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msingh95

Why do my drive pedals in the Helix fx loop sound bad?

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I just got a Helix and I've been messing around with it.

 

I want to run my drive pedals I own in fx loop 1 of the Helix, but they just sound like trash when I do it that way.

 

My routing is guitar - Helix then fx send 1 - soul food - Ts9 - boss sd1- boss Od2 - super crunch box - rat - Pi - fx return 1.

 

I also have a boss dd-500 and a neunaber immerse each in their own fx loop on the Helix.

 

Now keep in mind I don't have all these pedals active at once (I'm not that crazy lol)

 

But I notice a very clear difference with the way some of my pedals are acting and I can't figure out why.

 

In general, if I take the Helix and it's fx loop out the equation and just go guitar into my first pedal through the chain and then out to my amp, my distortions sound great. They're full bodies, complete sounds, and I'm testing this with my Strat to make sure. They sound good. I play a lot of u2 so my test is always to play the song "bad" with my Ts9 and the dd-500 delay.

 

When I play the drive chain into my dd-500 and go straight to the amp, it sounds perfect. I set the drive all the way down and the level all the way up and turn up the tone knobs just a bit and play unto my ac30 and everything sounds perfect.

 

Now when I use the Helix as an fx Looper and I keep the settings at default (send/return and trails at default values), the tubescreamer sounds like lollipop. There's too much drive and Treble happening. And this happens similarly with every pedal it sounds thin, Trebly, and way too overdrive.

 

Why can that be?

 

I gave up trying to get it to work for the night and I'm hoping just putting the drives before the Helix fix my problem.

 

This is driving me crazy. I got the Helix so I can incorporate it into my rig and now it's just causing more issues.

 

This is all without mentioning the hum and noise I'm getting just Joplin everything up (no i don't have the drives active when it happens) and lifting the ground doesn't help.

 

Can anyone offer advice? All help is appreciated! Please save me from tearing my mind out. Why doesn't the tubescreamer sound like it should? I literally can't take any more drive out of it :/

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I can't answer all your problems.

I can explain some things though.

I also think that the Helix is probably not the world's best effects switcher in fact as I will describe later it is not really a switcher at all!

But that is not what you are asking.........

The way something like a Tube Screamer reacts with your amp is based on a batch of stuff - firstly, it has a specific mid hump which is what gives the fat sound with cut. Then it generally is also pushing the front end of your amp and those 2 things together are more important than the drive level.

Now you don't say what you are doing inside the Helix chain - if you wanted the same effect, you would start with absolutely nothing else in that chain - only the Tube Screamer patched into the in and out.

Then you would need to send the screamer about the same level as your guitar output. You would know that when the distortion sounded the same as you are used to. Then you would need to send exactly the same level that the screamer outputs to your amp. Again you would have to adjust output level until you were getting the same level of drive into the front of your amp.

All that is possible, but tricky to set up as you have nothing to measure each part of the chain with and the Helix is not a simple switcher - it is doing an analogue to digital conversion on the way in and the reverse on the way out - again complicating the matching of levels. I does that because it is intended that you will combine the outboard effect with internal effects. - that does not sound like what you are trying to do?

It can be very hard to have a drive pedal behave exactly the same as it did not connected to the Helix. Delay and Chorus etc are better at playing in that environment.

I'm also wondering why you aren't using the screamer built into the Helix - you would at least have a little more control? And don't think it can't do the job - give it a good try first.

I'm actually wondering what you use the Helix for? (I'm assuming it is not just as an effects switcher? - if so you probably bought the wrong device...)

You do realise that as you describe the way you have things set up running into the front of an AC30 (which doesn't have any effects send and return unless it's a version I've not seen - see 4 cable method) you can not get a lot from the Helix? You can't just put a Marshall model into your AC30 and get a Marshall really........let alone a Blackface Fender! It's always going to sound a lot like an AC30! Probably an amp model in the front will sound like a drive pedal actually...............

 

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Are your loops to instrument level? Its unclear to me exactly where unity gain is.

 

I would try this.....

 

1. Guitar - ts9 - amp. Baseline test.

 

2. Guitar - helix - loop1/send1 to ts9 - amp.

 

Go out of ts9 to amp. Testing the output level of the helix loop. Makes sure set to instrument in globals and set level in the send block so your amp sounds the same as test 1.

 

3. Guitar - helix - loop ts9 - helix - 1/4 out to amp.

 

Using the levels found in test 2 for output to ts9, put ts9 in a helix loop with a return. Set helix volume knob to full up. Now set return level to match tone in test 1.

 

My thoughts to set gain stages as each point in the chain.

 

I use max helix volume because i like to keep things simple. Its just another place to mess up gain staging. Plus i bypass the helix master volume to PA. I use it only if i use my own on stage monitors.

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So I'm not by my board and setup right now, but I read through the posts quickly.

 

What I'm trying to do is be able to use my effects in tandem with those in the Helix. When I'm recording, I'm just going to remove my Helix and plug right into my interface.

 

I know I'm going to have to do a bunch of tests, but I'm thinking I might have to reduce the fx loop send volumes down to like -20 to get instrument level send to my pedals. Is that more on the right track?

 

I'm not solely trying to use the helix as an fx Looper, but I thought I'd be able to integrate it into my rig to run Helix effects in any order while throwing in some of my own drives and delays and reverbs when I want them

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I know I'm going to have to do a bunch of tests, but I'm thinking I might have to reduce the fx loop send volumes down to like -20 to get instrument level send to my pedals. Is that more on the right track?

 

You shouldn't have to do that... Just set the loop level to "instrument" in the Global Settings menu, and you should be fine.

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You shouldn't have to do that... Just set the loop level to "instrument" in the Global Settings menu, and you should be fine.

They are already set to instrument level

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Are you using the actual FX loop blocks in the Helix or separate send and return blocks?

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Are you using the actual FX loop blocks in the Helix or separate send and return blocks?

I'm using the fx loop blocks.

 

So fx loop block 1 has my drives

Fx loop box 2 has a preamp pedal

Fx loop block 3 has the delay (boss dd-500)

And fx loop block 4 has reverb (neunaber immerse, which also sounds weird when in the loop)

 

The Ts9 is the only pedal active in fx loop 1

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I run several overdrive pedals in the Helix's effect loop just like you. I even have a SoulFood. They sound just fine in my effects loop. Have you tried a different loop to see if they all sound the same?

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I run several overdrive pedals in the Helix's effect loop just like you. I even have a SoulFood. They sound just fine in my effects loop. Have you tried a different loop to see if they all sound the same?

 

I'm going to be able to check in an hour once I get back home. Let me see if I can video the results or put up a sound file.

 

I didn't try checking other loops to see if they sound the same.

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I run several overdrive pedals in the Helix's effect loop just like you. I even have a SoulFood. They sound just fine in my effects loop. Have you tried a different loop to see if they all sound the same?

 

Also, the Soul Food should have the buffer switched on if it's not the first thing after your guitar - like almost all fuzz and wah pedals. 

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Also, the Soul Food should have the buffer switched on if it's not the first thing after your guitar - like almost all fuzz and wah pedals. 

 

I always keep it in True bypass, never had any problems until now with the helix

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Sounds daft... but I wonder if the stereo merging to mono is having something to do with things?

 

Basically...

You plug mono into the Helix... but immedietly it's turned into stereo.

(Path one is a stereo path)

 

Try putting a mono simple Eq at the start of your chain... that way, if the effects send is merging to mono, then you're not doubling up on jangly high freqs?

 

Someone also mentioned about the the line/mic settings on the effects sends... don't forget that your amp may want different settings too.

 

My hot rod deville likes line level, when feeding the power amps.

 

Last thing would be to manually lower your guitar input impedance. I think by default it's set to Auto on each patch... but lowering it down can get rid of jangly high frets

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Sounds daft... but I wonder if the stereo merging to mono is having something to do with things?

 

Basically...

You plug mono into the Helix... but immedietly it's turned into stereo.

(Path one is a stereo path)

 

Try putting a mono simple Eq at the start of your chain... that way, if the effects send is merging to mono, then you're not doubling up on jangly high freqs?

 

Someone also mentioned about the the line/mic settings on the effects sends... don't forget that your amp may want different settings too.

 

My hot rod deville likes line level, when feeding the power amps.

 

Last thing would be to manually lower your guitar input impedance. I think by default it's set to Auto on each patch... but lowering it down can get rid of jangly high frets

I added the eq in front and out didn't change the result. To avoid any signal doubling, i have the 1a input to guitar only (no 1b) and then fx loop 1, 2, 3, and 4,then out the 1/4 inch only to the amp.

 

I'm getting concerned because I can't turn the drive knob on the Ts9 any lower, and is just sounding bad, even when I play with the level and tone knobs. I recorded a comparison with my setup, so I'll upload soon.

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Don't think it's been brought up yet, but do you have the input pad on the Helix on and/or have the inpedance setting set to something other than Auto? You'd want the pad off, and you'd probably want to set input impedance at 1M Ohm (although auto should be fine).

 

Also what do you have the 1/4" outs set to? Those should be set to instrument level, and you should have the Helix's big volume knob turned all the way up. With the input pad off and that knob all the way up with the 1/4" outs set to instrument level, you should have unity gain through the Helix.

 

I would not necessarily expect a pedal to sound *exactly* the same in the Helix's loop as it does in front of the amp, as there's other things at play with the loop (more cable length, going through a few rounds of conversion, etc.), but it shouldn't be a drastic difference. I've never had any issues using pedals in the loops.

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For more experimenting. Try to turn on input pad. Drops signal 5.5db. Also a ts9 has an input impedance of around 500k (446). Set input impedance to 500?

 

Taking shots...

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Don't think it's been brought up yet, but do you have the input pad on the Helix on and/or have the inpedance setting set to something other than Auto? You'd want the pad off, and you'd probably want to set input impedance at 1M Ohm (although auto should be fine).

 

Also what do you have the 1/4" outs set to? Those should be set to instrument level, and you should have the Helix's big volume knob turned all the way up. With the input pad off and that knob all the way up with the 1/4" outs set to instrument level, you should have unity gain through the Helix.

 

I would not necessarily expect a pedal to sound *exactly* the same in the Helix's loop as it does in front of the amp, as there's other things at play with the loop (more cable length, going through a few rounds of conversion, etc.), but it shouldn't be a drastic difference. I've never had any issues using pedals in the loops.

 

 

Phil,

 

I do not have the input pad active, my impedence is auto, but I will try 1m or 500k as suggested by someone else below tonight.

 

I have the 1/4 out set to instrument and have the knobs only active for xlr output so in theory, all the signal is being sent through to the 1/4 out with no volume knob tampering. this should also give me unity gain, right?

 

I'll have more tinkering to do tonight. maybe i need more cable run?

 

When my pedalboard is straight to the amp, I get the sounds I want. granted there's wires all over the place. With the helix, i'm sure there's buffers and such at play and the cable runs between pedals are shorter

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When my pedalboard is straight to the amp, I get the sounds I want.

 

 

On Helix I use an FX-Loop with a Bogner LaGrange and it sounds killer.

 

This is reaching a bit I know but WTH, just try running your pedal board straight into Helix. Yea I know but humor me. does that sound better to you as well? If so, then it may be what you are accustomed to hearing. 

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On Helix I use an FX-Loop with a Bogner LaGrange and it sounds killer.

 

This is reaching a bit I know but WTH, just try running your pedal board straight into Helix. Yea I know but humor me. does that sound better to you as well? If so, then it may be what you are accustomed to hearing. 

 

Tonight I'm going to try that. I will say that when I initially got the helix, I ran my full pedalboard into an ABY box with my AC30 and the helix on the outputs. I was running an AC30 amp sim tailored to kind of match my own and switching from between the Helix and the Amp sounded nearly identical. The difference was almost like having a different amp made in a different era sitting next to a more modern reissue of the amp. Different flavor but same for the most part. Everything was reacting as I expected it too. The downside is the ABY was passive, so connecting the helix to the ac30 like that introduced a hum.

 

I also noticed when plugin in some inputs and outputs in the helix and some of the pedals that I was hearing radio when I just slightly put in the plug and didn't click it in all the way. Must mean something is acting like an antenna? probably unrelated to my ts9 issue because it was sounding fine when i had my board output straight to helix.

 

It could just be ear fatigue, but after messing around with the ts9 in all the different positions it was starting to sound like lollipop all throughout...I'm hoping it wasn't damaged in any way. 

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I'm not 100% sure if this was covered by others in your thread - But from my own experience, I have a few things you should examine.  I had this problem immediately when I finally got my Helix as well - that things didn't sound exactly right in the FX loop no matter how CORRECT my impedance, PAD, instrument/line settings were - I consider myself an expert on this - I put out a really informative Video on the POD HD500 using 4CM that seems to be a big hit and has helped a lot of people.

 

So for the Helix - I thought - COOL!  I can put a bunch of effects in the loops and use the blocks wherever I want in my chain.  Couple things happened with that:

 

1 - NOISY AS HELL - I actually called Line 6 about this - and their answer was.."Yup - that's how it works.  Only solution is to get a buffer to cut down the noise - but you would need one for each loop"...ugh.

2 - The INPUT on the Helix (like the guitar in - not the FX returns.) Has a very high dynamic range...they advertise it at 127dB - which means, that if your drive pedals go into the Input of the Helix - and nothing else in the chain - out to your amp - it should sound very close, if not identical to just plugging straight into your amp.  HOWEVER - the FX sends and returns Do not have that dynamic range (or at least the guy I spoke to could not verify what the dynamic range was...)  SO - why is that important?  because your pedals and their interactions with eachother and your amp are essentially only restricted by eachother, and your amp, and all that NATURAL compression when you start hitting the threshold of what a preamp can handle is what we crave - so when you add a digital modeller in-between the last pedal and your amp - you always lose a little bit because the Analog-to-digital-back-to-analog converting alone may be compressing faster or earlier than it would be without it... HENCE - a change in tone.  Especially when using the loops which we don't really know how much range they can have in them.

 

SO - I've played with this for a while and the best result I've found is - any drives go into the Guitar input - you can't be as crazy with the routing, but it's still sounds great and is very usable - you may have to re-level all your gains/volumes etc. to get back to "your sound".  If you do need to use a loop - you'll want a buffer to start - I HAVEN'T Tested this method yet - because I found what works for me - and I'm happy with it.  Finally - any REAL drives I had for which Helix had an analogous model - I just use the Helix's version - (I.E. i leave my Timmy,TS, OCD, etc off my board now...)

 

Good luck!

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Thanks for this. Have you had any indication of whether the FX loops definitely convert d to a and then back again (so in essence this happens twice to your signal)? I'd live to put my Strymon Riverside and Tumnus in the loop if possible to have wah and Phaser before my drives. It'd be a shame if the d to a and lack of dynamics restricted that flexibility. 

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38 minutes ago, jordanlaughlin said:

Thanks for this. Have you had any indication of whether the FX loops definitely convert d to a and then back again (so in essence this happens twice to your signal)? I'd live to put my Strymon Riverside and Tumnus in the loop if possible to have wah and Phaser before my drives. It'd be a shame if the d to a and lack of dynamics restricted that flexibility. 


Yes, the loops will give you another round of DA-AD conversion... How could they not? The signal running through the Helix is digital, and you can put the loop block anywhere in the signal chain, so it has to be converted to digital for that to work.

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I have the same problem. It really sucks. I have several dirt pedals which sound completely terrible in the fx loops. The fx loops were a big reason I upgraded from the stomp. Did the OP ever resolve this? 

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