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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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It is the same as loading a new page in your browser. It will never be instantaneous.


This is not true. It can be eliminated completely with prefetching.

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11 hours ago, vijnub said:


This is not true. It can be eliminated completely with prefetching.

 

Wrong.  Prefetching only works if you know (or can reasonably guess) what preset will be selected next.  Even in the case of a page in the browser, it's never "pre-fetched", it's held in cache from a previous visit to the page and checked for consistency when loaded to make sure it hasn't changed.  Not exactly "immediate".  For prefetching to be immediate on the Helix you would not only need to prefetch the blocks and signal chain setup, but allocate the DSP for the blocks, and there's a limit to the DSP available.

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6 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

Wrong.  Prefetching only works if you know (or can reasonably guess) what preset will be selected next.  Even in the case of a page in the browser, it's never "pre-fetched", it's held in cache from a previous visit to the page and checked for consistency when loaded to make sure it hasn't changed.  Not exactly "immediate".  For prefetching to be immediate on the Helix you would not only need to prefetch the blocks and signal chain setup, but allocate the DSP for the blocks, and there's a limit to the DSP available.

 

Sigh. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Link_prefetching_FAQ
The functionality is *literally* called prefetching. Perhaps educate yourself before shooting off.

And yes, your second point is true. Prefetching or preloading (which is what it is in this case) will cost resources. That does not mean it is impossible as implied.

We should be discussing the real tradeoffs that are possible instead of assuming that the current implementation is all that's possible. I bet there are a bunch of people that could live with half the DSP budget if it meant instant preset switching for instance. (I'm not saying that this will be how those parameters pan out, only Line 6 can determine that)

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23 hours ago, vijnub said:

 

Sigh. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Link_prefetching_FAQ
The functionality is *literally* called prefetching. Perhaps educate yourself before shooting off.

And yes, your second point is true. Prefetching or preloading (which is what it is in this case) will cost resources. That does not mean it is impossible as implied.

We should be discussing the real tradeoffs that are possible instead of assuming that the current implementation is all that's possible. I bet there are a bunch of people that could live with half the DSP budget if it meant instant preset switching for instance. (I'm not saying that this will be how those parameters pan out, only Line 6 can determine that)

 

I'm not sure the article says anything different than what I said.  It's making a reasonable guess and exploiting non-processing time (which there is a LOT of in HTML operations).  My second sentence distinguishes between the programmatic choice within a browser of what to fetch out of cache and what to guess at for pre-fetching operations (which your article doesn't even deal with).  In most modern browsers the cost of prefetching is FAR greater than accessing a page in cache and simply comparing it to decide if the cost of pre-fetching is worth it or even called for.

 

As far as education, I'd suggest you learn a bit more about the differences between simple HTTP and HTML interpretive functions and real-time operations using very specialized DSP-centric operations requiring near-zero latency in pretty much continuous processing interaction with the user.  One of these things any 7th grader can understand, and one of these things only a handful of people have experience with because of it's complexity.  So I'd take your bet given you clearly can't seem to distinguish between the levels of complexity between the two different types of systems being compared here.

 

Technically this is all kind of silly anyways as we're talking about two fundamentally different architectures such that "prefetch" isn't necessary with the Helix because all presets are always constantly in memory all the time (unlike a web page), but only the active one has any resources allocated to it such as DSP objects or working storage.  That's the part that takes the time and that's the part of the system that's limited.

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Simple, just buy a second or third helix to keep presets loaded.  Problem solved.  You’re welcome.

 

Sean Meredith-Jones

www.seanmeredithjones.com

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23 hours ago, vijnub said:

The functionality is *literally* called prefetching. Perhaps educate yourself before shooting off.

 

2 posts in and your telling a long time respected member to educate themselves :) 

Not to mention... HTML prefetching is exactly as he described in his post.... so I don't think he needs any educating on the matter. 

 

BACK ON TOPIC

 

23 hours ago, vijnub said:

I bet there are a bunch of people that could live with half the DSP budget if it meant instant preset switching for instance.

 

A bunch? Not likely. A few? Maybe

I know I can't speak for anyone else...  I'm just very skeptical. 

 

I would suggest that "snapshots" was already the Line 6 answer for this... which also provided an abundant level of other benefits at the same time. 

IMO... the biggest problem is making people understand the power of snapshots.... they are still an enigma to many.  

 

 

 

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What I still don’t understand is why the sound goes completely dead.... the pedal is true bypass after all?  The dry signal would passing through would be great... even a reverb tail.

 

Still, as I get older, 50-70ms (or whatever it is) is not that big of a deal.  It doesn’t outweigh the benefit of changing rigs the odd time mid song.

 

Sean Meredith-Jones

www.seanmeredithjones.com

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On 1/12/2020 at 5:06 PM, codamedia said:

 

 

IMO... the biggest problem is making people understand the power of snapshots.... they are still an enigma to many.  

 

 

 

This, exactly.  I've found them to be an incredibly powerful tool, and I can't think of anything I've wanted to do that I haven't been able to, by using a snapshot.  Incidentally, I also have a patch where I switch from acoustic to hi gain using... you guessed it, and I don't understand why so many people seem to have such a hard time grasping the concept, either.

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For whatever reasons, preset switching on the Boss GT-1000 is *way* faster, almost instantaneous. In addition, as the main reverb and delay blocks are present in each patch, in most situations even reverb/delay spillover is possible.

Anyway, if they added a global block functionality, all of this would be way less of an issue (I'd happily elaborate why that would be so).

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8 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

For whatever reasons, preset switching on the Boss GT-1000 is *way* faster, almost instantaneous...

 

The modeling is also far far less sophisticated. So that isn't a surprise.

Delay spillover? Fine. You are never getting it in Helix. Jus' sayin'... The only way to do it would be to cut the functionality from 2 paths to 1.

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32 minutes ago, PeterHamm said:

 

The modeling is also far far less sophisticated. So that isn't a surprise.

 

I'm afraid I can't exactly agree. Less amps? Yes. Worse amps? Not really.

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2 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

I'm afraid I can't exactly agree. Less amps? Yes. Worse amps? Not really.

 

The difference between the modeling technology between Boss COSM and Helix HX is significant.

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7 hours ago, PeterHamm said:

 

The difference between the modeling technology between Boss COSM and Helix HX is significant.

 

So what? When my ears tell me that something sounds good, I trust them.

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5 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

So what? When my ears tell me that something sounds good, I trust them.

I think you are missing the point.

The argument is that since Brand X can do it, why can't Brand Y. I answered your question, you changed the subject.

I'm not saying the Boss stuff doesn't sound great. I think it does. Not the question.

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53 minutes ago, PeterHamm said:

I think you are missing the point.

The argument is that since Brand X can do it, why can't Brand Y. I answered your question, you changed the subject.

I'm not saying the Boss stuff doesn't sound great. I think it does. Not the question.

 

It is every bit the question. For the sake of the argument: In case two modelers sound identical and in case you don't need any other features than those both are providing, which one would you chose, the one causing lags when switching presets or the one switching instantaneously? And that's absolutely all there is about it.
Now, I have chosen to go with the Helix as well, for a variety of reasons (see "other features" above), but I almost hadn't.

 

As said already, Line 6 have it in their hands to change things pretty much dramatically by implementing certain things - and no, I'm not talking about gapless patch switching but about things that would make it superfluous. But in case they won't adress this issue (which even seems to be more of an issue for other folks but myself), I wouldn't be wondering why folks go for another modeler.

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3 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

It is every bit the question. For the sake of the argument: In case two modelers sound identical and in case you don't need any other features than those both are providing, which one would you chose, the one causing lags when switching presets or the one switching instantaneously? And that's absolutely all there is about it.
Now, I have chosen to go with the Helix as well, for a variety of reasons (see "other features" above), but I almost hadn't.

 

As said already, Line 6 have it in their hands to change things pretty much dramatically by implementing certain things - and no, I'm not talking about gapless patch switching but about things that would make it superfluous. But in case they won't adress this issue (which even seems to be more of an issue for other folks but myself), I wouldn't be wondering why folks go for another modeler.

 

1. They never sound identical.

2. Line 6 seems to be selling plenty of modelers, and are not really, as far as I can tell, staying awake nights worrying about Boss.

 

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It seems to come down right now in the modeling world to two primary choices made by modeling companies.

  1. Devote all DSP resources to amp/cab, effects, and miscellaneous processing, provide scenes within a preset for spillover and gapless switching. This solution dictates that only the same blocks can be used when switching.
  2. Devote half the DSP resources to amp/cab, effects and miscellaneous processing and the other half to gapless preset switching. This allows different blocks to be used when switching but allows less DSP resources to be used for either more blocks in a path or potentially limits the use of more complex algorithms for amp/cabs, effects, etc..

A third option that seems to be either too difficult to program or much more likely is not perceived as worth the effort(at least right now) would be to add the flexibility to provide the user with a device that that has the option to select between the two methods above depending on their requirements for a given song. There is probably no inherent reason you could not program a single device to allow both approaches. As an example use both cores on a two core machine for your entire path, or have the option to design two presets using half the DSP resources each and use one core for your first preset and the second one for a preset you load up in tandem with the first preset. Obviously this gapless two-preset option would limit each of the presets to approximately half the DSP resources that could be used in the single preset option. I would think it is just a matter of the level of programming effort required and whether there is enough of a perceived demand to justify it.

 

Sooner or later I think this ability to choose between the two options will probably be out there in a device. In the meantime most manufacturers appear to opt for either option #1 or option #2 but not allow both/either on the same device.  My guess is the industry will eventually slog through the programming and hardware setup required for both options and that will become the new standard offering in most devices.

 

We have definitely seen times in the computer world when new CPUs, GPUs, or faster RAM drops where the hardware outstrips the software and it takes a while for programmers to catch up and write apps that fully exploit the new hardware. There may also be windows of time where the DSP hardware gets so cheap and powerful that until the firmware/software catches up it is easy to provide both options, gapless presets and maximal block processing without having to make a choice of number and quality of blocks vs. gapless preset switching. The average power user simply won't be able to throw enough at the device to overtax it. If they do the device throws them a "DSP limit reached" message with confidence that almost none of the users will ever reach that limit.

 

So, if you purchase a unit like a Digitech DSP1101 or the Headrush, be prepared to have gapless switching but fewer resources allocated to the number of blocks you can use and possibly the quality or complexity of those blocks. If you select a device like the Helix that allocates all resources to allowing maximal blocks and maximal complexity of those blocks be prepared to have to use scenes(one set of blocks) for gapless switching.  If you are perfectly satisfied with the sound and operation of a device that uses gapless preset switching, pick that one. If not, select something like the Helix where the focus is on devoting all the DSP to your signal path(s) and their blocks.

 

Limiting factors in technology are constantly being overcome. Why should this one be any different. Maybe it can be addressed on the Helix by offering both options, unlikely, or maybe by some newer device that hits the market. My only gripe is when people insist that the status quo is the only choice that will ever exist. 

 

Lastly if you have the Helix and are not exploiting snapshots(scenes) you are missing out on the compromise that companies like Line6 and Fractal determined would be the best and most preferred way to leverage DSP and existing hardware when their devices were manufactured.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, HonestOpinion said:

Lastly if you have the Helix and are not exploiting snapshots(scenes) you are missing out on the compromise that companies like Line6 and Fractal determined would be the best and most preferred way to leverage DSP and existing hardware when their devices were manufactured.

 

 

 

Snapshots is not a "compromise"... I'm jus' sayin'... It's a feature.

And yes, much of what you describe above is obviated by the presence of snapshots anyway. Need 8 settings in one song? You can do it.

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On 1/12/2020 at 5:38 PM, Smj7 said:

What I still don’t understand is why the sound goes completely dead.... the pedal is true bypass after all?  The dry signal would passing through would be great... even a reverb tail.

 

Still, as I get older, 50-70ms (or whatever it is) is not that big of a deal.  It doesn’t outweigh the benefit of changing rigs the odd time mid song.

 

Sean Meredith-Jones

www.seanmeredithjones.com

 

The Helix doesn't have an option to be true bypass. The HX Stomp and HX Effect can be, but that doesn't come into play in this discussion. You would only hear the analog bypass signal if you you used "Bypass All" feature while having the relevant global setting set to Analog Bypass opposed to DSP Bypass. With analog bypass, the signal bypasses the converters and processors altogether, so what you hear is the analog signal through the unit. When you change presets, the DSP is reloading, that's why there's gap. The analog bypass signal has nothing to do with that.

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19 minutes ago, PeterHamm said:

 

Snapshots is not a "compromise"... I'm jus' sayin'... It's a feature.

And yes, much of what you describe above is obviated by the presence of snapshots anyway. Need 8 settings in one song? You can do it.

 

I actually think that setting up snapshots is way more convenient than having to worry about separate presets for different sounds. The thing is that if you want to use the same amp model across different presets, it becomes a pain in the butt if you decide you want to make changes to the amp block. Then you have to go and make that change in every preset you use that amp in... I used to have to do this with previous processors, and, honestly, it was one reason I didn't use them live nearly as much as I've used my Helix. With snapshots, it very much more like you have a rig, so when you make changes within that rig, you generally just have to do it once. It has saved me so much time.

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5 hours ago, PeterHamm said:

 

1. They never sound identical.

2. Line 6 seems to be selling plenty of modelers, and are not really, as far as I can tell, staying awake nights worrying about Boss.

 

 

You just don't seem to get the point. So I'll rest my case.

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1 hour ago, PeterHamm said:

 

Snapshots is not a "compromise"... I'm jus' sayin'... It's a feature.

And yes, much of what you describe above is obviated by the presence of snapshots anyway. Need 8 settings in one song? You can do it.

 

Have to disagree. It is both a feature and also a compromise driven by the current state of hardware and programming and the price point and time-frame they need to be delivered at. I know that "compromise" seems pejorative but I don't mean it that way. Matter fact, isn't that part of the problem these days in our larger discourse, that compromise is viewed as a negative? It is one choice right now, some would say the best one, selected by some fairly heavyweight and inspired programmers for top of the line modelers.  There will be better options coming down the pike, and there's no shame in acknowledging that and working towards it.  I can't see any reason to submit to the tyranny of low expectations that there will never be a time where users can't effortlessly slide between switching presets or snapshots/scenes with minimal latency and more than adequate sound quality and number of available blocks. In the meantime the Helix is a fantastic piece of kit

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