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What SHOULD the Helix sound like (going FrFr)


FarleyUK
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Bit of a strange topic I know, but I'm getting my replacement unit today, and I'd like to know that there's no fault with it (seeing as my old unit had a couple of them).

 

Can anyone point me to a good 'real world' demo of how the Helix should sound when going FrFr please? Ideally nothing that's been post-produced, and is just a simple patch. Looking at a lot of YouTube vids, they're all DI'd or post-produced, which doesn't really give me the 'true' sound.

 

Thanks!

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Well, the thing is  - a well set up Helix patch heard FRFR does sound post produced!

That's because the Helix lets you place effects after the amp and speakers.  Which is what happens in the studio.

That's the real power of the thing - a studio sound live.

Now, you can use it just like an amp and not do anything post the speaker (well you need a mic to hear it - so even the placement of the mic could be considered post production).  But put a high quality delay or reverb after that mic, and yes, starts to sound really studio!

You got a problem with that you might have wasted your money.

Please set your global EQ to roll off drastically below 100hz and again somewhere above 5KHz  - that's to restrict your frequency response to sound like a guitar speaker.  You could do that inside each individual patch instead - if you really want to - but most of us have got great results with the system I just described.

Expect to be impressed!

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I honestly doubt the YouTube videos are post produced as most of them are simple microphone captures.  But even then the mic will somewhat color the sound a bit.  Quite honestly trying to evaluate a sound from YouTube is always going to have some inherent limitations as it will be limited to what your computer playback system is capable of.

 

As rvroberts stated you should expect the sound to be that of a studio recorded guitar as that's what the combination of Helix and FRFR are meant to provide.  You will probably need to apply a high cut filter around 5000hz or above either globally or within your patch to tame the highs which can sound pretty shrill.  You may also find you need to apply a low cut filter at around 100hz or higher to tame some of the boominess of the lower strings.  I haven't really had to do this low cut so much anymore once I began using some decent IRs, but just be aware of it.

 

Along those lines you may want to experiment using different cabinets or IR's with different mic's and placements of those mics as they can very often reduce a lot of tweaking with EQ blocks.  If I were you I'd just start very simple on a patch with just an amp, cab, and mic's so you can really evaluate the sound you're getting.  Make sure you have it up to ample volume (not blasting) so you get an accurate representation of the patch at typical stage volume.

 

Other than that you should be getting a pretty decent reflection of a studio produced guitar sound as if you were listening to playback in a studio of the guitar track.

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I finding that when ive set up my helix at home through monitors and then run thru p.a. system the p.a. system adds alot of colour and gain (obviously as studio monitors are supposed to be extremely flat response).

 

Its hard to get this or any fx unit set up to use on monitors,pa,headphones thru amp etc just using one setting,ive found i have to duplicate my presets for each application,which works fine tbh.

The only problem is my ocd,if i change anything in my presets then it has to be the same for all i.e if i change an amp model for say lead, i want the same amp model for each application p.a,monitors etc!!

 

 

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Depends upon what FRFR unit you bought.  Why they can all claim to be "FRFR" and still not sound closer to the same I don't pretend to know.  But speaking for Stagesource (my personal favorite), my beginning experience was downloaded presets that were created/uploaded by people using anything 'other' than FRFR monitors will typically sound woofy/muddy and will require some EQing to sound as expected.  Also I have found that the Helix/FRFR combo sounds a little more like a perfect, clean, recording of a sound rather than a live one.  But this can be said of "digital" vs "analog" across the board.  My more current experience is that I have had practice with the obvious learning curve that comes with equipment containing this many options.  Some time down the road you will learn to see the forest through all the trees.  I'm getting an awesome 'amp' sound from my Helix/STagesourse system.  The thing NOT to expect - ever - is to be able to have an audible experience from a single preset that sounds the same regardless of venue OR equipment used. This will always require tweaking (sometimes drastic) and once accomplished should always be saved as a duplicate preset with some sort of descriptive notation.  Also, consistency is of utmost importance and the best way to accomplish this with as many options as provided by the Helix is 'simplicity'.  If you're FRFR  has different modes (like the Stagesource does) my recommendation is that you don't complicate things further.  Keep the speaker in PA/Reference mode regardless of how logically tantalizing the other 'mode' descriptions might be.  Stagesource speakers are designed to automatically choose whatever it thinks is best for it's present surroundings/orientation.  So I have to check and make sure it's in reference mode every time I turn it on otherwise I find myself unnecessarily and incorrectly tweaking my perfect preset.  While being slightly disappointed that shelling out the bucks for FRFR was not a magic BandAid for my previous tone consistency woes like I thought it would be - I have absolutely no regrets.  Quite the opposite.  I now have not 1, but 3, Stagesource speakers.  I keep two at home/studio where I play in WDW/stereo and I keep one at church where I play live weekly along with a group of stored presets for that venue.  I don't have to wire-up a bloomin' Christmas tree every time I set up at a different location.  No "4 cable systems", amps, heads, return/sends, etc.  Just one cable going directly from back of Helix to FOH and one cable going to back of FRFR Speaker that I have pointed directly at me as a personal monitor.  Both the soundman and myself hear what my preset is 'supposed' to sound like and the sound man does whatever he wants with it from there (gotta luv em').  The only thing I know for sure is that if I can't get a 'better than needed' sound for use at my (large) church venue, then I've got bigger problems than my choice of output speaker.

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I'm a Chatty Cathy today.  One more thing (most important) concerning your expectations.  The quality, or value, of your FRFR speaker should not be based generally upon how it "sounds" with a particular preset.  Generally, if one speaker sounds great with a preset you've downloaded - and another speaker sounds terrible - it often only means that you got lucky and downloaded a preset that sounds good with at least one of them.

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I finding that when ive set up my helix at home through monitors and then run thru p.a. system the p.a. system adds alot of colour and gain (obviously as studio monitors are supposed to be extremely flat response).

 

Its hard to get this or any fx unit set up to use on monitors,pa,headphones thru amp etc just using one setting,ive found i have to duplicate my presets for each application,which works fine tbh.

The only problem is my ocd,if i change anything in my presets then it has to be the same for all i.e if i change an amp model for say lead, i want the same amp model for each application p.a,monitors etc!!

 

The reason the PA sounds different than your studio monitors is, although your studio monitors are flat response they are ultimately a home stereo speaker with a tweeter and (typically) bass reflex speaker arrangement.  This is very different from the powered FRFR speaker which is designed for projecting sound across long distances.  I don't have OCD, but I do know that when I create a patch using my Yamaha DXR12 I can turn the PA speakers which are QSC KLA12's and I hear no difference at all in the sound....other than loudness.

 

The fact is flat response is simply a term designating a very wide and even range of response, but all speakers will have varying differences in the frequency response profiles.  However the major differences come in what they are designed to do.

 

Traditional guitar amp cabinets radiate sound across a wide area including sometimes to the rear which can fill a space with sound, but isn't very good at covering long distances as the energy gets dissipated into floors, walls and ceilings.  Not to mention, of course, they aren't designed to have any real "flat response" characteristics generally and focus most of their response profiles in frequencies used mostly by guitar.

 

Studio monitors are designed for a flatter response profile, but again are not designed to cover long distances.  They often have ported cabinets which depend on their placement for bass response characteristics.  However they do tend to have the most consistent sound across the vertical and horizontal axis.

 

PA speakers or FRFR monitors (which are basically the same thing) are designed to be a flatter response but are designed for focusing sound energy in a fairly tight vertical axis and a very wide horizontal axis.  This helps ensure sound energy is retained across longer distances and not wasted being projected to the rear, floors and ceiling, and walls.

 

Headsets are an animal unto themselves and are greatly dependent on who they are marketed to.  Studio headsets tend to have the flattest response, but will appear to be more like studio monitors than PA or FRFR monitors.

 

Of course if you have OCD....all bets are off as far as maintaining consistency in different environments..  ;)

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And given the fact there are thousands and thousands of third party IR files out there, no one agrees what that should sound like either... :)

 

Just as there are as many studios with different sounding rooms.  I don't think it has to sound like a specific room at all. 

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Don't know if this helps, but Paul Glover has a video of a w/d/w rig and the wet is utilizing Laney's FRFR cabinets. Everything is mic'ed in the video, not DI. I'd have to watch the video again to see if he just runs through the FRFR cabs with any of his patches. 

 

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Bit of a strange topic I know, but I'm getting my replacement unit today, and I'd like to know that there's no fault with it (seeing as my old unit had a couple of them).

 

Can anyone point me to a good 'real world' demo of how the Helix should sound when going FrFr please? Ideally nothing that's been post-produced, and is just a simple patch. Looking at a lot of YouTube vids, they're all DI'd or post-produced, which doesn't really give me the 'true' sound.

 

Thanks!

It "should" sound the way you want it to. There is no universal definition for what sounds good, horrible, or anything in between. For me or anyone else to tell you "OK, now THIS is what Helix is supposed to sound like", is ridiculous and defeats the purpose of owning something as versatile and customizable as this unit is. What I think sounds great is irrelevant...you have to figure out how to get it to spit out tones that YOU like. That's the hard part...and right out of the box, it's virtually guaranteed NOT to.

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When I hear flub, I think of using an EQ before the amp to roll off some lows, and maybe boost highs too. If you want, you can use another EQ to boost back some lows after the amp or after the cab/IR.

 

Pre and post EQ should be built into every real amp IMO.

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Tried it briefly last night - the 2204 amps sound fine, but I notice the Plexi models are really 'flubby', even with bass rolled right off (and low cut up as high as 160). I take it that's just a facet of that model?

Just a thought, but are you trying all the different mics/cabs with the different models, or running IR's. I have this great IR set from Rosen and the mesa cab he captured sound AMAZING with some amp models (the ENGL, the 5150, the 2204) but flubby and woofy with others. Same with the in-built cabs. The XXL cab sounds boomy with most amps unless I use the 57 on Axis mic and judicious low-cut, where as the smaller cab models do the opposite. In the past IRL I've run amp heads with the bass completely at 0 in a live setting through a guitar cab because the amp itself and how the EQ works emphasize the low end the louder it goes. Also as, mentioned, some gain stages appreciate some pre-EQing or using a cleanish boost with the low end pulled back to tighten things up.

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I don't understand the question. How are you going to get a feel for what an FRFR in a room with you sounds like through YouTube?

 

The helix sounds like a guitar amp and cab mic'd up in a studio. If you're not used to that sound then you won't like it unless you run it into a power amp and guitar cab...but you still have to mic the cab to get it to FOH anyway...

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