some of the settings. My tones are finally starting to come together.

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Thanks to everone for your help on this topic. I think I just needed to spend mote time tweaking some of the settings. My tones are finally starting to come together.

 

Glad to hear it :)

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I can't get a good overdrive out of my Helix. Harsh and brittle, frustrating!

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I have found much like the true amp it models some OD pedals don't sound very good with some amps IMO. For instance the KWB pedal in front of the Matchless 2 is a bit of heaven but in front of a Deluxe I hated it. If you follow the 3 quick tones video above, guitar straight into Helix and either headphones or right into an FRFR it should sound pretty close to that. I was shocked how easy it was and how close to that videos tone I got. Now if it still sounds horrible maybe something else is going on, anyway good luck.

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I had the same problem guys.   Its all based on your output and where and how its being sent.  the only thing i got to sound good is a carvin rx800 powered mixer and 2 phonic speakers.  it sounded terrible.  i was ready to return it.  I changed my output settings on helix and started creating my own patches.   playing without cabs will do this too.  It took me 3 days to figure it all out.  need help let me know

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You can get good sounds from the helix but it takes a lot of work. Too much....and then some of the factory sounds are pretty bad. Try some redwirez or free ownhammer IRs mixed in with helix cab IRs.

 

Ive got 10 or 15 real good sounds but it took a lot of experimenting to get them.

 

Line 6 needs to improve on it some, but you also need to spend more time with it and you'll be liking it a lot more in a few months.

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I can't get a good overdrive out of my Helix. Harsh and brittle, frustrating!

 

Provided connections, gain staging, and impedance are all set properly (and your Helix is working fine), toggling between the real distortion pedal in Helix's effects loop and the model of said distortion pedal should sound and feel close to identical. We spent a lotof time A/Bing, and were able to fool some hardcore golden ears in the process. One particular guitarist well known for his obsession with the Klon straight up couldn't tell which was which.

 

If the distortion pedal is the first block on Path 1, Helix can automatically set its Guitar Input impedance circuit to match. Just set Global Settings > Ins/Outs > Guitar In Impedance to "Auto."

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Thanks to everone for your help on this topic. I think I just needed to spend mote time tweaking some of the settings. My tones are finally starting to come together.

The thread topic for those who don't know any better will blame Helix, and not the inexperances of its users for the problem. Happens all the time and you aren't the 1st to do it. It's always the hardware before its us. Please fix that when you get a chance by adding "solved", or something to that affect. Thanks.

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Turn on global EQ, try these (Glenn DeLaune) settings as a starting point:

 

Low Gain, Mid Gain and High Gain are ALL set to Zero.

-the Low Cut set at 90Hz

-the High Cut set at 6.0 Hz

 

 

This is a great starting point.  When I plugged these in I felt too much loss in the highs, so I bumped the cut up to 9.0Hz to give it a little more sparkle.  That being said, it sounds much better than without the EQ!

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The first thing I thought when the OP described the tone is that he was using an amp only with no speaker cab block. Doing that would give just the sort of sound he described.

 

-Max

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Hey Everyone,

 

I had the same problem with my distortion pedals. Very brittle and harsh sounding. Here's what I did to fix the problem. It's very simple. Put the distortion pedal BEFORE your amp block, not after. I kept putting the distortion pedals after the amp and it always sounded like trash. I tried putting the distortion pedals before the amp and WOW, does it sound amazing!!! I didn't change any settings in my Helix. Just changed where the distortion pedals were in the signal chain. I hope this helps those of you that are still having problems.

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Despite in the virtual world of the Helix god, you can do things verboten in the real world like dist pedal after an amp, but even in the Helix I just would never try to run an amp model or even a preamp into a pedal just seems like a clipping nightmare and not in a good way. I work all my presets for hours making sure I have no unwanted digital clipping on levels and make sure everything is good musical sounding gain structure. 

 

I get really good results on many cabs getting more good low end and less brittle high end by using one of my fav mics the 4038 Coles Ribbon, marvelous thing really, Varying the spacing and early reflections and it really add a more fuller sound to many amps especially cleaner ones. Since I do not use a lot of hi cuts this gives me a warmer low end focused tone you can really feel those low notes without mud. I cut ultra lows below what I produce about 50hz but hardly anything on hi cuts. Depends on every preset construction of course. But a real amp does not hard lo or hi cut, guitar speakers do not cut but slopes roll off. this is something that bugs me about the whole IR thing. You go to great lengths to model a cab and speakers but then lo and hi cut when speakers do not do that. I do not know much about the mystical magical world of creating IRs but ti seems creating some sort of slopping curve would be more realistic than hard cuts. 

 

Also the use of the Mic preamp model Studio Tube Preamp with the impedance on line 10.0 and gain at 4.0 which is clean but imparts a subtle "tubeishness" to the sound in front of about any amp. 

Overdrive is a tricky beast I try not to get too much gain from a pedal and more interaction to the amp model gain. As far as the full on distortions on the Helix I do not really use them. I loop out to my fav drives and a high gain (Mesa Tone Burst, Mesa Flux Drive and Palladium Gainstage for cleaner amps). I find the on board fuzz and what not pretty brutal, got some good tones out of the Rat model but have not spent the time to really EQ and work on them. Probably need something after them to harsh it down a little. 

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Skip the Carvin mixer for now, try Helix XLR outputs to the L3t back panel XLR input in each speaker. Just to further simplify, use 1/4" from JTV to Helix. Turn on global EQ, try these (Glenn DeLaune) settings as a starting point:

 

Low Gain, Mid Gain and High Gain are ALL set to Zero.

-the Low Cut set at 90Hz

-the High Cut set at 6.0 Hz

 

You could also try changing the Helix XLR output to mic level, it defaults to line level.

This info is great, Thanks a lot, now the Helix sound just right, It was sounding aweful I was about to sell it! 

Thanks!

 

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Anyone just forget the Helix distortion pedals and use amp gain only? I think you can map a foot switch to raise the gain but then the volume will also go up.

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Anyone just forget the Helix distortion pedals and use amp gain only? I think you can map a foot switch to raise the gain but then the volume will also go up.

I do all of the above -- overdrives, gain before the amp from an eq and/or compressor, amp gain, mixtures, all worth checking out, with different amps and other blocks.

 

Yu can turn down the output at the same you add gain elsewhere, in the amp or any post-amp block, with a level control including the final output block.

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I do all of the above -- overdrives, gain before the amp from an eq and/or compressor, amp gain, mixtures, all worth checking out, with different amps and other blocks.

 

Yu can turn down the output at the same you add gain elsewhere, in the amp or any post-amp block, with a level control including the final output block.

 

Me too. I have EXP 1 assigned to turn up amp gain and turn down volume at the same time. Also two ODs in front of amp model. 

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Despite in the virtual world of the Helix god, you can do things verboten in the real world like dist pedal after an amp, but even in the Helix I just would never try to run an amp model or even a preamp into a pedal just seems like a clipping nightmare and not in a good way.

I have to respectfully refute this as I've actually had really good success putting an OD after the amp and before the Cab. No problems with digital clipping at all, in fact, I saw a big drop in output but nothing that a gain block couldn't fix. The preset with this configuration is my favorite "clean" patch - not pristine clean obviously as lately, I've decided that I just don't like things too clean. One of the snapshots in this preset is also as close as I've been able to get to the solo tone on Steely Dan's "Josie". My take on it is a tad bit grittier though.

Anyway, when it comes to developing sounds on the Helix, I think one of its greatest strengths is that it encourages me to ask, "What if I tried...?"

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I can't get a good overdrive out of my Helix. Harsh and brittle, frustrating!

I've just bought one and man does it sound bad, harsh, tinny, brittle, all those sort of words. Every single patch has that sort of nasty, scratchy, modeled, digital sound to it, everything is just harsh variations on that one single theme. I'm plugging it into a MOTU 828 mk3 and then through some monitor speakers. I have an ancient digitech gsp2101 which sounds lovely on high gain sounds so I took the line outs of the Helix and put it though the cab emulations on the 2101 and what a difference! I'm going to make some impulse responses from the 2101 and I will post the fruits of my labours as soon as I get it done.

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I've just bought one and man does it sound bad, harsh, tinny, brittle, all those sort of words. Every single patch has that sort of nasty, scratchy, modeled, digital sound to it, everything is just harsh variations on that one single theme. I'm plugging it into a MOTU 828 mk3 and then through some monitor speakers. I have an ancient digitech gsp2101 which sounds lovely on high gain sounds so I took the line outs of the Helix and put it though the cab emulations on the 2101 and what a difference! I'm going to make some impulse responses from the 2101 and I will post the fruits of my labours as soon as I get it done.

It's all about the combination of amp model, mic model (and the distance thereof), cab model, and EQ, specifically high cuts if brittleness is the problem. If you have the know-how to make your own IR's and that turns out to work, great... but the brittleness can be dialed out, you just have to spend some time finding what combinations work for you.

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It's all about the combination of amp model, mic model (and the distance thereof), cab model, and EQ, specifically high cuts if brittleness is the problem. If you have the know-how to make your own IR's and that turns out to work, great... but the brittleness can be dialed out, you just have to spend some time finding what combinations work for you.

You would think that those sounds would already be in the presets but the distortions all just sound like nasty variations of the one sound, it's not like we all have vastly different ideas of what makes a decent guitar tone. If you were to make a chart of all the permutations of amps, cabs, mikes, distances only and flick through them at a rate of one a second, it would take over 9 days to find the 'magic sauce'.

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You would think that those sounds would already be in the presets

.

 

No, I wouldn't...I've been issuing one modeler or another for years on end, and if there is one thing that they ALL have in common, it's that the presets suck. Everybody's rig differs. Everybody plays a bit differently. Continuity is a fantasy. Modelers ate not amps, and requires some getting used to.

 

 

 

it's not like we all have vastly different ideas of what makes a decent guitar tone.

Are you serious? This is EXACTLY how it is out there in the world. Otherwise, there'd be one global tone that everybody had, and no way to distinguish Slash from Eric Johnson, or EVH. Nor would there ever be a discussion about how to create whatever elusive tone one seeks...for $%$#! sake, that's half of this forum's content, lol.

 

If you were to make a chart of all the permutations of amps, cabs, mikes, distances only and flick through them at a rate of one a second, it would take over 9 days to find the 'magic sauce'.

I didn't day it would be quick and easy... and for most it initially isn't. Definitely not as simple as plugging into and amp and setting all your tone controls at noon.

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...

the Mic preamp model Studio Tube Preamp with the impedance on line 10.0 and gain at 4.0 which is clean but imparts a subtle "tubeishness" to the sound in front of about any amp

...I loop out to my fav drives and a high gain (Mesa Tone Burst, Mesa Flux Drive and Palladium Gainstage for cleaner amps). 

 

WickedFinger,

 

Nice ... I use the Flux Drive as well and find it very organic and musical while being more pronounced in the mix of things.  I was having my Heartbreaker repaired when these pedals first came out and Rich sold me on it.  He, oh so subtly, said ... "While your waiting for the paper work why not see what you think of our brand new pedals.  Try them all with this old LoneStar."   Hahahaha

 

Dennis

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you serious? This is EXACTLY how it is out there in the world. Otherwise, there'd be one global tone that everybody had, and no way to distinguish Slash from Eric Johnson, or EVH. Nor would there ever be a discussion about how to create whatever elusive tone one seeks...for $%$#! sake, that's half of this forum's content, lol.

 

 

I wouldn't say that the only way to distinguish guitarists is their gear. Tone is mostly in the player, if you were to play through any 'famous rig' I suspect you would sound distinctly like you (as I would sound like me). I have heard some sad case make the argument that the point of music is so that you can hear good guitar tone!

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.

 

 

 

 

Are you serious? This is EXACTLY how it is out there in the world. Otherwise, there'd be one global tone that everybody had, and no way to distinguish Slash from Eric Johnson, or EVH. Nor would there ever be a discussion about how to create whatever elusive tone one seeks...for $%$#! sake, that's half of this forum's content, lol.

 

 

I am serious! Guitarists have pretty much agreed that the way to get a good tone is to put mics in front of valve amps and use subtle variations on the Strat/Les Paul guitar. We are a very orthodox and conformist group of musicians, there will obviously be a few statistical blips but on the whole we do not like variation beyond mike distances and speaker types. You only have to look at the outcry when Steinberger introduced the 'cricket bat' to see it in action.

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.

 

No, I wouldn't...I've been issuing one modeler or another for years on end, and if there is one thing that they ALL have in common, it's that the presets suck.

 

 

 

 

You have to wonder what then is the point of the presets if they all suck. Surely their only function would be to put people off buying the unit? Would it not be better to just sell it as a blank canvas?

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You have to wonder what then is the point of the presets if they all suck. Surely their only function would be to put people off buying the unit? Would it not be better to just sell it as a blank canvas?

I believe they’ve seriously considered that at some point... But people do expect them, still. They are helpful in the sense that people can get some ideas in regard to preset construction at least.

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As has been mentioned may times, there are so many variables ...

 

Firstly no two people actually physically hear in exactly the same way.. if you have ever looked at graphs depicting the variation in frequency sensitivity we all have, you can easily understand why to some a shrill gritty buzz is the perfect distortion sound.

 

Variables...

 

Every individual electrical component can vary slightly from another 'specification wise' identical component.. so in the real world two identical amps never sound exactly the same.. Then there are the myriad of other considerations that effect the sound we end up with.... everything from speaker cabs/pickups/pick attack/boost or cut from pedals in front of the tone stack the.. etc etc etc .. the list of variables is utterly endless.

 

I recently returned a 'new'  Helix floor as the box had been opened.. There was evidence that the item had been used.

 

It sounded absolutely great, I had used it into a P.A. & at home into the return of a Line 6 Flextone modelling amp. similar principle to the new Powercab I guess as the Flextone also has an Eminence speaker specifically designed not to colour the sound too much. Some presets needed the cabs off, but others really nailed the tones in my head... I'm sixty this year, so I have owned a few of the classic amps of the late sixties & seventies.

 

Unfortunately though this Helix Floor  had issues with software updating. it froze up during the update process.. although it would update from file.. so bearing in mind I bought it new, and I knew the box had been opened, I returned it.

 

The replacement sounded slightly different... no.. not my imagination. :) 

 

There was a slight but noticeable shift in the overall sound of the output...   out of the box, all of the Factory presets  ( which I feel should be looked upon more as templates or guides to tone shaping, due to the variances of real users amplification solutions)  sounded more samey.. less of a difference between them and overall a slightly boxed in tone that coloured everything very slightly... I checked everything.. Global EQ - output settings - guitar pad - individual patch settings - cab & Mic settings etc etc.. .. I couldn't find any reason for it anywhere.

 

I was convinced the second unit must just produce a slightly differently sound to the original unit.

 

Now... either my hearing had changed over a four day period, ...

my memory of the sound I 'had' heard had deviated form the reality of the sound I 'had' heard..

or it sounded different.. 

 

So having made a complete back-up of the first Helix.. I loaded that into the replacement... there it was. The slightly boxy overtones had gone and the unit sounded the same as the first one. So it must have been a setting somewhere.

 

I can not find anything in the setting parameters either globally or on individual patches (or IR's) that is different.

 

I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience ??

 

I will wait to see if when the next firmware update comes out, this unit still updates correctly.

 

My point was going to be... Oh yeah.. variables.. so many of them, but it just when I thought there may be good sounding Helix devices and not so good sounding Helix devices, it looks like it was probably a software or setting issue (that I still can't identify).

 

So what sound are we all trying to get ? .. ultimately the only realistic answer to that is the sound you hear in your head. 

 

On a good day with a following wind we may get pretty close :)

 

Enjoy your music

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I posted above just after I bought the Helix mentioning how harsh and brittle the distortions are. I didn't use it for months after I bought it. For anyone who thinks the same, try using the hi cut on the Cabinet emulators, just roll it off and the harshness will go, I'm really starting to like the unit now.

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