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DunedinDragon

Experiments With Helix Master Volume Settings

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I apologize in advance for the long post, but hopefully there's a few tidbits of info that may be useful to some members of the forum in here.

 

We've seen a number of discussions recently regarding where to set your Helix master volume setting, the pros and cons, and the speculations.  I've mentioned several times that I normally have mine set at 11 o'clock when I'm working on and normalizing the volume of my patches, and have had it there with no problems for the last 3 1/2 years.  However I have had some concerns about that that particular setting that really doesn't relate to better or worse quality of tone, but revolves more around having a better setup that's more easily managed.

This stems from the fact that my rig is setup to use an on stage Yamaha DXR12 as my stage speaker which I position behind me on a half height stand in a normal backline situation, and a separate XLR output that goes direct to the mixing board using an inline phantom power blocker.  I've disengaged my Helix master volume from controlling my XLR outputs and have set those XLR outputs to Mic level with my 1/4" output going to the DXR12 at line level and being controlled by the Helix master volume knob.  This isolates any on stage volume changes made on the Helix volume knob from impacting the XLR signal level output to the mixer.  And although this has worked perfectly in a wide range of settings with different PA's or with just using the DXR12 for instrument and vocals only through a PA, it has concerned me at a couple of levels for a while that made me start considering a change in the Helix volume knob setting.

As far as background info, as you may know, when you disengage the Helix volume knob from affecting an XLR or 1/4" out, the Helix defaults to sending a signal that's equivalent to having your Helix volume knob maxed out on that output line.  Even sending that XLR signal out at Mic level (which is quite a bit lower than Line level), there's still a considerable difference in the signal strength that goes into the mixing board, causing it to need the gain setting on the channel to be cut down considerably due to the volume levels within my patches which are higher due to having my Helix volume set at 11 o'clock.  This isn't a huge issue as it can easily be gain staged at the board to unity, but it could present problems on certain mixing boards that might not have very capable channel preamp setups on their mixer.  So by raising the Helix master volume up to 3 o'clock and adjusting my internal preset volumes lower, I can minimize this major disparity between the two signals that could potentially be a problem.  Although I might lose some of the overall headroom for making volume adjustments to my on stage setup, I've never had to raise my Helix volume above 12 o'clock.  So setting it at 3 o'clock gives me ample room for adjustment, and actually more headroom within my patches for adjusting master and channel volumes on the various amp models.

I did this adjustment on six of my presets this morning and all went quickly and very well, although there were a few things I learned in doing it that may be something people need to consider.  Although it's generally held that making volume adjustments in your preset using the channel volume  of the amp won't affect the overall tone of your patch, that's true except for patches that contain effects after the amp since they're receiving  a much lower input signal.  Most of my post amp effects tend to be EQ's, compressors, reverbs, delays, twin harmony, and an occasional chorus or phaser, but that's pretty rare.  First I didn't notice any kind of quality level difference in the sound by having higher Helix volume setting once I adjusted my amp levels.  What was most noticeable were the level of dynamics in picking or plucking the strings harder.  Not a huge difference, but noticeable.  I suspect this may be attributed to the circuitry modeled in the amps that may act as a limiter if the channel volume is very high.  What was most affected was my post amp compressor which is typically the LA Compressor.  With the lower amp channel volumes I noticed I needed to raise my Peak Reduction or amount of compression from my normal settings of around 5.5 to up around 6 or 6.5 and that I needed to also raise my compressed/dry mix from around 80 to up around 90.  I suspect these are artifacts from the greater dynamic range I got from the amp models when I lowered the channel volumes.  Other than that I can't say I ran into any problems with the reverbs/delays or EQs.  I wasn't working with any patches that used the Twin Harmony, but that will be the next thing I concentrate on.

In the end I was able to accomplish what I set out to accomplish with my disengaged XLR output line signal now falling in line with the rest of the normal XLR inputs from other sources which is exactly what I was after.

Hopefully some of this info will be useful to others.

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To make it short:
1. Constructing patches with Volume Knob (which in fact is Digital Attenuator) maxed out is a good idea. This is what FOH hear.
2. Treating maxed Volume Knob as the loudest possible gig level is a good idea.
3. Checking the digital output level once in a lifetime with DAW to make sure you have plenty of headroom is also a good idea.

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Really appreciate this @DunedinDragon as this is prob the most common frigging post around these parts! hahah. Certainly something I have battled with.

 

I would find this kind of challenging though; in the past you mentioned how having the knob at 12 provided that sheer level of convenience to just turn up or down instead of reaching behind FRFR speakers on the ground/ etc. Its just easier. With this new way, at 3PM...there's not alot of wiggle room and I could see there being more adjusting of patch levels in the unit, which at the end of the day is akin to going behind a FRFR speaker and messing with volumes there (as if the Helix was full on volume?) Maybe seems less convenient in the end than simply turning big vol. up or down

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2 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

Hopefully some of this info will be useful to others.

 

DunedinDragon,

 

Quite helpful due to its informational content.  I had wondered about something and found similarities in what you have described concerning how and where I place my parallel path amp choices for that "fuller in the room" sound I have been able to achieve.  Thanks to your post in this thread I am going to rework my patches over the next few days.  More to come,

 

Dennis

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On 4/17/2019 at 12:58 PM, DunedinDragon said:

... Although I might lose some of the overall headroom for making volume adjustments to my on stage setup, I've never had to raise my Helix volume above 12 o'clock.  So setting it at 3 o'clock gives me ample room for adjustment, and actually more headroom within my patches for adjusting master and channel volumes on the various amp models.

I did this adjustment on six of my presets this morning and all went quickly and very well, although there were a few things I learned in doing it that may be something people need to consider.  Although it's generally held that making volume adjustments in your preset using the channel volume  of the amp won't affect the overall tone of your patch, that's true except for patches that contain effects after the amp since they're receiving  a much lower input signal.  Most of my post amp effects tend to be EQ's, compressors, reverbs, delays, twin harmony, and an occasional chorus or phaser, but that's pretty rare.  First I didn't notice any kind of quality level difference in the sound by having higher Helix volume setting once I adjusted my amp levels.  What was most noticeable were the level of dynamics in picking or plucking the strings harder.  Not a huge difference, but noticeable.  I suspect this may be attributed to the circuitry modeled in the amps that may act as a limiter if the channel volume is very high.  What was most affected was my post amp compressor which is typically the LA Compressor.  With the lower amp channel volumes I noticed I needed to raise my Peak Reduction or amount of compression from my normal settings of around 5.5 to up around 6 or 6.5 and that I needed to also raise my compressed/dry mix from around 80 to up around 90.  I suspect these are artifacts from the greater dynamic range I got from the amp models when I lowered the channel volumes.  Other than that I can't say I ran into any problems with the reverbs/delays or EQs.  I wasn't working with any patches that used the Twin Harmony, but that will be the next thing I concentrate on.

In the end I was able to accomplish what I set out to accomplish with my disengaged XLR output line signal now falling in line with the rest of the normal XLR inputs from other sources which is exactly what I was after.

Hopefully some of this info will be useful to others.

 

@phil_m's post regarding DAW recording levels:

 

Really appreciate these points DD. I find a juxtaposition and similarity between Phil_m's recent comments in another thread on how 24 bit processing and above allows levels hitting DAWs and plugins like Helix Native to be lower than the levels you might have targeted with the older 16 bit processing standard. The increased definition in 24bit processing and above allows a certain amount of loss of bit depth due to reducing levels in a DAW without audibly impacting the signal. I think the same thing applies to how the Helix's Master volume is used. You can use lower input levels in your DAW than those recommended for apps/hardware using the older 16 bit standard, and you can also use your Master volume at less than max if it works with your setup. The loss of definition in either case, DAW or Helix Master volume is likely to be inaudible, at least up to a point. DD's comments above help tie preset design into these principles as you need to be aware if you opt not to run your Master at max of how balancing Channel volume with the Master volume may impact as he stated the response of effects downstream.

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1 hour ago, xmacvicar said:

Really appreciate this @DunedinDragon as this is prob the most common frigging post around these parts! hahah. Certainly something I have battled with.

 

I would find this kind of challenging though; in the past you mentioned how having the knob at 12 provided that sheer level of convenience to just turn up or down instead of reaching behind FRFR speakers on the ground/ etc. Its just easier. With this new way, at 3PM...there's not alot of wiggle room and I could see there being more adjusting of patch levels in the unit, which at the end of the day is akin to going behind a FRFR speaker and messing with volumes there (as if the Helix was full on volume?) Maybe seems less convenient in the end than simply turning big vol. up or down

 

Actually it's no different than what I was doing before.  In practice I still have plenty of room to adjust my on stage volume level up or down using the Helix volume knob.  I was keeping it at 11 o'clock by the way.  Even then I've never encountered any situation that required me to turn the volume knob higher than 12 nor lower than around 9:30.  So I still have ample room either way using the Helix volume knob and none of it will affect my signal to the board.

Of course I'll have to adjust the individual levels in the patches to match the new settings, but that's not really that big of a deal.

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2 hours ago, zolko60 said:

To make it short:
1. Constructing patches with Volume Knob (which in fact is Digital Attenuator) maxed out is a good idea. This is what FOH hear.
2. Treating maxed Volume Knob as the loudest possible gig level is a good idea.
3. Checking the digital output level once in a lifetime with DAW to make sure you have plenty of headroom is also a good idea.

 

This post speaks to some of the inherent compromises demanded by an effort to get as close to stage volumes as possible when designing presets.  There can often be a substantial difference in a preset's tone when it is played at low or high volume due to the Fletcher Munson curve. Hence the common advice is to design the presets you intend to use for stage at a volume that is closer to stage levels than bedroom levels, making sure to use adequate ear protection. We still have to make compromises here though as few people are going to actually crank their presets up to actual performance levels while designing them. Many people find that band rehearsal can provide a final opportunity to tweak your presets at something more closely resembling performance levels.

 

Similar compromises are required when you use your Master volume only for your onstage monitoring therefor sending the full Helix output to the FOH. Theoretically leaving your Master volume at max ensures the closest match between what you hear from your stage monitor and what the audience is hearing from the FOH. However the convenience of not having to reach around the back of an FRFR while you are performing to adjust the volume makes the Master volume perfect for that task although admittedly it may detract to some lesser or greater extent from how closely your stage monitoring matches the FOH.  I find that ultimately balancing the demands of preset design and convenience for issues such as controlling my monitor volume onstage just inherently require some give and take. While I like knowing what the ideal scenario is and letting it guide my decisions as much as possible I find myself looking for the spaces in between that balance conflicting requirements.

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3 minutes ago, HonestOpinion said:

 

Similar compromises are required when you use your Master volume only for your onstage monitoring therefor sending the full Helix output to the FOH. Theoretically leaving your Master volume at max ensures the closest match between what you hear from your stage monitor and what the audience is hearing from the FOH. However the convenience of not having to reach around the back of an FRFR while you are performing to adjust the volume makes the Master volume perfect for that task although admittedly it may detract to some lesser or greater extent from how closely your stage monitoring matches the FOH.  I find that ultimately balancing the demands of preset design and convenience for issues such as controlling my monitor volume onstage just inherently require some give and take. While I like knowing what the ideal scenario is and letting it guide my decisions as much as possible I find myself looking for the spaces in between that balance conflicting requirements.

 

Quite honestly I've never felt my stage sound was any different from the FOH sound even when my Helix volume was at 11 o'clock.  And I'm pretty familiar with it since I'm out front when we do our sound checks helping to gain stage and set mixes for the band using my wireless tablet typically from different areas of the venue.  I figure if I'm not going to hear any qualitative difference between my sound through the DXR12 with my Helix volume at 11 o'clock and the sound coming through full signal through the XLR into two stacks of QSC KLA12 line arrays, I doubt anyone will ever hear the difference.  However setting my Helix volume knob at 3 o'clock had nothing to do with that.  It had to do with retaining the flexibility to adjust stage levels easily with the Helix volume knob while getting a better alignment of my signal level from the Helix with all the other instrument and voice levels of the other channels coming into the mixer...nothing at all to do with tone.

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17 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

Quite honestly I've never felt my stage sound was any different from the FOH sound even when my Helix volume was at 11 o'clock.  And I'm pretty familiar with it since I'm out front when we do our sound checks helping to gain stage and set mixes for the band using my wireless tablet typically from different areas of the venue.  I figure if I'm not going to hear any qualitative difference between my sound through the DXR12 with my Helix volume at 11 o'clock and the sound coming through full signal through the XLR into two stacks of QSC KLA12 line arrays, I doubt anyone will ever hear the difference.  However setting my Helix volume knob at 3 o'clock had nothing to do with that.  It had to do with retaining the flexibility to adjust stage levels easily with the Helix volume knob while getting a better alignment of my signal level from the Helix with all the other instrument and voice levels of the other channels coming into the mixer...nothing at all to do with tone.

 

My experience has been similar. I just don't find enough of a difference to warrant not using my Master volume for on-the-fly stage monitor adjustments.

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2 hours ago, HonestOpinion said:

 

My experience has been similar. I just don't find enough of a difference to warrant not using my Master volume for on-the-fly stage monitor adjustments.

 

Amen. Any subtle nuances that one might notice playing unaccompanied whilst dialing in a patch vanish in a live mix anyway.... we all worry WAY too much about this $hit, lol. Play... have fun. Life is short. The gear I have now gives me the best, most consistent sound I've had in 25 years of doing this... I wish I had stuff this good when I was just getting started. 

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10 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

... we all worry WAY too much about this $hit, lol.

Ha. Ain't that the truth. Git my Helix. Spend 20 min in a patch. And 2 hours worried about big volume knob. 

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20 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

The gear I have now gives me the best, most consistent sound I've had in 25 years of doing this... I wish I had stuff this good when I was just getting started.  

 

+ 1

 

Also quite tired of people blaming Helix for their own limitations as users.

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1 hour ago, BBD_123 said:

 

+ 1

 

Also quite tired of people blaming Helix for their own limitations as users.

Right, I get that there is a learning curve to go from clueless>novice, and novice>experienced and experienced>expert, etc....even with my years of experience growing up with the Boss units and a rack setup, and then the G-System, then the Fractal unit, then back to Boss and ultimately here in the Helix-sphere....there is still a learning curve to learn the hardware, software and output signal options.  Some of those subjects and tricks/tips carry over from one unit to the other because the application of techniques and signals is the same regardless of what rig you are using...however, all those have their own curves and some just never take the time to learn that even though you may be doing everything 'right' in the Helix...your external connections will have a huge impact on what your internal settings sound like. 

 

I think that is where most people get confused and give up.  If there was an internal issue, sound quality wise, the Helix wouldn't have been released....nor raved about, nor compared in blind tests, or used on multiple professional stages (and not so professional stages) with such enjoyment and excitement.  I'm far from a tone snob, but do get compliments on my tones live....this are

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19 hours ago, themetallikid said:

... but do get compliments on my tones live

 

Same here.  At the end of the show/night/day it is really my ability to set the mood with my playing and receive a few accolades during the performance makes it worth it.  The Helix is just a tool to get the sound to the audience; it is my worth as a musician that really tells the story.

 

Dennis

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As a quick follow-up on this effort I wanted to mention something that I've seen much more consistently ever since I increased the Helix volume level.

I previously mentioned there appeared to be more dynamics in play within the converted patches and now that I've done a few more it's very clear that's the case.  Because I measure the signal levels coming out of the 1/4" output as well as through the XLR outputs it's very clear to me that the range of touch dynamics is MUCH more prominent than what I originally thought.  It's most evident with cleaner patches, and particularly prominent when finger picking on my hollow body gretsch.  But it's also quite a bit more prominent even on heavier rock style patches with a pick on a Les Paul, both in terms of how the pick is used, but also where on the strings the picking is done (toward the neck or toward the bridge).

I'm not sure I can explain it but the measurements I've taken are very much different between my old patches at the lower Helix volume and the newer patches at the higher volume, as well as subjectively to my ears.  I can only guess that it may have to do with the way the amp circuit is modeled to respond at higher channel volumes versus lower channel volumes, but who knows?  It could also have to do with the bit depth as has been postulated by some.  The amps I've seen this on are the Placater, the Fender Deluxe, the Marshall JTM-45,  and the Vox AC-30.  For myself this is a big benefit as I do a lot with dynamics in my playing, but YMMV....

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8 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

As a quick follow-up on this effort I wanted to mention something that I've seen much more consistently ever since I increased the Helix volume level.

I previously mentioned there appeared to be more dynamics in play within the converted patches and now that I've done a few more it's very clear that's the case.  Because I measure the signal levels coming out of the 1/4" output as well as through the XLR outputs it's very clear to me that the range of touch dynamics is MUCH more prominent than what I originally thought.  It's most evident with cleaner patches, and particularly prominent when finger picking on my hollow body gretsch.  But it's also quite a bit more prominent even on heavier rock style patches with a pick on a Les Paul, both in terms of how the pick is used, but also where on the strings the picking is done (toward the neck or toward the bridge).

I'm not sure I can explain it but the measurements I've taken are very much different between my old patches at the lower Helix volume and the newer patches at the higher volume, as well as subjectively to my ears.  I can only guess that it may have to do with the way the amp circuit is modeled to respond at higher channel volumes versus lower channel volumes, but who knows?  It could also have to do with the bit depth as has been postulated by some.  The amps I've seen this on are the Placater, the Fender Deluxe, the Marshall JTM-45,  and the Vox AC-30.  For myself this is a big benefit as I do a lot with dynamics in my playing, but YMMV....

Now that you are running the Helix much higher do you find that you turn down your FRFR speakers or is the reduction in Channel volume enough to make up for the extra big knob volume?

 

I think if I turn my Helix up like that in my jam space my l3m speakers would have to be way below unity. 

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I am curious what the Channel Volume values were before and after your adjustments. The Channel Volume knob is neither linear nor exponential, but seems to have a few regions were its effect is fairly fine grain to pretty corse when you make a 0.1 change. Maybe there is even more going on ...

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8 hours ago, xmacvicar said:

Now that you are running the Helix much higher do you find that you turn down your FRFR speakers or is the reduction in Channel volume enough to make up for the extra big knob volume?

 

I think if I turn my Helix up like that in my jam space my l3m speakers would have to be way below unity. 

 

There's really no need to do that.  By turning up the Helix volume and lowering the amp model channel volume I end up at the same output signal level as I had before, so there's no change necessary on the speaker volume.

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7 hours ago, MartinDorr said:

I am curious what the Channel Volume values were before and after your adjustments. The Channel Volume knob is neither linear nor exponential, but seems to have a few regions were its effect is fairly fine grain to pretty corse when you make a 0.1 change. Maybe there is even more going on ...

 

It depends on the amp model as they're all different.  For some like the Fender Twin model they channel volume was up around 9 or even 9.3 and went down to around 5.5 or 6.  For the Placater it went down from around 7 to 7.5 to between 4 or 5.  All of them seemed to respond in a more linear fashion relative to the increase in the Helix volume.

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Any DAW plugin or Helix block has a sweet spot for its input. If you drive the block outside this sweet spot, it might function fine, but its effects might not be optimal for typical settings. If you drive the block too hard, it might introduce unintended distortion. This is particularly true of many Helix effect blocks like the Leslie blocks, that were designed for front of the amp use with guitar input levels, but are often used after the amp in Helix signal chains.

 

We don’t know the input levels the blocks were designed for, so finding the sweet spot would take some experimenting. And of course under or over driving the block could produce exactly the sound you’re looking for, optimized or not. But I find keeping each block close to unity gain is a good safe starting point, and provides a simple way of normalizing patch volumes. It also provides more predictable results if you copy a block to other presets to reuse its settings - the expected input and output levels will be consistent.

 

If you keep all blocks unity gain, and send the full XLR output to FOH, you’ll be sending a typical signal level that won’t result in any surprises at the mixing board. I use a DAW to set the block to unity gain by adjusting so the level is close to the same when the block is on or bypassed. But you can do this close enough by just listening. A few dB isn’t going to make much difference.

 

This will result in a pretty low level output from Helix. I keep my Powercab+ volume maxed out, and run Helix master (digital) output around 1-3 o-clock. This gives all the stage volume I need. I like the low output from Helix because this helps make sure there’s no potential for digital clipping at the A2D or D2A converters.

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4 hours ago, amsdenj said:

But I find keeping each block close to unity gain is a good safe starting point, and provides a simple way of normalizing patch volumes. It also provides more predictable results if you copy a block to other presets to reuse its settings - the expected input and output levels will be consistent.

 

+1

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I have become persuaded that one of the more common 'issues' with Helix is incorrect (excessive) gain staging. The results are then ascribed to supposed failings in the modelling itself, which is somewhat like TYPING ALL IN CAPS. Less is indeed more :-)

 

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18 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

There's really no need to do that.  By turning up the Helix volume and lowering the amp model channel volume I end up at the same output signal level as I had before, so there's no change necessary on the speaker volume.

Interesting. In light of any changes in touch dynamics, if you say it's the same output I can see that meaning just less range of the large volume at the end of the day? Ie. If on stage and need more volume you will have less range at 3pm for increasing than what it was prior at 12?

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At some point the mind starts to  see what it wants to see. If you're thoroughly determined to search for evidence of Bigfoot at your local mall, and you keep at it long enough, eventually you'll find some.

 

I tried making these adjustments just for giggles, both at a comfy volume through studio monitors, and silly loud through an L2T, and couldn't tell a bit of difference either way, with dynamics or anything else. Maybe it's me....

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3 hours ago, xmacvicar said:

Interesting. In light of any changes in touch dynamics, if you say it's the same output I can see that meaning just less range of the large volume at the end of the day? Ie. If on stage and need more volume you will have less range at 3pm for increasing than what it was prior at 12?

 

Yep...but as I said before, I really haven't needed that much more range in my on stage volume levels in any of the situations I've been in, so I feel pretty comfortable with it.  Since my output to the board has always been at full volume from the Helix due to the fact that I've disengaged the Helix volume from the XLR outputs, that hasn't changed at all.

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3 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

At some point the mind starts to  see what it wants to see. If you're thoroughly determined to search for evidence of Bigfoot at your local mall, and you keep at it long enough, eventually you'll find some.

 

I tried making these adjustments just for giggles, both at a comfy volume through studio monitors, and silly loud through an L2T, and couldn't tell a bit of difference either way, with dynamics or anything else. Maybe it's me....

 

There's no doubt that could be true.  However both the drummer and one of the singers in the band asked me if I'd changed something this weekend when we played.  They couldn't exactly verbalize it to say what they heard differently, but they noticed something...so it's not just me.

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I suspect that any real tone changes would be due to the post-amp modeling chain. I have never come across a situation where a change in Channel Volume seem to have impacted the dynamic response of an amp when there was no post processing.

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1 hour ago, MartinDorr said:

I suspect that any real tone changes would be due to the post-amp modeling chain. I have never come across a situation where a change in Channel Volume seem to have impacted the dynamic response of an amp when there was no post processing.

 

Well, yes, as channel volume is nothing to do with the modelling of the amp power stage. But for me, at least, that's the point. Keeping the amp block close to unity gain avoids accidentally shouting too loudly at everything further along the signal chain. There are different perspectives on the thread, so my focus on gain (mis)management in Helix may be a tad off topic.

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3 hours ago, MartinDorr said:

I suspect that any real tone changes would be due to the post-amp modeling chain. I have never come across a situation where a change in Channel Volume seem to have impacted the dynamic response of an amp when there was no post processing.

 

I can only go on what I was objectively measuring on the signal meters of the mixing board in that regard which measured a much greater range of response in the peaks above the average signal at the lower channel volume/higher Helix volume than at the higher channel volume level/lower Helix volume.  In some cases I had the compressor after the amp which registered smaller differences (as would be expected) than patches with the compressor at the beginning of the signal chain.  However, even with the compressor after the amp I needed to significantly increase the peak reduction on the LA compressor to match the response I was getting at the higher channel volume/lower Helix volume with the same patch layout.  I'm not sure how else to read those results unless it relates to the behaviors of the higher Helix volume...which could also be possible.

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34 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

In some cases I had the compressor after the amp which registered smaller differences (as would be expected) than patches with the compressor at the beginning of the signal chain.  However, even with the compressor after the amp I needed to significantly increase the peak reduction on the LA compressor to match the response I was getting at the higher channel volume/lower Helix volume with the same patch layout. 

 

There has been so much "beat down" on Line 6 to add meters to the Helix.... those of us with outboard metering can get around it to some degree, but even we cannot measure things like "gain reduction" easily when it comes to compressors. I know this is beyond the scope of this thread and belongs on ideascale... but I wish the LA Studio Comp had a "gain reduction meter" (just like the original) even if it was only present in HX Edit. 

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7 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

However, even with the compressor after the amp I needed to significantly increase the peak reduction on the LA compressor to match the response I was getting at the higher channel volume/lower Helix volume with the same patch layout.  I'm not sure how else to read those results unless it relates to the behaviors of the higher Helix volume...which could also be possible.

If your signal chain included Amp/Cab -> compressor -> output, then I would expect channel volume to have a significant impact on the feel since its controlling the level into the compressor. The higher the channel volume, the more compression. This would be true regardless of whether output level was adjusted for the same overall level or not.

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I have been very happy with helix sounds, but also wonder about the volume settings.   I have been doing the big knob around noon for the reasons above.  Most of my amp patches have a channel volume somewhere between approx 3.5 and 7.5 depending on amp type and settings (again, sort of the same reasoning that it gives you room to adjust either way and it helps with the volume matching)... 

 

When i run to mixer with these settings, I have to turn the gain pot down on the channel pretty much all the way down to keep the meter/light from peaking too often.

 

I don't notice a sound issue doing this really, but when I hear so many people saying they run the big know all the way up (and that's actually supposed to unity gain), does that mean that a lot of people are running their channel volumes in the 1- 4 range?   

 

Should I be trying to set levels on helix so that the mixer channel gain is set closer to unity?  does it matter for helix where the mixer gain is, as long as it's not overloading the channel?   I always thought you want to try to keep mixer gains at or close to unity gain for best sound (at least with mics)... does that not apply here?

 

I think for me to get my patches working with the mackie mixer at unity, my channel volumes would all be down at like 2 or 3 to make that happen, and I'd probably stil have to knock down the output on the cabs...(at the moment, running IRs around -10....I did try them for a bit at -18... If using the stock cabs, usually keeping those right around 0... Sometimes I mix both types, and the -10 on the IR and the 0 on the stock cabs seems like a pretty even balance to me.

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, scottwilliams said:

I have been very happy with helix sounds, but also wonder about the volume settings.   I have been doing the big knob around noon for the reasons above.  Most of my amp patches have a channel volume somewhere between approx 3.5 and 7.5 depending on amp type and settings (again, sort of the same reasoning that it gives you room to adjust either way and it helps with the volume matching)... 

 

When i run to mixer with these settings, I have to turn the gain pot down on the channel pretty much all the way down to keep the meter/light from peaking too often.

 

I don't notice a sound issue doing this really, but when I hear so many people saying they run the big know all the way up (and that's actually supposed to unity gain), does that mean that a lot of people are running their channel volumes in the 1- 4 range?   

 

Should I be trying to set levels on helix so that the mixer channel gain is set closer to unity?  does it matter for helix where the mixer gain is, as long as it's not overloading the channel?   I always thought you want to try to keep mixer gains at or close to unity gain for best sound (at least with mics)... does that not apply here?

 

I think for me to get my patches working with the mackie mixer at unity, my channel volumes would all be down at like 2 or 3 to make that happen, and I'd probably stil have to knock down the output on the cabs...(at the moment, running IRs around -10....I did try them for a bit at -18... If using the stock cabs, usually keeping those right around 0... Sometimes I mix both types, and the -10 on the IR and the 0 on the stock cabs seems like a pretty even balance to me.

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

 

 

 

 

Direct from Line 6 Support: 

 

 

 

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I have my global settings so that the XLR out is set to Mic level and is disconnected from Helix big knob.  This does two things.  First, It sets my XLR output as if the Helix big knob was set to full, but it sends the signal at the much lower Mic signal level so that it's easier to adjust at the mixing board.  Secondly it allows me to use the Helix big knob to control my 1/4" output to my stage monitor independently from my signal to the board to get an appropriate stage mix with the rest of the band.

The level coming into the board will likely be pretty hot, but can be adjusted by the gain or trim knob.  This varies from mixer to mixer depending on their preamps, but having the signal at Mic level keeps it manageable.  Understand that the position of the mixer gain knob has NOTHING to do with unity level, and unity level on the Helix has nothing to do with unity level at the mixer.  Unity level is determined by the incoming signal and measured by the signal lights on the mixer which is controlled by the mixer gain knob.  If you're using a Mackie board you would have to select PFL (Pre Fader Listen) on that channel and watch your signal lights and set the mixer gain knob such that the signal lights hover right around unity or zero db.  This is made much easier if you have your XLR output set to Mic level.

In my case I'm using a QSC TM30 mixer.  With my Helix XLR output disconnected from the Helix big knob and set to Mic level, my channel volumes on my amps tend to be somewhere in the range of 4 to 6 on most amps or a bit higher on the lower wattage amps like the Roland JC120, but pretty much in line with what I'd expect out of the real amps.  All of my IRs stay consistently at -18db.

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2 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

I have my global settings so that the XLR out is set to Mic level and is disconnected from Helix big knob.  This does two things.  First, It sets my XLR output as if the Helix big knob was set to full, but it sends the signal at the much lower Mic signal level so that it's easier to adjust at the mixing board.  Secondly it allows me to use the Helix big knob to control my 1/4" output to my stage monitor independently from my signal to the board to get an appropriate stage mix with the rest of the band.

The level coming into the board will likely be pretty hot, but can be adjusted by the gain or trim knob.  This varies from mixer to mixer depending on their preamps, but having the signal at Mic level keeps it manageable.  Understand that the position of the mixer gain knob has NOTHING to do with unity level, and unity level on the Helix has nothing to do with unity level at the mixer.  Unity level is determined by the incoming signal and measured by the signal lights on the mixer which is controlled by the mixer gain knob.  If you're using a Mackie board you would have to select PFL (Pre Fader Listen) on that channel and watch your signal lights and set the mixer gain knob such that the signal lights hover right around unity or zero db.  This is made much easier if you have your XLR output set to Mic level.

In my case I'm using a QSC TM30 mixer.  With my Helix XLR output disconnected from the Helix big knob and set to Mic level, my channel volumes on my amps tend to be somewhere in the range of 4 to 6 on most amps or a bit higher on the lower wattage amps like the Roland JC120, but pretty much in line with what I'd expect out of the real amps.  All of my IRs stay consistently at -18db.

I have adopted this approach as well, and its been much easier to get sound guys to get a consistent level with my presets/lead boosts.  I tell them its going to be a hotter signal than what they are used to and to line check the strength first then un-mute and its mostly fine.  I only had one guy ask if I could use 'less signal' and I said I can but its a pain to adjust the global settings to do so, he just didn't want to use the channel pad on the mixer (rolls eyes), but once he did, he was fine. 

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On 8/27/2019 at 5:17 AM, DunedinDragon said:

I have my global settings so that the XLR out is set to Mic level and is disconnected from Helix big knob.  This does two things.  First, It sets my XLR output as if the Helix big knob was set to full, but it sends the signal at the much lower Mic signal level so that it's easier to adjust at the mixing board.  Secondly it allows me to use the Helix big knob to control my 1/4" output to my stage monitor independently from my signal to the board to get an appropriate stage mix with the rest of the band.

The level coming into the board will likely be pretty hot, but can be adjusted by the gain or trim knob.  This varies from mixer to mixer depending on their preamps, but having the signal at Mic level keeps it manageable.  Understand that the position of the mixer gain knob has NOTHING to do with unity level, and unity level on the Helix has nothing to do with unity level at the mixer.  Unity level is determined by the incoming signal and measured by the signal lights on the mixer which is controlled by the mixer gain knob.  If you're using a Mackie board you would have to select PFL (Pre Fader Listen) on that channel and watch your signal lights and set the mixer gain knob such that the signal lights hover right around unity or zero db.  This is made much easier if you have your XLR output set to Mic level.

In my case I'm using a QSC TM30 mixer.  With my Helix XLR output disconnected from the Helix big knob and set to Mic level, my channel volumes on my amps tend to be somewhere in the range of 4 to 6 on most amps or a bit higher on the lower wattage amps like the Roland JC120, but pretty much in line with what I'd expect out of the real amps.  All of my IRs stay consistently at -18db.

 

As in your setup my Volume knob only controls the 1/4 inch out, XLR defaults to max signal level.  I also set my XLR out to mic level for exactly the same reason - the signal level is more manageable at the mixer. That is contrary to the recommendation from the Line6 video above which advises you use the Line level output.  Perhaps there is one but I know of no compelling reason when the XLR out is delivering the max level, to use "Line" level out for most mixers as the mic level signal is already so hot going to the board.

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On 8/27/2019 at 7:18 AM, themetallikid said:

I only had one guy ask if I could use 'less signal' and I said I can but its a pain to adjust the global settings to do so, he just didn't want to use the channel pad on the mixer (rolls eyes), but once he did, he was fine. 

 

I also run my XLR out at MIC level and have it disengaged from the volume control... yet every now and then during soundcheck a tech will yell across the room "can you pad the DI on the guitar?"

 

For those occasions I have re-purposed my global EQ since I never use it as an EQ. I set it to XLR outputs only, leave all EQ settings flat and turn down the level about 6db - 10db. It's really easy to engage/disengage as required and makes a great variable pad. 

 

Of course, that is not an option if you use the Global EQ for it's intended purposes. 

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38 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

I also run my XLR out at MIC level and have it disengaged from the volume control... yet every now and then during soundcheck a tech will yell across the room "can you pad the DI on the guitar?"

 

For those occasions I have re-purposed my global EQ since I never use it as an EQ. I set it to XLR outputs only, leave all EQ settings flat and turn down the level about 6db - 10db. It's really easy to engage/disengage as required and makes a great variable pad. 

 

Of course, that is not an option if you use the Global EQ for it's intended purposes. 

I do not use it that way, as an EQ, however I don't wanna forget to turn it back to where I need it for 'our' pa system we use.   My other guitar player already can't leave the mixer alone during practices/shows, so having an adjusted level will drive him nuts, lol.

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This is a very good topic with a plenty of debated ideas that all great to dive into.   OP,  thanks for taking the time to post it!!! 

I haven't sorted out how to use Helix volume optimally yet or settled into what i'm comfortable with.  But what I have sorted out is understanding sweetspots and gain staging within all the blocks that I use regularly.   THEY all have a sweetspot depending on the variables of the other knobs your tweeking, its 100% garaunteed, thats why it got modeled, because some setting(s) was so juicy and tasty.    If you think something sounds like lollipop,  reality is, you messed up gain staging right of the hop or don't understand anything about the major components you are meddling with .... AMP manufacture and model CAB vs IR, then all your add ons like FX and sound manipulation fx.   Take a look at famous pedals boards an amps, an you will see taped dials and pencil marks indicating where all the sweet spots are..... that also why some amzing amps are called a one trick pony...they have one tiny sweet spot that is unbelivable, but you to find it then tape it...lol.

 

Gain staging is one of the most misunderstood techniques in the audio industry when you enter it,   it either makes the tone or destroys it, and there are plenty of evidence, both ways in these forums alone.  

GAIN staging as an audio engineer at a mixing board is where you start before you do anything to the sound. 

 

this is not like playing an amp in the room with a few knobs to turn, this is a complicated device that requires understanding before you become the wise wizard of tone. 

 

I'm interestied in trying out some of the ideas posted in the future around the final volume setting. 

 

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