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kraftybob

LT Sounds Muffled When Recording - Resolved!

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Got my Helix LT a few months ago and when I first tried recording I had issues with live sound vs recorded. But that was my not understanding the differences between amp speakers and FRFR.  I'm good with this now.  However, I'm still having an issue with my tone in that it sounds muffled when I record.  I started with a new preset and followed a guy on YouTube, step by step, in a very simple 2204 patch and his sounded clear and crisp and mine sounds muffled.  When I play it through my amp it sounds great.  There's definitely something going on with either the way I have this setup or with the Helix itself.

 

Here's my signal chain for the 2204 preset:

  • PRS Custom 22
  • 10' Cable into Helix
  • USB from Helix to Mac
  • Preset is only the stock Brit 2204 amp + cab model
  • Running Garage Band (I tested Audacity too and had the same muffled result)

 

Helix Settings

  • Input Pad: Off
  • Outputs are set to Instrument
  • Send/Returns set to Instrument
  • Input Block: Multi
  • Output Block: Multi

 

Tomorrow I'm going to try recording to my laptop but I need to set it up first.  I'm stumped because I see all these guys on YouTube making these awesome sounding presets and mine sounds like I have a blanket covering my speakers.  I've had this long enough and heard enough other Helix's that I know this is not normal.

 

Here's a brief recording and the preset...

 

Brit 2204.mp3

 

2204 Test.hlx

 

Thoughts?

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How are you monitoring what you're recording? A patch that you've tweaked for use through as guitar amp will likely need considerable re-working if you want to listen with headphones or studio monitors.

 

Also, if you have direct monitoring turned on in the DAW, then you'll be hearing the direct guitar signal from Helix along with the channel output from Garage Band piggybacked on top... the result is a distant/mushy, almost chorus-ed effect.

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My PRS Custom 24 has the stock HFS bridge PUP. I recorded a short bit (same chords) in Reaper using your preset, then rendered it to mp3. Result attached.

It sounds different from your recording.

I have no idea what's going on in your setup, what pups your PRS has, etc.. One thing I do note, it sounds like you're playing to a delayed signal. Like, you're waiting to hear your last strum before you play the next. I'm not sure how that helps.

 

 

My 2204 Test.mp3

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@cruisinon2 For this test I just loaded the Brit 2204 Amp + Cab - nothing else, no tweaking, etc.  I don’t have a separate DAW – Garageband is my DAW and I do monitor the sound from my stereo receiver while I’m playing.  I disable feedback protection as it constantly kicks in and interrupts the audio, however, when I watch the monitor strength it barely gets above yellow and only on occasion.  I don’t know why it would feedback as the input is the Helix and not a microphone.

 

My setup is Helix --> USB Cable --> USB Input on Mac --> Garageband --> Headphone Out of Mac --> 1/8" Stereo to RCA cable --> Aux Input on Kenwood receiver --> Bose AM5 Speakers

 

My receiver is not coloring the sound to that extent as all other music, videos, etc., sound great.

 

Garageband

  • I start a new project
  • Select Empty Project
  • Input Device = Helix 
  • Output Device = Built-in Output (e.g. headphone out)
  • Track Type = Microphone or Line Input
  • Nothing added from the sound library or and EQ, compression, etc

 

@rd2rk - thanks for testing out the preset.  As you said yours does sound better, cleaner.  I have the Dragon II pickups in my PRS, however, they are not dark pickups.  When I run the Brit 2204 preamp model and feed that to the effects return of my amp, it sounds like I would expect it to - similar to your recording.  I've also tried recording my Gibson SG w/P90's, Ibanez RG470 and Fender Strat (HSS).  While I know the neck pup on the Strat is darker than the bridge, it's way over the top just a crappy tone when recorded.  It sounds like I have a fuzz pedal in front of it.   I think the delay is just me letting the chords ring out - I have zero latency with my signal :)

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The Dragon pups are hotter, so should give you more distortion, but shouldn't cause the problem we're hearing.

Just for kicks, DL Reaper - it's free to try - and record a track. I don't know how it works with MAC and GB, you may have to take the audio out of the Helix HP out.

I just wonder if it's GB that's coloring the sound. Your output routing doesn't matter, since the rendered track has the same muffled sound on my system as on yours.

Worth a try, as it's certainly not a Helix problem.

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Why in the world are you using the Macs onboard interface at all? Use your Helix all throughout!

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8 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

Why in the world are you using the Macs onboard interface at all? Use your Helix all throughout!

 

Only matters to his playback sound, which he's happy with, but yeah, that's what I'd do too.

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If there's a better way, I'm all ears.  I'm new to recording and from what I've seen online it was "connect the USB to your Mac, open Garage Band and select Helix as the input."  How do I use the Helix instead?  Apologies if it's a basic question.

 

I'm going to check the documentation as well to see what's in there.  Thanks

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31 minutes ago, kraftybob said:

If there's a better way, I'm all ears.  I'm new to recording and from what I've seen online it was "connect the USB to your Mac, open Garage Band and select Helix as the input."  How do I use the Helix instead?  Apologies if it's a basic question.

 

I'm going to check the documentation as well to see what's in there.  Thanks

 

He's talking about using Helix for the output. Computer soundcards are not famous for being high quality. If you select Helix as your computer's soundcard instead of the onboard hardware, then take the headphone out from Helix (or 1/4" or XLR with adapters) to your sound system, it MIGHT sound better. Maybe. If you're happy with what you've got, don't sweat it, it has no bearing on the problem you're trying to solve.

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Thanks.  I was beginning to figure that our with Reaper :)  Unlike Garage band that let's you input with one device (Helix) and output with another (Mac Headphone out), it seems the Reaper goes in & out the same path (I'm guessing most DAW's are like this?).  I can see the meters moving in Reaper but didn't see a way to direct the output through the Mac.  A quick check online and it seems the output should come from the Helix.  I don't have headphones with a 1/4" jack so I just ordered a  1/4 to 3.5mm adapter.

 

But like you said I'm not seeing how that solves my problem because even if the Mac output was muffling the sound, when I record and export to an .mp3 I would expect that to sound better.  I'll know more how this setup sounds this weekend when I get the converter.

 

In the meantime I'm going to mess around with Reaper and record some tracks (even though I can't hear them), and then export to .mp3 and see how it sounds.  I'm assuming I'll beable to do this?

 

Thanks for all the responses so far.  I'll update when I get some recordings from Reaper to see if they are better than Garage Band.

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As far as the audio quality goes, did you check whether there's any plugins on the recorded track?

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2 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

As far as the audio quality goes, did you check whether there's any plugins on the recorded track?

I've never added any, and I'm starting with new projects each time so I'm assuming not.  But I will confirm to at least rule it out.  Thanks.

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Btw, not that it'd neccessarily matter for the recording quality, but using different devices for in- and output has a certainl potential to cause some other issues, such as recorded audio files being a tad (or even a tad more) displaced, which could be the result of the two audio devices not being synced properly (usually, when you're using different audio devices in one setup, you connect them via some SPDIF/Adat/Wordclock cable which will take care of the two not suffering from small offsets of the samplerate. It's nothing that *has to* be a bad thing but there's a potential. So, in case you can avoid that (which you perfectly can with the Helix), that's what I'd recommend. Add to this that the outputs of the Helix will be of better quality.

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4 minutes ago, kraftybob said:

I've never added any, and I'm starting with new projects each time so I'm assuming not.  But I will confirm to at least rule it out.  Thanks.

 

What kinda track preset are you using? Guitar, by any chance?

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Actually I'm using the microphone/Line input.  I have not tried the Guitar Input but will do that tonight.  There's not a ton of detailed information out there about recording Helix to Garage Band, but from what I did see the mic/line track type was used.

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5 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

No, I meant the preset when creating a track in GarageBand...

I referenced it wrong when I said input - I meant preset.  When I start a new project there are 4 or 5 options (I'm not in front of it now).  I think there's a guitar, keyboard, mic/line, and a few others.  I choose the mic/line preset/track as I don't record dry signals and don't need the amps or effects that load with the guitar.  But I'll try that and make sure not to select any of these.

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Ah ok. Fine then. I was suspecting that you might have accidentally used some of the guitar presets (which, as you've said yourself, contain quite some plugins). A plain audio track without anything on it is what you generally want when using the Helix.

 

Fwiw, I just recorded something in GB, using your patch, everything seems to be normal.

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24 minutes ago, kraftybob said:

I referenced it wrong when I said input - I meant preset.  When I start a new project there are 4 or 5 options (I'm not in front of it now).  I think there's a guitar, keyboard, mic/line, and a few others.  I choose the mic/line preset/track as I don't record dry signals and don't need the amps or effects that load with the guitar.  But I'll try that and make sure not to select any of these.

 

Try "Basic Track", "No Effects". Set up GB to use the Helix for Output and plug your headphones into the Helix - I think the weird delay thing I mentioned could be what Sascha was talking about when using different Input/Output devices.

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18 hours ago, kraftybob said:

My receiver is not coloring the sound to that extent as all other music, videos, etc. sound great...

 

I wasn't talking about subtle nuances coloring the sound... this is about frequency response and fundamental design differences. There is a dramatic difference in frequency response between a guitar amp and a set of stereo speakers, with the former being  MUCH narrower. A patch that you've dialed in to sound glorious through a traditional guitar speaker will sound like boiled crap through anything that even approaches FRFR. The muffled sound you describe suggests too much low end, which is exactly what I'd expect trying to use a patch that's tweaked for use with a guitar amp that is then pumped through a pair of stereo speakers instead. Guitar speakers are naturally mid-focused...low and high cuts happen by default. If you then take that tone and run it through speakers that will put out more low end by design, the result is usually a flubby mess. I suspect that most of your problem can be solved with EQ. It's unlikely that there's anything wrong with your hardware.

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4 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

I wasn't talking about subtle nuances coloring the sound... this is about frequency response and fundamental design differences. There is a dramatic difference in frequency response between a guitar amp and a set of stereo speakers, with the former being  MUCH narrower. A patch that you've dialed in to sound glorious through a traditional guitar speaker will sound like boiled crap through anything that even approaches FRFR. The muffled sound you describe suggests too much low end, which is exactly what I'd expect trying to use a patch that's tweaked for use with a guitar amp through a pair of stereo speakers. Guitar speakers are naturally mid-focused, requiring you to boost the lows a bit... if you then take that tone and pump it through speakers that will put out more low end by design, the result is usually a flubby mess. I suspect that most of your problem can be solved with EQ. It's unlikely that there's anything wrong with your hardware.

It's funny that you posted this as last night I stayed up and was reading and watching YouTube about speakers (based on your first post) - home stereo vs powered monitors.  And everyone said you should not use home speakers for this exact reason.  I'm beginning to think this is the problem as I don't have studio monitors.

 

I always thought getting monitors was for the more serious/advanced recording setups and that what limited recording I do would be fine without them.  It seems like that's not the case.   

Do all you guys that do home recording have monitors?

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32 minutes ago, kraftybob said:

It's funny that you posted this as last night I stayed up and was reading and watching YouTube about speakers (based on your first post) - home stereo vs powered monitors.  And everyone said you should not use home speakers for this exact reason.  I'm beginning to think this is the problem as I don't have studio monitors.

 

I always thought getting monitors was for the more serious/advanced recording setups and that what limited recording I do would be fine without them.  It seems like that's not the case.   

Do all you guys that do home recording have monitors?

 

I'd say most do have studio monitors, yes... but they're not a magic bullet either. Like your stereo speakers, any pair of near- field studio monitors you pick will also have a wildly different frequency response compared to your guitar amp... you'll end up with the same mud coming out of shiny new speakers. No matter what you do, you're gonna have to EQ your way out of this problem. There's no way around that.

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1 minute ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

I'd say most do have studio monitors, yes... but they won't be a magic bullet either. Like your stereo speakers, any pair of near- field studio monitors you pick will also have a wildly different frequency response compared to your guitar amp... you're gonna have the same problem. Either way, you're gonna have to EQ your way out. No way around that.

Gotcha.  I think I may pick up a pair of studio headphones as I tend to do this more at night so at least I won't disrupt the family.  Sometimes I think the volume is low enough, yet I'll still get that text (because they don't want to get out of bed lol) "can you turn it down?"

 

I know I'll have to do some EQ'ing, but I'd like to start out like I see  a lot of guys on YouTube in that they set up a brand new patch and from the start - without any tweaking - it sounds better than what I'm getting.  Then adjust from there.

 

I appreciate all the help guys - thank you!

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I don't want to jinx it, but thanks to you guys I think I finally have this figured this out.  Using the Helix as my audio interface and a decent pair of headphones really made the difference.  Here's a sample with the backing track to Dani California.  Because of the size limit I just captured some of the verse and chorus and then it jumps to the solo. I'm really happy with the Helix and how this turned out - it would have been a muffled mess if I didn't change my setup based on your advice!

 

Also, I'm eyeing a couple of used Sony MDR-7506's online which should be even better than the bass enhanced headphones I'm using now.

 

Thanks again to everyone for their advice.  I greatly appreciate it! 

Dani CA Sample.mp3

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