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Why helix hardware sounds better than the plugin??

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On 8/28/2019 at 7:31 AM, phil_m said:

With the same input source/dry track, Native and the hardware will sound exactly the same. The guitar inputs on the Helix hardware are optimized for electric guitars in a way that most generic audio interfaces aren't.

And you can tailor them using the input impedance.  This makes a giant difference.

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7 minutes ago, hideout said:

And you can tailor them using the input impedance.  This makes a giant difference.

 

This is what I'm slowly finding to be the case.

 

Essentially going back to theory and it's working out in practice is that, the higher the input impedance you can get the better.

 

i see what someone is saying about the signal potentially being too hot but I got back a DI from another person and ran it through my setup and this sounded as expected, pretty awesome. However! His signal was orders of magnitude louder than mine. With mine around --30 - -22db his was printed around an average of say -8 - -10db, so a much hotter signal yet his still sounded cleaer, less top end, much more rounded and FAR more where it should be.

 

Now whilst that might sound simple to get more impedance, it seems most higher end equipment still tops out around 1Mohm, and guitar from my calcs seem to want at least a minimum of 2mohm (tbh this all comes down to how hot the pickup is, proximity to the strings as well etc etc and 2mohm can just be the starting point), but fundamentally it means I had to dig out something which when I checked the tech specs, 4.7mohm on it's rear input - what do ya know, a marked improvement in the tone. It's being coloured on the way in with this preamp, so it's a prompt to look for any recommendations on a high impedance DI if anyone has one? As clean as possible.

 

As an aside the pre's might sound "cold" but that's actually the beauty of clean Midas pre's they don't colour the sound so we know what on earth is going on.

 

I want to thank those who helped it was much appreciated, and whilst it definitely CAN be input level, it's very much a contributing factor it seems. I mean unless someone wants to tell me it's all wrong and explain some theory but the sound is telling me otherwise.

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The max input impedance of the Helix (and I'm assuming the Stomp too) is 1 MOhm. It is variable, however, and can be changed to a lower value, which definitely has an impact on tone (even if recording dry tone for re-amping later).

So, I'm still not sure you've found some root cause, because the Stomp input you thought sounded great wasn't more than 1 MOhm impedance. If 4.7Mohm sounded better on some other device, you're not comparing apples to apples.

 

FWIW, I have done essentially the same thing you're doing here, using my Helix as an ASIO input for dry recording, and also using a Native Instruments Rig Kontrol 2 with its ASIO driver for dry recording, and then run them both thru Native in FLStudio as an A-B compare. They sound almost exactly identical once you get the input levels into Native to match for each of the clean DI guitars. The only difference I can really notice is the Rig Kontrol has slightly less dynamic range with its A/D, but that's something you feel more than you hear.

If I have time tomorrow I'll repeat this with your preset, and the latest version of Native to seem if something wonky has happened recently. But I still don't think you've really found the cause of the tonal differences you heard, and I don't think it's Native. I think it's something with either your hardware, drivers, or signal routing within your DAW.

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17 hours ago, W4RM3CH4N1C said:

Now whilst that might sound simple to get more impedance, it seems most higher end equipment still tops out around 1Mohm, and guitar from my calcs seem to want at least a minimum of 2mohm (tbh this all comes down to how hot the pickup is, proximity to the strings as well etc etc and 2mohm can just be the starting point), but fundamentally it means I had to dig out something which when I checked the tech specs, 4.7mohm on it's rear input - what do ya know, a marked improvement in the tone. It's being coloured on the way in with this preamp, so it's a prompt to look for any recommendations on a high impedance DI if anyone has one? As clean as possible.

 

  1. The Stomp maxes out at 1M on the main inputs and that's the tone you love. If you have it set to AUTO it could theoretically be much lower depending on the first block that is turned on in the chain. This is the same variance as plugging a guitar into pedals boards & amps. 
  2. Based on that, 2M and 4.7M are not the answer... although they are likely better than just a MIC level input if that is all the interface provides. Mic level is very low... around 1.5K... while even the low input on a Twin is around 150K (the normal input is 1M)

 

17 hours ago, W4RM3CH4N1C said:

As an aside the pre's might sound "cold" but that's actually the beauty of clean Midas pre's they don't colour the sound so we know what on earth is going on.

 

IMO... Rather than worry about "transparent vs colored" you should think more about how it actually sounds. Color is not evil.... NEVE, SSL & API preamps for example are not transparent... engineers/producers like them for the colors they have.

  • Are you talking about the preamps included in the Behringer Interface you mention earlier? If so, stay away from marketing hype. The Midas pre's in that interface are NOT the same MIDAS pre's they use in their own boards. Not to mention the rest of the unit is still a Behringer design, they don't have a reputation for great audio quality.  
  • How do you know they are not coloring the tone... based on your first two samples I would suggest they are stripping depth from the tone. If they truly are neutral... then neutral doesn't sound very good does it :) I defer to my comment above about color.  

FWIW... I have run my own tests... one is a direct "dry" signal from my Helix via USB, the other is my guitar plugged into my Soundcraft interface then recorded "dry". The two tones into Helix Native do sound a little different... but both sound very good - there is not huge difference like your sample provided. 

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