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Hoe does pre-amp block affect real tube amp sound?


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I am new to everything - just got a guitar, amp head / cab. And now the Helix. Figured I didnt own any pedals/fx might as well just start with this. Most of my confusion  is routing and inputs/outputs in general. 


  • I am using the 4CM tube amp head + cab. If I put in a pre-amp after the Send/Rec block I get some really great tones. How does this work?  Can you explain how the pre-amp block is applied? Can I use modeling Amps / Cabs./ Mics in addition to my physical amp + cab in this scenario?  
  • if you dont add a send/rec FX block - you lose the ability to put FX before and after the amp, is that it? (for my 4CM method)




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If you have a pre-amp block after the Return then you basically have pre-amped the signal twice. Sometimes that works well and gives you the character you want. Sometimes it doesn't and you would want to disable or remove your preamp block and just use the physical one (or vice versa). Same goes for the Cab block - you can use it if you like, though it's rare that you'll want to have that effect applied alongside the real-world cab. But it's your choice.


If your tube amp has a usable tone of its own, I would recommend starting with the 'standard' approach - send block to a real preamp, no preamp or amp block in the Helix, output to a real cab, no cab block in the Helix.


The purpose of the send/return blocks is that you can have some external processing done outside of the Helix in the middle of your Helix effects chain. In the 4CM method this is typically used to have the amplifier's pre-amp act as an 'effect' and you can have other effects before and after it, as well as finally sending the output back to the amp for the power amp stage. If you don't use the 4CM then you typically send your Helix output to the main amp input - that means you have all your effects before the preamp, whether you wanted them in that position or not.

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