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Euripides

HX Stomp used in 4CM with Tube Amp

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Hi all,

I tried using a quite self explanatory title as this seems to be a hot topic. I'm completely new to the HX Stomp and have been struggling in getting it to work properly with my relatively new tube amp, namely a Laboga DS 50-basically a Marshall/Friedman type of amp with an FX loop. There are two channels on the amp and a series FX loop with no Send or Return controls on it. I've hooked it up with the HX Stomp and the connections are as follows: 1) HX Send - Amp Input 2) HX Output L - Amp's FX Loop Return 3) HX Return (L Mono) - Amp's FX Loop Send 4) HX Input L (Mono) - Guitar.

The first preset I made consists of a Modulation block, an FX Loop L block and a Delay block. All the Global settings (Ins & Outs) are set to instrument. When testing this preset out I noticed the amp's volume controls were basically not working, as if they had nothing to do with controlling the volume and when turning off each block, or even when bypassing the HX Stomp, there was still sound coming out; this begs the question whether the sound coming out is related at all to the amp and I guess a secondary question would be where should the volume knob on the HX Stomp be set to ? I should mention there was a noticeable volume drop when the FX Loop was engaged and when turned off, even with the amp's volume turned to the lowest possible, there was sound coming out (which was quite loud). I tested the same preset out with the same setup on a different amp and the same issue persisted.

Any idea as to where I should start troubleshooting to get to the bottom of this ? On a sidenote, the HX Stomp was bought in order to be integrated with a larger pedalboard connected to an audio switcher, but I figured I should find out how it works first before I go deeper. Having watched a lot of online tutorials I didn't find any answers to why this is happening and what changes I should make to make sure I get the amp's pure tone along with the FX of preference and I would be grateful if anyone could point to the right direction.

Thanks in advance!

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I usually try to reduce it down to steps: Start with just your guitar plugged into the HX and the Send into the Amp. Disconnect the amps EFX Loop cables. This should act like you are plugged directly into your amp. The amp gain and eq should effect the signal.  Next plug the Amp's send into the HX return.  You should not hear anything at this point but the HX Loop block should show signal coming into it on the screen.  Are you using a Loop block or a separate send and return bock in the Helix?

 

Continue in this fashion to try to determine where things are going wrong.

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4cm:

 

Guitar>HXS Input L/Mono>HXS Send L (TRS to Dual 1/4" Mono TIP=L)>Amp Input

Amp FX Loop Send>HXS Return L/Mono>HXS L/Mono Out>Amp FX Return

 

Global Settings>Ins/Outs>Return Type = RETURN

 

Signal Chain - Input Block>PRE FX like distortion>FX Loop L Block>POST FX like delay> Output Block Main L/R

 

If you want to use HXS Amps OR your amp's PREAMP (switchable), add the HXS amp adjacent to the FX Loop Block. Assign both to a Footswitch (or use Snapshots) and SAVE with one block, ON and the other OFF.

 

Your amp's MASTER VOLUME (if it has one) may or may not have any effect when the PREAMP is out of the circuit, depends how the amp is designed (Master PRE or POST FX Loop).

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Thank you both for your feedback and detailed help!

Perhaps I should offer some more detail in order to shed more light to this:

When bypassing the HX Stomp, although the volume on the amp is turned way down , there is still sound, and plenty of it, coming out of the amp - how can that be ?

An additional question would be, is a TRS to Dual 1/4" Mono TIP really needed in the setup ? It seems to be the only thing missing out of the tests I ran when trying this out and I can't see how that would fit given that there's only one SEND (STEREO) on the HXS which is connected to the amp's input.

" If you want to use HXS Amps OR your amp's PREAMP (switchable), add the HXS amp adjacent to the FX Loop Block." - I love this idea and would definitely want to try this out.

Should I try using a Send and Return block instead of the FX Loop L block ?

Once again, thanks for your help, I will try everything out in a few hours when I get the chance.

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9 hours ago, Euripides said:

When bypassing the HX Stomp, although the volume on the amp is turned way down , there is still sound, and plenty of it, coming out of the amp - how can that be ?

 

Define "bypassing". If you mean with the HXS in BYPASS mode, your signal is going directly from the L/MONO INPUT to the L/MONO OUTPUT and from there to the amp's FX RETURN. If turning down the MASTER on the amp doesn't lower the level, that means that the amp's MASTER is PRE FX LOOP. Since the signal is returning to the amp AFTER the FX Loop, the MASTER would have no effect.

 

9 hours ago, Euripides said:

An additional question would be, is a TRS to Dual 1/4" Mono TIP really needed in the setup ?

 

A single TS cable will do. Return to RETURN L/MONO. If you also need to use the Right FX Loop, then a TRS to dual mono cable is required.

 

9 hours ago, Euripides said:

Should I try using a Send and Return block instead of the FX Loop L block ?

 

No, this is how it's done. To do it like that would be a waste of one of your 8 available blocks, to no purpose.

 

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22 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

 

Define "bypassing". If you mean with the HXS in BYPASS mode, your signal is going directly from the L/MONO INPUT to the L/MONO OUTPUT and from there to the amp's FX RETURN. If turning down the MASTER on the amp doesn't lower the level, that means that the amp's MASTER is PRE FX LOOP. Since the signal is returning to the amp AFTER the FX Loop, the MASTER would have no effect.

 

That's what I meant. Bear in mind there's no master volume on the amp, it's supposed to be a replica of Plexi Marshalls and the preset I'm testing it out with is Modulation - FX Loop L - Delay (which is turned off most of the time just so I can get a clear idea of what's going on). When the FX Loop L is turned off the modulation works fine albeit the volume is a lot higher. The same amount of volume is evident when the HX is in Bypass mode. What does this mean and how can I get over it;

 

 

 

 

 

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If the amp has only a single VOLUME knob and no other OUTPUT LEVEL control, then when your FX Loop is BYPASSED or the HXS is in BYPASS MODE the signal is going straight into the Power Amp which is producing the full 50 watts. That's LOUD! You can try connecting the FX Loop Bypass Footswitch (or Snapshot) to the Output Block Level so that when the FX Loop is OFF, the Output Block Level is low enough to compensate.

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rd2rk,

Thank you ever so much for your insight and useful feedback. I will definitely try the preset you have sent me by adding the modulation and delay blocks I had used in my previous example. After hours of testing things out I have narrowed things down to the crux of the 'problem' whihc is more to do with the amp than the stomp which is basically what you have mentioned:

16 hours ago, rd2rk said:

then when your FX Loop is BYPASSED or the HXS is in BYPASS MODE the signal is going straight into the Power Amp which is producing the full 50 watts. That's LOUD!

I have A/Bd the whole setup with just a cable going into the amp from my guitar and then with all four cables connected as well as the stomp to find out what is going on with the overall volume situation and have come to the conclusion that when this is all set up in this way the FX Loop block has to be engaged the whole time and unity gain for this kind of amp is around 4 o'clock (the volume knob on the HX Stomp turned nearly all the way up) and then build from there.

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The advantage to doing it the way I suggested is that:

A) once you've found the balance point, you can use the Output knob as a Master Volume

B) you can use Helix amps in place of your amp's preamp for a wider choice of tones. Just use the Channel Volume on the Helix amp to level the difference when doing that.

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rd2rk,

I would hate to impose again, but how would you go about doing this in a preset with only a modulation block before the FX loop and a delay or reverb block in the FX Loop ? Could you please take me through it step by step ? I have found the sweet spot so far, using the volume knob of the HX Stomp as a Master Volume and it works perfectly fine. On a sidenote, I have A/Bd the HX stomp's modulation, reverb and delay with some of the other so called boutique pedals and you can barely tell the difference-makes me feel grateful I've bought it. Thank you so much again and sorry for being a pest!

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I'm not sure what you mean by "a delay or reverb block in the FX Loop "?

 

All of the blocks BEFORE the Amp/FX Loop Block are BEFORE the Amp/FX Loop Block, all of the blocks AFTER the Amp/FX Loop Block are AFTER the Amp/FX Loop Block, and regardless of whether you bypass the Amp or the FX Loop, all of the blocks, before and after, are always in the signal chain.

 

 

 

 

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Sorry for the confusion! With the delay or reverb block I meant AFTER the FX Loop. As far as bypassing the FX loop or HX Stomp, the problem is that when this occurs, regardless of what is in the signal chain at the time, there's a very loud dry sound coming out regardless of whatever channel, dirty or clean, is used which as you mentioned is a result of the pwer amp being full on (as you have mentioned).

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What is it EXACTLAY that you expect to happen when you do EXACTLY what?

 

When you BYPASS the HXS (put it into BYPASS Mode) the signal goes straight from the INPUT to the OUTPUT (BYPASSING the signal chain/FX) and, in your case straight into the amp's FX Return.

You are NOT shutting off the signal.

When you BYPASS the FX Loop Block the signal goes from Input to Output and through all FX in between, BYPASSING your amp's preamp section.

 

If I'm still not understanding, please attach a sample preset and detail what it is you're doing and what is your expectation.

 

Again, 4cm wiring, simplified:

 

Guitar>HXS Input L/Mono>HXS Send L (TS cable TIP=L)>Amp Input

Amp FX Loop Send>HXS Return L/Mono>HXS L/Mono Out>Amp FX Return

 

The only way I can see for a separate DRY signal to be heard would be if the amp's FX Loop were PARALLEL instead of the more common SERIAL FX Loop. When that is the case, there is usually a BLEND knob, which you said there isn't. I was unable to find a manual for that amp. If you have it in PDF form, please attach it (if it isn't too big).

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Please allow me to clarify / recap what the situation is:

When connecting the HX Stomp to my amp (which as I have recently been informed has no instruction manual available) using the 4CM just as described and documented widely in the forum, everything works perfectly fine in conjuction with the amp. However, in the absence of a master volume on the amp, when the FX Loop block is off or when bypassing the pedal, there is a huge discrepancy in sound-when the FX Loop block is off or when the stomp is bypassed there is a loud, clean, dry sound coming out, even if the drive/dirty channel on the amp is used. What I would like to be able to do is to find an alternative way of managing this volume discrepancy or avoid using the HX Stomp's volume as a master volume, as this would entail having to try it out depending on the setting the whole rig is played (rehearsal, concert etc). So far I have found that the part when the volume when using the HX Stomp and the volume of the amp when used without the stomp is with the stomp's volume set at around 3-4 o'clock. Having said that, if there's no alternative it's really not that big of a deal as I'm planning to use the HX Stomp along with other pedals in a pedalboard managed by an audio switcher (I'll definitely create a new post asking about this!).

Thank you very much for all the help and valuable feedback so far!

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Please attach a sample preset and pictures of your wiring, as what you are describing is not possible as described.

 

When the HXS is BYPASSED, the sound WILL be dry, AS THERE ARE NO FX BEING APPLIED!

And it WILL BE LOUD, as you have effectively plugged your guitar straight into a 50 watt power amp at FULL VOLUME!

 

When the HXS is BYPASSED, you are bypassing your amp's Preamp section, going straight into the 50 watt power amp at full volume, therefore:

 

"when bypassing the pedal, there is a huge discrepancy in sound........ when the stomp is bypassed there is a loud, clean, dry sound coming out, even if the drive/dirty channel on the amp is used."

 

NORMAL! The amp's Preamp, where the Clean/Dirty Channels live, is BYPASSED by the fact that your 1/4" Out is wired DIRECTLY to the Power Amp IN (the amp's FX Loop Return), and there are NO FX being applied.

 

BUT, with the HXS in normal playing mode (NOT BYPASSED), with the FX Loop Bypassed, you should be hearing whatever FX are ON in the signal chain, since the signal goes from Guitar>HXS Input>ALL FX both Pre and Post the bypassed FX Loop>1/4" Out>Amp FX Return.

 

Again, the Amp's Preamp section is Bypassed, but since the signal is passing through the signal chain (HXS NOT BYPASSED), you hear ALL the FX.

 

If that is NOT the case (dry signal despite having FX ON), then you are NOT properly wired for 4cm. It's possible, however, that you ARE wired for communication with extra-terrestrials, since I can't see any other explanation.

 

IF, with the FX Loop ON, you can hear the FX that are BEFORE the FX Loop,

AND the amp's Volume and Tonestack are functional,

AND you hear the FX AFTER the FX Loop,

THEN you ARE wired correctly for 4cm, and the condition you've described as occurring when the FX Loop is bypassed cannot be caused by the bypassed FX Loop! 

 

The ONLY difference between the two conditions (FX Loop ON/OFF) is that with the FX Loop Block bypassed, the amp's Preamp section is out of the picture, and the amp will be REALLY LOUD with the only control being the HXS Volume knob.

 

Note that with the FX Loop ON, the amp's Preamp (and Volume Control) will determine the amp's overall loudness. If you turn up the Preamp Volume enough, it will be LOUDER than with the signal going directly to the power amp, because it's been PRE-AMPED. The ONLY reason for bypassing the FX Loop would be to use an HXS amp, WHICH THEN REPLACES YOUR AMP'S PREAMP in the circuit, and becomes the determiner of overall volume INPLACE OF your amp's Pre-amp.

 

FWIW - Although my own amp has a proper post FX Loop Master Volume, I can duplicate your situation simply by running the MV wide open. THAT"S how I know that this all works the way I have described.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

MORE FWIW - "What I would like to be able to do is to find an alternative way of managing this volume discrepancy or avoid using the HX Stomp's volume as a master volume, as this would entail having to try it out depending on the setting the whole rig is played (rehearsal, concert etc)"

 

THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION TO BALANCING THE MYRIAD OF GAIN CONTROLS INVOLVED!

Never mind factoring for REAL VOLUME vs PERCEIVED VOLUME.

And THEN there's the Fletcher-Munson Curve.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

All of that said - 

 

I really don't see the point of Bypassing the HXS entirely UNLESS you're using it in the complex pedal board configuration which is apparently your actual end goal, which makes the rest of this discussion purely academic. 

 

NOTES FOR USE IN THAT CONFIGURATION:

 

By design, the HXS Volume knob is SUBTRACTIVE. That is, when turned fully clockwise, you're at UNITY GAIN. The OUTPUT is equal to the INPUT.

In ANALOG BYPASS MODE the Volume knob has no effect, as the signal goes DIRECTLY from INPUT to OUTPUT, as though the HXS was not there at all.

In DSP BYPASS MODE the signal is routed through the signal path but DSP processing is disabled - effectively, all FX OFF, but the Volume knob works.

 

 

 

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rd2rk

 

You're really doing your description on the forum (Guru) justice! I can't thank you enough for the insight and highly informative post, as it pretty much covered all the various points I was curious or insecure about. The crux of the issue is this, as you mentioned " you have effectively plugged your guitar straight into a 50 watt power amp at FULL VOLUME ". Having worked with more modern sounding amps that usually have an FX Loop blend control this is what I originally found most confusing so thank you for clearing it up even further.

You have also mentioned this which I found very helpful " By design, the HXS Volume knob is SUBTRACTIVE. That is, when turned fully clockwise, you're at UNITY GAIN " - so following this idea, maybe I should start building my presets with the HX Stomp at full volume and work from there instead of what I originally thought was unity gain (3 o'clock).

Finally, you were spot on with my end goal in using the HX Stomp in my pedalboard. I would love it if you could comment and help out in my attempt to do this, I will definitely create a new post about this in a couple of days.

Once again, thank you!

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Consider this part of my reply:

 

On 1/12/2021 at 1:02 PM, rd2rk said:

Note that with the FX Loop ON, the amp's Preamp (and Volume Control) will determine the amp's overall loudness. If you turn up the Preamp Volume enough, it will be LOUDER than with the signal going directly to the power amp, because it's been PRE-AMPED. The ONLY reason for bypassing the FX Loop would be to use an HXS amp, WHICH THEN REPLACES YOUR AMP'S PREAMP in the circuit, and becomes the determiner of overall volume INPLACE OF your amp's Pre-amp.

 

FWIW - Although my own amp has a proper post FX Loop Master Volume, I can duplicate your situation simply by running the MV wide open. THAT"S how I know that this all works the way I have described.

 

And how it relates to this part:

 

On 1/12/2021 at 1:02 PM, rd2rk said:

By design, the HXS Volume knob is SUBTRACTIVE. That is, when turned fully clockwise, you're at UNITY GAIN. The OUTPUT is equal to the INPUT.

In ANALOG BYPASS MODE the Volume knob has no effect, as the signal goes DIRECTLY from INPUT to OUTPUT, as though the HXS was not there at all.

In DSP BYPASS MODE the signal is routed through the signal path but DSP processing is disabled - effectively, all FX OFF, but the Volume knob works.

 

 

Your amp's overall tone is a result of the interaction between your PREamp and your POWERamp. With a non MV amp like yours, turning up the PREamp to that magic "Sweet Spot" makes for a VERY LOUD amp! THAT'S why MV amps came about in the first place. Ideally, you want two things:

 

The best sound you can get out of the amp (the SWEET SPOT)

combined with

The best sound for the Preset, which is best realized at PERFORMANCE LEVEL.

 

Once upon a time, PERFORMANCE LEVEL was whatever level the amp sounded best at (the SWEET SPOT).

It's been a LONG time since I played anywhere that allowed for a 50 watt amp at it's SWEET SPOT. IT"S TOO LOUD!

 

You NEED a Master Volume. Just because the Helix Volume knob is at UNITY when fully cranked, does NOT mean you need to create your Presets at that setting.

You need to create your Presets at PERFORMANCE LEVEL. Get the best balance between your PREamp and POWERamp, then use the Helix Volume knob like a Master Volume to bring the overall level down to PERFORMANCE LEVEL. THEN create your Presets.

 

Balance your Presets and S/N Ratio using the Output Block Level and/or Gain Blocks at the end of the signal chain where they don't affect amp tone or gain-staging within the Presets.

 

IOW - use the Helix Volume knob as a replacement/substitute for your amp's non-existent Master Volume.

 

Jason Sadites has done a number of excellent videos on gain-staging, check them out.

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rd2rk

Sorry to pester you again, but would you be so kind as to chime in my other post regarding integrating the HX Stomp in my existing pedalboard ? It doesn't seem to be a popular post at the time!

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