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HX Effects 4CM tone suck - levels issue?


strangegrey
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Hey Folks,

 

My first post here.  Hopefully you guys can help.  About 6 months, I moved from on using a traditional pedalboard to the HXFX. I've been running it 4CM into my amps.  So far so good....It's knocked a lot of pedals off of my pedalboard, including an H9 and several delays.  But it's not perfect. Dynamically, I've felt like it always had a bit of tone suck - but I lived with it because I don't have the time and patience like I did in my 20s to chase ghosts in my gear.  When I first got it, I couldn't help but notice that some of the modulation & ODs sound very flat (except the chorus, which sounds amazing). I also have zero complaints about pitch shifting, delays or reverbs.  It should be noted that I run these choruses, pitch shifters, reverbs and delays in the effects loop of my amp and I run other effects like flanger, phaser and ODs out in front of the amp's input.

 

This week, I decided that I couldn't live without a good phase 90 anymore, so I dug into my old pedal bin, pulled out my MXR EVH90 and ran it in one of the HX's loops.  Unfortunately, even the EVH90 - which is my favorite phaser - sounded flat, like all of the other phase90 models in the HXFX.  However, if I unplugged the HXFX and ran the EVH90 straight into the front of the amp, it sounded great. That's when I started considering the possibility that the HXFX has a tone suck issue - but the fact that the HXFX's effects fed into my amp's loop sounded amazing, was truly baffling.

 

I started running some tests and discovered that in non-4CM straight into the front of the amp the HXFX sounds fine. Same with running the HXFX only in my amps effects loop.  I've also toggled the analog vs dsp bypass switch - but I find that there's no appreciable impact with my cables (I'm running extremely short cables for these tests) - so the differences between analog/dsp aren't evident in my testing.  However, when I bypass the HXFX's front end effects with either a straight cable or a few analog pedals) - it is very clear that the front end effects in the HXFX are a tad muddy, lower in volume and overall, have a very odd feel.....like the impedance is funky.  I've checked the send and return of the loop -- impedance is set for instrument level on both.

 

There's an unavoidable annoyance factor in gear that some of us deal with.  You might live with something if you can't  put a finger on it it.  But once you narrow down the problem and know what the problem is, it becomes an untenable annoyance that you need to destroy before you're happy again.  I've reached that point with my FX.  Once I realized that the tone suck is coming from the front end portion of my HXFX in the 4CM, it's never going to stop bothering me.  So I'm down to 4 basic options:

 

  1. Relegate the HXFX to effects loop duty only and use analog pedals in the front end. 
  2. Sell the HXFX and get an HX Stomp for effects loop duty only and use analog pedals in the front end.
  3. Sell the HXFX and go back to a traditional pedalboard
  4. Figure out whether the tone suck issue with front end effects on the HXFX is a levels/settings issue and nail it down. 

 

I'm hoping you guys can help me figure out #4.  All three of the other options send me down a rabbit hole that is going to cost me money I don't want to spend.

 

Any help appreciated!!

 

Thanks,
Frank 

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

 However, when I bypass the HXFX's front end effects with either a straight cable or a few analog pedals) - it is very clear that the front end effects in the HXFX are a tad muddy, lower in volume and overall, have a very odd feel.....like the impedance is funky.  

 

It's interesting that you say it sounds fine until you AB it by bypassing the front end effects. Even more interesting is that you find it to be lower in volume.

IME, that points to a few possible problems you can look into.

 

HIGHLIGHT the LOOP BLOCK for editing.... 

  1. TRAILS: Make sure this is set to OFF. I have not experienced it myself, but I have read about weird experiences with Trails set to ON. 
  2. MIX: Make sure this is set to 100% so there is no unintentional blending taking place which can cause cancellations. 
  3. SEND LEVEL: If you find the volume is still too low in a comparison test, turn this up a little. That's exactly why it is here. 

 

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59 minutes ago, phil_m said:

What amp are you using?

 

Multiple amps (Friedman BE50, Egnater Renegade Combo, 2204 clone with effects loop) - same condition on all of them.  based on this, I don't think the amp or it's respective loop is the issue. 

 

32 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

It's interesting that you say it sounds fine until you AB it by bypassing the front end effects. Even more interesting is that you find it to be lower in volume.

IME, that points to a few possible problems you can look into.

 

HIGHLIGHT the LOOP BLOCK for editing.... 

  1. TRAILS: Make sure this is set to OFF. I have not experienced it myself, but I have read about weird experiences with Trails set to ON. 
  2. MIX: Make sure this is set to 100% so there is no unintentional blending taking place which can cause cancellations. 
  3. SEND LEVEL: If you find the volume is still too low in a comparison test, turn this up a little. That's exactly why it is here. 

 

 

Right, but Im saying the HXFX sounds fine if I dont end up using the loop for 4CM.  If I put the HXFX in the loop or into the front end, no internal loop set for 4CM, things sound fine. Its when I internally split the HXFX to go into different sections of the amp, things get funky.  Also, the portion of the HXFX going into the effects loop isn't problematic.  It's only the portion that feeds the front end of the amp....because I can bypass that front portion, while still keeping the portion of the HXFX feeding the loop active....and the issue remains. 

 

Thanks for the suggestions on settings, I will definitely try them.  

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13 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

Right, but Im saying the HXFX sounds fine if I dont end up using the loop for 4CM.

 

But.... but.... but.....  :) 

If you are using 4cm, you need to use a LOOP block on the HX Effects to feed the front of your amp? That is what I addressed in my suggestions.

 

Maybe if you can share your exact chain we can figure this out for you... because if you are not using a LOOP Block on the HX FX to send to your amps front end, we need to know how you are actually doing this. 

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1 minute ago, codamedia said:

But.... but.... but.....  :) 

If you are using 4cm, you need to use a LOOP block on the HX Effects to feed the front of your amp? That is what I addressed in my suggestions.

 

Maybe if you can share your exact chain we can figure this out for you... because if you are not using a LOOP Block on the HX FX to send to your amps front end, we need to know how you are actually doing this. 

 

Oh Im definitely using a single send/return loop block to split the signal chain to the front of the amp....which is proper use of the 4CM. 

 

When I tested the tone suck issue for either independent front and or amp effects loop use, I copied the patch and removed the loop block.  Everything else is the same.  I've also kept the loop block active and patched the send and return with a 6" patch cable.  All cases, the tone suck issue isn't present. 

 

Thats why Im convinced its either an inherent problem with HXFX using the 4CM, or more likely (and hopefully) a setting issue that I need to address either globally or specific to the loop block.

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12 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

Oh Im definitely using a single send/return loop block to split the signal chain to the front of the amp....which is proper use of the 4CM. 

 

Yes, that's been my assumption all along, which is why I gave specific things to check for that block :) 

 

12 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

Thats why Im convinced its either an inherent problem with HXFX using the 4CM, or more likely (and hopefully) a setting issue that I need to address either globally or specific to the loop block.

 

I have given you suggestions for that "Loop Block".... that is EXACTLY what I have been zeroing in on as the potential problem. 

 

If that doesn't help, it would really help us if you laid out your signal flow so we could review it. 

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3 minutes ago, codamedia said:

If that doesn't help, it would really help us if you laid out your signal flow so we could review it. 

 

Will do! 

 

Let me try your suggestions first.  If not, then I'll definitely do that (once I figure out how! lol).

 

Much thanks for your help!

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3 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

Let me try your suggestions first.  If not, then I'll definitely do that (once I figure out how! lol).

 

Here is an example of a signal flow layout.. 

guitar > HXFX Input > Wah > Overdrive > Phase > Loop 1 Send to AMP Input > Amp Effect Send to Loop 1 Return > Delay > Reverb > HX FX Send to amp Loop return

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An alternate patch also had the analog EVH90 in loop 2 as such: 

 

guitar > HXFX Input > Phase > Loop 2 Send to EVH90 > Loop 2 Return from EVH90 > Overdrive > Loop 1 Send to AMP Input > Amp Effect Send to Loop 1 Return > Mod > Pitch > Delay > Reverb > HX FX Output (Main L/R) to amp Loop return

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Thanks.... that certainly clarifies your setup for us so we know what to expect. 

Definitely try the three suggestions I made for the LOOP BLOCK... in the order I suggested them and let us know how it works out for you. 

 

EDIT TO ADD: I see you added another setup. That's no different. Just start with the LOOP BLOCK that connects to your amp first and get that right before trying to add the phase into the mix. Walk before you run :)

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21 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

Oh Im definitely using a single send/return loop block to split the signal chain to the front of the amp....which is proper use of the 4CM. 

 

Just to clarify, when you say this, do you mean you're using the actual FX Loop block itself or separate send and return blocks? If it is an effects loop block, is the mix parameter at 100?

 

Also, in your first comment in this thread, you mention the phasers. Do you have the mix on the Helix phaser at 50? The Helix phases and flangers are a little different, because in order to get the maximum effect, you need to keep the mix at 50, not 100, like you may think.

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Just now, phil_m said:

 

Just to clarify, when you say this, do you mean you're using the actual FX Loop block itself or separate send and return blocks? If it is an effects loop block, is the mix parameter at 100?

 

Also, in your first comment in this thread, you mention the phasers. Do you have the mix on the Helix phaser at 50? The Helix phases and flangers are a little different, because in order to get the maximum effect, you need to keep the mix at 50, not 100, like you may think.

 

It's not separate send and return blocks.  definitely a regular loop block -- in both instances in my second signal chain instance above.  I just checked, They're at 100%

 

As for the phaser - if I recall, they were set to 100.  I'll have to double check again....should that be the case for ODs as well?

 

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7 minutes ago, strangegrey said:

 

It's not separate send and return blocks.  definitely a regular loop block -- in both instances in my second signal chain instance above.  I just checked, They're at 100%

 

As for the phaser - if I recall, they were set to 100.  I'll have to double check again....should that be the case for ODs as well?

 

 

Well, none of the ODs have a Mix parameter... If there's a Mix parameter on an effect, what it means it there are parallel dry and wet signal running through that effect. The mix parameter is really a balance control between them. If you have the mix at 0, you 100% dry/0% wet. At 50, you have 100% dry/100% wet. At 100, you have 0% dry/100% wet. The phaser work by setting the wet signal out of phase with the dry signal. So if you have the mix at 100, you'll hear very little actual phasing. At 50, you'll have the maximum phase effect.

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2 minutes ago, phil_m said:

 

Well, none of the ODs have a Mix parameter... If there's a Mix parameter on an effect, what it means it there are parallel dry and wet signal running through that effect. The mix parameter is really a balance control between them. If you have the mix at 0, you 100% dry/0% wet. At 50, you have 100% dry/100% wet. At 100, you have 0% dry/100% wet. The phaser work by setting the wet signal out of phase with the dry signal. So if you have the mix at 100, you'll hear very little actual phasing. At 50, you'll have the maximum phase effect.

 

Phil, Thank you for the clarification.  Good to know!

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  • 4 months later...

I know this is an older thread, but I too just noticed some tone suck with the HXFX. I've had an HX since the day it shipped and I really love the thing. It does everything I need and it does sound good in 4CM. But the other day at practice, I took a small board of just a TS9, Small Stone, and Carbon Copy plugged into the input of my Orange TH100, nothing in the loop. Wow. It sounded great. Not that it sounded bad in 4CM, but it sounded better without. More articulate and immediate. As fast as A/D D/A is, I have to wonder if doing it twice just takes away that little bit of something. I do have use a buffered OD in front of my chain, so that's not the issue. I experimented at home with my TH30 combo, and while not as noticeable at basement levels as it was at torqued up band levels, I did notice the same improvement with the HX in the FX loop only. I'll have to compensate a bit for the few effects that I ran in front (occasional wah, pitch, etc). I never used the HX drives, just because I only use a VFE Standout in that rig to tweak the Orange. But I can make it work.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

 

Just thought I'd share my solution to what appears to be a common complaint about the helix...

 

I've just got an HX effects and initially I had the same problem.  So I had a think about the levels and realised the solution is you need to change some of the outputs from "instrument" to line level.

 

If you think about how an amp work you have:

 

GUITAR -> pre amp -> power amp

 

When using 4CM wiring with a helix you have:

 

GUITAR -> (IN) HELIX (FX LOOP SEND) -> PRE AMP -> (FX LOOP RETURN) HELIX (OUTPUT) -> POWER AMP

 

(that's send and return on the helix, not the amp!).

 

Now after a "pre-amp" I would assume signals would be line level, as such the bit between the pre-amp and power amp needs to be line level.  What this means on the Helix is you need to set the (FX LOOP RETURN) and (OUTPUT) to be line level. Unfortunately the FX LOOP RETURN is linked to the FX LOOP SEND so you have to set both to LINE, this means the signal going into your pre amp will now be a "little hot" but shouldn't be any worse than a guitar with a pre-amp in it, if you are really bothered by it you could always use one of the FX loop sends set to INSTRUMENT and the other fx loop return set to LINE level :) - but you'd need two blocks in your signal chain which is a faff.

 

When I changed these outputs to line-level the tone improved dramatically on my setup and I would say the helix is basically transparent now.

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  • 1 year later...

I have quite a similar issue with HX Effects connected with 4CM to my Boss Nextone Artist.
 

when I use and activate an effects loop block in my chain, the output volume drops drastically and the tone gets much brighter.

even when I put nothing but the effects loop block in the chain.

 

If I disable the block, the output volume gets back to normal so it definitely the EL that mess things up.

 

I tried many combinations of send/return levels, mix, inst or line setup, small things change but I don’t get any sound close to the one when EL is not engaged.

 

I thought the effects loop would be totally neutral.
 

what can I do?

 

Thanks

 

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