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DavidAbrahamson

Helix sounds nothing like my current non line 6 setup. Help plz

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I'll open with a disclaimer. I'm frustrated with the Helix but I believe I am very unusual in what I'm looking for. I'm here to ask for help before I get rid of this thing.

 

Ok, I have a helix and I even bought the powercab plus so that i give line 6 a fair shot. I did this years ago with the Vetta 2 head and line 6 4x12 cab so that I'm not left wondering if there was more I could have done. Months after getting the Vetta 2 I had almost given up playing guitar as it always felt as if I wanted to play it would just be me re tweeking to find something it was incapable of doing. So I sold it and went back to my old set up. I feel I gave it a very fair shot, I wanted it to work, I want this to work. I'm not some tube amp fanboi, I want this to be easy and have great sounds that are easy to switch around.

 

Currently I can't make the helix sound like anything but generic garbage, this is possibly due to me starting music in the 90's where "originality" was crammed down our throats but today cloning yourself is considered a trait worth bragging about. The Helix, Kemper, Headrush and so on is proof of that to me but I could very well be wrong. I don't see that as a bad thing, it's simply not the world I grew up in is all.

 

I play a Ibanez universe, 7 string. I play through an Ampeg bass amp head BR2, 4x10 can and a 1x15 cab. My sound is very unique and not for the sake of being different but rather many many years ago (20 years ago or so) I played through the BR2 amp head and thought "wtf, why do more people not do this!!!" I have a Whammy (2 sided), metal muff, T2 delay, Flashback x4 and a BBE sonic maximizer. This gives me a very different sound while still sounding like a guitar played through and amp, the tones are simply massive in the mid and low range but my high end suffers a bit, EQing mostly fixes that issue.

 

I figured I'd take a chance on line 6 once again, in the back of my mind I had concerns so I watched as much as I could on youtube. I noticed very few people play with heavy distortion and when they do they sound remarkably the same, Meshuggah like, djent... Everything else for lack of a better word is just generic sounds for jazz, blues and "rock." Again that's ok... It's literally a modeler claiming to replicate these sounds.

 

There are many great players who play jazz, blues and rock but they are literally a dime a dozen, tens of millions can and in fact do play literally just like them... same pedals, same amps, same guitars. I don't play anyone else's music, I don't know anyone else's songs because I simply never cared, it's just who I am.

 

I got the Helix and despite it claiming to have the cabs, the amp (better versions) and some of my effects it literally sounds NOTHING like my current rig, no matter how much I play with all the settings. All distortions sound very similar. I hear a "kink" on all the notes, then a distortion is layered over the top. Some distortions sound like a fizz that is to my ears, disgusting. This gives you that Djent sound, clear-ish notes with lots of fizz but it all sound incredibly flimsy to me... This is upsetting because my goal was to get my sound and use a DI out to record for ease. This is why I invested in line 6 again, ease of recording and ease of changing effects for songs so that it's not always the same delay, same reverb, same distortion settings unless I manually tweek them... every time I want to change.

 

Is there something I'm doing wrong? It feels like I'm stuck with fake versions of these options. Like the bass amps and cabs were meant to have a bass play through them and if you step outside of that you get this horrible sound that resembles nothing like what it claims to be. I plug into my old setup and instantly I'm thinking, "The Helix is maybe at best a 2-3 on a scale of 1-10 of the sound I'm getting with the real gear. I cannot make it sound like an ampeg amp with simple distortion that I have physically sitting next to it, this is with the Helix and powercab.

 

I don't want to sound like AC/DC, Meshuggah, led Zeppelin or jazz/blues... I wanted to sound like me with less buttons to push, less dials to mess with between riffs or songs and a super easy clean recording out through a DI. I'm left sounding like generic rock/whatever where if I step outside of that programming it flaps and farts at me like it has no idea anyone would play these things together. When you play a certain amp, distortion and so on you PLAY like that sound... If I give you effects that make you sound like U2 or Nirvana you play like them... the sounds have a way of leading us to that style and that does not interest me.

 

Help would be nice or I'll be selling the Helix (not returnable) and sticking with my old setup. Reality is we use a few pedals, even on something like a Helix. You will have all your "go to" effects, amps and cabs... This can all be bought for around the same price as the Helix/powercab but again I wanted ease of recording, ease of switching sounds... and so far it's absolute generic garbage to my ears because it's nothing like they claimed it would be.

 

I do want this to work, I truly hope I'm just missing some piece of the puzzle. i don't know if it's updated to the 2.8, I don't see how that would matter unless the Helix used to be horrible and patches fixed it... but it very well might have the 2.8, I'll look if that is brought up, if anyone gives feedback.

 

Thanks! Sorry for sounding negative and "generic" is not an insult as my sound could very well sound like crap to all of you... and I'm ok with that.

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Ok, a few misconceptions to clear up first.

 

The Helix doesn't "sound" like anything until you tweak it to sound a certain way. (big period)

 

You're never going to get a 1x12 PowerCab to sound like a guitar played through a massive bass rig, no matter how you tweak it. You could make it sound like that rig mic'ed up, and run into a console from another room, but the visceral guitar-playing experience of a stack of (bass) speakers throwing sound at you will never be replicated with a 1x12 cabinet, no matter how awesome it is. This is probably the BIGGEST reason people who are comfortable with amps and dive into modeling ultimately head back to amps. There's an expectation that because something like Helix/AFX/Kemper has all these bells and whistles that it should be able to sound like anything (which IME, it can) at any time, through any playback source, and that's just not possible. Imagine if you could have a 2" speaker and an 18" speaker that both are capable of the same frequency response. Even though they're moving the same frequencies, that 2" speaker will never SOUND like the 18" speaker. It's the same for a guitar rig. If what makes guitar enjoyable and gives it the sound you want is having six bass speakers cranking sounds at you, playing through a 1x12 will never match that experience, no matter how you tweak it.

 

Before you write the Helix off as generic sounding, try running it into the FX return/Power Amp in of your head into your cabs and tweak with it that way. Always tweak with your ears, don't necessarily try to match physical gear settings to digital gear settings by the numbers, adjust stuff till it sounds good.

 

TL;DR - The Helix is an incredible tool, but you have to be realistic about your expectations depending on your playback source. 

 

EDIT: if you're the kind of person who sees a button or knob and HAS to push it, modelers might just make you crazy, lol.

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6 minutes ago, gunpointmetal said:

Ok, a few misconceptions to clear up first.

 

The Helix doesn't "sound" like anything until you tweak it to sound a certain way. (big period)

 

You're never going to get a 1x12 PowerCab to sound like a guitar played through a massive bass rig, no matter how you tweak it. You could make it sound like that rig mic'ed up, and run into a console from another room, but the visceral guitar-playing experience of a stack of (bass) speakers throwing sound at you will never be replicated with a 1x12 cabinet, no matter how awesome it is. This is probably the BIGGEST reason people who are comfortable with amps and dive into modeling ultimately head back to amps. There's an expectation that because something like Helix/AFX/Kemper has all these bells and whistles that it should be able to sound like anything (which IME, it can) at any time, through any playback source, and that's just not possible. Imagine if you could have a 2" speaker and an 18" speaker that both are capable of the same frequency response. Even though they're moving the same frequencies, that 2" speaker will never SOUND like the 18" speaker. It's the same for a guitar rig. If what makes guitar enjoyable and gives it the sound you want is having six bass speakers cranking sounds at you, playing through a 1x12 will never match that experience, no matter how you tweak it.

 

Before you write the Helix off as generic sounding, try running it into the FX return/Power Amp in of your head into your cabs and tweak with it that way. Always tweak with your ears, don't necessarily try to match physical gear settings to digital gear settings by the numbers, adjust stuff till it sounds good.

 

TL;DR - The Helix is an incredible tool, but you have to be realistic about your expectations depending on your playback source. 

 

Ok, I'll give this a try and thank you very much. I don't pretend to know everything about gear and that is why I'm here looking for help. yes I considered the 1x12 wouldn't sound like the massive bass rig I have (lol), but I was "giving it a fair shot" by playing through what line 6 said it should be played through to capture their sounds. I also admit I wanted the ability to play through a traditional guitar rig, I mean some mesa boogies sound incredible to me when I hear people play through them, sadly my bass amp stack will alter the sound dramatically haha.

 

hanks for the feedback, I do very much appreciate it. Like I said I want this to work, I lose nothing and gain everything if it does.

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So even through headphones all the distortions running through bass amp/cabs sounds horrid, like farting and flapping. The cleans, delays and revers sound good and I'm sure can be made to be better, but can anything be done about the distortions?

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You'll never get a modeler to sound exactly like the real world amp-in-the-room sound you love. You might get close.

 

If your primary goal is ease of recording, dump the Helix and Powercab and get a reactive load box. That way you'll have the sound of YOUR preamp and YOUR amp. Some have built in cab IRs, or you can use anything once you've got the sound in your computer. But therein lies the rub.

 

It won't sound exactly like the real world amp-in-the-room sound you love. You might get close, but for recording you can either mic your real world rig (the recorded sound will be colored by the mic, preamps, etc) or use a reactive load with cab sims which, no matter how good they are, will always be digital approximations of mics and cabs.

 

Good luck in your search for the ever elusive "perfect sound"!

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11 minutes ago, DavidAbrahamson said:

Ok, I'll give this a try and thank you very much. I don't pretend to know everything about gear and that is why I'm here looking for help. yes I considered the 1x12 wouldn't sound like the massive bass rig I have (lol), but I was "giving it a fair shot" by playing through what line 6 said it should be played through to capture their sounds. I also admit I wanted the ability to play through a traditional guitar rig, I mean some mesa boogies sound incredible to me when I hear people play through them, sadly my bass amp stack will alter the sound dramatically haha.

 

hanks for the feedback, I do very much appreciate it. Like I said I want this to work, I lose nothing and gain everything if it does.

Sometimes it easy for us guitarists to over and under think things when it comes to gear. Speakers play a huge role in how something sounds. You could have a really awesome top-dollar tube head and dial it in to sound amazing through a Marshall cab, plug it into a Mesa cab, and now it sounds totally different without ever touching a dial. Same idea with modelers and small cabs or FRFR speakers. A lot of peers that I play shows with use modelers from Boss to AFX, but most of them are still plugging into a power amp and their preferred guitar cab because of the feel and in-the-room sound that comes from those speakers versus a small full-range cab. Even if the FOH/studio sound of that cab mic'ed up might be the same as what the FRFR cab is putting out, its not the same for the player in their position on stage between a bassist and a drum kit, and being comfortable on stage is as important for a performance as how things sound.

 

Headphones are whole 'nother thing compared to even FRFR solutions and most people will build patches specifically for headphones, patches specifically for recording, and patches specifically for live use.

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Well, obviously your aim is unique.

As someone said, if the feeling of a huge system vibrating your body is part of that experience, you need to be able to reproduce those sound levels - so the Helix will only be part of that mix.

Regarding all this, there is a lot of technical stuff you will need to deal with as you are wanting to synthesize a rig that is not common.

I'm willing to bet given a suitable playback system, someone who really knew the Helix could work with you to give you a good match to your rig. And extend it's possibilities!

But there are basic concepts.  Every time I hear stuff about how Helix distortion sounds bad, I know the writer doesn't get basic principles.

Run any Valve amp into a hi-fi system (rather than a guitar cab) and it will sound bad soon as it starts to distort.  Plug a guitar into a fuzz and plug that into your stereo - again it sounds really bad!

You have to realise that the Helix as it starts is also a Hi Fi system.  That's good in the long run because it's necessary to be able to produce the sound of lots of amps and effects.  If it sounded like a guitar amp by default, then it would always sound like that particular amp no matter what you did - it needs that full range to be able to create the variety.

So let's start with a guitar amp.  It has a "sound".  You hear it through speakers - they also have a "sound".  Guitar amps have specific frequency response and harmonic content.

Speakers the same.  What we call a good guitar sound (your too even if it's different) is the result of all this.  When you use a Helix, you might find an amp that is a reproduction of one you use.  That will cover the amp side of the equation.  The speakers are a bit more complicated in the Helix because it models the sound of the speaker with a mic in front of it.

That's not how you hear it in the room.  This is why there is a whole expertise in just micing a guitar amp in the recording studio to get a good guitar sound.  A mic sitting an inch from the cone is going to get a pretty harsh sound - that's a real world experience.  Then the mic also has a "sound".

So the long and short of that is you will always get more of a "recorded" sound out of that process even after some tweaks - I'll get to them soon!!

The big one is that all the speakers we use in instrument amplification are tuned to make a very nasty sound (a distorted guitar amp) sound nice.

Back in the day, speakers did well to give you much fidelity above about 5Khz. In the history of guitar sounds we like to think of as nice, those sounds came from speakers like that.

If you were to go to the web site of your favourite speaker and look up it's frequency response, you will find its frequency range is not Hi-Fi, but very limited (or tailored if you like).

So the mic in front of the cab also needs to be tailored.  The obvious thing to do is adjust the frequency range to match.  generally the simulation basically just needs the highs and lows adjusted, and the simulation will do the rest, but I'm sure I'm not alone in also hunting for the mid zone of the sound I'm after and tweaking that too.

The starting point for typical guitar tones is high cut at say 5Khz and low cut at 100Hz.  Now for you, that low might be too high - but you can bet you want it somewhere even if its 60Hz.

So try some low and high cuts to start with.  (the above is for a HiFi FRFR playback system - which I can discuss - if you use a amp into a speaker cab, it will all depend on that combo)

Now you might say, but it's the distortions I don't like - listen to them through a tuned speaker and suddenly they aren't harsh any more.

If you have a power cab, I can't guarantee that you will get a big bass sound like from a few 15's out of that, I suspect it's not up to being a bass rig - so what you play it through might be the other part of the puzzle,  But you'd think some of the bigger 15+ horn type PA boxes like say a JBL EON 615 would be able to move enough air in the right range to start to get you excited.

The point is, you need to think through your sound to reproduce it - you will need to do that even more if it's very different to most "normal" guitar sounds.

Don't be so cocky as to think you have nothing to learn from all the YouTube videos on getting great sounds from your Helix - just because your sound is different, does not mean there won't be a hell of a lot to learn there - and expect to have to learn some stuff - the Helix is a big blank canvas.  You need to learn a bit of painting skills before you can produce your particular art.

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Much of THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Should comprise the Intro in the Helix manual.

Not that anybody reads the manual...............................:-)

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Dunno if that's a thing with modelers, but newcomers seem to get fustarated during the initial couple of hours and claim to "hate" their Helix or AX8. 

 

Couple of facts first:

 

1. There's a learning curve to these things, especially to Helix, as it's the least "plug-and-play" of all modelers available on the market, due to all the tweaking that can be done.

2. Most tones are there. With the help of IRs most people find what they need.

3. Fizz is a mutual part of all guitar gear, try stripping down any metal recording down to raw tracks and listen to the guitars.

4. As mentioned above, forget the feel of a massive bass rig. Can;t be replicated with a single 1x12

5. Oh, the headphones thing. Helix will sound horrific through low-impedence headphones. I use 250 ohm Beyerdynamic cans and they seem to get the job done.

 

Seems like this technology may not really be your thing, especially considering how *different* your setup and expectations seem to be.

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I've hesitated to get involved in this conversation because in reading the original post it's clear to me that the OP is interested in one unique sound which he's been able to cobble together with a set of gear and wants to replicate on a Helix.  My first reaction to such a thing is, "what's the point?".  Don't get me wrong.  I have absolutely no doubt given a recording from the OP's setup any number of people familiar with the Helix would be able to replicate it.  If I can replicate the totally unique and original sounds of people like Joe Walsh or Brian May or Chet Atkins or Mark Knopfler, I doubt I'll get stumped by something the OP came up with.  But that's really not the point here.  The point here is, why would I invest in a Helix rig if all I was going to do was come up with one single sound?  That seems like an awfully expensive way to do one very specialized thing.  Of course it bears mentioning that the unique sound the OP came up with won't be the same once it gets recorded or played in a live environment.  It will only be the same when he's standing in the same room with his rig, and of course that sound will vary considerably depending on where he's standing relative to his output device.  If you want to hear fizz, place your ears directly over the cap of your speakers, you'll hear plenty of it.  Once it's recorded, or presented to an audience in a live environment it will be much more like the Helix version because that's what the Helix does.

And to set matters straight, I don't think there's any particularly great learning curve associated with the Helix.  In fact I think the presentation of the options is pretty easy to understand compared to most other modelers.  The learning curve for a lot of people has to do more with how to capture and present your sound either on a recording or in a live environment..unless, of course, you want to make a career out of playing in your bedroom.  For that you need to understand a LOT more fundamentals such as the type of pickups and style of guitar (hollow body, semi hollow, solid body, acoustic) being used and their effect on your input into the signal chain, the differences in the designed behaviors of different amplifiers, the the differences in different types of speakers, mics, and mic placements and mixes necessary to capture and present the sound, as well as how to gain stage that signal chain appropriately so that the amp and effect models act and respond predictably.  None of these things are unique to the Helix and have been a part of music production for about 5 or 6 decades.  It's just that many people have chosen to be oblivious to it.

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My recommendation for the OP is baby steps... don't try to accomplish it all in one shot. You don't know exactly where the breakdown of tone is occurring so you keep twisting knobs hoping to resolve it.  You need to break that cycle by creating a tone you can trust... 

 

17 hours ago, DavidAbrahamson said:

I play through an Ampeg bass amp head BR2

 

That amp has a power amp in doesn't it... try it! Plug the Helix into the power amp input, and run the speaker cabinets you are used to. Now learn how to create the tones in the Helix using the same power and speakers you are used to hearing. The only caveat to this is that you should use a "pre-amp only" amp or the full amp with no cabs... stay away from any cabs during this stage. 

 

This will help you find an amp model that does what the Ampeg does, and the effects to replace your existing effects. The side benefit is that through this process you are learning how to use the Helix. Take all the time you need... it doesn't have to be done in a weekend. 

 

Once you have replaced your effects and pre-amp of the Ampeg with a tone you trust from the Helix you can begin to replace that poweramp/cabinet(s) with the Powercab and possibly some cab blocks and ir's. That will be another learning curve but you have a foundation to start from! You are already aware that it won't sound as big or move as much air... but volume compensated (ie: at lower volumes) you should be able to equal the tone... now just learn to let the PA do the heavy lifting. 

 

Just my 2 cents....

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Thank you for all the feedback guys, further more thank you for being nice... It's always a little scary to post knowing people often will just poop all over you instead of actually help as you all have done. 

 

I'll give a few things a try and see what I come up with =D

 

 

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3 hours ago, DavidAbrahamson said:

Thank you for all the feedback guys, further more thank you for being nice... It's always a little scary to post knowing people often will just poop all over you instead of actually help as you all have done. 

 

I'll give a few things a try and see what I come up with =D

 

 

 

So I think one of the problems here is that you want to go direct input for recording ease, but your sound is pretty dependent on the actual AIR moving, as generated by a bass amp and cab.  I'm still not sure that pure DI using modeling as "simulated air", no matter how good the impulse response may be, is quite there yet.  I've heard some pretty good Helix users on youtube, who really understand how to use it, go DI, and it still sounds thin compared to sound coming out of a real cabinet, using a real power amp. 

 

If you are willing to forgo the DI route, however, I think you will find a lot of great options inside the Helix, if you are willing to take the time to tweak it.  As someone else above said, start by dialing in some sounds using your current power amp and cabinet.  Start basic by trying out some amp models or preamp models, a couple EQ modules, a close-in reverb set low for just a little bit of room ambience, and add an OD as needed.  I'd also take a look at the firmware- with 2.8 they set the cabinet defaults to have high/low shelfing that's a bit closer to the real frequency cuts you'll find in guitar cabinets.  But most importantly, you probably will not find anything really worth your while in the presets- those are there mostly to "show off" what effects and models can do, or give an over-idealized impression of "famous sounds".  I have a feeling you may find quite a bit to like, and actually add to your sound in the Helix, if you take some time to get comfortable with it.  Just remember, it's as easy to sound like lollipop using the Helix as it is to sound great, as there's not much in the way of "guardrails" (one of the disadvantages to the unit allowing you flexibility, I suppose).  But once you figure out what to do, it is rewarding.

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