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HX Effects for Solo Singer/Songwriter? Sure!

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Not really its intended use, but for simple acoustic guitar + vocal gigs, you can pretty much use an HX Effects unit for your entire front-end (mixer and effects). It works just dandy, and the effects are wow. If you've been thinking about whether or not an HXFX would work for such a gig, here are a few things you should know:

 

  • The 1/4" inputs are for instrument or line level. So for a microphone, an external mic preamp would be best - and a must if you need XLR and phantom power.
  • There is a "Split A/B" function you can use the front of your HXFX processing chain, and a "Mixer" function at the end. With those, you end up with two separate mono paths (A and B). The paths can contain independent switchable effects (up to 9 total, so plenty for acoustic guitar and vocals)
  • You can mix your vocal and guitar volumes on the fly with a tiny, cheap MIDI controller or iPhone with MIDI app wired to the HXFX, which accepts either 5-pin DIN MIDI or USB MIDI. Be your own sound dude. Of course, you could mix the volumes on the HXFX unit itself, but you'd have to bend over and people might laugh at you.
  • You can MIDI-control all of the effects parameters, so you can tweak your effects on the fly as needed. Very flexible and very powerful
  • The HXFX outputs can go straight into a powered PA or speaker(s). You can set up the routing to go out one mono output if you want, and mix the vocal and guitar into the mono out.
  • The looper is pretty basic, so if you do a lot of looping, you'll want to patch in an external looper (easy to do, or you can patch in any of your other favorite stuff). [Update: after playing around with the new 1-Switch Looper block in HXFX, its likely to be good enough for some folks for simple looping.)
  • You can get really good acoustic guitar tones. For example, you can use an IR block to make your piezo pickups sound more "woody" and natural. I like 3Sigma's acoustic guitar IRs.
  • Yeah, there is a three-part harmonizer in HXFX, but don't expect it to do Crosby Stills and Nash. Its not intended for (or good for) vocals unless you want to freak people out.
  • The selection of effects for guitar and vocals are awesome. The reverbs and delays (the most often used effects for singer/songwriter schlock) are superior. If you've used a TC Helicon pedal, you'll be blown away by how much better these effects are (other than the lack of a vocal harmonizer). If you gotta have vocal harmonies, patch in one of these (or similar TC Helicon box; if you can find an older used unit with MIDI and use MIDI control, get one of those).
  • You can use separate presets and snapshots for different songs to get a good variety of sounds and tones. The presets are easy to create and edit, especially if you use the Mac or PC editing software.
  • Line 6 does a great job of updating and bug-fixing compared to most manufacturers, so you'll be supported. And since the pedal is part of the Helix line-up, effects get updated and added over time. Good warranty. Good resale value. Etc.
  • If you are considering the HXFX only for your acoustic guitar (rather than guitar + vocal), go for it.
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Hey Soundog, this is great news and thanks for the detailed info! I'm actually testing using this config for a no latency live streaming musical performance with Ableton Live. That's a whole other article though. LOL! Obviously you cant monitor effects in Ableton Live (or any DAW) without latency. (Or a $700 Apollo interface with on board processing) HX effects for the win here when combined with a mixer! 

I've almost finished setting up the "Split A/B" function you can use the front of your HXFX processing chain, and a "Mixer" function at the end. However, I'm still not doing something right because, I'm still getting both signals out of separate channels. Dont know what I've done wrong. Maybe you can advise?

I'm relatively new to the HX Effects signal flow editor. Both of the split A/B and the mixer options you mentioned are hidden at first! This took me a couple hours to figure out! LOL. So here's how I stated this process. To create a new preset, with this setup, I needed to add a block in the signal flow first, then turn the path to B. Now I see the "parallel" config show up in the UI. After that, you can scroll back to the beginning and select the "split block" (its hidden from the UI)  and change that to Split A/B by pressing down on the big knob and then change the "route to" to Split A/B. 


Finally, I scrolled with the big knob to the end of the signal flow and the "mixer block" (Also hidden) will be available. Selected it by pushing down on the big knob and then change the Path B to "Send1/2".  I connected the HX Effects hardware output of send 1 to my outboard mixer. Then I have the main left mono output connected to the outboard mixer also on separate channels. Any ideas whats wrong?

Edited by goldballoon
I was wrong

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Excellent info, @goldballoon ..... thanks for adding it!

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12 minutes ago, soundog said:

Excellent info, @goldballoon ..... thanks for adding it!

Hey, soundog! I thought I had it working earlier but I was wrong! Just updated my previous post. Still getting both signals out of separate routing. I'm stumped! please help.

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