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PA tone tips

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Hello all, I picked up a Helix LT last week and am excited to use it for the first time live this weekend. I was planning to run direct through a PA, no amp. (A nice change to not have to lug around a tube amp)  I was just wondering if I create a good sounding patch through my headphones, is there anything else I should be doing to sound good through the the PA system? (Other than tweaking the EQ to sit well in the band mix)  I had heard some have been disappointed with their tones through the PA, even when it sounds good through the headphones.  Also should I use 1/4 inch through a DI, or XLR? Mono or stereo? Thanks!

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Our band has a PA from the 70ies and the Helix does sound crap, surely due to a passive frequency filter. A man who knows what he's doing on the parametric EQ might be able to cure it, but I tried in vain so far. Problem might not come up with modern PA, but then on the other side, it just might ... It all depends on the man on the mixer, so: do you trust him?? I would at least bring along the tube amp in case that the results are suboptimal.

XLR is the cable of the soundman's choice. Go in stereo for all the options available. If the FOH mixdown will be in mono, no harm done.

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It's always a crap shoot when it comes to using an unfamiliar PA and soundman.  Personally I always use a modern FRFR speaker (Yamaha DXR12) when I'm dialing in my presets at home.  That's how I know what it's supposed to sound like, and will sound like on a capable and modern PA system with little dependency on the sound man to correct it.

 

However, there are quite a few older passive systems out there that were designed to deliver volume rather than accuracy like modern systems do.  Fortunately there's only one situation that I commonly play that falls into that category.  In that case we simply depend on our on-stage equipment for the instruments and use the PA and PA monitors for vocals only.  This is the reason I use my DXR12 as a direct monitor from my Helix in live performances.  If you've designed your presets to be used with a PA you probably don't want to be pushing those presets through a traditional amp since presets built to work with a traditional amp tend to be designed very differently.

 

You might be okay if you're sure of the PA system you'll be working with.  It's probably worth doing some research on it prior to showing up.  But that of course means you need to know a thing or two about different PA configurations and how they work.

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Personally I always use a modern FRFR speaker (Yamaha DXR12) when I'm dialing in my presets at home.  That's how I know what it's supposed to sound like, and will sound like on a capable and modern PA system with little dependency on the sound man to correct it.

 

This is the reason I use my DXR12 as a direct monitor from my Helix in live performances.  If you've designed your presets to be used with a PA you probably don't want to be pushing those presets through a traditional amp since presets built to work with a traditional amp tend to be designed very differently.

 

Agreed. I bring my own powered PA speaker to every live show.

 

My powered PA speaker is a Mackie Thump12 which, like many other low-cost PA speakers, does not have a flat response. I have used it's EQ to get close enough to a flat response for me.

 

I create all my presets using a powered studio monitor and headphones and I fine tune them using my powered PA speaker. All my presets are mono.

 

At a gig, if I am working with a good FOH system, I send my Helix XLR output (fixed volume level) to the FOH mixer where it will be mixed into the mains and monitors as needed. I send my Helix 1/4" output (controlled by the Helix volume knob) to my own powered PA speaker as a floor monitor so I hear a familiar tone and have full control over my own monitor level. I use this configuration in the rehearsal studio as well.

 

If the gig has a FOH system that I don't think is good enough, I still connect to it from my Helix XLR output, but I put my own powered PA speaker on a small tripod stand behind me, facing the audience. Most of sound the audience hears will come from my own powered PA speaker, but the FOH will be able to add a bit more volume and cover part of the room that my own powered PA speaker might not cover.

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if I create a good sounding patch through my headphones...

In my experience it is very difficult to make a good sounding patch through headphones, specially if you don't use a reference patch that you already know that works well in your context.

Unfortunately the stereo image, the different volume, the different space will work against a good result.

Imho the only way to make effective patches is to build a situation as similar as possible to your use, and most times it means: performance loudness level through a FRFR monitor, backing tracks with sound similar to your band mix, mono output.

 

The only tips I could suggest are:

- add an eq block with the low/high cuts, for example with low cut at 120Hz and high cut at 5.0 kHz

- reduce a little the gain of the amp sim (because at high volume you will need less gain to get a good cutting tone)

- reduce the level or turn off the reverb (spring and plate are often better for live use because they do no add any other early reflection to the ones of real space reverb making a muddy tone)

- be ready to adjust the equalization of the amp sim (mainly to boost mids or reduce lows/treble)

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- add an eq block with the low/high cuts, for example with low cut at 120Hz and high cut at 5.0 kHz

 

 

- be ready to adjust the equalization of the amp sim (mainly to boost mids or reduce lows/treble)

 

I use the cab's low cut and high cut settings for this.

 

While I reserve the Global EQ for room-specific tweaking, a good sound engineer can do this for you with the FOH mixer.

 

 

- reduce the level or turn off the reverb (spring and plate are often better for live use because they do no add any other early reflection to the ones of real space reverb making a muddy tone)

 

I also set the cab's EarlyReflc setting to zero.

 

Once again, I leave it up to the FOH sound engineer to add reverb if necessary, but it is usually not necessary.

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Thanks for the advice! We have a good sound guy, and system, but maybe I'll bring a tube amp just in case, easy to play with just effects and shut the amp/cab simulations off.

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Hello all, I picked up a Helix LT last week and am excited to use it for the first time live this weekend. I was planning to run direct through a PA, no amp. (A nice change to not have to lug around a tube amp)  I was just wondering if I create a good sounding patch through my headphones, is there anything else I should be doing to sound good through the the PA system? (Other than tweaking the EQ to sit well in the band mix)  I had heard some have been disappointed with their tones through the PA, even when it sounds good through the headphones.  Also should I use 1/4 inch through a DI, or XLR? Mono or stereo? Thanks!

It seems like the question that needs to be asked is, "Does the XLR Left/Mono actually sum every audio signal that might exist in any patch, with no gotchas?" Seems like that was not the case with the HD500x. 1/4" Left/Mono to a DI always works.

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if they are simple patches you may find just a quick adjustment on the helix amp/speaker block patches will get you in the ball park if you get some sound check time.. assuming you are just using a minimal amount of presets to get thru the gig.. usually it wiil be drop the bass/treble and boost mids and maybe drop gain a bit too when you are up at gig volume -as was mentioned above

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At a gig, if I am working with a good FOH system, I send my Helix XLR output (fixed volume level) to the FOH mixer where it will be mixed into the mains and monitors as needed. I send my Helix 1/4" output (controlled by the Helix volume knob) to my own powered PA speaker as a floor monitor so I hear a familiar tone and have full control over my own monitor level. I use this configuration in the rehearsal studio as well.

 

 

Please explain step-by-step how you set this up in the Helix so that when you turn up the volume in your monitor it doesn't also turn up the volume in the mains.  Please and thank you!

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Please explain step-by-step how you set this up in the Helix so that when you turn up the volume in your monitor it doesn't also turn up the volume in the mains.  Please and thank you!

 

Go to Global Settings

Select Ins / Outs

Select Volume Knob Controls

Change it to meet your needs. 

 

p50 of the user's manual

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Thanks for the advice! We have a good sound guy, and system, but maybe I'll bring a tube amp just in case, easy to play with just effects and shut the amp/cab simulations off.

 

Helix makes for a killer pedalboard with a tube amp! Need to get something to put between the send and returns on the amp for doing 4CM; I'm having reasonably good results with an Ebtech He2

 

Technically, you could make a patch to run your FX to and from the amp; then split out at the end of that path to also go through Helix amp and cab processing to have a direct / XLR option ready to go as well. But it's always good to have an amp they can mic. I am loving Helix as pedalboard with my Friedman! So many insane FX options. Snapshots are so cool..

 

In general, dial in your 'direct' presets on the system you intend to play them through. You might also make use of the Global Eq for any 'overall' eq high and low cuts.

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