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rbum

Very good idea, but ....

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For a long time I was looking for a speaker or amp that could reproduce both: good E-guitar sounds and authentic acoustic sounds and whose high frequency cone or compression driver could be switched off by midi or even amp switching out of Helix or other modelers. For regardless how I tried to get distorted E-guitar sounds out of the used boxes (and I tried many): as long as the high frequency cone (or whatever the speaker uses) is involved, for me there was something "unreal" in these tones. I have an old Peavy Keyboard amp with a tweeter that could be switched off manually, and "voila": that made the big difference. But the amp was too heavy and switching off the tweeter in the middle of a song or remotely was not possible. So I use stagescource L2 and L3 instead, but I take the 1/4" inputs and reduce the high frequencies with the EQ.   As Line6 introduced the power cab plus this seemed to be a really good idea to get the best of both worlds, programmable!

 

When the power cab plus arrived, I was surprised about the size (it looks small for a 12" ) and the weight (nice to handle). What I did not like from the start was the position of the interface (knobs and screen) at the back edge of the top. When pushed backwards in monitor position, you cannot see anything: not the screen nor the color of the knobs !  And if you want to change something you have to move the cab or bend over (with your guitar hanging at your side...)  Standing upright on the floor like an amp the sound is directly "at your feet" and you have to step back some meters/ inches to get the real sound impression. When taken up on a stand to guitarlevel for me again the interface is not easy to see or reach. Why not put them in front ?

 

The sound impression is very different, depending what you use: the clean and distorted E-guitar sounds (using amp modeling of Helix and the speaker modeling of power cab) give real good results - for me the best I have heard from FRFR speakers so far. And they deliver a good feeling of response while playing. But it's still the sound of ONE 12" speaker, not 2  x 12" or more, so for a real rock sound in a Band without using a PA it might not be "fat" enough. You can choose different speaker models and they do sound differently with every amp models - just find the ones that transport your personal sound.

 

Using acoustic guitars, such as Ibanez, Ovation or Godin and PRS with piezo outputs, the power cab plus does not sound authentic in my ears. The high frequencies are to hard and there is a lack of bottom or volume, regardless how loud you play. The sound is not comparable to the sound of the stagescource which can deliver real good and dynamic acoustic tones. And there is no real EQ that could make a change. There are possibilities to control the level of high frequencies, but not the frequency or range. So this was disappointing because otherwise it could be a very helpful box for acoustic musicians as well!

 

To change presets via a controller you need to use midi at the moment, which is ok. As midi with Helix can be tricky, it would be much smarter to have a solution via line6 link, which is said to be coming. Obviously at the moment it is not possible to get out the XLR to PA without a speaker simulation (no FRFR) - which ruins the acoustic sounds !!!

 

There are some things more to think about before including the power cab into your setup. If you use the cab simulations of Helix before going into the PA (that would be the normal way, if you don't use mics), you cannot use the speaker modeling of the Power Cab (which sounds best for me) - unless you build different paths for both outputs in your Helix’s presets. If you use stereo sounds, you'll need two Power Cabs to get this stereo signal from the Power Cab to the PA (via XLR or mics). If you want to send acoustic sounds out of the XLR to the PA, this does not work...

 

In my Power Cab Plus the second input - which is said to be permanent FRFR - was a copy of the first one: everything I chose for input one would influence input two. So there was no way to use it as monitor or aux input. This may be a software or cable failure. But even in FRFR position the sound was not neutral in my ears. I fed mp3 songs via XLR from the PA and it sounded "boxed", while on PA (tried Stagescource L3m and L2m) it sounded good.

 

So for me, this really good idea does not work because of the (poor) acoustic sound and some restrictions in the way I would have to use the Power Cab in my  rig / live equipment (if I don't buy two units). Some restrictions may be fixed in oncoming updates, but for the moment I returned the quite pricy cab within a 30 days money back policy > thanks to Thomann for this opportunity!

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7 hours ago, rbum said:

There are some things more to think about before including the power cab into your setup. If you use the cab simulations of Helix before going into the PA (that would be the normal way, if you don't use mics), you cannot use the speaker modeling of the Power Cab (which sounds best for me)

 

Thanks for your review. I am on the fence right now about buying the Powercab Plus to complement my Helix. Your quote above is the aspect that I am the most confused about. I currently run my Helix XLR out to a mixer, which is connected to 2 powered speakers (Yamaha DXR series). It sounds amazing, but it isn't portable if I want to go jam on a whim. I do use the stock cabs, as well. But, if I understand the point of the Powercab, one could run it in FRFR mode and leave your presets alone (with those cabs on). Now, if you want to use the speaker modeling on the PC, you should probably bypass the cabs on the Helix because you would not want to run stock cab emulations into speaker emulations on the PC.

 

So, your quote above makes it seem like you wanted to run Helix cabs and the speaker emulations simultaneously, which, if I understand the PC, would not sound right.  Any further feedback on this topic would be great from PC owners.  

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8 hours ago, rbum said:

To change presets via a controller you need to use midi at the moment, which is ok. As midi with Helix can be tricky, it would be much smarter to have a solution via line6 link, which is said to be coming. Obviously at the moment it is not possible to get out the XLR to PA without a speaker simulation (no FRFR) - which ruins the acoustic sounds !!!

 

There are several things in your review that confuse me, but this one especially... If you have the PC in Flat mode in the FRFR voicing, the signal coming out of the XLR out should basically match the signal coming into it. There should be no speaker modeling applied to it.

 

One thing to check in regards to the Flat preset is to make sure it's actually in the FRFR voicing. Several people on TGP mentioned that the factory preset labeled FLAT was actually using the LF Flat voicing which has the high frequency compression driver turned off. If that's the case, you would want to edit that preset to change it to FRFR voicing for acoustic guitars.

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On 6/19/2018 at 6:58 PM, steelstringer said:

 

Thanks for your review. I am on the fence right now about buying the Powercab Plus to complement my Helix. Your quote above is the aspect that I am the most confused about. I currently run my Helix XLR out to a mixer, which is connected to 2 powered speakers (Yamaha DXR series). It sounds amazing, but it isn't portable if I want to go jam on a whim. I do use the stock cabs, as well. But, if I understand the point of the Powercab, one could run it in FRFR mode and leave your presets alone (with those cabs on). Now, if you want to use the speaker modeling on the PC, you should probably bypass the cabs on the Helix because you would not want to run stock cab emulations into speaker emulations on the PC.

 

So, your quote above makes it seem like you wanted to run Helix cabs and the speaker emulations simultaneously, which, if I understand the PC, would not sound right.  Any further feedback on this topic would be great from PC owners.  

 

Yes, you are right in both aspects: if you run the Helix out XLR to a mixer to powered speaker, you would usually use the preset cabs or some impulse responses - at least for distorted sounds. You could use these setup and feed it into the PC in FRFR mode (for exmple with the line6 link) but then you loose the idea of the PC, to give the sound a more "amp in the room" feeling, it seems one loses some kind of direct response and dynamic compared to using only the amps of the Helix and then use the cabs of the PC.  For me FRFR was not the best sound to use the PC. In your setup you use the PC INSTEAD of the mixer + powered speaker. So you could bypass the Helix cabs and take the advatages of the cab sounds of the PC. But if you have like 20 songs with different configuration, you would have to bypass the caps in every song and path before starting to play ....  And beforehand you should use the seperated amp + cab in Helix (and not the amp-cab combination presets).  Depending on how often you change between your setups and how many presets you use, this could be very annoying. Sure, you could create two different setlist cab OFF and Cab ON- but every changed parameter in one setlist's preset would need to be done in the other setlist as well.

 

In my setup I cannot bypass the Helix cabs, because my Helix XLR still goes out to the PA, the PC is only my stage monitoring. Bypassing the cabs would kill the sound for the main stage ... So I would have to make different paths in Helix, one for the PA (with Helix cabs ON) one for the monitor PC (with Helix Cabs OFF) - that is not working because I would run out of paths and processor power in many songs.

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On 6/19/2018 at 7:08 PM, phil_m said:

 

There are several things in your review that confuse me, but this one especially... If you have the PC in Flat mode in the FRFR voicing, the signal coming out of the XLR out should basically match the signal coming into it. There should be no speaker modeling applied to it.

 

One thing to check in regards to the Flat preset is to make sure it's actually in the FRFR voicing. Several people on TGP mentioned that the factory preset labeled FLAT was actually using the LF Flat voicing which has the high frequency compression driver turned off. If that's the case, you would want to edit that preset to change it to FRFR voicing for acoustic guitars.

Sorry to confuse you... it's not easy to write about these experiences in another language...

 

But you did get it right: "If you have the PC in Flat mode in the FRFR voicing, the signal coming out of the XLR out should basically match the signal coming into it. There should be no speaker modeling applied to it."   It SHOULD, but I found no way to get out of the PC XLR with NO modeling. And so did others. It's because the signal is splitted going INTO the PC:   The signal goes  A:  to the speaker of the PC ( FRFR or any other preset) and B: to the XLR of the PC. And at this point there is no way to choose NO cab or No mic in the presets. You can choose a different cab for the PC speaker and the XLR out - which is interesting, but could lead to a different sound on stage and in the audience...

I started presets from scratch and at the end of the chain to XLR you have to decide which cab you choose - no way to get out flat. 

 

This - and some other decisions line6 made on the PC - confused me too...

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5 hours ago, rbum said:

Sorry to confuse you... it's not easy to write about these experiences in another language...

 

But you did get it right: "If you have the PC in Flat mode in the FRFR voicing, the signal coming out of the XLR out should basically match the signal coming into it. There should be no speaker modeling applied to it."   It SHOULD, but I found no way to get out of the PC XLR with NO modeling. And so did others. It's because the signal is splitted going INTO the PC:   The signal goes  A:  to the speaker of the PC ( FRFR or any other preset) and B: to the XLR of the PC. And at this point there is no way to choose NO cab or No mic in the presets. You can choose a different cab for the PC speaker and the XLR out - which is interesting, but could lead to a different sound on stage and in the audience...

I started presets from scratch and at the end of the chain to XLR you have to decide which cab you choose - no way to get out flat. 

 

This - and some other decisions line6 made on the PC - confused me too...

 

Hmm... I don't think that's right. If that's actually what's going on, it doesn't match what the manual says. In Flat Mode, in FRFR voicing, there should be no mic or cab modeling applied to the signal unless you have an IR loaded in the PC preset. You may want to open up a support ticket about. Over on TGP, people seem to be saying it's operating as expected.

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On 6/22/2018 at 2:34 AM, rbum said:

In my setup I cannot bypass the Helix cabs, because my Helix XLR still goes out to the PA, the PC is only my stage monitoring. Bypassing the cabs would kill the sound for the main stage ... So I would have to make different paths in Helix, one for the PA (with Helix cabs ON) one for the monitor PC (with Helix Cabs OFF) - that is not working because I would run out of paths and processor power in many songs.

Thanks for your response; this is the exact situation that I will probably run into.

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On 6/22/2018 at 1:34 AM, rbum said:

 

In my setup I cannot bypass the Helix cabs, because my Helix XLR still goes out to the PA, the PC is only my stage monitoring. Bypassing the cabs would kill the sound for the main stage ... So I would have to make different paths in Helix, one for the PA (with Helix cabs ON) one for the monitor PC (with Helix Cabs OFF) - that is not working because I would run out of paths and processor power in many songs.

 

Not necessarily, you could always drop an FX send block set to line level right before your cab/IR block and then you could feed that into the PC. 

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18 hours ago, SymphonicDischord said:

 

Not necessarily, you could always drop an FX send block set to line level right before your cab/IR block and then you could feed that into the PC. 

Yes, right, in case when cab/IR is the last block before "out"  that would make sense. At the moment "cab" is in the middle of my chain in most presets: 
comp + modulation + distortion + amp + cab/IR + modulation stereo + volume + delay stereo + reverb stereo.   I would think moving the cab/IR to the end of this chain would kill the stereo effects for the FOH/PA? comp + modulation + distortion + amp + modulation stereo + volume + delay stereo + reverb stereo + FX send + cab/IR.

 

At least for mono chains, if there is a free block available, it could be a simple solution for this problem.

 

 

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Interesting discussion.

I'm not surprised that the acoustic sound is not great - no different than plugging an acoustic into any electric guitar amp, once can adjust to 'clean' sounds, but it never quite gets there.

 

The manufacture decision to put controls on the top-back corner of amps has been one of my peeves for a long time!

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4 hours ago, fflbrgst said:

 

I'm not surprised that the acoustic sound is not great - no different than plugging an acoustic into any electric guitar amp...

 

It surprises me a little... as one of the selling points for this thing is "flat mode", which allegedly covers a frequency range of 70Hz-20KHz, according to the provided specs. That *should* be sufficient for a decent acoustic tone. If not, then this thing would do me no good...too bad. I had been thinking about picking one up. Guess I'm sticking with the L2T...

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I think it’s a case of too each their own possibly. I’ve got no problems with how my Variax acoustic setting sounds through it and I’ve had no issues in the FRFR mode using either my direct patches with cab sims/IRs or the onboard Allure IRs. Overall, I’ve been quite pleased with the cab and have been thoroughly enjoying it. If they can get L6 Link to start sending program changes in the next Helix update, then that’ll just be the icing on the cake for me. 

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the acoustic comments dont make sense....

Tone creation for an acoustic tone would take place in the Helix (or other device), and the PC is only acting as FRFR.  You dont EQ an acoustic guitar at the speaker cabinet!
The PC is absolutley capable of creating fantastic acoustic tones. There is no reason why you cant do acoustic from the XLR out.
Oh, and there is nothing tricky about MIDI and Helix....I ran a lead and it worked perfectly with no settings needing to be changed....

...sorry it didnt work out for you.

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Tried acoustic guitar through helix into powercab FRFR mode today.

 

Pristine tones.

 

Tried Variax JTV-69 with acoustic sounds.

 

Again pristine tones.

 

So... unless you can’t live without tube poweramp and true guitar cab I think you will not find anything near so versatile for Helix as powercab. Still I am talking about non plus version.

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