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AlasdairGeorge

Where do I put the effects loop?

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I'm currently running my Helix LT straight into headphones.  No real amp/cab.  I've just bought a Strymon Big Sky reverb unit and am trying to figure out the best routing.  In the real world, I'd be using my Marshall JCM 800, so would take the signal out via its loop after the pre-amp, into the Strymon, then back into the amp's power amp stage.  As the Helix LT doesn't have separate pre-amp and power amp blocks, I can't replicate that routing, so the nearest I can get to that is putting the effects loop block between the amp block and the cab (or IR) block.  Is there a better way to do it?  Sorry for the basic question, but this is the first time since I got my Helix that I've been trying to use an external effects pedal other than right at the front.

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Well, where you suggest after the amp is a perfectly fine place to put it.  But in general, the reason you connect into your amp effects loop is to keep delay and reverb effects as clean as possible.  In the Helix, while you could duplicate your live chain (well close with what you suggest) more likely you'd do what you would do in the recording studio - which is place those effects after the amp, speakers and mic - that is after the speakers/IRs.  Then your Big Sky can really sparkle with absolutely no limitation of amp and speaker colouration.  

Naturally, you might like that colouration......... so back to plan A.  But try it last in the chain and think about some EQ if it's a bit "in your face" and bright.  Think like you are in a big studio where those effects are probably applied on the desk with outboard gear.

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I am doing the same thing, using the big sky in a helix effects loop. The only downside to the setup you’re talking about is that everything before the speaker cab block is summed to mono. Part of the glory of the big sky is it’s huge stereo sound. If you want to maintain the stereo image you have to put the loop after the amp and cab. The exception to this would be amp, then big sky in stereo loop, then split to two paths and put 2 speaker blocks. That would keep it stereo and between amp and cab. 

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Consider why power amp modeling even exists in a unit like Helix - because it does change the tone. But also consider the difference between a real power amp and power amp modeling - power amp modeling doesn't amplify signals. So putting your Strymon in the FX Loop of your JCM800 is because beyond tonal changes, the power amp of your JCM800 actually has a job to do. In the Helix, power amp modeling doesn't have to do that job, so it's not necessary to separate the preamp modeling from the power amp modeling so you can put effects between them. There is an argument to be made that there would be a SLIGHT difference if you could put a delay between a preamp model and a power amp model, but I think this difference would be negligible. So while there really isn't a hard and fast rule that says a delay effect can't be BEFORE the amp (in fact it's often the right place to put it in the chain), typically delay effects exist after the amp, after modulation effects, and before reverbs. 

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My advice is to use the Helix for everything.  It has got a ton of ways to configure and personalize your sound.  It records very well and sounds great at a gig.  Spend a week a/b 'ing with your amp and use the Helix exclusively. 

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