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twohandband

Lag changing presets?

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I've been running a midi controlled rack rig for my entire working life; since around 1995. I'm going speakerless now for a variety of reasons (A bad back for starters) and as a stopgap bought a used butt POD XT and an FBV mk ii floorboard. It actually sounds pretty good, but I'm going to be upgrading to something a little more high-end in the near future. I'm considering a Helix.

Reading reviews I'm seeing a potential showstopper: reports of as much as a full second of lag time when changing presets. The solution generally floated is to use one preset per song and use it like a board full of stompers. Say what?

One of the main reasons I went with a midi controlled rack rig when I started playing for a living was to get away from that. In my opinion the boutique pedal thing is pure marketing hype and the only place you should see single-function analog stompers is in a museum. But I digress.

The point is, if I'm switching from clean with verb, ducking delay, and tremolo to dirty with slapback and a phaser that needs to be one button... and there can't be crazy lag. I get that from the POD; one would expect the helix to be more capable. Can the helix do what I need, or do I have to look elsewhere?

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That's what snapshots are for.

 

And the lag is nowhere near a second..... more like 10-20 ms.

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That's what snapshots are for.

 

And the lag is nowhere near a second..... more like 10-20 ms.

How do the snapshots work?

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A preset change is basically a digital version of doing a full load-out of your current gear, followed by a load-in of the new gear. The fact that it can be done in tens of milliseconds is pretty impressive - but obviously not always good enough.

 

A snapshot change is more like using an A/B box on stage to rapidly and seamlessly switch between 2 different paths through your onstage gear - except not only does the digital equipment let you create 8 different path permutations, it also lets you associate those paths with new parameters as well, meaning you could pull down the gain on the simulated amp instead of needing to switch to a cleaner model, reduce the delay feedback to clean up the tone in a certain section, etc.

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So if I'm understanding this: I can create as many as eight different full signals paths within a preset, save them as snapshots, and switch seamlessly between them? Now we are cooking with gas. That puts me at about 85% sold; Axe-Fx is too pricey and too fiddly, and I'm not crazy about certain aspects of the Kemper. So another question if I may: How robust is the Helix floor? My gut says to go with the rack so the brains of my rig are not down front where it gets kicked/jostled/spilled-on-by-drunks. However the price of the rack unit, controller, and a couple of expression pedals is substantially higher than the straight floor unit and an extra expression pedal. Those running Helix floors: do you worry about damage front-of-stage?

 

Also: My only end-use scenario for this is direct to house. I have friends with real studios so I don't envision using this as a home recording interface or anything like that, nor do I plan on using it with an amp or external processors. Given this scenario, can anyone point to major advantages of the full Helix over the LT?

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So if I'm understanding this: I can create as many as eight different full signals paths within a preset, save them as snapshots, and switch seamlessly between them?....

 

Also: My only end-use scenario for this is direct to house. I have friends with real studios so I don't envision using this as a home recording interface or anything like that, nor do I plan on using it with an amp or external processors. Given this scenario, can anyone point to major advantages of the full Helix over the LT?

 

First point: the complexity of the preset (including snapshots) is constrained by the overall DSP capacity of the device. Within that constraint you can have eight different configurations of the ONE signal path. You can't for instance have eight different amps/cabs involved; that requires way too much DSP. But in many cases you can have two as long as your other DSP demands are not too great. Nor can you, for instance, have the same compressor block in pre-amp position in one snapshot and in post-amp position in another. To do that you would have to use two instances of the compressor (DSP again) and turn each on/off alternately in each snapshot.

 

Second point: The main advantage of the Helix Floor over Helix LT in a live situation, imho, is the presence and convenience of the scribble strips.

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Get the Helix. I run two guitars through mine both with the following:

 

Noise gate, EQ, delay, amp, IR, reverb and I haven’t hit the CPU limit yet! All while having Snapshots running!

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Get the Helix. I run two guitars through mine both with the following:

 

Noise gate, EQ, delay, amp, IR, reverb and I haven’t hit the CPU limit yet! All while having Snapshots running!

 

Actually, that sounds like you still have tons of DSP remaining especially if you utilize both paths (DSP chips).

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How robust is the Helix floor? 

I'd suggest to consider the Floor version because it is more robust that the LT, even if Line6 is very efficient in assisting any user (abroad too) when a problem arises. 

However it is not water proof... 

 

Snapshots are a very practical and powerful tool to overcome the lag changing presets. You can consider that in one preset you can also place more than one amp (it depends on the "weight" of the other effects, but I have some presets with even 4 different amp models!) so that it means that the snapshots could really replace the need to use some different presets.

 

I agree anyway that changing presets during a song is not recommended, because the change is very noticeable: it's not only a matter of silent gap (that is very short), but the fact is that the "loading" of the new patch is slow, so that - specially in case of complex presets - it seems like you start playing an analog/tube amp while it is still turning on, with a slow start and then the sound/tone changes slowly till it reaches the proper and expected settings.

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... not 8 full signal paths per se, but think of it more like having the ability to store the 'state' of everything in each Snapshot.

 

Meaning; the on/off status of your various process blocks, the specific parameters of those processes, and a number of other advantages you can leverage, including midi signals and such.

There's no lag; the preset itself is already loaded. The states are configurations controlled by the Snapshots.

By dividing up the load between the two main processors (path 1 A&B, path 2 A&B) you can create some high functioning presets which employ a couple of amps and cabs/IRs to go with them, and so on...

And because Snapshots can change the states of the parameters, often effects blocks can be - as I think of it - repurposed to cover far more ground.

 

When Snapshots were introduced to Helix, it was a massive game changer for many - myself included.

 

 

Arguments for Helix over LT - one of them is simple; there's no such thing as a Helix LT Rack =]

Study the I/O and such to see if it would run you into any shortcomings...

Myself I would steer you toward 'full fat' Helix - and I'm with you on the Rack versus Floor to be honest. I like a clean floor, and with Rack you can have just the connector cable going out to the front... everything else tucked away at the back.

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Myself I would steer you toward 'full fat' Helix - and I'm with you on the Rack versus Floor to be honest. I like a clean floor, and with Rack you can have just the connector cable going out to the front... everything else tucked away at the back.

 

That's kind of what I'm thinking... a floor model would also force me to put my wireless receiver down front or run a long cable, neither of which appeals to me. This is why I went with a butt POD and not an XTLive. I can stick the rack model in a six space rack with a drawer for my wireless receiver and the butt POD as a backup, and a proper power conditioner on top and then the only things down front of stage would be the controller and two expression pedals. Probably what I will end up going with if I decide to jump; I play for a living so there's no sense in halfway measures. It's still substantially less $$$ than the Fractal or Kemper.

 

First point: the complexity of the preset (including snapshots) is constrained by the overall DSP capacity of the device. Within that constraint you can have eight different configurations of the ONE signal path. You can't for instance have eight different amps/cabs involved; that requires way too much DSP. But in many cases you can have two as long as your other DSP demands are not too great. Nor can you, for instance, have the same compressor block in pre-amp position in one snapshot and in post-amp position in another. To do that you would have to use two instances of the compressor (DSP again) and turn each on/off alternately in each snapshot.

 

 

I think it would be fine... honestly the only amp models in the POD I'm regularly using live are the Plexi Lead 100 which is about 90% of my tones and then the Tweed B-Man for a handful of clean things. Having been a soundman myself I know well the evils of radical tone changes going into the house, so I avoid that. So long as I get the flexibility I need with FX I should be fine. It sounds like that would work for me, and there are a lot of gigs I do where I would probably only need one preset. 

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That's kind of what I'm thinking... a floor model would also force me to put my wireless receiver down front or run a long cable, neither of which appeals to me. This is why I went with a butt POD and not an XTLive. I can stick the rack model in a six space rack with a drawer for my wireless receiver and the butt POD as a backup, and a proper power conditioner on top and then the only things down front of stage would be the controller and two expression pedals. Probably what I will end up going with if I decide to jump; I play for a living so there's no sense in halfway measures. It's still substantially less $$$ than the Fractal or Kemper.

 

 

I think it would be fine... honestly the only amp models in the POD I'm regularly using live are the Plexi Lead 100 which is about 90% of my tones and then the Tweed B-Man for a handful of clean things. Having been a soundman myself I know well the evils of radical tone changes going into the house, so I avoid that. So long as I get the flexibility I need with FX I should be fine. It sounds like that would work for me, and there are a lot of gigs I do where I would probably only need one preset. 

 

Sounds to me like you would be fine with the Helix, its ample DSP and snapshots.  For example, I basically use ONE preset all night long for cover band gigs – and we play a good variety of music.  I run a super serial path with two amps (JCM 800 for dirty and JC120 for clean) with two IRs, an auto-engaging wah via expression pedal 3, and then a BUNCH of stomps.  I use chorus, 2 delays, phaser, tremolo, octaver (pitch controlled by EXP 2), compressor, drive, gain boost, and reverb.  All of these are programmed with various on/off states and parameter changes into 8 snapshots.  But I frequently use STOMP mode as well to turn various effects on/off as well.  

 

Quite frankly, I still don’t know HOW I didn’t oversubscribe the DSP on this patch. 

 

Running a single patch all night might not be a popular choice given the incredible flexibility of the unit, but it works for me.  Sure, I have a few “specialty†presets for Hendrix, SRV, and a couple of other iconic tones, but I primarily run ONE main patch all night.  

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Running a single patch all night might not be a popular choice given the incredible flexibility of the unit, but it works for me.  Sure, I have a few “specialty†presets for Hendrix, SRV, and a couple of other iconic tones, but I primarily run ONE main patch all night.  

 

It makes sense, really. It sounds like the bottleneck is the number of amps you are running and having more than a couple for a show does not make sense... if your tone is undergoing constant radical changes your soundman is going to hate you. I'm a heavy rock guy that uses single-coil guitars (I know, weird) so the Plexi 100 model in the POD has been a really good one for me; I even use it for most of my cleans. I'm very interested to find out what a similar model in the Helix sounds like.

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Do a search on Youtube about Helix Snapshots and you'll see what is actually going on when you use them. 

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That's kind of what I'm thinking... a floor model would also force me to put my wireless receiver down front or run a long cable, neither of which appeals to me. This is why I went with a butt POD and not an XTLive. I can stick the rack model in a six space rack with a drawer for my wireless receiver and the butt POD as a backup, and a proper power conditioner on top and then the only things down front of stage would be the controller and two expression pedals. Probably what I will end up going with if I decide to jump; I play for a living so there's no sense in halfway measures. It's still substantially less $$$ than the Fractal or Kemper.

 

 

I think it would be fine... honestly the only amp models in the POD I'm regularly using live are the Plexi Lead 100 which is about 90% of my tones and then the Tweed B-Man for a handful of clean things. Having been a soundman myself I know well the evils of radical tone changes going into the house, so I avoid that. So long as I get the flexibility I need with FX I should be fine. It sounds like that would work for me, and there are a lot of gigs I do where I would probably only need one preset. 

 

LOL - I missed the reference the first time, and now I can't get it out of my head.

Butt POD.

An apt name - I hadn't thought of the shape in that way before. I adopted the standard 'Bean' reference... but now I think that's changed - thank you =]

 

I used a PODhd bean - Butt POD - prior to Helix, and that set the bar for me for that clean front with just the controller (and two expression pedals, same as you).

It made me willing to go Rack/Control even with the extra expense... just because I /really/ feel more comfortable with the minimal approach to what's up front.

I also got the tougher cable for that connection for Helix also - the Ethercon cable it's made to use.

In fact, I'm using a Line 6 branded Variax cable for that purpose, being as that's exactly what it is, and one of the best deals I found available to me for a quality made cable.

Again, feels more secure that way; more girth to the cable locks, and more robust protective jacket on the cable itself.

 

Butt POD is the best thing I think I've heard today...

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LOL - I missed the reference the first time, and now I can't get it out of my head.

Butt POD.

An apt name - I hadn't thought of the shape in that way before. I adopted the standard 'Bean' reference... but now I think that's changed - thank you =]

 

I used a PODhd bean - Butt POD - prior to Helix, and that set the bar for me for that clean front with just the controller (and two expression pedals, same as you).

It made me willing to go Rack/Control even with the extra expense... just because I /really/ feel more comfortable with the minimal approach to what's up front.

I also got the tougher cable for that connection for Helix also - the Ethercon cable it's made to use.

In fact, I'm using a Line 6 branded Variax cable for that purpose, being as that's exactly what it is, and one of the best deals I found available to me for a quality made cable.

Again, feels more secure that way; more girth to the cable locks, and more robust protective jacket on the cable itself.

 

Butt POD is the best thing I think I've heard today...

 

Guess I've always kinda thought it looked like a butt...

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Twohandband -  you always need to filters comments on here through the type of music the writer is involved in. So, yes, there are some styles of modern music where a 10millisecond patch change might be noticeable. But not many.
I have used helic in a three peice playing a mix of top 40/classic rock/Blues/Funk and have never notived the lag, nor has any band member - and that includes on recording from the desk.
I do use snapshots..but only 4, and so many changes inside a song are patch changes - no problem.
Likewise...I have never had a problem of any kind with the tuner....pedal....reliability...backups...firmware upgrades...

 

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For me, snapshots and IRs are the main Helix game changers. I love my Helix LT and would highly recommend it! I use four main presets, mainly for different combinations of amp models. These presets use serial routing paths and each has one dirty amp and one clean amp. My snapshots are configured so that only one amp block/IR is live at a time, with the other amp block/IR bypassed. With snapshots you can set each block’s state (on/bypassed) and the value of up to 64 different parameters within blocks. I have only scratched the surface of that capability! For example, my workhorse preset has a noise gate, a distortion pedal, a Plexi Brt, an IR for the Plexi, a harmonizer, two delays, a chorus, a US Double Nrm, an IR for the double, two reverbs, a volume pedal and a parametric EQ. Four main snapshots provide 1) a clean sound with chorus and a spring reverb, 2) a cranked Plexi with a touch of plate Reverb, 3) a cranked Plexi with OD in front and 4) an OD’d Plexi lead tone with plate reverb, short delay for doubling and long delay for effect.

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Twohandband - you always need to filters comments on here through the type of music the writer is involved in. So, yes, there are some styles of modern music where a 10millisecond patch change might be noticeable. But not many.

Yep, and your band configuration. I probably wouldn't notice the change if I was the lead player in a 5man band. As the sole rhythm player in my 3man band, the switching is VERY noticeable.

 

I never measured the duration of the gap, but I found it distracting, especially when I let a clean chord ring out before hitting a high gain one (or the opposite). It completely breaks the "momentum" of the song, imo to a point that it makes the preset change unusable.

I remember reading that the duration of the switching depends on the dsp usage of your patch, so everyone might have a difference experience.

 

I love my Helix and the sounds I can get out of it, but you have to be aware of it's hardware limitations, especially if you want to build complex presets. I'm probably spending just as much time finding workarounds on dsp limitation than actually building sounds

 

Otoh, I don't have that problem when playing bass, where I use way more basic patches.

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Thanks for the replies, folks. I'm most of the way sold at this point. Probably next month I'll be ordering the rack version with controller and a pair of expression pedals. Also: can someone comment on whether Native is worth the $100?

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