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jodiug

Simultaneous recording and playback via USB

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Hi there. In these stay-at-home times I'm trying to record some guitar parts with my Helix while jamming along to a track. The following setup is giving me trouble.

 

I want to:

 

1. Hear the PC sound output on my headphones

2. Hear the Helix guitar output on my headphones

3. Record the Helix guitar output on my PC

 

I have a USB cable between the Helix Floor unit and my PC.

 

* With the headphones connected to the PC and microphone set to "Digital Audio Interface (2- Line 6 Helix)" , I can hear the PC (1) and record my guitar (3) but cannot hear my guitar (2). The "Listen to this device"  mic option has a lot of delay.

* With my headphones connected to the Helix, I can hear my guitar (2) and record my guitar (3) but cannot hear my PC (1).

* When I tell Windows to output sound to "Speakers (2- Line 6 Helix)", I can hear my PC (1) and my guitar (2) but cannot record my guitar (3). The Helix input device stops recording as soon as I change the output device to Helix.

 

It seems like this should be possible, seeing as everything works in isolation but not together.

Can anyone help me?

 

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PC or MAC?

What recording SW (DAW) are you using?

Are you using the Helix ASIO driver?

 

Using the Helix ASIO Driver, set your computer's Sound Settings to Helix for Playback.

In Helix Global Settings>Ins/Outs, set "USB 1/2 Destination" to Multi, and set "Phones Monitor" the same way.

 

With your Preset's Output Block set to Multi.

 

Plug your Headphones into the Helix.

 

In your DAW, record from Input 1/2. Set the Track Monitor/Input Echo Button to OFF.

You can now record the guitar from your Helix and hear the Guitar mixed with the Backing Track in your headphones.

For DAW playback, set the Track Monitor/Input Echo button to AUTO.

 

If you also want to record the Backing Track, you'll need to set your computer's Playback to the computer's soundcard, run an INSERT cable (1/8" stereo to Dual 1/4" Mono) from the computer's Headphone Out to a pair of RETURNS on the Helix. Then, create a separate Path 2B whose Input Block is set to the RETURNS from the computer, and whose Output Block is set to USB 3/4 or 5/6.  In your DAW, record the Guitar signal as before, but set up a separate Track to record from Inputs 3/4 or 5/6. Track Monitor/Input echo button should be set to AUTO. This will allow you to record Guitar and Backing Tracks on separate DAW Tracks and hear both in your headphones. I've attached a sample Preset to demo how to do it.

 

If you've noticed, doing that for multiple presets is a PITA. If this is your preferred mode of recording (guitar and Backing Track on separate DAW Tracks), save up for a proper Audio Interface with Line Inputs and leave your computer's Headphone Out wired to the External AI.

 

Guitar+BackTrak.hlx

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5 hours ago, jodiug said:

I have a USB cable between the Helix Floor unit and my PC.

 

So you are using the Helix as a audio interface correct?  What DAW are you using?

 

Quote

 

* With the headphones connected to the PC and microphone set to "Digital Audio Interface (2- Line 6 Helix)" , I can hear the PC (1) and record my guitar (3) but cannot hear my guitar (2). The "Listen to this device"  mic option has a lot of delay.

 

 

That is latency - although with out knowing your DAW I can only say you need to reduce the buffer size. 

 

Quote

* With my headphones connected to the Helix, I can hear my guitar (2) and record my guitar (3) but cannot hear my PC (1).

* When I tell Windows to output sound to "Speakers (2- Line 6 Helix)", I can hear my PC (1) and my guitar (2) but cannot record my guitar (3). The Helix input device stops recording as soon as I change the output device to Helix.

 

It just sounds like your signal path is not setup correctly.  What ever DAW you use has to be told what it's input and outputs should be. This is separate than what Windows is using for inputs and outputs - although they can be the same thing. 

 

 

For setup check out these Sweetwater setup and usage guides: Using Helix As A USB Recording Interface. Recording with Helix | Line 6.

Let us know how this works out for you. 

 

 

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Thank you for the help. Let me go through the questions in order and try it.

 

Quote

PC or MAC?

PC, Windows 10 with a build-in sound card on the motherboard

 

Quote

What recording SW (DAW) are you using?

Audacity. I like it's simplicity, of course if this one is the problem I could use something else. I always assumed that recording devices and audio input is arranged by the OS (Windows) and that software like Audacity only selects the proper input device. When I go to windows sound settings, I can see sound coming in on the Line 6 Helix input device, but when I use the Line 6 output device in any way, the input device goes silent. Something similar happens in Audacity: when the Helix input is used, it works, but when I turn on Helix output, it says "error opening sound device" for the Helix input.

 

Quote

Are you using the Helix ASIO driver?

Using the Helix ASIO Driver, set your computer's Sound Settings to Helix for Playback.

I have it installed and it works (e.g. with Jamulus), but I am never quite sure if I am currently using it or not. ASIO drivers are a new to me, I don't quite understand yet why they work differently than other recording devices. How do I know for sure I am using the ASIO driver? Does it activate automatically when I select the output device "Digital Audio Interface (2- Line 6 Helix)?

 

Quote

In Helix Global Settings>Ins/Outs, set "USB 1/2 Destination" to Multi, and set "Phones Monitor" t.he same way

With your Preset's Output Block set to Multi.

Verified, it was already set up this way.

 

6 hours ago, rd2rk said:

Plug your Headphones into the Helix.

 

In your DAW, record from Input 1/2. Set the Track Monitor/Input Echo Button to OFF.

You can now record the guitar from your Helix and hear the Guitar mixed with the Backing Track in your headphones.

I can normally record tracks in Audacity with a Helix connected over USB. It is only when I use the Helix as an output (to hear sound from my PC through the headphones) that this functionality stops working. Perhaps the problem is that Audacity does not explicitly support ASIO devices? I'll try and see if I can find another simple DAW that works natively with ASIO.

 

 

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Quote

So you are using the Helix as a audio interface correct?  What DAW are you using?

Correct, Audacity.

 

Quote

That is latency - although with out knowing your DAW I can only say you need to reduce the buffer size. 

The "Listen to this device" is a Windows feature. Many people complain about its built-in delay, it seems like there's nothing that can be done about it. So playing helix guitar output through the PC does not seem like a good option - playing PC output through the Helix seems like the way to go.

 

Quote

It just sounds like your signal path is not setup correctly.  What ever DAW you use has to be told what it's input and outputs should be. This is separate than what Windows is using for inputs and outputs - although they can be the same thing. 

In Audacity I see the same input/output devices as in Windows. Ideally, I want to record with the Line 6 input device (recognized by Windows and Audacity) and play my Windows sound through the Line 6 output device (also recognized by Windows and Audacity). I have configured my input/output devices correctly, but the Helix input device stops working as soon as I used the Helix output device.

 

I don't know much about audio drivers, but it seems like Windows input/output devices are "barely compatible", meaning they kind-of work with standard recording programs but not quite. I guess I need some explicitly ASIO compatible software to use the Helix as input and output at the same time.

Still, if you could help me understand that would be amazing. Why do input/output devices work in isolation but not together? Why does it matter what DAW we use, doesn't every program have access to the same input and output devices offered by the OS?

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Audacity is one of the problems, maybe all of it.

 

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/asio_audio_interface.html?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=c2909084e19734748b9ca9bc3d88731ea311f3eb-1586359187-0-AbYhcn7d3jWP0f_e9FHVb30lKBe0S57tJrTkSaPnQCU0O8NG9m4ThwFf7EZ3pCcfOSfrtaLoXxmn_nPyJNNvZKPmeOSQqWZzLyK5jlMG0f9cnwtCWBgTAc4lbCksEpmIkbsr7QWZNzbHHej1sy7JD1HCEDHhfzeQI9dAqyAGOFXCqYptGabKQXCokHIXDMz0NxaAnrK2QU5qYvCGltbpedI_2MKZTjYFzs_yC2X0NW1L11WjZYNRySQz_5El2Tk8J-w_rHI-MAnd4axas9aBXskqZI7QyeMNqrW1muz31BwC-9s142VmnKOtoLLoNJugFlrTTUd-LnXcR5GykUcG4JdfpMpwePtusVk5jA8fPxEfU1fEBtvY0s3ho4E8cf33bQ

 

Simple is rarely best. Don't sell yourself short.

 

Try Reaper. It has an unlimited length, unrestricted, no-nag trial, is stable, frequently updated, has a huge amount of EXCELLENT How-to videos accessible at the Download site and on YouTube and is well supported through an active, helpful user community. There's a learning curve, but once you get the basics it's actually easier to use than many others. Watch the Getting Started videos. It's only $60 for the license.

 

Ableton LIVE 10 has a FREE version that's limited in I/O and # of tracks, but is very good, stable, and well supported with built in context linked help. There's a lot of How-to videos and a large, helpful community. It's the best for electronic music, being based on recording "clips" into a grid of "scenes" that can be controlled with a grid based controller. Has traditional Track based recording too. The upgrade is pricey, but has a ton of features.

 

Cakewalk is FREE, not as stable as the other two, pretty easy to use, but every time I've visited the "Community", I've wound up wanting to hit somebody. YMMV. It was my first DAW, and I have an emotional attachment, but it's not as good as either of the others.

 

If you installed HX Edit with ALL of it's features, the ASIO driver is installed. In a DAW's "Preferences" or "Options" or "Settings" dialog you'll select "ASIO Helix" as your Audio Device.

You'll then select the full range of Input/Output choices. There'll usually be a button called Hardware Setup, ASIO Configuration or some such, which will allow you a choice of  Sample Rates. Helix by default operates at 48k. For number of samples you'll want 128 unless you have a VERY powerful computer. The Helix Device Settings dialog is kind of funky, in that it uses a slider. Use the second line from the left. 128 will give you approximately 12ms roundtrip latency, roughly the equivalent of standing 10 feet from an amp. 64 will half that, but you may experience pops, crackles and dropouts. Other settings can usually be left at their defaults.

 

Another VERY IMPORTANT thing to do is to Optimize Windows for DAW Audio.

Here's 3 good links:

 

https://support.presonus.com/hc/en-us/articles/360025279231-Optimizing-Your-Computer-for-Audio-Windows-10

 

https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207355205-Optimising-your-PC-for-Audio-on-Windows-10

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/pc-optimization-guide-for-windows-10/

 

I can't overemphasize the importance of doing this! 

 

If you're using Jamulus, you may or may not have seen this:

 

https://jimamsden.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/remote-jamming-with-helix-and-jamulus/

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The kicker is to hook your headphones to the Helix and use it as your soundcard. You should be hearing your PC audio through the Helix in that configuration.

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rd2rk is correct. Your problem is Audacity, because unless you compile it yourself, it doesn’t support ASIO. I just tried recording with Audacity the other day as a test, to see how it would handle it, and I think you’d be a lot better off with a real DAW. You’re losing a lot of the benefit of a good hardware interface like the Helix when you have to use the built-in Windows sound protocols to record with. Also you get playback latency, and Audacity doesn’t compensate for that automatically, so tracks you record end up offset by a tiny amount compared to how you heard them when you played them.

 

To answer your question about Windows and I/O devices, ASIO is a special protocol that is not built-in to Windows, and it’s the way that audio interfaces like the Helix work best over USB. So yes, you do need to use software that supports it. You will thank yourself later, though, because it is vastly superior to the built-in Windows audio drivers, and even though Audacity may seem simpler at first, your time is better spent learning a real tool. With just a small bit of experience, that simplicity quickly becomes a barrier to doing things efficiently and you’ll find the simplicity actually makes some things harder.

When I use my Helix with a DAW, I record USB1-2 to a stereo track (that’s the wet/processed guitar, in stereo), and USB7 to another track (that’s the dry guitar, which can be used for re-amping later). I turn off monitoring on both of those tracks, so they get the signal in the background but I don’t hear the playback through them. I plug directly into the headphone out of Helix for monitoring, and through that you can hear your processed guitar with no latency, as well as any playback coming from your computer. If you want to use a backing track, you can load those right into your DAW too — no need for patching back into the Helix with extra cables.

It will seem confusing at first, but once you get it figured out you’ll thank yourself for not staying with Audacity, and discover just how easily you can make great recordings with modern software.

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15 minutes ago, spikey said:

Is downloading ASIO4ALL an option here?

 

Maybe, but always FAR from the best option. IME.

Mix a bad ASIO alternative and a bad DAW alternative, lasting happiness does not result.

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I think ASIO4ALL shows up as an ASIO device to other software, so even with that you’d still have to compile Audacity to support it.

 

That said, what @jodiug is asking to do in his original post should still be possible using the built-in Windows drivers, because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how I was using Audacity when I tested it last week. I still don’t recommend using it for a number of reasons (the latency that shows up in recorded tracks is suuuuper annoying, as you have to re-align everything manually after recording!), but if I have time tonight I’ll see how I configured it to make it work.

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Ok, here's how to make it work with Audacity:

1) Make sure your Helix is connected via USB first. Then open up the Windows sound settings. On the first tab, "Playback", select the entry for Speakers that says "Line 6 Helix" and then click the button make it default. It should say it is the default device after doing so. Then click the "Recording" tab, select "Digital Audio Interface Line 6 Helix", and again click the button to make that the default as well. Then with this same entry selected, click Properties. Go to the Advanced tab and make sure it is set to one of the 2-channel options (on my PC it defaulted to mono). It'll work fine as 2-channel 16bit 44.1khz, but you may want it higher. Just make sure it matches the settings you have in Audacity. Now click ok and close all those sound settings windows.

 

2) Open Audacity. In the dropdown box for Audio Host, pick Windows DirectSound. In the next dropdown for Recording Device, select Digital Audio Interface (Line 6 Helix). In the next dropdown, set it to 2 channels for stereo recording. For playback device select "Speakers (Line 6 Helix)".

 

3) Plug your headphones or speakers straight into the Helix. Don't use any audio ports built into your PC. You should be able to hear all of your computer audio as well as your guitar through the Helix headphone out now. In your Helix patches, just have the output set to "Multi", and keep monitoring turned off in Audacity or else you'll hear your guitar straight out of the Helix and also looped back through Audacity. You can make a new stereo track in Audacity, click record and it should all work fine. You can play backing tracks, external audio, etc either inside Audacity or with an external player -- seems to all work simultaneously for me, no problem.

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16 hours ago, qwerty42 said:

Ok, here's how to make it work with Audacity:

1) Make sure your Helix is connected via USB first. Then open up the Windows sound settings. On the first tab, "Playback", select the entry for Speakers that says "Line 6 Helix" and then click the button make it default. It should say it is the default device after doing so. Then click the "Recording" tab, select "Digital Audio Interface Line 6 Helix", and again click the button to make that the default as well. Then with this same entry selected, click Properties. Go to the Advanced tab and make sure it is set to one of the 2-channel options (on my PC it defaulted to mono). It'll work fine as 2-channel 16bit 44.1khz, but you may want it higher. Just make sure it matches the settings you have in Audacity. Now click ok and close all those sound settings windows.

 

2) Open Audacity. In the dropdown box for Audio Host, pick Windows DirectSound. In the next dropdown for Recording Device, select Digital Audio Interface (Line 6 Helix). In the next dropdown, set it to 2 channels for stereo recording. For playback device select "Speakers (Line 6 Helix)".

 

3) Plug your headphones or speakers straight into the Helix. Don't use any audio ports built into your PC. You should be able to hear all of your computer audio as well as your guitar through the Helix headphone out now. In your Helix patches, just have the output set to "Multi", and keep monitoring turned off in Audacity or else you'll hear your guitar straight out of the Helix and also looped back through Audacity. You can make a new stereo track in Audacity, click record and it should all work fine. You can play backing tracks, external audio, etc either inside Audacity or with an external player -- seems to all work simultaneously for me, no problem.

This worked, thank you!

 

And also, thank everyone else. I now understand what ASIO is for (mostly, reduced latency) and why a proper DAW can do a better job of routing and mixing the audio streams.

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