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Helix S/PDIF Out Loses Sync Too Often

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In response to a Helix hardware warranty claim I heard back from Will in Line 6 support... 
 
On 02/06/2017, Will states, "We have located this bug and will have a fix for this as soon as we can. It probably won't be on the recently announced 2.20 firmware update, but likely the next one." Line 6 denied the warranty claim based on this. The reply seemed suspect given if it were a firmware bug all Helix users would be experiencing S/PDIF dropouts...
 
To clarify, I followed up asking, "So to repeat back — this is a known firmware issue that affects all Line 6 Helix units?" Today, Will replied, "Yes, it is not hardware related, but a bug in the firmware that we will have a fix for soon."

 

 

Glad it seems to have gotten sorted. I imagine that the number of users actually using the S/PDIF connection is relatively low. I've never used it on mine. So even though it's a bug that affects all units, the vast majority of users probably would never notice it because they haven't used the connection.

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Update: Confirming this is a hardware related issue.

 

While Line 6 Support denied a warranty claim stating it was a "firmware bug affecting all Helix owners," this seemed suspicious as it seems there would be far more user reports here. Given Sweetwater sells a lot of Line 6 gear and this hasn't come up, Sweetwater found the answer suspect also, enough so that they agreed to send a replacement to try. Reporting after a week of use, all cables and connections being the same, there have been no S/PDIF dropouts with a replacement Helix. Seems there are one of three possibilities...

 

  1. Line 6 Support didn't understand the issue described, despite linking to this thread
  2. There is an undisclosed hardware issue affecting only some Helix units AND Line 6 believes they have a way to address it via firmware -- but this is not what they said, or
  3. Line 6 Support simply tried to get out of a valid Helix warranty claim, leaving me and others with a defective Helix (let's hope not!)

It's hard to know which is true but leaves me disappointed with Line 6 warranty support just the same -- in my case providing incorrect or incomplete information, and turning the issue into Sweetwater Support's issue, costing them support time and 2x shipping costs to provide a properly working replacement Helix.

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I have just tried using Helix floor with it's AES OUT and SPDIF IN. I get the dropout/loss of clock. I've tried connecting it 3 different ways:

 

1) HELIX as the master digital device into a word clock generator, then word clock from the WC generator to all other gear (except HELIX).

2) Word clock generator as the master digital device, word clock or SPDIF to the Helix

3) HELIX AES into MOTU 112D (audio interface), wordclock from WC generator to all devices, including Helix SPDIF IN using a BNC to phono adapter.

 

The result is always the same, and I am running v2.12 on Helix. I have already suggested this problem be fixed, and include the ability to switch the HELIX SPDIF IN to act as a wordclock in.

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UPDATE:

 

I just returned my Helix floor to the shop where I bought it. I strongly suspect they won't give me a replacement, though I will speak to the store manager on Wednesday. If they give me the rack version, I will try the AES and SPDIF OUT on that and see what happens. Of course, if someone here can try their rack in a digital loop to see if they too suffer the same problem as the floor version, I would be very grateful. Thanks.

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Nope. The rack has the same problem. FS9 is not working properly either.

 

UPDATE: I got my HELIX back, updated to 2.20, didn't make any difference. Store has now offered me a replacement. I sincerely hope this fiasco is over after this.

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I'm having this issue as well.  I'm running my helix top signal path via spdif out into a two notes torpedo vb101 and then returning via spdif to the lower signal path then out to XLR.  It's a new unit I just purchased from Sweetwater about a week ago.  Additionally when I first power up my studio (everything runs off the same power conditioner to eliminate ground loops) the level meters start pegging on the torpedo.  It doesn't stop until I switch patches a few times on the Helix.  Clock Sync issues?  I have both units set at 96k. 

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I have this issue as well. I've connected my Helix to loop my Axe FX II (I know, heresy) as a way to get the max out of both units. So I use the AES digital ports to connect to the AXE FX.

 

But about every 15 mins or so (this is approximate, I'm not entirely sure how frequently, might be more like 20 to 25) there is a loss of clock - and the audio drops out for about 2-3 seconds. Which, folks, just plain SUCKS.

 

I really want the clarity and fidelity of the digital ports to get the most out of it. Connecting it via patch and analog loses the strength of the signal, introduces noise... Gah! I don't want to go there.

 

I've tried via SPDIF and it's the same - loss of clock.

 

I've connected my Kemper via SPDIF and there's no drop out there - from the AXE FX that is!

 

I haven't looped the Kemper in via SPDIF yet.

 

I see the February post re: this - but no follow ups.

 

Anyone heard anything on when this will be handled?

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I only have MOTU Audio Desk as my DAW, which won't take audio from non-MOTU interfaces via USB. Does anyone get this dropout issue when using USB? I'm thinking of getting a different DAW like Logic Pro X. Didn't want to burn funds without a good reason.

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I've never had a single dropout over USB in about a year and a half.

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USB should have no issues.

 

This is the real-time use of the AES I/O to channel the audio signal digitally to another unit.

UPDATE: I sent my patch to Line 6 - got confirmation from Will in support that this is now supposed to be addressed in the next update. 

It's a "known bug." I'm assuming because I'm using the AES as a "loop" between 1A/B and 2A/B on the Helix.

Crossing my fingers we get a point-1 update soon because this is starting to get a bit old after 18 months.

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I just got an an alert to this thread with "good news". jumped straight into the L6 Updater..... Hurry up L6. I'm out of medication until Monday.

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L6 say this will be fixed in v2.30, but no ETA. I can't wait, so I've bought Native. I would still like to see this fixed very soon. And I mean VERY!

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Egads, this is something I may well use in the future, but don't presently, so I have no idea if it's a problem with my HxRack or not. I suppose it would be prudent to set up something to run audio through the aes and s/p dif interfaces for a while and monitor it, just to be sure... 

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In response to a Helix hardware warranty claim I heard back from Will in Line 6 support... 
 
On 02/06/2017, Will states, "We have located this bug and will have a fix for this as soon as we can. It probably won't be on the recently announced 2.20 firmware update, but likely the next one." Line 6 denied the warranty claim based on this. The reply seemed suspect given if it were a firmware bug all Helix users would be experiencing S/PDIF dropouts...
 
To clarify, I followed up asking, "So to repeat back — this is a known firmware issue that affects all Line 6 Helix units?" Today, Will replied, "Yes, it is not hardware related, but a bug in the firmware that we will have a fix for soon."

 

Quoting this is a blast from your past!  I changed from 1/4 cables between my Helix rack and Presonus Studio 192 to SPDIF a few weeks back and my problem is the 2-3 second sound dropout during a two hour period, consistently.  The Rack's firmware is 2.21 and the Presonus is the most recent too.  Before I take up time writing down all the details, I thought I'd see if any updates solved your problem like L6 suggested it would.  Thanks!

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As stated earlier, Line 6 won't have a fix for this until v2.3.0. Until that is released, all Helix/Helix Rack users will continue to have this issue.

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As stated earlier, Line 6 won't have a fix for this until v2.3.0. Until that is released, all Helix/Helix Rack users will continue to have this issue.

I must have missed that in the thread.  Thanks for letting me know.

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I received my brand new Helix floor unit on Tuesday, disconnected the SPDIF coaxial cable from my HD500X and connected it to the Helix. This is how I have always connected to my RME AIO for recording in my DAW PC.

 

I started off by going through some factory presets and everything seemed fine until I was jarred by the dropout. Listening on closed back headphones certainly makes it stick out. I carried on playing through the presets and after a while, it happened again. At this point, I decide to go through the settings to see if I had missed something. RME settings confirmed I was synced at 48kHz and the clock source was SPDIF In, Helix confirmed Digital Out was SPDIF and Sample Rate was 48kHz. I played my guitar for a little longer and yep, there it was again.

 

I looked in the forum to see if this was a common fault but all I could find was dropouts to do with EXP1 so I decided to enquire in the Helix group on Facebook, to see if anyone else was experiencing this problem. I was directed to this thread.

 

I am confused by the fact that Line 6 have issued a statement to the effect that this is a firmware issue, yet there are people stating they have no problems with their SPDIF conection and some who have experienced the problem stating a replacement unit does not drop out. The only way I can see that it can be addressed by a firmware update is if some units are fitted with hardware that are slightly outside the parameters and an adjustment to firmware to include that discrepancy, or even to ignore it, will bring these rogue units inline.

 

The question I ask myself is, do I ring up the store and ask them to replace the unit in the hope that it solves the problem or do I sit back and wait for the firmware update? My dilemna is exacerbated by the fact that after being disappointed with my HD500X tones, the Helix has fired me up once again and apart from sleep, I haven't put my guitar down. I feel I don't want to be without it, I am that inspired. I am already searching for the right FRFR unit that I can use as a monitor and who knows, maybe I'll join a band again too.

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I received my brand new Helix floor unit on Tuesday, disconnected the SPDIF coaxial cable from my HD500X and connected it to the Helix. This is how I have always connected to my RME AIO for recording in my DAW PC.

 

I started off by going through some factory presets and everything seemed fine until I was jarred by the dropout. Listening on closed back headphones certainly makes it stick out. I carried on playing through the presets and after a while, it happened again. At this point, I decide to go through the settings to see if I had missed something. RME settings confirmed I was synced at 48kHz and the clock source was SPDIF In, Helix confirmed Digital Out was SPDIF and Sample Rate was 48kHz. I played my guitar for a little longer and yep, there it was again.

 

I looked in the forum to see if this was a common fault but all I could find was dropouts to do with EXP1 so I decided to enquire in the Helix group on Facebook, to see if anyone else was experiencing this problem. I was directed to this thread.

 

I am confused by the fact that Line 6 have issued a statement to the effect that this is a firmware issue, yet there are people stating they have no problems with their SPDIF conection and some who have experienced the problem stating a replacement unit does not drop out. The only way I can see that it can be addressed by a firmware update is if some units are fitted with hardware that are slightly outside the parameters and an adjustment to firmware to include that discrepancy, or even to ignore it, will bring these rogue units inline.

 

The question I ask myself is, do I ring up the store and ask them to replace the unit in the hope that it solves the problem or do I sit back and wait for the firmware update? My dilemna is exacerbated by the fact that after being disappointed with my HD500X tones, the Helix has fired me up once again and apart from sleep, I haven't put my guitar down. I feel I don't want to be without it, I am that inspired. I am already searching for the right FRFR unit that I can use as a monitor and who knows, maybe I'll join a band again too.

 

I think this is a known bug on all units!! I have the same dropouts on my spdf output and it seems to occur every 20-30 minutes or so (at least it's very regular and repetitive ;-)) It's a real P.I.T.A. but to my knowledge Line 6 is aware of this problem and will not deal with it before firmware version 3.0, but please correct me if I'm mistaken! 

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I think this is a known bug on all units!! I have the same dropouts on my spdf output and it seems to occur every 20-30 minutes or so (at least it's very regular and repetitive ;-)) It's a real P.I.T.A. but to my knowledge Line 6 is aware of this problem and will not deal with it before firmware version 3.0, but please correct me if I'm mistaken! 

 

See post #41 and #57 above. Hopefully the dropouts will be gone in the next update, which should be very soon, or so I've read.

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I went back and tried the AES connection to see if there was any difference. There was a difference. Instead of a total dropout of audio, it crackled and popped. I raised a ticket with Line 6 and they again re-iterated that it was a problem they are aware of and as yet there is no timeframe for a fix, with no workaround. I was contacted shortly after, to be told to try firmware 2.30, which was released yesterday. Well, I've downloaded 2.30 and installed it. Unfortunately it made no difference.

 

I didn't buy the Helix specifically to use the SPDIF or AES connections, I bought it because I needed to get excited and inspired about playing guitar again and the HD500X wasn't doing that for me. I'm a composer more than a player so as long as I have a decent signal into my DAW for recording, I am happy. I don't really want to disconnect my audio interface and use the USB on the Helix so I guess my only alternative now is to use the line out connections. This is where I wish I had a patchbay but I can manage. This doesn't detract from the fact that my unit is faulty straight out of the box, firmware issue or not.

 

I'm upset and frustrated because from a non-professional standpoint (although I am trying to become professional), I have made a huge investment in Line 6 equipment (huge for someone who isn't making a living yet). First, I purchased a brand new JTV-89 that was virtually unplayable (suffered from fret buzz at various places on the board) until I paid extra to have it professionally setup and the model actuater switch still doesn't work because the shaft is too short (yes I saw the mod where you add a piece of folded paper into the know but come on, line 6 is a professional company); an HD500X, which to be fair spent more of it's time off than on only because it didn't inspire me tonally for recording; and now after taking a loan and spending more money than I ever have on a piece of equipment that everyone is raving about, to find that it doesn't work the way it was intended straight out of the box, well. My next purchase was to be an L2T or L2M, but how can I trust that this is the best option for me now? Getting inspired isn't just about the tone, it's about the after service too. The wasted hours when you first find there is a problem and search for a solution is kinda soul destroying. If you feel a company has let you down, does that not deflate you somewhat? Line 6 have been in the business for quite a few years now so you would think they would have a little more professionalism by now, especially as Yamaha are part of the picture.

 

Taking it back to previous comments where someone said they use the SPDIF and they don't have an issue with dropout; another said they got a replacement and haven't had an issue with the new unit, that suggests that not all the units are affected by this problem. So how then can it be a firmware issue? If there is no timeframe for a fix, that says to me that it isn't a priority. That could be because not enough people have raised it as an issue, maybe because they don't use it so don't really care or are unaware. It could also be that they are concentrating on getting things ready for another launch with shows coming up in the new year. Numbers would tell the real story but people only report what is broken and if they don't use that connection (or they do and it is fine), then we won't have a true indication as to how many units are affected by this issue. I'm still yet to be convinced that this is a firmware issue.

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Taking it back to previous comments where someone said they use the SPDIF and they don't have an issue with dropout; another said they got a replacement and haven't had an issue with the new unit, that suggests that not all the units are affected by this problem. 

 

Hi nigelhardwick,

 

I was the user that reported that a replacement unit resolved the issue. This was true for several days, then the issue presented itself on that unit as well.

 

This bug was first reported 1 year, 8 months, and 2 days ago on March 20, 2016. If you believe this issue will ever be fixed then you, my friend, are the eternal optimist.

 

As it is, our job is to compose and perform music TODAY, not when X manufacturer promises some product will work. You, the Line 6 Helix hardware, even Line 6 itself may not be around at that point. So what can you do? Get what works for you today and make that music before tomorrow comes.

 

nigelhardwick: If mostly working in a DAW, perhaps the Line 6 Helix Native software would be an option for today? As a registered Helix hardware user it seems you could get it for $99.99 and return or resell the Helix hardware? Then if/when this issue is ever fixed (man, don't count on it) get the hardware unit then, or whatever on the market inspires at that future date.

 

Wishing you inspiration and the best in your composing!

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Pah! I was told by L6 Support this would be fixed by 2.30 (I can post the response from that ticket for those who doubt me). This is extremely frustrating. I didn't expect everything to also sound quieter to my ears, but it does. I can see the difference on my audio interface too.

 

I do like the look of the 2.30 Helix Edit app though. This should suit my 27" monitor (not allowed to have it until Xmas :angry: ).

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Previously I didn't think my Helix Rack had the issue, but apparently I just hadn't noticed it yet, as I do not yet always use the spdif path, and previous tests may not have been long enough to hear the dropout.

 

I've been planning on implementing the spdif path for recording all along, so I decided I better try a longer test. I played about an hour while monitoring the spdif out feed via an M-Audio Profire 2626 using headphones, and sure enough, after about 50 minutes there was a about a 1 second silence.

 

All units are word clocked at 96K from a BLA Micro Clock MkII... Helix Rack is running fw v2.30. There aren't any noticeable ground loop or RFI noises on analog feeds. 

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Dropouts are still there with 2.50. :(

Well (insert extreme swearing here)!  I literally thought this problem might have been fixed and hooked up my spdif in the early hours of the am and this showed up right afterwards.  I am one of the Helix's biggest fans and think L6 does a fantastic job with updates, etc., but I'm disappointed they don't seem to take this issue seriously.  Unless I have missed it, I don't see anything on them addressing it, except a year or more ago when someone said it would be fixed in an upcoming update. 

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Yep, still happening in 2.50.

 

This might be a good time for DI or one of the other L6 gurus to look into this for us.....

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Yep, still happening in 2.50.

 

This might be a good time for DI or one of the other L6 gurus to look into this for us.....

Great idea, and I just did it.  I really hope we don't get posts saying "Just use the other connectors."  That's, obviously, not the right solution unless it is the only solution!

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If it is, then I want a rebate for the lack of reliable digital I/O and having been twice promised this would be fixed.

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Frankly, any dropouts at all in the digital audio outputs are unacceptable, and to have digital audio sold as a working feature, and then not have it work is probably quite an exposure to liability.  

 

How many of their customers actually use it is completely irrelevant. We all use different features of the equipment, nobody uses it exactly the same, and all the features need to function correctly. They sell the product and it needs to work. Waiting for years for a solution is totally unacceptable. 

 

I think they really need to address this, and sooner rather than later. 

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The same.

 

Ironic, the premier digital modeler only has functioning analog output.

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Frankly, any dropouts at all in the digital audio outputs are unacceptable, and to have digital audio sold as a working feature, and then not have it work is probably quite an exposure to liability.  

 

How many of their customers actually use it is completely irrelevant. We all use different features of the equipment, nobody uses it exactly the same, and all the features need to function correctly. They sell the product and it needs to work. Waiting for years for a solution is totally unacceptable. 

 

I think they really need to address this, and sooner rather than later. 

 

100+ :-) thanks! So much agree with this!

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This happens to me too. I also used to use an HD500 through the S/PDIF with no issues into my Focusrite Scarlett 2i4. But I get the same dropouts with my Helix. I even tried a new cable, but that was a waste of money.

 

Until or unless Line 6 fixes this I’ll work around it. It still sounds great with XLR cables. But I wish they’d fix it properly, because as it is S/PDIF is useless on this unit and that’s disappointing since I paid for that feature and want to use it.

 

Doug

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FYI, I created an Ideascale entry for this, feel free to vote for it.

 

https://line6.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Fix-S-PDIF-Dropouts/922486-23508?submitted=1#idea-tab-comments

 

Thanks,

 

Doug

 

Thanks Doug! I think this has been shuffled by L6 because so few people really use it. Maybe, if we keep up the pressure from all angles, they'll fix it. Think I'll head over to the Gear Page and post a link to this topic. I know that various L6 folks monitor the Helix thread there, maybe they'll have some info on the subject.

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