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Helix Dynamics - attack

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Tips tricks?

 

Had it for some time, ran direct for a year. Switched back to using amps a little while ago. One of the things I missed was being able to play soft or really dig in and notice a HUGE difference from the amp.

 

Today I started to goof with it again, using a plethora of IRs I've got. I can get pretty darn close on the "amp in room" experience and make it sound nice.

 

But I just can't seem to get over this compressed feel. No matter how hard or light I attack the strings it seems to always be the same.

 

Granted there's a slight difference, but MILES from what I can get from my boogie or prs.

 

Any ideas?

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You should try using a compressor right after your IR block. It helps à lot.

 

Also, your monitoring system can reduce or increase that effect. For exemple, I have a better "Amp in the room" feeling since I stopped playing my Helix on my monitoring system (Presonus Eris 8) and started playing on a FRFR speaker (EV ZLX 12).

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Yeah I played around with it a bit. Still seems "boxy"

 

Through the same system we would use live:

M32r

Prx715s and Prx718s

 

I want to hear what the crowd would hear.

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Today I started to goof with it again, using a plethora of IRs I've got. I can get pretty darn close on the "amp in room" experience and make it sound nice.

 

But I just can't seem to get over this compressed feel. No matter how hard or light I attack the strings it seems to always be the same.

 

 

The "amp in a room" sensation and "amp dynamics" are two different things. So what do you have in your signal chain in your presets? A compressor anywhere in your signal chain will take away some or all of your picking dynamics. What are you monitoring your sound through? Some amp models are not very dynamic (modeled and/or real). 

 

I play through FRFR'ish powered speakers. All of my go to presets are VERY dynamic. Even playing through two FRFR'ish speakers, it still doesn't "feel" like an amp in the room, because it is not designed to. It is designed to sound like a guitar amp that is mic'ed up in the studio, and you are listening in the control booth. That is actually what I prefer anyway, so it works well for me. 

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Yeah I played around with it a bit. Still seems "boxy"

 

Through the same system we would use live:

M32r

Prx715s and Prx718s

 

I want to hear what the crowd would hear.

 

 

I don't really understand this. How is Helix supposed to emulate your PA system?

 

Also, what jbuhajla said: please describe your Helix signal chain: what model / cab blocks on Helix are you using? Where's your compressor block (if used) etc?

 

I've found Helix *excellent* at reproducing playing dynamics so my guess is that it's something to do with the way your signal chain is set up.

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Might be you just need to continue to experiment with various compressor settings and amp models, gain staging and levels. Or maybe you just have an overall and immovable preference for the sound/feel of a guitar amp in which case you can always use the Helix as an effects-only device with your guitar amps. It might be worth experimenting with the Helix and your favorite amp and adding blocks in one at at time to just try and nail down what is killing the sound you are looking for. As others have noted it could have something to do with your impedance or pad setting or something in your levels as you construct your presets.

 

Another thing worth checking is the level you get when you bypass your amp block. Is it maintaining unity gain? The levels should remain similar or slightly higher when you activate the amp block. This was a good tip from Ben Adrian on the latest Line6 podcast regarding using this technique(bypassing amp block) to gain stage your preset properly. He also mentions using the output block instead of the 'Ch Vol' to level your presets as the 'Ch Vol' can affect the response of any blocks downstream from the amp block and impact your tone(and maybe feel).

 

Btw, just in case, does this occur when you have the noise gate in the Input block set to off?

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Lol. I think I need that "feel"

 

Ran only direct for over a year (enough time to get used to it), I noticed my playing had suffered heavily. When I switched back and bought another amp my playing changed almost immediately. The band noticed, our sound guy came running up following our first set the night I brought the road king and praised the playing and sound.

 

So, I do know my playing ... and well... just me ... prefers the real thing. But! My back really wants to make it work and every now and again I come back to it and try.

 

As for the patch it is on and amp and a cab IR or cab. No compression, eq, etc. It's as dry as can be as a starting point.

 

At the moment the helix is used 4cm for effects only.

 

A lot of pedal for a delay block and occasional kinky boost! Even a harmony/pitch block.

 

Definitely way more than I'm using her for.

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Lol. I think I need that "feel"

 

Ran only direct for over a year (enough time to get used to it), I noticed my playing had suffered heavily. When I switched back and bought another amp my playing changed almost immediately. The band noticed, our sound guy came running up following our first set the night I brought the road king and praised the playing and sound.

 

So, I do know my playing ... and well... just me ... prefers the real thing. But! My back really wants to make it work and every now and again I come back to it and try.

 

As for the patch it is on and amp and a cab IR or cab. No compression, eq, etc. It's as dry as can be as a starting point.

 

At the moment the helix is used 4cm for effects only.

 

A lot of pedal for a delay block and occasional kinky boost! Even a harmony/pitch block.

 

Definitely way more than I'm using her for.

 What amp/cab/IR models are you trying to use in Helix that you are having issue with "feel"? Also, what are you monitoring your tones from Helix through?

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After all of this discussion I have a theory here that maybe in your quest for the "amp in the room feel" you introduced compression through excessive gain somewhere in your signal chain.  That would sound a bit more like amp warmth, but would limit the clarity and articulation, particularly if you pinched down the high cut pretty dramatically.  I've done that intentionally in some cases when I want to get more of a smooth picking sound to emulate a Brian May style.  Dialing back the gain a bit would likely restore the dynamics of the picking. The good news is you can still have plenty of gain and sustain without losing that dynamic with most of the higher gain amps with an FRFR setup.

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Again, signal chain is empty :)

 

Just amp and cab/IR. My thought has always been minimalistic on setup. Get the sound you want from the amp and cab and go from there, otherwise you're always fighting that: 'crap in, crap out' thing.

 

And again: monitoring through an M32r and prx715s and prx718s.

 

Oye! ;p

 

Multiple amps, but essentially tried to match my road king to see if I could! IRs were basically various mesa cabs and various mics/positions and combinations, including room mics, etc...

 

My back also thinks a little bogner atma and matching cab look nice too! Oh... I got GAS again....

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Again, signal chain is empty :)

 

Just amp and cab/IR. My thought has always been minimalistic on setup. Get the sound you want from the amp and cab and go from there, otherwise you're always fighting that: 'crap in, crap out' thing.

 

And again: monitoring through an M32r and prx715s and prx718s.

 

Oye! ;p

 

Multiple amps, but essentially tried to match my road king to see if I could! IRs were basically various mesa cabs and various mics/positions and combinations, including room mics, etc...

 

My back also thinks a little bogner atma and matching cab look nice too! Oh... I got GAS again....

 

Well your signal chain isn't empty.  You have an amp and a cab/ir.  You can overdo gain with just those two components with the drive and master depending on the amp.

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OP is still too vague about signal chain for any real progress to be made here.

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Which amp model and IR do you have in your empty signal chain?

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So, you are using an amp and a cab (or IR) in 4cm to a guitar amp, if I understand you correctly?

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With trying to mimic the road king I'm using the Cali rectifier. Cabs have been mesa cabs with various speakers, mics and positions, settings have been extremely modest, anything less than amp and cab and I should probably be on an acoustic.

 

I can upload a list of IRs a little later for more detail.

 

Hpf between 80-110, lpf 5.5k-9k depending on IR.

 

No eq, no compression, no modulation, no noise gate, z=auto, guitar in, xlr out, instrument/mic level in global settings, ummmm.... As minimal as I can possibly be to represent simply plugging into an amp to see if I can get just that as close as possible.

 

Later I'll go into much finer detail and update the original post with as much information as possible.

 

 

Yes, 4cm is my go to setup right now for lessons, practice, rehearsal and gigs.

 

But between that every now and again I try to run the helix direct again and see if I can get it to simulate ummm.... perhaps amp in the room sound isn't correct as I'll probably never get that... . But unfortunately the only description I can give would be to get a sound that inspires my playing the same way running my amplifier does, and that's nothing anyone can work with.

 

Boxy is the best description of the over all sound I can give.... and a loss of dynamics (volume: piano and forte)

 

I do understand that it will never sound like the amp I'm sitting next to. Again, just trying to find something that has a more organic sound.

 

Define organic? I can't, it's subjective but thats pretty much what you get trying to describe these things without hanging out in the same room. So it is what it is.

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I don't know man, I don't use the Rectifier model. My go-to presets use the Litigator, Lonestar, Deluxe Reverbs, Bassman, and Plexi Bright models. I am a clean to medium crunch kind of guy. I use on board cabs and IRs. I have full dynamics, everything from barely there finger strummed to all out digging in trying to break strings (piano to forte). Playing on strats and teles. I have a compressor at the front of each preset to squish things when I DON'T want the dynamics. 

 

Zero issues with dynamics. As a matter of fact, the dynamics is what convinced me to buy the unit. Feels like the real amps to me. 

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Maybe some models are more compressed.... I don't know, I am trying. Not attempting to get any digs in on the Helix, I'd love to not lug a heavy expensive fragile amp around.

 

I do know that for the year or so I ran only the helix direct I would have multiple snapshots @ different levels to go into quieter sections of the song with less dirt. Now the exact same song I use a rhythm and a lead snapshot and everything else I can get from my pick/volume knob.

 

I'm still working at it. Getting closer tone wise now by using the boards meter, rta, peak/hold to analyze my frequency spectrum. Global eq and some tone shaping IRs.

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Tips tricks?

 

Had it for some time, ran direct for a year. Switched back to using amps a little while ago. One of the things I missed was being able to play soft or really dig in and notice a HUGE difference from the amp.

 

Today I started to goof with it again, using a plethora of IRs I've got. I can get pretty darn close on the "amp in room" experience and make it sound nice.

 

But I just can't seem to get over this compressed feel. No matter how hard or light I attack the strings it seems to always be the same.

 

Granted there's a slight difference, but MILES from what I can get from my boogie or prs.

 

Any ideas?

 

 

In what way is it "always the same"? Is it that when you play softly, the amount of dirt is the same or is the volume the same or both? If the dirt stays the same whether you are picking hard or softly then a compressor in front of the amp won't help.  Put it after the amp block.  If it's the volume that stays the same, play with the Sag and Bias controls.  Less Sag will give you more dramatic differences in volume but... this is all happening in the digital domain and thus you actual perceived differences in volume may not be dramatic as what you would experience with a tube amp.

That last part, to me, is not a negative. I like to control and squish the dynamic difference between the softest and the lowest parts of my sound because it's more practical.  In a live situation, you got other instruments playing and not all of the players on stage are immediately in tune with other players' dynamics and will continue to bash on at the same volume no matter what (I hate that but hey...). So what happens is that without compression, all the softer things you do and all the dynamics in your playing gets completely buried.  With a properly set compressor, you can sound like you're playing softly but still be heard.

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Maybe some models are more compressed.... I don't know, I am trying. Not attempting to get any digs in on the Helix, I'd love to not lug a heavy expensive fragile amp around.

 

I do know that for the year or so I ran only the helix direct I would have multiple snapshots @ different levels to go into quieter sections of the song with less dirt. Now the exact same song I use a rhythm and a lead snapshot and everything else I can get from my pick/volume knob.

 

I'm still working at it. Getting closer tone wise now by using the boards meter, rta, peak/hold to analyze my frequency spectrum. Global eq and some tone shaping IRs.

 

I don't get this sort of feeling at all with the Helix... I find most of the amps to be really sensitive to the input volume and pickups. I actually kind of think it's a little easier to get a wide range of tones from the Helix models than real amp in the sense that for many amps to get in that sweet spot of responsiveness, you'd have to have them quite loud.

 

I recorded this a few months ago when this topic came up. This was all done on the same preset, same snapshot. The only thing changing is my pick attack and the pickup position. I don't believe I even moved the guitar volume knob for this clip.

 

https://soundcloud.com/phil-miller-20/jtm45-pick-attack

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I feel ya, OP.  I came to Helix from a PRS Singlecut Trem and Mesa TriRec + Recto 212 two years ago.  Although I LOVE Helix through headphones and studio monitors at home, I could never come to grips with Helix + JBL515xt or Line 6 L2m live in a rock band where the other members had real amps and a drummer.

 

I tried Helix preamps with 4CM with the Mesa TriRec with channel switching...what a PITA and didn't even sound that good.  Much of the Helix magic is in the amp models' power amp section.  Helix full amp models into the effects return (power amp in) of the Mesa sounded really bad too.

 

After some research and experimentation, I did find a sweet spot for me with Helix (full amp models) + flat tube power amp + real cab (no cab models/IR's) live.  I was first turned on to it when Fryette came out with the Power Station & LXII.   I'd would have broken down and bought a PS-2 if I hadn't come across a used Line 6 Spider Valve HD100 MKII super cheap, $150.  It has a nice, neutral tube power section made for it's internal Spider or POD X3 full amp models. 

 

My live rig for the past two years has been Helix + SV HD100 MKII + Recto 212 or Helix + SV 112 MKII Combo.  I run Helix 1/4" out straight to the power amp in of the SV's...no 4CM or complex cabling.  I LOVE IT!  I have IR block set to slot 001 loaded on all my presets and just move a Mesa 212 IR file into slot 001 when I'm at home and pull it out for gigs.  So versatile and I think sounds even better than anything I got out of my Mesa TriRec..less noisy too.  Helix was much more satisfying and less frustrating to me when I removed the cab model/IR's from the live equation.

 

Here's some related info that inspired me when I made the switch.

 

Steve Fryette's modeling workshop series on various modelers into his flat response tube amps.  

 

Helix + Fryette Power Station

 

Reinhold Bogner on the Spider Valve explaining the design and how it is designed for amp modelers.

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Tips tricks?

 

Had it for some time, ran direct for a year. Switched back to using amps a little while ago. One of the things I missed was being able to play soft or really dig in and notice a HUGE difference from the amp.

 

Today I started to goof with it again, using a plethora of IRs I've got. I can get pretty darn close on the "amp in room" experience and make it sound nice.

 

But I just can't seem to get over this compressed feel. No matter how hard or light I attack the strings it seems to always be the same.

 

Granted there's a slight difference, but MILES from what I can get from my boogie or prs.

 

Any ideas?

I really fell in love with the helix more when i switched from 2 mackie thump 112 which sounded good to my blackstar 212 cab and Seymour Duncan power stage 170.eq and just a great a portable power amp.

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....Seymour Duncan power stage 170.eq and just a great a portable power amp.

 

Those make a lot of sense.  Kinda pricey at $399 though.  But you like it?

 

Maybe Helix 2.0 will have built in digital power amp ;)

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Those make a lot of sense.  Kinda pricey at $399 though.  But you like it?

 

Maybe Helix 2.0 will have built in digital power amp ;)

I think it sounds great and also a great back up if u still have pedals.

i do.

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Sorry I haven't been back on...

 

My exact thought was going to be a tube power amp into a cab as well.

 

I tried this time with the helix into the return on my Road King and it sounded great. Not so well with my PRS custom 50.

 

So going to look for either a nice single channel tube amp like a Dr z or a rack tube amp.

 

What this means is I'm either not liking the IRs, cabs, mics, or the way it sounds through the PA.... funny though because I can mic my amp in another room and love the way it sounds through the PA.... which should be virtually the same thing if these cabs or IRs are true representations of micing a cab as I am doing....

 

My PA speakers aren't exactly top of the line, but they certainly aren't bad either. I run a full prx 700 system. And there's no way in hell a mixer running the same pres and converters they used at Chicago open air last year is causing poor sound (yeah I snuck to the sound pit, grabbed a crap ton of photos. Purchase confirmation was nice :) )

 

So yeah... when I get a chance to try it out, if all goes well there's going to be a couple amps going up for sale ;)

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Or it could be another obvious one. That I'm prone to like the tube power amp more, or something. I was thinking of giving a SS amp a shot from my soundguys system.

 

I am running the full amp models into the road king and not the pres.

 

So far didn't like:

-Helix direct to PA using cabs or IRs

 

Did like:

-Helix 4cm amp (effects only)

-the above, but micd in another room.

Only able to hear PA (nothing fancy, e609 draped over the top)

-Helix full amp model into return on road king

 

IRs: godscab, ownhammer, allure, guitar hacks, Jim's mesa IRs, etc....

 

Again all of this with no compression, effects of any kind, etc...

 

This can get me to a smaller rig, but still carrying an amp and speaker.

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My exact thought was going to be a tube power amp into a cab as well.

 

 

 

That I'm prone to like the tube power amp more, or something. I was thinking of giving a SS amp a shot from my soundguys system.

 

 

Man, the Fryette Power Station PS-2 (neutral/flat tube 50W) or the Seymour Duncan Powerstage SS amp (170W pedal or 700W cab top/rack amps) cgar18 mentioned above, along with a guitar cab,  sound right up your alley with what you are thinking.

 

http://www.fryette.com/power-station-integrated-reactance-amplifier/

 

https://www.seymourduncan.com/powerstage

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Now to fund this venture without further pissing off my wife:

 

For sale! Road King combo, prs custom 50 combo, rjm amp gizmo!

 

:p

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