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Can Helix do decent harmony patches

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Hello, I am in a band that requires me to use double and treble harmonies, and currently I use a Boss PS6 to do that (two actually!). I want to know if Helix can offer usable harmony configurations. I ask becasue I thought the HD500x and M9 pitch offerings were poor in terms of audio, and I read somewhere that Line 6 had basically moved its M9 effects to Helix without improvements. Don't get me wrong, I think L6 effects are very good, I just found that the pitch algorithms were a bit .... squeaky... difficult to articulate, but compared with a Boss PS6 it was just not as a good and I ended up not using them.

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I use the dual harmony effect quite often, and did so as well on the HD500.  I do find the quality of the harmonies depends a lot on how you have your lead tone set up and where you place the harmony effect in the signal chain.  Generally speaking I have found that placing the dual harmony after the amp and cab gives it much better articulation and clarity than if you place it before or right after your overdrive pedal.  It sometimes takes a bit of experimentation with the mix parameters to get it just right, but it's not hard.  I use the dual harmony across a fairly wide range of genres from Joe Walsh Eagles style, to Charlie Daniels southern rock style, to Brian May Queen sounds with no problem at all.  You just have to make sure your technique is very clean and precise as transient notes can be pretty disruptive.

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I'll have to disagree, the harmony/pitch shifting in the helix is not as good as other units I've used (g-system for example, also whammy). I'm sure placement and technique help. This is one of the very few weak points of the helix.

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Thanks guys.... 'Dragon is right in that if you place a pitch effect before the amp it will sound cac, and suck the tone out, the pitch should be after the amp and in the loop,b etween pre and post amp stages. But i am sad to hear Thurston9's response, because that syncs with what I read, and because I do use pitch effects (sparingly, but I do use them) that is barrier to buying Helix. I currently have two setups, one 'classical' pedal board using PS6 for pitch and the other using Atomic Amplifire and using H9 for pitch.... I was hoping to combine everything in the same box.

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Don't take my word for it, try it out for yourself. It's an issue for me but one thing about the Helix is you can have a handful of people complaining on forums about something that others have been able to use with great success by setting things up properly.

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Thanks to all. As I said I have tried the pitch with HD500x and M9 and found them to be glitchy, my real question was whether Helix could offer improved pitch effects. Using PS6 with Helix would Not be a solution for me.

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The pitch shifter is pretty bad IME. Monophonic and a bit squirrelly. There are no user scales. If you run it low in your mix it's passable.

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I use a bassoon with the Helix. Haven't had it for long, but pitch shifting is part of my bread and butter historically, and the bassoon is notoriously difficult for digital effects to track. My other right is a TC Helicon Volicelive 3, which does custom harmonies amazingly well and tracks beautifully.

 

I will disagree with the other people on the board and say the pitch tracking on the Helix is some of the better that I've used. I've set up patches for Dual, Simple, and Whammy. Keep in mind I don't use amp/cab models in my playing most of the time. I'm not sure what the exact complaints are from people on the board regarding the pitch shifting, why they don't think it works well. Is it the "lack of polyphony"? Someone pointed out lack of user scales. I think I saw one rack unit for guitar that had user scales (AxeFX maybe) but to be honest that's a super rare feature in guitar units. I would welcome an addition of this to the Helix, but I have my Voicelive for that.

 

What I find works well is to set up two pitch shifters in parallel paths, so you can have one that does say, octave up and octave down, and another that does 3rd and 5th. Then you don't get the problem of a second pitch shifter serially adding pitches to your already pitch shifted effect. This works really well to create organ/HOG like patches.

 

That all said, pitch tracking always has room for improvement on any effect. It's gotta be a difficult thing to make programs for.

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I use a bassoon with the Helix.

Never thought I'd hear those words together. That's pretty cool!

 

What do you guys mean by user scales?

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Generally speaking I have found that placing the dual harmony after the amp and cab gives it much better articulation and clarity than if you place it before or right after your overdrive pedal.  It sometimes takes a bit of experimentation with the mix parameters to get it just right, but it's not hard.

 

I've found the same thing.

 

I'll have to disagree, the harmony/pitch shifting in the helix is not as good as other units I've used (g-system for example, also whammy). 

 

Well no, it doesn't sound as good as my old TC G-Force. That harmonizer REALLY sounds like 2 or 3 guitars. But I didn't expect it to; TC Electronics and Eventide are about the best there is in that field. Then again, they're not amp and cab modelers.

 

Thanks to all. As I said I have tried the pitch with HD500x and M9 and found them to be glitchy, my real question was whether Helix could offer improved pitch effects.

 

I haven't found Helix's harmonizer to be particularly glitchy.

 

There are no user scales.

 

I beg to differ; there ARE user scales! Maybe there aren't any exotic scales, but it has major, harmonic minor, melodic minor, diminished (half step/whole step) and whole tone. Pentatonic too, though I don't know what the point is since pentatonics are partial scales. Without going into a lecture about the modes that are derived from those scales, you've got just about everything you're ever going to need except for a fixed chromatic scale (and I do sometimes wish it had that). 

 

What do you guys mean by user scales?

 

You can tune the harmonies you want to play by what scale and key you want them to be in. And you can set the intervals from the primary pitch you want the harmonies to be.

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Doesn't track well enough to be reliable and the tone isn't very good. I would immediately sell my whammy if this weren't the case.

 

The lack of quality pitch shift/harmony is really my only complaint about the Helix.

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Doesn't track well enough to be reliable and the tone isn't very good. I would immediately sell my whammy if this weren't the case.

 

The lack of quality pitch shift/harmony is really my only complaint about the Helix.

 

I'm curious what other devices you're comparing it to when you say it doesn't track well. Also what signal flow and exact blocks you're using to come to this conclusion. I'm not saying it doesn't track badly for you, but my experience is quite different, so I wonder what you're doing to have a different experience.

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The pitch effects aren't perfect but if you know how to work em, you can work em. One of my bands has a couple songs where I use the pitch wham before any other effects, at a fixed pitch to simulate down tuning to E1. The mix is at about 86% and there is some eq going on after, but it works pretty well.

 

For harmonies I stick the dual harmony in between the amp and cab so the cab block an filter any annoying high frequencies that sound wobbly and unnatural

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I've even gone as far as placing the Dual Harmony on a separate path followed by several EQ blocks to get it sounding right while I am creating a preset but it usually all gets thrown out the window and doesn't make that much a difference in a full mix anyway. And though I barely use it anymore I still have my super shifter and I'm never getting rid of it!

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I'm curious what other devices you're comparing it to when you say it doesn't track well. Also what signal flow and exact blocks you're using to come to this conclusion. I'm not saying it doesn't track badly for you, but my experience is quite different, so I wonder what you're doing to have a different experience.

I second the tracking complaint.  I use a Whammy 5 with mine, which tracks multiple strings cleanly, without any glitching. The Helix can't do that.  It's similar to any other pitch shift effect from other multi effect processors, no better than from the HD series.  But from what I hear, AFX is no different.  Of course, EHX and Digitech effects both sound great.  I've had less successful results from TC pedals.

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I second the tracking complaint.  I use a Whammy 5 with mine, which tracks multiple strings cleanly, without any glitching. The Helix can't do that.  It's similar to any other pitch shift effect from other multi effect processors, no better than from the HD series.  But from what I hear, AFX is no different.  Of course, EHX and Digitech effects both sound great.  I've had less successful results from TC pedals.

 

OK, if you compare any pitch tracking effect that is advertised as Monophonic (as all the Helix shifters are) to the stuff produced by EHX (which isn't just polyphonic, it's "we don't care what signal you throw out, we'll convert the pitch to this ratio" but also necver has any smart harmony (within a key) features) you're going to come up short with the digital effects.

 

I do wish there were better multiphonic shifters on the Helix, those generally work better on bassoon.

 

But for single notes, it's got no trouble following me at all, anywhere in the range of the instrument, with no noticeable latency. The only stuff that I've used that's any better is the EHX stuff (even the Voicelive stuff can't track the very bottom range of my instrument at all).

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Well, the "we don't care, we'll convert" approach is what the Whammy does, and it handles everything, including strings ringing out when changing strings, double stops, chords, etc.  I can play anything through the Whammy, and it will shift it all without a hitch.  

 

The actual harmonizers have their own set of problems.  It never takes into account alternate modes, complex scaling, or anything else that may get thrown at it in the course of a gig.  Unless you're playing really vanilla stuff all the time.  I used to have a Digitech Harmonyman, which did "smart harmony", but it wasn't usable for 75% of what I play.  Unless I kept it doing octave or fifths.  The better ones still have to be programmed specifically for the modes you'll play for each song, if I understand correctly.  Ain't nobody got time fo dat.

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For me, the term User Scales means you can define your own, instead of using a common scale.  For instance, on the Boss GT Pro, you can define for each scale tone what the harmony notes should be.  They don't have to all be a specific interval within a particular scale.  This can be really helpful in duplicating specific harmony parts from specific songs, but Helix does not have this feature.

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Ain't nobody got time fo dat.

I'd make time for that! Creating your own harmonizing scales sounds like fun!

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For the stuff I play, I've been known to change modes mid-song, or mid-solo, and given the unpredictability of the average jam, there's no way of knowing what scales I'll end up using ahead of time.  

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TC G-system did it better.  Digitech Whammy does it better.  

 

I'm willing to put some more time into seeing if I can make it work for me using some of the advice in this thread, but last time I tried I ended up giving up on it.  I'm hoping it's possible for this to be improved upon, and it would be great if there were enough support to make it higher priority.  

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Used the whammy for the Killing In the Name solo last night and it sound like lollipope.  Never had problems with the digitech whammy or TC G-system.

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