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Helix Bass Amps & Cabs Live

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I've been having a hard time lately with Helix bass amps and cabs punching through the mix going direct to PA and monitors with no bass amp. I keep trying Helix bass amps + cabs and Helix amps only in a DI to PA type approach. I seem to be getting lost in the mix. Every time I try, I just get frustrated and turn off the Helix bass amps and kick up the Helix master and run dry.

I played a couple of bass gigs this weekend. Last night I started with my Cali bass patches again and was really getting bummed out. I turned off the Helix amps + cab and made it through the rest of the night dry from Helix to the board, kicking in the effects on the patch as needed.  Kudos to Line 6 for having a very clean signal path.

Today I set up a couple of effects-only Helix patches with my Mesa Walkabout amp and cab. Tonight I went back to Helix as an effects unit only with my Mesa Walkabout amp and Scout cab on a patio gig. The Mesa was DI to the PA with the Scout cab providing some stage sound. I was much happier with the sound a results and even got some compliments from the sound man.

FYI, this is a power trio with acoustic guitar / singer, bass + backup vox (me), and drums. So it's not like the bass is drowned out by a 5+ piece band.

This is not necessarily a dig at Helix or even a gripe. I couldn't get a useful live bass sound with Pod HD500x either. And I am actually really okay with bringing my Mesa amp and 1x12 to gigs. No biggie. Helix has replaced all of my pedals.

Actually, I need to post a patch I made today for Kings Of Leon Closer. I was able to use the Helix looper and loop the whammy bass part (yes it's bass, watch the YouTube vid) and plain bass line, then I did the lead guitar parts on bass throughout the song. Luckily the drummer and guitarist synced up to it (we did not get to rehearse prior to this show). I would have never tried this before Helix.

I may try to IR my Mesa Walkabout from instrument input to effects send and see if that gives me the punchy sound I am used too.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I haven't tried the preamp only versions of the bass amps. Might be worth a shot.

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When you're running direct, are you hearing your bass just through the monitors, and backwash from the PA? If so, I'm not surprised that's a problem, unless they're pretty beefy. Stage monitors just aren't designed for that. I'd expect a decent FRFR rig to feel much better. (Which I'm aware you don't currently have, and no doubt don't want to buy or carry.)

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Yeah, I was just trying to run through monitors the past few weeks, both ours and a couple of times through house and outdooor sound systems. I do hear back was from the PA too. But it was never an issue for me before DI from my bass head, or even just plugging the bass straight into the mixer, no pedals or boxes.

 

On the plus side, I really like using both bass and guitar amp models for overdriven bass sounds where I would use pedals before. They can be very smooth, less harsh.

 

I just cant quite get there with for a basic clean punchy sound live. Even with sag all the way down, tweaking 10 band eq, etc. Maybe I'm missing something.

 

The bass amps sound pretty good at home but things get hollow, kind of dead sounding live.

 

To be honest, I've put WAY more effort and time into my guitar amp patches, IRs, etc. But 75% of my gigs are on bass with this trio. I sort of took a clean bass sound for granted.

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What's your signal path like? I've had great success setting up a path running my bass through the LA compressor and valve driver. From there I run it into a crossover split utilizing a dual amp path consisting of the Cali Bass and the Engl. I've found by doing this it's really helped to round out my bass tone and give it a lot more punch and clarity as opposed to just using a bass model by itself. From there it's into a few more effects and then a dual cabinet signal also. Granted, I've only tried this at home but it cuts through quite nicely in my recordings from the get go.

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I haven't tried dual paths yet. Intuitively took a simplified approach for bass.

 

I do have an LA comp block and actually kick in a valve driver occasionally.

 

The amp models sound great for my driven tones and faux lead guitar parts.

 

It's just the darn plain clean sound I use most of the time for fingerstyle I'm having trouble getting with Helix.

 

In the spirit of the diligence I invested in my guitar IRs to get exactly the sound I wanted, I'm gonna try IR'ING my Mesa 1x12 and 2x12 bass cabs with a D112 and my walkabout, m9, and 400+ this afternoon. I'll post em up on dropbox if I get anything useful.

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I always get a better bass sound by cutting some of the bass and boosting the mids, high mids and treble. This will help you cut through better. Too much low end and not enough mids is a recipe for muddy, lost-in-the-mix sound. Good luck!

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Don't discount the use of eq to get where you need to be.  Lots of good info on the Google regarding live bass through a PA and how to cut through.  Many a bass has been lost when trying to compete with a kick drum.  Had that problem when my bass player--he brought in a POD X3 Live rig, just would not cut through, even if we DI'ed out of his amp or X3,  Some eq tweaks brought it right out where it needs to be.  I think of the sound spectrum similar to paint by numbers.  Stay inside the lines with the brush or the colors run together.

 

Scroll down this link for some great starting points. Assuming your PA can hit in the 40 hz on the bottom end.

 

http://www.presonus.com/news/articles/Equalizer-Terms-and-Tips

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As far as FOH sound goes, the amp and cab sounds great and has no trouble being heard. For on stage volume... well, I never expected to get anything good out of stage monitors, so for the last gig I did I ran in-ears out of the headphone jack on the Helix and had no trouble hearing myself (I used a mic on the mic input to hear everyone else).

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