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lyonk55

Dull sounding dry signal

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Hi all,

 

I've had my Helix for a for a while now and have a bit of an issue getting high gain sounds I like (better luck with cleans though). I've suspected for a while now that the problem is related to the DI signal and not the modelling, since it seems to affect me using the Helix as an interface for plugins too. Finally got around to comparing my signals with the Helix to a pro's (Nolly's) and the results are pretty obvious: I have loads more midrange and low end, which explains my dull, boomy sounds. The thing is, I'm not really sure why and Googling seems to give more advice for the amp/effects rather than the dry signal itself. I don't think it's due to my instruments as they all suffer from it to varying extents, regardless of string age. And I can't see any obvious settings that would be screwing things up.

 

I record via the USB out and monitor with Sennheiser HD600s.

 

If anyone has any suggestions, either Helix specific or in general I'd really appreciate it. 

 

I've attached some images from the spectrum analyser plugin of Nolly's DI compared to my 7 string with 2 different pickups and my JP15.

Nolly.png

7 string impulse.png

7 string DI.png

JP15 DI.png

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16 hours ago, lyonk55 said:

Finally got around to comparing my signals with the Helix to a pro's (Nolly's) and the results are pretty obvious:

 

What is the exact chain you are using to record the "2nd" dry signal that you are comparing the Helix dry input to? 

 

16 hours ago, lyonk55 said:

And I can't see any obvious settings that would be screwing things up.

 

  1. Make sure the input on the Helix is set to Instrument, not Line
  2. Check the impedance setting on the input block... IMO, set it to 1M rather than auto if recording a dry track. This will assure the system is not changing it without your knowledge. Anything lower than 1M will begin to "dull" the signal. 

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The comparison signal is from online, I didn't record it. I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's a dry signal from an Axe Fx 2.

 

I'm using the guitar input, with "Multi" selected on the patch. I can't see an input level setting in the global settings or patch, only for the outputs and the effects loop. If I remember right, the impedance was set to auto, but it was either an empty patch or the USB 7 signal, so that should default to 1M right? I have played with the input impedance before and not really found it to help much when set to 1M.

 

It was a while ago I recorded my DIs, but only recently I thought to compare them to one I know I like.

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On 1/15/2020 at 3:47 PM, lyonk55 said:

I've attached some images from the spectrum analyser plugin of Nolly's DI compared to my 7 string with 2 different pickups and my JP15.

 

Please tell us what EACH picture is that we are looking at. From top to bottom... what exactly is "image 1", "image 2", etc... etc... 

 

From what I see...

Image 1 looks normal (maybe a bridge humbucker?) and image 3 looks very unnatural for a pickup.

Image 2 is an overlay so I don't know what it is suppose to be, and 4 looks better, but with an extended low range that isn't normal. 

 

4 hours ago, lyonk55 said:

The comparison signal is from online, I didn't record it. I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's a dry signal from an Axe Fx 2.

 

If the sample guitar is not the same as your guitar... it is going to sound different. 

It's not "how they were recorded" as much as "what was being recorded". 

 

Do you have any idea what they used for a guitar on any samples you were trying? 

 

4 hours ago, lyonk55 said:

but it was either an empty patch or the USB 7 signal, so that should default to 1M right?

 

IMO, Never assume anything. Set it to 1M then you know for sure. 

 

4 hours ago, lyonk55 said:

I can't see an input level setting in the global settings or patch, only for the outputs and the effects loop.

 

Yes sorry, you are correct. A Helix and LT do not have "instrument/line" for the guitar input. 

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Ah sorry, I didn't notice the images don't have their names attached.

 

1 is the DI I downloaded, it's a Daemoness 7 string with Bare Knuckle Black Hawk pickups.

 

2 is my 7 string whith Bare Knuckle Impluse pickups, the overlay is just the way I had the analyser set at the time: it held the max level, but the "current" level was still being displayed when I made the image. The others show the max only.

 

3 is my 7 with Fishman Fluence pickups.

 

4 is my Music Man JP15.

 

I realise that the download will be different, it just seems so far off from what I have that I was concerned. I did try doing a factory reset last night. I only had a quick check, but it might have changed something actually. No image, but the spectrum of my JP was looking more like the download. I'll look again tonight and report back.

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The Fishman Fluence for #3 makes sense as to why that image looks so unnatural... thanks for that. 

 

That first one does look the most natural to me... and since it's the downloaded sample I can see why you seem to like it. The extended lows of the other three would EAT any headroom and processing power in frequencies that you can't really hear, but would impact the overall tone, probably negatively. The extended highs on #3 I will blame on the fishman's.... I do not know the pickups or the reason they are that way so I'll reserve further judgement :)

 

Most people do not have a problem with the dry signal of the Helix, so I think something else is going on. Are you sure you didn't process that signal (boosted lows/highs, compression, etc...) in the DAW after you captured them? Or... did you capture some noise such as ground loop hum, buzz, and/or hiss?

 

Keep us posted on your next tests after you did your reset. 

 

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Ok, while further testing I noticed I'd made a mistake when I made those images: the spectrum analyser plugin was in a different mode for the downloaded DI. The recordings were in "average + max", hence the overlay and the download was on "default". So I've re-done my 7 string, my Music Man and the download with it set to "average". The difference is much less stark, but still definitely a difference. The download has a lot more going between 1k and 3k, which would explain my duller sound.

 

Download:

2006442424_NollyDIav.png.1816ec553d056778ed1d84cba4910d6b.png

 

My 7 string:

146936664_7av.png.36f21e63c065ee0a82363feffad7c0ff.png

 

My Music Man:

759225181_MMav.png.21d82bbcf8478082c575c6e19a46789d.png

 

I should explain that this dullness is there for all my guitars and basses, and that I've heard other people's Helix profiles sound great. So I think something is off on my end. Just need to pin it down.

 

Thanks for the advice so far.

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3 hours ago, lyonk55 said:

I should explain that this dullness is there for all my guitars and basses, and that I've heard other people's Helix profiles sound great. So I think something is off on my end. Just need to pin it down.

 

OK... so it's just a lack of high end clarity in your direct signal. Since you say it is happening with ALL of your instruments then it shouldn't be instrument specific (ie: a dull pickup) so I will suggest looking at general potential issues....

  • The greatest "common" tone roll off in any rig is the cable(s) being used. Have you tried other cables... preferably ones of different make/model and length? 
  • Did you set the input impedance to 1M (fixed) rather than auto as I suggested earlier? If AUTO is setting it to a lower setting, you WILL lose high end. 
  • Are you sure you are not processing your dry signal in your DAW in any way? If your DAW has "input plugin" capability, are you sure it is empty or at least bypassed? 

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Can you make a recording of your guitar with another audio interface and compare the sound/images?

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13 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

OK... so it's just a lack of high end clarity in your direct signal. Since you say it is happening with ALL of your instruments then it shouldn't be instrument specific (ie: a dull pickup) so I will suggest looking at general potential issues....

  • The greatest "common" tone roll off in any rig is the cable(s) being used. Have you tried other cables... preferably ones of different make/model and length? 
  • Did you set the input impedance to 1M (fixed) rather than auto as I suggested earlier? If AUTO is setting it to a lower setting, you WILL lose high end. 
  • Are you sure you are not processing your dry signal in your DAW in any way? If your DAW has "input plugin" capability, are you sure it is empty or at least bypassed? 

 

I did set the impedance to 1M for those recordings. The DAW shouldn't be doing anything: I opened a new track, set the inputs and recorded. There is an input effects window, but it's blank by default and I've never added anything to it.

 

I have tried a different cable, but I have now realised that they are the same brand: the name on the older one had the name worn off a bit and I thought it was a cheap generic on. They're different models, but both Klotz, so might be worth trying something else.George Ls seem to be regarded as bright, so might look at those. I actually got the second cable after reading a thread here where that was the issue, so I'll be embarrassed if that's the problem.

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16 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

OK... so it's just a lack of high end clarity in your direct signal. Since you say it is happening with ALL of your instruments then it shouldn't be instrument specific (ie: a dull pickup) so I will suggest looking at general potential issues....

  • The greatest "common" tone roll off in any rig is the cable(s) being used. Have you tried other cables... preferably ones of different make/model and length? 
  • Did you set the input impedance to 1M (fixed) rather than auto as I suggested earlier? If AUTO is setting it to a lower setting, you WILL lose high end. 
  • Are you sure you are not processing your dry signal in your DAW in any way? If your DAW has "input plugin" capability, are you sure it is empty or at least bypassed? 

Excellent analysis. @codamedia, your contributions are always great, thanks.

 

One more consideration might be pickup height. If all the guitars are setup the same, its possible pickup height is the issue. Try lowering the pickups to improve responsiveness and tone.

 

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Hi again,

 

So my new cable arrived and I've just tested it out. It's a George L, which seem to be known for brightness. Still has the high-mid roll off. Spectrum looks pretty much the same. So once again at a bit of a loss.

 

On 1/19/2020 at 2:47 PM, amsdenj said:

Excellent analysis. @codamedia, your contributions are always great, thanks.

 

One more consideration might be pickup height. If all the guitars are setup the same, its possible pickup height is the issue. Try lowering the pickups to improve responsiveness and tone.

 

 

I've messed around with pickup height a lot without solving it I'm afraid.

 

EDIT:

After playing a little more, I've noticed something weird with the way notes are (sometimes) decaying. When I hold a long note, sometimes as it trails off there is a sudden drop then rise in volume. It doesn't mute, it just gets quieter for a split second before rising back to the previous level and trailing off. Almost like it's being hit with a noise gate briefly, but it's the DI signal, the input gate is off and the stomp gate is bypassed. Not sure if it's related to my EQ woes or not but thought it was worth mentioning.

 

MORE EDIT:

@Ka5par

Sorry, managed to miss that reply. I managed to find my old Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 today and gave that a try too. There is less of a roll off than the Helix, but still less high-mids than the reference. The 2i2 is also louder, even at min gain, on the instrument input. I found another example comparing the 2i2 to another interface (forget which at the moment) and the 2i2 was noticeably less bright sounding. Here's a Helix/2i2 comparison with my 7 string and the new cable:

 

Helix:

238275983_7newcable.png.c92bb1ab50c99b3fa2cf12ef6fa6d587.png

 

2i2:

383430740_72i2.png.1f9cedb0d1e7e89ff4f91ba13b9bff43.png

 

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I have recently learned that some of the modeled effects are not modeled to be true bypass. For example the fuzz pedals and the cosmos echo delay have lower input impedances.

 

Try making a blank patch and comparing. It would be one of the effects you have bypassed in your current patch which us causing the dullness.

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14 minutes ago, trey803 said:

I have recently learned that some of the modeled effects are not modeled to be true bypass. For example the fuzz pedals and the cosmos echo delay have lower input impedances.

 

Try making a blank patch and comparing. It would be one of the effects you have bypassed in your current patch which us causing the dullness.

I actually don't think that matters. If he is recording the Dry signal from USB. It is my understanding that the dry signal gets routed bypassing all that signal processing anyway. (before the chain) So whatever happens in the chain should have no bearing what-so-ever for recording dry track through USB. Same with Dry track through USB from the Mic input as well.

 

Unless someone whats to correct me, this is my understanding.  

 

Now if you are going through the signal chain what you describe could very well be a culprit. 

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5 hours ago, Lachdanan0121 said:

I actually don't think that matters. If he is recording the Dry signal from USB. It is my understanding that the dry signal gets routed bypassing all that signal processing anyway. (before the chain) So whatever happens in the chain should have no bearing what-so-ever for recording dry track through USB. Same with Dry track through USB from the Mic input as well.

 

 

I don't think that's correct. The input impedance is an analog circuit that affects the load on the pickups, so it should impact the dry tone. I'd expect a bypassed effect first in the chain with a low input impedance to definitely affect the dry signal.

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On 1/25/2020 at 8:49 AM, lyonk55 said:

I managed to find my old Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 today and gave that a try too. There is less of a roll off than the Helix, but still less high-mids than the reference.

 

Always remember.... you do not have the same guitar as the reference therefore it will never match. That difference is likely more about the pickups/guitar than it is about the interface used. 

 

On 1/25/2020 at 8:49 AM, lyonk55 said:

The 2i2 is also louder, even at min gain, on the instrument input.

 

Every interface will be different in this regard. IME: it is very easy to compensate a digital signals volume once recorded without degradation. If one is louder than the other, just adjust them to match once recorded. 

 

On 1/26/2020 at 9:19 AM, Lachdanan0121 said:

I actually don't think that matters. If he is recording the Dry signal from USB. It is my understanding that the dry signal gets routed bypassing all that signal processing anyway.

 

I am pretty sure that when the input is set to AUTO the guitar will be loaded with the impedance of the first effect in the chain... EVEN when recording dry. That is why earlier in this thread I suggested that the OP change the impedance from AUTO to 1M just to eliminate that as a possible culprit. 

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3 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

 

 

 

 

I am pretty sure that when the input is set to AUTO the guitar will be loaded with the impedance of the first effect in the chain... EVEN when recording dry. That is why earlier in this thread I suggested that the OP change the impedance from AUTO to 1M just to eliminate that as a possible culprit. 

Ahh, I see. I will keep that in mind. Thanks for correcting me. I will keep mine at 1M unless I need it lower for specific needs.

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4 hours ago, codamedia said:

Always remember.... you do not have the same guitar as the reference therefore it will never match. That difference is likely more about the pickups/guitar than it is about the interface used. 

 

Of course. I'm just further away than I'd like to be. I've played about with different pickups over several years and I'm leaning to something else being off. 

4 hours ago, codamedia said:

Every interface will be different in this regard. IME: it is very easy to compensate a digital signals volume once recorded without degradation. If one is louder than the other, just adjust them to match once recorded.

 

I should actually add that the 2i2 input is damn near impossible to avoid clipping it seems. So no matter what else, consider it gone from my gear.

 

Thanks for the advice guys, I appreciate it.

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