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xmacvicar

Levels. Sitting around -12db max

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In almost every single one of my presets when I measure their levels on my DAW (Logic Pro X) I can barely reach -12 DB with my channel volumes in avg around channel volume 8.0

 

Based on this should I assume that my Helix is fine at this level or should I be altering the output level of my patches to get it at a higher volume like -6db?

 

 

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-12db is good. What I get in both Reaper and Live. Leaves plenty of headroom before 0db which generally indicates the onset of digital clipping (AFAIK).

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The sound engineers I work with all like -15db to -12db but I seem to run at -12db normally in the mix.  My volume knob is set at noon but this weekend I am trying to see if I can set it between 1 and 2 o'clock.

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I used play through an HD500 for a few years and found that it introduced soft compression when sound levels peaked higher than -9 dBFS, possibly even a bit earlier. The Helix does not seem to do that. From what I can tell (and when I measured) Helix stays clean (undistorted by levels) up to or very close to the clipping level.

So you have a bit more freedom depending on what you play for. For studio/recording or working with a sound guy a peak target of -12 to -9 dBFS I have seen recommended several times. You want the mixing engineer have plenty of headroom to work with.

For live in a small venue when playing with others that produce fat sounds (high RMS levels) you can consider pushing the peaks of clean sounds a bit higher so they have a chance of standing their ground. RMS levels of a good mix should be about 9-12 dB less than peaks if I remember right.

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Forgot to comment on the Channel volume. Do not use some target Channel Volume level as a guideline. Its only purpose is to keep the amp output level at your target peak and/or RMS level. First of all it will need to be dialed in primarily based on your amp model choice and the selected Drive setting combined with amp input signal level. Obviously the other amp dial settings matter too, but usually to a lesser degree. Use your Master to fine tune your volume to the environment.

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Ok so -12 DB is a good standard to be at for patches and headroom!

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It all depends on how you're measuring the signal level.  Measuring it in a DAW through the USB doesn't directly correspond with the output level from the 1/4" or XLR outputs that are controlled by the Helix master volume knob (if enabled) which determines the signals being sent to your on stage output device and to the mixing board.  However, a consistent signal level is a consistent signal level which is all that ultimately matters.

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I'm sure many of you have seen the "all the drives suck" thread over at TGP (in fact many of you whom I see here have participated in the thread), and as always with these threads it has thrown up a bazillion ideas and tips, too many to digest almost. One of the things I saw mentioned a few times seems pertinent to this conversation. A few different users said that you should run the big black physical master volume knob that sits on top of the unit (as distinct from other volume levels in the software) at max (fully clockwise) or as near as damn it. Others said that this only matters if you are going into the front of an amp, as max is unity level for the amp input.

 

So my setup is Helix floor XLR outputs at line level running into my Adam A7 monitors. Each monitor speaker has a volume control and I have each set at -10db. I have the volume on the top of the Helix at 12 o'clock, and it is loud. As loud as I really want it to be for comfort (reading ~80db on my loudness meter in the room).

 

So the question is, will I get a better sound by running the Helix volume knob more open and turning down the volumes on each monitor? Cheers. 

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3 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

It all depends on how you're measuring the signal level.  Measuring it in a DAW through the USB doesn't directly correspond with the output level from the 1/4" or XLR outputs that are controlled by the Helix master volume knob (if enabled) which determines the signals being sent to your on stage output device and to the mixing board.  However, a consistent signal level is a consistent signal level which is all that ultimately matters.

 

The intention here would be that I send the full signal to the front of house that is not affected by the big volume knob which is the same as the USB signal as it is also not affected by the large volume knob so Im thinking it is an effective way to measure the volume level consistently

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12 minutes ago, xmacvicar said:

 

The intention here would be that I send the full signal to the front of house that is not affected by the big volume knob which is the same as the USB signal as it is also not affected by the large volume knob so Im thinking it is an effective way to measure the volume level consistently

 

Oh I'm sure it will work and be consistent.  It won't show up at the mixing board as -12db as it's a different signal than what's being sent via the USB, i.e. an analog Line level or Mic level signal depending on how you configure it in the global ins/outs.  But once the sound man gain stages the signal where he wants it, it will be consistent and that's all that matters.

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33 minutes ago, xmacvicar said:

The intention here would be that I send the full signal to the front of house that is not affected by the big volume knob which is the same as the USB signal as it is also not affected by the large volume knob so Im thinking it is an effective way to measure the volume level consistently

You are right. Measuring of headroom in DAW to make sure you are in safe headroom zone while treating the volume knob clockwise as the loudest giging level is a good idea.
But please consider that 12dB of digital headroom is ok with overdiven sounds. To have the same percieived "clean" sound level your headroom is about all gone.

Overdives/distortions just act as a heavy limiters.

14 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

It won't show up at the mixing board as -12db as it's a different signal than what's being sent via the USB

It won't because in the digital world to monitor headroom you are interested in dBFS peak scale. 0dBFS converts to 19dBu in Helix at line level. No sound man will fix your digital cliping.

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1 minute ago, zolko60 said:


But please consider that 12dB of digital headroom is ok with overdiven sounds. To have the same percieived "clean" sound level your headroom is about all gone.

 

thanks so much for your reply I'm learning so much about all of this which is not even related to the tones and stuff! more so about his practical application with signal levels. 

 

however I don't understand this comment can you elaborate? I am just measuring everything to be -12 DB on a loud strum  I was curious about how clean tones factor into this....

 

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Clean sounds are highly dynamic. To have the same percieved sound level you have to make them louder by 12-20dB. Hi gain amps have their name for some reason, also electric guitar sustain does not come from nowhere. ;)
Some people claim Hx needs metering and metering will tell them the truth how to set the levels. I don't think so. There are plenty types of metering but your ear is the best tool.

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8 hours ago, GingerLefty said:

So the question is, will I get a better sound by running the Helix volume knob more open and turning down the volumes on each monitor? Cheers. 

 

There was an epic argument over this just recently. As is always the case, nobody can predict what will sound "better" to your ears. Nevertheless, stay tuned for others to chime in with lots of PhD thesis engineering jargon about signal quality, bit depth, and my personal favorite: "dithering noise", whatever the hell that is, lol. They'll swear that the master volume must be kept wide open at all times, lest all sorts of deplorable signal degradation occur. 

 

The truth is that it's exceedingly unlikely that you'd be able to tell the difference, unless you're one of those guys who claims to be able to stand on their front porch in Boston, and hear a mouse fart in Detroit. 

 

Then there's the matter of practicality. If you really want to be reaching behind/underneath your monitor(s) every time you want to adjust the volume, then by all means red-line Helix's master knob. Otherwise, leave it somewhere around noon so you've got some headroom if you need it, and set your monitor's volume accordingly. 99.97% of us mere mortals will never hear a difference....

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1 hour ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

There was an epic argument over this just recently. As is always the case, nobody can predict what will sound "better" to your ears. Nevertheless, stay tuned for others to chime in with engineering gibberish about signal quality, bit depth, and my personal favorite: "dithering noise". They'll swear that the master volume must be kept wide open at all times, lest all sorts of deplorable signal degradation occur. 

 

The truth is that it's exceedingly unlikely that you'd be able to tell the difference, unless you're one of those guys who claims to be able to stand on their front porch in Boston and hear a mouse fart in Detroit. 

 

Then there's the matter of practicality. If you really want to be reaching behind/ underneath your monitors every time you want to adjust your volume, then by all means red-line Helix's master knob. Otherwise,  leave it somewhere around noon so you've got some headroom if you need it, and set your monitor volume accordingly. 

 

I was torn by this as well but I would much rather just turn my Helix volume knob then have to reach back on two stereo monitors to make adjustments

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15 minutes ago, xmacvicar said:

 

I was torn by this as well but I would much rather just turn my Helix volume knob then have to reach back on two stereo monitors to make adjustments

 

There's really nothing to be "torn" by unless you can actually perceive a difference. And for me, that difference would have to fall into the "wow, I can't believe my ears" category in order for me to give up the convenience of quick and easy volume adjustments. I tried both ways... I couldn't tell the difference if my life depended on it, and I'm as picky and "tone-loony" as anyone else around here. 

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There's a lot of confusion out there regarding levels and digital recording, and most of it stems from the fact that there's still a ton of people around who cut their teeth recording on 16 bit systems. So you still hear people talking about stuff that applies to 16 bit systems even though with 24 bit (or higher), it doesn't matter. In a 16 bit system, it was advantageous to have higher levels because you started to lose resolution with lower levels. This is still technically true with 24 bit systems, but within the range we're talking about, the difference in resolution is completely negligible.

 

You don't really gain anything by recording a track a -12dB compared to recording it at -20dB anymore. In a very real sense, it's better to record everything a bit lower because it gives you more flexibility while mixing. I know people who are going to school for recording, and they're still being taught that they need to record so they are just below clipping... They spend forever setting input trims and messing with analog compressors before the converters (the compressors themselves aren't necessarily bad if you sure that's what you want). I just think people a lot of people are still clinging to this outdated information, and that's still be passed down as gospel to beginners... It's madness! :-)

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Honestly, for live performance I think it's probably better to not use the volume knob at all. I always set it so that the volume knob controlled only, say, 1/4" outputs while sending the XLR outs to FOH. That way, the engineer gets exactly the same signal every time I play. I found that doing that and setting the XLR outs to mic-level out was generally the way to go. If I had my own stage wedge (which I never did), I could still control that via the volume knob since I'd use the 1/4" outputs for that.

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38 minutes ago, njglover said:

Honestly, for live performance I think it's probably better to not use the volume knob at all. I always set it so that the volume knob controlled only, say, 1/4" outputs while sending the XLR outs to FOH. That way, the engineer gets exactly the same signal every time I play. I found that doing that and setting the XLR outs to mic-level out was generally the way to go. If I had my own stage wedge (which I never did), I could still control that via the volume knob since I'd use the 1/4" outputs for that.

 

Yup... this is precisely what I do. Though the band is contemplating going to IEM's, so I may not be using my L2T as a monitor much longer. But until then, if I max out Helix's master volume, I would have to essentially stand on my head to get underneath the stupid monitor where the volume knob lives... that ain't happening.

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3 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

Then there's the matter of practicality. If you really want to be reaching behind/underneath your monitor(s) every time you want to adjust the volume, then by all means red-line Helix's master knob. Otherwise, leave it somewhere around noon so you've got some headroom if you need it, and set your monitor's volume accordingly. 99.97% of us mere mortals will never hear a difference....

 

There are always different ways of doing things. My method is to disengage the Helix's XLR's (that I send to the FOH) from the master volume knob , so that the Helix's master volume knob has no effect on them. It then only affects the 1/4" outputs which I can then use for my monitors/amp or whatever. What this means is that when the XLR's aren't controlled by the master volume knob, their output is then the same as if the master volume knob is turned all the way up i.e. unity. Right now, there is no way to change that. I'm guessing there was a reason for that. Just a guess though. Whadda I know. (I just noticed njglover got to this first but I'll just leave this here)

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If your levels are consistent and not clipping that's all that really matters. I also set the big knob to only control the 1/4" outs that I use for my stage monitors. IEM and FOH each get an XLR that stays at a consistent level regardless of my speaker level on stage and so far everything works as expected. 

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3 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

There was an epic argument over this just recently. As is always the case, nobody can predict what will sound "better" to your ears. Nevertheless, stay tuned for others to chime in with lots of PhD thesis engineering jargon about signal quality, bit depth, and my personal favorite: "dithering noise". They'll swear that the master volume must be kept wide open at all times, lest all sorts of deplorable signal degradation occur. 

 

The truth is that it's exceedingly unlikely that you'd be able to tell the difference, unless you're one of those guys who claims to be able to stand on their front porch in Boston, and hear a mouse fart in Detroit. 

 

Then there's the matter of practicality. If you really want to be reaching behind/underneath your monitor(s) every time you want to adjust the volume, then by all means red-line Helix's master knob. Otherwise, leave it somewhere around noon so you've got some headroom if you need it, and set your monitor's volume accordingly. 99.97% of us mere mortals will never hear a difference....

This is the answer I was hoping to get, as having headroom is always preferable to wanting it. I shall leave it like I have it. 

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7 hours ago, GingerLefty said:

So the question is, will I get a better sound by running the Helix volume knob more open and turning down the volumes on each monitor?

 

1 hour ago, phil_m said:

There's a lot of confusion out there regarding levels and digital recording, and most of it stems from the fact that there's still a ton of people around who cut their teeth recording on 16 bit systems. So you still hear people talking about stuff that applies to 16 bit systems even though with 24 bit (or higher), it doesn't matter. In a 16 bit system, it was advantageous to have higher levels because you started to lose resolution with lower levels. This is still technically true with 24 bit systems, but within the range we're talking about, the difference in resolution is completely negligible.

 

Try it both ways. If YOU can hear a difference with the BIG KNOB turned down, you can always get a little analog mixer to put between the Helix and your speakers. I do that in my office setup just because the Helix is under my desk and it's more convenient to control the level from my desktop. Live performance, the BIG KNOB controls the level to my stage monitor and, at least at that volume level, I don't hear a difference.

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I set my presets generally to -10dB through USB to DAW (using my ears as final judge). I have volume knob set to around 2:00, and marked with a piece of tape. That gives me a little headroom if needed. Sound guy adjusts FOH to their taste, I control in ear mix with my own monitor mix. 

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22 hours ago, phil_m said:

You don't really gain anything by recording a track a -12dB compared to recording it at -20dB anymore. In a very real sense, it's better to record everything a bit lower because it gives you more flexibility while mixing. I know people who are going to school for recording, and they're still being taught that they need to record so they are just below clipping... They spend forever setting input trims and messing with analog compressors before the converters (the compressors themselves aren't necessarily bad if you sure that's what you want). I just think people a lot of people are still clinging to this outdated information, and that's still be passed down as gospel to beginners... It's madness! :-)

Well... Everything has its consequences. The console faders are what they are for 50 years. They have 10dB gain above unity. If -12dB is the level a guitar is sitting good in the mix and you have -30dB signal this is inconvienient. If you have too hot signal then avialiable fader movement is too short. Of course there is no dogma how to mange things but the statement "I always keep my Volume Knob at noon because it gives me perfect equality in both directions" is... at least naive. Can it be practical? Yes.
BTW thinking about digital as "it does not matter these days" make me think why 32 bit floating algorithms are implemented in Helix. 24 bit integer should be less DSP consuming, nobody could tell the difference. 2 SHARCs DSPs are not champions comparing to i7 in 2019 and saved processing power could be used for more/better algorithms.

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10 hours ago, zolko60 said:

 "I always keep my Volume Knob at noon because it gives me perfect equality in both directions" is... at least naive. Can it be practical? Yes.
 

 

Who said that? Yes, the dB curve is logarithmic... we all know that. Don't recall anybody saying anything about "perfect equality in both directions"...I certainly didn't. For me it's entirely about practicality. The "noon" position is "somewhere in the middle", and is a starting point. Fixating on any arbitrary knob position would negate the aforementioned practicality, and I'd be back to standing on my head to adjust monitor volume again. I start at 12 o'clock. It ends up wherever it needs to be. 

 

We're not dealing with Level 4 bio- hazzards here. It's rock and roll... it really isn't necessary to sterilize it with rigid laboratory protocols. 

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23 hours ago, phil_m said:

They spend forever setting input trims and messing with analog compressors before the converters (the compressors themselves aren't necessarily bad if you sure that's what you want).

 

Phil, great point.  I had a recent experience during sound check at a newly remodeled venue.  I going through a sound check for a solo mix and I am hearing my solo cut in and out.  I start to think I have a hardware problem; Helix, cords, FX external pedals, guitar components .. you know all the freaky little things that can go through one's mind when this happens.  I stop and ask other members and some guests already in the house if they heard my guitar cutting in and out.  After three times asking the same question the sound engineer for the venue says he was applying compression.  Considering how I create my patches I was wondering how an external compressor would have such an effect.  I didn't ask the why; it was if I had a very slow roll tremolo going up and down from 50% gain to 0% gain rolling every 1 or 2 seconds.  The engineer did turn off the compression he had applied and I felt much better.  Yep, I used the word felt since the discussion of volume and my perception is still qualitative not quantitative.  I'm not an engineer I am merely a player.  And as always Phil, you have some very outstanding points.

 

Now about those columns on your home and DI thinking about charging more . LOL

 

Dennis

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