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YammerUK

How loud is Line In?

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I'm setting up to record a Helix LT, another instrument, and a mic using some DAW software on a Windows PC with a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3G Audio Interface.

 

Everything seems to work OK, but if I plug the Helix into the rear panel fixed gain line balanced inputs, it's way too quiet. The Helix is definitely set to Line Out on the XLR L-R outs.

 

In fact, if I plug the Helix into the two front panel balanced line inputs, I have to turn the pots down to about 35% to stop the red peaks. (yes, I checked it's set to line).

 

Does anyone have experience of recording Helix with this sort of gear?

 

Can I make the Helix any louder?

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Line level is "fixed", but it is still a function of the volume of the source. It sounds to me like your preset needs to be louder. Try increasing the level at your output block and that should also increase the level at your interface. I run Helix stereo 1/4" out to the Line inputs on a 4i4 and don't have any shortage of volume there. In fact I generally have to back it off a little in the Focusrite Control app to prevent it overpowering the condenser mic I have plugged in to the front. I hope that helps!

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The inputs on the rear panel are 1/4" TRS plugs only. Are you using 1/4" TS plugs? In other words, does the cable you are using go from a female XLR to a male 1/4" TS plug? If you are, the front 1/4" inputs are set up to accept both TS & TRS plugs where the rear is only TRS. So I'm going to guess your 1/4" plugs are TS and is essentially shorting out your signal because of how the three connections in the XLR are connected to the 1/4" TS's two connections and how those can get shorted out using a TRS only input. If you don't know the difference between 1/4" TS & TRS, I've attached a pic. The top two connectors are TS. The bottom one is TRS. If you can't get an XLR to 1/4" TRS cable, just use the front inputs. If this is the issue, that''s why the front inputs, which are setup to take both TS and TRS plugs shows such a strong signal. Hope this helps.

 

TRS.jfif

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I came up with a genius workaround (modest?):

 

Turn on Global EQ. Make sure it's flat. Turn level up to 12dB, and apply to XLRs only. It's just about enough to get a decent level.

 

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23 minutes ago, YammerUK said:

I came up with a genius workaround (modest?):

 

Turn on Global EQ. Make sure it's flat. Turn level up to 12dB, and apply to XLRs only. It's just about enough to get a decent level.

 

 

Just cause I'm curious, are you using TS or TRS 1/4" connectors?

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8 minutes ago, brue58ski said:

 

Just cause I'm curious, are you using TS or TRS 1/4" connectors?

XLR on the Helix to TRS on the interface.

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Line Level comes in two variants.... 

  • +4db... Often referred to as Pro Level
  • -10db.... Often referred to as Consumer Level

Some manufacturers tell you which one they use, others may not. 

 

IIRC, the Helix uses +4 (pro level), but it can be controlled by the big volume, and the preset level will also come into play. If you disengage the main volume from the XLR outputs, then that is the same as running the big volume at full! 

 

6 hours ago, YammerUK said:

if I plug the Helix into the rear panel fixed gain line balanced inputs, it's way too quiet.

 

If the Scarlet is +4db line level AND if you have a quiet preset or attenuate the output of the Helix in any way this could occur!

This would explain your need (in a later post) to use the global EQ to raise the XLR output by 12db.

 

6 hours ago, YammerUK said:

if I plug the Helix into the two front panel balanced line inputs, I have to turn the pots down to about 35% to stop the red peaks.

 

Those are Mic Pre's and can accept the lowest of mic levels to the loudest of line levels.... that's why there is a pot to control the input.

The fact that you are running this around 35% suggests to me that the output form the Helix is actually in tolerance... albeit more aligned to -10 than the +4 it should be. 

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So, I'm starting to think that this Helix is not putting much sound out, and I'm blaming this on the wrong bit of gear.

 

If I look at the dancing bars on the output model, they're about halfway, and i can turn it up almost 14dB before they bash the right hand side.

 

I mainly use a Strat and an SG with the Helix. The Strat presets have a 2x volume model early in the chain to compensate for the relatively low output. Both guitars' presets are crafted to provide similar output with the other models completely bypassed, so I'm not jumping around in levels from one preset to the next.

 

Is it possible that the Helix is designed to go much louder than a standard bypassed humbucker, even at Line Out setting?

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21 minutes ago, YammerUK said:

So, I'm starting to think that this Helix is not putting much sound out, and I'm blaming this on the wrong bit of gear.

 

I thought you were blaming the Helix.... so this is actually confusing me :) 

 

21 minutes ago, YammerUK said:

Is it possible that the Helix is designed to go much louder than a standard bypassed humbucker, even at Line Out setting?

 

Of course it can! Line Level is much louder than instrument level... plus you have hundreds of ways to increase the gain along the way. 

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4 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

I thought you were blaming the Helix.... so this is actually confusing me :) 

 

 

Of course it can! Line Level is much louder than instrument level... plus you have hundreds of ways to increase the gain along the way. 

 

Let me better explain what I mean.

 

If you play an electric guitar through an effects box, it should sound exactly the same when bypassed. Most simple effects boxes are designed to provide roughly unity gain instrument level output, and you'd normally balance the effected output with the bypassed output (unless you wanted a boost, obviously).

 

The Helix can provide instrument level and line level output. Even if you play an electric guitar "clean", with any/all models bypassed, the line level output will be louder than the pickups, because it has been amplified from instrument level to line level by the DAC. This is the level I'm taking about.

 

I would expect that playing an electric guitar with bog-standard pickups clean/bypassed, using a line level output setting, would produce a decent level for driving a line input on an audio interface. But this seems to be a bad assumption on my part. I reckon another 12 to 18 dB of gain is needed, in my case, to get a decent level for recording even with the Helix on full volume.

 

I base my estimates on a couple of guitars fitted with passive humbuckers, an SG and a LP copy. I also have a Strat, which I give a 6dB boost as the first module. Presumably, the single coils give out about half the output.

 

My presets are all crafted to be roughly the same volume with and without their models bypassed, and consequently all my presets are roughly the same volume as each other. I hope you see where I'm going with this...

 

For the Helix to provide a decent level to drive a line input on the Focusrite, it needs to provide quite a bit more gain than it is currently giving (with balanced preset levels and line output setting), assuming my guitars are normal output. Maybe I need to modify the output model on each preset with a 14dB gain to compensate, rather than using Global EQ as a workaround?

 

I wonder if the design was intentional, in case the Helix is used with consumer line level rather than pro line level, to avoid overloading inputs. Though a global setting for consumer line vs pro line would have been more obvious.

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If you are recording and want the best signal to noise ratio you should (obviously) chose Helix's USB interface directly.
When you use an external recording interface you add D/A conversion of the Helix, a preamp with additional noise and A/D conversion of your interface. Three unnecessary steps that will each decrease the quality of the signal.

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1 hour ago, YammerUK said:

Maybe I need to modify the output model on each preset with a 14dB gain to compensate, rather than using Global EQ as a workaround?

 

A 14db difference is not out of line. If you consider -10 to +4 is already the variance between the two Line Level standards... that equals 14db! 

IMO.... there is nothing out of the ordinary here. If you have ways to balance it out (such as the Global EQ) just do it if you need to.

 

6 hours ago, YammerUK said:

If I look at the dancing bars on the output model, they're about halfway, and i can turn it up almost 14dB before they bash the right hand side.

 

That's looks like the answer right there. Your presets are about 10 - 14db quieter than they have to be. That really doesn't matter though... especially since you can make that gain up with the global eq on the XLR outs "when you need to"! 

 

1 hour ago, YammerUK said:

I wonder if the design was intentional, in case the Helix is used with consumer line level rather than pro line level, to avoid overloading inputs.

 

I am pretty sure the Helix is +4 .... 

If your presets are a few db quiet, that is the difference you are seeing. The numbers you are providing add up as expected :) 

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That's my point. They aren't quiet. I've set it up so that levels with and without effects blocks are roughly the same.

 

I thought of another way to put it. Take a New Preset. That preset is completely clean because it has no effects or amp blocks. I'd expect that to provide a decent line signal at full volume. I think that's a reasonable assumption. Seems it isn't.

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All my preset (Multi) input blocks are set to Auto Guitar In-Z, Gate off.

The first block after this is always a Vol block, set to 6dB gain, bypassed for humbuckers and on for single coils presets.

The next blocks are usually Chrome Wah (bypassed), Red Squeeze (bypassed), Valve Driver (bypassed), Scream 808 (bypassed), Script Mod Phase (bypassed), and then the Amp+Cab and the rest of the post cab blocks.

Output blocks are all set to centre pan and 0dB level.

 

I vaguely remember reading somewhere about input impedance being determined by the first block in the chain, bypassed or not, but I've slept since then, and I can't remember what the outcome was. Anyway, changing the input impedance setting from auto to any other value makes very little difference to the overall level.

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5 hours ago, YammerUK said:

That's my point. They aren't quiet. I've set it up so that levels with and without effects blocks are roughly the same.

 

You are making the assumption that your guitar is putting out the exact amount of volume required to drive precisely 4db at the xlr output when set to line level. As you have learned.... it doesn't. You need to boost it by about 14db, which is actually quite normal! Everything is relative.... if you plug in a louder guitar your reference of unity gain has completely changed! 

 

Line 6 leaves a lot of room to adjust the levels here/there/everywhere for you to match up levels. It is done this way so the device works with every guitar you throw at it, not just your guitar. 

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2 hours ago, lou-kash said:

 

Since it apparently hasn't been asked in this thread yet:

Have you checked the impedance setting on your Input block? Does it match your guitar?

 

https://duckduckgo.com/?q="helix+lt"+input+impedance

Your question "Does it match your guitar?" implies that you misunderstand the purpose of the variable input impedance.

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14 minutes ago, Schmalle said:

Your question "Does it match your guitar?" implies that you misunderstand the purpose of the variable input impedance.

 

Do not overinterpret questions that were asked in "easy English" on purpose. ;)

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12 minutes ago, lou-kash said:

 

Do not overinterpret questions that were asked in "easy English" on purpose. ;)

Problem is you propose to change the behaviour of the circuit the guitar electrics and cable form in conjunction with the input impedance. It's more than just less volume when the input impedance is lowered.

And you imply that it has to be adjusted to specific guitars which is just not true.

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11 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

You are making the assumption that your guitar is putting out the exact amount of volume required to drive precisely 4db at the xlr output when set to line level. As you have learned.... it doesn't. You need to boost it by about 14db, which is actually quite normal! Everything is relative.... if you plug in a louder guitar your reference of unity gain has completely changed! 

 

Line 6 leaves a lot of room to adjust the levels here/there/everywhere for you to match up levels. It is done this way so the device works with every guitar you throw at it, not just your guitar. 

 

Well, I wouldn't say I expected exactly 4dB out! :)

 

but I expected more than -18dB on the meter with the Helix turned up full and hammering away at two fairly typical humbucker guitars.

 

But that's fine. As long I know that it's designed with a huge amount of headroom, then that's OK. I'd have liked a bit more gain from the volume pot though. I had to resort to a 12dB boost in the processing chain to get it loud enough to go into the orange.

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1 minute ago, Schmalle said:

Problem is you propose to change the behaviour

 

I wasn't "proposing" anything. I have asked its status, and I got a reply:

 

1 hour ago, YammerUK said:

input blocks are set to Auto Guitar In-Z, Gate off

[…]

1 hour ago, YammerUK said:

changing the input impedance setting from auto to any other value makes very little difference to the overall level.

 

That's what I wanted to know. All's good here.

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