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datacommando

Bizarre audio MIDI fault - it's driving me nuts!

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I’m not sure if this is a software or hardware problem but now it’s really driving me crazy.

 

Since acquiring my Helix at the end of November 2015, I have been using it at the heart of of my studio set up, effectively replacing my old POD HD500 and Focusrite Saffire Firewire interface recording system.

 

Essentially the Helix is connected via USB to my 6 month old, 3.3GHz iMac Retina 5K (with 32GB of RAM installed). From new the Helix has had every update done, up to the latest firmware v1.06.5 on the release date16th Feb and the Mac is now OS X El Capitan 10.11.14 (installed 28th March, a while after problems started). My near field powered monitors are cabled to the Helix 1/4†out sockets with gold plated jack plugs and my Variax then hooks up on the dedicated input. In addition my, very old (if it’s good enough for Brian Eno then it’s good enough for me), RolandED PC-180 MIDI keyboard controller which uses the old school DIN plug to input MIDI data to the various software synths available in GarageBand or whatever, goes to “MIDI in†on the rear of the Helix. 

 

I have to say that the swap over was quick and painless (i.e. no drivers etc.). 

 

Everything simply worked perfectly normally, as it should, until about 2 weeks back (early March) when things started to get very weird. Any audio from iTunes or via the internet seems to function normally. It’s when I playback a GarageBand/Logic X track, it will start out O.K., and then after very short while (less than a couple of minutes) the audio degrades to the point where it sounds like it is running through a bit crusher effect, spluttering and popping until it ultimately fades into silence. This then becomes a system wide problem, screwing any and all up audio coming from any other source, iTunes, YouTube etc. The only way to clear the bug is by switching back and forth to the iMac onboard audio, except on returning to your favourite DAW it happens again, and again, and again. Apart from the audio output being screwed, the MIDI has also ceased to work properly. Any pre-recorded MIDI played back O.K. until the audio channels start to go flakey. Using the PC-180 keyboard I can get soft synths to trigger intermittently on single notes in GBand, but in Logic -  not a sound, nada, zip, zilch, zero. It’s totally bizarre, because nothing has really changed - once the recording system had been set up, it was, fire and forget, nothing else required. It just worked!

 

O.K. To try and figure this out I wanted to go through everything in the chain. First hurdle - cannot test the Retina iMac and FocusRite because the interface is FireWire400 into the module and the Mac is Thunderbolt to FW800 crossover. ARRGH! Right! I decided to connect everything up to the old iMac, how it had been pre Helix days. So I have the Focusrite patched to the MIDI keyboard on DIN, that sends/receives audio and MIDI via FireWire and outputs audio to the monitors. Yep - that works just fine, no stuttering, soft synths respond to slow swelling chords and fast single note sequences. So, now I use Helix as the hub, in the way listed above except this time it’s the old Mac running GarageBand. Well, I think you can guess what happens - correct we are back with the spluttering, stuttering, crackling popping and fading audio and flakey MIDI.

 

Now don’t get me wrong but, when it comes to this hi tech MIDI sort of stuff, friends and associates usually ask me to fix it for them (hence the handle “data commandoâ€). I’ve been using computers and MIDI for over 30 years, in 1984 I owned an early Roland JX3P - the first synth with MIDI - which was hooked up to a Yamaha CX5M II MSX Computer System, and later to an Atari 1040ST (1986) running Sternberg’s Pro24 Sequencer (early version of Cubase). I still have a collection of rack mounted vintage synth/sample,FX modules e.g., Roland U110 and D110, Yamaha TX81Z and SPX90, Kawai K3M and K1M plus an AKAI S950 and XE8. Oh yeah, there is a Roland GR33, BOSS GT6, PODXT Live and a HD500 along the back wall, and a Korg digital drum machine in a box somewhere in here.

 

Please note: on the iMac I have done all the usual “fix it†stuff - repair permissions, reset SMC and zapped the PRAM/NVRAM.

 

There must be someone out here in Helix land who can maybe give me a clue has to WTF is happening - please help!

 

And while I’m at it - why does Line 6 and the Helix state audio sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96KHz. On the Mac only 48 can be selected - surely some mistake? See attached png.

 

At the moment this whole shebang is totally FUBAR!

 

Edited by datacommando
Attachment removed to free up space!

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It certainly sounds like a sample rate/clock problem .... although I'm not sure why the MIDI would get hosed along with the audio unless your whole USB stream gets corrupted or out of sync. I won't have time to try to duplicate your setup until later, but a couple of things come to mind.

 

1) Take the Roland out of the equation and see if anything changes. Isolate Mac ---> Helix ---> monitors.

 

2) I too find it odd that Audio Midi Setup only shows 48 kHz as a sample rate selection, regardless of what the rate is set at on the Helix. Its the same on my MacBook system, no matter what I set the Helix clock rate to in Global Settings. Have you tried setting everything (eg the Helix) to 48 kHz to "go along with" the setting in Audio Midi? If not, try that and see if the stream stays in sync.

 

3) I thought perhaps a Audio Midi Setup plist or pref file may have been corrupt, so you could trash some files ... but that wouldn't make sense if the problem reoccurs on a separate (iMac) system. It's sounding like Helix is the common naughty element.

 

4) Could be a bad chip in your Helix (much less likely) but can't say unless you try another Helix or one of us tries to duplicate your problem. I'll try to find time to do that this week. I sympathize because these sorts of audio/midi problems drive me nuts too...

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At the risk of being completely unhelpfully obvious, maybe open a support ticket w Line 6? If your Helix is defective, that's where you'll end up anyway. If it's not, they may be able to help find some config issue, or help investigate some generic problem they should know about.

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Good call, zooey ... this one doesn't have a quick and easy answer without some deeper troubleshooting.

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It certainly sounds like a sample rate/clock problem .... although I'm not sure why the MIDI would get hosed along with the audio unless your whole USB stream gets corrupted or out of sync. I won't have time to try to duplicate your setup until later, but a couple of things come to mind.

 

1) Take the Roland out of the equation and see if anything changes. Isolate Mac ---> Helix ---> monitors.

 

2) I too find it odd that Audio Midi Setup only shows 48 kHz as a sample rate selection, regardless of what the rate is set at on the Helix. Its the same on my MacBook system, no matter what I set the Helix clock rate to in Global Settings. Have you tried setting everything (eg the Helix) to 48 kHz to "go along with" the setting in Audio Midi? If not, try that and see if the stream stays in sync.

 

3) I thought perhaps a Audio Midi Setup plist or pref file may have been corrupt, so you could trash some files ... but that wouldn't make sense if the problem reoccurs on a separate (iMac) system. It's sounding like Helix is the common naughty element.

 

4) Could be a bad chip in your Helix (much less likely) but can't say unless you try another Helix or one of us tries to duplicate your problem. I'll try to find time to do that this week. I sympathize because these sorts of audio/midi problems drive me nuts too...

Many thanks for the insight and response "soundog".

 

Yep - I'm thinking that it's some sort of issue with the clock/chopper, but for the life of me cannot figure out why that would create the MIDI failure. Although when you think about it, it is simply a bunch of ones and zeros shooting down the USB wire.

 

re: item 1) - I don't reckon it's an issue with the Roland or the DIN cables - noted above, everything works fine via FW interface to the old iMac, it's just a basic dumb controller squirting out a bunch of binary data.

 

2). The 48kHz sample rate issue on Mac OSX is noted on many other threads on this forum and, this far down the line, I thought should have been addressed and fixed by the tech crew! I'm wary of hooking the Helix to my wife's MacBook Pro to test it any further, cos if it screws the pooch - my life is over (I think you know what I mean).

 

3). Next on the list, I'm going to wade through and trash the whole OSX Audio MIDI setup plist, prefs etc. and clean the whole thing out, but I still suspect Helix as the culprit. Having said that, Apple will blame Line 6 and vice versa - we live in a blame culture.

 

4). I'm prone to suspect it's a software rather than hardware prob, but this sort of "voodoo" usually can't be replicated. You know what they say about any known computer problem - it will cease to exist in the presence of another technician.

 

UPDATE FYI: I downloaded and installed the latest Helix Editor and Firmware v 1.10.0. Rebooted Helix and reset the Globals. Testing thus far shows that the audio seems to be more stable, even though it is still locked at 48kHz, and the MIDI data is a total loss in LogicProX and really flaky in GarageBand. I also have a copy of ProTools First which I wanted to check out as a test bed and it doesn't want to play nice on the MIDI. Some where down the line, stuff from the MIDI DIN to USB is getting corrupted.

 

Thanks

 

Right now I need a beer!

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At the risk of being completely unhelpfully obvious, maybe open a support ticket w Line 6? If your Helix is defective, that's where you'll end up anyway. If it's not, they may be able to help find some config issue, or help investigate some generic problem they should know about.

@ zooey

That's actually very helpful. I guess I should get this back to base for a proper health check. I just don't like the idea of being with out the box of tricks if I can fix it another way. But hey!

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The USB audio (and I guess midi) on the helix has problems as far as I can see, I am guessing this is some form of timing issue.

 

Line 6 have been blaming Apple for this but I am not too sure myself.

 

The USB on mine with two macs causes the same sort of issues you have been seeing with audio.

 

I did test the 1.10.0 yesterday for a bit and the USB audio seems much more stable but I haven't had the chance to check it properly as I have done my back in :(

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Just had a play with 1.10.0, same as before. After couple of minutes turns into noise :(

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Is this a Mac only issue, far as people know? Seems like the people talking here are all on Macs, but from what you've seen (I'm new here), does this happen on Windows too?

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Partial answer for you... Helix uses the inherent USB class compliant driver on Mac, which apparently results in only native support for 48kHz. Most DAW apps will be fine with that and just resample the audio to still allow you to run your projects at other sample rates though, so this is not necessarily a problem.

 

I have seen some folks here say they have problems like you describe with Helix on Mac where they get clicks in audio, and/or audio turns into static after a while. Some have said the latest El Capitan 10.11.4 update helped this. Again, I suspect this has to do with limitations of the Apple USB driver, and I've seen other audio interfaces report problems with this driver too, but not all, so it seems to affect some devices (seems hard to say whose "fault" this is, but seems fair to say maybe both Line 6 and Apple to some degree). For me, my MacBook Pro doesn't seem to have these problems with Helix, other than the occasional click in audio.

 

Line 6 has stated they will be writing their own Mac USB driver for Helix in the future, and I think that is the best solution (they do write a custom ASIO driver for Windows - and probably why we're not seeing much complaints from Windows guys!)

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Partial answer for you... Helix uses the inherent USB class compliant driver on Mac, which apparently results in only native support for 48kHz. Most DAW apps will be fine with that and just resample the audio to still allow you to run your projects at other sample rates though, so this is not necessarily a problem.

 

I have seen some folks here say they have problems like you describe with Helix on Mac where they get clicks in audio, and/or audio turns into static after a while. Some have said the latest El Capitan 10.11.4 update helped this. Again, I suspect this has to do with limitations of the Apple USB driver, and I've seen other audio interfaces report problems with this driver too, but not all, so it seems to affect some devices (seems hard to say whose "fault" this is, but seems fair to say maybe both Line 6 and Apple to some degree). For me, my MacBook Pro doesn't seem to have these problems with Helix, other than the occasional click in audio.

 

Line 6 has stated they will be writing their own Mac USB driver for Helix in the future, and I think that is the best solution (they do write a custom ASIO driver for Windows - and probably why we're not seeing much complaints from Windows guys!)

Hi TexLefty65,

Thanks for the input.

Yep, I'm convinced that it's a problem with the USB data stream getting interrupted and/or corrupted, as the USB is carrying both the audio and data streams between the Helix and the Mac. Plus I did notice that my old project tracks were being re-sampled on the fly, that sort of stuff I can live with, but losing MIDI connectivity is a pain. I stated out thinking (and thanking) Yamaha must have suggested the DIN plugs for all us antiques that still have vintage sound modules in the rack.

Regarding OS X - well when I took my Retina out of the box and connected to the internet the first thing it did was update from Yosemite to El Capo. That was on the day that it was fist released  (Sept 30th 2015) and I've applied all the incremental updates ever since then. When the Helix arrived (mid November) straight out of the box it was patched in as the main interface, and as noted previously, everything just worked - and has done continuously until a couple of weeks back, when this madness started. Theoretically, nothing had changed for this strangeness to start - although, I may be charged with too much negative energy. This is, as stated above - pure voodoo!

 

Is this a Mac only issue, far as people know? Seems like the people talking here are all on Macs, but from what you've seen (I'm new here), does this happen on Windows too?

Hi zooey,

Seems to be mainly an issue for Mac users AFAIK.

 

The USB audio (and I guess midi) on the helix has problems as far as I can see, I am guessing this is some form of timing issue.

 

Line 6 have been blaming Apple for this but I am not too sure myself.

 

The USB on mine with two macs causes the same sort of issues you have been seeing with audio.

 

I did test the 1.10.0 yesterday for a bit and the USB audio seems much more stable but I haven't had the chance to check it properly as I have done my back in :(

Hi BobTheDog,

See what I mean about "blame culture" - no one wants to take responsibility for the problem, even though both Line 6 and Apple are aware of this.

As noted above, my first tests with the latest update v1.10.0 Helix and the latest OS X Hell Crapitan seems less lumpy on the audio chain but MIDI it seems is still a wipeout. More investigating to be done.

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Well line 6 say it is an issue with multi channel class compiant devices on OSX.

 

Maybe they should tell that the Allen & Heath whose class compliant mixers work fine with OS X, or maybe Tascam or yamaha.

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No problems with Windows, but as mentioned, there is a dedicated Helix ASIO Driver for Windows. 

The only way this gets fixed is for Apple to stop f-ing up there own OS or for L6 to release their own driver. 

 

 

.....or switch to PC ;)

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Switching to a PC would immerse me back into the pain hell I escaped from.  :mellow:

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Well line 6 say it is an issue with multi channel class compiant devices on OSX.

 

Maybe they should tell that the Allen & Heath whose class compliant mixers work fine with OS X, or maybe Tascam or yamaha.

Hi, again BobTheDog,

 

Mmmm. Well, maybe Yamaha should be kicking some butt at Line 6 about this - that would be fun. As for Apple, seems they just want to sell phones and watches, right!

 

But, FYI and everyone else who maybe interested, the latest info I can feedback is - as noted previously - my 5k Retina is now running OS X El Capitan 10.11.14 and Helix is on Firmware v1.10.0.

 

I decided to give the Mac core audio/MIDI drivers and daemons some serious "sudo", "kill audio", "grep" and "kext" (don't ask!) whacking commands from the Terminal. I just love that name "Terminal", it's so totally menacing - although, I don't like it when it's used with the word "Air" - that's kinda frightening! Anyhow that must have zapped a few bugs, gremlins etc., which got the Mac flushed and once again able to cope with all the available sample rates: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, or 96 kHz. Trouble is the Helix is still shown as fixed at 48 kHz - Doh! That's got to be down to Line 6 - right?

 

O.K. so, testing today with a very old Logic MIDI only project, which was simply 5 channels of sequenced data (synth pads, percussion, drums etc.), it played back faultlessly. This track was more than 4 minutes and I left it looping without a glitch until I got to the point of wanting to open a vein (long enough and it was a bit of a boring backing!). Not a problem, audio clean and no trace of the bit crusher type noises. Then I checked the Roland keyboard input - yuck! Press a key and trigger a note, press again - nothing, press again - note, after long delay. This is madness - except, what I did notice was that if I brought up a MIDI track in piano roll edit mode and used the mouse on the tiny inbuilt MIDI input keyboard - well hell - it all works perfect. So all the MIDI data inside the Mac behaves as it should, external MIDI note input shows as intermittent and just plain wrong. From this, I can only conclude that the input from the external controller keyboard going to the DIN socket on the Helix is getting fried when converting from DIN to MIDI over USB, because the data is sure not arriving in the DAW the way it was sent (see earlier post on how keyboard functions as expected with old Focusrite Saffire DIN, velocity sensing, aftertouch, Mod wheel, whatever - all good). This is nuts!

 

So where the heck do I go from here?

 

I still have no functioning DIN-MIDI input.

 

The Helix is not doing what it is advertised as being capable of.

 

Oh, that could be very awkward!

 

I may have to check the UK Sale of Goods Act 1979 - where it states: goods as described, fit for purpose etc. Mmmm?

 

Any Line 6 staff care to comment now?

 

 

No problems with Windows, but as mentioned, there is a dedicated Helix ASIO Driver for Windows. 

The only way this gets fixed is for Apple to stop f-ing up there own OS or for L6 to release their own driver. 

 

 

.....or switch to PC ;)

Hi "gunpointmetal",

 

You would have thought that any ASIO driver issues would have been spotted by Line 6 during beta testing this stuff before it is released into the wild and onto an unsuspecting public, who have a tendency to believe the published tech spec data for the product. We just think, "Wow, this is slick!" and hand over the cash!

 

As for Apple - yeah right! Do you want to buy a phone? They have lost the plot!

 

Switch to PC? - How much pain does any one person need in a lifetime? I haven't laughed so much since my grandma got her tit stuck in the mangle.

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Switching to a PC would immerse me back into the pain hell I escaped from.  :mellow:

@ "soundog"

 

I feel your pain dude - I would rather stick pins in my eyes!

 

Life is too short to wade through the murky world of MicroSloth.

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Helix is not a MIDI interface.

Yeah, if OSX works as well as Windows, no need to switch.

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Helix is not a MIDI interface.

Yeah, if OSX works as well as Windows, no need to switch.

Hi Ka5par,

Well, I don't understand why you would make the comment that, "Helix is not a MIDI interface".

According to info on the Line 6 Helix promo site, they mention this:

 

POWERFUL MASTER CONTROLLER

When you need to incorporate external devices via MIDI, Helix offers more flexibility than any multi-effect ever. In addition to powerful real time MIDI control, Helix can send up to six separate commands at patch recall that aren’t assigned to a footswitch, which means you can change a patch on a synth, start a sequencer, and turn up a fader on an external digital mixer, all with one press of a footswitch. Add two additional expression pedal inputs, CV/Expression out, and external amp switching, and Helix can be the command center for any size rig.

 

Plus a review on Ultimate Guitar.com states.

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/guitar_effects/line_6/helix/index.html?no_takeover

 

This is all about digital I/O - MIDI 5-pin DIN connectors (extra credit for remembering not all MIDI gear is USB-friendly... especially the gear invented before USB smile.png), S/PDIF digital out, and the L6 LINK out option for interfacing with other Line 6 gear. Then there's the USB connector, and an IEC-compatible receptacle for the longer-than-average line cord.

 

So, a powerful master controller with all these digital in and out connections and real time MIDI control of external devices - that sure sounds like the description of an interface to me. Both audio and MIDI.

 

Or, maybe I just misunderstood your comment?

 

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Hi again, Ka5par.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Possibly the  Line 6 Uber Guru has a completely different concept of what an interface is?

Helix has DIN for MIDI IN, OUT/THRU and USB for audio plus MIDI Control and somewhere inside the black box, the MIDI bitstream is passed from DIN sockets to Universal Serial Bus and vice versa, so, - maybe it's not an interface - it's a duck?

I simply did the "Duck Test" to find my conclusion, i.e.:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. ;)

This is my feeble attempt at being amusing!

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Well, a MIDI interface could be something as simple as a DIN-to-USB or USB-to-DIN MIDI converter. And the Helix does USB and DIN MIDI in an out. Plus MIDI "thru." And MIDI channel assign. So, one would expect it could pass a MIDI stream between its DIN and USB ports without corrupting or changing the content, right?

 

I'm hoping this issue(s) will be fixed. I haven't fully tapped into the MIDI and USB potential of the device yet, but plan to and hope to avoid surprises.

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Well, a MIDI interface could be something as simple as a DIN-to-USB or USB-to-DIN MIDI converter. And the Helix does USB and DIN MIDI in an out. Plus MIDI "thru." And MIDI channel assign. So, one would expect it could pass a MIDI stream between its DIN and USB ports without corrupting or changing the content, right?

 

I'm hoping this issue(s) will be fixed. I haven't fully tapped into the MIDI and USB potential of the device yet, but plan to and hope to avoid surprises.

Hi, soundog,

That was exactly my point about the term "interface" and when I first stared using MIDI, back in the Stoneage, we would have killed for the capability this box of tricks has inside. Some great MIDI interfaces which I used to use with the old DIN equipped kit, were a bunch of little plastic boxes full of MIDI wizardry made by a guy named Phil Rees. One excellent item was the V3 splitter (thru) box. Stick a 9 volt battery in and get on with life, 30 years down the line I've still got one and it still works. The guy is a MIDI genius and I think he maybe still around making some of this stuff.

I think you can find out about him here:

http://www.philrees.co.uk/products/thruunit.htm

 

As I originally stated - The Helix has worked perfectly until a couple of weeks back when this MIDI weirdness started. Everything else about it is superb - this has got to be just a glitch - but a damned annoying glitch! I don't want the Dream Rig turning into the Nightmare Rig!

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....cool solutions by Mr. Rees. Its amazing the MIDI spec and stuff works as well as it does (pre USB!) and has been so long-lived. I remember my first MIDI interface was a Kawai MIDI Patchbay; 4 ins a 8 outs with sliders to assign the routing. Crazy!

 

Line 6 has been responsive to major bugs so far ... lets hope this glitch is resolved soon. Its an incredibly powerful piece of equipment.

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Yeah, its been pretty painful having all my hardware work flawlessly with my computer through the last three OS versions in Windows on two different machines, lol...

 

I'm sure L6 sees this as a bug and will be working on it in the next FW along with hopefully a new driver for people who like to pay way too much for their computers ;)

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@gunpointmetal --- why do PC users feel they must make such Mac comments? Is it because the opportunity to do so is rare, so they rush to take advantage of the situation? Is it because they're jealous that the vast majority of creatives in the music and film industry use Macs? Is it because they're forced to be accountants and tax preparers?   ;)

 

White collar conservative flashin' down the street
Pointin' their plastic finger at me.
They're hopin' soon my kind will drop and die but
I'm gonna wave my freak flag high.

 

  • Upvote 1

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Lol, why do Mac users get all butthurt when someone makes joke?

I was kidding. Lots of people use both for many things.

I've spent more downtime on various projects in the last 5 years waiting on people to get their Macs checked out or trying to solve an impossible driver issue based on an OS or software update then I ever have troubleshooting any of my PCs, which 99% of problems are solved after a few minutes of googling around. So my personal experience has been that Macs are no more stable a platform than PCs, and when something does go wrong, it never seems to be an easy fix, and the problems are often caused by a lack of foresight from Apple in their OS programming and update process. Maybe I've just been lucky with PCs and most of the people I know with Macs have been unlucky?

But this so OT.......

Good luck with your MIDI issues. Hopefully one end or the other will have solution for you soon.

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Hi again, Ka5par.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Possibly the  Line 6 Uber Guru has a completely different concept of what an interface is?

Helix has DIN for MIDI IN, OUT/THRU and USB for audio plus MIDI Control and somewhere inside the black box, the MIDI bitstream is passed from DIN sockets to Universal Serial Bus and vice versa, so, - maybe it's not an interface - it's a duck?

I simply did the "Duck Test" to find my conclusion, i.e.:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. ;)

This is my feeble attempt at being amusing!

 

I finally tried it myself and it seems that it's possible to choose Helix as a MIDI in/out device in a DAW.

So it looks like a MIDI interface, but with a limited functionality.

I connected a MIDI keyboard to Helix's MIDI in and played/recorded some notes - very few of the note on messages got through and none of the note offs.

If this is indeed the expected behaviour and not a bug, then for "MIDI interface" usage one needs to have an additional interface that can handle note information.

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@gunpointmetal --- why do PC users feel they must make such Mac comments? Is it because the opportunity to do so is rare, so they rush to take advantage of the situation? Is it because they're jealous that the vast majority of creatives in the music and film industry use Macs? Is it because they're forced to be accountants and tax preparers?   ;)

 

White collar conservative flashin' down the street

Pointin' their plastic finger at me.

They're hopin' soon my kind will drop and die but

I'm gonna wave my freak flag high.

 

Now, now! - Don't feed the Trolls

 

Lol, why do Mac users get all butthurt when someone makes joke?

I was kidding. Lots of people use both for many things.

I've spent more downtime on various projects in the last 5 years waiting on people to get their Macs checked out or trying to solve an impossible driver issue based on an OS or software update then I ever have troubleshooting any of my PCs, which 99% of problems are solved after a few minutes of googling around. So my personal experience has been that Macs are no more stable a platform than PCs, and when something does go wrong, it never seems to be an easy fix, and the problems are often caused by a lack of foresight from Apple in their OS programming and update process. Maybe I've just been lucky with PCs and most of the people I know with Macs have been unlucky?

But this so OT.......

Good luck with your MIDI issues. Hopefully one end or the other will have solution for you soon.

Settle down now, guys. In the good old days, squabbling children like you two were left to perish on windswept mountain tops.

 

I finally tried it myself and it seems that it's possible to choose Helix as a MIDI in/out device in a DAW.

So it looks like a MIDI interface, but with a limited functionality.

I connected a MIDI keyboard to Helix's MIDI in and played/recorded some notes - very few of the note on messages got through and none of the note offs.

If this is indeed the expected behaviour and not a bug, then for "MIDI interface" usage one needs to have an additional interface that can handle note information.

Hi Ka5par,

Yes, Helix is a MIDI interface and in my case it did work perfectly in both LogicProX and GBand until a couple of weeks back. All midi messages were functioning perfectly, note on, note off, pitch bend, aftertouch, velocity - everything! According to the info on pages 37 and 38 in the Owner's Manual it shows a MIDI implementation chart for MIDI CC (Continuous Controller), Bank/Prog, Note on, Most Significant Bit, Least Significant Bit messages etc. So, it should work - but it has ceased to function as specified.

Testing today - I decided to reset everything one more time, just in case a bug was stuck in the throat of one of the processors.

O.K. I first cleared the Helix to an empty box - start up with holding down FS5 + FS12 (Zaps everything).

Next restart Helix with FS9 + FS10 held down (Restores presets, setlists, IRs, and both backdoor and user-selectable Global parameters to factory).

Then restart one more time with FS10 + FS11 which upgrades the existing presets to latest format.

Helix should now be perfect - yes?

Well, actually - No!

Load up an old  GarageBand track with audio and MIDI and playback. The audio seems to be back to being usable now, fairly stable. MIDI still not functioning correctly.

​Just to check that I had not gone mad, I cleaned the dust of the old Kawai K1m synth module, I then connected the signal from the MIDI Thru of Helix to the K1m MIDI in. Press any key on the controller keyboard and get no sound, try again and maybe a note triggers every 4 or 5 attempts. Not good! Hook up the K1m to the keyboard directly and all is perfect. The error MUST be in the Helix MIDI In to Out/Thru.

I opened up the OSX Audio MIDI Setup panels to do a "Test Setup" and it seems that Helix is not responding to anything from the controller keyboard. Strange, it did before this craziness. Anyhow, when I click on the "Helix Out" test triangle, it turns blue, as it should, and I can get a continuous stream of data from the Helix MIDI thru into the Kawai module. Very strange! Also when I click the out triangle the input triangle of the Helix turns blue as if it is receiving data on the input side! It's like some weird loop - I just don't understand what's happening.

O.K. that's it for today's testing - I need a beer!

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you are not going mad!

 

I just did a test where I send CC1 to the Helix over USB, it then echoes it back twice:

 

1850.678 To HELIX         Control 1 1 37

1850.679 From HELIX    Control 1 1 37
1850.680 From HELIX    Control 1 1 37
 
If you turn midi thru off on the helix it echoes it once:
 
2060.893 From HELIX   Control 1 1 116
2060.896 To HELIX        Control 1 1 116
 
Both cases seem pretty wrong to me.
 
Also I can't get any of the controls on the Helix to send midi over the USB.

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you are not going mad!

 

I just did a test where I send CC1 to the Helix over USB, it then echoes it back twice:

 

1850.678 To HELIX         Control 1 1 37

1850.679 From HELIX    Control 1 1 37
1850.680 From HELIX    Control 1 1 37
 
If you turn midi thru off on the helix it echoes it once:
 
2060.893 From HELIX   Control 1 1 116
2060.896 To HELIX        Control 1 1 116
 
Both cases seem pretty wrong to me.
 
Also I can't get any of the controls on the Helix to send midi over the USB.

 

So, I'm not quite insane - just yet!

 

Today, I thought that I might simply try kicking everything in the nuts again! It sometimes works.

This time I went for a factory reset on the Helix box - startup and then press down FS8 + FS9 & FS12.

Well, that should do it - yes?

Erm - NO! not really.

So then I went for the AKAI Pro trouble shooting routine for fixing USB MIDI faults. (basically the same stuff that any other tech would/should do)

 

Troubleshooting USB MIDI devices on Mac : Akai Professional - Iconic music production gear, including the legendary MPC

 

Ran through all these procedures - one more time, just to make sure I had not missed anything.

I even went as far as totally removing all the old audio Midi config files and starting fresh.

 

So, now it gets even more weird - I cannot get the Roland Controller to trigger anything at all - it's like it just does not exist!

If I go back into the Mac AMS to do the "Test Setup" while using Midi Monitor (to sniff the events in the stream) when MIDI thru is switched off inside the Helix, I get this sort of stuff:

(FYI: the numbers on the left are simply time codes).

 

16:09:00.678 To HELIX   Note On 16 D3 127

16:09:00.678 To HELIX   Note On 16 G♯2 127
16:09:00.678 To HELIX   Note On 16 A♯7 127
16:09:00.678 From HELIX   Note On 1 G♯7 127
16:09:00.678 From HELIX   Note On 1 D-2 127
16:09:00.679 From HELIX   Note On 1 C7 127
 
So it seems that what's happening is MIDI is getting routed from the output back into the MIDI in - Hello! I don't think that it should do that.
And, also, you're right about the MIDI thru thing being whacky. I found that if MIDI thru is turned on I get this:
 
16:09:01.242 From HELIX   Note Off 16 D3 0
16:09:01.243 From HELIX   Note Off 16 G♯2 0
16:09:01.244 From HELIX   Note Off 16 A♯7 0
16:09:01.324 From HELIX   Active Sense
16:09:01.624 From HELIX   Active Sense
16:09:01.925 From HELIX   Active Sense
 
As soon as it stops sending the note on/off messages, it looks like some sort of constant handshake thing is happening - until you switch of the MIDI thru and then the

"From HELIX    Active Sense" messages stop - instantly!

 
Oh, yeah the owners manual states which Foot Switches are reserved for specific MIDI CC messages for Global Functions etc.
 
Enough for today - need to rest in a darkened room.

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It would be great to get some Helix expert opinion on this topic, but it seems it hasn't caught their attention yet.

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It would be great to get some Helix expert opinion on this topic, but it seems it hasn't caught their attention yet.

Hi Ka5par,

 

Now, that would be a really great help, but I guess most Helix users on this forum are not going to be troubled by anything to do with MIDI.

 

They are probably more concerned with putting in crazy requests for digital models of outrageously expensive custom/boutique equipment and amps such as a Komet 60, Lerxst Omega, Friedman BE-100 or a 3 Monkeys Grease Monkey MkII. Oh yeah! When you have done those, Line 6, how about this. Could we please have a Rockett Allan Holdsworth Signature OD/Boost, in the next Firmware update. Should be easy - Fractal users seem to get a truck load of custom amps and effects every week - free!

 

Don't ya just love it? - I have spent years trying to get rid of noise from stuff and these guys want to be able to hear the valves rattle in the digital model.

 

I would expect if you mention MIDI to any of them, they would be likely to ask "what sort of valves do you put in that?", or "does it go up to eleven?".

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....squeaky wheel gets the grease. Lets flood the forum with MIDI questions!

 

Seriously, I bet you there are more MIDI-Helix users out there than you might guess. There are a couple of serious MIDI and Audio-USB problems that need to be addressed, and I hope will — as a priority to adding another boutique amp.

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....squeaky wheel gets the grease. Lets flood the forum with MIDI questions!

 

Seriously, I bet you there are more MIDI-Helix users out there than you might guess. There are a couple of serious MIDI and Audio-USB problems that need to be addressed, and I hope will — as a priority to adding another boutique amp.

Hi soundog,

You could well be correct about the number of Helix-MIDI users out there. I think I can even recall a comment (somewhere) from a guy who was wanting advice on running his DMXIS Show Buddy Lighting Rig with the Helix in his "One Man Band" setup. Oops! That wasn't you, was it? :)

Anyhow, I don't seem to be making much headway with this problem, so I stuck a request for a dedicated MIDI driver on the Ideascale board. See if that gets a result.

I did consider delving in to the MIDI toolbox with the Apple SDK, but then I'm a bit old for all that serious coding stuff and if I went down the wrong rabbit hole?

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Submitting a bug on this....I'm recording MIDI and USB audio from the Helix on an iPad (Cubasis). After doing some testing with a Midi Monitor, I note (as datacommando has) that Helix receiving MIDI "note on/noteoff" data via DIN inputs only sends out "note on" (and not "note off") through the USB port or MIDI out port.

 

I believe this is a different problem than the audio clocking problem on Macs, which is being addressed separately via a Line 6 Mac driver.

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...

Seriously, I bet you there are more MIDI-Helix users out there than you might guess. There are a couple of serious MIDI and Audio-USB problems that need to be addressed, and I hope will — as a priority to adding another boutique amp.

I've never had a guitar rig with MIDI capability before the Helix. Now that I have that capability (literally, under my feet), I'm starting to experiment and I can see many possibilities. The Helix may be opening the MIDI door for others, too.

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The ultimate is to have a small mic-stand-mounted MIDI controller hooked up to your Helix so you can fine-tune EQ, amp settings, and your FX settings on-the-fly as you play. Every venue has a bit different acoustics, and sometimes you just gotta fine tune your sound. The Helix makes it achievable. 

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Here's the scoop. Certain brands of keyboards (especially Roland, but some older M-Audio keyboards as well) continuously spit out active sensing messages every 300ms. This basically tells the receiving device "Hey, I'm still here! Hey, I'm still here! Hey, I'm still here! Hey, I'm still here!"

 

IIRC, according to the MIDI spec, the receiving device is supposed to display something like "MIDI offline!" if it suddenly stops getting a "Hey, I'm still here!" message; you know, something to warn you that you've tripped over a MIDI cable in your gigantic room-sized synth rig filled with eighty keyboards.

 

These days, active sensing is all but unnecessary, is almost never used by guitar gear, and Helix wasn't too keen on it. The next rev of the firmware will effectively ignore active sensing so the dropouts should go away. We've tested it with Roland and M-Audio keyboards—all is well.

 

A lot of Roland synths let you disable active sensing in their System menus, but the PC-180 doesn't. I know—I had one back in the day, and hated that my MIDI interface input LED would flash constantly. For those of you experiencing the same issue and can't wait for the next update, manually disable Tx Active Sensing in your keyboard (if it lets you) and all should be well. A few MIDI merge or MIDI thru boxes automatically filter out active sensing as well.

 

This is kinda funny because I suggested active sensing might be the culprit a while ago and no one believed me. Ha!

 

Okay, so it's not very funny.

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