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Helix Pitch Whammy

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I just received my Helix and I am VERY disappointed with the pitch shifting. Since then I have read other posts stating that the pitch shifter isn't polyphonic. It shouldn't need to be. Pitch shifting down an octave for example shouldn't need to track anything, just shift the pitch of the incoming audio down an octave. The way it works now is unforgivable that they would actually ship a product with a feature that works this poorly. I bought the Helix to replace my hugely oversized pedalboard and pedals including my EHX Pitchfork. Now wondering if I should return it.

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Maybe keep the EHX Pitchfork and place it in an FX Loop of the Helix?

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It's a big talking point on the forum. It works for some and not for others. Line 6 reps read the forum so will be aware, all you can do is hope it may get updated. I'm desperate for a formant filter but in the mean time use a EXH talking machine in the fx loop. We can't have everything, it will never meet ALL your needs, however, look at what it does offer, it's pretty amazing 😉

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But things like the pitched delays, reverbs and harmonizer are effected as well. So then I would end up having to keep many of my other pedals as well. If somehow I could be assured that there were plans to overhaul the pitch shifting algorithm it would make more sense for me to keep it. Is there anything like that confirmed for the future.

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I really wanted to like it. The routing possibilities are very attractive and it does many things well. I was buying to replace my effects so I am not interested in the amp/speaker modeling, and it is not going to replace many of my effects either. If I return it I will not get a full refund and I will have to pay to ship it as well so I am not taking the decision lightly.

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well after initially using the harmonizer i found out that the effect should go after the amp,not before.

I was always led to believe a harmonizer or pitch shifter should get the cleanest signal i.e. clean.

 

When using harm before the amp (amp block that is) it sounded terrible,after moving it to after it sounds great and tracks pretty much flawlessly.

 

Im presuming its the same for pitch shift, so worth a try if you havent tried already

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wow you bought it just for a few effects? try the amp modelling anyway, you may be surprised (depending on your setup) and have some cool new amp tones ;)

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Well, I gave that a shot (putting the pitch shifter after an amp).It did help the single notes some but there was an occsional glitch. Chords were still awful for the most part.

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Well, I have two pedaltrain pro's full of effects that I have arranged. I have more, but I couldn't justify not making it all fit on the 2 PT's which is arguably still too big. I hoped to replace my volume pedal, EHX Pitchfork, EHX Ring Thing, T.C. Ditto looper, 2x Eventide H9, and Strymon Timeline as well as add some features I did not have previously, and fit all my remaining effects on just one Pedaltrain. Other effects I did not plan to replace are my Joe Bonnamossa Crybaby, EP Booster, MXR phase 90, up to 5 different OD, Dist and Fuzz pedals, Montreal Assembly Count to Five, Red Panda Particle, Boomerang Looper and Boss RC-3 looper. The more pedals I have to keep, the less chances I have of getting rid of my second PT Pro.

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I agree completely with the OP.  The quality of the whammy/pitch shifting is my number one complaint.  

 

I haven't seen too many others have issues with it in the forum, and I wonder how much effort would go into improving it.  Glad to see a post about it to hopefully draw some attention to it.

 

I'd really love to sell off my digitech whammy 5 since it's expensive and large.  The G-system had a much better intelligent harmony effect that tracked extremely well.  

 

I don't generally complain about the Helix, but this is my one major hang up.


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Are you aware that that's the point of tracking being polyphonic? The word polyphonic means that it tracks chords (polyphonic) and not just single notes (monophonic). That's what the word means when related to octavers or pitch shifting devices. And I'm missing polyphonic tracking as well, as I sold my POG2 last year and I'll probably replace it with a Sub'n'Up, or a similar device.

I'm just waiting a little longer for line 6 to implement a good polyphonic pitch shifting block.

But, just in case, I'd suggest voting for the various requests on idea scale ;)

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My point is it shouldn't need to track the pitch at all. I am not a software engineer, and do not know how the algorithms work, but pitch shifting should just take the incoming audio and pitch shift the whole thing up or down as desired, noise and all. Trying to identify the pitch and then attempting to produce a facsimile of the specific note seems redundant and doesn't work as well. I would understand that technology 20 years ago, even though there were pitch shifters in some old Yamaha multi effects units for example, I'm sure there were others, that did pitch shifting without trying to track anything back then, but nowadays where that technology is prevalent, why shouldn't the Helix be able to do it.

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Even stuff like the Morpheus pedals, which are specifically designed to do polyphonic pitch shifting still glitch out in some instances or with fast interval changes. Without going with a piezo-MIDI system I haven't even heard too many harmonizers/shifters that can handle even a bend, let alone a bunch of different notes. 

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Some of the newer pitch shifting pedals have some degree of artifacts. In fact many of them work quite well, but that's a far cry from how the pitch whammy on the Helix works. It's one of the highest requested features on ideascale.

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From what I can see, in reference to the earlier post, the Morpheus is not the end all be all of pitch shifters, but a economy model compared to the Whammy and Pitch Fork pedals. Even the latest Zoom multieffect pedal does decent pitch shifting.

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For some reason many of the stomps synthesize the shifted pitches (octaves). Maybe it's how the analog stuff works, maybe it's more economical or just an artistic choice.

 

Would be good to have a plain pitch shift that doesn't need to track anything. Maybe to do that in real-time is too CPU heavy. In a DAW you can pitch shift anything keeping the tempo.

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I just received my Helix and I am VERY disappointed with the pitch shifting. Since then I have read other posts stating that the pitch shifter isn't polyphonic. It shouldn't need to be. Pitch shifting down an octave for example shouldn't need to track anything, just shift the pitch of the incoming audio down an octave. The way it works now is unforgivable that they would actually ship a product with a feature that works this poorly. I bought the Helix to replace my hugely oversized pedalboard and pedals including my EHX Pitchfork. Now wondering if I should return it.

 

 

Pitch shifting is not the main focus of the Helix or Line 6 in general. It's an amp modeling device.

 

Regarding this statement, 

 

 

Pitch shifting down an octave for example shouldn't need to track anything, just shift the pitch of the incoming audio down an octave.

 

How do you propose one would do that?  If it were as simple as you seem to think it is, we'd have had polyphonic pitch shifting in the early 70's with the advent of the Eventide Harmonizer.  Alas, that is simply not the case.  It took Digitech licensing a technology from IVL Technologies before polyphonic pitch shifting became a real practical thing.  Digitech first used it on the Vocalist Harmonizer, then they came out with the Whammy a few years later.  All via developments from IVL.

 

 

 

My point is it shouldn't need to track the pitch at all. I am not a software engineer, and do not know how the algorithms work, but pitch shifting should just take the incoming audio and pitch shift the whole thing up or down as desired, noise and all.

 

So you admit that you're not a software engineer, yet you post like know exactly what  Line 6 needs to do with the software.

 

As for the EHX Pitchfork, that is a fairly recent effects box. I stress recent because it has taken a long time to develop and mature polyphonic pitch detection technology. Why?  Because it is extremely difficult.  The other thing is, and I've said this before, those types of effects are doing one thing and one thing only.  The Helix is using most of its computing power on amp modeling - and rightly so.  Polyphonic pitch shifting is not the priority for the Helix.

 

It's an amp modeler first and foremost.  Effects unit last.

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Helix is presented as (copied and pasted from sweetwater title) 

Line 6 Helix Guitar Multi-effects Processor

I also know enough to know that a harmonizer is different technology than a pitch shifter.

 

Yamaha had pitch change on the SPX-90 in 1985, maybe earlier, so there shouldn't be a huge licensing issue. All the effect did is pitch the entire signal which is different than tracking each note. You keep referring to harmonizers which I have stated multiple times is a completely different effect.

 

The Helix was designed with multiple sends and returns so it could be used in multiple way's depending on the users needs. While it does amp modeling comparitive to other amp models, it is not required to use it as one. Why would it have 50 amp models and 70 effects.

 

I did not create this post to argue whether Helix is an amp modeler or effects unit, or how anyone else should use theirs. I simply wanted to know if their was any announced plans for them to update it so it would suit my needs or if I need to return mine because it doesn't suit my needs. 

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Hideout you come off a little pompous with all your underlined bold text. What makes you the expert on what the helix is primarily and what it isn't? I would never have bought it if it were just an amp modeler with effects as an afterthought.

 

Pitch shifting and whammy effects are popular enough in curtent mainstream guitar driven music to be given some attention (imo). There are multiple examples of companies and pedals that do the effect well in this thread, I don't think at this point it's something unachievable.

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I suspect there could be several challenges relating to pitch shifting and harmonizing right now, not that I would not like to see things like intelligent harmonizing and polyphonic processing and I hope they eventually make their way into the Helix:

 

  • Licensing of certain technology or development of the technology in-house
  • Development resources being first allotted to the issues that deliver the most bang for the buck to the most users. Which ones those are is of course somewhat subjective although informed to a certain extent by feedback from the forum, Facebook, TGP, etc.. Ultimately though some features are a lot more time-consuming and as a result, especially if they require additional licensing, a lot more expensive for L6 to implement. Depending on the feature or the level of effort requied they may monopolize enough resources to actually detract from other efforts. Not saying the big wins shouldn't be pursued though, they just may take more time to arrive.
  • DSP usage -- I suspect high-end harmonizer and particularly polyphonic processing may use substantially more DSP
  • History -- harmonizing and polyphonic processing has never been a strong point or focus for Line6, not sure why this is case. Innovation is one of their strong points.
  • The Helix's architecture and firmware and how it interacts with these kinds of blocks

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Hideout you come off a little pompous with all your underlined bold text. What makes you the expert on what the helix is primarily and what it isn't? I would never have bought it if it were just an amp modeler with effects as an afterthought.

 

Pitch shifting and whammy effects are popular enough in curtent mainstream guitar driven music to be given some attention (imo). There are multiple examples of companies and pedals that do the effect well in this thread, I don't think at this point it's something unachievable.

My apologies. That wasn't the intent. Just stressing the points. I'm not denying the popularity of pitch shifting effects by any means. But that's not going to change the fact that there are limits to what even the Helix can do. It also feels like there are those who simply refuse to recognize this. It's also tiresome to read about people who use dedicated single purpose devices and expect a (somewhat) multipurpose device to be able to perform at nearly the same level. Even Digitech's own MFX/Modelers' whammy emulations aren't quite as good as the real thing. Sure, they're better than Line6's pitch shifting but they also have the advantage of having licensed the technology and have had years to tweak it.

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A few points here:

 

1. When the Helix came out of the gate L6 stated that some of the effects were ported over from the HD series.

 

2. The Pitch Shifter effect in the HD was NOT polyphonic, but when mixed right could be convincing for at least basic needs

 

3. L6 has stated that they are working on new everything all the time and will be updating the Helix engine for free and for a long time.

 

4. Polyphonic pitch shifting is pretty popular on ideascale, right behind the request for the PRS Archon.

 

I voted it up here: http://line6.ideascale.com/a/dtd/High-quality-detune-capo-a-la-EHX-Pitchfork-etc/754044-23508 I suggest you do if you haven't already and hold your horses.

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I found it odd that someone buoght such an expensive unit without even look up before the purchase if the unit gonna be what he expected..

 

Before i bought Helix i used to hang at Helix FB site and also here to see what other people said about the product and one of the first thing i saw was that people complain about the lack of polyphonic pitch shifter..

 

I dont need those effects so for me it wasnt important..

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A few points here:

 

1. When the Helix came out of the gate L6 stated that some of the effects were ported over from the HD series.

 

2. The Pitch Shifter effect in the HD was NOT polyphonic, but when mixed right could be convincing for at least basic needs

 

3. L6 has stated that they are working on new everything all the time and will be updating the Helix engine for free and for a long time.

 

4. Polyphonic pitch shifting is pretty popular on ideascale, right behind the request for the PRS Archon.

 

I voted it up here: http://line6.ideascale.com/a/dtd/High-quality-detune-capo-a-la-EHX-Pitchfork-etc/754044-23508 I suggest you do if you haven't already and hold your horses.

Where have you read NR 3

 

I never read that they will give anything away for free

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My apologies. That wasn't the intent. Just stressing the points. I'm not denying the popularity of pitch shifting effects by any means. But that's not going to change the fact that there are limits to what even the Helix can do. It also feels like there are those who simply refuse to recognize this. It's also tiresome to read about people who use dedicated single purpose devices and expect a (somewhat) multipurpose device to be able to perform at nearly the same level. Even Digitech's own MFX/Modelers' whammy emulations aren't quite as good as the real thing. Sure, they're better than Line6's pitch shifting but they also have the advantage of having licensed the technology and have had years to tweak it.

 

Good point about licencing and time for development, and maybe that is an issue.  

 

 

 

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Where have you read NR 3

 

I never read that they will give anything away for free

I've read it in the massive Helix thread on TGP which I've been following since it started. I'm not going to dig up the post, but the comment was made by Digital Igloo, and I believe I can even remember him spelling the word "long" with extra o's when talking about how long the Helix will be updated for.

 

In the same thread he's also said that there are no current plans to charge for future updates.

 

Read up

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I found it odd that someone buoght such an expensive unit without even look up before the purchase if the unit gonna be what he expected..

 

Before i bought Helix i used to hang at Helix FB site and also here to see what other people said about the product and one of the first thing i saw was that people complain about the lack of polyphonic pitch shifter..

 

I dont need those effects so for me it wasnt important..

Agreed. Also, if you watch any of the promotional videos and reviews of the Helix, what do they spend most of the time talking about?....... Yup. The amp modeling. In fact I can't remember any promo or review videos that spent any appreciable amount of time promoting the Helix's effects other than a perfunctory mention.

 

I dare say that the Helix's effects are very good and serviceable, but they're nothing to write home about. Yes it has only 50 amp models compared to 70 effects, as the OP pointed out, but that doesn't mean that quantity equals quality.

 

Furthermore, amp modeling has been Line6's focus from the beginning, not effects. If you just need effects, TC Electronic has far superior products available. The G System in particular is solely dedicated to effects. But I can't speak to their pitch shifting ability.

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Good point about licencing and time for development, and maybe that is an issue.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you consider how long it took for polyphonic pitch shifting to get here, I believe it is an issue.

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amp modeling has been Line6's focus from the beginning, not effects.

That may be true about the beginnings of line6 but they have also focused on effects, the M series is huge!

 

I miss some of the effects they didn't include from the M series :(

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That may be true about the beginnings of line6 but they have also focused on effects, the M series is huge!

 

I miss some of the effects they didn't include from the M series :(

I'll give you that but is there a particular effect in the M series that has gotten acclaim like that of The Whammy, Strymon Bluesky or EHX Pitchfork? I've not heard of any myself.

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I'll give you that but is there a particular effect in the M series that has gotten acclaim like that of The Whammy, Strymon Bluesky or EHX Pitchfork? I've not heard of any myself.

Acclaim? I don't know. That's not the point of what I was pointing out. All I'm simply saying is Line 6 has indeed focused on effects with some of their lines of pedals. The DL4 for example, is very popular (if acclaim and popularity is your aim here) and I love and still have my FM4. Haven't you heard the seeker and Obi-Wah? Minus The Bear hordes any DL4 they can find and John Fruciante uses them too..

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Acclaim? I don't know. That's not the point of what I was pointing out. All I'm simply saying is Line 6 has indeed focused on effects with some of their lines of pedals. The DL4 for example, is very popular (if acclaim and popularity is your aim here) and I love and still have my FM4. Haven't you heard the seeker and Obi-Wah? Minus The Bear hordes any DL4 they can find and John Fruciante uses them too..

Ok, but again, those are dedicated effects systems. Multieffects yes, but no CPU demanding amp modeling. This is really the point I'm trying to make. And I can think of no amp modeler with an effects section that can truly stand on its own. At least not one with an effects section that can go toe to toe with a bunch of dedicated single effects boxes.

 

Correction:  Maybe one.  The Digitech GSP 1101 and even the 2101 had decent Lexicon effects.  I do not remember how good the Whammy was on the 1101 though and certainly don't remember if my 2101 even had a whammy. Certainly, the reverbs and choruses on both were very good.

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Ok, but again, those are dedicated effects systems. Multieffects yes, but no CPU demanding amp modeling. This is really the point I'm trying to make. And I can think of no amp modeler with an effects section that can truly stand on its own. At least not one with an effects section that can go toe to toe with a bunch of dedicated single effects boxes.

 

Correction: Maybe one. The Digitech GSP 1101 and even the 2101 had decent Lexicon effects. I do not remember how good the Whammy was on the 1101 though and certainly don't remember if my 2101 even had a whammy. Certainly, the reverbs and choruses on both were very good.

We're talking about two different things then

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We're talking about two different things then

 

Well, if by that you mean that the OP is looking for a pedal that specializes in effects only with no amp modeling because that's how he intends to use it, then yes.  The pedal that the OP is looking for and what the Helix is are two different things. 

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Moreover in one of the Helix firmware updates (pre-2.0) new pitch-shifting algos were released (replacing the current ones) but based on some complains from users Line6 decided to rollback in the next update. I think these were still not generally polyphonic but were supposed to handle all situations better.

 

Just to remind and support the claim that Line6 are working on it...

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