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JamieCrain

Does Helix have latency when switching patches?

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I used to own a Pod HD with floorboard and was really happy with it until I saw something shiny and "upgraded" to a Firehawk FX. The FH FX is a great concept but I've been really disappointed mostly by the latency when switching patches. There is a large gap of silence, even after the v1.2 update, that just didn't exist on the Pod.

 

The Helix LT looks perfect for me, but I've seen exactly the same latency issues as the FH FX on various YouTube vids and the like. This is a deal breaker, I won't buy Helix if this exists.

 

Can someone please confirm whether this latency when switching patches has been fixed on Helix, or am I going back the old non-shiny-but-perfectly-good Pod HD?

 

Thanks, Jamie

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Yes. Helix has latency. it's around 50-70ms, it's noticeable

The good news is that Helix has snapshots mode (something pod hd doesnt have) in which You can turn individual blocks on and off with no audible gaps (even time based fx trails)

Many players usually set it a preset per song, so you don't have to switch in the middle of a song

 

I suggest You read more info about snapshots

 

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Thank goodness, requietus666 used the distraction method above - I thought the sluice gates were about to part, and we were gonna drown in it...

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Thanks requietus666. That's interesting to note about snapshots and I will read up about it further but I don't think that's the solution i'm looking for. I often switch between acoustic with Piezo via the FX loop to full blown high gain distortion. Programming a snapshot to achieve that would be very convoluted. It also strikes me as odd that there is no audible delay in snapshots but there is between patches. Seems to be a shortcoming, and the presenter's view that that's just how DSP works in all effects units is incorrect. By the way, there is a snapshot-type function on the pod HD, you can program several effects to toggle on and off simultaneously using the stomp switches. Maybe not as fancy as helix but you could do it. Cheers.

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Thanks requietus666. That's interesting to note about snapshots and I will read up about it further but I don't think that's the solution i'm looking for. I often switch between acoustic with Piezo via the FX loop to full blown high gain distortion. Programming a snapshot to achieve that would be very convoluted. It also strikes me as odd that there is no audible delay in snapshots but there is between patches. Seems to be a shortcoming, and the presenter's view that that's just how DSP works in all effects units is incorrect. By the way, there is a snapshot-type function on the pod HD, you can program several effects to toggle on and off simultaneously using the stomp switches. Maybe not as fancy as helix but you could do it. Cheers.

 

The reason there is a delay in patches and not in snapshots is because the blocks and the signal path get unloaded then re-loaded when you switch patches whereas with a snapshot (or multiple footswitch assignments) you are manipulating the blocks in a single patch.  That's going to be a normal artifact of any unit that's switching patches because patches are always loaded from scratch.  And yes, you are exactly right, you can assign multiple actions to a specific footswitch both on the HD500X and on the Helix.  Snapshots is simply an extension of that idea with a more robust and simple implementation to simplify setup and management with a few more options.  You are still ultimately limited by the DSP in any given patch.

 

It's been a while since I used my HD500X so I'm not sure, but the Helix does allow you to do more than just turn blocks on and off with either the snapshots or assignments.  You can also modify the settings of any block.

 

I'm not sure why this would be any more convoluted to accomplish with what you need to achieve.  In essence your effects loop isn't affected when you switch between snapshots because it's the same patch with all the same blocks.

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I often switch between acoustic with Piezo via the FX loop to full blown high gain distortion.

 

 

I do this all the time. In one patch. It's easy.

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I do this all the time. In one patch. It's easy.

 

Yes. You have two possible paths.....Ooooooops, I mean four possible paths ( ;)) that you can create completely separate sounds in. With snapshots you'll be good. All you need now is a Varaix and you'll be set!!

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Yes. You have two possible paths.....Ooooooops, I mean four possible paths ( ;)) that you can create completely separate sounds in. With snapshots you'll be good. All you need now is a Varaix and you'll be set!!

 

 

I had a Variax, and it was SWEET! But since I'm always doing two-voice with an acoustic, it meant that I get the same functionality from a guitar with a piezo and a really good acoustic IR.

 

That said, I'd love a Variax again someday...

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Thanks everybody, I hope you are all right. And I do like the look of the Shuriken variax. Just a shame it doesn't have a tremolo.

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 By the way, there is a snapshot-type function on the pod HD, you can program several effects to toggle on and off simultaneously using the stomp switches. Maybe not as fancy as helix but you could do it. Cheers.

 

The way snapshots work in the Helix is a completely different beast than this, really... There are many things you can do with snapshots that simply aren't possible in any way with the HD series. It way may more than simply being able to assign multiple effects to the same switch. It's being able to alter the bypass states of every block in the preset as well controlling up to 64 parameters per snapshot... It's very powerful. And doing what you want to do - switch between different inputs with snapshots - isn't convoluted at all. It's very simple and straightforward to achieve.

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Thanks everybody, I hope you are all right. And I do like the look of the Shuriken variax. Just a shame it doesn't have a tremolo.

Ha...just as I was thinking to myself that a trem would be just about the only way to make that axe less appealing. ;)

 

Everybody's different, lol

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Snapshots did largely address the latency issue within a preset. Although it is infrequent I still get some strange artifacts or glitchy sounds when switching between snapshots depending on my settings. I really look forward to Line6 and the industry as a whole addressing the issue of excessive latency between presets. This problem demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the hardware/firmware is not yet fully mature for these devices.  There is no good way to sugarcoat it. 

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I really look forward to Line6 and the industry as a whole addressing the issue of excessive latency between presets. This problem demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the hardware/firmware is not yet fully mature for these devices.  There is no good way to sugarcoat it. 

 

 

i'm afraid the only way to go with this is to cripple the design of a unit. For instance, Digitech has a product that loads the next preset into a different processor or some such. But if they made Helix that way we'd have half the blocks and only one path, and nobody would buy it.

 

I feel ya, brother, but this isn't going to get markedly better.

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i'm afraid the only way to go with this is to cripple the design of a unit. For instance, Digitech has a product that loads the next preset into a different processor or some such. But if they made Helix that way we'd have half the blocks and only one path, and nobody would buy it.

 

I feel ya, brother, but this isn't going to get markedly better.

 

Yep, I agree. I am unfortunately all too familiar with the range of options right now. Two choices - either reserve processing power for preset switching and limit the quality of the sound and which and how many blocks can be employed, or, eliminate latency by making compromises in the sound and the flexibility.  I am just making the point that I do not believe those compromises will be as stark and severe in the near future. At some point the hardware and firmware/software get good enough that latency between presets is no longer an acceptable compromise to get a few more blocks and a barely perceptible improvement in tone. Not sure when that tipping point comes but I suspect it is in the near future given the competition between manufacturers.  At some point people say to themselves this device sounds good enough and allows me enough flexibility in preset design that I am picking the one from the manufacturer who also provides low latency between presets.

 

I know there is the argument that there will always be software/firmware to challenge the newest hardware and push it to its limits and that is true. However it is ultimately about a compromise between quality (modeling complexity) and choice of sound design (number of block choices and flexibility), and the tension between those two and latency in preset switching. There will come a point where sacrificing timely preset switching is no longer necessary or acceptable. As you point out the old Digitech as well as some newer devices on the market that have already decided to come down on the side of not accepting preset switching latency. Right now perhaps they do not sound as good or are not as flexible as the Helix but there will come a point, and I think it is relatively soon, where the tone and flexibility improvement simply do not justify the loss of usability when switching presets. Maybe there will always be room in the market for a device that sacrifices latency for maximum quality/flexibility but the devices that achieve an acceptable compromise between all these factors and provide minimal latency will command plenty of attention and are just going to continue to sound better and better while allowing the user increasingly more flexibility in preset design.

 

Anyway, this conversation has been had many times and as usual I find myself just wanting to express my understanding and appreciation for the current hardware/software limitations and the choices dictated by them without becoming an apologist for switching latency which is clearly a technical hurdle that needs to be addressed and improved.

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Snapshots did largely address the latency issue within a preset. Although it is infrequent I still get some strange artifacts or glitchy sounds when switching between snapshots depending on my settings. I really look forward to Line6 and the industry as a whole addressing the issue of excessive latency between presets. This problem demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the hardware/firmware is not yet fully mature for these devices.

 

Sounds like the software and hardware are developing at different rates. I.e. Line 6 has developed a great operating system, but that doesn't matter if you've only got a Commodore 64 to run it on. Maybe a bit harsh, but many industries suffer from this...

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There will always be a lag when loading a new preset. That's just the nature of digital hardware and software. It is the same as loading a new page in your browser. It will never be instantaneous. Snapshots still has a lag, it's just short enough where you really don't notice. 

 

Even with the shot lag between presets, certainly you can find a 250ms gap during a song live to switch presets if you absolutely have the need. 

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There will always be a lag when loading a new preset. That's just the nature of digital hardware and software. It is the same as loading a new page in your browser. It will never be instantaneous. Snapshots still has a lag, it's just short enough where you really don't notice.

 

Even with the shot lag between presets, certainly you can find a 250ms gap during a song live to switch presets if you absolutely have the need.

 

Your point about lag unlikely to ever be zero is probably correct but the object is simply to get it as low as possible, better, not perfect. Best case scenario it is below an easily detected threshold. I also won't dispute that you can often find a suitable gap in the song to change presets even with a more significant preset switch lag, but not always. Song tempo, arrangement, etc.. can make switching lag problematic. The goal in my opinion should be to continue to reduce it. We often talk about the compromise between the ability to use many blocks or employ higher definition models and the ability to switch presets quickly. This becomes a tradeoff between preset design and tone versus preset switching lag.

 

Maybe in a maximally flexible Helix design you would be able to choose whether you want to reserve enough DSP to do a relatively transparent preset switch (this might require the entire resources of one of your DSP chips). Or better yet, lag would reduce automatically whenever there was enough DSP left in reserve in that particular preset to devote to preset switching lag reduction. That way you would have the choice of dedicating all the DSP resources to model complexity and maximal blocks or just enough to ensure a fast switch between presets. Anyway, I remain optimistic on this front, even if significant improvement does not come to this version of the Helix I believe it is going to steadily improve in the industry in general. I could be wrong.

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