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Musings on Helix after 2 years of use (non gigging guitarist)


xmacvicar
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2 minutes ago, brue58ski said:

Just a quick thank you to you all for remaining civil and all the info. I really liked your post amsdemj. That answered a question or two that I have had, as many of your posts have.

As of the OP of this post, yeah thanks everyone. This was a great discussion and I learned alot. Thanks for not descending into the bowels of the internet!

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Observation of the pro FOH guy - comparing two things in a way that aren't exactly the same is no real comparison at all.  Mic for tube amp vs. direct Axe vs. DI use vs. inability to mix or EQ for a particular purpose - WTF?  So, yes they will all be different, and some will be "better" - lack of  bees for a particular model, etc.

 

Next - to each his/her own.  Some might think the swarm of bees is how that Marshall should sound and like it.  Yep, hundreds of people asking how to EQ, route, model, etc.  No forum specifically for the Mashall JCM800 - except for the different tubes used, when should they be replaced with what brand, cap replacement, addition/subtraction of MV, fx loops, etc....well, I guess it's the same as well...turns out there is a forum for that stuff.

 

Been drifting slowly away from tubes for years, discovered it was more a psychological thing for me personally.  I would love a multi-amp, Marshall/Mesa/Bogner/Fender stage setup controlled by a tech sitting in a cockpit that resembles the space shuttle, while I lean back and wank 164th notes, drawing crowds of people to my brilliance.  Does it sound better than my current Helix setup?  No definition for "better" available, so can't say because all of the possible contexts and output configurations are different - but I have tried something similar, been through dozens of different tube/digital/hybrid setups.  I know either rig sounds better than me if Andy Timmons would be using either one .  Unlike Andy (maybe even he can't do this), I've got no tech, no access to use and continually mix and match all that gear, and no professional muscle to cart and setup/tear down all that stuff.  If I did?  Maybe I'd want the semi full of gear, maybe not...I really don't think so.

 

Funny little story - talking to a local player at a bar, really skillful guy, get's a variety of great sounds on stage with his 3-piece band - ZZ Top to Stevie Ray to Mettalica.  Plays a floor Boss unit into the front of a gorgeous old Fender combo.  Told me he dislikes the modelers because they never sound quite right to him - while he pushes a digital signal into a clean tube amp, nowhere near loud enough to push the tubes into showing their personality.  We're all a little nutty is the final answer, to each our own little nutty selves.  Helix rocks, but so does...well, some of the other stuff (this is the Line 6 forum, not the Marshall Amp Forum).  I likes me some Helix, along with some other gear.  It's (or I'm) a tool, so there you go.

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3 hours ago, gunpointmetal said:

The only way to make Helix sound like a guitar amp and a guitar cab is to use a guitar cab. (big period)

Guitar cabs are terrible amplification devices, but they work for the voice of the guitar and they're what most people are used to hearing/feeling when they play. The PowerCab gets closer because of the cabinet design and the coaxial driver, but if you want the experience of playing through a 4x12, you gotta play through a 4x12. If you want the SOUND of a 4x12 mic'd properly in a high-end studio coming back to you through monitors, that's what the Helix is doing through an FRFR/PA system. Even with far-field IRs it's not gonna sound/feel the same. There have literally been thousands of threads about this on the internet since modelers have been a thing, and it all comes down to playback system. If you're a "live and loud" player a FRFR system probably won't satiate your desires when you're playing. I grew up practicing in headphones with lollipop little Zoom and Boss modelers, and like a controlled stage, and I LOOOOOOOVE my in-ears, so the whole "4x12 mic'ed up in another room" sound works perfectly for me, but I totally understand why it doesn't for some people and while they always feel like something is missing. 

 

Gunpointmetal,

 

In the beginning [where have I heard that] … I started with a 1967 100 watt Solid State Silvertone amp that was loud then went to the dual double stack Marshall 100 stage setup (late 1960's - early 1970's).  At that time I was being influenced by Blue Cheer, Blodwyn Pig, Nazareth, Led Zeppelin, and other "cover the stage and kill your neighbor's grass with 'loudness'" groups.  If we could vibrate the audiences' bodies it was good; good thing we didn't know about microwave principles.  And I had hair which helped cover my ears.  Then I went though my disco & lounge lizard phase along with the Clapton Beano hair style and even Elvis impersonator backup guitarist phase - don't judge me ;-)  - moving to some Mesa Boogie equipment with a few pedals I had screwed to a 1" x 6" pine board using galvanized hanging strap.  Next came the big hair and lets produce the sound phase still with the Mesas.  At that point I was learning (OK being dragged while kicking and screaming) to trust the sound engineers for the FOH sound; and the sound engineers wanted a better produced and balanced stage volume.  At some point it changed my whole attitude as I came to realize music is the silence in between the notes.  Fast forward to the NOW and I really do trust the sound engineers; and my hearing for some reason is still good though it shouldn't be. 

 

The point is I have become comfortably numb (forgive me PF) with a small stage volume for me and using the Helix couldn't have become part of my musical arsenal at a better time than two almost here years ago; and I am using my iPhone based monitor control app for stage wedges or the in-ear system we are using based upon inside or outside venues and stage foot print.  It is the combination of everything that gets the sound perfectly in the mix; room design or lack thereof, stage setup, each & every Helix FX block and global setting, board engineering settings, inside or outside FOH speaker layout, power state, and the list goes on.  The keyboardist still uses an amp, the bass player is still using a dual stack, and the drummer is not digital.  With all that the only thing I have found that drops me from the mix is when I fail to work with the sound engineer to make sure my Helix EQ and the LA compressor I use on most patches now isn't in conflict with the board EQ (normally flat for my Helix channel) & board compression if and when used.   Don't get me wrong there are still times I will use a Mesa and Marshall slant bottom with SM57 with my trusty old M13 or the Helix as an effects only unit but that is only when there are grips available to setup and take down my back breaking rigs; and the real amp setup is usually only for show for the most part as the stage volume is still under control; side note even that rig can get lost in the FOH mix if not produced correctly.

 

There are many dynamics to get the sound to cut through the mix and in the end it is personal taste I suppose that determine one's satisfaction with the use of real physical amplifiers on stage or modelers; it seems to me it may very well boil down to what the musician needs to hear to be in the mood while playing.  And there are no right or wrong answer when it comes to personal choices as long as we play well and the audience is engaged. 

 

For me - I really really dig the Helix when the universe is well aligned

 

Dennis

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7 minutes ago, jpdennis said:

There are many dynamics to get the sound to cut through the mix and in the end it is personal taste I suppose that determine one's satisfaction with the use of real physical amplifiers on stage or modelers; it seems to me it may very well boil down to what the musician needs to hear to be in the mood while playing.  And there are no right or wrong answer when it comes to personal choices as long as we play well and the audience is engaged. 

These are probably the two most important factors for live performance, for me anyways. That first bold section is where a lot guys tend to fall off with the modelers because they really, really like the idea of showing up with just a Helix backpack and 30# PA speaker, but they fail to grasp that that type of setup is never going to FEEL like a 100W tube head into a 4x12, no matter how good your IR is, how you adjust settings, etc. I've seen that get really frustrating online and IRL for people. I've seen guys just about have a meltdown because they were asked to turn their tube amp/dual 4x12 rig down in a club that a 2x12 would get obnoxiously loud in. I write music for myself, I perform music for an audience. If the audience isn't having an enjoyable time because I need to be peeling paint with a full stack to play guitar "properly", I should just stay in the basement. 

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