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Direct to FOH


bvaladez74
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Hello all, 

 

So, I love my Helix first off.  No issues here in terms of lack of experience or knowledge with the Helix.  I'm very comfortable on a deep edit level.  Easily expert level.  I've got presets for each configuration.  Direct to FOH, Amp fx return, 4CM.  I've done a few gigs with it direct to FOH.  For medium to higher gain scenarios, I've learned quickly that in that situation, obviously the Helix relies heavily on a great PA.  The variables are so apparent.  Moving from sound company to sound company over the course of different gigs, direct to PA results are all over the place in terms of tone.  One company's sound system speakers will have a completely different default EQ curve than another.  What sounds amazing setting up your tones in a high gig volume FRFR situation can very well not sound a fraction as good when your tone is in the hands of a sound engineer.  In my experience, it's not just a slight tweak of midrange, lows, highs.  It's more major.  I found for me, I'll be forced to stick with bringing a speaker cab, running 4CM to an amp, or into a power amp situation.  The negatives of inconsistent MIC techniques far outweigh the tonal results of an unknown PA scenario at any given gig.  I still get amazing functionality out of the Helix.  Me setting up my tones in a full test PA, gig volume (Midas mixers, Turbosound or QSC mains/subs and QSC K.10's or K.12's for FRFR monitors) and it sounding incredible...could easily sound totally different with other PA rigs.  Half of the time, so much worse, that you're now scrambling at a gig to fully re-EQ things to get through the gig.  Turning on the global EQ and radically tweaking in a hurry. Not every situation, but just as much so as not.  I know everyone has a different experience.  I get it.  I'm not looking for answers.  Just reporting my experience with direct to FOH.  Here and there, it's good....and other times...not even close.  All depending on the sound engineer and the PA gear.  Has zero to do with the Helix settings itself.  After all my test gig scenarios, I'm completely content...still keeping my Helix as my main board, but running into a physical amp/cab.  Perfect set up for me.  :)

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It's odd how people can have such vastly different experiences.  I've been gigging with my Helix rig every week for over two years now across a pretty wide range of PA systems.  I expect to get great results out of our personal PA system which consists of QSC KLA12 line arrays and KW181 subs.  But I can't say I've been disappointed when playing through any of the other relatively decent systems be they traditional club level powered speaker systems or concert quality line arrays.  All have performed well and my stage sound has been highly consistent with what the audience was hearing using a DXR12 as my stage monitor.  My only problem in all of that time was with an older passive system that used centralized amps and crossovers which just simply didn't have the range of performance as that of modern designs and struggled to deliver decent, crisp mid-range.

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I do make it a point however of stressing to the sound crew to leave my channel set flat and I can't say anyone has given me any grief over it.  I certainly understand if they need to make EQ compensation for the environment, but that has nothing to do with the EQ on my channel.  Those factors affect all channels equally and should be handled on the final output EQ at the board.  That's why I never even make adjustments on my global EQ for acoustics at a venue.  I leave those adjustments to the sound crew.

 

I suspect people's experience in this regard may be more related to the style of music they play as well as the venues they tend to play in.

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Asking the sound engineers to set your channel flat is a must for getting consistent FOH tones on different systems. It turns out an electric guitar through a modeling amp isn’t that big a challenge for any decent PA system, it doesn’t require the lows of a bass rig, or the highs of cymbals. Electric guitar is pretty mid-focused, so any decent PA system should work reasonable well flat.

 

Another option is to build your tones using a similar FRFR set flat. I use a pair of JBL EON610’s. If I can get a good tone out of these, then I suspect most any PA with better speakers will do just fine as long as its set flat. I also use the 610’s as my backline to provide some stage volume, and something for the guitar to hear (I use IEMs for my monitoring needs). So even if the FOH is challenged, you can provide some consistency with your backline. 

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Very interesting topic. Been going straight to foh with iem’s for about 5 years, first hd500x now helix. I love the set up but find when listening back to recordings my guitar just doesn’t cut through. Rarely do I get the guitar cutting through. I’ve been questioning my set up as I run stereo but not in a mad spacey sound way just two amps with stereo delays and reverbs. Everyone I ask says don’t run stereo but I don’t think that is the problem.

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2 hours ago, sozeg said:

Everyone I ask says don’t run stereo but I don’t think that is the problem.

 

Well lots of things can contribute to not cutting through the mix, but I'd be willing to bet that running in stereo is at least half your problem...with IEMs, headphones, or studio monitors, stereo is awesome. Live, it's a disaster. From weird phase problems, to the strange way that 2 different delays can bounce around the room... things sound different depending on where you're standing. It's inconsistent, and never worth the hassle, imho.

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10 hours ago, sozeg said:

Very interesting topic. Been going straight to foh with iem’s for about 5 years, first hd500x now helix. I love the set up but find when listening back to recordings my guitar just doesn’t cut through. Rarely do I get the guitar cutting through. I’ve been questioning my set up as I run stereo but not in a mad spacey sound way just two amps with stereo delays and reverbs. Everyone I ask says don’t run stereo but I don’t think that is the problem.

 

Not cutting through the mix could be any number of things many of which have nothing to do with your setup and could be more related to how the soundman chooses to mix your signal, or how and where the recording was made.  I'd agree with cruisinon2 that trying to do stereo could easily be adding to the problems, but it could also be you have your patches set too dark, or you have an overabundance of spatial effects or distortion levels that obscure your core tone.

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If you are not cutting through live, you need to have some discussions with your sound person first. If you have more than one guitar player in the band, make your tones aren't too similar, otherwise they just kind of blend together. 

 

 

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Hi guys, 

 

Thanks for the responses.  Just to reiterate.  I wasn't looking for answers to troubleshooting.  It's a fact, that going from gig to gig, sound company to sound company, you're going to get a different default EQ curve depending on systems, speakers, the mixer itself, etc.  You're getting a different starting point tonally depending on the sound system you're relying on.  I'm fully aware of letting a sound man know to set things flat and the tricks to cutting through more.  I was just stating my experience and my end result.  I've noticed most take minimal gear hauling and convenience over getting the best tone possible.  My goal is tone first, authentic tube amp feel/tone in FOH and on stage...THEN convenience.  

 

Thanks all.

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3 hours ago, bvaladez74 said:

Hi guys, 

 

Thanks for the responses.  Just to reiterate.  I wasn't looking for answers to troubleshooting.  It's a fact, that going from gig to gig, sound company to sound company, you're going to get a different default EQ curve depending on systems, speakers, the mixer itself, etc.  You're getting a different starting point tonally depending on the sound system you're relying on.  I'm fully aware of letting a sound man know to set things flat and the tricks to cutting through more.  I was just stating my experience and my end result.  I've noticed most take minimal gear hauling and convenience over getting the best tone possible.  My goal is tone first, authentic tube amp feel/tone in FOH and on stage...THEN convenience.  

 

Thanks all.

 

Wow, that hasn't been my experience at all!!!  I get very consistent results across different venues and FOH setups and sound crews.  I'm mystified why you seem to be having so much trouble.  Even when we play as a support warm up for groups that are touring through (and you know they really don't spend much time getting your sound check done), I have to say I've been very happy with the result.

 

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56 minutes ago, dragonfet said:

I can't contribute with my own experiences as we've only been using our own PA recently, but I wonder what kind of sounds you all have. Maybe a clean tone is harder to equalize across different PA systems than a high gain lead?

 

In terms of the PA it really shouldn't matter as long as the sound crew understands they should leave your guitar channel flat which is what I always emphasize to them.  We move between high gain songs and clean songs all the time and never have a problem.  They absolutely EQ differently on the Helix, but as long as they leave my channel flat everything will come out fine.

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1 hour ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

In terms of the PA it really shouldn't matter as long as the sound crew understands they should leave your guitar channel flat which is what I always emphasize to them.  We move between high gain songs and clean songs all the time and never have a problem.  They absolutely EQ differently on the Helix, but as long as they leave my channel flat everything will come out fine.

I agree completely. I suspect that problems occur usually when playing in venues where the PA is set up badly - incorrect placement, no or wrong room EQ etc., which leads to the attempt of correcting that by screwing with the channel EQs. The type of input signal shouldn't matter at all, I was just curious, but if you're already switching between clean and dist and don't have a problem, I guess it must be something else.

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