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Rezonator

Helix Rack - Are my ears mistaken?

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I really wanted to love the helix. I'm not new to the world of Line 6. I had an original Variax, Kidney bean, and my fair share of spider amps.

 

As much fun as the effects and experiencing the progress of modeling was, I always found myself gravitating back to my traditional tube amps.

 

As time passed though, I transitioned into the world of acoustics. As such, over the years I've sold off all of my traditional amps. I found myself recording primarily acoustic renditions of songs, and using DAW plugins (S-Gear 2, GTR5, etc) when recording electrics was necessary.

 

However, I've had my eye on a new age amp modeler since the original Axe Fx came out, but never pulled the trigger on one.

 

Years have gone by since then, and I've watched countless Axe Fx 2 and KPA videos, coming ever so close to pulling the trigger on one.

 

Then the Helix came out.

 

Granted, I just found out about it a couple of weeks ago, and since then have crammed more demo videos into my head than I probably should. But it was exciting.

 

I decided the time had come to jump back into the modeling world, so I pulled the trigger on a Helix Rack, spent the money to next day it, and waiting anxiously for it to arrive.

 

The reason why I'm giving you this backstory, is because I want you to understand that I've been in the music world for quite a while, and know my way around customizing tones.

 

However, to save my life, I can't squeeze a good lead tone out of this box.

 

Let me give you a run down on my setup:

 

I'm using my PRS P22 going into the Helix, helix XLR out into my Apogee Quartet, Apogee Quartet into my computer via USB and into Logix Pro X, then output from my Quartet into my Yamaha HS8s with matching HS8 sub.

 

It's worth noting that I've also tried going directly into my DAW via Helix USB, and it doesn't really make a difference.

 

As far as my Helix settings go, Guitar pad is off, impedance set to auto, and no global eq.

 

I've tried just about all of the different amps with cabs, even through in a few OH impulses, and the best way I can describe the lead sounds are digital. Especially in the high register, they have what I can only describe as the classic line 6 digital sizzle/fizz. Very thin.

 

For comparison, I threw on a standard cali rectifier, no adjustments and it sounded weak. But when I listen to the following, I'm blown away:

 

 

I know he's most likely rocking some active pickups, but it still shouldn't make THAT big of a difference.

 

I almost wonder if I have a defective unit. If it's worth anything, when I turn the power switch on it takes about 3-4 seconds until the screen lights up. Is that normal?

 

I would love some suggestions. I really want to make this box work, but so far I'm better off sticking with S-Gear 2 for the times I need to record.

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Don't know that I can offer very specific suggestions, and if you're going for the types of tones in the video, I'm not your guy on that level either.

 

I can tell you that it took a fair while for me to get comfortable with Helix. I was very happy with Amplitube and S-Gear, and was seriously thinking about putting a live rig together around them, when I found out about Helix. When it came right down to it though, I wasn't psyched for dealing with a computer and all that hoo hah at a gig or jam.

 

So I bought a Helix, from a dealer with a 30 day return policy, and started messing with it. For maybe 2/3 of that return period, I seriously didn't know if I was going to keep it. It's a lot of money for me, especially since I'm not doing music professionally any more, and I never spend anywhere near that much on myself, like ever.

 

Somewhere in there though, I started having big fun. I'm not sure what changed, but for some reason many people seem to go through a similar process of discovery, of finding their own voice in there. I do sometimes hear overtones I don't care for, but that's true of tube amps too, the sweet spots aren't infinite, and perfection doesn't exist.

 

Bottom line is that we have a number of great-sounding modeling choices these days, and the Helix is IMO extraordinarily usable. Put the time in, see if it works for you. It's working for me.

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Sounds like you are going through some acclimation and discovery most of us did here as well.  

 

Your setup sounds okay, though I don't know much about the Yamaha's.

 

The Helix cabs have a little to be desired for mid to high gain IMO and the free OH ones are okay I guess.  But neither were my cup of tea either.  I ended up making my own.

 

See if these IR's I made of my Mesa Triple Recto Multi-Watt power section into my Recto 212 cab give you some instant gratification with the Helix Cali Rectifire model.  I actually tested them with my USA PRS SC Trem today and they sounded great.

 

http://line6.com/support/topic/21452-happy-4th-free-irs-posted-mesa-triple-rec-amp-212-cab/

 

Other than that, you might try some Helix Dual Cabs, parallel path Helix Single Cabs with different mics, high cuts in the 5k-10k range on the cab IR blocks, and some Global EQ tweaks for your monitors..

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Don't know that I can offer very specific suggestions, and if you're going for the types of tones in the video, I'm not your guy on that level either.

 

I can tell you that it took a fair while for me to get comfortable with Helix. I was very happy with Amplitube and S-Gear, and was seriously thinking about putting a live rig together around them, when I found out about Helix. When it came right down to it though, I wasn't psyched for dealing with a computer and all that hoo hah at a gig or jam.

 

So I bought a Helix, from a dealer with a 30 day return policy, and started messing with it. For maybe 2/3 of that return period, I seriously didn't know if I was going to keep it. It's a lot of money for me, especially since I'm not doing music professionally any more, and I never spend anywhere near that much on myself, like ever.

 

Somewhere in there though, I started having big fun. I'm not sure what changed, but for some reason many people seem to go through a similar process of discovery, of finding their own voice in there. I do sometimes hear overtones I don't care for, but that's true of tube amps too, the sweet spots aren't infinite, and perfection doesn't exist.

 

Bottom line is that we have a number of great-sounding modeling choices these days, and the Helix is IMO extraordinarily usable. Put the time in, see if it works for you. It's working for me.

 

In all honesty, I'm not really looking for a super heavy tone. I'd be perfectly content with a smooth bluesy lead and some crisp cleans. In regards to the VSTs, I know what you mean. I don't really play live like I used to, but I definitely didn't want the hassle of lugging my laptop and all of the other gear around. Good points though, I'm only a few days in so I'll give it more time until I make a decision.

 

Sounds like you are going through some acclimation and discovery most of us did here as well.  

 

Your setup sounds okay, though I don't know much about the Yamaha's.

 

The Helix cabs have a little to be desired for mid to high gain IMO and the free OH ones are okay I guess.  But neither were my cup of tea either.  I ended up making my own.

 

See if these IR's I made of my Mesa Triple Recto Multi-Watt power section into my Recto 212 cab give you some instant gratification with the Helix Cali Rectifire model.  I actually tested them with my USA PRS SC Trem today and they sounded great.

 

http://line6.com/support/topic/21452-happy-4th-free-irs-posted-mesa-triple-rec-amp-212-cab/

 

Other than that, you might try some Helix Dual Cabs, parallel path Helix Single Cabs with different mics, high cuts in the 5k-10k range on the cab IR blocks, and some Global EQ tweaks for your monitors..

 

Awesome, I'll definitely give them a try.

 

I suppose I'm curious as to whether there's any magic switches i've yet to turn on that make all of the difference in the world. Any setup suggestions?

 

Thanks everyone,

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I suppose I'm curious as to whether there's any magic switches i've yet to turn on that make all of the difference in the world. Any setup suggestions?

 

Thanks everyone,

The only obvious thing that comes to mind is to make sure your Helix output levels match those of whatever your plugging into.  In your case, I think that's the XLR outs.  They can be either "line" or "instrument".  Make sure they match what your output device is expecting.  Global Settings -> Ins/Outs -> (page 2) -> XLR Outputs.  These should default to "line" level, but I'd double check to make sure.

 

Next, maybe try some of the factory presets for the various amp models just to rule out anything that might have gotten fiddled when constructing your patch(es).  While the factory presets likely aren't going to be the tone you're looking for, they should at least sound decent.

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I really wanted to love the helix. I'm not new to the world of Line 6. I had an original Variax, Kidney bean, and my fair share of spider amps.

 

As much fun as the effects and experiencing the progress of modeling was, I always found myself gravitating back to my traditional tube amps.

 

As time passed though, I transitioned into the world of acoustics. As such, over the years I've sold off all of my traditional amps. I found myself recording primarily acoustic renditions of songs, and using DAW plugins (S-Gear 2, GTR5, etc) when recording electrics was necessary.

 

However, I've had my eye on a new age amp modeler since the original Axe Fx came out, but never pulled the trigger on one.

 

Years have gone by since then, and I've watched countless Axe Fx 2 and KPA videos, coming ever so close to pulling the trigger on one.

 

Then the Helix came out.

 

Granted, I just found out about it a couple of weeks ago, and since then have crammed more demo videos into my head than I probably should. But it was exciting.

 

I decided the time had come to jump back into the modeling world, so I pulled the trigger on a Helix Rack, spent the money to next day it, and waiting anxiously for it to arrive.

 

The reason why I'm giving you this backstory, is because I want you to understand that I've been in the music world for quite a while, and know my way around customizing tones.

 

However, to save my life, I can't squeeze a good lead tone out of this box.

 

Let me give you a run down on my setup:

 

I'm using my PRS P22 going into the Helix, helix XLR out into my Apogee Quartet, Apogee Quartet into my computer via USB and into Logix Pro X, then output from my Quartet into my Yamaha HS8s with matching HS8 sub.

 

It's worth noting that I've also tried going directly into my DAW via Helix USB, and it doesn't really make a difference.

 

As far as my Helix settings go, Guitar pad is off, impedance set to auto, and no global eq.

 

I've tried just about all of the different amps with cabs, even through in a few OH impulses, and the best way I can describe the lead sounds are digital. Especially in the high register, they have what I can only describe as the classic line 6 digital sizzle/fizz. Very thin.

 

For comparison, I threw on a standard cali rectifier, no adjustments and it sounded weak. But when I listen to the following, I'm blown away:

 

 

I know he's most likely rocking some active pickups, but it still shouldn't make THAT big of a difference.

 

I almost wonder if I have a defective unit. If it's worth anything, when I turn the power switch on it takes about 3-4 seconds until the screen lights up. Is that normal?

 

I would love some suggestions. I really want to make this box work, but so far I'm better off sticking with S-Gear 2 for the times I need to record.

 

I do find myself having to adjust the high end on the Helix to my taste although I must admit I don't usually hear the "fizz" on the Helix that I have heard in some other earlier modelers. As as starting point I would try cutting the highs with a high-cut (low pass) filter on either the amp/cab block or an EQ block somewhere in your signal chain. Start with an aggressive cut at 5mhz and then try moving it up until it starts sounding too shrill again and then back it off a bit. If the sound is still not to your liking once you have your high cut in place to taste, try using a parametric EQ with a narrow Q and a large db bump to sweep the frequency range and find the area(s) in the frequency range that are particularly shrill, fizzy, or grating. Once you locate them you can dial them out. This should get you well on your way to a warmer less "digital" tone. Alternatively you can use the global EQ to get you in the ballpark but I prefer saving that for mixing to a specific room and prefer tweaking each preset to taste instead.

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What's mystifying in this is that for most of the cases in the Helix, the default settings on the amp models, cabs, effects are pretty good and typically only need minor tweaking if at all to provide a decent tone.  I have close to the same speaker setup in my studio as you do using HS7's, and the sound is nice and full.  I occassionally need to slightly tweak the upper and lower ends as HonestOpinion states, but even without that the tones are very accurate.

 

Maybe try going a step at a time with setting up a patch.  Start with a fresh empty preset and select adding an amp (not amp and cab) and as you roll through the different amps audition them without actually adding them to the signal chain and see if you find one that best represents what you're looking for.  Once you add that, go through the same process with cabinets.  Maybe somewhere in the process you can discover what seems to be throwing things off from the tone you're looking for.

 

One thing that can sometimes throw you off is that what you're listening to in the case of an amp and a cab is the sound is being modeled based on a mic'd cabinet and so it depends a great deal on the mic used and it's placement relative to the cabinet.  If you're looking for the "amp in the room" sound, you probably won't get that.  You'll get the studio-ready representation of the sound which can be fairly different to some ears.  You can tweak this considerably by changing the mic's and their distance, but it will always be the studio sound of the setup and not the live amp in the room sound.  That may take some getting used to, but it's a much more precise and accurate sound than the "amp in the room" which gets flavored by the room acoustics and placement of the amp relative to you.  This could be what's leading you to feel it's "thin".  I use my Helix for both studio as well as live work, and I can't say it has ever sounded thin, so it may be your ears need to adjust.  Or, perhaps, you need to set the mic on the cab a longer distance away to get a better ambient feel to the tone.

 

Honestly, the best advice I can give anyone is to approach the Helix as if it's a virtual recording studio and the process is pretty close to the same as you would use in real studio of building the right signal chain to achieve the tone you want.

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I'm closer to HO's experience than DD's, in that I often want to adjust the high end, but I'm using a pair of Alesis Alpha 112 FRFRs, not studio monitors, and they're probably too bright relative to a studio situation.

 

My advice personally would be to adjust away, make it sound good to you. If you decide later that your monitors need some sort of global EQ to get them more in line with "common practice" (like for instance based on running some sort of frequency analyzer on them), you can go back and adjust your saved presets. For now, just prove to yourself that you can get your rocks off using Helix in the environment you're actually in. I got stuck for a while feeling like I shouldn't even try to make myself happy until I'd decided on some absolutely valid global EQ. There's some point to that, as has been discussed in other threads, but don't let it keep you from looking for joy NOW.

 

FWIW, IMO, the factory presets aren't some holy grail of awesomeness, even if some people pull some of them up and they sound great out of the box. Levels are all over the place, as is overall frequency response. I'd take them more as ideas to explore, both in terms of how they sound *when EQ'd for your speakers, environment, and taste*, and how they're built.

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I was BLOWN AWAY by one of the Glenn DuLaune patches for lead the other night. Not my thing, but it might be yours. At the very least, they are super cheap, and they will give you a starting place to work from, unless your unit is defective or doing something wacky.

 

I've had nothing but joy with all the sounds from Helix myself.

btw, get a stereo cable and get that P22 rockin' acoustic and electric at the same time, bro!

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Try going through my video and create the patch that I went through. I tried this patch into a Line 6 PA on the weekend and it translated pretty well. I also used the Helix rack.

 

Cheers,

 

Peter.

 

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I use the same monitors, and all Yamahas I've used before tend to be bright.  I use the high end "-1" feature on the back of the monitors to help a bit.

 

The other thing that makes a giant difference for me is using the global EQ to cut out extra high end and low end that we normally wouldn't hear from a guitar cab.  Just like Resonator mentioned above, I low cut stuff below 80hz and high cut anywhere from 6kHz- 9khz.  

 

If you're more sensitive to high frequencies like I consider myself to be, I've been getting along with the 121 ribbon, 30 dynamic, 7 dynamic, 112 dynamic mics more than the others.

 

I've played an awesome amount of nice traditional tube amps, and I'll never stop loving them.  I switched to digital gear years ago (I've used Line6, Kemper and Axe Fx) for the convenience.  Its not until recently that stopped really missing tube amps, but it is a different experience (4x12 cab vs monitors or PA speakers). But all of these new processors make it possible to get whatever sound you're looking for if you play around with them.

 

And the video in the original post is using passive pickups. So it shouldn't be to hard to come by similar tones.

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So I'd like to start off by saying thank you to everyone who has submitted some suggestions. I can honestly say that each one of them had a hand in helping me sculpt my tone.

 

I'm happy to stay that it's starting to come around. I suppose I was originally upset because my tone, followed exactly as it was in that video I posted, didn't sound anywhere near it. However, I know there's a lot of factors that go into it from the guitar to the pickups, etc.

 

Here's what I initially did which has made all the difference so far:

 

I made the global EQ adjustments per vmoncebaiz's suggestion, that made a huge difference. In addition, I switched the input on my Apogee to -10 dBv rather than mic, as I believe the mic preamp was coloring the tone a bit. Plus, now I don't have to worry about feathering the gain on my AI in addition to the Helix. Lastly, i've begun playing with the mic's and positions a bit, and have found that to make a huge difference (for my setup, it seems the 121 plays nicer than the rest, which is not surprising as i've always like the sound of a ribbon mic).

 

No, two questions for you guys:

 

1st - 

 

 

btw, get a stereo cable and get that P22 rockin' acoustic and electric at the same time, bro!

 

I've been wanting to do this, but what's the best way to go about it. Using an input on the rear of the rack?

 

2nd - 

 

For those of you who have the rack, 4 seconds a normal lag time from when I hit the on switch to when the screen on the rack lights up?

 

Thanks!

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...

 

 

For those of you who have the rack, 4 seconds a normal lag time from when I hit the on switch to when the screen on the rack lights up?

 

Thanks!

Yes that's normal.

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Ditto - this thing is quite the computer, and takes a bit to start up - the first indication of 'life' is in fact in Helix Control... then the rack unit starts to light up.

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Okay cool, that puts my mind at easy.

 

Any suggestions regarding running both outputs on my guitar into the rack?

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I'm glad to hear that you are getting things worked out Rezonator. For another resource, let me suggest "Line 6 Helix User Group" on  Facebook ran by Chad Boston. We have over 2,000 kind and helpful Helix users there. It's a great community.

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Okay cool, that puts my mind at easy.

 

Any suggestions regarding running both outputs on my guitar into the rack?

 

The only challenge is that a "real electric guitar", in my experience, only sounds right plugged into the front input.

 

I think I ideascaled for the back returns inputs to be "switchable" so that they can do the auto impedance guitar level stuff, but until then, I have to run my electric signal to the front jack, and my acoustic to Return 1 on the back.

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The only challenge is that a "real electric guitar", in my experience, only sounds right plugged into the front input.

 

I think I ideascaled for the back returns inputs to be "switchable" so that they can do the auto impedance guitar level stuff, but until then, I have to run my electric signal to the front jack, and my acoustic to Return 1 on the back.

 

Got it, makes sense. Thanks man!

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I received my new Helix Rack yesterday after years of using VSTs, I missed having a hardware amp and hoped that the Helix was going to be the dream rig!

I stayed up last night for a few hours to really dig into the thing and put it through its paces.

Honestly, I have to agree with Rezonator at this point... I'm loving all the clean amps and bluesy amps - the sounds and FX are fantastic! However, I too am struggling with all the Hi-Gain channels - it's like they're digitally clipping or something, there's this distortion in the high end that just won't go away. It's almost like it's on top of the amp sound - this fizzy crushed sound. I have no idea what it is. I assume, it can't be my input signal too hot, because the clean sounds are fine.

I don't believe the sound I'm hearing is present in the real amp. I've being playing for a long time through many amps and Sims and know what amps sound like and how they respond.

I've tried playing with the BIAS and other settings and can't get rid of it. If I use just the preamp instead of the amp, that helps, but it sucks the power out of the tone too.

Really quite disappointed at this point and considering sending the unit back for refund which would be a real shame, because I love the thing in every other way! It should be perfect for my needs.

I actually even read this thread before I purchased and put it down to a single bad experience, given the replies. But now, not so sure.

Rezonator: did you find a "magic switch" to get rid of it?

I'm just monitoring through headphones at this point, so can rule out and other monitoring issues. Also upgraded firmware to 2.21. any advice?

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Having a little more success now adjusting the input impedance - the auto setting is too harsh, I'm setting it now to 10 ohms - quite unexpectedly... I would have thought a nice high impedance would be the way to go. Global input Pad doesn't help much though.

 

Nah, the HD600s I use are great, I've mixed full albums using those regularly for reference without an issue and I know them really well, so they're perfect for comparing my VSTs with the Helix.

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Keep in mind this original post is over a year old. I'd be curious to see how the original poster is doing with their Helix and how far they have come in becoming intimately familiar with the equipment. 

 

I have had mine for over a year and I am still fine tuning my sounds. As guitar players, I don't think we ever stop doing that. 

 

Give it some time, you will get the hang of it. 

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