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themetallikid

Tone help - resonance -sorry long post

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So couple details up front....my Helix will be back from repair (replacement for a 2nd return) soon and I can't wait to get back to the better amp modeling than my backup unit the Boss GT100. 

 

However, since going back to the GT, and applying what I've learned setting up presets (final PEQ with low/hi cuts to mimic speaker/cab output better, etc) my GT presets have never sounded better.  Minus the COSM modeleling vs. Helix Amp modeling. 

 

With that said, there is a quality to my GT presets that I just can't seem to get right with Helix that I dig with the GT.  I'm thinking its in the cab sim area.  Touch of background, I came from the Axe FX Ultra days, grew up using Boss units, and decided to move to Helix and love the interface, and everything about it.  I mention that cause I've spent time auditioning IR's, and making stock cabs work and playing through a real power amp/cab scenario and all have their pros/cons.

 

The area I find with the GT that I dig is there is a resonance to the sounds.  Not just a bassy/dark sound, but when I palm mute or play something in the lower registers, I can almost 'feel' the cab volume in the way it resonates or has a lifelike feel to it.  I have not been able to duplicate that very easily on the Helix, and I feel like that is the final variable for me to really dial in some great sounds I'll be happy with. 

 

I typically use a stereo stock cab, and combine cabs/mics to give me some low/high end response that I like for that particular sound I'm after, then shape at the end of the chain with PEQ and such if I need a specific flavor of bite/chunk. 

 

Is what I'm after something I'd get from IR's more so than the stock cabs?  I've heard great sounds coming from both, and I"ve used both, but just haven't found the right setup to achieve that 'feel' that I mentioned above. 

 

In the GT I do use a 'custom' cab setting.  I used to use the 10" 8x12 setting as it gave me the low end chunk and the 10" seemed to have more dynamic punch to the sound when playing vs. speakers of other sizes.  However, EQ'ing the bass right was really difficult on their GUI.  So I played with it and the 13" speaker setting seemed to be punch and have more low end, and with a quick edit of my PEQ settings, was able to get to my happy place. 

 

Just looking for some way to get that same response feel out of the Helix.  Any suggestions?

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Yes, definitely check out IR’s.   These are typically more  “finished” sounds, unlike the stock cabs on the helix that can require quite a bit of tweaking to get what you want.

 

Even if you don’t end up using them, it’s definitely still worth it to try them out.   There’s plenty of IR’s that have the “thump” you’re looking for as soon as you load them up.  At the least, you’ll be more well-versed in the uses of Helix. 

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I'm well versed, and have experience with IR's, I just wanted to maybe make sure I was on the right path of narrowing down what I'm looking for in my tone. 

 

I can't seem to dial in that 'resonance' with an EQ, or a different cab/mic combination (I've tried/use different cab/mic combinations across my presets I use about 6 or 7 stock preset sounds then tailor them to the songs needs and each one uses a more natural cab sim for that amp being used). 

 

Wanted to make sure that what I'm looking for would be that difference between cab vs. IR and I'm not missing something otherwise. 

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Try using the Double Take modulation effect to get a bit of comb filter. That can create some resonances you might like. Otherwise use a parametric EQ and sweep around to find the frequency that provides the resonance you're looking for.

 

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Background:  Lifelong Tube Snob who gave Helix a "try" a year ago and have not played a tube amp at a gig since.    Also in a 2-Guitar Band with a Tube Snob, who knows GREAT Tone (and gets it every gig) with deep pockets, so he uses some of the best amps on the planet... so my Helix tone HAS GOT TO be realistic or it stands out like a sore thumb!  

 

I have tried the IR route, and have some great IRs that I really like (MBritt and OH are two of my favs), however, I am finding that I can do almost identical cab sims using the stock Helix cabinets.  If you have the "right" IR, it's very easy to get a great tone.  But going through all the endless options of IRs, can be massively time-consuming, and very often what works for my "Crunch" doesn't work for my "Clean" or "Drive", so even IRs are not immune to the need for tweaking.    I also found that when sharing my presets with other users, having an IR in the path just means fewer people can take advantage of great presets, without buying the same IRs that I'm using.  I am now starting to use Helix Stock Cabs almost exclusively.  They can sound JUST as good, or even better, since there are a few more "tweaks" available.  These tweaks help a given Cab model work well with snapshot presets that have different levels of gain on each preset.   IRs sometimes don't have QUITE that flexibility.

 

One thing I did was to set up my Helix to have a "split output"... e.g. at the end of my signal chain, I split out an A/B path.  One path goes DIRECTLY to the 1/4 output - no cab or IR in that output. and the other (SEE "A"/Pink Circle on the attached pic) output goes through either an IR or a Cab , as well as a couple of other minor blocks for eq tweaking, then out via the XLR outputs.   I set my global settings to enable the BIG VOLUME knob to ONLY work on my 1/4" outputs.   The XLR outs are NOT affected by this.  This enables the FOH/PA sound to be fully controlled by the FOH guy... I can make small adjustments to my stage volume this way without messing up his settings! 

 

This enables me to have a non-Cab/IR effected output to use through my power amp/guitar cab on stage (through the 1/4" out), but have the SAME sounds go to FOH via the XLR out.

 

In building presets, I find that I get EXACTLY the tone I want through my poweramp/cab set up, and then I can work on ONLY the blocks that are unique to the parallel path that splits off going to the XLR, to get the FOH sound to match my on-stage sound.   This has required me to experiment with a lot of IRs, Stock Cabs and EQs, etc.    What I am finding is that my best and easiest way to make the FOH PA speakers sound as close to identical as possible as my real guitar cab/speaker, is to add a EQ block AFTER the CAB/IR block, and to put a Minotaur IN FRONT of the CAB/IR block.   This enables me to fine-tune the Lo/Mid/High coming out of the CAB/IR, and the Minotaur block "sets up" the level of grunt, sparkle, guts, and resonance of the CAB/IR.    I have found that the Minotaur has a "Sweet Spot" between about 0.9 and 1.3 on the "Gain" adjustment.  Check it out for yourself.  Put the Minotaur ahead of your cab/ir block and set it for, say... .5 gain.  Have the "Tone" set a some nominal level, like 5.5 or 6 and a decent volume.   Play through it. Then adjust the "Gain" to, say... 1.5 gain.   Then play again.  Notice that the High end gets attenuated and the resonant, gutsy, "bloom" sound of the cab starts to come to life, and there really isn't a lot of Drive happening yet.  If you need more Sparkle, set the Minotaur to less than 1 on the gain.  If you need less high end and more 'bloom', or resonance set it to above 1 on the gain.   

 

So with this set up, once I have my baseline tone perfect for my on-stage rig, I use three things...  The minotaur, a DUAL CAB arrangement (more on this in a bit) and a EQ, in that order to get my PA speaker to sound like my guitar speaker.   But within those three blocks there are a myriad of ways to tweak for the best resonance. 

 

My favorite Dual Cab block is one that uses a Matchless 2X12 H30 and a Matchless 2X12 G25 together.  On the H30, I use a 160 Ribbon mic. and on the G25 I use a 4038 Ribbon mic.  This combo seems to work amazingly well to match my guitar cab.  The H30 is a darker cab and the G25 is a bit brighter and more 'raw'.   The 4038 seems to smooth out the G25 and cuts the ragged high-end, while the 160 mic is a extremely smooth and realistic sounding mic model.  

 

okay, so if I'm doing a clean patch, I will set the Minotaur to a gain setting LESS THAN that "sweet spot"... usually at .4-.5 or so (or sometimes less if I want REALLY clean tones), and adjust the "tone" and "level" to taste.    Then I go to the FIRST cab (the H30) and I will set the 160 mic to about 3" distance and dial in a good Hi/Lo cut set up and twist up the "early reflections" to about 30% or so.  On the SECOND Cab (the G25), I will set the distance to about 4.5" and make the early reflections also about 25-30%.    So now, after playing a bit, I can listen for what's missing.  I do this by turning up my Large Volume Knob so I can hear my on-stage cab, then turn it all the way down (so I ONLY hear the XLR output to the PA) and see what is different.  If I need more High End, Low End, etc... , I have the following at my disposal: 1. Tone setting on the Minotaur; 2. adjust the distance setting on BOTH cabs - More distant mics = more high-end and less low end while closer mics = more low mids, slight bump in level; 3. Turn up the level on the H30 cab/160 mic for more highs (or reduce the level on the G25 cab for the same), or; 4. Turn up the level on the G25 cab/4038 mic for more low-end (or reduce the level of the H30 cab for more low end); 5. Adjust the Low/High-cut on BOTH cab models; 6. Tweak the EQ block as needed.    Keep in mind, these are all come after EVERY BLOCK in my actual preset.  It's already been through Wah, Distortions, Amp, EQ, Reverb, Delay, Volume pedal, etc....   this is just affecting my XLR out going to the PA.  

 

ANY of these 6 spots to introduce more highs, less highs, more mids, less mids, more lows, less lows, etc... impact the final output differently.  Some get muddy quickly, some introduce more low-end but it stays very tight, and resonant.  Some introduce more high end with a smooth top, and others put more strident high end in.  None of these are good or bad, but having THIS MUCH ability to tweak the final eq of the output to the PA has made a HUGE difference in how realistic my FOH tone is compared with a real amp. 

 

I go back and forth between my real guitar speaker (1/4" out, Big Volume knob controlled), and the PA/FOH (XLR out, controlled only by the mixing board and/or powered speaker level) until I get the tones to be as close to each other as possible.   I have also done this with real amps vs Helix (play one, play the other, tweak Helix, repeat... until I get the tone I was getting from the real amp), and it also works for that.   

 

If you're not using the "split output" setup, like me, you have one additional method that I got from Jason Sadites that is pure magic. (SEE "B"/Green Circle on the attached pic) I also use this in my main signal path....  Insert a Gain block.  Insert a 2nd Gain Block.  both of these should be just after your amp block but before the Cab/IR block.  Drop one of the gain blocks down into a parallel path.  Set the Junction block to be a "Crossover" block (SEE "C"/Yellow Arrow on the attached pic) and adjust the frequency  of the crossover to about 750Hz - 850Hz.  This enables you to tweak as much high end (> than the crossover setting) and separately introduce more or less low end (< the crossover setting) to put the amp's output at exactly the frequency 'mix' you prefer.  the outputs of each of these block will then merge back into the main signal path and then enter my final EQ block.    Between doing this on my primary path and then the three block method on the XLR parallel "split" output, I find I can get to almost ANY resonant sounding place I seek.   

 

Give these a try.  It has REALLY made me feel that I can make the Helix sound like nearly any amp ever imagined and do it realistically.  

 

Note: To explain the remainder of the preset below: 

 

Input block set to 1M impedance -> WAH (assigned to EXP1) -> Kinky Boost (always on, but different setting for different snapshots) -> Teemah (used for my "Drive" and "Lead" snapshots, but not for "Clean or "Crunch") -> Minotaur (always on, like the Kinky boost) -> JTM Brt Amp model -> Gain Block (used for lead boosts, assigned to footswitch -> Split Crossover Gain Section (see explanation above) -> Parametric EQ ->Tremolo (assigned to footswitch) -> Chorus (assigned to Footswitch) -> Reverb (always on-diff settings) -> Delay (always on-diff settings) ->Volume Pedal (assigned to EXP2) -> 1/4" output only, controlled by Helix Volume, going to on-stage power amp and guitar cab.

Parallel Split Output path (see explanation above): Minotaur -> Dual Cab Block -> Parametric EQ -> XLR output ONLY to FOH

 

Slide1.jpg

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I made a demo earlier today of my "4 classic amp" snapshot presets, and in the middle of it, I did a quick look at how the Power-Amp/Real Guitar Cab sounds by itself vs how the PA by itself sounds, and then combining the two.  If you go to 3:04 through 4:02 you can hear this comparison using an overdriven Blackface / Valve Driver snapshot.   I can use this set up with EITHER my cab, or the PA alone and they sound nearly identical... but the sound BEST when I hear both.    Check it out and see what you think.  The demo starts out comparing all all 4 Drives and all 4 Lead snapshots using a Rocketfire Tele.   Then I do a quick Surf demo, and the Speaker/PA comparison.  After that I go through each preset and snapshot with a P90 LP and finally hit the heaviest snaps with a Humbucker equipped SUHR classic T.  If you're interested, all four of these are uploaded to Custom Tone.   "AB763"; "5F6A"; "45/100"; "AC30".  

 

I apologize for the very prominent "String Clank"... I was too close to the camera for most of the demo and the volume level was just above conversation level, so the ambient string noise was evident - especially on the cleans.  

 

 

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