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Powercab considerations and thoughts


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As many others I bought a Helix (couple of months ago) with mainly two purposes:

- to use as an all-in-one-unit for practising at home. Unfortunately I need to use headphones as there's no space to practice/possibility with my studio monitors (which are basically collecting dust at the moment)

- to use at gigs using the presets I made (with headphones ;-)) and going direct into the mixer via XLR


Fyi, this is purely a hobby with the occasional gig, just for fun.


I had my first " Helix-direct-gig" couple of weeks ago and the sound guy sent a mix to the floor monitors (the mix also having the other instruments and vocals). It sounded bad (extremely harsh) and more importantly I was having a lot of difficulty hearing what I was playing. The FOH was quite good soundwise, so it was not really a preset issue but rather a monitor issue. Also, I assumed I would have a dedicated monitor with only guitar, but will never make that assumption again ... why the sound was so harsh is still a mystery to me.


Anyway, now I'm looking at an FRFR or other solution that still gives me sufficient stage volume and reasonable sound. Plenty of options ...... 

" FX-only"  presets I have tried; It works, but requires me to bring a seperate amp that in turn needs to be mic-ed. Or, I would nee to create patches with seperate outs on XLR and line. All possible, but complexity is what I want to avoid.


In a hunt for a cheap solution I bought myself a Behringer 207MP3 monitor unit, but I will probably return that very soon; It works, gives me sufficient volume and my own "monitor mix" , but quality wise just not what I hoped for.


And so I'm now saving up for more dedicated tools like the Line 6 Powercab. Here's where I get lost a bit, because the Powercab seems to be much more than an FRFR cabinet. Actually I see lots of people saying that this product really starts to shine once you use the built in cabinet/ speaker models.


This is where I get confused, because to me that means that the purpose of the Helix gets lost as I would have a setup with an amplifier in one device (the Helix) and the cab model in another (the powercab). Essentially it would link the Powercab and the Helix which for my purpose would again create more complexity than needed. Also I wonder why there would be a difference in sound between a cabinet modeled in the Helix and a cabinet modeled in the Powercab. Doesn't make too much sense to me yet ... aren't these the exact same models?


I haven't made up my mind yet and I do find the Powercab appealing (visually, technically), but for my purpose a cheaper FRFR solution may work better (e.g. Headrush, Alto). No worries, I won't ask for advice here, plenty of threads about that :-) 


But I do wonder if anyone figured out this alleged difference in cab model issue.

Any other comments welcome of course, I may be overlooking something. Again I'm looking for simple flexibility (which was the main reason for buying the Helix).


Thanks so much !!










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Just a couple of thoughts / observations / suggestions based on your post:


For your Helix patches, be careful about creating them using headphones, and then using them live.....the sound will likely be very different - Fletcher-Munson and all that. They will need to be changed for live use...probably an EQ with boosted mids - there are numerous posts on this topic here and in the Facebook group.


I use my Powercab + (PC+) as both a studio monitor and a live gigging amp using the patches I have made in m Helix. I run from the Helix to PC+ vis the L6 Link digital connection. If I need to go to FOH as well, then I run an XLR from the output of the PC+ to the board at mic level signal. There is plenty of volume on stage if I need it, as I have volume leveled the Helix patches, and I use various speaker emulations on the PC+ that are leveled as well.


The Line6 Powercab is much more than an FRFR speaker. While it has that capability, it can also emulate various speaker models, and run IRs of your choosing. The cab models in the Helix are models of cabs that are mic'ed with various configurations and microphones. The Powercab speaker emulations are just that, speaker emulations, and what you hear is not a cab mic'ed - until you use the XLR output - then you get to choose mics and distance, etc. The Powercab user manual does a good just of describing and explaining this.


You can still use the cab blocks in your Helix, but you would then only use the Powercab in FRFR mode......I think this just gives people another option when creating amp and effect chains....or maybe you don't like the whole cab/mic modeling and just want to go with speaker emulation in the Powercab


Hope that helps a little.....

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Thank you dnostrand, yes this is very helpful.


I'm aware that creating presets using headphones has its challenges; in fact, thinking of it it may actually be part of the issue I had with the wedge monitors. Still keeps me puzzled as to why the FOH sound was good (to the extent I really know, just hearsay; I probably need to talk again to the soundguy). I guess a very important factor here are the speakers used for FOH. My understanding is that these are essentially also supposed to be "FRFR", but given that no FRFR speaker sounds like the other this term is actually pretty meaningless to me. Anyway ......


With regards to your setup, I like the idea of having enough stage volume for gigs that don't need FOH signal and that you "simply"  go from the PC+ to the mixer via XLR if so needed. For whatever reason I overlooked that option. And this brings me to my next misunderstanding which is about the mic modelling. If I understand correctly then the PC+ models are models of the actual cabinets without mic...... So theoretically you could still mic a PC+ using (for example) a real SM57 should you not want to use the modeled SM57. I was under the false assumption that a mic model was part of the sound coming from the PC+. This only seems true when it is in FRFR mode (and the cab + mic model come from the Helix).


Now, the downside of your setup for me would be that I need two devices connected when practising/ developing patches at home and I would need to use this setup with " normal volume", which I'm sure my wife and kids won't appreciate all the time :-)  


Altogether enough food for thought on how to achieve what I want (sufficient on-stage volume of decent quality). Based on my learnings so far I'm probably better of with a FRFR speaker (again, whatever that means) and leave the PC for what it is for the time being. 


Thanks again for your reply, this forum is really a great source of information and positive input/support from experienced people is highly appreciated !!!

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20 hours ago, Hillman1312 said:

If I understand correctly then the PC+ models are models of the actual cabinets without mic......


There's an important distinction to make here!


When you are using the speaker emulation modes in the Powercab, you are not using a modelled cabinet - you are using what is, in effect, a "real" 1x12 cabinet, albeit a powered one!

Where the modelling comes in is in the emulation of the speaker within that real cabinet.

So, the idea is that if you are using Powercab with say the Vintage 30 speaker model,  all things being equal you should get the same sound and feel as if you were using a neutral power amp going into a 1x12 cabinet containing a real Vintage 30.


When you take the XLR out from the Powercab+, what you should then get is the sound of that 1x12  cabinet/speaker combination as if it were mic'd up with whatever mic/parameters you set on the Powercab+.

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  • 1 month later...

Valid point, thanks....


So in that case wouldn't it make sense that the Helix would have an option to turn off mic modelling (like you could do with the POD HD if I recall correct)?

In that case we could send a modelled speaker emulation to an FRFR speaker? Just a thought, may be total nonsense .... 

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The main question is ; What is your goal ?


I've bought a powercab plus because i wanted to keep the versatility of the modeler but wanted to have the "amp in the room feeling" that i've loosen with FRFR.

The powercab and the inside model speakers brought me that !!! ;)


The simpliest RIG is Helix and guitar direct to the mixer.Now i have to bring another device for rehearsals and gigs.....


What you tell is that your sound is weird/harsh and not out of the mix when you listen to it.

Even if you buy a PC+, when you'll go to the FOH, there'll be a mic'ed simulation, so the result will be the same for the crowd.

I mean that the powercab won't automatically be the best solution. A simple FRFR could be enough to work on your sounds and reach what you want for your gigs....

The other question is ; will you be able to tweak your sounds at home with that device with a minimum level (it doesn't seem to be the case) ?

Have you done EQ and/or High/low cut on cabs sims ?

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  • 7 months later...

I'm in a quandary, not sure whether to buy a Powercab, or a headrush or similar. I currently have a Behringer Eurolive b108, which is fine as a monitor for my Helix, but sounds really bad with crunch, especially on the lower strings. I'm pretty certain that both Headrush and PC will sound much better than the £130 Behringer, but is there much difference between the two? 


Also, if I go for PC+ and like the speaker simulations would I essentially have to have duplicate patches for gigs when I'm going straight to PA? IE as the PC+ plus without any helix cabs..?

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I add an IR or Cab block to the patch. If I have a patch that uses the powercab speaker models, I bypass the IR or Cab block. If I need to go directly to the PA (no Powercab), I turn the IR or Cab block on.


I don't like copying patches because its too hard to keep them all updated. I wish Helix allowed block links to blocks shared across patches.


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