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Pointers for newbie thinking of moving from traditional combos?


marmatkat
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Hi Folks. 100% newbie here. I'm getting back into playing guitar after a hiatus, and I started down the tube combo road (what I had before) but (fortunately?) the new amp I bought pooped out after a few days (a Mesa). Rather than just order a replacement, I'm taking a pause to check out a different direction: A processor like the Helix, plus whatever you use on stage. A reliable non-tube solution that's easy to transport appeals to me. Do you have a "Switching to Helix from a combo" article you like? For example, one of my questions:

 

- I'm used to a combo amp on stage. For a Helix-based approach, I have found FFRF monitors that you can put on stage to hear yourself, but do you ever position a monitor behind you like a combo and point it out toward the audience? Or is it more common to point the monitor to yourself (wedge-style) and run an output from the Helix to the PA? Or do you use an in-ear monitor and have a silent stage? Which (or other) of these would be a gentle path for someone like me?

 

Beyond that, I wonder if I'm in the target demographic for Helix. I'm a rhythm guitarist (a few leads here and there) joining a cover band, but I don't tend to play with a ton of pedals. I'm more of a "four or five good tones plus a few basic fx" guy. Then again, we cover a range of material, so a flexible tool like Helix could be a lot of fun. But in watching videos, it seems a lot of users are ones who have consolidated a big pedalboard into a Helix.

 

Anyway, apologies if this is answered in one place somewhere else. Any help would be awesome!

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There are several camps...The FRFR purest that prefers to hear the tone fully processed...mic on a cab....Not the same thing as the raw sound of a guitar amp...

 

There is another camp that prefer to hear their amp. some are a 45 degree off axis listener...some like to the side...basically, they want to hear the guitar cab....not the mic on the guitar cab.

 

stage placement is a personal preference and logistics decision based on where you are playing...they are certainly sensible approaches....The bottom line is, you gotta find what works for you...there are bunch of ways to do either...

 

You could go either way with a Helix...It mostly depends on what you like. I prefer the sound of a guitar amp...I like to have it behind me or to the side depending on the venue...I generally take no guitar in my monitor...I have run FRFR and it can sound great...I can do it, but I don't like how the guitar interacts with tweeters in the cab....just not into that for myself...

 

I would recommend a monitor with coaxial speakers...While I don't like tweeters in FRFR, I do like coaxials over conventional monitors with the horn separated...There are million options out there...

 

I played thru a pair of these and thought they sounded great...really compact, and really clean...If I were to go FRFR, I would go with these or something similar. Good luck!

 

https://www.seismicaudiospeakers.com/collections/monitors/products/powered-12-inch-coaxial-monitors

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Honestly, not sure that you sound like a Modeler guy to me. At the very least, if it were me in your situation, I think I'd consider Helix LT and a great FRFR... but buy the FRFR used in case I decide I really need a powered guitar cab.

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Well, one nice thing about the FRFR is the flexibility - I've run a couple Alto TS's and on most stages they're in front of me in monitor config.  But in smaller venues I've been quite comfortable setting them up behind me in a more conventional backline setup.  Just depends how I need to get the sound out there - the Alto's are plenty loud.

 

And I'm kinda with Peter here - you sound like a perfect candidate for an LT - all the horsepower of Helix with fewer ins/outs/whistles, and the lower price would leave room for the FRFR's on the same budget.

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There certainly are big pedalboard people out there using the Helix, but there's an awful lot of us that are pretty minimalistic when it comes to effects.  Most of my patches may have maybe three or four effects and that's about it, and I play lead.  So don't feel like you'll be on the outside of some party going on.

 

The good news is you can get a lot of mileage just out of the basics on the Helix with different amps, cabs, reverbs, choruses, and tremelos.  But I'd agree with others here.  You sound like a Helix LT guy with a smaller FRFR speaker like a DXR10.  You'd probably never outgrow that.

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Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! Having a strong community is important for such a complex piece of gear, and it seems to me the helix community is strong.

Question re a speaker: I have a Behringer Eurolive B112D I bought for basement practice, and I realize it's a lower-end unit and not FRFR (I could not find a frequency response curve, though I did find one for the DXR10). How "bad" would it be using this as a starting point? My application is small venues where only vocals go through a small PA, so I'd need something on stage for my guitar.

For reference, some of the powered speakers I've seen mentioned WRT Helix:

  • Yamaha DXR10 $600
  • SAX-12M-PW $625
  • QSC K10 $700
  • Line 6 StageSource L2t $850
  • Atomic CLR Active Wedge $1000
  • Mission Engineering Inc Gemini 1 $1100

I'm guessing the $250 B112D would be a get-what-you-paid-for situation. Thanks!

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Actually the Behringer's aren't bad really.  They don't have all the DSP equalizing type things that the upper end units have, but they're a very useable speaker.  Until recently I owned a couple of 212B's and they did just fine for playing music in a smaller venue.  You may have to tweak the EQ on the speaker to get what you want, but just start off flat and work from there.  In your case I might place it behind me in the monitor position so you and the band can hear it well and it should project okay into the audience.  If that's not sufficient put it on a vertical stand to get more projection into the audience but give yourself at least 4 feet of distance as it will likely sound pretty harsh any closer than that.  Eventually you may want to step up to a more modern design, but given your circumstances there's no need to rush it.

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It was stated before but I thought bore repeating. What's being simulated is not an amp. It's an amp that's been miced. So it's not like you're standing in a studio next to an amp. It's like you're in the control booth of a studio listening to an amp that's been mic'd in the studio. This thinking will save you from disappointment if you've mainly played through amps.

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It was stated before but I thought bore repeating. What's being simulated is not an amp. It's an amp that's been miced. So it's not like you're standing in a studio next to an amp. It's like you're in the control booth of a studio listening to an amp that's been mic'd in the studio. This thinking will save you from disappointment if you've mainly played through amps.

 

OMG somebody PIN THIS COMMENT on the top of every discussion about modelers on the internet.

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It was stated before but I thought bore repeating. What's being simulated is not an amp. It's an amp that's been miced. So it's not like you're standing in a studio next to an amp. It's like you're in the control booth of a studio listening to an amp that's been mic'd in the studio. This thinking will save you from disappointment if you've mainly played through amps.

 

 

OMG somebody PIN THIS COMMENT on the top of every discussion about modelers on the internet.

 

This point is so true but it makes me ponder something... I wonder if part of the future of amp modeling is figuring out some multi-dimensional mic'ing strategy perhaps using a combination of multiple real or virtual microphones or just algorithms that more closely emulate the sound of an amp in a space and the way the sound bounces off various surfaces. Those surfaces not only effect things like the volume and direction of various reflections(reverb) but also impact the EQ as different surfaces impact frequency strength with different absorption/reflection qualities . You could even have parameters like room size and floor, ceiling, and wall surfaces (concrete, wood, shag carpet, etc.). In some ways almost like a new more advanced generation of IRs and reverbs which are already an attempt to restore or emulate the sound of a specific space, but would take it a step further. Perhaps some of the more sophisticated reverb algorithms and IRs are already headed in this direction.

 

This would go beyond the modeling of one or a couple of point sources (microphones) pointed at a speaker and instead provide an array of point sources for the sound. Adjustable perhaps as mentioned so that you could dial in parameters that gave you control over multiple sources of your overall sound instead of just the type, orientation, and distance of a limited number or single mics. For example, you would be able to dial in more or less back wall or ceiling or corner reflections and a 'softer' or 'harder' wall surface as well as things like the sound at various distances and orientations to the speaker. In other words you would have parameters for not only being able to change where the listener is in the room and how their ears are oriented to the sound source(speakers), much the way mic axis and distance does now, but you would also be able to change the character of the space(room, hall, arena, etc.), its nooks and crannies, surface qualities, etc.  with many more data points as well as the ability to modify them than is currently provided by IRs and reverbs. 

 

I can see where this could lead to option paralysis but you might be able to have some simple preset choices for what would essentially be a much more advanced formulation of IRs and reverbs that took many more parameters into account than are currently modeled. This approach might more closely reflect the sound of an amp in a room rather than a mic'd amp. Of course, to some extent all of that goes out the window as soon as you play that preset in an actual room and it is subjected to a real ceiling, floor, walls and the position/distance/biology of the ears of the listeners.

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I welcome needing to adjust my thinking - I just hope I can pull it off :-) By disappointment do you mean that, on stage, the Helix + monitor will not sound like an amp + speaker? I guess my thinking is: 1) It needs to sound great to the audience, and 2) it needs to sound good enough to me so I can hear myself, and good enough (feel, etc) to inspire good playing.

 

At this point I'm ready to pull the trigger on a Helix LT :-) My plan is to use the Eurolive B112D for practices and at home (when not using headphones) as I get to know the Helix, and figure out what I might want beyond that speaker. My first gig with my new band is a few months away, so I have some time. Exciting!

 

Question: Does anyone ever offer discounts, or is it MAP?

 

Thanks again for the help, all.

 

It was stated before but I thought bore repeating. What's being simulated is not an amp. It's an amp that's been miced. So it's not like you're standing in a studio next to an amp. It's like you're in the control booth of a studio listening to an amp that's been mic'd in the studio. This thinking will save you from disappointment if you've mainly played through amps.

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