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I'm a relative novice when it comes to recording guitar and amps.  Up to this point I've been recording my guitar/amp with an SM57 & USB Interface direct to Garageband and am happy with the results.  I've been messing around with recording the Helix and the tone is different compared to what I'm hearing out of my amp (DSL40C).  It doesn't matter if I'm using my amp, or using a preamp in the Helix and going directly into the FX return, the recorded tone is always brighter and slightly fuzzier.  I run the audio out from my mac into a Kenwood receiver and I have Bose speakers so it's not like I'm listening through the bullt-in computer speakers.  Also, I don't have this problem when I record with the mic - so I'm pretty sure I can rule out the Mac and speakers.

 

I'm less concerned about adjusting the settings on the Helix to get a good recorded tone as I would imagine I should be able to do that with some tweaking.  I'm more concerned if I'm playing live using my amp onstage and also XLR to the FOH (If I'm mic'ing the amp, no worries).  If I set my tones based on what I'm hearing from the amp, is it going to be bright and fuzzy through the PA?  Or, if I adjust for the PA, am I going to have a more muted sound coming from the amp.

 

I guess one solution is setup parallel paths - one for the amp and one for XLR - and put EQ's at the end to adjust each path separately.  If I can I'd rather avoid that so that I'm not tweaking a bunch of patches/snapshots each time I play somewhere.

 

I'm currently not playing out, however, I may have something in the works so I'd like to get all this ironed out before that starts.  Is this common or is it something I'm doing, or not doing?

 

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2 hours ago, kraftybob said:

I'm more concerned if I'm playing live using my amp onstage and also XLR to the FOH (If I'm mic'ing the amp, no worries).  If I set my tones based on what I'm hearing from the amp, is it going to be bright and fuzzy through the PA?  Or, if I adjust for the PA, am I going to have a more muted sound coming from the amp.

 

Yes, that's exactly what's gonna happen, and there's no way around it. Guitars amps and FRFR PA speakers have vastly different frequency responses. Any given patch will never sound the same from one to the other no matter what you do.... some degree of EQing will always be necessary. Volume is also critical. Perceived loudness of different frequency ranges varies drastically with volume. In other words, the patch that sounded magnificent when you dialed it in at 2 a.m. in the living room, will have all the appeal of a 95° day in Manhattan during a sanitation strike when you crank it up to stage volume. You MUST tweak at, or at least close to the volume at which you're gonna use the patch.

 

Quote

I guess one solution is setup parallel paths - one for the amp and one for XLR - and put EQ's at the end to adjust each path separately.  If I can I'd rather avoid that so that I'm not tweaking a bunch of patches/snapshots each time I play somewhere.

 

 

 

 

That's one way to go about it, and some guys do exactly that. Personally I find it much easier to  keep the patches themselves as simple as possible, tweaked for each unique scenario, and maintain different set lists according to intended use... live, studio monitors, headphones, etc. They're all the same tones, just EQ-ed for the intended output method and volume. It's a bit more work up front, but you only have to do it once, and then you don't have to think about it anymore. Ymmv...

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Although all the above is reasonable and true, serious cutting of highs and lows is totally normal for any form of FRFR. Even your mic Infront of the amp should sound different to the amp and need a fair bit of EQ?

To get any FRFR system sounding good the first step is generally to do low and high cuts. You can do it in the speaker simulation, or globally. The typical setup is serious cuts at 100hz and 5Khz. Obviously you can vary that, but it's where I'd start. 

Do it before you start tweaking the amp, because that's just getting your sound into typical guitar zone. 

And yes, all those glassy fender cleans also work best starting there. 

All that stuff about volume is also 100% true, so a live sound needs tweaking at volume. 

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After reading your replies above, and thing about this further, take the Helix out of the equation for a minute and consider a guitar straight into a mic'd amp.  Would it not be the same thing - different tone on stage than through the PA?  How is that handled - does the sound guy (or girl) make the adjustments at the board?  I can see taking out some treble, but what about the fuzziness/OD?

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4 hours ago, kraftybob said:

After reading your replies above, and thing about this further, take the Helix out of the equation for a minute and consider a guitar straight into a mic'd amp.  Would it not be the same thing - different tone on stage than through the PA?  

 

Yes...and that's the way it's always been. Truth is, until modelers, in-ear monitors, and the whole "quiet stage" thing came along, nobody ever heard the same tone the audience hears... we all heard our stage amp, while the crowd heard a mic-ed amp. And this is precisely why some guys can never get used FRFR. They're not guitar amps.

 

How is that handled - does the sound guy (or girl) make the adjustments at the board?  I can see taking out some treble, but what about the fuzziness/OD?

 

Yes again... assuming that they know what they're doing. Stick your head a half inch from the grill of your cabinet, in the same spot that the sound guy puts his 57, and you'll hear much of the same high end fizz that you get from a modeler into an FRFR speaker if you haven't applied any high cuts. But listening to that same cabinet at a distance and way off axis, and that harshness never makes it to your ears (this is the "amp in the room" sound that's talked about all the time). But the mic hears that fizz, and that's exactly what Helix is modeling.... hence the need to attenuate the highs with an FRFR speaker.

 

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That whole "I hear my amp, but the audience hears the mic" thing is why about 2/3 of the local shows I go to have terrible guitar tone. The guitarist dials in their cab to sound good where they're standing (you know, about 8'-10' in front, off-axis) and then it either sounds harsh and sharp directly in front (if there's a stage, right in people's faces) or farty and boomy everywhere else in the room. And, since so many guitarist rely on "feel" (whateverthelollipop that means) instead of just playing the right notes, they can't get along with FRFR because it doesn't work in the room the same. That's actually why I LOVE FRFR. My IEM and my onstage monitors are getting the same signal as the FOH, so I'm not guessing at what the audience is hearing, apart from the any adjustments the FOH engineer makes for the room, anyways.

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I'm beginning to realize that this is opening up a whole new world that I didn't really realize existed, or understand.  Certainly not a Helix issue as it's there no matter what you are or aren't running through, but it has opened my eyes a little to the intricacies of sound engineering.  

 

Great info - thanks.

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29 minutes ago, kraftybob said:

I'm beginning to realize that this is opening up a whole new world that I didn't really realize existed, or understand.  Certainly not a Helix issue as it's there no matter what you are or aren't running through, but it has opened my eyes a little to the intricacies of sound engineering.  

 

Great info - thanks.

 

Yup, modelers are a completely different kettle of fish. You gotta think like you're in a recording studio, mic-ing an amp in the next room, and listening through the monitors at the desk. Takes some getting used to...

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2 hours ago, kraftybob said:

I'm beginning to realize that this is opening up a whole new world that I didn't really realize existed, or understand.  Certainly not a Helix issue as it's there no matter what you are or aren't running through, but it has opened my eyes a little to the intricacies of sound engineering.  

 

Great info - thanks.

 

I love reading a post like this because it means you "get it". You might not know how to accomplish your goal yet, but that will come now that you understand the process. Thank you for keeping an open mind... not everybody does!

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@codamedia - thank you - I appreciate it!  Just trying to learn and get the most of out this and always appreciate those willing to respond.

 

Now on to my "I'm an idiot" moment.  All the recording I've been doing up to this point has been with a preamp block, but no speaker blocks.  Sounds good coming out of my amp, but not so much in my computer.  I tested various speaker blocks, did the low and high cuts that @rvroberts suggested and my recordings sound much, much better!  Thinking about it further I guess I'm surprised there's any sound going to the computer without a speaker cab in place because without it, what was Helix sending to the USB port?

 

Anyhow, I think I'm getting close, however, when I add a speaker cab it drops the volume considerably lower and I lose a lot of the high frequencies - both through my amp and also in GarageBand.  Going through the amp I wasn't necessarily surprised because I'm essentially going from one speaker cab to another.  But I thought the USB to Garageband would be better, but it's not.  To test things further I setup a parallel path and put the speaker cab in there.  I changed the Output of the top path (without a speaker cab) to 1/4" and the bottom path (speaker cab only) to USB 1/2.  I figured if this setup works it shouldn't matter if i'm just playing through the amp or both that and FOH as they are two separate outputs.  The amp sounds better again, but there is no change to the recording.  Just need to figure out why I lose volume and tone with the speaker block enabled.

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56 minutes ago, kraftybob said:

without a speaker cab in place because without it, what was Helix sending to the USB port?

 

 

 

Everything else in the signal chain...

 

This is the digital realm... there's nothing but 1's and 0's flying around, emulating real world devices. The cab block doesn't magically "make" sound, any more than anything else in the chain does. Your final output does that, and spits out the sum total of what it's been fed. The cab sims are just one piece of the puzzle. But without them, it's gonna sound like boiled garbage, as you've already discovered. Kinda like what you'd get plugging your guitar into a distortion box and running straight to a PA.

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Messing around some more tonight and setup a preset using amps instead of the preamps (I was going direct into the effects loop of my amp) and added a speaker cab.  The recordings are getting better but I'm still finding I lose tone with the Cab blocks.  I tried several different ones and while some are brighter than others, they still seem very muted compared to what my actual amp sounds like.  I loaned out my SM57 to a friend and won't get it back until next week, but if I don't figure it out by then I do a recording to capture the difference.

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9 hours ago, kraftybob said:

Messing around some more tonight and setup a preset using amps instead of the preamps (I was going direct into the effects loop of my amp) and added a speaker cab.  The recordings are getting better but I'm still finding I lose tone with the Cab blocks.  I tried several different ones and while some are brighter than others, they still seem very muted compared to what my actual amp sounds like.  I loaned out my SM57 to a friend and won't get it back until next week, but if I don't figure it out by then I do a recording to capture the difference.

 

I think you might still be a little confused about monitoring options. If you're running into the FX loop of an amp, you don't want to be using cab sims at all... it's redundant. Doubly redundant if you're then trying to record by actually mic-ing the amp itself.

 

Feeding cab/mic sims into a real guitar cabinet or combo will produce nothing but mud.... if you then add an actual mic on top of it all to record, the end result will be even worse. Cab/mic emulation is for use with FRFR outputs: 1) straight to a PA, or one or more individual PA-type monitors, or 2) straight into a DAW monitored with either a pair of studio monitors or flat response headphones, etc etc.... but not into speaker(s) with a comparatively narrow frequency response, already voiced specifically for guitar, like those found in combos or guitar cabs. It'll just sound like you threw a mattress over your amp... and you can't EQ it away.

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I think it might help you to understand how things are captured in a professional studio recording session or on a professional stage in pretty much every concert you've ever been to.  In all cases you are NEVER hearing the amp.  You are hearing an amp that's been captured, most typically, through a combination and mix of microphones.  The reason for this is because an amp will sound different depending on where the listener is standing relative to the speaker cabinet.  Therefore, to get the most representative sound from an amp in the studio or on a professional stage performance, different types of mics and placements of mics are used to get the best representation.  The fact is, you can accomplish the very same thing using only the Helix and nothing else, and that's how most of us capture our recordings, and our live performances.  The patches I use to capture my recordings are the exact same patches I use in live performance.  The only difference is when recording I capture the output through the USB port on the Helix and on stage I capture the on stage sound from the 1/4" output into my Yamaha DXR12 stage monitor, and send the XLR output to the mixing board for the audience.  I'm not trying to compare that sound to the sound of an amp, because that sound of the amp will vary depending on where I stand relative to the speaker.  I will have the same sound no matter where I stand on stage and no matter where an audience member is seated.

The "big" secret is knowing how to create a signal chain that's representative of the sound I want.  That's not just the amp.  That's the amp, the cabinet (or cabinets) I want to use, and the mix of microphones and how they are placed on the cabinets.  That means understanding the differences in the cabinets, the differences in how different mics capture different sounds and what blends together the best, and how to place those mics to capture higher frequencies or lower frequencies.  As complicated as that all sounds, it turns out to be relatively simple and is demonstrated quite well in Jason Sadites YouTube videos on creating great Helix tone.  Instead of beating your head against the wall, you might be better off to simply watch some of his videos on the subject and try what he's demonstrating.

If you want to just plug into an amp and play, that's simple and that's fine.  But one way or another if you want the realistic sound of your amp on a recording or for your live audience you're still going to have to go through the same process of positioning and mixing physical mics....or just do it all through the Helix.

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These are general signal chains... not intended to be a definitive chain as there are always variances. The point is to show the discrepancy between the player and the intended listener. Shouldn't the goal be to get the best possible tone to the intended listener? (I am quite aware that for some, the intended listener is themselves)

 

LIVE TONE

  1. Guitar choice
  2. Effects
  3. Amp 
  4. Speaker Cabinet (1 speaker, or multiple speaker cabinets)
    (note: 3 and 4 can also be a combo amp)
  5. THIS IS WHAT THE GUITAR PLAYER HEARS
  6. 1 mic placed about 1" away from 1 speaker (regardless of how many speakers the cabinet(s) have) capturing about 1 square inch of sound based on the mic position on the cone. 
  7. Console Input including a low cut filter
  8. Console EQ
  9. Outboard Effects (reverbs, delays)
  10. Depending on the system and sound tech... possible varying degrees of compression 
  11. PA Speakers / Clusters
  12. THIS IS WHAT THE AUDIENCE HEARS

NOTE: #5 and #12 are dramatically different. The player hears all speakers he is using plus the cabinet tone.... the audience only hears the MIC which captures a fraction of a single speaker and little to zero cabinet.

 

RECORDING TONE

  1. Guitar choice
  2. Effects
  3. Amp 
  4. Speaker Cabinet (1 speaker, or multiple speaker cabinets)
    (note: 3 and 4 can also be a combo amp)
  5. Multiple mics placed on the cabinet(s) and in the room to try and capture the full tone of the amp
  6. Now for each microphone used....
    1. Console Input including a low cut filter
    2. Console EQ
    3. Outboard Effects (reverbs, delays)
    4. Multiple levels of compression through all stages of the recording stage (not optional like it was in the live setup.. there will be compression used)
  7. THIS IS WHAT THE PLAYER MAY HEAR THROUGH HEADPHONES, and the ENGINEER/PRODUCER HEARS THROUGH STUDIO MONITORS
    (a player can also stand in the control room and hear the studio monitors instead of wearing headphones)
  8. Final mixing and mastering as monitored through several sets of studio monitors
  9. Additional implementation of gentle EQ, Compression and Processing
  10. Dithered to CD/STREAMING Qualiity
  11. THIS is what the buyer gets to hear

The joy of the Helix is that it can do everything in each chain... it doesn't stop at the amp/cab! 

 

Most guitar players struggle with what happens "after" the cabinet (that starts with mic choice/position) because they are not familiar with those stages... even though that is what they hear on recordings and many/most live shows

 

Guitar players get used to a sound (see live setup step 5) and often INSIST that is what a guitar should sound like. There is nothing wrong with that... but they should be considering the next stages as well. 

 

Myself... I try to create the best sound for the intended listener and to do that I like to create my tones from the listeners perspective in those above lists. My live tones (that I hear) do not suffer from that approach... if anything they are better and more consistent from room to room, stage to stage. YMMV

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set your tones for the audience and live with less than stellar sound for yourself on stage, which is norm where im from.

unless you can go all FRFR or something where you can control the tones, or you've spent a lot of time creating seperate paths.  

 

 

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First of all I can't thank you all enough for taking the time to explain this to me.  It's been very eye opening!  I completely get what you're all saying about what I hear vs the audience and I certainly want the audience to hear the best possible tone.  I'll deal with the rest if that's the case.

 

3 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

I think you might still be a little confused about monitoring options. If you're running into the FX loop of an amp, you don't want to be using cab sims at all... it's redundant. Doubly redundant if you're then trying to record by actually mic-ing the amp itself.

 

This I finally get!  When I run it through my amp I don't use any cabinet blocks, and only use a preamp block when the signal goes direct into the effects loop return.  To record though, I set up a parallel path and only added a cab block to the second path.  I then set the top path to 1/4" as that goes to my amp, and the bottom path with only the cab block to USB 1/2 and that goes to my computer.  Even with this the recording sounds muffled and loses volume.

 

I have watched some of Jason Sadites videos, and while I think they're good, I have a tough time sitting through some of them because they're long (30, 40, 50 minutes, etc).  I tend to lean toward the guys that get right to it, however, being in the situation I'm in, I will go back and spend some time watching his videos.

 

I'm sure it's something I'm doing so later today I'm going to disconnect the amp and run the Helix only into my Mac - to isolate the two.  Once I get that figured out, I'll then add my amp back into the mix and go from there.

 

Again, all the information is greatly appreciated!

 

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5 hours ago, kraftybob said:

I then set the top path to 1/4" as that goes to my amp, and the bottom path with only the cab block to USB 1/2 and that goes to my computer.  Even with this the recording sounds muffled and loses volume.

 

Something isn't right.... I suspect something is not setup right in the configuration... OR you adjusted your tones with no cabinet (that would have resulted in removing too much high end) and tried to add the cabinet later in the process. 

 

Can you export and share your patch so we can check to see what might be amiss? 

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4 hours ago, codamedia said:

Can you export and share your patch so we can check to see what might be amiss? 

 

Here's a simple patch I threw together tonight.  I didn't adjust the tones until after the speaker.  I think I left this one w/T75's but a lot of the speakers just seem muffled to me.  I appreciate you taking a look at it.  Thanks!

Priests2.hlx

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There is nothing wrong with that patch - it works fine on my setup (direct)... but it also doesn't seem to separate outputs like you were describing earlier. 

Are you saying this lacks tone and volume? If so.... maybe it's the monitoring setup from your computer. 

 

To be honest, I was hoping you would share a patch that you were trying to separate the outputs for the AMP and Computer separately.... to see if it looked right and routed correctly. This patch seems pretty normal... and sounds OK with my Tele. I'm not saying it's "perfect" for my tastes (tastes are very subjective)... but it is certainly in the ball park... maybe even in the in-field :) 

 

 

2 hours ago, kraftybob said:

 I think I left this one w/T75's but a lot of the speakers just seem muffled to me.

 

It's a warm sound.... Keep in mind that every cabinet you load will load a different mic. All cabs and all mics have distinct characteristics. When in doubt (ie: if you don't know the differences) stick to the default cab with the amps... they are normally a common match. Experiment with the mics and distance!

 

TIP about mics....

  • Mics all sound different... some bright, some dark, and everything in between :)  
  • Compensate those differences with distance
  • Most mics will have less low end the further you move it back (eg: 1" is darker sounding than 6")

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Later this morning I'll send the patch I was using to separate the two like I described before.  Thanks for checking this one out and I'm glad to hear I'm close.  Maybe it is how Garageband interprets the signal?  Thanks!

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Here's the patch I was using to send one path to the Effects Return of my DSL and the other to my Mac.  I think I may know part of the problem - I'm only using a preamp in the chain because I'm using the DSL's power amp section.  So the signal going to the Mac/Garageband only has the additional speaker cab.  I wondering if the output to the Mac should have an amp & cab, not preamp and cab?  But then I need to split the chain earlier and add another reverb to the Mac output?

 

Thanks!

AC_DC 2.hlx

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