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Hi Gain Tones and Cutting Through a Live Mix


Rocco_Crocco
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I am having issues. My band played a gig last night and I was having a difficult time hearing myself in the mix of our hi gain tunes, especially during solos.. A short walk onto the dance floor in front of the mains was not helpful.... I still could not hear myself. This is a frequent occurrence at gigs. It's important to point out we do our own sound.

 

I am competing with a second guitarist and loud cymbals, and last night during my (footswitch boosted) leads on the first few metal tunes of set number three I had completely vanished in the mix. I decided to turn the big knob on the Helix to try to get more volume, and my sound just turned into a loud, hissy mess. 

 

I have 2 high gain patches I use, and the speaker block High cuts are set at 7k. I also turn on my Global EQ when playing loud to reduce even more highs and some lows. It is difficult for me to make meaningful adjustments at rehearsal because we practice at a pretty low volume, so any changes made there will be nullified once the volumes come up. Which is why I am posting this issue here.

 

I was thinking of reducing the speaker block high cuts even more... maybe dropping it to 4 or 5K when I click on a solo boost switch... I am thinking that may get rid of some of the hiss and allow me to be a little louder without being to "messy". Does that sound like a solid plan? Anything else I can do?

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Are you coming through the PA out front? Or trying to play with stage volume alone? 
Mixed in the P.A. my sounds on my Helix are phenomenal. Had several guitarists and other musicians from various bands here in Vegas tell me that I had the best guitar sound they had ever heard. :)
That made me VERY happy to say the least. 

But they are hearing me loud and clear from the audience through the P.A. speakers (yeah, we do our own sound too except at gigs here in town with house P.A. and a soundman). 

How are you amplifying your Helix?

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what were your masters set to? Outputs and levels? 
I noticed that changes things drastically. (outputs mainly speaking)
Is it possible your boost is set to multiple parameters? I have accidently assigned various n

knobs or buttons to multiple blocks. For example, volume was controlling gain as well..
also.. what Robie61 said.. into PA or amping a cab or? 
 

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I've had problems with high gain patches turning to mud while playing with the band. My first mistake that I made when trying to fix things was turning up my guitar volume. That just made things worse.

Some general ideas:

make all of your volume increases after the amp, so you're not messing with the tone, just the volume. I like adjusting my patch volume at the output, after all effect blocks.

boost presence, treble and mid highs a touch 

lower bass, gain and master volume a touch

increase channel volume a touch

add a noise gate for the hiss

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Are you coming through the PA out front? Or trying to play with stage volume alone? 

Mixed in the P.A. my sounds on my Helix are phenomenal. Had several guitarists and other musicians from various bands here in Vegas tell me that I had the best guitar sound they had ever heard. :)

That made me VERY happy to say the least. 

 

But they are hearing me loud and clear from the audience through the P.A. speakers (yeah, we do our own sound too except at gigs here in town with house P.A. and a soundman). 

 

How are you amplifying your Helix?

Helix direct to PA. Walking in front of the mains showed that I was washed out. I monitor myself through a Alto 212 FRFR speaker, with a mains mix of the band into channel one and my Helix alone in channel 2 so I can turn that up a little louder to hear myself.

 

In general my sound through the mains and my Alto is great... it just disappears at high gain soloing.

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what were your masters set to? Outputs and levels? 

I noticed that changes things drastically. (outputs mainly speaking)

Is it possible your boost is set to multiple parameters? I have accidently assigned various n

knobs or buttons to multiple blocks. For example, volume was controlling gain as well..

also.. what Robie61 said.. into PA or amping a cab or? 

 

I am afraid I have no answer to your first 2 questions. I don't get involved with the PA... the other guitarist does that on his own. My boosts are set for multiple parameters.... usually an EQ block with a 3 dB boost, and more delay. Sometimes I just boost the output block by 3 dB instead of using an eq block. Rarely do I have a patch where the gain is increased, too. I don't remember the specifics of these particular patches in question, however, other than there is a 3 db boost and the high cuts are set at 7k.

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I had to add a gain block and raised it to like +10 for my solo part because when I turned on the other effects it took punch right out of my preset.
However I am relatively new at this and still have not used the Helix for anything other than recording. 

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Most on board effects have a mix option.. maybe that got bumped and when you turn it on it could be cutting your signal? 
I usually try to single out what is causing me the problem and then delete that block and start over lol 

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the speaker block High cuts are set at 7k. I also turn on my Global EQ when playing loud to reduce even more highs

IMHO, this is your problem. For one thing, you need at least a 6.5db to 7db boost for leads with a full band and live drummer and amps on stage. I use the Simple EQ for lead boost's. If you boost your solo's that much then you can use the same simple EQ to tailor the boost to shave off some of the high's but you should also boost the mid's for lead sections. If you're not boosting that much then you will get lost in the mix especially if there is alot of gain. High Gain sounds especially get lost in the mix  and it's actually because of the gain. You might be surprised to find out if you back down the gain your sound will become much more pronounced and not so saturated and with the added mid boost, that will cut through the mix. That's what I've noticed in dialing in my tones for the Helix and Helix LT for live Direct to FOH. 

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IMHO, this is your problem. For one thing, you need at least a 6.5db to 7db boost for leads with a full band and live drummer and amps on stage. I use the Simple EQ for lead boost's. If you boost your solo's that much then you can use the same simple EQ to tailor the boost to shave off some of the high's but you should also boost the mid's for lead sections. If you're not boosting that much then you will get lost in the mix especially if there is alot of gain. High Gain sounds especially get lost in the mix  and it's actually because of the gain. You might be surprised to find out if you back down the gain your sound will become much more pronounced and not so saturated and with the added mid boost, that will cut through the mix. That's what I've noticed in dialing in my tones for the Helix and Helix LT for live Direct to FOH. 

I have watched a lot of your vids.. very informative. And I would venture to say what lead me to purchasing the Helix. 

Thank you for the advice. And furthermore.. great playing... and your custom tones are pretty spot on. I'm a fan lol 

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You might be surprised to find out if you back down the gain your sound will become much more pronounced and not so saturated and with the added mid boost, that will cut through the mix. That's what I've noticed in dialing in my tones for the Helix and Helix LT for live Direct to FOH. 

^^^^^^^The most important advise you will ever hear regarding high gain tones.

 

In fact I'd go so far as to say too much gain tends to be one of the primary problems people tend to have when dialing in patches.  The more gain, the less articulation. And articulation in the tone is what differentiates a spectacular patch from and okay patch.

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IMHO, this is your problem. For one thing, you need at least a 6.5db to 7db boost for leads with a full band and live drummer and amps on stage. I use the Simple EQ for lead boost's. If you boost your solo's that much then you can use the same simple EQ to tailor the boost to shave off some of the high's but you should also boost the mid's for lead sections. If you're not boosting that much then you will get lost in the mix especially if there is alot of gain. High Gain sounds especially get lost in the mix and it's actually because of the gain. You might be surprised to find out if you back down the gain your sound will become much more pronounced and not so saturated and with the added mid boost, that will cut through the mix. That's what I've noticed in dialing in my tones for the Helix and Helix LT for live Direct to FOH.

Thank you! That sounds like some great advice, Glenn. I am going to give this a try. ðŸ‘

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Lots of good advice from others.

However. ... just something to think about.

What did you do before using Helix? .. presumably you were using amp/combo and mic'ing speakers?

How did you set your amp and pedals to get that solo boost and cut through the mix? 

One of the great concepts of helix is that it really can ( and does) emulate how a conventional set up would work...but with some exceptions.

IR's and cab sims don't really capture what happens to guitar speaker(s) when the amp vol goes up.  As we know .. two main things change (1) the response of the speakers (2) our own perception of how the balance of that sound is when louder - more bass for example.

IR's don't and can't capture these changes unless you use many many IR's.

We've all sat at home ( or in a shop) and played an amp that sounds good ( or bad) but when that amp is taken up to gig volume -- it's a completely different beast.

So try to think that through.

Bear in mind when you 'were' mic'ing your cab .. that sound would change when you kicked the amp harder  and also may even have compressed the mic ( SM57?)  So just making your helix output higher won't always do it....and you may overload ( or compress) the front end of the desk which will in turn, change the sound ( for the worse).

Obviously a lot of high gain sounds tend to have loads of low end -slightly scooped mids- and very 'present' top ends.  None of that will cut through a mix in a PA speaker with everything else going through it .  Take some bass out, push the upper mids and take some presence out ....either at the amp or with an EQ block.

In isolation that might be a bit 'in yer face'  but it will sit well in the mix without having to push the output too hard.

Just think  old school and then apply it to Helix - it's all in there!

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Another angle, one I'm sure you're​ aware of, but it's still valid.

 

In a recording it's more obvious that there's a finite max level you can hit, but the same is pretty much true live. For any one thing to shine through, it has to not be obscured by other stuff in the same frequency ranges.

 

All band members paying attention to parts and tones that don't conflict pays big dividends for all.

 

IOW, your tone may not be the (whole) problem.

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Another angle, one I'm sure you're​ aware of, but it's still valid.

 

In a recording it's more obvious that there's a finite max level you can hit, but the same is pretty much true live. For any one thing to shine through, it has to not be obscured by other stuff in the same frequency ranges.

 

All band members paying attention to parts and tones that don't conflict pays big dividends for all.

 

IOW, your tone may not be the (whole) problem.

 

This is not said often enough, in my opinion. One of my gigs is on Sunday mornings for church services, and it is where I have the most trouble with consistently balancing between being buried and overpowering. The problem is a combination of it being a larger number of instrumentalists and vocalists and a rotating set of musicians who all use different gear and play at different volumes.

I would add to Zooey's comment...nothing actually. Ask your keyboardist to play in a narrower register, tell your drummer that every bar doesn't need a cymbal crash, and make sure your guitarists understand when they are supposed to play rhythm and when they are supposed to play lead. Remind your guitarists that too much distortion basically mushes their signal into one big spectrum-hogging nothing.

(This is probably why you hear guys who are playing live complain about this more than those recording. You can just pull other parts back in a recording situation.)

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