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I've Formed an Unpopular Opinion


erniedenov
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I like the Helix stock cabs better than IRs. I'll admit, I only have the free ones from Ownhammer, Allure and Celestion. But after much headphone tweaking this afternoon, I found that I could make a better sounding patch with Helix cabs than I could with the IRs every time. Maybe IRs work better for live with an amp or FRFR powered speaker, I don't know. But this is the conclusion I've come to at this point.

 

The 4038 Ribbon mic has become a close friend. I don't use it on every patch, but I use it on a majority of them.

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Oh good, no puffin!

 

I go back and forth on this myself. For the past several months I've been stock-cabs-only and I was getting tones that I really liked. Usually by running multiple cabs in parallel. I'm just right now starting to play with the IRs again. I've improved my ear and I know more about the sounds I like, so I am having more success with the IRs this time. I'm confident that I'll be able to get my tones with a single IR instead of multiple cabs. But I still don't knock the stock cabs, they are perfectly serviceable in my opinion.

 

Interesting about the 4038. I liked it a lot on the stock cabs and employed it often, but when I auditioned IRs that used it I never found one I didn't hate. Weird...

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I don't know if the stock cabs are better than IRs. I can't make that claim.

 

What I will claim is this, I haven't felt the need to even try the IRs yet.   The stock cabs are turning out some really stellar tones for me. I run mine parallel as well. 

 

As for mics, I find myself doing this, at least one of the mics that I use on one of the cabinets in the chain has to be a ribbon mic, I usually use a condencer, or dynamic mic for the other option. This is my usual case anyway, there may be exceptions, but its the general...

 

I would really like for Line 6 to implement mic placement (not just distance) as well. I think that would bridge the gap even more.

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact I can load IRs into the helix, I just haven't felt the need to just yet.

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I love the stock cabs as well as the ability to use IRs. The fantastic feature of the stock cabs is without a doubt in my mind the inclusion of the ability to select different microphones. This instantly gives you a substantially different EQ curve and sound with the turn of a knob and those mic selections can be changed via snapshots. That is a lot easier than running through previews of IRs. I only wish there was a way to do this with third party IRs. You do have the ability to completely swap through different IRs across snapshots however which is a great feature.

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I like the Helix stock cabs better than IRs. I'll admit, I only have the free ones from Ownhammer, Allure and Celestion. But after much headphone tweaking this afternoon, I found that I could make a better sounding patch with Helix cabs than I could with the IRs every time. Maybe IRs work better for live with an amp or FRFR powered speaker, I don't know. But this is the conclusion I've come to at this point.

 

The 4038 Ribbon mic has become a close friend. I don't use it on every patch, but I use it on a majority of them.

 

 

 

 

My sentiments exactly.  Love that Coles 4038.  For any of my overdriven sounds, it's the only one I use.

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Commercial IR makers never give their best stuff away for free, IME.  Some of the newest stuff by Valhallir, Cab-EU and Ownhammer have upped the cab-shooting ante to my ears.  I wish there was room for some more 3rd party IRs in Helix memory.. but, @Erniedenov,  you can make any thing you plug into sound awesome, so you're ahead of the game.  :P

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Do the stock cabs use more or less DSP than 3rd party IRs?

I "think" the cabs use less DSP, but not for certain. 

 

By the way, this is not an unpopular opinion. The Helix is all about options, and there are a LOT of options. Some use 3rd party IRs only, some use stock cabs only, some use both. 'Erbody is happy. 

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I tend to gravitate towards the ribbon mics and the condenser mics...

 

And I have bought plenty of IR's but have found that really there's only about three or four that tend to be the go-to ones. One of them being that free one that someone made on a kemper supposedly and are in the folder of that free IR's link that I posted in the past

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Until they come up with actual dynamic cab emulation - one that mimics the changes in sound that speakers go through as they move at differing volume levels, I'm not gonna even deal with IRs.  IRs are static but speakers are definitely not so to me, there's a huge component missing in cab emulation tech anyway and IRs are not gonna fix it. Since the stock cabs work well enough for me for now, why bother? 

 

https://line6.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Dynamic-Cab-Emulations/866623-23508?submitted=1

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Just to be clear, the stock cabs ARE IRs. This discussion should be "I prefer the stock cab IRs to third-party IRs".

 

Point taken; I should get my semantics in order. But you know what I meant.

 

Commercial IR makers never give their best stuff away for free, IME.  Some of the newest stuff by Valhallir, Cab-EU and Ownhammer have upped the cab-shooting ante to my ears.  I wish there was room for some more 3rd party IRs in Helix memory.. but, @Erniedenov,  you can make any thing you plug into sound awesome, so you're ahead of the game.  :P

 

I don't doubt that I haven't heard the best third party IRs because I haven't actually bought any yet. I'd like to, but January sucks for most of us freelance musicians and I'm broke!  And thanks for the plug, my publicity agent that I didn't know I had!

 

By the way, this is not an unpopular opinion. 

 

I'm starting to realize that! 

 

The third party's IR's i use wipe the floor with their HX cab equivalents

 

Just thought I'd pop in here for some balance

 

I'm not knocking anybody who prefers third party IRs over the stock ones and I think it's great that Line 6 has implemented the ability to use them with Helix. I just haven't found any yet that makes me jump for joy. I guess I was also fishing for some solidarity among those who believe that the stock cabs aren't nearly as bad as some folks think. The last Line 6 product with cab sims I used before Helix was the Pod HD500 and Helix's cabs are miles ahead of the ones in that!

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Do the stock cabs use more or less DSP than 3rd party IRs?

 

They use less DSP. I've heard them called hybrid cabs before, because they have some sort of processing done to them to make them sound like they are higher resolution than they actually are. Something similar to what Fractal does for their ultra res IRs, or whatever they call it? I could be wrong.

 

 

Taken from http://line6.com/helix/blog.html at the bottom:

 

In any digital device, there will always be some functions that require a large amount of horsepower to accomplish and others that are far more efficient. If you think about devices that you use every day, typing an email on your computer or smart phone feels quick and responsive because generating text is easy for the processor. Watching a full HD movie is a different story however, because video requires much more DSP overhead to display.

In our world of digital audio, time-based effects are often the most DSP-intensive, with delays, reverbs, amps and speaker cabinets topping the list of the hungriest processes.

Speaking of hungry processes, speaker cabinet emulations that are created using impulse responses (like the ones in Helix) traditionally use a large amount of DSP. This is due to the fact that these impulse responses are actually short audio recordings containing capture data from a mic’d speaker cabinet. The higher the quality and the longer the recording, the more accurate and detailed the speaker emulation is, but that increase in quality has a greater DSP load.

Along with its suite of internal speaker cabinet models, Helix also allows you to load high-quality impulse responses from third parties. While this is a fantastic option to have, it’s important to note that the factory speaker cabinets in Helix offer a number of advancements over traditional static third-party impulses.

We call the speaker emulations in Helix “hybrid cabsâ€, because they use a number of proprietary algorithms to reproduce the same frequency and dynamic accuracy typically seen in a 2048-point impulse response, but at far lower DSP usage.

Not only that, a hybrid cab allows you to move the microphone from directly on the grill to up to 12 inches away (in .5 inch increments), and accurately captures the proximity effect/bass boost of the microphone in all positions while doing so. All of this detail means that the speaker cabinet reacts just like the real thing, not just sounding better but feeling better under your fingers.

Due to the efficiency improvements hybrid cabs offer, it’s actually possible to run up to four speaker cabinets at once in Helix (depending on DSP load), all with different microphones and microphone positions!

The main thing to get out of all of this is that while Helix offers the ability to load third-party impulse responses, you shouldn’t feel that it’s necessary to do so to get fantastic tones. HX cabs offer authentic speaker and microphone behavior with more flexibility and lower DSP usage, leaving you more processing headroom for effects.

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...While this is a fantastic option to have, it’s important to note that the factory speaker cabinets in Helix offer a number of advancements over traditional static third-party impulses.

We call the speaker emulations in Helix “hybrid cabsâ€, because they use a number of proprietary algorithms to reproduce the same frequency and dynamic accuracy typically seen in a 2048-point impulse response, but at far lower DSP usage.

Not only that, a hybrid cab allows you to move the microphone from directly on the grill to up to 12 inches away (in .5 inch increments), and accurately captures the proximity effect/bass boost of the microphone in all positions while doing so. All of this detail means that the speaker cabinet reacts just like the real thing, not just sounding better but feeling better under your fingers.

Due to the efficiency improvements hybrid cabs offer, it’s actually possible to run up to four speaker cabinets at once in Helix (depending on DSP load), all with different microphones and microphone positions!

The main thing to get out of all of this is that while Helix offers the ability to load third-party impulse responses, you shouldn’t feel that it’s necessary to do so to get fantastic tones. HX cabs offer authentic speaker and microphone behavior with more flexibility and lower DSP usage, leaving you more processing headroom for effects.

 

Cool, thanks!

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I would really like for Line 6 to implement mic placement (not just distance) as well. I think that would bridge the gap even more.

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact I can load IRs into the helix, I just haven't felt the need to just yet.

 

 

 

a hybrid cab allows you to move the microphone from directly on the grill to up to 12 inches away (in .5 inch increments), and accurately captures the proximity effect/bass boost of the microphone in all positions while doing so.

 

 

At a certain point, I had a "duh!" moment when I realized that the mic movement parameter was distance away from the speaker rather than from the center of the cone to the edge. I was wondering why I preferred the 1 or 2 inch setting when I usually hate it if the mic is placed that close to the center of a speaker in the "real world." Then I finally got it; it's distance FROM the speaker!

 

That doesn't make any sense to me. Whenever a sound engineer mics a speaker, it's somewhere right on top of it. I've seen an additional mic placed anywhere from one to fifteen feet from the cab to capture the room sound in studios, but we have a parameter for room in the cabs, not to mention a room reverb. So yes, having the ability to virtually move the mic from the center to the edge would really open up the possibilities for the stock cabs. As brilliantly as the Helix was engineered, it's surprising to me that they didn't think of this obvious little detail. 

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I started using the Helix with the stock cab IRs and loved what I was getting.

After several months of reading posts of people saying they were terrible I decided to try a few 3rd party IRs.

Every one I tried was terrible to my ears, couldn' use them. I think they were some RedWire, Ownhammer and others.

So I stayed with stock.

Then several months after that, after reading coment after coment about the "bad" stock cabs, I decided to try again.

This time my first reaction to some Ownhammers was: WOW, this is really even better than the stock cab IRs.

But after A-B ing for a while I found the OH IRs were quite a bit louder than the stock IRs.

Knowing that often louder suddenly sounds a lot better, I compensated on the stock IRs (+3db!) and the magic of the OH seemed to melt away. They really just dind't sound better. Different but certainly not better. Actually I tended to like the stock IR's a bit more.

This was all on headphones and I haven't tried the OH at rehearsals yet, although I have made patches to try.

At the moment I still haven't found any reason to switch to 3rd party IRs but, who knows?

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But after A-B ing for a while I found the OH IRs were quite a bit louder than the stock IRs.

Knowing that often louder suddenly sounds a lot better, I compensated on the stock IRs (+3db!) and the magic of the OH seemed to melt away.

 

Lol. Knowing this myself, it still works its persuasion every god damn time it happens.

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The distance parameter simply selects a different IR within the Cab model - so there are already 12 x Microphones IRs for each "Cab".  Adding 8 off-axis distance and 5 angle options would multiply the number of IRs by 40.

 

I would say that if you can't achieve what you want with the available options including combining different mics and dual cabs then just find the IR that you prefer and use that - or even create one by merging IRs.

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The distance parameter simply selects a different IR within the Cab model - so there are already 12 x Microphones IRs for each "Cab".  Adding 8 off-axis distance and 5 angle options would multiply the number of IRs by 40.

 

I would say that if you can't achieve what you want with the available options including combining different mics and dual cabs then just find the IR that you prefer and use that - or even create one by merging IRs.

 

I don't know, to me, on/off-axis distance is much more important than distance from cab. I've never seen anybody use a "room mic" for a guitar speaker by itself in a studio.

 

I don't know if you were talking to me, but I am rather satisfied with Helix in general. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for "more satisfied"... ever!

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Really? Even with all the vairiables like mic, distance, er ?

 

Yes. See Digital_Igloos (Line6 product manager) comment at the top of this thread:

 

http://line6.com/support/topic/16050-helix-cab-vs-third-party-ir-cabs/

 

I'm not sure how they do the mic and distance thing. It could be an I.R. at each point, and with each mic, or it could be modelling manipulation on top of the I.R., or some combination.

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I'm on the fence with this but leaning back towards stock cabs.

 

In my short time with the Helix, it has taught me more about real world amps than anything before, now I find I have more of a known target in my head for the sound I want.

 

Maybe it's just me but right now, I think some of these third party IR's sound great when you're playing on your own, but they don't really mix that well with other sounds, even if you just play along with album tracks. With stock cabs it's easier to dial more authentic type tones I think. I haven't used them in a live full band scenario so maybe they are good for that.

 

I do find with the high gain IR's that although they sound thumping and huge when you're rhythm playing, lead playing and single note tones seem really top endy and fuzzy, so you end up trying to cut it and eq it further, which then takes you away from the original IR!

 

That could be just my fault for tinkering though. Helix has turned me into a terrible tinkerer because there are just so many ways to change the tones. I now have banks of the same amp/cab tones just with different eq settings, in an effort to finally decide what my preferred sound is!

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I also prefer the stock cabs. I did download those recent free ones from 65 that Line 6 gave out. Will give them a listen, but there are a handful of cabs I love, 2 I use the most, that do everything I need.

 

That said, I change EVERYTHING about them when I load them up. Different mic, distance, low cut, high cut, early reflections... so I found what works and stick with it I guess.

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Yes. See Digital_Igloos (Line6 product manager) comment at the top of this thread:

 

http://line6.com/support/topic/16050-helix-cab-vs-third-party-ir-cabs/

 

I'm not sure how they do the mic and distance thing. It could be an I.R. at each point, and with each mic, or it could be modelling manipulation on top of the I.R., or some combination.

 

In my mind, it's similar to a plugin within a DAW. Since Line 6 develops all of the intrinsic data of their cabs (their native IRs) they can provide control parameters (mics, speakers, distances, angle, etc) in the form of a "cab" "plugin". When you buy an Ownhammer IR pack, you wind up with hundreds of files (mics, speakers, distances, angles, etc) broken down into several folders, which we all know is a PITA to deal with in Helix. However, all of those files could (possibly) become a single Helix Cab with the same basic ease of controllability. I vision a win/win/win market for this if the Line 6 business dept working along with the 3rd parties did a little brainstorming?

 

Another example of what I'm talking about would be the Torpedo Wall of Sound III plugin. I used to use that plugin in Logic Pro but Helix has taken over my DAW and won't give it back :).

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At a certain point, I had a "duh!" moment when I realized that the mic movement parameter was distance away from the speaker rather than from the center of the cone to the edge. I was wondering why I preferred the 1 or 2 inch setting when I usually hate it if the mic is placed that close to the center of a speaker in the "real world." Then I finally got it; it's distance FROM the speaker!

 

That doesn't make any sense to me. Whenever a sound engineer mics a speaker, it's somewhere right on top of it. I've seen an additional mic placed anywhere from one to fifteen feet from the cab to capture the room sound in studios, but we have a parameter for room in the cabs, not to mention a room reverb. So yes, having the ability to virtually move the mic from the center to the edge would really open up the possibilities for the stock cabs. As brilliantly as the Helix was engineered, it's surprising to me that they didn't think of this obvious little detail. 

actually not so....if Im using a dynamic like a 57 and Ive also got a second mic then I may well stick it close in, but I have often used a ribbon or a condenser 6 - 12 inches out from a cab.....  With a lot of tones you want to avoid the proximity effect as it muddies the bottom end and you end up having to EQ it out - part of why I like ribbons and omni mics over cardioids.

Live its different as you need to minimise spill.

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actually not so....if Im using a dynamic like a 57 and Ive also got a second mic then I may well stick it close in, but I have often used a ribbon or a condenser 6 - 12 inches out from a cab.....  With a lot of tones you want to avoid the proximity effect as it muddies the bottom end and you end up having to EQ it out - part of why I like ribbons and omni mics over cardioids.

Live its different as you need to minimise spill.

 

I'll admit that I've had much more experience playing live than in the studio, but in a majority of my studio experiences, the engineer close-miced my amp (and sometimes used an additional mic a half foot or so away from it, depending on the situation, like whether I was tracking by myself or live with a band). You're right in that I shouldn't have said "whenever a sound engineer mics a speaker." Still, in the Helix, I'm betting that we'd get more usable sounds by virtually moving the mic across the speaker rather than away from it. I have to wonder how many of us ever use that parameter to go more than six inches away from the speaker. To me, it starts sounding like there's a pillow in front of the cabinet.

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I have to wonder how many of us ever use that parameter to go more than six inches away from the speaker. To me, it starts sounding like there's a pillow in front of the cabinet.

 

 

I do. I LOVE the sound of the mic at max distance on one side of a dual cab and close in (but not too close) on the other.

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