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Hillman1312

Speaker for my Helix LT

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Dear Forum members, the below is actually more to share my quest to come up with a rig that works for me. Hopefully it is of use to others who are in a similar situation. But please note that by no means this should be seen as a perfect solution; it just happens to work for me and other may disagree with the below or find that another approach would have been better. Anyway, here goes ...

 

Starting with some background: I joined a band in 2018 and since I did not have gigging gear (was using the POD HD desktop) and actually also wanted to upgrade anyhow (:-)) I decided to buy a Helix LT. Initially I used the LT only for the effects and the unit was connected to an amp that I could borrow and use for rehearsal and gigs. Later on I started to develop my own full patches including amp and cab models and I started to use the XLR out going direct to the mixing desk in the rehearsal room. This obviously worked, yet I noted that it was quite challenging to hear what I was playing without turning up my volume. And as I turned up the volume so would the keyboard player and the singer..... so not ideal. Earlier this year I had a bad experience with too loud rehearsal on a Thursday before and an even higher volume on an actual gig on the Saturday following that. I suffered some hearing loss and have (mild) tinnitus since then. The floor wedges we used at the gig were a) way too loud b) too harsh on my patches. FOH sound was good, so it was clearly the wedges that were unsuitable for this purpose. So..... since then I'm looking for a solution that allows me to hear my playing while using earplugs and at the same allowing the rest of the band to hear me on a decent level. I have considered in-ears, but as the rest of the band is not into that (yet...) this seemed not the way to go just yet. I do protect my ears since that gig however and I strongly advise anyone to do the same. I've learnt my lesson ..... Oh by the way, I'm a complete amateur, playing for fun and trying to be as good as I can knowing I still have lots and lots to learn.

 

So, what I have tried so far is first to use the FX send return on the amp to get some monitor signal for me while the XLR out still goes to the mixing desk. It technically works, but the sound is not great and I still depend on an amp which is not mine. As I did not want to spend too much money I decided to try a Behringer b207mp3. A very small amp, but loud enough to get some monitoring signal. I need to say that actually the quality was not too bad, in particular at lower volumes. For home practice this unit works quite nicely. Having tried it a couple of times in rehearsal I was not convinced however and I decided to return it and look for something that gave me a more "full" sound.  

 

Having done some research I decided to try a keyboard amp, in particular the Behringer KXD12, as a next option. Since a friend of mine wanted to sell his EV ZLX12 I was able to do an A/B comparison between the two. So, I recorded some (mono) guitar riffs/ licks in my DAW with different Helix patches and then connected my computer to both speakers that were standing side by side. I started with playing some music through both units to get an idea of what they can do. It will be no surprise that the EV sounded way better; after all, this is a PA speaker. More definition, clarity and low end. But, the Behringer was not bad at all taking into account that this unit was not built for playing back music; i.e. it is not designed to be a PA speaker contrary to the EV. Up next was playing the guitar samples through both units and to my surprise the difference between the two was a lot smaller and I liked the sound through the Behringer more than through the EV. I started messing with the settings on the EV (you can change the frequency response curve a bit using the DSP) and that changed the sound, but I could not believe I still kept preferring the Behringer over the EV. Volume wise, the EV won from the KXD12 by the way.... but I knew this on forehand.

 

Combined with the many options that the KXD12 has (multiple inputs, graphic EQ, Mic. In, XLR out, etc.) I decided to go for the Behringer and so my setup for gigs will be (for the time being):

 

Guitar into Helix (duh....)

Helix XLR to FOH

Helix TS to the Behringer positioned either in front of me as a monitor (angled) or in the back to give some stage volume.

 

All of this while wearing ear-protection and having a good time.

 

Now, I can totally understand others may prefer the more expensive solutions like the Friedman or the Powercab, but for 250 Euro I now have a very nice solution that looks like an amp, sounds pretty good (to me at least) and offers quite some other options (I also play a little bit of keyboard from time to time).

 

I'm just wondering if others have tried the KXD12 (or the KXD15) and what your experience are/were.

   

Thanks !

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The only really important question here is, how are you going to dial in your patches to ensure you get the sound you want through the FOH.  Clearly as you saw there is a difference between the sound of the EV and the KXD using the same patch.  So your audience is going to hear the EV sound regardless of what you use on stage if you go XLR out to the FOH.  So dialing in your patches on the KXD is not going to be an accurate representation of what your audience will be hearing live.

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Thanks,

 

Yes, I did think about that and actually I think this will always be an issue with modelling devices like the Helix. But as a starter I need to say that, indeed, there was a slight difference, but it was really small. The bigger difference I noted was when the EV and KXD were playing a full band (I was playing a selection of pop/rock/metal/blues/dance songs). When I narrowed it to guitar tones the difference was really small. And actually despite the difference even when playing the songs the KXD was still very acceptable.

 

But back to topic, I think that the issue with patch creation will always be there. We don't have EV's as our PA. In fact, we don't always play over the same PA system and every PA system will have its own sound characteristics; not much to do about that. So, even if I would use an EV or even higher end speaker that still does not guarantee the sound out of the PA will be the same, or an "accurate representation"  as you called it.

 

This whole FRFR hype actually doesn't make sense to me at all. You can buy many speakers with the stamp "FRFR"  on it, yet all will sound different. If indeed true FRFR would exist shouldn't all these speakers actually sound the same ???

 

For now, I think I found a solution that hopefully works for some time (will try the KXD during rehearsal next Thursday). In the future I may decide to go for something else.... Investment wise the risk is very low and heck, my children may even use the amp for their keyboards or just a garden party :-) 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Hillman1312 said:

But back to topic, I think that the issue with patch creation will always be there. We don't have EV's as our PA. In fact, we don't always play over the same PA system and every PA system will have its own sound characteristics; not much to do about that. So, even if I would use an EV or even higher end speaker that still does not guarantee the sound out of the PA will be the same, or an "accurate representation"  as you called it.

 

This whole FRFR hype actually doesn't make sense to me at all. You can buy many speakers with the stamp "FRFR"  on it, yet all will sound different. If indeed true FRFR would exist shouldn't all these speakers actually sound the same ???

 

 

Although there's some truth to the difference in PA's in theory, in practice they're generally pretty equivalent nowadays as long as they're of a more modern design.  FRFR isn't a "standard" so to speak and no speaker manufacturer other than Headrush actually uses the nomenclature FRFR.  So there isn't really any "true" FRFR as you referred to it.  And you actually wouldn't want a completely flat response on any speaker because that would sound horrible to the human ear.  Each manufacturer voices their speakers slightly different based on their target market.  Although I normally use the Yamaha DXR series, I also own and have used the EV ZLX series as well as the QSC CP series with very similar results.  Primarily because those manufactures all address live music performance as their primary target markets and voice their speakers accordingly.

FRFR is just a term that generally refers to a certain type of speaker architecture.  By and large that architecture (at least at club level applications) consists of powered speakers using a bi-amp design with DSP processing for allocation of the frequencies across the high and low end drivers, sometimes with tone contouring adjustments for various placements and special applications.  Most relatively modern PA speakers within the last 10 years or so would fall into this category.  The ones with significant problems are typically older/cheaper style PA's with powered boards and analog crossover systems.  However at large scale concert events the architecture is different but still consistent with the small scale design goals of what's generally referred to as FRFR.

Given that you're not playing into one of those cheaper/older type of systems, these modern type of speakers will give you a pretty consistent playback not only tonally but behavior-wise since these speakers are architected quite differently from a cabinet and for an entirely different purpose.  Look at it this way, how many PA's have you ever seen using full range stage cabinets such as the Behringer as their FOH speaker of choice?

I'm not saying whether or not your choice of the keyboard cabinet is bad or not.  That's up to you.  But it doesn't accomplish the same thing as what's referred to as a FRFR speaker as far as projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius.  This is one of the reasons why even keyboard players are opting away from cabinets and toward these type of speakers in order to get a more consistent feel for what the FOH sound will be.  So it's not "hype", as you put it.  There are real engineering advantages designed into these speakers that have caused them to become the default tool of choice in live PA music performances from smaller club level speakers to larger events using line arrays.  There's a real reason for that.

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Sorry for asking (trying to learn here...), but what do you mean with "But it doesn't accomplish the same thing as what's referred to as a FRFR speaker as far as projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius.  This is one of the reasons why even keyboard players are opting away from cabinets and toward these type of speakers in order to get a more consistent feel for what the FOH sound will be."

 

In particular what do you mean with "projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius"?

 

Thanks again, your replies are very helpful reply and giving me some (more) food for thought ....

 

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2 hours ago, Hillman1312 said:

Sorry for asking (trying to learn here...), but what do you mean with "But it doesn't accomplish the same thing as what's referred to as a FRFR speaker as far as projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius.  This is one of the  reasons why even keyboard players are opting away from cabinets and toward these type of speakers in order to get a more consistent feel for what the FOH sound will be."

 

In particular what do you mean with "projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius"?

 

Thanks again, your replies are very helpful reply and giving me some (more) food for thought ....

 

 

PA- type speakers are designed to project sound around large rooms, and to sound the same no matter where the listener is standing. Individual guitar amps/cabs don't do that at all... they're very directional.

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22 hours ago, Hillman1312 said:

Sorry for asking (trying to learn here...), but what do you mean with "But it doesn't accomplish the same thing as what's referred to as a FRFR speaker as far as projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius.  This is one of the reasons why even keyboard players are opting away from cabinets and toward these type of speakers in order to get a more consistent feel for what the FOH sound will be."

 

In particular what do you mean with "projection and consistency of tone across a wide sound radius"?

 

Thanks again, your replies are very helpful reply and giving me some (more) food for thought ....

 

 

Cabinets, by design, project sound in a wide radius both vertically and horizontally and the sound changes as you move your position relative to that speaker (i.e. stand off to the side).  Powered PA speakers, by design in a vertical position, have a wide sound radius and a limited vertical radius.  This accomplishes two things.  It maintains the tonal characteristics of the sound across that wide horizontal spectrum, and it conserves what would otherwise be wasted sound energy that gets lost in the ceiling and floor so that the sound energy is used more efficiently and projects further.  This is why PA speakers can sound very harsh close up, but that harshness blends away pretty rapidly as you put space between yourself and the speaker.

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So had a rehearsal tonight and honestly it was a disaster soundwise....

The sound out of the amp was waaaay to harsh and except for some clean tones the bottom end was missing. Now need to decide to either send the amp back or modify my presets. I'm afraid that if I modify the presets to better fit the amp I may screw up the FOH sound. Kind of lost to be honest ...... would anyone be willing to test one of my presets using his/ her FRFR speaker?? If it is only the preset then I'll consider keeping the amp....

 

Any other suggestion/advice more than welcome.

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3 hours ago, Hillman1312 said:

So had a rehearsal tonight and honestly it was a disaster soundwise....

The sound out of the amp was waaaay to harsh and except for some clean tones the bottom end was missing. Now need to decide to either send the amp back or modify my presets. I'm afraid that if I modify the presets to better fit the amp I may screw up the FOH sound. Kind of lost to be honest ...... would anyone be willing to test one of my presets using his/ her FRFR speaker?? If it is only the preset then I'll consider keeping the amp....

 

Any other suggestion/advice more than welcome.

 

The general approach by most people that use a traditional amp as an on  stage playback system but send a direct signal to the mixing board is to branch off from the preset right after the amp model but before the cabinet block and output that signal to 1/4" out to the amp because the amp is providing the cabinet.  The rest of the preset continues on with the cabinet or IR block and goes to the XLR output to the mixing board.  I'm not sure if that would work with the keyboard amp because it's a little bit different animal.  I can understand why the keyboard amp is not responding like a normal FRFR would respond because it's not a PA speaker, but I'm not completely sure it's going to respond like a traditional amp either since it's kind of a hybrid.

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Thanks. Yes, I have used such setup before when running in the fx return of the amp we have in our rehearsal room. It works ok indeed for guitar amps, but I don't think it will work for the keyboard amp to be honest. As you say (and mentioned before) the keyboard amp is not a PA speaker (although it is marketed like that in a way), but it is (more or less) a flat response speaker. That's why I don't really understand what's going on and actually start to doubt whether there's something wrong with my presets. Is there a factory preset in the Helix that you find sounds (relatively) good through FOH? I may start with that and then revisit my settings. Having said that, I don't do crazy stuff in my presets and much of the amp and cab settings when selected in the software will be the default ones.

 

I'm still in the "30 day money back" period so I may also decide to send the thing back and go to the EV again. That one seems to be "proven" as a decent speaker/monitor for the Helix. It's just that I like the additional features of the keyboard amp (extra inputs, portability, etc.) and don't want to give up immediately. Also, there's several posts on the internet where people claim to get very good results with this amp.

 

At least I know what I'll be doing over the weekend ..:-)

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Hillman1312 said:

Thanks. Yes, I have used such setup before when running in the fx return of the amp we have in our rehearsal room. It works ok indeed for guitar amps, but I don't think it will work for the keyboard amp to be honest. As you say (and mentioned before) the keyboard amp is not a PA speaker (although it is marketed like that in a way), but it is (more or less) a flat response speaker. That's why I don't really understand what's going on and actually start to doubt whether there's something wrong with my presets. Is there a factory preset in the Helix that you find sounds (relatively) good through FOH? I may start with that and then revisit my settings. Having said that, I don't do crazy stuff in my presets and much of the amp and cab settings when selected in the software will be the default ones.

 

I'm still in the "30 day money back" period so I may also decide to send the thing back and go to the EV again. That one seems to be "proven" as a decent speaker/monitor for the Helix. It's just that I like the additional features of the keyboard amp (extra inputs, portability, etc.) and don't want to give up immediately. Also, there's several posts on the internet where people claim to get very good results with this amp.

 

At least I know what I'll be doing over the weekend ..:-)

 

 

 

I haven't used any experience with any of the factory presets, but if you can give me an idea of a style of song that might be reflective of what you do I might have a personal preset that works for me with my Yamaha DXR12 I could attach to a response so you could try it out.  It would also be helpful to know what guitar you use as my presets are designed for specific guitars which are: Acoustic, Les Paul, Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Gretsch Hollow body.  I play a pretty wide range of genres so I'm sure i could find something that might be close to what you're looking for.

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We mainly play the typical (older) rock covers (like a lot of bands out there :-)); think of Joan Jett, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Guns n Roses and the like. No super high gain stuff (although that would be fun...). I tend to use the 2204 or Plexi models in my presets. For cleans (we have some "pop songs" as well) I built a preset around the Archetype amp in the Helix. That one actually doesn't sound all that bad through the amp by the way. Not great, but not bad either. Would much appreciate if you could share one of your presets that I can try. Happy to report the results here. Also raises the question on whether global EQ may need to be set. I have my high cut quite high at the moment (11 khz). Other than that global EQ is flat.

 

Guitar would be LP or fat-strat (have and use both)

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Ok, so I got help from some forum members, did the Google thing, watched a number of youtube vids on the topic and then did some further experimentation at home. By blending a ribbon mic and a 57 or 421 I was able to create some tones that did not (or far less) suffer from the harshness. I'm now refreshing (most of) my patches using that idea. I further experimented a bit with high cuts, but still optimising that to get good results. This Wednesday another rehearsal which allows me to crank the Behringer amp again and see if the results are better now (should be, but at home I couldn't get too loud so let's see). 

 

Seems creating patches (for live use) is not at all easy and actually it would benefit newbies (like myself) or guitar players without any sound engineering experience (also like myself) if Line 6 would give some guidance on how to set up patches that don't suffer from the harshness. After my research and support I'm slowly starting to understand how tone creation (for live use) can be accomplished on the Helix. The problem, as I see it, is that Line 6 made it extremely easy to create a signal chain and to set all the numerous parameters etc. At the same time, the vast amount of variables available to us is so overwhelming that it is probably easier to mess up a tone (as I realised did) than to create a good one.

 

For me the key takeaway of this exercise was that cab and mic selection play a crucial role (not the only one of course). Creating dual cab configurations with different mics and settings is a great tool to create a good tone and it saves you from diving into an EQ straightaway.

 

Now, this whole threat started out basically as me asking for an opinion on the Behringer keyboard amp I bought couple of weeks ago, but over time boiled down to me rethinking how to create patches. And in a way it all starts to make some sense now........ If you can play music through the Behringer with more than acceptable quality (as said, I A/B-ed it with an EV ZLX 12P and the EV sounds way better, but on its own this thing sounds very nice) then why would it not be possible to also get a more than decent guitar tone out of the amp. Initially I blamed the Behringer for the harshness but actually it was my initial approach in creating presets in the Helix. Lesson learnt and I'll probably keep te Behringer for the time being. It is mainly to get some stage volume and a good monitor sound while I'll also send out a signal directly to the PA. I'm now considering a statement that if it sounds good on the amp during rehearsal (i.e. at +/- gig volumes) then the FOH is probably even better. But that's no promise, just a wild thought :-)

 

I'll further tweak my presets and may post some of them on custom tone should anyone be interested... this will take a couple of weeks, so be patient.

To those who helped me out, thanks!

 

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38 minutes ago, Hillman1312 said:

 

Seems creating patches (for live use) is not at all easy and actually it would benefit newbies (like myself) or guitar players without any sound engineering experience (also like myself) if Line 6 would give some guidance on how to set up patches that don't suffer from the harshness. After my research and support I'm slowly starting to understand how tone creation (for live use) can be accomplished on the Helix. The problem, as I see it, is that Line 6 made it extremely easy to create a signal chain and to set all the numerous parameters etc. At the same time, the vast amount of variables available to us is so overwhelming that it is probably easier to mess up a tone (as I realised did) than to create a good one.

 

 

Hi Hillman1312,

 

Line 6 would like you to have some guidance on how to set up patches and it is a regular thing on here and the usual response is - “For the benefit of newbies, I have said it before, so I will say it again, one more time” - go here and learn Grasshopper. This is your Kung fu.

 

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

 

 

 

 

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