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billlorentzen

Open letter to Line 6 - Please future-proof our Helix patches!

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Dear L6 Development Team,

 

Thank you for your brilliant work developing Helix!

 

My new Helix is my 4th digital modeler (Pod 1, Tonelab, Pod HD 500, Helix). Every time I get one I have to create all new patches - a lot of them. I'm a working musician and I need a lot of different patches to cover the very wide range of styles I play, and the various guitars I use. With each new modeler, I have had more choices and made more individual patches. For my Pod HD, I have over 25 unique patches. I have spent at least 100 hours creating them.

 

Now I have a Helix and I have to recreate every patch. Before I can use it on a gig, I will have to edit for at least a month and I will continue to refine patches for a few months after that. I NEVER want to have to do this again.

 

I've been playing professionally for 40 years. I've built, owned and managed a full scale recording studio. I've owned many hundreds of pieces of music and recording gear, and I dare say I have a very high gear IQ, and no back-off on technical matters. I used to get excited when I'd get a new amp or compressor or some cool new piece. Today, when I get new digital kit, be it software or hardware, I no longer get a thrill - I dread the learning curve I will once again have to work through. And the more powerful the piece, the more options, the more time is required to master the array of features and come up with my optimum setup.

 

Line 6, when you develop your next modeler, please, please, PLEASE, figure out a way that Helix owners can continue to use existing patches! Give us more power, better sound, etc., but don't obsolete all the work we have invested in Helix.

 

Thank you,

Billy Lorentzen

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It would be cool if patch upgrades worked sort of like file upgrades with software or cross-platform model imports from 3D modelling applications or databases/schemas.

 

Even if all of the amps and effects in a patch didn't map, maybe there could be a way for the user to specify the replacement new block or none.

 

I've seen Autodesk software have cross platform mapping interfaces to setup before importing one platform model into another platform.

 

Basically two columns with drop downs for each component type from each platform. The user can accept default mapping, make a selection if there is no default, or change the default.

 

Maybe during an import you could specify the desired mapping file and check a box next to the presets to import.

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That would be great!

 

Yes please - Line 6 - when the Helix 2 comes out in 5 years with it's 8 tiger shark processors, touch screen and built in coffee maker, please can you make it backwards compatible, so that it can approximate all the good stuff from the current Helix - so we can just load in our current patches and go from there as a starting point.

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It's a nice idea, but I'm not sure it's feasible. New device, new models, new code...aside from porting over everything from the previous unit, how would this be accomplished? And if they did do that, you'd basically be buying the same device all over again. Why bother? Keep what you have.

 

Just playing Devil's advocate...not dumping on anybody's idea or looking to start a brouhaha. Cranky Brigade may stand at ease...;)

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If we are talking a technology level jump (i.e. XT->HD->Helix) then I personally would say no like Cruisin said. Having gone through the Pod 1/2->XT/X3->HD I understand the sentimentality over tones but after all was said and done I was glad to have learned the new unit. But if you are talking about a change like the XT->X3 went then I fully understand and would support that backward compatibility.

 

In 5 years who knows where things may be and what can be done. 

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It would be cool if patch upgrades worked sort of like file upgrades with software or cross-platform model imports from 3D modelling applications or databases/schemas.

 

Even if all of the amps and effects in a patch didn't map, maybe there could be a way for the user to specify the replacement new block or none.

 

I've seen Autodesk software have cross platform mapping interfaces to setup before importing one platform model into another platform.

 

Basically two columns with drop downs for each component type from each platform. The user can accept default mapping, make a selection if there is no default, or change the default.

 

Maybe during an import you could specify the desired mapping file and check a box next to the presets to import.

 

Pray to God that Line 6 doesn't take the Autodesk route, though. Dealing with Autodesk is kind of like dealing with the mafia anymore. They are switching over to a system where they are getting rid of their "perpetual licenses", and moving to a pure subscription model. So for a single seat of Revit, I believe you'll have to pay $2500 or something like that a year. And with Revit, they do offer backwards compatibility in the sense that a new version of Revit can open an old Revit file, but there's no way to save, say, a 2016 Revit file as a 2015 Revit file. So it ensure that as long as you're working with Revit you will do the annual upgrade.

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Pray to God that Line 6 doesn't take the Autodesk route, though. Dealing with Autodesk is kind of like dealing with the mafia anymore. They are switching over to a system where they are getting rid of their "perpetual licenses", and moving to a pure subscription model. So for a single seat of Revit, I believe you'll have to pay $2500 or something like that a year. And with Revit, they do offer backwards compatibility in the sense that a new version of Revit can open an old Revit file, but there's no way to save, say, a 2016 Revit file as a 2015 Revit file. So it ensure that as long as you're working with Revit you will do the annual upgrade.

The subscription model for software licensing baffles me. I mean, I get why the companies like it, but I cannot fathom why anyone pays for it. It's extortion. Nothing's that good.

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The subscription model for software licensing baffles me. I mean, I get why the companies like it, but I cannot fathom why anyone pays for it. It's extortion. Nothing's that good.

 

Well, in the case of the software I'm talking about, Autodesk has a virtual monopoly. I guess there might be other BIM software, but Revit (and AutoCAD) is the industry standard, so if you're a design firm you have to have to simply work on projects. It's kind of like Pro Tools in that regard, although it's probably more feasible that a studio could run something other than Pro Tools than it is that a design firm could use something other than AutoCAD or Revit.

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It might be helpful to consider backwards compatibility of patches as a 2-step process. First, translate the old patch into the new patch in terms of amp and FX model selection settings and signal routing as much as possible. This could be automated without a whole lot of difficulty, but this is the easy part. This is also the least time consuming part to perform manually. We've all done this before; takes about 5 or 10 minutes per patch with a good UI on the new device. We're not talking about tone here - just duplicating settings.

 

The second and more time consuming part of this is tweaking the new patch. The whole idea of getting new equipment is to obtain better tones. If all you want to do is recreate the same sound of your existing device, then what's the point of upgrading? Keep your existing device. The new device is generally based on new modeling technology, new routing options, new this, new that..... It's highly unlikely that the exact same models with the exact same settings are going to sound exactly the same. In fact in my experience it typically sounds not very good. So given that you want a better tone you need to do some tweaking. Unfortunately, I don't see how automation can help with this second step. And that's what takes the vast majority of the time.

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Maintaining backwards compatibility is a HUGE challenge for a software development team.  While I can respect that it's a challenge for us to maintain our patches so that they work with different firmware revisions, it's nothing like what that team would have to implement to keep allow for indefinite backwards compatibility.  There is probably a middle ground though... maybe something like patches will be kept backwards compatible inside a major revision, but may not be compatible with future major software revisions (firmware 2.0, for example)

 

Just speculation on my part.  I have no insight into the Line6 software development environment and processes.

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Well, in the case of the software I'm talking about, Autodesk has a virtual monopoly. I guess there might be other BIM software, but Revit (and AutoCAD) is the industry standard, so if you're a design firm you have to have to simply work on projects. It's kind of like Pro Tools in that regard, although it's probably more feasible that a studio could run something other than Pro Tools than it is that a design firm could use something other than AutoCAD or Revit.

Pro Tools is really what I was thinking of. I know it's good, and popular...but once you've got a good product and reputation, why sour it by finding new and better ways to fleece the people who made you rich? They're just gonna go elsewhere. Greed rots the brain....

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It might be helpful to consider backwards compatibility of patches as a 2-step process. First, translate the old patch into the new patch in terms of amp and FX model selection settings and signal routing as much as possible. This could be automated without a whole lot of difficulty, but this is the easy part. This is also the least time consuming part to perform manually. We've all done this before; takes about 5 or 10 minutes per patch with a good UI on the new device. We're not talking about tone here - just duplicating settings.

 

The second and more time consuming part of this is tweaking the new patch. The whole idea of getting new equipment is to obtain better tones. If all you want to do is recreate the same sound of your existing device, then what's the point of upgrading? Keep your existing device. The new device is generally based on new modeling technology, new routing options, new this, new that..... It's highly unlikely that the exact same models with the exact same settings are going to sound exactly the same. In fact in my experience it typically sounds not very good. So given that you want a better tone you need to do some tweaking. Unfortunately, I don't see how automation can help with this second step. And that's what takes the vast majority of the time.

 

Yes!  It's the first step that will be easy (ish) to sort out.  All the routing, outputs, switches, paths, FX types and so on should be relatively simple to copy across to a new system (assuming it is more rather than less flexible and powerful)

 

The second part - sure things will sound different.. but it's way easier just to add a bit more gain, less bass, and more delay mix to your patch than create the whole thing from scratch again.

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It's a nice idea, but I'm not sure it's feasible. New device, new models, new code...aside from porting over everything from the previous unit, how would this be accomplished? And if they did do that, you'd basically be buying the same device all over again. Why bother? Keep what you have.

Just playing Devil's advocate...not dumping on anybody's idea or looking to start a brouhaha. Cranky Brigade may stand at ease...;)

I don't mind tweaking and fine tuning. If my helix patch with cry baby, screamer, deluxe, la2a, tape delay and plate is relatively true to the original gear, it should be pretty close in helix2, right? As DI said, more powerful processors will allow more granularity. I don't see why more power must mean completely new architecture and different sound, at this stage in the game.

 

If helix 5 comes with AI and 3D laser projected rigs, it should be smart enough to convert my patches into an approximation I can still use.

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The concept of a path to carry presets from one platform of a company's device to the next generation is not that impossible, and does not require actual use of the prior presets in whatever new architecture is made. What the presets actually are is setting and routing specs for each different preset. Looking at backup preset files, they don't contain anything but put this amp here, set the volume = xx, drive = yy, etc.

 

I've been moving data forward for years from one PC OS platform and program to the next with CSV - comma separated value files, and the like. Even if the 2 programs have nothing in common internally, they are expecting setting values for certain parameters. The new doesn't need to be backwards compatible with the next, other than having data imported in an expected order and format.

 

I've moved from the XTL to the X3L, and it was able to import the settings directly, they did not sound the same necessarily, but it was a quick starting point. Then I was surprised that moving to the HD500, it had no import path, so had to start over. I got over it, not a huge deal, just a PITA, and learning curve do-over. Then got an HD500X as a backup concept, luckily the 500 & 500X spoke the same preset language, other than file extension. Got my Helix late last year, didn't really expect it to import the HD presets, but it would have been nice for a starting point.

 

Although, once I got into it with the Helix, I have ended up with fewer presets to accomplish the same number of sounds I was using before, by setting up multiple sounds in one patch, like acoustic model JTV switching to JTV magnetic PU's on a second path, or clean Fender amp switched with a Marshall OD on a switch to toggle settings/paths, yada yada. I've gotten to be able to use 3 separate amps, could probably do 4, by using amp-only then the same cab for all of them. Soldano was one of them Clean/Crunch/Overdrive channels.

 

I would think going forward, they wouldn't necessarily scrap the current Helix platform model and architecture, but add to it, say with more DSP or processors, but the "simple-2 paths" (yeah right) would become a 3-path or 4-path expansion in the next Helix version, and the import of this generation of Helix presets would use the 2-paths, and leave the other paths empty, but able to be added at that time...

 

Dave

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[...] And the more powerful the piece, the more options, the more time is required to master the array of features and come up with my optimum setup.

[...]

 

Although using modelers as long as you do, I wouldn't agree to this.

Helix has the most intuitive UI by now - and I never needed less time to build usable tones.

 

And sometimes it is not useful to compare the incomparable :P

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This might be doable if kept within Line 6s range of modelers. If you involve other manufacturers, this sounds an awful lot like the idea behind the General Midi spec where a bunch of manufacturers agreed on a certain set of standards that devices would adhere to. They could maybe devise a Midi SysEx standard that would translate from one manufacturer to another. You'd still end up having to tweak as it won't really be possible for everyone to implement things in the same way. The big hurdle would be getting all the manufacturers to agree.

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I originally talked about this in the forums previous to the Helix release how it would be nice to be able to import my HD patches as I have to be able to recreate these patches from our first 2 albums..  But what I have found is that some of the effects between the HD series and Helix simply do not exist in the same forms, or quite frankly my understanding of some of the setups (especially the compressors) are hard to translate or hard to figure out which of the Helix effects do the same thing.  However not having this capability has made me work the Helix in ways I probably would not have if I had a direct port.  Right now I just open up the HD editor and my old set list and rebuild the patch and from right off the bat everything is sounding fresher and fuller to my ears at least (my band agrees also).  In the OP's post having that many patches to rebuild would get pretty frustrating.

 

In some of my rebuilds I am using way too many stereo effects in the patches and running in to memory problems (some of the effects become inaccessible) so I've got train myself out that.

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Well, in the case of the software I'm talking about, Autodesk has a virtual monopoly. I guess there might be other BIM software, but Revit (and AutoCAD) is the industry standard, so if you're a design firm you have to have to simply work on projects. It's kind of like Pro Tools in that regard, although it's probably more feasible that a studio could run something other than Pro Tools than it is that a design firm could use something other than AutoCAD or Revit.

Now days a studio can get by just fine without Pro Tools. I mean there are plenty of viable alternatives like Ableton, FL Studio, Studio One, Cubase. It isnt like it was 10-15 years ago. However I know nothing of Autodesk. Lol

 

To the OP, it would be nice, as long as it isnt a "clusterflub."

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