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adamtaylor1

How do I dial in a good Headphone Sound?

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Hi Guys,

 

I've purchased a Helix to use exclusively with headphones.  My partner goes to bed early in the evening so loud speakers are not an option.

 

Up until now I've been using a Boss JS-8 eBand with a Rectifier Modern Patch

(Gain 75, Level 60, Bass 35, Middle 35, Treble 50, Presence 0, Gain Sw Middle, Speaker 4x12, Mic Dyn57, Mic Dis on Mic, Mic Pos Center, Mic Level 100)

 

I appreciate the settings probably don't mean much, so I would define the sound as High Gain, Tight Bottom, Good aggressive attack, Excellent Clarity.  Chug Chug playing is tight and responsive and there's enough high end to hear what I'm doing without getting thin. 

 

This rhythm sound is created using John Petrucci's posted clinic settings for a Dual Rectifier.

 

I wanted a better pedal to be able to use different modulations, reverb, delays etc and hopefully get a better sound.

 

So for I'm having a hard time achieving this and I'm looking for some pointers to help me dial in a sound close to what I've been using.

 

I'm working with the Mark IV Lead patch to try and get the tonal character I'm after.

 

My Signal Chain is Guitar > Helix, 1/4 Jacks into an ASTRO A40 Mixamp > 50 ohm Impedance Dynamic Driver Headset (15-28,000hz)

 

I have tried cutting the global Low between 100-200hz, I've tried cutting the global high to around 9-15khz.

 

I've tried cutting the same settings on cabs themselves, I've tried different mics and mic placements.  I've tried the ownhammer sample IRs, I've tried using 2 cabs with different mic placements, different cuts, and using a blend of both.

 

I've tried cutting the bass, mid, top and raising the the 5 band graphic etc.

 

No matter what I do I can't seem to get a tight bass and good clear top end.  What I end up with is usually too bassy / boomy and the top end sounds thin.

 

I'm hoping someone can see my working approach and perhaps suggest a different way of doing things or perhaps help me get the best sound of headphones.

 

I like the unit for features and build quality.  I just fear I'm lacking in expertise and I'm hoping with a little help I can get a good sound so as to not regret the purchase.

 

Cheers,

 

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Here's the deal.  The frequency response range of a pair of headphones is less relevant than the response profile of a pair of headphones.  Consumer grade headphones generally don't have a flat response but tend to have certain frequencies accentuated in order to make commercial music more pleasing to the user.  But this really works against you when it comes to dialing in a preset.

 

This may be exacerbated by the fact that you're using a pair of headsets designed to be used for gaming.  Most people are using high grade commercial level headphones designed to be used in recording studios that provide a fairly flat response across it's frequency response range.  For example I personally use a pair of Beyerdynamic DT770 80 ohm studio headphones along with a small headphone amp which resembles the response profile of my FRFR speakers.

 

That being said, you should be able to tweak the frequency response from your Helix to compensate for many of these differences.

 

Typically to get a tight bass you would use a low cut filter.  This is different just cutting the lows.  A low cut filter cuts frequencies below a certain point, so a low cut between 100 to 150hz will reduce the response from that point down.  Likewise a high cut will have the same effect on the high frequencies and can be useful being set anywhere from 5000 hz and up.

 

What I'd suggest is starting with a stock setting on the Helix of a known high gain amp such as the 2204 or even the new Archetype Lead amp.  If you have the free Ownhammer Mesa cabinets use the variation that uses the SM-57 mic placed at the 3, 4 or 5 position.  As you move out from the cone you'll get a less brittle sound on the high end.  Set your low cut on the cabinet to around 125hz and high cut around 5000hz and see where that gets you.  Concentrate on the mic placement on the IR and the low and high cuts until you have a tight low end and a high end that's not too brittle.  Then make adjustments to the EQ controls on the amp to begin dialing in the core sound.  Remember that graphic EQ or parametric EQ adjustments are for fine tuning.  You might also want to play with the BIAS controls on the amp to get better definition on your attack.  Once you get close to what you want use graphic or parametric EQ's for fine tuning.  Take frequent breaks while dialing in a tone to avoid ear fatigue.

 

Personally, I'd strongly suggest you get a pair of professional headsets to start with because I'm not sure the pair you have are giving a very honest representation of the sound.

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Thanks for that. I've tried these ideas in my workflow and it seems to be helping.

 

I've also started cutting the bass right back on the amp and graphic, put a low cut at 120hz on the global EQ, and cut the highs on the cabs to around 12khz.  This has allowed me to get a decent top end without pushing it so hard it gets thin and I suspect that may be the way to dial it in for these particular cans.

 

It's the darnedest thing.  Through a FRFR monitor in the shop this sounded phenomenal but getting the same quality through headphones at home it's a totally different discipline.  I am quite enjoying experimenting though, It's just a lot to get your head around.

 

If I'm honest I think I had a panic when I was struggling to get a good high gain sound and I was worrying I'd sunk my money into a lemon.  After last night I see it is possible, it's just a learning curve.

 

I think you're right on the headphones.  I see a lot of people praising the DTT770 so that's something I need to look at.  I notice these come in different impedance's would you recommend any in particular?

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The higher the impedence the lower the volume, but the clarity and definition increase.  So I use the 80 ohm with a headphone amp.  It matches up very nicely to my FRFR system that consists of a Yamaha DXR12.

 

I wouldn't spend a lot of time tweaking the patches for your current headphones unless you don't mind re-tweaking them once you get a new pair.

 

By the way, you don't have to use the Global EQ for the low cut.  If you're using an IR you can just use the low cut there rather than affect everything.

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....

It's the darnedest thing.  Through a FRFR monitor in the shop this sounded phenomenal but getting the same quality through headphones at home it's a totally different discipline. ...

 

That's exactly correct. General purpose (non-FRFR) headphones around your ears is a completely different thing from an FRFR monitor's sound bouncing around the room to your ears. Most people who need to use both environments maintain two different sets of presets (setlists) to account for these differences.

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I've been using a pair of relatively inexpensive Sony MDR-V6 (63 ohm) headphones with my new Helix for the past 3 weeks, amidst a variety of speakers and amps as powered cabs. I'm certainly new to the Helix and anticipated I might need to grab a pair of the well liked DT770, should the Sony MDR-V6 not cut it with the Helix. I was delighted to discover that the Sony's are doing very well. I've used these for years, know them quite well, and have several pairs. I have no current need to switch. YMMV.

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I've also started cutting the bass right back on the amp and graphic, put a low cut at 120hz on the global EQ

Also, in Global settings the default for Headphone Monitor is Multi, but this includes the digital out which unaffected by the Global Eq. Try setting it to XLR. (I do add some global hi cut on top of the Cab/IR block hi cut purely for headphone monitoring)

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Thanks for that. I've tried these ideas in my workflow and it seems to be helping.

 

I've also started cutting the bass right back on the amp and graphic, put a low cut at 120hz on the global EQ, and cut the highs on the cabs to around 12khz.  This has allowed me to get a decent top end without pushing it so hard it gets thin and I suspect that may be the way to dial it in for these particular cans.

 

It's the darnedest thing.  Through a FRFR monitor in the shop this sounded phenomenal but getting the same quality through headphones at home it's a totally different discipline.  I am quite enjoying experimenting though, It's just a lot to get your head around.

 

If I'm honest I think I had a panic when I was struggling to get a good high gain sound and I was worrying I'd sunk my money into a lemon.  After last night I see it is possible, it's just a learning curve.

 

I think you're right on the headphones.  I see a lot of people praising the DTT770 so that's something I need to look at.  I notice these come in different impedance's would you recommend any in particular?

 

I also have the Beyer DT 770 Pro 80 ohm headphones.  The helix sounds awful so far with the headphones jack direct to Helix.  If I run it through my Blackstar HT-5R it sounds light years better.  I don't really want to use the amp, just the Helix but I don't know why it sounds so poor.  Ive used all the headphone settings in global headphones monitor selector but still blah???  Any help for a novice?  Thanks

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I use the exact same headphones and they sound fantastic for me plugged straight into Helix. I have not tweaked any settings to make them so. I don't use them to dial in tones, I do that through my Atomic CLR, but those patches sound great in the 770s with no other tweaking required. They don't sound exactly the same, can't expect that, but they do sound quite good. I'm not sure what advice to give, as it's basically been "plug-and-play" for me...

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Try throwing a 3-band compressor between the amp & cab or right after the amp/cab if you're using a single block for them.

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How to get get good headphone sound out of Helix

 

1. Turn on Helix

 

2. Turn Helix back off

 

3. Turn on computer and download S-Gear free trial

 

Done

 

 

Seriously though the only time I've had headphone results that made me want to keep on playing was using S-Gear. Oh and ONCE in a studio with my amp mic'd up but I don't know what voodoo that dude was running in his signal chain because I usually hate the sound in cans.

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I use the exact same headphones and they sound fantastic for me plugged straight into Helix. I have not tweaked any settings to make them so. I don't use them to dial in tones, I do that through my Atomic CLR, but those patches sound great in the 770s with no other tweaking required. They don't sound exactly the same, can't expect that, but they do sound quite good. I'm not sure what advice to give, as it's basically been "plug-and-play" for me...

 

Try throwing a 3-band compressor between the amp & cab or right after the amp/cab if you're using a single block for them.

 

How to get get good headphone sound out of Helix

 

1. Turn on Helix

 

2. Turn Helix back off

 

3. Turn on computer and download S-Gear free trial

 

Done

 

 

Seriously though the only time I've had headphone results that made me want to keep on playing was using S-Gear. Oh and ONCE in a studio with my amp mic'd up but I don't know what voodoo that dude was running in his signal chain because I usually hate the sound in cans.

Thanks for all the responses guys I appreciate it!

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I'm using $30 Behringer headphones and it sounds killer
HPS3000

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Hello everybody, it's always interesting to read comments from expert people like you.

I own a Helix LT and a pair of AKG K141 (600 ohms) headphones connected to the Helix headphones' jack directly. At the moment, with a 1 yr child and very little time to play guitar, this is the best solution for me to spend sometimes jamming :)

 

Since I'm obsessed with sound quality I'd appreciate any comment from you about these points:

- General opinion about AKG K141 (600 ohms) paired with Helix

- How to understand the tweaking of distortions (i'm really not able, at the moment, to hear the impact of low/high cuts, how to deal with them to enhance punch, eliminate fizz, etc.)

- General sense of substituting (stated my current configuration) helix stock cabs with IRs

 

Thank you for your support!

Giuseppe from Italy

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Try a headphone amp between your Helix and your headphones. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, could be you just need a bit more clean headroom (umph) than the Helix headphone out will drive. Worked for me and my 20+ year old Sony MD7506s.

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Here's a tip:

Use reference tracks through the same headphones!

 

If you can get an isolated guitar track of a tone that's close to what you're going for, even better.

 

The logic is, if the ref track can sound great through headphones, there's no reason why the Helix cannot sound great through the same headphones.

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