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roscoe5

Helix and Amplitube

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Kudos to Line 6 for taking the guitar rig "nerve center" approach with Helix.  I'd be curious about other people's experience with the Helix and Amplitube, or other computer-based modeling software.

 

I am finding that Helix and Amplitube work VERY well together, almost made for each other.  Even using Helix as an Amplitube live interface and controller seems to work well (I haven't tested in a true live situation yet though).  I bet this is what IK Multimedia envisioned with the Stomp I/O, but they discontinued that and do not support it in Amplitube 4.  Helix is a heck of a backup too if you have a computer crash live...just tap to a pure Helix preset ;)  I'm still exploring Amplitube's MIDI learn with Helix MIDI sends and assignments for Amplitube amp knobs and effects control, but Amplitube presets are easy.

 

It's great being able to pass audio IO and MIDI control over a single USB cable.  I even have it up and running on a Dell Venue 11 Pro Windows 10 tablet (i5 & 8GB RAM) on a mic stand clip.  You can also switch between Helix sounds and Amplitube sounds using presets and the Helix USB IO configurations.  It's even pretty easy to set up Helix preamps/amps with no cabs routed to the Amplitube cab room and mics, which I am still experimenting with.

 

Helix has it's own custom ASIO drivers, which IMO contributes to its Windows stability and very low latency, allowing me to set the Amplitube buffer down to 64 samples (lowest  latency), and really simplifies the setup with a single USB cable.  Add the super-customizable and accessible MIDI implementation over USB (and DIN), and you have an ideal audio software interface and controller.

 

I was actually on the fence about getting the Helix since I was very happy with Amplitube 4 and the manufacturer-certified models (Mesa, Engl, Soldano, Fender, Marshall, Orange, etc.) and the new Amplitube cab room.  The Amplitube 4 Mesa models are awesome.  The online clips I was hearing of the Helix weren't really sounding better to me than Amplitube, albeit internet clips are compressed audio, etc.  

 

Now that I have Helix in hand, I do still prefer most of the manufacturer-certified Amplitube models over headphones.  Through a pair of JBL EON 515XT's, the difference is less noticeable, and I do quite like some of the Helix models.  I can also see the Helix sounds possibly being able to cut through a live band mix better, but again haven't tested it live yet.  It may just be a matter of spending more time with the Helix settings to tune it to my tastes.  I haven't tried custom IR's either, only routing Helix amps through the Amplitube cab room.  Too bad I haven't found a way to create an IR out of Amplitube 4 and its cab room yet.  Maybe I'll request this feature on the IKM site ;)

 

Previously, I had a vision of using Amplitube live with the IKM iRig Pro and a midi controller, but I couldn't seem to set the iRig below 512 samples without stability issues, clicking/popping, etc. with my Windows tablet.  The iRig uses generic ASIO drivers, so maybe that was part of the problem.  My Avid Eleven rack had it's own custom ASIO drivers and didn't have those latency and stability issues, but man I did not want to mess with setting up the Eleven Rack with a MIDI controller to operate Amplitube.  I REALLY wasn't about to purchase an iPad and re-purchase all of my Amplitube software and models and use an IKM Blue Board either.

 

Amplitube 4 also has a 4 track looper and 8 track recorder, but I haven't tried mapping Helix switches to the controls yet.  I can see Helix being able to run pre-recorded backing tracks and loops in various software applications.

 

So I would say even if the Helix models aren't your holy grail, the capability and flexibility to integrate Helix into your software and/or hardware rig really make Helix worth it.

 

Anyway, I thought I would share some experience with Helix and computer-based modelers and software since I hadn't seen very many posts on the subject. Any suggestions are welcome too.

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Ive yet to find amp software to equal Fractal or Kemper (I don't have the Helix yet) hardware tone wise, but your workflow is interesting. Nice to read the Helix and some software amps can work together!

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Very interesting workflow and interesting comments. I have Amplitube and used its plug in as a re-amp but haven't tried it in the way you describe above. Your comment on being able to make an IR from Amplitubes cab room  is intriguing...

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I've never tried Fractal or Kemper, but the online clips and videos do sound good. I really did consider them as well, especially the Fractal AX8. But the flexibility of Helix to integrate and control all of my computer based and physical gear with the ability to make presets for all scenarios was a big selling point for me.

 

I think feel and almost zero latency of hardware modelers is something that software has a hard time competing with. But I think software and computer/mobile hardware will continue to improve and i like that Helix gives us the option of using either or both.

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I've never tried Fractal or Kemper, but the online clips and videos do sound good. I really did consider them as well, especially the Fractal AX8. But the flexibility of Helix to integrate and control all of my computer based and physical gear with the ability to make presets for all scenarios was a big selling point for me.

 

I think feel and almost zero latency of hardware modelers is something that software has a hard time competing with. But I think software and computer/mobile hardware will continue to improve and i like that Helix gives us the option of using either or both.

 

+1 Now if we can only get scenes implemented the Helix will be unstoppable.

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Hey Roscoe5 (or anyone), could you share a Helix patch for working with computer software like Amplitube? Want to plug my guitar into Helix, route the signal through Amplitube and back to Helix, the listen to the final output through Helix headphone, XLR, and 1/4" outs. Might want some Helix processing before and/or after the round trip to AT. Very new to Helix routing, apparently I don't have my head around how to set that up.

 

This seemed right me with my Helix-newb understanding:

 

Helix upper path:

guitar > Helix multi input > Helix USB 5/6 output

 

Amplitube

USB 5/6 input > Amplitube patch > USB 7/8 output

 

Helix lower path

Helix USB 7/8 input > Helix multi output

 

Doesn't work. Listening through phones in Helix...

- I get sound choosing either USB 5 or 6 input in AT

- If I choose USB 8 for both left and right outputs in AT, I get sound on the right only in Helix, any other combination of USB 7 and 8 out in AT gets sound only on the left

- Sound isn't processed by Amplitube at all, sounds like direct guitar, AT path settings have no effect

 

I'm clearly missing some major concept here.

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That Helix/amplitube routing should work. Personally I use 5/6 Helix-AT and 3/4 AT-Helix, but it shouldn't matter.

 

I'm assuming you setup the AT settings to use the Helix ASIO driver with the IO configuration you listed?

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On 3/1/2016 at 2:47 PM, roscoe5 said:

 

I am finding that Helix and Amplitube work VERY well together, almost made for each other.

Computer audio is such a funny thing. If helix fights one program for me its amplitube. Both 3 AND 4. Only running the free version of amplitube, but i cant think thats going to make too much difference.  TH3 on the other hand works great.

 

On 3/1/2016 at 2:47 PM, roscoe5 said:

The iRig uses generic ASIO drivers, so maybe that was part of the problem.

If youre talking about asio4all when you say "generic" that would surprise me because thats a great driver. again, all i can think is computer audio is such a funny thing.

 

On 3/1/2016 at 2:47 PM, roscoe5 said:

So I would say even if the Helix models aren't your holy grail, the capability and flexibility to integrate Helix into your software and/or hardware rig really make Helix worth it.

i agree, however i dont think Helix's driver is the most stable thing. I also have issues with Studio One that i only have when im running helix as an interface, (which ive been doing quite a lot lately for a whole host of reasons- simplicity is one that comes to mind) so i cant be toooo quick to point fingers at amplitube as being the issue in my set-up. 

 

On 3/2/2016 at 1:57 PM, HonestOpinion said:

 

+1 Now if we can only get scenes implemented the Helix will be unstoppable.

Arent scenes and snapshots the same thing?

 

On 4/16/2016 at 8:01 AM, zooey said:

Doesn't work. Listening through phones in Helix...

Yeah you have it running correctly but are having the same fight i have often with A3 and 4 both. Sometimes it just doesnt work. Try a different program to test.

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On 4/16/2016 at 8:01 AM, zooey said:

If I choose USB 8 for both left and right outputs in AT, I get sound on the right only in Helix, any other combination of USB 7 and 8 out in AT gets sound only on the left...- Sound isn't processed by Amplitube at all, sounds like direct guitar, AT path settings have no effect

This makes perfect sense because this is helix's DI channel. You'll never hear anything from 7 and 8 other than clean DI guitar.  Helix wont put processing on these channels.

 

Go into your DAW and set channel 7 to be an active recording buss. As long as you have helix selected as your asio driver, anytime you arm a track to record from buss 7 you'll get DI guitar. Then you can throw your fav software on as an effect.

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What I am experimenting with right now is using USB 3/4 out as output for Path 1A, insert whatever plugins on DAW/Host Stripe having USB 3/4 as input and USB 3/4 as output. Then I use USB 3/4 in as Path 2A input. This is workaround for lack of adressing USB busses to FX Loop DSP blocks in current (2.7) firmware.
Second "FX Loop"  I do just using of built in summing USB 1/2 input on Multi Output. Making a Y split at the end of Path 2 and setting 2B out to USB5/6 and setting DAW channel stripe with USB 5/6 in and USB 1/2 out enables me to use reverbs and delays set to 100% wet.
I can not imagine any use of USB 5/6 and 7/8 inputs in current firmware for what I try to do and when 1B is used for internal routing. There is simply no path left to assign it to. Please correct me if I am wrong.
The drawback is latency. While Helix is great interface concerning AD/DA quality, it is not very fast.
Round Trip Latencies are:
21ms on "Small" 128 samples buffer@48kHz
17ms on "Extra Small" 64 samples buffer@48kHz
15ms on "Small" 128 samples buffer@96kHz
10ms on "Extra Small" 64 samples buffer@96kHz - but this setting is unusable because of artifacts

 

I always think of latency as a distance from cab/monitor. 15ms is 4,5m - not very far but in case of delay/reverbs on "FX Loop 2" their predelay is doubled to 30ms.


Speaking of Amplitube: Some of its amps, cabs and stomps are really good. Their emulation od EHX Electric Mistress is so much better then that in Helix. Small Stone is even better than my EHX nano version. That is what I would use Amplitube for, but there are tons of great plugins to widen Hx plugins/blocks offer and add DSP power to your rig.

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On 11/21/2018 at 6:39 PM, willjrock said:

Arent scenes and snapshots the same thing?

 

 

 

Yep agreed, snapshots/scenes, pretty much the same thing, but that comment is only of historical interest now. I wrote the comment you referred to in March of 2016 asking for scenes before Line6 had released its first firmware with snapshots. Snapshots and with them the addition of spillover were significant improvements to the Helix. Ha, we've had 'em so long now I almost take 'em for granted. Had forgotten how much I wanted to see those features added "back when" until you brought up that old post.

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3 hours ago, HonestOpinion said:

 

Yep agreed, snapshots/scenes, pretty much the same thing, but that comment is only of historical interest now. I wrote the comment you referred to in March of 2016 asking for scenes before Line6 had released its first firmware with snapshots. Snapshots and with them the addition of spillover were significant improvements to the Helix. Ha, we've had 'em so long now I almost take 'em for granted. Had forgotten how much I wanted to see those features added "back when" until you brought up that old post.

LOL, i dont think thats the first time thats happened. I wish they'd make that font a little darker there. Easy enough to find if youre looking for it i guess.  

 

Yeah, helix without snapshots would be unimaginable. I have VERY few presets that do not utilize at least one snapshaot.  

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This looks like the right place to ask if the Stomp HX would work on the iPad also?  I would like to use mine and pipe the wet signal to Cubasis on the iPad.

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Can someone talk me through using Helix LT to send midi commands to Amplitube 5 or 4?  I want to start/stop the looper with a foot press on the Helix.

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