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metamito

Helix + RC505 (Struggling to get good tones in rehearsal room)

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Good evening everyone!
I am a solo looping artist, and guitar is my main instrument. I recently upgraded my setup.
Right now , this is how it goes: Guitar goes into Helix, Helix jack out stereo into RC505 Inst In . I also have other instruments going into the RC505 AUX (this is one of the reasons why i dont have it inside Helix as a FX LOOP).

At home I manage to get OK tones. In my rehearsal room, playing at stage level, it all goes donwill. Im really struggling to get usable tones...Everything just sounds so fake and digital, feels nothing like an amp! I get really ugly high end distortion, akin to when your DAW is overloading your CPU. My monitors are JBL m350 mk2 btw.

At this point i have tried everything I could think of. I have made my own presets, downloaded others from the internet, tried low cut 250 and high cut as low as 5k-8k, playing around with input levels on mixing desk, RC505, helix... nothing seems to work.

At this point its unplayable and i just cant get a good enough sound to even feel what im playing. 

Maybe this is in vein, but perhaps someone with a similar setup has some tips?

Is there anyway to know if helix is clipping? From a block to another, perhaps?? Or maybe RC505 leveling tips with the helix? I dont even know...
Thank you so much in advance!

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For starters, that rig is NEVER going to sound like an amp. At best, it will sound like a mic'd up amp. That's what Helix does. With 15" speakers, it may never sound good at all. And the few reviews I found on those speakers mentioned fragile tweeters. It's possible they're blown, so you might start by checking those with CD music. If all is well, from the helix end:

 

First, go into Global Settings and check the Output levels of the outputs you're using for the RC505. Is it a device that you would normally plug a guitar or Guitar type FX pedal directly into? Set the 1/4" outs to INST level. If they were at LINE Level, that may have been the problem.

Set the BIG KNOB (Volume) to control whatever outputs you're NOT using, OR keep the BIG KNOB dimed. That's UNITY GAIN. What goes in is what comes out.

What pickups are you using? In Globals, set the Input Pad OFF for single coil strat/tele; ON for Heavy Metal High Output Bone Crushers. Other Humbuckers and P-90s try it both ways.

 

Did that fix it?

 

Bypass the RC505. Load an empty preset. Hit a big loud chord. See how loud it is? That's your baseline. Use the monitor volume levels to get a tolerable room level.

Load one of your regular presets. Is it a lot louder?

Starting with everything OFF, add the amp/speaker back in. Level the sound to baseline with the Amp Channel Volume. Add an effect, level with the effect Level. Repeat one effect at a time. When you've got everything leveled (GAIN STAGED), try the RC505. 

If it's still clipping, maybe the RC505 is defective, because the level you're putting into it is about the same as if you're plugged in directly.

If it sounds good, you can now build or level your presets, remembering to LISTEN to the level whenever you add an effect. If the effect raises the output level significantly, use the effects' level setting to get it back to baseline. Once you've gotten rid of the clipping in the RC505, you can increase your presets' levels, if necessary, until you get clipping again.

 

I put the emphasis on LISTEN because there's no level indicators on the Helix. Your ears might not be perfect, but they'll get you in the ballpark.

 

Hope something here helps.

 

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9 hours ago, rd2rk said:

 

Hope something here helps.

 

Thank you so much for your in depth answer! The tweeds were indeed broken so we fixed them last week, thats why I stopped rehearsin in my bedroom and went back to the rehearsal room. They sound good with music from my phone, even guitar based music.

My helix output is INST level.
Regarding the BIG KNOB, i've always been a bit confused... I've seen people saying i should leave it at full volume, other people saying 12 o'clock... I have been leaving it at 12 oclock lately.
Im using humbuckers with the pad on.

Now, about the big chords empy preset thing: When i strum the big chord, is this as loud as I should let my signal be? So when i add an amp and distortion, it cannot go over that volume?
My other presets, the ones the sound the best, they are MUCH louder than this level. Like... if i play the same chord i have to turn the master volume way down

the RC505 has a "instrument level" knob, which i have to keep fairly low to avoid clipping. It has a clipping red light so IN THEORY, if it clips there, i would know.

However the helix does not have this red indicator so i never know if my helix is clipping or not
 

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9 hours ago, rd2rk said:

For starters, that rig is NEVER going to sound like an amp. At best, it will sound like a mic'd up amp. That's what Helix does. With 15" speakers, it may never sound good at all.

This is what worries me the most. The fact that it doesnt "feel" like an amp can really affect my playing, as im not feeling the sound in the same way. Also, these 15" speakers are the biggest ones i have, so the only way to simulate stage volume (this rig was meant for live concert scenarios). If it may never sound good at all, what if you go to a venue that only has speakers like these? What do you do then? With a real amp, you can always just crank it up if its a small venue, with this you are stuck with the speakers they have

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1 hour ago, metamito said:

This is what worries me the most. The fact that it doesnt "feel" like an amp can really affect my playing, as im not feeling the sound in the same way.

 

This is a deal-breaker for some, but there's really nothing you can do about it. It doesn't "feel" like a guitar amp because it isn't, and it never will be. Some guys never warm up to an FRFR rig... it happens.

 

The Powercab will give you more of the amp feel that you're looking for, but if you intend to pump other instruments through it in addition to the guitar, I honestly have no idea what that would sound like... but I suspect it wouldn't be all that wonderful, as that's not really what it's designed for. Only one way to know for sure.

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4 hours ago, metamito said:

Thank you so much for your in depth answer! The tweeds were indeed broken so we fixed them last week, thats why I stopped rehearsin in my bedroom and went back to the rehearsal room. They sound good with music from my phone, even guitar based music.

My helix output is INST level.
Regarding the BIG KNOB, i've always been a bit confused... I've seen people saying i should leave it at full volume, other people saying 12 o'clock... I have been leaving it at 12 oclock lately.
Im using humbuckers with the pad on.

Now, about the big chords empy preset thing: When i strum the big chord, is this as loud as I should let my signal be? So when i add an amp and distortion, it cannot go over that volume?
My other presets, the ones the sound the best, they are MUCH louder than this level. Like... if i play the same chord i have to turn the master volume way down

the RC505 has a "instrument level" knob, which i have to keep fairly low to avoid clipping. It has a clipping red light so IN THEORY, if it clips there, i would know.

However the helix does not have this red indicator so i never know if my helix is clipping or not
 

 

4 hours ago, metamito said:

This is what worries me the most. The fact that it doesnt "feel" like an amp can really affect my playing, as im not feeling the sound in the same way. Also, these 15" speakers are the biggest ones i have, so the only way to simulate stage volume (this rig was meant for live concert scenarios). If it may never sound good at all, what if you go to a venue that only has speakers like these? What do you do then? With a real amp, you can always just crank it up if its a small venue, with this you are stuck with the speakers they have

 

The point of all of my suggestions was to prevent the RC505 from clipping. If it has a clip light, then IF clipping is the problem, we're back to Helix. It is very difficult to clip the output of the Helix. You CAN clip individual Blocks in a preset, which is the point of gain staging. Presumably, Helix Factory Presets and 3rd party Purchased presets have already been gain staged. The effect of the BIG KNOB on tone is something that occurs in the "digital realm" BEFORE the DA conversion to the analog outs. It is minimal, and Hi-Fi fanatics argue amongst themselves if humans can even hear it. There's a link somewhere on here to a Hi-Fi site where this is discussed ad-nauseam. Bottom line - I use the BIG KNOB for output level control and can't hear the difference. YMMV. I included it in the gain staging suggestions to establish a baseline UNITY GAIN situation as part of not clipping the RC505. 

 

The thing about your speakers is that they are PA speakers, intended for use in large rooms. Getting them to sound right in a rehearsal space might never happen. That's why there's a large market for purpose-made FRFR solutions. You want to create your presets at STAGE level, not COLISEUM level.

 

EDIT: If you look at all the suggestions for FRFR solutions here and on TGP, you'll notice that NOBODY recommends 15" speakers for guitar. Even bass players are switching en masse to 10" and 12" solutions. My FRFR112 sounds great with bass.

 

Lastly, as cruisinon2 said, modelers and FRFR are not for everybody. Some people just can't get used to the sound. 

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23 hours ago, rd2rk said:

 

 

The point of all of my suggestions was to prevent the RC505 from clipping.


OKAY so I've got some updates.
Last night i took my studio reference monitors (JBL LSR305 MKII) to the rehearsal room, to see if they sounded better than the huge JBL spekaers we have there.
I bypassed the RC505 first, tried sending the signal from the helix to my steinberg audio interface and from that to the monitors, and also tried directly from the helix to the monitors.
The sound was OK. I had the volume on max, but it was not that loud. I good some usable tones, but obviously nothing like playing with an amp, which is weird but i could get used to it with time. 

Then i plugged the RC505 and this is where the problems started.
Right off the bat, there was a huge drop in volume. Also, i had to keep the "input knob" really really low, or else the clipping light would turn on. To compensate for the lack of volume i hate to turn up the volume on the mixing desk quite a lot, but the sound was no doubt harsher than the one directly plugged in from to helix.

After so much money and time invested, im affraid i will have to abandon this setup. I don't think my RC505 is faulty, but the whole thing together does not sound like i want it to. I know this is not a forum to discuss RC505 so I will not bore you with that.
I was trying to have a setup similar to tash sultana's latest one. She uses a helix and RC505, however her sounds are just top notch quality. My stuff sounds fake and weak at this point, maybe with some expert close to me i could get it to sound better but its giving me a big headache right now.

One last question i guess: in my tech rider, i have the indication that from the RC505, the sound needs to go through 2 di's (stereo), would this help with the volume compensation? 

Thank you all for helping
 

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If you plug the Helix XLR into the RC505 MIC input, set the XLR OUT setting in GLOBAL SETTINGS to MIC.

If you plug the Helix 1/4" into the RC505 INST input, set the 1/4" OUT settiing in GLOBAL SETTINGS to INST.

At that point, if the BIG KNOB is either dimed or set to control the OTHER outs (the ones you're NOT using for the RC505), then the Helix out is at UNITY and the I/O knobs on the RC505 should be in control. 

 

One last possibility. Some people put the external looping device at the end of the Helix preset's signal chain, using the Helix FX Loops. The FX Loops have their own level controls (and GLOBAL INST/LINE settings - set to INST for the RC505) independent of the main Helix outputs. You would then send the main Helix outputs to the board. Just a thought, might be worth trying.

 

31 minutes ago, metamito said:

One last question i guess: in my tech rider, i have the indication that from the RC505, the sound needs to go through 2 di's (stereo), would this help with the volume compensation? 

 

If you're using HELIX LEFT/MONO (1/4" or XLR) out, then you only need one channel. The RC505 MIC Input (from Helix XLR LEFT/MONO OUT set to MIC) should be using the stereo outs from the RC505, but you won't be getting stereo from Helix, so one channel is all you need (RC505 LEFT/MONO Out). If you're using the Helix 1/4" LEFT/MONO out to the RC505 L/MONO IN, same deal. you won't get stereo from the Helix unless you use BOTH 1/4" Outs to BOTH RC505 1/4" Ins AND both RC505 Outs.

 

 

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1 hour ago, metamito said:


OKAY so I've got some updates.
Last night i took my studio reference monitors (JBL LSR305 MKII) to the rehearsal room, to see if they sounded better than the huge JBL spekaers we have there.
I bypassed the RC505 first, tried sending the signal from the helix to my steinberg audio interface and from that to the monitors, and also tried directly from the helix to the monitors.
The sound was OK. I had the volume on max, but it was not that loud. I good some usable tones, but obviously nothing like playing with an amp, which is weird but i could get used to it with time. 

Then i plugged the RC505 and this is where the problems started.
Right off the bat, there was a huge drop in volume. Also, i had to keep the "input knob" really really low, or else the clipping light would turn on. To compensate for the lack of volume i hate to turn up the volume on the mixing desk quite a lot, but the sound was no doubt harsher than the one directly plugged in from to helix.

After so much money and time invested, im affraid i will have to abandon this setup. I don't think my RC505 is faulty, but the whole thing together does not sound like i want it to. I know this is not a forum to discuss RC505 so I will not bore you with that.
I was trying to have a setup similar to tash sultana's latest one. She uses a helix and RC505, however her sounds are just top notch quality. My stuff sounds fake and weak at this point, maybe with some expert close to me i could get it to sound better but its giving me a big headache right now.

One last question i guess: in my tech rider, i have the indication that from the RC505, the sound needs to go through 2 di's (stereo), would this help with the volume compensation? 

Thank you all for helping
 

 

Almost everyone goes through these kind of growing pains with modeling... instant gratification is essentially nonexistent. You can't approach setting up your tones the way you would with an amp. It requires thinking more like a recording engineer than a guitar player. Most of the time it's just a question of spending enough time with it to find out what amp/cab/mic combinations will work for best for you. There's also likely to be more EQing necessary than you're used to. I seriously doubt there's anything "wrong" with any of your gear. You just don't know what you're doing yet... and I don't mean that to sound disparaging. We all went through it, and the process isn't necessarily obvious or intuitive, particularly if you've been used to a different approach for years on end.

 

It's also possible that modeling just isn't for you... and that's OK too. It happens.

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55 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

If you plug the Helix XLR into the RC505 MIC input, set the XLR OUT setting in GLOBAL SETTINGS to MIC.

If you plug the Helix 1/4" into the RC505 INST input, set the 1/4" OUT settiing in GLOBAL SETTINGS to INST.

At that point, if the BIG KNOB is either dimed or set to control the OTHER outs (the ones you're NOT using for the RC505), then the Helix out is at UNITY and the I/O knobs on the RC505 should be in control. 

 


Im using the Helix 1/4 outs at INST level. 
Still, if i keep the "instrument level" knob in the RC505 at 12'oclock (which i guess would be unit) the clipping light turns on often. If i turn it down to stop the clipping, the volume gets really quit.

Also, part of the reason i decided to use the helix, was to use its stereo capabilities, so yes i use both outs in the helix. Before this i used a rc30 and i used the stereo channels to split my signal, so i had guitar stuff going to an amp and keyboard and beats going to another channel, to FOH.

My idea here was to put everything together in stereo and get rid of the amp, reason why i bought helix and rc505.
Perhaps i can take some pictures next time to show you how my setup looks like.
I guess with headphones im happy with it, but it doesnt translate well in the rehearsal room. Im a bit scared of going on stage with this 
 

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33 minutes ago, metamito said:


Im using the Helix 1/4 outs at INST level. 
Still, if i keep the "instrument level" knob in the RC505 at 12'oclock (which i guess would be unit) the clipping light turns on often. If i turn it down to stop the clipping, the volume gets really quit.

Also, part of the reason i decided to use the helix, was to use its stereo capabilities, so yes i use both outs in the helix. Before this i used a rc30 and i used the stereo channels to split my signal, so i had guitar stuff going to an amp and keyboard and beats going to another channel, to FOH.

My idea here was to put everything together in stereo and get rid of the amp, reason why i bought helix and rc505.
Perhaps i can take some pictures next time to show you how my setup looks like.
I guess with headphones im happy with it, but it doesnt translate well in the rehearsal room. Im a bit scared of going on stage with this 
 

 

The RC505 Input Level knob should keep the clip light OFF (or infrequent) The Output level knob Should control the level to the board. If you've got a terrible mismatch between the mixed Helix an RC505 signals, that could be why people put the looper in the Helix FX loop.

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Not sure if this is helpful...but:

 

One thing that helped me was plugging some good headphones into the helix (Ath 50.... not the best but more than adequate) and start building sounds from there.

 

Put some of your favourite guitar sounds from your music library on your phone through the aux in and start tone matching.  Playing along with tracks really helps me gauge how the guitar will dot in the mix when I play live.

 

For me, if I’ve selected the right components to the chain.... amp, cab, mics....etc....there’s no need for any frequency cuts at all.  If I want less bass, top end or mids I’ll usually change the mic and or cabinet and tweak the amp settings before applying more eq “stuff” into the chain.

 

I’ve recorded lots over the years with real amps... but even so it took a few days of really focused listening to find the right “recipe”.  Trying different cabs with different mics and different heads.  Once I got a baseline sound, I’d use the helix pedals for the rest.... more gain, boost, etc.

 

Ime, if it sounds good through those headphones.... it’s going to sound good through my monitors.  If it sounds good through my monitors.... it’s going to sound good live.... maybe give or take minor tweaks depending on the venue.

 

Sean Meredith-Jones

www.seanmeredithjones.com

 

 

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