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macnevine

HX STOMP Discoveries and Disappointments... Blocks....and Surprises- my experience

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So-bought an HX Stomp.  I watched all the videos. I watched others building presets. ... I experiment with some IRs and purchased some guys presets. I get pretty comfortable with how to operate the HX Stomp.  I think I can use any effect up to 6 blocks with any of the effects and amp modelers meaning total flexibility with up to 6 effects.  I was disappointed to find that this is not true.  So depending on the Amps and Amp/Cab combos I select etc...  when I go to choose other effects-  sometimes- many are grayed out and not available.  

 

I basically worked hard to create  one preset chain where I could make 3 snap shots that have 1. Clean, 2. Bluesy clean with a little gain, 3. high gain for leads but with typical modulation effects to turn on/off.  I have a particular sound in mind with the tone - so I am off trying all the different amps and speaker combos.  I love some of them I hear.

 

My thought was I will find an amp and a speaker combo I love (with clean, medium gain and heavy) and then will add chorus, flange, delay, reverb at the end of my chain and will turn those on and off via a small midi controller I have. I researched it.  Tested it - yes I can control the blocks via midi- Yes- I can control the snap shots via midi, Yes- I can control the  parameters on the effects like delay mix and volume with my expression pedals, so far so good I thought...

 

So this all sounds reasonable right? ....  chorus flange delay reverb= 4 blocks..  That leaves me 1 block for Amp/Cab combo, and a 1 block for a Dist. in front of the amp  if needed for more gain.  

 

Guess what...  It does not work exactly this way.    

 

I go to  build my pre-sets, I find an amp/cab I like and I put it in second in second position.  I then dial in a clean sound that I love for that block.  Then I play with the gains on that amps to see if I can get a great distorted lead sound on the amp alone.. so I can use my expression pedal to high gain it.  In many instances I cant so I then I add a distortion pedal in front of the amp in first position to get that beefy gained sound I love = 2 blocks.   Then I go to add the modulation effects to add (Chorus, Flange, Delay, Reverb) and then the surprise hits me.  

 

Many times effects I want and want to try are greyed out.  Not available.  Cant get a Spring reverb sometimes.  Cant get a basic chorus in other instances. Sometimes entire effect categories are grayed out. What the heck- that was not mentioned in the manual. 

 

Seems like it may have something to do with what amp combos I select in what is available or grayed out- not sure.  Yes there is something I can always select for 6 blocks but guess what- is is not the things I always want or need.  The things I want and need are often grayed out. Super frustrating to not have total flexibility with those 6 blocks.  I researched the crap out of this and this was not mentioned in the manual or if it is mentioned it is worded in a way that is not obvious.  

 

6 blocks would have worked for me if it really allowed me to chain "any" 6 effects together but there are way too many limitations that are grayed out each time I found a base sound I like..

 

I do love the sound but this is a bit too limiting unless I am doing something wrong.

 

 I know people will say get the full sized Helix but for me cost and size is a the issue- mainly size.

 

Someone please tell me I am doing something wrong.  I want to love this unit.  I am so close.

 

 

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I hear what you are saying, and I do understand why you were under the impression that you could use any 6 blocks, rather than up to 6 blocks.

 

I'd often see people posting here about running out of DSP, and didn't realise what they meant until I got to the point where I began to see some options were greyed out when I wanted to add a block. Then I understood!

 

I don't have a Stomp (I plan to get one as a backup for my LT) but I have read the manual, and it does have a section on DSP allocations and how it affects what you can choose - look at the section on Dynamic DSP.

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What you're running into is a well known and well documented situation in which items get greyed out due to the DSP limits.  On a full Helix or LT you have two DSP chips which are allocated across to two signal chains.  But on the Stomp you only have one DSP chip.

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Thanks as with any new thing there is a learning curve.  I did not know what DSP was or that that meant and that was related to this surprise I discovered.  Now I know that DSP is like RAM memory on a computer (I think).

 

I am not going to give up yet.  Scott at https://www.scottminchk.com/ has some videos and patches on you tube  that he is working on where he has carefully selected the effects to do what I want to do to cover some typical covers out there with gain & clean  channels and typical effects.  I am hoping with his chains and some luck in finding a tone that is not a DSP hog so that I can chain more modulation effects,  I can keep the Stomp.  

 

Love this forum.  It has been very helpful in my transition to Helix.  That full sized Helix sure looks tempting after running into this DSP wall but falling in love with the some of the models and sounds!

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Apart from the amp and cab models, the Spring Reverbs and the stereo HX reverbs are probably the most DSP-intensive blocks available. Some of the delays, especially the tape models, are relatively DSP intensive as well.

 

Take a look at the Excel file here. It gives a good approximation of the DSP use for each amp/cab/effect model.

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I'm gonna say the same thing here I said with the HD series. If you're going to advertise that it does 6 effects, it better do six effects or its gonna look like somebody lollipoped up. 

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Not going to lie- I know it is my responsibility to research before I buy- but for a newbie I missed it.  The last thing I always do is add modulation after I dial in the tone.  So I got midi figured out first- took me hours, check, then heard the tones check in the model, figured expression pedals check.  - Mistake I then Velcroed it to my board. Then went to simply add the modulation effects and I was like WTF.- grayed out...  If I return it I hope that the velcro removal comes off cleanly so I can get a refund.

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I love the Helix and the HX-stomp but while we are talking about some of the HX-stomp shortcomings:

 

I realize those high-end computer chips are expensive and giving us one in a $599.00 piece of equipment seems like a good deal and a compromise  to get the cost to this price-point. 

 

However, isn't memory cheap enough that the engineers could have given us more than one set list?  What if we are in two bands with distinctly different tones for each band, or we play two different kinds of  music styles or have two different rig set ups?

 

The POD 500 and the Helix always accommodated multiple set lists, I wish the HX-Stomp did too. 

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19 minutes ago, macnevine said:

Not going to lie- I know it is my responsibility to research before I buy- but for a newbie I missed it.  The last thing I always do is add modulation after I dial in the tone.  So I got midi figured out first- took me hours, check, then heard the tones check in the model, figured expression pedals check.  - Mistake I then Velcroed it to my board. Then went to simply add the modulation effects and I was like WTF.- grayed out...  If I return it I hope that the velcro removal comes off cleanly so I can get a refund.

 

You're returning it? Let me ask you this... Is there anything else with a similar footprint that can do what it does? Yes, I understand it can be frustrating to have your expectations and reality differ, but I think if you stick with it, you'll learn to work within the limitations of the unit. I mean, it still does an awful lot in a tiny package.

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2 hours ago, macnevine said:

Not going to lie- I know it is my responsibility to research before I buy- but for a newbie I missed it.  The last thing I always do is add modulation after I dial in the tone.  So I got midi figured out first- took me hours, check, then heard the tones check in the model, figured expression pedals check.  - Mistake I then Velcroed it to my board. Then went to simply add the modulation effects and I was like WTF.- grayed out...  If I return it I hope that the velcro removal comes off cleanly so I can get a refund.

 

To be fair though, this is the kind of thing that is nearly impossible to the adoption users to find out unless the company explicitly states it, and in this case Line 6 didn't say that. 

 

I was under the same impression that you were. In fact, based on some of what they said, my assumption was that Line 6 chose such a small amount of blocks in order to ENSURE that you could always use all 6 in almost any situation. In my case, I was specifically comparing the Stomp to the Headrush Gigboard. Now, first, the Gigboard is still fairly larger than the Stomp AND it is $50 more expensive.  I also feel like Line 6's Helix sounds are better. To its advantage though, it has the exact same processor as the full blown Head rush and as far as I know can play every block the bigger brother can.

 

I made the conscientious decision as a consumer to choose the smaller block numbers because I preferred the Line 6 environment, but finding out that in many cases 6 blocks was not going to happen . . .when six already felt like a compromise, was one of the few letdowns I've had with the device. I still think I would have chosen it when compared to the Gigboard, but I'm not as confident.

 

Anyway, I don't blame you for being a bit miffed. I'm using it primarily for DSP expansion so it still does that. If you're using it for a full rig it's harder to deal with.

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3 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

I was under the same impression that you were. In fact, based on some of what they said, my assumption was that Line 6 chose such a small amount of blocks in order to ENSURE that you could always use all 6 in almost any situation. In my case, I was specifically comparing the Stomp to the Headrush Gigboard. Now, first, the Gigboard is still fairly larger than the Stomp AND it is $50 more expensive.  I also feel like Line 6's Helix sounds are better. To its advantage though, it has the exact same processor as the full blown Head rush and as far as I know can play every block the bigger brother can.

 

Just to be clear, the Stomp uses the same processor as the Helix uses. It's just the Helix has two of them, whereas the Stomp (and the HX Effects) only has one. So if you hit the DSP limit with six blocks on the Stomp, you would hit the DSP limit on the Helix if you tried to create that signal path on a single processor path. You could add more blocks on the Helix by dropping down to Path 2...

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1 hour ago, phil_m said:

 

You're returning it? Let me ask you this... Is there anything else with a similar footprint that can do what it does? Yes, I understand it can be frustrating to have your expectations and reality differ, but I think if you stick with it, you'll learn to work within the limitations of the unit. I mean, it still does an awful lot in a tiny package.

 

I think my problem is- don't laugh- I am coming from BIAS FX and BIAS amp on the IPAD.  With BIAX FX I could run 2 paths with almost unlimited effects and amps and sims on/off in each chain.  The problem there is I could not trust the IPAD live with some very occasional tech issues I encountered and I could not chance that live.  So this was my first move in many years to return to a multi effects pedal - prior to that many years ago I had the Line 6 M9 that I had success with but one button crapped out on me and it was not cost effective to fix so I moved to the PAD.   Anyhow - I am not giving up on the HX Stomp yet.  I have 45 days to figure this out.  I do not need much for the songs I play so I am hopeful I can find an amp sim I love and then create more carefully thought our presets to match the songs rather than one chain that I used to use in BIAS FX for multiple songs.

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1 hour ago, phil_m said:

 

Just to be clear, the Stomp uses the same processor as the Helix uses. It's just the Helix has two of them, whereas the Stomp (and the HX Effects) only has one. So if you hit the DSP limit with six blocks on the Stomp, you would hit the DSP limit on the Helix if you tried to create that signal path on a single processor path. You could add more blocks on the Helix by dropping down to Path 2...

 

Are you 100% positive that there weren't some processor compromises?  Because my understanding is the full Helix can have at least double the number of blocks on one signal chain without even going into the second path. I realize this could mean it was tapping into the second DSP, but I thought I'd heard of dual signal paths with 20 or more blocks (I don't own a Helix so I could be completely off base here). The idea that the Stomp hit a brick wall at 6 with some pretty simple choices seems crazy if it's half the processor of the full unit.

 

 

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I have a full Helix and a stomp, if you want to send me over a list of the exact blocks you used, I can tell you if it would have worked in the helix in one path without running out of dsp. Cause, now I am curious about that as well. I can get a lot of stuff into one path on the Helix without hitting the dsp limit. 

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58 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

Are you 100% positive that there weren't some processor compromises?  Because my understanding is the full Helix can have at least double the number of blocks on one signal chain without even going into the second path. I realize this could mean it was tapping into the second DSP, but I thought I'd heard of dual signal paths with 20 or more blocks (I don't own a Helix so I could be completely off base here). The idea that the Stomp hit a brick wall at 6 with some pretty simple choices seems crazy if it's half the processor of the full unit.

 

Yep... 100% sure. All Helix products are using the SHARC ADSP-21469 chip. It's just the Floor, LT and Rack have two of them, and the HX Effects and Stomp have one. BTW, the Fractal FX8 uses a single SHARC ADSP-21469 chip as well, just for comparison's sake.

 

There are simply some amp and cab models that are a lot more DSP intensive than others. Sometimes if you put in an amp, a cab, and the '63 Spring Reverb model, you won't have left for much else at all on a path. With some amp models you can have a lot more. On the Helix itself, you can have up to 16 blocks on a processor path, but it's not like you can fill them all up with DSP-intensive blocks. It's really more for the sake of routing flexibility than being able to max out blocks. If you create an effects-only Helix patch, you can load a lot in there, but unless you want 16 EQs in a path, you wouldn't be able to use all the blocks.

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6 hours ago, salty09 said:

I have a full Helix and a stomp, if you want to send me over a list of the exact blocks you used, I can tell you if it would have worked in the helix in one path without running out of dsp. Cause, now I am curious about that as well. I can get a lot of stuff into one path on the Helix without hitting the dsp limit. 

 

Okay, if you're interested, I would be VERY interested in testing the following because my Stomp gagged on a hairball at 4 blocks which is way earlier than I thought it would.  Here's the chain:

 

Obsidian 7000 (Stereo) >>>> Cali IV Rhythm 2 (Amp + Cab) >>>> Multipass Delay (Stereo) >>>>> Harmonic Flanger 

 

At this level there were hardly any 5th blocks it would let me add, and six blocks were dead in the water. I'd be very interested in finding out if this challenges the first DSP of the Helix. 

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1 hour ago, Kilrahi said:

 

Okay, if you're interested, I would be VERY interested in testing the following because my Stomp gagged on a hairball at 4 blocks which is way earlier than I thought it would.  Here's the chain:

 

Obsidian 7000 (Stereo) >>>> Cali IV Rhythm 2 (Amp + Cab) >>>> Multipass Delay (Stereo) >>>>> Harmonic Flanger 

 

At this level there were hardly any 5th blocks it would let me add, and six blocks were dead in the water. I'd be very interested in finding out if this challenges the first DSP of the Helix. 

 

If the Harmonic Flanger model is stereo, yes, there are some greyed out effects after that. The only available, for instance, is the mono version of the Ganymede. One thing is that a stereo uses almost twice the DSP of the mono version, so putting a chain of stereo blocks together we'll eat the DSP up faster.

 

I actually recreated this chain both in my Helix and in the Stomp and had them both connected to HX Edit at the same time. Since HX Edit has multi-device support now, each has its own window. When I compare the lists of effects that are greyed out on each device after adding the Harmonic Flanger, they appear to exactly the same. One thing I will say is that I wouldn't say there were hardly any effects available after adding the fourth block in your example - there were more available than unavailable. That's the same in the Stomp and the Helix.

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1 hour ago, phil_m said:

I actually recreated this chain both in my Helix and in the Stomp and had them both connected to HX Edit at the same time. Since HX Edit has multi-device support now, each has its own window. When I compare the lists of effects that are greyed out on each device after adding the Harmonic Flanger, they appear to exactly the same. One thing I will say is that I wouldn't say there were hardly any effects available after adding the fourth block in your example - there were more available than unavailable.

 

You're right.  I should have been way more careful with what I was saying with the words "hardly." It was referring to the specific area of effects I was looking at next, not the whole box, which is an important distinction. 

 

1 hour ago, phil_m said:

That's the same in the Stomp and the Helix.

 

Thanks for testing that out Phil and it's good to know. The unit I lived on before this was a Firehawk 1500 which largely forces you not to run into DSP issues, and before that the HD 500x, which I did sometimes run into DSP issues but it was too far back for me to remember how much or often.

 

The Stomp is my first Helix and I'm admittedly comparing it to an imaginary perception of what a full Helix would be. It's also important to point out that the chain I tried to max it out with above is just a hypothetical chain, there are many DSP reduction things I could have done if I wanted something like that to keep the Stomp from hitting its limit. 

 

I bet the longer I use the Stomp the better I'll get at managing its resources and doing with it what I want.

 

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Oh cool, Phil-m beat me too. I suspected it would be the same.  Also good to hear that there are plenty of effects left available dsp wise. 

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On 11/15/2018 at 9:57 AM, phil_m said:

 

You're returning it? Let me ask you this... Is there anything else with a similar footprint that can do what it does? Yes, I understand it can be frustrating to have your expectations and reality differ, but I think if you stick with it, you'll learn to work within the limitations of the unit. I mean, it still does an awful lot in a tiny package.

I have an Amplifire and it is quite a bit more powerful in some regards. In others the Stomp is better. I would definitely say they are comparable products and if I could only keep one it would not be the Stomp. The Amplifire is not big at all very close in size to the stomp and some people are likely picking up the Stomp to experience Helix modeling for cheap rather than for the size. The Headrush Gigboard might be a great option for those kinds of folks who want top quality sounds without the full cost of some bigger units, too.

 

The Stomp is extremely cool but not the only game in town.

 

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I did return my stomp. But......guess what.   I liked it so much I bought a full sized helix floor.  They hooked me. I am very happy with my purchase. 

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On 11/15/2018 at 5:38 PM, Kilrahi said:

<Snip>

Here's the chain:

 

Obsidian 7000 (Stereo) >>>> Cali IV Rhythm 2 (Amp + Cab) >>>> Multipass Delay (Stereo) >>>>> Harmonic Flanger 

 

At this level there were hardly any 5th blocks it would let me add, and six blocks were dead in the water. I'd be very interested in finding out if this challenges the first DSP of the Helix. 

The Amp&Cab Block renders any Stereo FX before it as Mono. So, why use the Stereo Obsidian 7000? 

Note: I'm not at my Helix at the moment to check if a Mono version of the Obsidian 7000 is offered. If a Mono version Obsidian 7000 is available, it would free up about 1/2 the DSP allocated to the Stereo version.

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On 11/28/2018 at 1:21 AM, MusicLaw said:

The Amp&Cab Block renders any Stereo FX before it as Mono. So, why use the Stereo Obsidian 7000? 

Note: I'm not at my Helix at the moment to check if a Mono version of the Obsidian 7000 is offered. If a Mono version Obsidian 7000 is available, it would free up about 1/2 the DSP allocated to the Stereo version.

This is true. That said, no, those blocks would not tie up the first DSP on the Helix.

 

In my current preset I have these blocks on paths 1A and 1B (they are all mono versions):

 

Para EQ - Simple Pitch - Legacy Phaser - Legacy Analog Flanger - KWB od - Teemah! - Scream 808 - Wah - Bubble Vibrato - 10 band EQ - Tremolo - Volume

 

For the heck of it, I just tried adding a stereo Chorus, stereo Trinity Chorus, and stereo 70s Chorus. That's when some blocks started graying out for me. On the first DSP. So about 6-10 stereo blocks depending on what types of blocks, and estimately twice that amount of mono blocks is possible on one DSP chip.

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On 11/15/2018 at 9:36 AM, macnevine said:

 

I think my problem is- don't laugh- I am coming from BIAS FX and BIAS amp on the IPAD.  With BIAX FX I could run 2 paths with almost unlimited effects and amps and sims on/off in each chain.

A really good friend used to work for Positive Grid, and I have nothing bad to say about them, but...

  • Helix's models use up notably more instructions per second than BIAS models
  • Helix's full throughput latency is significantly lower, and is designed for real time performance and control
  • Hardware DSPs are not CPUs

Line 6 has been very careful to always say "up to 6 blocks." If a "6 blocks" instance snuck out, I apologize, and will make sure we change it.

 

Also, HX Stomp isn't underpowered as much as it's... nuanced and flexible. The alternatives are all way more egregious:

  • Provide fewer block locations AND/OR
  • Create fixed "chunks" where a preset allows for only one of each type of block AND/OR
  • Only support specific and limited groups of effects (Distortion+EQ+Delay or Distortion+EQ+Reverb but not Distortion+Delay+Reverb, etc.)
  • Completely remove any models that are too DSP-intensive to fit AND/OR
  • Strip the models way back so they fit, but don't sound nearly as good AND/OR
  • Other stuff, like distortions and dynamics are always mono, cabs are always single, amps and cabs are separate blocks, etc.

Also note that if we ever add polyphonic pitch models, running out of DSP will happen quicker and more often, as they take up a LOT of horsepower.

 

I have an unfinished blog about fixed vs. semi-fixed vs. dynamic DSP allocation if you'd like to know more. PM me your email and I'll send it your way.

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