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loydall

HX Stomp - overdrives in the effects loop

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I found an old thread on this describing my experience but thought I'd resurrect the subject to see if there are any new approaches on this one.

 

I run my HX Stomp into the front of my valve amp. It sounds great. I also run my (real) overdrives into the HX Stomp. This also sounds fantastic. However - if I create an fx loop in my hx stomp and place my real overdrives in that, they sound awful. Unusable. I want to be able to do this so I can run some hx stomp effects before and after my real drives. 

 

I assume that using an FX loop means the signal is converted to digital, passed through my drives and then again, that signal converted to digital. The difference is massive, not just a slight difference but the difference between clear, articulate, responsive overdrives and mush. 

 

Is there anything I can do to improve the quality of using overdrives in the loop of the HX Stomp?

 

Cheers.

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It's probably a level issue. Have you set the Global Settings > Ins/Outs > Send/Return to Inst? When it's set to Line the signal your overdrives receive are pretty hot.

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6 minutes ago, Schmalle said:

It's probably a level issue. Have you set the Global Settings > Ins/Outs > Send/Return to Inst? When it's set to Line the signal your overdrives receive are pretty hot.

 

Yes - all set to inst. I'm not using any amp/cab blocks. Just using HX Stomp as an overdrive/modulation unit really. The  difference between running the overdrives in the fx loop vs straight into (before) the Stomp is quite significant. I was reading another thread on the subject which was a few years old and I think it was generally accepted (back then) that this was just the case with running analog pedals in a digital effects loop but I was hoping there was a more reasonable fix for it nowadays.

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I would consider trying a reamp box between your FX send and your first pedal. The difference between line level and instrument level is as much about impedance as it is about signal voltage, and I've never seen any definitive answer as to whether the LINE / INST setting affects impedance at all. I run 4CM and I've been using a reamp box since the X3 days, and when I got my LT, I tried the INST setting and it didn't sound anything like my amp. All this malarkey about converting between digital and analog and back doesn't hold up to real-world facts: tons of people use 4CM with tube amps with great success; there's no reason why a distortion pedal would be any different. It's just that, like tube amps in 4CM, distortion pedals weren't intended to be used as such, and sometimes there's a few hoops to jump through to get it all to work. You can get a cheap reamp box for under $100, and once you have one you will find many uses for it, as it's essentially the opposite of a direct box. 

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Could you name those overdrive pedals you use?

Have you used a preset with only the FX Loop in it?

Have you set the input impedance to 1MOhm in the input block to make sure it's not an issue ?

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11 hours ago, loydall said:

I found an old thread on this describing my experience but thought I'd resurrect the subject to see if there are any new approaches on this one.

 

I run my HX Stomp into the front of my valve amp. It sounds great. I also run my (real) overdrives into the HX Stomp. This also sounds fantastic. However - if I create an fx loop in my hx stomp and place my real overdrives in that, they sound awful. Unusable. I want to be able to do this so I can run some hx stomp effects before and after my real drives. 

 

I assume that using an FX loop means the signal is converted to digital, passed through my drives and then again, that signal converted to digital. The difference is massive, not just a slight difference but the difference between clear, articulate, responsive overdrives and mush. 

 

Is there anything I can do to improve the quality of using overdrives in the loop of the HX Stomp?

 

Cheers.

 

Yep, as schmalle responded levels would be one of the first issues I would look to. Not sure the extra D/A  conversion when routing through the Stomp's FX loop could be responsible for the level of signal degradation you are describing. You still have D/A conversion even when you plug your stomp pedals directly into the stomp. I wonder if this could be at least partially impacted by impedance issues as zappazapper alluded to. Have you tried changing the order of which of your external stomps gets plugged in first in your FX loop? Maybe the first pedal you have connected to the HX Stomp's send doesn't like the input level it is receiving.  Might not be your ideal pedal sequence but is is one more thing you can test. 

 

I suspect it is more likely a settings or impedance issue but another thing to check is if you are using different cables to plug in via the loop rather than directly, I would try some others. Never hurts to start testing by swapping out some hardware.  Might try swapping out the stomp pedals also. Are you getting the same excessive sound degradation no matter which stomps you try in the FX loop? 

 

Another thing to pay attention to in your testing is what sequence you have the pedals in when using the HX Stomp's loop versus plugging them in directly. Is everything still in the same order in your signal chain when plugged in via the HX Stomp's loop? If not you might just prefer the pedal order when run in directly. 

 

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29 minutes ago, Schmalle said:

Could you name those overdrive pedals you use?

Have you used a preset with only the FX Loop in it?

Have you set the input impedance to 1MOhm in the input block to make sure it's not an issue ?

Tube screamer, ODR 1, Fender Pugilist. Yes - absolutely I've compared direct in vs in fx loop with no other blocks in the chain.

Impedance is set to auto, will try at 1MOhm.

 

There is a discernible  difference, I'm not making this up and I doubt a loss in quality converting digital to analog and back to digital is just "malarky". 

 

This is the original thread I read where someone else described the issue: https://line6.com/support/topic/26937-why-do-my-drive-pedals-in-the-helix-fx-loop-sound-bad/

 

 

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1 hour ago, loydall said:

There is a discernible  difference, I'm not making this up and I doubt a loss in quality converting digital to analog and back to digital is just "malarky". 

I don't doubt that there is a difference and I certainly wouldn't suggest that you're making it up, but the idea that aliasing noise is causing this much of an issue in a modern 24-bit unit doesn't make sense. 24-bit conversion is designed specifically for this situation - the aliasing noise that results from even 16-bit conversion isn't in the audible range for humans in normal playback situations but when you start running your signal through processes that raise the noise floor, like a distortion pedal certainly would, then you'd start to hear 16-bit aliasing noise, which is why 24-bit conversion was developed, because the noise floor is so low that even extreme processes wouldn't raise the noise floor to an audible level. Like I said, I myself run a high gain Mesa Boogie tube preamp in the loop, and if aliasing noise were an issue, I would be experiencing it myself. But like I said, when I started experimenting with 4CM back in the X3 days, I had similar problems with my preamp not sounding right (I also wasn't making it up) and I had to get a reamp box to solve the problem, and when I switched to the LT, the INST setting didn't solve the problem as well as the reamp box was, so that's what I use and it sounds exactly the same as plugging my guitar into the front panel. So again, I urge you to try a reamp box before your pedals, as there are wild differences in impedance between devices and at least for me, using one has provided a night-and-day difference that the INST setting doesn't and that aliasing noise doesn't explain. 

 

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Just as a test with your pedals in the loop, set your input impedance to a lower value.

Many people say that overdrives don't sound good without the correct pickup loading and this should prove/eliminate that effect.

 

 

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To give you an idea of the amount of signal loss due to DA/AD conversion: Try a patch cable in the FX Loop directly connecting send and return. Then A/B the sound with and without the Loop in the chain. As for me I don't hear any other than a little extra noise.

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4 minutes ago, CraigGT said:

Just as a test with your pedals in the loop, set your input impedance to a lower value.

Many people say that overdrives don't sound good without the correct pickup loading and this should prove/eliminate that effect.

A TubeScreamer has an input impedance of about 500kOhm or higher and an OD1 about 1MOhm.

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Oh I just had a thought,

if you're using Send/ Return blocks is Dry Thru set to -120dB or if FX Loop is Mix set to 100%?

A friend fell foul of this at the weekend with phasing issues on a loop pedal.

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6 hours ago, CraigGT said:

Oh I just had a thought,

if you're using Send/ Return blocks is Dry Thru set to -120dB or if FX Loop is Mix set to 100%?

A friend fell foul of this at the weekend with phasing issues on a loop pedal.

 

^^^^This if you haven't checked it yet! Should have been the first thing mentioned. Many a user has run into this issue when using the FX loop.

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