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taglossner

Helix LT for live Bass

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Good day!

Just thought I'd share my experience...

First, bass amp models sound much better after tweaking. Anything to "tighten up" the sound, like the sag and mic distance. Second, two paths sound better than one; flattens up your tone. Third, dialing in a tone as close to live volume through my home pa gets me closest to what it will sound like live through the fronts, but headphones get you close. Usually I am asked to turn down the lows a bit, if anything. I went live for a show with a loud drummer (godsmack tribute) and ONLY a Peavey DM115 (no back line). I managed, but it didn't cut it. Not loud enough, and no subtleties came through. Guitar players seem to have no trouble with the same set up, but most sound guys don't seem to fully understand modelers, and that we are trying to avoid being at their mercy for monitor volume. This is less of an issue in larger clubs with larger PAs and good sound guys. 

Best sound I get now is backlining with my mark bass tube 800 through a single 4x10. I use the helix in front of it, replacing my tried and true, and hard to beat, ME 50B, for volume, tuner, compressor, effects. Honestly, I haven't figured out how to make it sound as crisp and clean as the me-50b, but it's close. Now here's the thing, I run a completely different rig to the front of house. Usually the Hartke with the 8x10. Lots of compliments, and I can hear over the rest of band. 

I have not yet found a monitor that is loud enough for me to go without the back line. I'm about to get a QSC power amp and Yamaha 12 inch monitors. I'm hoping that's going to work out. As much as I would like to walk in with just a combo amp, my situation requires serious volume, and I can't only bring one amp and hope it doesn't blow.

Lastly, my mark rig with the ME 50B, is very portable, and sounds better than most rigs to my ear. I bring an extra head with me just in case and I actually run two 4 by 10s. But I don't get all the bells and whistles I get with the helix. That's where I'm at! I didn't see anyone else posting about playing bass through the helix to the extent that I'm trying to. Comments and suggestions are welcome!

 

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To be honest, I've been somewhat underwhelmed by the Helix bass amps. They just sound dull to my ears. Then again, I haven't spent much time dialing them in, because I keep going back to my ME-50b! As far as your need for serious stage levels, the PV seems somewhat underpowered. Compare it's specs to the Alto TS315:

 

  • Output Power: 2000 W peak (1300 LF + 700 HF) 1000 W continuous RMS (650 LF + 350 HF)
  • LF Driver: 15-inch (381 mm) LF driver, 3-inch (76 mm) high-temperature voice coil
  • HF Driver: 1.4-inch (35 mm) neodymium magnet HF driver with precision wave guide
  • Crossover: 2 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 134 dB peak, 131 dB continuous (dB SPL @ 1 m)
  • Frequency Response: 50 - 20 kHz (+/- 3 dB)
  • Frequency Range: 43 Hz - 22 kHz (-10 dB)
  • Horn Coverage: 90° H x 60° V nominal
  • Equalization: Contour Switch Low and High Frequency +3dB Boost
  • Connectors: (2) XLR/TRS 1/4” (6.35 mm) combo inputs, (1) XLR link output, (1) IEC power cable input
  • Controls: (2) Volume, Power on/off switch, Contour switch, Ground-Lift switch
  • Indicators: 2 x Power LED (front and rear), Clip limiter LED
  • Protection: Electronic clip, Thermal and transducer overdrive protection
  • Power Connection: IEC with Mains Fuse
  • AC Voltage Input: 100,110-120,220–240 V, 50/60 Hz
  • Enclosure: Trapezoidal, injection-molded, polypropylene enclosure, with perforated steel grille
  • Mounting/Installation: 36 mm standard pole mount, Wall or ceiling mount using TSB125 bracket, Flown application with integral M10 suspension points, Wedge monitor
  • Dimensions: (H x W x D): 25.7” x 16.6” x 15.4” / 652mm x 421mm x 392mm
  • Net Weight: 41.3 lbs. / 18.8 kg.
  • Design Origin: Designed and tuned in the USA
  • Accessories: TSB125 Bracket, TS215 Cover

 

A pair of these will run you $700.

 

However, while the Altos will be a lot easier to deal with than your Markbass rig, that's a hard rig to beat with FRFR speakers!

 

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1 hour ago, rd2rk said:

To be honest, I've been somewhat underwhelmed by the Helix bass amps. They just sound dull to my ears. Then again, I haven't spent much time dialing them in, because I keep going back to my ME-50b! As far as your need for serious stage levels, the PV seems somewhat underpowered. Compare it's specs to the Alto TS315:

 

  • Output Power: 2000 W peak (1300 LF + 700 HF) 1000 W continuous RMS (650 LF + 350 HF)
  • LF Driver: 15-inch (381 mm) LF driver, 3-inch (76 mm) high-temperature voice coil
  • HF Driver: 1.4-inch (35 mm) neodymium magnet HF driver with precision wave guide
  • Crossover: 2 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 134 dB peak, 131 dB continuous (dB SPL @ 1 m)
  • Frequency Response: 50 - 20 kHz (+/- 3 dB)
  • Frequency Range: 43 Hz - 22 kHz (-10 dB)
  • Horn Coverage: 90° H x 60° V nominal
  • Equalization: Contour Switch Low and High Frequency +3dB Boost
  • Connectors: (2) XLR/TRS 1/4” (6.35 mm) combo inputs, (1) XLR link output, (1) IEC power cable input
  • Controls: (2) Volume, Power on/off switch, Contour switch, Ground-Lift switch
  • Indicators: 2 x Power LED (front and rear), Clip limiter LED
  • Protection: Electronic clip, Thermal and transducer overdrive protection
  • Power Connection: IEC with Mains Fuse
  • AC Voltage Input: 100,110-120,220–240 V, 50/60 Hz
  • Enclosure: Trapezoidal, injection-molded, polypropylene enclosure, with perforated steel grille
  • Mounting/Installation: 36 mm standard pole mount, Wall or ceiling mount using TSB125 bracket, Flown application with integral M10 suspension points, Wedge monitor
  • Dimensions: (H x W x D): 25.7” x 16.6” x 15.4” / 652mm x 421mm x 392mm
  • Net Weight: 41.3 lbs. / 18.8 kg.
  • Design Origin: Designed and tuned in the USA
  • Accessories: TSB125 Bracket, TS215 Cover

 

A pair of these will run you $700.

 

However, while the Altos will be a lot easier to deal with than your Markbass rig, that's a hard rig to beat with FRFR speakers!

 

I really appreciate the response. A lot of guys are not talking Bass with the helix. I would go get a pair of those Altos in a second if I thought they were going to do it. Based on what you posted I'm thinking I'm going to have to try it. Yes, this is all a trade-off. But I'd happily leave the mark rig home to have more rigs at my fingertips, or feet, and a little bit less to carry.

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One of the very few joys of having a local GC is their returns policy......

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I've not had any issues or complaints using it for bass. With a minimum of tweaking I got the Mesa 400+ model to sound virtually identical to the real thing. I no longer own that amp because I saw no reason to keep it when the Helix nearly perfectly replicates it. Traded to a friend for a smaller, lighter Markbass amp (the SD800 I believe).

 

For practice, I'm not super picky. If we are using in ears, I won't even set up an amp. If there happens to be an amp already set up, I will plug into that if we're being lazy. I've also just gone direct into our PA speaker when there isn't an amp handy and we're being lazy.

 

For small venues or places where I'm not confident in the PA, I will bring the SD800 and a Markbass 1x15 cab. I run the Helix into the effects return and use it strictly as a power amp. I've never had any issues with this setup. Don't think I've even had to run the volume more than halfway up, honestly.

 

For larger venues or venues where I know the PA system is adequate, I just go direct to FOH. In these cases, I generally use my in ears (sometimes we run these ourselves), so I don't have to think about monitors. The only issue I've ever had with this setup is that the sound person isn't always the best at listening to me when I say what I want in my ears, but in terms of FOH sound, never any issues with this. Had a few compliments and baffled looks when I tell people I don't even have an amp on stage, actually.

 

I've been using the Helix as my exclusive piece of gear for the past two years now for both guitar and bass. It's made my life so much easier. In terms of bass tones, since that is more the topic of this post, I honestly don't see how people can't get good sounds out of it. I suspect it's the same thing the Helix guitar players think when yet another post of someone complaining pops up. Just spend a little time with it tweaking and there's no one to not get at least one good tone out of it. The only thing that is a bit of a struggle right now is good fuzz tones, but that's true for guitar and bass IMO. Since they added the Obsidian, I am beyond happy with the bass distortion tones I can get. I've got everything from clean to super heavy metal now (which is important in my band). Recently took advantage of the legacy synth effects to add a sub bass and synth strings to a patch, actually. It's quite awesome.

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On 8/18/2018 at 9:27 AM, taglossner said:

Good day!

Just thought I'd share my experience...

First, bass amp models sound much better after tweaking. Anything to "tighten up" the sound, like the sag and mic distance. Second, two paths sound better than one; flattens up your tone. Third, dialing in a tone as close to live volume through my home pa gets me closest to what it will sound like live through the fronts, but headphones get you close. Usually I am asked to turn down the lows a bit, if anything. I went live for a show with a loud drummer (godsmack tribute) and ONLY a Peavey DM115 (no back line). I managed, but it didn't cut it. Not loud enough, and no subtleties came through. Guitar players seem to have no trouble with the same set up, but most sound guys don't seem to fully understand modelers, and that we are trying to avoid being at their mercy for monitor volume. This is less of an issue in larger clubs with larger PAs and good sound guys. 

Best sound I get now is backlining with my mark bass tube 800 through a single 4x10. I use the helix in front of it, replacing my tried and true, and hard to beat, ME 50B, for volume, tuner, compressor, effects. Honestly, I haven't figured out how to make it sound as crisp and clean as the me-50b, but it's close. Now here's the thing, I run a completely different rig to the front of house. Usually the Hartke with the 8x10. Lots of compliments, and I can hear over the rest of band. 

I have not yet found a monitor that is loud enough for me to go without the back line. I'm about to get a QSC power amp and Yamaha 12 inch monitors. I'm hoping that's going to work out. As much as I would like to walk in with just a combo amp, my situation requires serious volume, and I can't only bring one amp and hope it doesn't blow.

Lastly, my mark rig with the ME 50B, is very portable, and sounds better than most rigs to my ear. I bring an extra head with me just in case and I actually run two 4 by 10s. But I don't get all the bells and whistles I get with the helix. That's where I'm at! I didn't see anyone else posting about playing bass through the helix to the extent that I'm trying to. Comments and suggestions are welcome!

 

9/22/18 Update

Before I start, the Helix gets easier and easier to tweak very quickly with each use. If I was to need and an EQ  in my chain,  cuz the sound guy wants me to cut lows, or I want more highs, that is easily done in seconds, and I can store it somewhere else so I don't have to mess with my painstakingly created patch that sounds good somewhere else, and I can compare the two patches later.  Distortion too loud? Just get in and change it as quick as any gear you are already familiar with. There is a learning curve, and experimentation, but it can do whatever you want. I also found that you don't have to do things like you do in the real world. Where yu put things makes a huge difference, and some thing that are not intuitive, work pretty well.

 

Purchased and returned a QSCK12.2. It was an AWESOME speaker. Caveat, I play in a really loud band, with a really loud drummer (I know, it isn't healthy!). So I am looking for serious volume and punch. If you want the QSC only for the loudest home recording monitor in the world or "quiet" stage volumes, again, AWESOME. I also tried ALTO's in the store, but while they are not as expensive, they don't match the QSC. I don't think they were the 315's, maybe the 215's. QSC was better, and yeah costs twice as much. Bottom line, and in my opinion only, there doesn't seem to be a substitute for moving air and headroom. Also, while money has only been a secondary or third consideration behind sound and weight, those are the three things I am considering. My Mark bass tube 800 sounds killer with the ME50B. I usually run two 4x10 cabs, but I can get the job done with one cab. So that is basically my benchmark. I don't get to use all the effects I would like to with the helix. To be clear, I am running the ME50B at 10 and 2 with the DBX compressor model and all eq settngs at 12 o' clock. I have the Mark set at 8 o'clock on the pre and master gain between 10 and 12 o'clock. Really musical, crisp and clear, and LOUD. Again, benchmarking. So this rig is relatively light, but it is still requires more than a car to move, as even a single cab is large. So here I am considering my Helix stage volume dilemma....The helix does not sound as good in front of the Mark rig, and it weighs more and takes more space than the ME 50 B. Also, I keep meeting guys that love the Boss bass stuff, which I believe is really Roland, and would explain the quality sound there. I would add here that I have the newer Boss bass pedal that costs only 200 bucks, and if you are on a tight budget, it is pretty cool, but the lights are annoyingly BRIGHT, and it is TINY. It also does not sound as good in front of my mark rig as the ME50B.  Next up, the quilter Bass Block. I is not as loud as the Mark Tube 800. I bought it as a back-up after one of my Mark heads caught on fire. It was my first head, and after 5 years of gigging it BURNED. I had to call the fire department burned; a big disappointment. So I have another, newer, mark tube 800 head, and that is what I used last night, and I bring the Quilter as back up. Now, the Quliter, using the XLR in, and turned up all the way, with the Helix in front of it and the output near 2 o'clock, is almost as loud, and I think is gonna get the job done, and meet my really loud live sound requirement, without adding additional weight , and without really losing any weight, but gaining on sound as I can use the Helix effects (I LOVE the Obsidian), and of curse you can just run a whole different rig to the front of house at the same time, and have a different setting for each song, which I do for my other cover band. So, I will be posting about my success or failure with the Quilter in the live situation, but I love the way it sounds so far. I am going to run the amp at max power and use the Helix for my volumes. Hopefully, the amp will handle it.  If it does, I will consider getting a second one and moving away from the wonderful, but heavier, mark tube 800 head,  and perhaps even go to smaller cabs.  I hope this answers questions for somebody, and I will be back after more experimenting and the next live trial in November. 

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