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Helix Output Volume/Gain Structure


stevenpcharles01
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Hi All,

 

New Helix owner here. Absolutely love the experience so far!  I'm discovering, however, that there are "level" adjustments all over the place. Starting with the output and working my way back, there are level adjustments for overall output, then speaker cabs have a level adjustment, then the amp has a master level, then effects have level adjustments, etc.  I'm having trouble managing all the levels and getting my patches consistent.  Also want to make sure I'm using a solid gain structure strategy to keep the noise floor as low as possible.

 

Anyone have a strategy for setting up patches and matching overall levels between each patch... and for managing gain structure from block to block in the chain?

 

Thanks!

 

Steve

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My personal technique:  Starting with no effects at all, I focus on keeping everything at unity gain as I build the patch, making sure that the blocks I'm adding don't increase the overall output too much.

 

Ideally, I'll use only the amp's channel volume setting to control the output volume of the whole amp/cabinet section, again making sure that the overall volume doesn't change too much from its initial level.  If I still need a boost, i may add a gain block right before the output to bring things up.

 

I also output everything at line-level, so I'm usually cutting input gain at the mixer/DAW input, rather than boosting it.  I shoot for a consistent -6db peaks and around -10db average for my recording levels, to give me room for compressing and boosting during final mix.

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On ‎8‎/‎25‎/‎2018 at 8:12 AM, stevenpcharles01 said:

Hi All,

 

New Helix owner here. Absolutely love the experience so far!  I'm discovering, however, that there are "level" adjustments all over the place. Starting with the output and working my way back, there are level adjustments for overall output, then speaker cabs have a level adjustment, then the amp has a master level, then effects have level adjustments, etc.  I'm having trouble managing all the levels and getting my patches consistent.  Also want to make sure I'm using a solid gain structure strategy to keep the noise floor as low as possible.

 

Anyone have a strategy for setting up patches and matching overall levels between each patch... and for managing gain structure from block to block in the chain?

 

Thanks!

 

Steve

This!.  Your patch should be about the same volume as it is with all blocks bypassed. There are only a few blocks that change the volume in normal use: The amp block is the most crucial. -get this one right and everthing else gets easier. Watch out for drives, especially if you are using the drive to push the front of an amp (this might require turning down the Channel Volume ), watch for compressors as its easy to turn these up.  For all the other effects its entirely possible to never touch the level controls.

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  • 9 months later...
On 8/27/2018 at 3:51 AM, lawrence_Arps said:

Absolutely love the experience so far!  I'm discovering, however, that there are "level" adjustments all over the place. Starting with the output and working my way back, there are level adjustments for overall output, then speaker cabs have a level adjustment, then the amp has a master level, then effects have level adjustments, etc.  I'm having trouble managing all the levels and getting my patches consistent.  Also want to make sure I'm using a solid gain structure strategy to keep the noise floor as low as possible.

This is indeed crucial. I worked on presets for all the songs only to fnd out levels are wrong and there´s a lot of feedback when going into my amp. For the moment i´m using Helix as an effects unit (no FRFR yet) into a tube amp. At low volumes (working on presets) everything was fine, but turn up the tube amp and horrible feedback. Had to ditch all preamps on my path, which added a wonderful color but I need to get the basics right first.

I guess it´s about "unity gain". In theory, according to different posts, if you ser global "input pad" off and volume knob to max, that would be the same signal as pluggin your guitar straight into the amp. Is that the case?. Cos that´s a crucia starting point. I don´t want to change input/output gains per path, it makes the workflow a nightmare. If you get it wrong you have to go back and change every path/preset. Ideally i want a consistent level, the same as just plugin the guitar straight into the tube amp. Then add fx and watch that levels are not changed (obviously a distorsion or whatever is gonna increase level, but that´s the case with regular pedals). 

Same for the vocal mic input / gain stage. I need to get input DB´s right so that input and output ains are consistent and not per-preset.

I´m finding this harder and less obvious than it seemed.

 

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2 hours ago, tahiche said:

This is indeed crucial. I worked on presets for all the songs only to fnd out levels are wrong and there´s a lot of feedback when going into my amp. For the moment i´m using Helix as an effects unit (no FRFR yet) into a tube amp. At low volumes (working on presets) everything was fine, but turn up the tube amp and horrible feedback. Had to ditch all preamps on my path, which added a wonderful color but I need to get the basics right first.

I guess it´s about "unity gain". In theory, according to different posts, if you ser global "input pad" off and volume knob to max, that would be the same signal as pluggin your guitar straight into the amp. Is that the case?. Cos that´s a crucia starting point. I don´t want to change input/output gains per path, it makes the workflow a nightmare. If you get it wrong you have to go back and change every path/preset. Ideally i want a consistent level, the same as just plugin the guitar straight into the tube amp. Then add fx and watch that levels are not changed (obviously a distorsion or whatever is gonna increase level, but that´s the case with regular pedals). 

Same for the vocal mic input / gain stage. I need to get input DB´s right so that input and output ains are consistent and not per-preset.

I´m finding this harder and less obvious than it seemed.

 

 

This has been an ongoing, and sometimes passionate, area of discussion sometimes.  I can only relate what I've discovered in my search for consistency over the last 4 years.

The Helix manual recommends setting your Helix master volume at maximum, although most of us don't want to give up the convenience of having a way of globally having some control over our volume across all patches and snapshots, particularly as it pertains to our stage volume.  However, the Helix volume setting does have an effect on the behaviors of your amp models as far as where you end up setting them to get an adequate level for your patches.  I originally settled on setting my Helix volume at 11 o'clock, but that ended up forcing me to use unusually high channel volumes on many of the amp models which is really the ideal way of getting consistent volume levels without affecting tone.  Exacerbating the problem is that I send my 1/4" outputs at line level to my stage monitor (Yamaha DXR12), and I send my XLR outputs to the mixing board at mic level.  In order to not affect my mixer signal if I adjust my stage level, I disconnect my XLR outputs from the Helix master volume, which then sends that signal to the board as if I had the Helix volume level set on full.  That's not really a problem as it can be gain staged at the mixer, but it bothered me that my gain staging at the mixing board had to be so severe due to the way I had my amp model channel volumes set.  So in order to bring all of this back in line and have more consistency I changed my default Helix volume setting for dialing in my presets to the 3 o'clock position which then allowed me to bring my amp model channel volumes back in line with what I'd been used to on most physical amps I've ever played through, and brought my XLR output more in line with the levels for other channels on the mixing board.  The added benefit which I hadn't counted on was in the effect this had on many of my post amp effects such as compressors, reverbs, and delays which began to behave in a much more manageable and predictable way due to the lowered input signal from the amp.

I'm not saying this is right for anyone else, but I can say this has made me MUCH more comfortable with managing both my stage volume signal as well as my mixer signal independently and getting overall better results across all my patches and snapshots.  This may be something you might want to examine for yourself though.

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I'll preface this by saying, this is what works for me.  If I have any of this information wrong or if someone has a differing opinion, by all means respond with a more accurate answer....I won't get my feelings hurt.  :)

From what I understand about the master volume knob is that it sends a signal at unity gain when maxed out or bypassed in the global settings.  Going off that knowledge, here's how I create my patches and get the levels to a pretty consistent level.

  1. Connect my Helix to my PC via USB, boot up my DAW, and pull up the mixing board.
  2. On Helix, I select a new blank preset (no blocks).
  3. With the guitar volume on 10, I strum a few chords and make note at where the level is peaking.
  4. I then insert an amp and cab/IR blocks, adjust the parameters until I get a tone I like.
  5. I then and strum the same chords with the same attack as before, making note of where the level is peaking.
  6. Adjust the amp's channel volume to control the overall volume of the amp.
  7. Before adding anymore blocks, make sure your amp signal level matches your dry signal, before the amp and cabs were added.
  8. For each additional block I add to the signal chain, I re-check the signal level in my DAW.
  9. If the signal is too hot or not loud enough after adding an additional block, simply adjust the output level on that block accordingly.

This method helps assure me that I'm sending a proper signal to the mixing desk, while avoiding digital clipping. 

Again, this is how I do things and it works for me.  Hope this helps.  

 

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20 minutes ago, lungho said:

From what I understand about the master volume knob is that it sends a signal at unity gain when maxed out or bypassed in the global settings.  Going off that knowledge, here's how I create my patches and get the levels to a pretty consistent level.

Ok so de-assigning the volume knob is equivalent of setting it at max?. Is that the case?. That is very unintuitive ;)

Iñm guessing the same goes for vocals... de-assign and you get full knob...

This is what i´m gonna do, just de-assign the thing or keep it maxed and start from there. 

NOTE TO MYSELF: get these things right and sorted before working on 11 presets!!!!!!. 

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Going into my "real" tube amp I had the BIG KNOB at around half way. This made me have to crank up the volume in the amp, a lot higher than without the Helix. I guess this means the valves were running hot, making it very prone to feedback. Without being very loud i was getting maniac feedback. I´m guessing having the amp run so hot (but not loud) was a big factor. I´m gonna try the full-right or dissenagaged (spdif) and no input pad, see what happens.

I also have to find out what the right mic input gain is... Big knob designers, you´re cruel....

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