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Variax Support?

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The Helix Hardware has good support for the Variax. Wondering if the software will integrate somehow with the Variax? I know the communication with the Variax is currently limited over USB, but because the VDI spec is closed we have no idea of what's possible using that or USB.  

 

FYI.. Here's my ideascale to build a stand-alone Variax interface that could be used along with Helix Native.

 

 

 

 

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We might be pleasantly surprised on this. It's possible that Helix Native has been designed from the outset to use the existing Variax Workbench interface device for Variax support. If not, the software technology to do so already exists in the Workbench HD product. I doubt that a new stand-alone Variax interface product is required - every Variax owner already has the Workbench interface.

 

Just to be clear - I have absolutely no 'inside knowledge' about this. I am just observing that the technology and a suitable device already exist.

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We might be pleasantly surprised on this. It's possible that Helix Native has been designed from the outset to use the existing Variax Workbench interface device for Variax support. If not, the software technology to do so already exists in the Workbench HD product. I doubt that a new stand-alone Variax interface product is required - every Variax owner already has the Workbench interface.

 

Just to be clear - I have absolutely no 'inside knowledge' about this. I am just observing that the technology and a suitable device already exist.

 

It might include a Workbench interface that would be nice. However, that would only address part of the functionality of the Helix (model and tuning changes per patch). I am also interested in direct processing of the digital Variax signal alone and combined with the mag pickups.  This is one of the cool benefits of Helix (and PodHD series). That would require audio data be passed on the USB interface (directly or via an external VDI box).

 

I hope you are correct and this is something that Line 6 has anticipated, but I am worried that Helix Native is just a reaction to the threat from BiasFX so it may not have Variax features out of the gate. It might also be that adding the digital audio is just difficult, and too costly to develop (again, who knows?). 

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  This is one of the cool benefits of Helix (and PodHD series) ...

 

 

Except for the HD bean  :(

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posted in the Helix area from a Line 6 Employee (note the Variax control listed as a hardware advantage):

 

Advantages of Helix Native in the studio:

  • Can run multiple instances simultaneously, on guitar tracks, bass tracks, vocal tracks, synth tracks, busses, or hey—the entire mix if you want
  • Number of blocks is limited by your computer's horsepower, not DSP
  • Instance(s) automatically stored and recalled with your DAW project
  • Helix Hardware doesn't need to be connected
  • Tweaking an already tracked guitar tone doesn't require re-amping (tracking all the way through the song in real time)

Advantages of Helix Hardware in the studio:

  • Effectively zero latency, resulting in a better feel
  • Superior analog front end, optimized for tracking instruments
    • 123dB dynamic range on the Guitar Input
    • Digitally-controlled impedance circuit loads your pickups properly for the selected tone
    • Digitally-controlled analog pad
  • Can route external pedals into your signal flow with negligible latency
  • Integrates seamlessly into 4-cable method setups (or 7, 10, and 13-cable method setups) for tracking real amps
  • Simple to integrate realtime control (Wah, Pitch Wham, Volume, etc.)
  • Variax connectivity
  • Tactile feedback
  • Easier to control and edit
  • Snapshots, Command Center, etc.
  • 64 controller assignments (vs. Helix Native's 16 automation lanes)
  • Future Helix features that don't really apply to Native

Advantages of using Helix Hardware with Helix Native in the studio:

  • All of the above (best of both worlds)
  • Getting your album's tones ready for touring takes minutes, not days or weeks
  • Getting your tour's tones ready for recording takes minutes, not days or weeks

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Latency will be determined by your Interface, DAW, and PC settings.

It's really hard to narrow that number down with such a vast array of Interfaces, DAWs, and PC setups out there.

 

Best thing anyone could say is that the better the hardware, the better the latency.

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I would like to see an ability to "Re Guitar" parts using the Helix Native - IE the Helix Hardware captures JUST the digital signal from the Variax as a DI and you can CHANGE the actual guitar model later... one can dream right? It's theoretically possible...maybe have it as an option in the USB7/8 "Reamp" options as "Variax Piezo" like it has "Variax Mags"...

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I would like to see an ability to "Re Guitar" parts using the Helix Native - IE the Helix Hardware captures JUST the digital signal from the Variax as a DI and you can CHANGE the actual guitar model later... one can dream right? It's theoretically possible...maybe have it as an option in the USB7/8 "Reamp" options as "Variax Piezo" like it has "Variax Mags"...

 

The problem with doing something like that is the Variax modeling takes place in the Variax itself, and the VDI cable only send digital audio one way (from the Variax to the Helix). There's no way to send the raw audio back from the Helix to the Variax. And that's not just something that could be changed by firmware/software updates. That has to do with the actual physical architecture of the Variax, VDI and Helix.

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I would like to see an ability to "Re Guitar" parts using the Helix Native - IE the Helix Hardware captures JUST the digital signal from the Variax as a DI and you can CHANGE the actual guitar model later... one can dream right? It's theoretically possible...maybe have it as an option in the USB7/8 "Reamp" options as "Variax Piezo" like it has "Variax Mags"...

 

That would require a whole new plugin - perhaps called Variax Native. Helix does not do any Variax DSP; it just communicates Variax command and control data over VDI. Perhaps Line 6 will do that someday, but it would be a completely different VST product - not an extension of Helix Native.

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Yes a new plug in would work! I suggested this a few years ago on the boards but this was pre- ideascape which I have just submitted to now. Depends whether a firmware update to the Variax would make bypassing its processing of the guitar sound and sending the data through the VDI possible

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You will always need a translator from VDI to whatever the device or computer needs. Currently, the only translation is possible through Line 6 hardware.

 

So any Variax "compatibility" in Native will be tied to Line 6 hardware of some kind.

 

And I think that the adaptor for computer connection is not designed for this. So something in the future, hardware-wise, will be necessary if this ever happens.

 

Whether that happens... depends on many things, but I think this desire might be a small enough niche that it won't happen anytime soon.

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Yes a new plug in would work! I suggested this a few years ago on the boards but this was pre- ideascape which I have just submitted to now. Depends whether a firmware update to the Variax would make bypassing its processing of the guitar sound and sending the data through the VDI possible

 

I hate to be yet another wet blanket on this, but that's also not possible. The modeling depends on having 6 separate audio channels - one for each string. (The modeling as a whole, not just the alternate tunings. Each string must be processed differently due to pickup angle, etc.)

 

The digital audio signal send on the VDI connection is mixed down to two mono channels: one for the Variax model and one for the magnetic pickups. (Under the hood it's an AES/EBU 2-channel digital audio stream, as per some info Line 6 released 10+ years ago for making custom wiring for wireless MIDI.)

 

So there's no way to get at the 6 separate audio streams outside of the Variax electronics, and no way to send it 6 channels of per-string audio except through the strings themselves.

 

Well... if you wanted to find a really experienced electrical engineer, you could create a crazy custom Frankensteinian system where a tap is taken off of each piezo pickup, one for each string, to be recorded separately... Then on playback, turn off the physical piezos and feed the recorded signal back into the Variax electronics. But that sounds like a nightmare of engineering complexity with level- and impedance-matching and other unforeseen horrors.

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We might be pleasantly surprised on this. It's possible that Helix Native has been designed from the outset to use the existing Variax Workbench interface device for Variax support. If not, the software technology to do so already exists in the Workbench HD product. I doubt that a new stand-alone Variax interface product is required - every Variax owner already has the Workbench interface.

 

Just to be clear - I have absolutely no 'inside knowledge' about this. I am just observing that the technology and a suitable device already exist.

 

 

Unfortunately I'd be extremely surprised if the Variax Workbench hardware has the ability to pass audio to the computer. As I understand it, the device only functions as a glorified proprietary MIDI interface (since the Variax control stuff is done via MIDI CCs and sysex messages).

 

EDIT: and no, this is not MIDI notes but only control messages. There is no possibility of guitar-to-MIDI conversion using the Workbench device.

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Unfortunately I'd be extremely surprised if the Variax Workbench hardware has the ability to pass audio to the computer. As I understand it, the device only functions as a glorified proprietary MIDI interface (since the Variax control stuff is done via MIDI CCs and sysex messages).

 

EDIT: and no, this is not MIDI notes but only control messages. There is no possibility of guitar-to-MIDI conversion using the Workbench device.

 

 

Yeah, this. It doesn't pass audio, if it did, they'd have leveraged that by now.

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On 6/27/2017 at 10:07 AM, silverhead said:

 

That would require a whole new plugin - perhaps called Variax Native. Helix does not do any Variax DSP; it just communicates Variax command and control data over VDI. Perhaps Line 6 will do that someday, but it would be a completely different VST product - not an extension of Helix Native.

 

I'm late to the convo, but man that would be sweet.  It'd be an awesome in recording and tone shaping scenarios; record your parts and licks and modify everything in post with a click here or there.  Of course Helix Native already makes much of this possible, but it's always nice changing guitar models live to hear the difference you get, it would just be nice to have that option after the fact too.  I'd buy it.  But, it definitely seems like quite the task as mdmayfield pointed out:

 

On 8/15/2017 at 3:01 PM, mdmayfield said:

 

The modeling depends on having 6 separate audio channels - one for each string. (The modeling as a whole, not just the alternate tunings. Each string must be processed differently due to pickup angle, etc.)

 

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I wanna jack an Ethernet cable into my Mac and my Variax, and that's it. Digital data flow with no dongle.  

 

And then I want Helix Native to let me save my Variax settings, tunings, etc, with the presets.

 

Thanks for making this happen by Christmas-time!

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