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File under: "Helix Suddenly Sounds Bad".....


Verne-Bunsen
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Hello all,

So, yesterday morning I spent some time playing and Helix sounded fantastic, as per usual. I sat down to play again yesterday evening and right off the bat everything sounded "bad". Blown out brittle highs and flubby boomy lows. I went through multiple presets with multiple guitars and found all of them were just not sounding like they should.

 

Today I set out to confirm either that I've lost my mind or that something has gone terribly wrong with my Helix. Verified no input pad, no Global EQ. I started with a 10+11 reset to rebuild all presets: no change. I followed that up by re-installing firmware v2.21, rebuilding, reloading IRs and presets, rebuilding again: again, no change.

 

A few weeks ago I recorded some audio to demo my Malekko Spring Chicken spring reverb pedal, and I captured the dry track at that time so that I could re-amp it to compare with Helix spring reverbs. I decided that that dry audio would be a perfect tool for sussing out what is now going on with my Helix.

 

Here is the original track from a few weeks ago (in this case with the Helix 63 Spring Reverb, not the external pedal):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4yx66ke2mmu5etn/Helix%2063%20Original.mp3?dl=0

 

Here is the track re-amped through exactly the same patch today:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hsosvhxcyjy8nl2/Helix%2063%20Re-amp%20Trem.mp3?dl=0

 

As another test, I decided to bring Helix Native in as a comparison I loaded the patch directly from the Floor unit, same everything. Remember that this is using a dry track originally recorded with Helix as an input device, so there are no hardware changes. I left the tremolo off for these.

 

Helix Native:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rjskrr8hziq3i98/Native%2063%20Re-amp%20%20No%20Trem.mp3?dl=0

Sounds good. Sounds like I'd expect it to.

 

Helix Floor, exactly the same patch:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sl8jhjgrdshgk9r/Helix%2063%20Re-amp%20%20No%20Trem.mp3?dl=0

Sumpthin' ain't right...

 

My conclusions are as follows:

Using the same input and patch, the output of the Helix Floor unit does not sound the same as it did.

Using the same input and patch, Helix Native DOES sound like it should.

Using the same input and patch, the output of the Helix Floor unit does not sound like Helix Native.

Ergo, something has gone wrong in my Helix Floor Unit.

 

Am I nuts here or are you guys picking up what I'm laying down?

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There is a level difference for sure making it more driven in the reamp'd version.

Just a guess lower the reamp output so it averages -12db or -14dbFS on your output meter.

The computer DAW is another gain stage.

 

Yes, the tracks re-amped through the Helix hardware were about 3dB higher than the original, but nothing clipped within the DAW. I did not compensate for it as it is part of the collection of things that are "different" with the hardware suddenly. The sound in the recordings is faithful to what I'm hearing out of my monitor while playing. The track re-amped with Native did not present this increased level...

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It does sound like a bug if over usb the level back in is higher and driving the patch more.

Is there a way to adjust the level of the USB return in the Helix?

 

I'd expect a DI recorded to a track reamped back would be re leveled as the same level you originally played the guitar into it.

But in the real world who knows.

What bit length and frequency are you recording at? As if you are recording at 192khz maybe on replay that increases the level.

Just guessing here but so long as your recording bit and frequency level is the same as the Helix (for s/pdif at least)

I'd expect it to be able to reamp just fine.

In other words make sure your DAW is not upsampling the resolution compared to what Helix is sending and receiving.

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Latency and bit rate in the DAW are at default, they're not parameters I've made any adjustments to. Likewise with any USB level controls. Interesting thoughts, I'll check it out.

 

The behaviour is not limited to re-amping over USB, it is also present when plugged straight in and playing into my monitor. Thats how I first encountered it in fact, the re-amping was just a way of verifying measurably that something was "different". Perhaps there is an input module shared by the guitar input and the USB that is boosting things unpleasantly?

 

I have re-amped with this unit before and when it is functioning correctly it is as you describe: there is no discernable difference between playing the track and re-amping the dry track.

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I had something similar last year, It has since seemed to fix itself.  It was strange, one day every guitar I plugged into it sounded flubby, and bad, on a preset I knew sounded decent. Then it kinda went away after I powered everything down, came back the next day.  I may have even did the FW update again. I am not sure what fixed it, but I don't seem to have the same problem anymore. 

 

I do not know what fixed it. If you think the USB might be boosting something remove the cable completely. Try again. My USB is always connected, as my Helix Rack is my audio interface.

 

 

 

When building new presets I always have way too much bass for heavy tones unless I put a stompbox in front of the amp, and reduce using low cuts, and EQs elsewhere. I assume you are doing something similar if it worked right before, and the Native preset sounds right. Though I don't use light gauge strings, it is either medium gauge, or  higher due to low tuned guitars. 

 

If you find more out, please post back, and let us know.

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I had something similar last year, It has since seemed to fix itself.  It was strange, one day every guitar I plugged into it sounded flubby, and bad, on a preset I knew sounded decent. Then it kinda went away after I powered everything down, came back the next day.  I may have even did the FW update again. I am not sure what fixed it, but I don't seem to have the same problem anymore. 

 

I do not know what fixed it. If you think the USB might be boosting something remove the cable completely. Try again. My USB is always connected, as my Helix Rack is my audio interface.

 

 

 

When building new presets I always have way too much bass for heavy tones unless I put a stompbox in front of the amp, and reduce using low cuts, and EQs elsewhere. I assume you are doing something similar if it worked right before, and the Native preset sounds right. Though I don't use light gauge strings, it is either medium gauge, or  higher due to low tuned guitars. 

 

If you find more out, please post back, and let us know.

 

Man, I think I'd prefer it not to magically fix itself! I always feel like those sorts of things are just waiting to rear their head again at a less opportune time. And probably after the warranty period expires, haha! This is my second Helix as it is, my first was replaced after the main joystick/rotary dial failed. I'm a big fan of identifying problems while the warranty is still in effect....

 

I don't suspect the USB is at the root of the problem, only observing that whatever is going on is affecting the standard guitar input the same as it is the USB input from the DAW. I don't have the USB cable connected unless I am recording, and it wasn't connected when this issue appeared.

 

There is nothing very fancy going on for this tone, just the guitar (the DI track is from the middle pickup of a Nashville Telecaster), tremolo, Deluxe Reverb, spring reverb and two cab IRs in parallel. It was my go-to patch for that guitar so I know it well, and now without anything changing it is suddenly different. All of them are. Probably I could go back in and re-kajigger all of my patches to sound ok again, but something has happened that has affected everything and I want to fix it there.

 

It was late last night that I submitted the ticket so I'm not sure if it's even landed on anyones desk yet. The automated reply to my submission said I should hear within three days. I'll report back on whatever they have to say. 

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Man, I think I'd prefer it not to magically fix itself! I always feel like those sorts of things are just waiting to rear their head again at a less opportune time. And probably after the warranty period expires, haha! This is my second Helix as it is, my first was replaced after the main joystick/rotary dial failed. I'm a big fan of identifying problems while the warranty is still in effect....

 

 

I am the same way. Though I went through a lot of troubleshooting in a small amount of time. Once the problem seemed to be gone, I just really didn't want to dig any deeper, and potentially muck things up again.  I sent my first Helix rack back to sweetwater for excessive crackling over usb, and the usb connection was slightly loose.  The second one I have learned to work in a way to really minimize crackling. (basically refresh the ASIO drivers each time I open my DAW) Also the second Helix rack's usb port was a little more secure. 

 

I much prefer the scientific approach.  But that still has to adhere to my budget of time, and currency.  Neither of which are in abundance enough to muck around with something that I got working, in this category at least. lol

 

I have a thought. Perhaps this isn't something so much to do with your Helix. Indulge me for a moment ya?

 

Maybe this is due to power in your house.  Try moving your Helix (if possible) to a different room (different breaker) see if it persists. IF it does, see if you can take it to a friend's house to test.  Since it hasn't been mentioned yet.  The power in my house is not all that great. I have to turn off the refrigerator to play guitar sometimes, and every time I want to record. I even have a very nice $600 Furman power conditioner.  But I have at least identified the issues I have, and can work with them.  

 

Have you got any new appliances lately? Put in any new lights? Storms, or other surges come through lately? Happen to live in Puerto Rico, or near it? 

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Man, I think I'd prefer it not to magically fix itself! I always feel like those sorts of things are just waiting to rear their head again at a less opportune time. And probably after the warranty period expires, haha! This is my second Helix as it is, my first was replaced after the main joystick/rotary dial failed. I'm a big fan of identifying problems while the warranty is still in effect....

 

I don't suspect the USB is at the root of the problem, only observing that whatever is going on is affecting the standard guitar input the same as it is the USB input from the DAW. I don't have the USB cable connected unless I am recording, and it wasn't connected when this issue appeared.

 

There is nothing very fancy going on for this tone, just the guitar (the DI track is from the middle pickup of a Nashville Telecaster), tremolo, Deluxe Reverb, spring reverb and two cab IRs in parallel. It was my go-to patch for that guitar so I know it well, and now without anything changing it is suddenly different. All of them are. Probably I could go back in and re-kajigger all of my patches to sound ok again, but something has happened that has affected everything and I want to fix it there.

 

It was late last night that I submitted the ticket so I'm not sure if it's even landed on anyones desk yet. The automated reply to my submission said I should hear within three days. I'll report back on whatever they have to say. 

 

Did your global EQ get modified somehow?  I imagine you checked, but it sounds like something got changed globally?

 

(I know for me, I keep getting caught with my guitar volume knob down... "Why's my patch so quiet all of a sudden?"... (face palm) )

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(I know for me, I keep getting caught with my guitar volume knob down... "Why's my patch so quiet all of a sudden?"... (face palm) )

LOL for me its more like in a mixing scenario: Why isn't this threshold change affecting the sound?!? This compressor is waaaayyyy too transparent! This compressor.... was in bypass lol!

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Hello all,

So, yesterday morning I spent some time playing and Helix sounded fantastic, as per usual. I sat down to play again yesterday evening and right off the bat everything sounded "bad". Blown out brittle highs and flubby boomy lows. I went through multiple presets with multiple guitars and found all of them were just not sounding like they should.

 

Today I set out to confirm either that I've lost my mind or that something has gone terribly wrong with my Helix. Verified no input pad, no Global EQ. I started with a 10+11 reset to rebuild all presets: no change. I followed that up by re-installing firmware v2.21, rebuilding, reloading IRs and presets, rebuilding again: again, no change.

 

A few weeks ago I recorded some audio to demo my Malekko Spring Chicken spring reverb pedal, and I captured the dry track at that time so that I could re-amp it to compare with Helix spring reverbs. I decided that that dry audio would be a perfect tool for sussing out what is now going on with my Helix.

 

Here is the original track from a few weeks ago (in this case with the Helix 63 Spring Reverb, not the external pedal):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4yx66ke2mmu5etn/Helix%2063%20Original.mp3?dl=0

 

Here is the track re-amped through exactly the same patch today:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hsosvhxcyjy8nl2/Helix%2063%20Re-amp%20Trem.mp3?dl=0

 

As another test, I decided to bring Helix Native in as a comparison I loaded the patch directly from the Floor unit, same everything. Remember that this is using a dry track originally recorded with Helix as an input device, so there are no hardware changes. I left the tremolo off for these.

 

Helix Native:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rjskrr8hziq3i98/Native%2063%20Re-amp%20%20No%20Trem.mp3?dl=0

Sounds good. Sounds like I'd expect it to.

 

Helix Floor, exactly the same patch:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sl8jhjgrdshgk9r/Helix%2063%20Re-amp%20%20No%20Trem.mp3?dl=0

Sumpthin' ain't right...

 

My conclusions are as follows:

Using the same input and patch, the output of the Helix Floor unit does not sound the same as it did.

Using the same input and patch, Helix Native DOES sound like it should.

Using the same input and patch, the output of the Helix Floor unit does not sound like Helix Native.

Ergo, something has gone wrong in my Helix Floor Unit.

 

Am I nuts here or are you guys picking up what I'm laying down?

Ok im just being simple minded but how about just switching the usb cable.Or maybe moving it to another usb port.

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Ok im just being simple minded but how about just switching the usb cable.Or maybe moving it to another usb port.

I'm all about checking the simple stuff; there's a reason the tech support guy's first question is always, "Is your computer plugged in?" Be that as it may, in this case the issue was (yes, "was", read on...) not isolated to the USB. I initially encountered it straight to my monitors and only brought USB into it to do the re-amping and recording for further troubleshooting.

 

Did your global EQ get modified somehow?  I imagine you checked, but it sounds like something got changed globally?

 

(I know for me, I keep getting caught with my guitar volume knob down... "Why's my patch so quiet all of a sudden?"... (face palm) )

No Globals, I did verify that. Volume knob down has gotten me in the past, along with the good ol' "left-the-guitar-unplugged". I usually try to cover those bases before consulting outside assistance, just to save a bit of what face I have left, haha!

 

I have a thought. Perhaps this isn't something so much to do with your Helix. Indulge me for a moment ya?

 

Maybe this is due to power in your house.  Try moving your Helix (if possible) to a different room (different breaker) see if it persists.

 

Well, here is how that went. I brought Helix into another room and fired it up and, lo and behold, it sounded just like it was supposed. So I thought you were on to something with the whole electricity thing. Next step was to plug it back in where it usually lives and confirm that it sounded wrong there: false, sounded great. Moved it over to the computer and hooked it up, re-amped the same thing as before:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/q0asgigyfylgvsp/Helix%2063%20Re-amp%20post%20magic.mp3?dl=0

And that's about right.

 

So, looks like I got your "Magic Repair" after all! I'll update the ticket with Line 6 but I'm still interested to hear what they have to say. I'll report back.

 

Things I'm happy about:

Helix sounds great again.

There isn't an electrical issue in my house.

 

Things still nagging:

The issue is real and remains un-resolved.........

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I am thinking that a surge in our houses (for whatever reason) may have caused a problem in the Helix, and perhaps after a while, or switching rooms, and back helped. 

Multiple things could have fixed it, and could have also been the problem. I do think it was a surge of some kind that was fixed with rebooting on different breakers, or after the surging has completely stopped.  

 

That is all just speculation though. 

I am also glad you got a fix, even though not really a definitive answer.

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My thinking is a lot like yours, I just put my whole rig on a surge protector.

I have mine on an APC backup UPS. The benifits of a UPS is that they protect from surges, regulate voltage in brownout situations, and also provide filtration. You can get a small one for $100-$150. I have my Helix, 2 JBL EON 610s, laptop, wireless, and any other goodies on my rig all connected to the UPS. A 1500vA model should be plenty to run a basic Helix/FRFR rig like mine. 

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I have mine on an APC backup UPS. The benifits of a UPS is that they protect from surges, regulate voltage in brownout situations, and also provide filtration. You can get a small one for $100-$150. I have my Helix, 2 JBL EON 610s, laptop, wireless, and any other goodies on my rig all connected to the UPS. A 1500vA model should be plenty to run a basic Helix/FRFR rig like mine. 

 

That's an intriguing idea. I've been thinking of getting a computer to dedicate to my practice space for recording and such, If I do that then I may look at that. Thanks for all of your input!

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I did hear back from Line 6 and they suspect some kind of user error. Can't say as I blame them given the magical nature of the fix. So, nothing to add. At the very least, I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one who has encountered this and that, maybe, I'm not nuts. Here's hoping it doesn't pop back up later....

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  • 1 year later...

I usually don't post in forums; but, this same issue hit me earlier today while trying to record a few tracks.  I ran through a bunch of different options to no avail.  It wasn't until I powered down the Helix, flipped the switch on the power strip, and restarted the unit before it kicked the Helix back into it's normal operating mode with fully functioning sounds.  With that said, I ended up getting a recording of the unit in the degraded state and in the fully functional state.

 

If you look at the attached audio waveforms, you will see two separate recordings.  The one on the left has Line 6 operating in the degraded state, where the high and lows are cut and you cannot get a good sound out of the thing if your life depended on it.  I would like to point out that no amount of adjusting the Line 6 Helix volume and/or my audio interface volume was I able to push past the high and low limits seen on the left.  The waveform on the right has the Line 6 operating with full functionality after I flipped the switch on my power strip, where the unit had all of the full sounds you can get out of the box.  I cannot say I know exactly what's going on here; but, it's pointing to bad engineering.  There seems to be something wrong with either the Line 6 RAM holding bad data, power transients triggering this degraded state, or a potential Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) issue (if not a combination).  Regardless with Line 6 trying to keep their price down, I doubt they hired anyone to look into this issue since it just takes a hard reset to resolve it, which is probably why they tagged you with the "user error" classification.

 

-James

HelixCapture.PNG

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Hi James,

 

Thanks for your input! I’ve come to the same conclusion: it seems like there is a volitile element in there that can spontaneously “get sick”. In the time since this thread, I’ve experienced other bizarre issues, from drastic changes in the sound to Helix spontaneously and repeatedly forgetting all control assignments. They’ve all been fixed “magically” either by cycling the power enough times or by re-installing the firmware. I don’t play out live these days, but if I did this stuff would worry me! I love my Helix and I hope that if there is a fault in there that they are aware and will resolve it.

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The are three certainties with gear like this:

 

1) It's a computer. 

2) Computers occasionally do weird $hit.

3) When in doubt, reboot...it won't fix every problem, but it'll fix a lot of them. 

 

It's not an excuse... just the unfortunate cost of doing business with fancy tech. 

 

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44 minutes ago, Verne-Bunsen said:

I don’t play out live these days, but if I did this stuff would worry me!

 

I have found that when used live I have zero stability issues with the Helix. It has been rock solid (knock on wood) from the time I turn it on to the time I shut it down at the end of a gig or practice. However, when I am connected to the PC (often editing through HX Edit) I have noticed some oddities on occasion that are corrected with a power cycle.

 

That makes me wonder if the problems I experience (however rare) are a communications hiccup (USB connection) more than an actual problem on the unit itself. I am also aware that the problems I experience might be completely different and unrelated to the problems you have encountered. 

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On ‎09‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 9:48 AM, Lachdanan0121 said:

I have a thought. Perhaps this isn't something so much to do with your Helix. Indulge me for a moment ya?

 

Maybe this is due to power in your house.  Try moving your Helix (if possible) to a different room (different breaker) see if it persists. IF it does, see if you can take it to a friend's house to test.  Since it hasn't been mentioned yet.  The power in my house is not all that great. I have to turn off the refrigerator to play guitar sometimes, and every time I want to record. I even have a very nice $600 Furman power conditioner.  But I have at least identified the issues I have, and can work with them.  

 

I use a Monster Power Conditioner and an APC UPS.  Yes I am neurotic :-)

 

On ‎09‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 1:25 PM, Verne-Bunsen said:

Well, here is how that went. I brought Helix into another room and fired it up and, lo and behold, it sounded just like it was supposed. So I thought you were on to something with the whole electricity thing. Next step was to plug it back in where it usually lives and confirm that it sounded wrong there: false, sounded great. Moved it over to the computer and hooked it up, re-amped the same thing as before:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/q0asgigyfylgvsp/Helix%2063%20Re-amp%20post%20magic.mp3?dl=0

And that's about right.

 

So, looks like I got your "Magic Repair" after all! I'll update the ticket with Line 6 but I'm still interested to hear what they have to say. I'll report back.

 

Things I'm happy about:

Helix sounds great again.

There isn't an electrical issue in my house.

 

Things still nagging:

The issue is real and remains un-resolved.........

 

I have seen this in some venues where either there was a loose ground, new stage with a mis-wired circuit, power surge, microwave unit behaving weirdly for a nano-scond one day, bad duplex receptacle, and Aliens from Mars.  OK not Aliens from Mars that was another company's hardware.  Yes, power can just bugger it up.  And once using it with Phantom Power seemed to change it for about two days, and not in a good way; thus the purchase of the Triton Filter I use no matter what now. 

 

I am glad it is working well again.  Power is always the wild-card for me.  I actually take one of those three light plug-in power testers just to make sure I am safe.

 

Dennis

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1 hour ago, cruisinon2 said:

The are three certainties with gear like this:

 

1) It's a computer. 

2) Computers occasionally do weird $hit.

3) When in doubt, reboot...it won't fix every problem, but it'll fix a lot of them. 

 

It's not an excuse... just the unfortunate cost of doing business with fancy tech. 

 

Yes, this basically seems to be it.

 

Refreshing my ASIO drivers while my DAW is open, right after I load a project, and after adding some plugins as some of them introduce under runs when adding them.

 

Turning off the refrigerator.

 

Rebooting...

 

These three steps take care of the grand majority of the technical "issues" that I have with my Helix.

 

Every system I have used for just about anything has it's "quirks." Learning how to work with/around them is part of being a decent engineer.

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2 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

The are three certainties with gear like this:

 

1) It's a computer. 

2) Computers occasionally do weird $hit.

3) When in doubt, reboot...it won't fix every problem, but it'll fix a lot of them. 

 

It's not an excuse... just the unfortunate cost of doing business with fancy tech. 

 

When I was actively gigging, which was quite a while back, I experienced various malfunctions with amps, pedals and guitars. You are quite right I think, this may just be the new face of the same old problem. Always have a backup, I suppose that rule has not changed.

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8 minutes ago, Verne-Bunsen said:

When I was actively gigging, which was quite a while back, I experienced various malfunctions with amps, pedals and guitars. You are quite right I think, this may just be the new face of the same old problem. Always have a backup, I suppose that rule has not changed.

 

Always have an escape route from your "pod"... sooner or later we all take turns being Derek Smalls. ;)

  • Haha 2
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  • 2 months later...

To anyone else still having this issue come up from time to time... Even direct out to my monitors, it sounded dull. I reset all the breakers in my house and everything else suggested but only one thing worked. Usually when something is funky in my daw, I reset the sample rate by changing it to a different one and then back. Thats all I had to do with my Helix and it was back to normal. When I switched back to a specific snapshot it became muffled again and I switched the SR back and forth and it fixed it. I havent had an issue since. I never had this issue come up until I started setting my SR to 96k. 

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