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timmyo

Best way to get 2nd vocal in to Helix?

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Help me think aloud folks. My solo thing has become a duo and now I wonder: What's the simplest way to get a 2nd vocal into Helix for processing/sending to PA?

 

In this context 'simplest' = the least possible extra gear. If I can avoid an external mixer, power supply etc I really really want to do so. 

 

An active doohickey to bump a mic level up to come in via a loop return? Or will mic level work into one of those?

 

Any thoughts gladly received  

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Sorry. You need some way to get audio in from a mic. Best way is a teeny mixer. No other practical solution.

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I think Peter is correct that a small mixer might be one of your best options. The challenge is that you want a mic preamp for the signal from both microphones. Additioanally, summing a signal is not exactly the same as splitting it which is why you don't want to use a Y cable for something like this.

 

The Helix has a quite nice mic preamp when you use the "Mic In" input.  You could use an external mixer to blend the signal from both mics before it hits the Helix and use the "Mic In" input on the Helix. The only problem with that approach I suppose is that you now have the two mic preamps from your mixer both feeding in to the Helix's "Mic In" mic preamp. In other words you now have two parallel mic preamp's feeding serially into yet another one.  It might sound fine but it is not theoretically ideal. One way to avoid having the mic preamp on the Helix from reprocessing the signal that has already gone through the two(parallel) mic preamps from your mixer might be to use a return input instead of the Helix's "Mic In". The Helix returns don't have mic preamps.

 

I suppose another way to do it would be to use a small mixer or something like a Presonus Mic Preamp for your first mic and send that to a return input on the Helix. Your second mic would go directly into the Helix's standard Mic In. That way you only have only one mic preamp in the signal chain for each mic. Granted the mic preamps would most likely differ in the external mixer and the Helix and you might have to account for that with leveling and EQ.

 

http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/042050-Galaxy-Audio-JIB-C

A third relatively inexpensive option might be this Galay Audio XLR combiner box or something similar. Make sure you get a combiner, not a splitter. The Galaxy Audio even has phantom power passthrough although I don't know if it is wise to try and power two microphones from the Helix. I don't know how much max current draw the Helix phantom power circuit is designed for. I wouldn't want to damage my Helix. You may want to use only passive mics or battery powered mics. The Galaxy Audio box does not contain mic preamps so the two mics would plug into the box and then be directly(no mic preamp) output to the Helix "Mic In" so you can take advantage of the Helix's built-in mic preamp. Take note of the fact that there is a 10db signal loss from the Galaxy Audio box when summing the mics. I have no idea whether the Helix "Mic In" input/preamp can compensate enough for this level loss with enough volume and maintain decent signal quality and a good S/N ratio, although it well might. 

 

I have never personally tried to connect two mics to the Helix so if other folks who have attempted this have better information or mine is incorrect, please chime in.

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Thanks folks.

 

I'm not keen initially to combine the mics in any way that means I can't control their relative levels, so I guess that means a mixer, or something that bumps a dynamic mic level up.

 

This thing https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/155445-REG/Rolls_MP13_MP13_Mini_Microphone_Preamp.html looks like it might do a job - XLR in, 1/4" out.

 

I'll have a think :-)

 

Thanks again

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If the second mic is a dynamic mic, try connecting it to one of Helix's FX Returns.

 

Reconfigure one Helix's Input Blocks to use the FX Return, and increase the Level Parameter of that Block. Next, place a PreAmp > Mic Tube PreAmp Block in the Signal Chain to boost the signal level. To be clear, this is found in the PreAmps Models List under "Mic". Next, try placing a Gain Block to further boost the signal level.

 

I have no idea if the result would be usable nor if the resulting S/N level would be an issue. Nonetheless, it would be worth the attempt before you embark upon buying more gear. The Helix has incredible potential. It may pleasantly surprise you.

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If the second mic is a dynamic mic, try connecting it to one of Helix's FX Returns.

 

Reconfigure one Helix's Input Blocks to use the FX Return, and increase the Level Parameter of that Block. Next, place a PreAmp > Mic Tube PreAmp Block in the Signal Chain to boost the signal level. To be clear, this is found in the PreAmps Models List under "Mic". Next, try placing a Gain Block to further boost the signal level.

 

I have no idea if the result would be usable nor if the resulting S/N level would be an issue. Nonetheless, it would be worth the attempt before you embark upon buying more gear. The Helix has incredible potential. It may pleasantly surprise you.

 

^^^^This!!  Great idea, I forgot all about the Mic Tube Preamp Block, not quite the same as a physical mic preamp but it might just work fine. I would try this first if you already have a mic cord with a 1/4 connector or an XLR-->1/4 adaptor as it does not require any additional hardware.

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^^^^This!!  Great idea, I forgot all about the Mic Tube Preamp Block, not quite the same as a physical mic preamp but it might just work fine. I would try this first if you already have a mic cord with a 1/4 connector or an XLR-->1/4 adaptor as it does not require any additional hardware.

 

 

It doesn't change the input. This is not a great idea.

 

And please don't throw the cheapest mic preamp you can find into it. Your audience deserves better.

 

In all honestly, OP is looking to take Helix pretty far away from its original design idea imho.

 

Maybe handling the mikes in something other than Helix is a better idea.

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I wasn't initially going to share my setup since timmyo expressed desire for the simplest setup possibly but seeing the discussion so far, perhaps somebody might find mine helpful. It is probably TL;DR for most of you so sorry for that. Story short - I use Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 with my Helix floorboard and can do 3 (or 4 if needed) totally independent processing lines in Helix and have all 3 (or 4) processed inputs on separate balanced XLR outputs.

 

Ok, here it is:

 

I am in a pretty much similar situation - need two mics and a guitar (acoustic variax) to go into Helix (floorboard, non-LT) and process each of them separately. Moreover I wanted to have 3 separate outputs to the PA for each of these inputs (so that the soundguy can control the balance) and preferred to have all of the outputs balanced (i.e. XLR, not simple/instrument unbalanced TS jacks). Also thinking into the future I might need laptop as well and would like to have mono or stereo outputs from it ready for the soundguy, again preferably balanced.

 

So I figured - in addition to the variax input and helix mic input together with the two XLR outs on Helix (for guitar and first mic) I'd need:

1) a mic preamp for the second mic so that I can plug it into one of the return jacks

2) di box to make balanced (jack->XLR) the processed second mic signal coming out on one of the send jack

3) small usb audio interface with stereo balanced outpus for laptop output

 

Well, in the end I combined these 3 points into one - I use Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 for all of them: it has two mic preamps (need just 1 for now), 2 line inputs and 4 line outputs, it's perfect for my setup:

 

Second mic processing:

- plugs into Scarlett mic in

- gets routed from Scarlett line output 3 to Helix return 1

- Helix processes and outputs on send 1

- this unbalanced signal goes back into Scarlett line input 1

- gets routed to line output 4 - this is balanced TRS jack and I use short TRS->XLR cable just to have it physically ready for soundguy's XLR cable

 

This could be replicated for a 3rd mic/2nd guitar if needed but I use laptop instead (no Helix processing needed):

- usb connected laptop to Scarlett, uses Scarlett's line outputs 1&2 for stereo - again it is balanced so 2 short TRS->XLR cable make it ready for the soundguy

 

The hard part was to make the Scarlett routing work correctly. And then remember where all cables are supposed to be plugged! :)

 

The only thing I regret is that Scarlett is not USB-powered, so I need an adapter for it but I havent found any USB interface that would have enough connections and routing flexible enough which would be USB-powered.

 

Hope somebody finds this helpful.

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Here's a suggestion.

Instrument 1 - Guitar in -> path goes to XLR L&R out
Instrument 2 - Aux In -> path goes to 1/4" L&R out to stereo DI or pair of DIs.

 

Vocal 1 - Channel one on something like a simple Mackie 1202 or other small mixer with 2 separate stereo balanced outs and decent mic presets.

Vocal 2 - channel 2 on mixer.

Each vocal then has a send to Helix (Return 1 & 2). Each one has its own path with whatever you want on there.

Helix outputs those paths to Send 1/2 and 3/4, back to the mixer. Mixer routes accordingly to outputs 1/2 and 3/4, balanced.

 

Voila, probably as simple as possible, 4 stereo signals to board.

 

That said, I think this is asking more of Helix than it comfortably can do, but you could make it work.

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Here's a suggestion.

...

 

That said, I think this is asking more of Helix than it comfortably can do, but you could make it work.

 

I don't know what makes you say that. Helix has 4 independent processing paths and a lot of inputs and outputs. I read that as a clear message: "hey, I'm Helix, I'm here to work it out!" :)

 

Seriously, when I'm processing 3 inputs independently at once it's the only time I feel I have a scenario worth Helix's capabilities.

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I don't know what makes you say that. Helix has 4 independent processing paths and a lot of inputs and outputs. I read that as a clear message: "hey, I'm Helix, I'm here to work it out!" :)

 

Seriously, when I'm processing 3 inputs independently at once it's the only time I feel I have a scenario worth Helix's capabilities.

 

 

But it wasn't designed to be the hub of your whole band. It was designed to be the hub of your whole guitar system.

 

Sure you can make it work... but I know, for me, I wouldn't want to.

 

That said, most of my patches do have 3 separate chains, so I kinda agree with you I guess, although all three of those come from one instrument.

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But it wasn't designed to be the hub of your whole band. It was designed to be the hub of your whole guitar system.

...

 

I mean, who said so? (rhetorical question...)

 

There's no point arguing here, I just wanted to express disagreement with your previous statement which sounded like "this is more than Helix can handle/was designed for..." and backed that with my argument about independent processing paths and extensive I/O options. Because I don't see a single reason (other than "my feeling is..." which is not a reason) to limit myself from using Helix to its full potential. And based on my (great) experience with Helix I'd like to encourage others to do so as well.

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You misunderstand. 

I didn't say you can't, or shouldn't. I just pointed out that the design of Helix seems to really be designed for use with a single player in the manner you are using it (successfully). Otherwise it would have more than one XLR input (I was rather surprised when it didn't have two like the "Pro" pieces like X3 Pro before it actually... would have made your life easier for sure).

It was most certainly, I think, not designed with what you are doing in mind as a primary function. But let's remember that the Bassman 4 x 10 amp wasn't designed for guitar either, and look what happened! Virtually no bass guys use it... but it became the whole basis for the amps that made rock and roll great.

 

My own experience is that trying to use a single piece of gear like this for multiple players is ultimately frustrating, though.

But if you can make it work, that's awesome for sure! I certainly don't use Helix the for what I think it was primarily designed for. I'm running 3 and occasionally 4 sounds through it at once in a manner that I'm pretty sure wasn't thought of as a primary function.

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You misunderstand. 

 

...

 

No, you misunderstand... :)

 

Alright, we can do this all day. I think that it's totally pointless to think in terms of "primary functions" when it comes to a piece of gear such as Helix which was I believe designed mainly to be "flexible".

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If the second mic is a dynamic mic, try connecting it to one of Helix's FX Returns.

 

Reconfigure one Helix's Input Blocks to use the FX Return, and increase the Level Parameter of that Block. Next, place a PreAmp > Mic Tube PreAmp Block in the Signal Chain to boost the signal level. To be clear, this is found in the PreAmps Models List under "Mic". Next, try placing a Gain Block to further boost the signal level.

 

I have no idea if the result would be usable nor if the resulting S/N level would be an issue. Nonetheless, it would be worth the attempt before you embark upon buying more gear. The Helix has incredible potential. It may pleasantly surprise you.

^^^^This!! Great idea, I forgot all about the Mic Tube Preamp Block, not quite the same as a physical mic preamp but it might just work fine. I would try this first if you already have a mic cord with a 1/4 connector or an XLR-->1/4 adaptor as it does not require any additional hardware.

It doesn't change the input. This is not a great idea.

 

And please don't throw the cheapest mic preamp you can find into it. Your audience deserves better.

 

In all honestly, OP is looking to take Helix pretty far away from its original design idea imho.

 

Maybe handling the mikes in something other than Helix is a better idea.

I mentioned in my post that MusicLaw's idea "might work fine", maybe it won't, but I maintain that it is still a great idea and worth trying. That is where experimentation comes in. Many a great idea does not prove out or requires refinement. Thinking out of the box should be encouraged though. You are right that the mic preamp block won't change the input level in the same fashion as a physical mic preamp (I pointed this out initially) but it can boost the level once it hits the signal chain in the Helix and who knows, with the right mic it might work and provide an ultra streamlined if less than sonically ideal solution for the OP that requires no additional hardware to purchase, carry, or connect.

 

Ultimately I do agree with Peter_Hamm's original post and that is how I would personally approach it. For me using a mixer is my preferred solution as soon as multiple mics are involved but the posters here are trying to assist the OP with options that may work better for him and fit the parameters of his request, even if they aren't the ones we would select or consider ideal. Posts as to what is a best practice are always appropriate and appreciated, but so are other potential options.

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I was recently at a barbeque/outdoor gig and the host wanted to make an announcement from far away from my Helix or the soundboard. I ended up giving him my wireless pack and a cable with XLR on one end and 1/4" on the other. It was Sure 58 --> XLR end of cable --> 1/4" end --> wireless transmitter >>>>> wireless receiver --> Guitar Input on Helix >> empty preset.

I think we had to play with the volume a little, but nothing extraordinary. I'm sure we could have done the same thing using just the XLR to 1/4" cable into a loop return. I'm not a singer, and the speaker was just giving announcements, but I couldn't tell any reason why it wouldn't work for vocals. Is the sound quality terrible? If so, my ears are equally terrible. I am eager to be proven wrong though.

Edit: The signal then went from Helix via XLR to a sound board, if that makes any difference.

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OP, you didn't say what your PA system is?

 

I use an L2t... It's got a built in Mixer that works great for combining Helix with "stuff"... I put my mic and acoustic into channel 2 and 1 respectively, use the acoustic simulator on the acoustic, and connect Helix using L6 Link, and there's still the line in available on the back, plus the RCA jacks for other stuffs.  So you could use the mic in on the Helix for your mic... that should about cover you....  Then for more power, you could use the L6 Link out to another L2m (which in turn would process your Helix stereo signal appropriately between the two speakers).... 

 

Lots of other PA's have built in mixers, one of the things I liked about my old JBL EON15 G2's....

 

If you're worried about the cost of the StageSources, keep an eye on Guitar Center's used section, they can be had for great prices there... got my L2t and L2m for $500 and $400 respectively, shipping is about $35 apiece or less depending... (for the L2t, I got a Helix, L2t and mic shipped to my local GC for $40).  Mine look brand new, the L2t even had the Line 6 rolling case included in the $500 price.

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OP, you didn't say what your PA system is?

 

I use an L2t... It's got a built in Mixer that works great for combining Helix with "stuff"... I put my mic and acoustic into channel 2 and 1 respectively, use the acoustic simulator on the acoustic, and connect Helix using L6 Link, and there's still the line in available on the back, plus the RCA jacks for other stuffs.  So you could use the mic in on the Helix for your mic... that should about cover you....  Then for more power, you could use the L6 Link out to another L2m (which in turn would process your Helix stereo signal appropriately between the two speakers).... 

 

Lots of other PA's have built in mixers, one of the things I liked about my old JBL EON15 G2's....

 

If you're worried about the cost of the StageSources, keep an eye on Guitar Center's used section, they can be had for great prices there... got my L2t and L2m for $500 and $400 respectively, shipping is about $35 apiece or less depending... (for the L2t, I got a Helix, L2t and mic shipped to my local GC for $40).  Mine look brand new, the L2t even had the Line 6 rolling case included in the $500 price.

 

Thanks for that - yes I should have said, using a DXR10 at the moment.

 

I'm in the UK - the used market here for this kind of thing seems to be far less attractive!

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OK folks - an update:

 

I created my 4-channel patch, and connected the 2nd mic (a dynamic) to Return 4 using an XLR->unbalanced 1/4" cable I had lying around from years ago. 

 

I give it 6db on a gain block, then 8db in the tube pre block, a smidge of eq, add reverb to taste and it seems to be doing the job.

 

Comparable volume with the condenser I use as Vox1 (into the Helix mic input) 

 

It'll be a little while before I can get it somewhere to crank and check that at volume there isn't a noise issue on the 2nd vocal channel but it certainly works. 

 

 

This is certainly the 'agricultural' approach rather than for best fidelity but it sounds to be holding up, and means no extra gear. If the sound suffers at volume, then I'll go the external preamp route. 

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OK folks - an update:

 

I created my 4-channel patch, and connected the 2nd mic (a dynamic) to Return 4 using an XLR->unbalanced 1/4" cable I had lying around from years ago. 

 

I give it 6db on a gain block, then 8db in the tube pre block, a smidge of eq, add reverb to taste and it seems to be doing the job.

 

Comparable volume with the condenser I use as Vox1 (into the Helix mic input) 

 

It'll be a little while before I can get it somewhere to crank and check that at volume there isn't a noise issue on the 2nd vocal channel but it certainly works. 

 

 

This is certainly the 'agricultural' approach rather than for best fidelity but it sounds to be holding up, and means no extra gear. If the sound suffers at volume, then I'll go the external preamp route.

 

Great to hear that you got it working!

 

Additional thoughs:

 

The Helix's FX Return 4 Block has a Level Parameter.

 

If you have that 2nd mic on its own signal path, you can redefine the Input Block to use FX Return 4. The reconfigured Input Block has a Level Parameter. And, the Output Block could also be redefined to use the FX Send rather than the Main Outs if you wish.

 

The Yamaha DXR10's Line 2 input can accept a 1/4" Mic Input. So, you could route the 2nd Mic's output from the Helix (after the Reverb FX Block, etc.) out via Helix's FX Send (Globals set to Mic or Line as you prefer) and route that to the DXR10's Line 2 Mic 1/4" Input. Use the DXR10's Line 2 Level control and the Helix's FX Send control to properly gain stage that 2nd Mic's volume.

 

You've got multiple options.

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Thanks for the that!

 

Yes I have the input on the return - not sure if I have used its gain parameter though, I'll check that.

 

Thanks for the pointers - as you say, lots of options!

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