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Paulzx

Optimum Helix Volume

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Hello All,

 

Quick question on something that just came up watching one of Jason Sadites' videos. He was talking about how some people use his custom tone patches but don't get similar sounding tones that he gets, that led on to a whole thing about how some of us may not have the Helix set up for optimum results to begin with. One of those observations was how loud you have the actual unit turned up.

He said he runs his Helix volume fairly hot, so he has the volume knob turned up quite high, then compensates elsewhere to cut it down a bit. This caught my attention because the volume knob on my Helix has always been at the 9 o clock position so basically only up a quarter of the way, I adjust the rest via the patch and my Alto speakers.

 

I noticed in some youtube clips that some people have the volume knob up at the 3 o clock or three quarter way up position, which is really loud, I tried it today and no doubt it has changed the way my patches sound, but here's the thing, to do it without blowing the windows out in the room, i turned my Alto speakers right down, literally just slightly up from zero, and then had to turn some master volumes down on the amp blocks I was using.

 

From a practical point of view here, is it wise to be creating patches using this volume, whereby they are going to all be mega loud by default, which means if I don't remember to either reduce each amps default volumes or limit the output signal, just each time I make a new patch, I'm going to probably blow my own head off by mistake at some point. It seems a little bit of a hazardous approach.

 

So how are you guys handling this and have you also found that your tones sound much better when the Helix is louder at the signal end rather than the speaker end?

Bear in mind I'm mostly playing high gain and that seems to be where it affects the tone for the better, as far as I can tell for now at least.

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I posted something kind of like this several weeks ago.  about what to set you output level on the helix.  I downloaded one of the loudness meters JS talks about and I set my patches so they peak around 12 and stay around 23.  I have my big knob set to digital, so that means it is only controlling my powercab or my dt25.  the xlr and 1/4 outputs are at max output level.  I normally have the big knob also maxed out and adjust the "loudness" on the powercab.  The xlr and 1/4 outputs get set by the trim on the board.

 

There used to be a thing where to get the best signal to noise ratio, you wanted as much signal going into the power amp as you could.  Otherwise, if you had a weak signal into the amp, turned the amp louder, whatever noise coming from your guitar, etc. would be amplified when you turned the amp up.  I don't know if that is as true as it used to be in the digital world, but I am pretending that it is :).  

 

The thing that has really  worked the best for me was downloading that loudness meter and using that to set my patches.  The meters on the helix are about 65% to 85%.

 

 

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Paulzx - the best approach is to run the Big knob as high as possible - I run mine full on, but some pull it back a fraction in case they need a bit of control at the gig.  Many switch the Knob off altogether under Global.
As a general rule the most appropriate gain-staging for any signal chain is to run each piece of gear at optimum (OdBm for analog/-14dBFS(ish)  for Digital) and control volume at the last point in therchain.

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6 hours ago, Paulzx said:

...

 

From a practical point of view here, is it wise to be creating patches using this volume, whereby they are going to all be mega loud by default, which means if I don't remember to either reduce each amps default volumes or limit the output signal, just each time I make a new patch, I'm going to probably blow my own head off by mistake at some point. It seems a little bit of a hazardous approach.

 

...

 

You can find a compromise of various recommendations that works best for you but Line6 has stated on numerous occasions that the best place to set the large output knob is on max or close to it(if you want a bit more flexibility). As already stated above many including me use the global settings such that the output knob only controls my onstage monitor and not the feed to the FOH which results in the max level being sent to FOH.  This actually has the opposite effect that you are worried about - "blow off my own head". It ensures that you don't have to remember where you had the output knob set when you designed a particular preset. You simply make sure you have all your presets leveled properly with the 'Ch Vol', output block, or wherever you choose to gain stage them, knowing that they will always be sent out to FOH at the output knob's max output level  Hopefully no nasty surprises for your sound person. 

 

Getting sufficient level out to your monitors or PA is critical for tone and S/N ratio. Obviously it shouldn't be too hot either though. Just turn down the channel on the mixing board or your amp/monitor as necessary. It will probably extend your PA or monitors' life too as they don't have to work as hard when they get adequate signal.

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It's never a good idea to run your powered speakers very much above unity (12 o''clock on the gain knob) as that invites a number of problems, the worst being clipping and the insidious which is triggering the built in limiter on the speaker.

My setup is a pretty common one.  I disengage the Helix volume knob from my XLR outputs and set my XLR outputs to Mic level.  This will send the best quality and most manageable signal to any PA system.  When I use a direct monitor from the Helix 1/4" outputs I always have my Yamaha DXR12 set to unity (12 o'clock) and my typical Helix volume knob setting will be around 11 o'clock, but that varies with your speaker and how you have it placed, but I always adjust the level with the Helix volume knob.  My patches normally run at about 60 or 65% on the Helix built in signal meter and are adjusted primarily by the channel volume level on the amp model in my preset as HonestOpinion mentioned.

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Thanks for all the feedback. So I've been running the volume too low then obviously. My speakers were never turned up above 12 o clock anyway but the Helix knob was way down at quarter volume, I'm only using this at bedroom volume levels at the moment by the way.

 

So Judging by the replies, most are turning the Helix volume knob up as far as possible, but controlling it via global settings - I'll look into that tonight. I think this might explain why I've never been 100% happy with my high gain, whereas other people's demos using the same amp models sound pretty epic.

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The volume knob is at unity when turned up all of the way. So it technically only turns things down.

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I never knew that, after owning this thing for a few years. Maybe this will liven my tones up a bit

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On 5/6/2021 at 8:31 AM, DunedinDragon said:

It's never a good idea to run your powered speakers very much above unity (12 o''clock on the gain knob) as that invites a number of problems, the worst being clipping and the insidious which is triggering the built in limiter on the speaker.

My setup is a pretty common one.  I disengage the Helix volume knob from my XLR outputs and set my XLR outputs to Mic level.  This will send the best quality and most manageable signal to any PA system.  When I use a direct monitor from the Helix 1/4" outputs I always have my Yamaha DXR12 set to unity (12 o'clock) and my typical Helix volume knob setting will be around 11 o'clock, but that varies with your speaker and how you have it placed, but I always adjust the level with the Helix volume knob.  My patches normally run at about 60 or 65% on the Helix built in signal meter and are adjusted primarily by the channel volume level on the amp model in my preset as HonestOpinion mentioned.

 

Let me just get this right - what are the best global settings then to run the volume knob at max, I'm using two 1/4 inch cables to my FR alto speakers so do i change the 'volume knob controls' setting (it's on multi at moment) should that be set to 1/4" or to digital etc? or should i be changing something else in the global settings?

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1 hour ago, Paulzx said:

 

Let me just get this right - what are the best global settings then to run the volume knob at max, I'm using two 1/4 inch cables to my FR alto speakers so do i change the 'volume knob controls' setting (it's on multi at moment) should that be set to 1/4" or to digital etc? or should i be changing something else in the global settings?


I doubt you would want to run full Helix volume direct to your speakers as you'd want to set your speaker's gain knobs to 12 o'clock and then manage the volume from your Helix volume knob.  That's the most practical way to do it with 1/4" cables.  Normally you'd disengage your volume knob on the XLR outputs to send to a mixing board.  In that case you would use Global ins/outs to set the XLR output to Mic level and specify the Volume knob would not be controlling it....which in effect sends the signal out of the XLR outputs as if the Helix volume knob was set on full.

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19 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:


I doubt you would want to run full Helix volume direct to your speakers as you'd want to set your speaker's gain knobs to 12 o'clock and then manage the volume from your Helix volume knob.  That's the most practical way to do it with 1/4" cables.  Normally you'd disengage your volume knob on the XLR outputs to send to a mixing board.  In that case you would use Global ins/outs to set the XLR output to Mic level and specify the Volume knob would not be controlling it....which in effect sends the signal out of the XLR outputs as if the Helix volume knob was set on full.

 

Right now I've got the global volume set to the quarter inch output. That has allowed me to turn the big volume knob to max but like you said, the alto speakers are turned way down. To get the speakers back up to 12 o clock will mean dialling the volume knob right back to halfway I expect. So is that still going to be optimal output or am I better off using xlr cables and getting the helix volume back up to max?

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5 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Right now I've got the global volume set to the quarter inch output. That has allowed me to turn the big volume knob to max but like you said, the alto speakers are turned way down. To get the speakers back up to 12 o clock will mean dialling the volume knob right back to halfway I expect. So is that still going to be optimal output or am I better off using xlr cables and getting the helix volume back up to max?

 

It's also worth considering whether or not you want to be reaching behind two monitors every time you want to turn up or down a bit... because if you've dimed the Helix master volume and refuse to touch it based on this being some theoretically "optimal" setting, that's what your stuck with doing. And personally, I'd bet a large sum of money that you will notice little to no difference no matter what you do. There is no universal "optimal" way to do things.

 

Do whatever works for the way you have things set up, so that you can easily adjust volume when you have to. Just because I do things a certain way that works for me and I like the results, doesn't guarantee that you'll agree... and in the end neither one of us is "right".

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1 hour ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

It's also worth considering whether or not you want to be reaching behind two monitors every time you want to turn up or down a bit... because if you've dimed the Helix master volume and refuse to touch it based on this being some theoretically "optimal" setting, that's what your stuck with doing. And personally, I'd bet a large sum of money that you will notice little to no difference no matter what you do. There is no universal "optimal" way to do things.

 

Do whatever works for the way you have things set up, so that you can easily adjust volume when you have to. Just because I do things a certain way that works for me and I like the results, doesn't guarantee that you'll agree... and in the end neither one of us is "right".

 

Your post totally contradicts everything that's been said above! 

Just making the changes I've already made, has made a big difference in fact. I just want to know now, the answer to my question about the XLR cable option

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4 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

It's also worth considering whether or not you want to be reaching behind two monitors every time you want to turn up or down a bit... because if you've dimed the Helix master volume and refuse to touch it based on this being some theoretically "optimal" setting, that's what your stuck with doing. And personally, I'd bet a large sum of money that you will notice little to no difference no matter what you do. There is no universal "optimal" way to do things.

 

Do whatever works for the way you have things set up, so that you can easily adjust volume when you have to. Just because I do things a certain way that works for me and I like the results, doesn't guarantee that you'll agree... and in the end neither one of us is "right".

 

3 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Your post totally contradicts everything that's been said above! 

Just making the changes I've already made, has made a big difference in fact. I just want to know now, the answer to my question about the XLR cable option

 

I actually agree with cruisinon2's post. Although the "optimal" or the recommended setup may at times appear to be contradictory to what is ideal for you it is really about finding the compromise that works best for your equipment/setup and how you tend to use it. The guidance Line6 provides on setting the volume level tends to be most beneficial to users who had their master volumes cranked down to for example 1/4(9 o'clock) and can't figure out why the sound isn't what they were looking for. Once you get past say about 12 o'clock the impact to the tone diminishes and can be much less noticeable, perhaps not at all depending.

 

Although Line6 may state that the optimal sound is at unity with the master volume knob set at max, I also leave some play to adjust my monitor, usually around 3/4 of the way up for exactly the reason cruisinon2 described - I don't want to have to reach behind my monitor on stage to adjust it.  Others who want to have an even wider range available for adjusting their monitor may leave the volume at around 12'oclock without noticing any significant impact to their sound. To some extent this may depend on how their presets were designed.

 

My primary concern on stage is to make sure the FOH has predictable and optimal levels at the board so I send that signal out at max. Although I also want the best sound I can get out of my monitor(s) on stage, having some added measure of control over the volume and easy access from my Helix is also important to me so that is where I compromise by using the volume control. Same thing might apply to a bedroom or studio player. If it is more convenient to use the volume control don't hesitate to find a sweet spot on the master volume that allows you to adjust it without butchering your sound, e.g. keep it as high as you can while still providing adequate adjustability of your volume.

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2 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Your post totally contradicts everything that's been said above! 

Just making the changes I've already made, has made a big difference in fact. I just want to know now, the answer to my question about the XLR cable option


I think the confusion may have arisen because you are discussing Studio monitoring, which is why “cruisinon2” mentioned whether you “want to be reaching behind two monitors” constantly.

 

Many other replies are regarding live situations, as the example given by “HonestOpinion” in the post higher up in this thread, where he mentions control of his on stage monitors and the feed to FOH.


Horses for courses, or maybe I’m reading this wrong.

 

Hope this helps/makes sense.

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10 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Right now I've got the global volume set to the quarter inch output. That has allowed me to turn the big volume knob to max but like you said, the alto speakers are turned way down. To get the speakers back up to 12 o clock will mean dialling the volume knob right back to halfway I expect. So is that still going to be optimal output or am I better off using xlr cables and getting the helix volume back up to max?

 

Typically you would want to reserve your XLR outputs for long runs such as going to the mixing board.  There are LOTS of different ways to do things, but the standard in the industry is:  powered speakers receive line level signals, mixing boards receive mic level signals.  Line level is a considerably higher signal level than is mic level.  Lower level signals are much less prone to line interference and have less signal loss.

All of that being said, let's get serious about "best" quality signal level when it comes to the Helix volume knob.  The Helix volume knob is what determines the bit-level of conversion that takes place when the digital signal you've been messing with inside your Helix preset gets converted to an analog signal.  Although signal to noise ratio is often cited as the reason, the actual reason is the number of bits being used in the conversion from digital to analog.  Some people say they can hear the difference between a high bit rate and a lower bit rate.  These  people are easily identifiable because they have very large ears and look a lot like a bat.  I for one used a 1/4" line to my Yamaha DXR12 on stage for 4 or 5 years on my Helix with my speaker gain set to 12 o'clock and my Helix volume knob typically between 11 to 11:30 and never heard one bit of difference between that tone and the tone I would get from my XLR cable running running at Mic level full volume (with the Helix volume knob disengaged) through QSC KLA12 line arrays and my on stage DXR12...but then I just have normal human ears.

The bottom line for me in that situation was, I was in a traditional band with amps and live drums, so it was up to us to manage our stage sound and volume so I needed a way to easily set it, which is the Helix volume knob.  As for the audience, I want the absolute MOST control over sound consistency going to the audience and managed at the mixing board, so I sent a full level signal to the board so that it could be appropriately gain staged against all the other signals coming into the board from instruments and voices to be more easily and precisely mixed with everyone else for the FOH...where it REALLY matters.

In the last year due mostly to COVID, we've changed our personnel and approach and we no longer use any amps, personal FRFRs or acoustic drums on stage.  All of our signals go direct to the mixing board (at full volume, mic level) and the mixing board provides us with our individual monitor mix as well as the audience FOH mix, so there is no direct connection to a stage monitor from the Helix.

In both case in the ideal world, the audience always gets the best mix.  On stage, we get the mix that serves our individual purposes best...which is absolutely NOT going to be the best mix for the audience.

Now you can choose to approach it however you want.  I can only tell you my reasoning for how and why I did it the way I've done it based on my experience as both a musician and a sound man.  Ultimately you have to decide what best suits the way you and your band operates.

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4 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Your post totally contradicts everything that's been said above! 

Just making the changes I've already made, has made a big difference in fact.

 

Well never mind then...

 

Quote

 

 

I just want to know now, the answer to my question about the XLR cable option

 

There is no definitive answer to this question. If you have designed a workable setup that does what you need it to do, is easy to control, and you like what you hear, then the battle is over and you've won... and if it turns out that whatever you've done isn't a textbook example of the "right" way to do things, who gives a $hit? If it works, it works. Either way, nobody can tell you from afar if you'll prefer one method over another. And no matter what the manual alleges to be the "best" or "correct" way to do things, it may or may not suit your personal needs/ tastes. EVH spent his whole life quite literally butchering guitars and amps until he got the sound he wanted... and I seriously doubt he lost much sleep over whether or not he was "doing it right" or not. 

 

Point is, there is exactly one way to find out: Try it and see what happens. If you decide you like it better, then more power to you... but nobody here can predict how that's gonna turn out. 

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23 hours ago, datacommando said:


I think the confusion may have arisen because you are discussing Studio monitoring, which is why “cruisinon2” mentioned whether you “want to be reaching behind two monitors” constantly.

 

Many other replies are regarding live situations, as the example given by “HonestOpinion” in the post higher up in this thread, where he mentions control of his on stage monitors and the feed to FOH.


Horses for courses, or maybe I’m reading this wrong.

 

Hope this helps/makes sense.

 

Yep fair enough. I'm not using it in a live situation for now so I'm not concerned about how I adjust the volumes, I'll deal with that down the road. My main goal is to nail the optimum sound quality setup between the Helix volume knob and the FR speaker volume level and understanding which cable type would be better to achieve that. Right now my speakers are turned down to around 1 quarter volume but the helix volume knob is way up to three quarter position, that already livened my tones up quite a lot.

 

If we're saying anything over half way on the helix knob volume will get a similar result then great I'll work with that. 

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22 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Well never mind then...

 

 

There is no definitive answer to this question. If you have designed a workable setup that does what you need it to do, is easy to control, and you like what you hear, then the battle is over and you've won... and if it turns out that whatever you've done isn't a textbook example of the "right" way to do things, who gives a $hit? If it works, it works. Either way, nobody can tell you from afar if you'll prefer one method over another. And no matter what the manual alleges to be the "best" or "correct" way to do things, it may or may not suit your personal needs/ tastes. EVH spent his whole life quite literally butchering guitars and amps until he got the sound he wanted... and I seriously doubt he lost much sleep over whether or not he was "doing it right" or not. 

 

Point is, there is exactly one way to find out: Try it and see what happens. If you decide you like it better, then more power to you... but nobody here can predict how that's gonna turn out. 

 

All the posts on here have been valuable, remember, all I was asking was if I was making a basic error in the volume settings, which it turns out I was. I was never fully happy with my distortion tones and can now say with certainty for anyone else looking at this issue, setting aside all other arguable variables, if your helix knob volume is way down like mine was at the quarter position.. its a basic user error for tone quality from this unit. It seems now that getting that volume knob anywhere between half way and full, really does bring everything much more alive. Secondary objective is to get your output speakers up to 12 o clock or near as.

 

It really has made a big difference to me, I'm so much more impressed with how the tones sound now and would strongly recommend to anyone unhappy with their helix to really look at this.

 

Thanks to all who commented on this, I've learned a lot.

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My rule of thumb for everything in life:

 

Set all knobs to 10 unless something turns red.

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13 hours ago, soundog said:

My rule of thumb for everything in life:

 

Set all knobs to 10 unless something turns red.

 

If I did that I'd have no roof left lol..

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 I haven't gone through the whole thread so this may have been mentioned but what output (1/4" or XLR) are you using to connect to your monitors and do you have them set up for line mic or instrument level in the global section? Also, what kind of Alto's are you using? Does the input have a line/mic switch. I ask all of this because it sure sounds like a hot output going into an input setup for a low output like an output at line level going into an input setup for mic level.

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On 5/11/2021 at 3:32 PM, brue58ski said:

 I haven't gone through the whole thread so this may have been mentioned but what output (1/4" or XLR) are you using to connect to your monitors and do you have them set up for line mic or instrument level in the global section? Also, what kind of Alto's are you using? Does the input have a line/mic switch. I ask all of this because it sure sounds like a hot output going into an input setup for a low output like an output at line level going into an input setup for mic level.

 

Helix volume knob in globals is now set to quarter inch output - I think the quarter inch output itself was set to line (not in front of it at moment).

The Alto's are the 210's and i'm pretty sure the switch on the speakers was set to line - I will check this later though

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23 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Helix volume knob in globals is now set to quarter inch output - I think the quarter inch output itself was set to line (not in front of it at moment).

The Alto's are the 210's and i'm pretty sure the switch on the speakers was set to line - I will check this later though

 

The two choices for the 1/4" outputs are line and instrument. Instrument is, very basically, a level between mic and line. The FX Sends choices are also line and instrument. As I recall, the only output that has a mic level are the XLR's. Don't know if this helps.

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Here's what I have:

 

XLR is set to mic level.  Set that up based on a discussion with a very knowledgeable sound guy.  Volume knob only controls the 1/4 inch out.

 

1/4 inch out is set to Instrument level.  This is just my personal monitor mix with an FRFR / amp.  If this is not loud enough for me, I can change it to Line level. 

 

A few times when I ran a Helix into a DI box using 1/4 inch output, I simply set the volume knob at 3 o'clock. 

 

In terms of actual dBs, I haven't measured it.  Just basically have it so that the sound is clear, not distorted/glitchy.  And that's about it....

 

low........................loudest

mic < instrument < line

 

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On 5/10/2021 at 6:33 PM, soundog said:

My rule of thumb for everything in life:

 

Set all knobs to 10 unless something turns red.

 

I did that until my thumb started turning red.

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