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Leveling advise by DI & Frank


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Just found this on TGP:

Some great advise from DI in the other thread:

Know how I'm constantly spouting about how one's playback system is at least half their tone? Their input system is probably another 10-15%. Unlike some other plug-ins, Helix Native is really picky about input impedance and level, just like the gear it models. We don't build in any safety net for newbies (and we won't, because it'll make things sound worse for those who do everything right.) Apply Helix Native to a normalized—or simply input optimized—guitar track and it'll sound as if you ran a dozen boost pedals into your amp; that is, hot garbage. Yes, we're looking at additional things we can do to help push people in the right direction.

  • The input level should almost never go into the yellow. Keep it at -18dB ~ -24dB and compensate with the output slider
  • Your audio interface should have a 1M Ohm instrument level input, preferably with no volume control.This will help ensure you end up with the right input level
  • If your audio interface doesn't have a dynamic impedance circuit, several models—especially fuzzes—won't behave like the real thing. Helix and newer Universal Audio interfaces have this
  • Dynamic range is a big one too. Helix hardware's Guitar In has 123dB of dynamic range, which is much higher than the vast majority of audio interfaces
  • Latency has a MASSIVE impact on one's performance and will easily devolve "Holy crap this is amazing!" into "Holy crap this is still hot garbage." I'll commonly write additional guitar parts after already instantiating dozens of delay compensated plugins on a mix, and... boo. Using Helix hardware for processed input monitoring+dry tracking helps to no end here; at the very least see if your DAW has a low latency mode and turn it on while tracking

( https://www.thegearp...3#post-25887560


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This should be a Sticky! Its way better to have your HxN input too low than too high. A few notes related to this topic:


* Before recording, play some "loud" chords on your guitar and first check the levels on your audio interface (if it has adjustable levels). Make sure the level is not peaking. Then do the same and check the peak meter on the HxN input. Turn it down to keep the input level on the meter at < -18.


* If you're shopping, audio interfaces that have a dynamic range of >114dB for the High-Z/guitar input are best (quality A/D and D/A chips).


* When recording guitar tracks, if you're not monitoring through Helix hardware (e.g., you only have Helix Native) and you have lots of tracks or virtual instruments or a slow computer, and you can't get your latency (audio delay) low enough for your guitar when monitoring through your DAW, you have to resort to some tricks. I usually "bounce" and export a rough mix of the song without the guitar track to a stereo file, then open that file into a fresh DAW project containing only 2 tracks: 1) the rough mix audio file, 2) the guitar track to record with Helix Native. Then you can set your buffer and latency really low to record the guitar track while software monitoring through Helix Native. After recording, import the guitar audio/track into your full-blown project. Another option is to use something like an Apollo Twin interface with zero latency and built-in amp sim software.

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Yeah, if you happen to have interface with >120dB dynamic range and low noise, maybe leaving 18dB headroom is good idea but...
...if you have just budget small USB powered box:
- bang your loudest guitar as strong as you can and set input level (at peaks) just under the digital ceiling (0dBFS) - it will give you about 10-20dB headroom in "regular playing" unless you are extreme heavy hitter.
- if you really experience that your virtual amps gains are set lower comparing to real ones, just lower HxN digital input volume. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm using HN with old GuitarPort that I've had since 2004 and it works like a charm. Yes, there's no adjustable input impedance and I still prefer my Helix Floor as interface, but I need to travel around the World and HN+GP is about 7kg lighter than HF!  

Just like per DI's advice, input level never goes above -18 / -15 dB and there's no issue with noise floor as long as I'm not using really heavy distortion. Interestingly, I've tried the same with the latest iRig Keys I/O, which supposedly has similar dynamic range to that of GuitarPort (around 100 dB), but to my ears GP sounds cleaner... Must be Line6 thing... Sensing family perhaps  :-)  

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