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How to make Helix sound a bit less digital???

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Helix sounds great as it is, but, I can still hear a bit of a digital tinge, if you will. Just wondering if anyone can suggest anything to make it sound even more analog...like in the form of EQ settings, for example? Or, maybe something else? 

 

Thanks.  

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Usually when people say "digital sounding" they refer to something like "harsh sounding". Therefore: Try highcuts and the end of your chain or in your cab block. 

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1 hour ago, deckard1 said:

anything to make it sound even more analog...like in the form of EQ settings, for example?

 

Hi,

 

Have you tried adding a Retro Reel block at the end of the signal chain? It should put you into the realm of analogue tape saturation. Oddly,  it is actually a digital emulation of a reel to reel tape machine.

 

Check out Jason's video for dialling in the Retro Reel.

 

 

Hope this helps/makes sense.

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That's a really sneaky territory. You know, when it's about describing tone and sound with just words, in the context of subjective hearing spectrum and personal taste, variables are so many that sometimes it's like playing ping pong with 12 balls...

 

Anyway, one of the thing to consider when using the Helix, as any other modeler, is that isn't trying to replicate an amp in the room, but a recorded/mic'ed system, to be listened through hi-fi, or FRFR speakers/monitors. This is already throwing into the equation everything above the typical 5.5KHz range of a guitar cab speaker, and sometimes may happen that our ears aren't liking stuff ringing too much above that area. So, first thing I'd try is to shape the high freq range to limit and/or remove stuff in the far right of the spectrum (I'd say above 7Khz you can start dropping, unless you are using Helix with non-guitar instruments, like a synth or similars).

 

Also check your guitar signal is robust at the input and first stage of the path, keeping a good amount of headroom. A typical path to tone harshness is when you try to push a weak guitar signal (through gain, or multiple cabs, or doing a bad gain staging) trying to bring back some tone thickness, but there you are also pulling from the floor tons of noise and unpleasant harmonics because of hard clipping.

 

My 3C. :)

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I've been playing my Helix for over 6 years and analog gear for 5 decades and for the life of me I still can't figure out what anyone means by the phrase "sounds digital".  I'm assuming the person making the claim can easily identify when a live performance is going through a digital mixer versus an analog mixer without seeing the mixer.

Of course the reality of any phrase that starts with "sounds...." has nothing to do with the electronics and more to do with what kind of speakers or headphones were used to bring it into the world of analog sound.

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23 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

I've been playing my Helix for over 6 years and analog gear for 5 decades and for the life of me I still can't figure out what anyone means by the phrase "sounds digital".  I'm assuming the person making the claim can easily identify when a live performance is going through a digital mixer versus an analog mixer without seeing the mixer.

QFT

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Define 'digital tinge'.

Here is an A / B comparison between Helix and it's high end analog tube amp counterpart (well 100w model vs. 50w version). Please tell me what to listen to in order to observe  that 'digital tinge'.

 

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To the previous poster of the A/B Orange amp comparison, the two sound identical. That’s a great example. Thanks for posting. 
 

Hard to quantify digital tinge. I should have stated from the start that I am coming from using a Suhr Reactive Load box with my Marshall DSL40CR and speaker sims…into headphones. I’m certainly not comparing the Helix to the sound of being in the same room as an all valve amp and speaker cranked. I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I am dialing things in wrong with the Helix. Very possible. But, going from my previous setup as described above with the Suhr Reactive Load, the Helix, in general, sounds more ‘plastic’…by plastic I mean more digital. 
 

 

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44 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

I still can't figure out what anyone means by the phrase "sounds digital".

 

Yep, you count me in on that one - I have no idea what they really mean.

 

Maybe i've spent too much time being a studio rat (yes, right back there with reel to reel tapes), and because almost everything now is digital - that's become "normal" - whatever the hell that is?

 

Maybe" digital" means it's all too clean?

 

I don't know - but when you consider the hours people have spent trying to record a clean signal. We're in a different realm now, not like when you had to do a mix to a cassette tape so the band could listen to it in the car - terrible idea, but... Then when doing a mix and writing directly to CD arrived, people complained that it was all too pristine and clinical.

 

Whatever happened to that "tape eater" effect that Line 6 had in the old stuff. If they put that into Helix - well, who knows...

 

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5 minutes ago, deckard1 said:

To the previous poster of the A/B Orange amp comparison, the two sound identical. That’s a great example. Thanks for posting. 
 

Hard to quantify digital tinge. I should have stated from the start that I am coming from using a Suhr Reactive Load box with my Marshall DSL40CR and speaker sims…into headphones. I’m certainly not comparing the Helix to the sound of being in the same room as an all valve amp and speaker cranked. I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I am dialing things in wrong with the Helix. Very possible. But, going from my previous setup as described above with the Suhr Reactive Load, the Helix, in general, sounds more ‘plastic’…by plastic I mean more digital.

The obvious and only right answer to that question is: define plastic!

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3 hours ago, bassbene said:

Usually when people say "digital sounding" they refer to something like "harsh sounding". Therefore: Try highcuts and the end of your chain or in your cab block. 

 

Sounds good. Will give what you suggested a shot. Thanks. 

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1 hour ago, Schmalle said:

Define 'digital tinge'.

Here is an A / B comparison between Helix and it's high end analog tube amp counterpart (well 100w model vs. 50w version). Please tell me what to listen to in order to observe  that 'digital tinge'.

 

 

Hmmmm, Im not sure I do believe that video. Im tempted to overlap the A with B and do a phase test... ;)

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1 hour ago, deckard1 said:

To the previous poster of the A/B Orange amp comparison, the two sound identical. That’s a great example. Thanks for posting. 
 

Hard to quantify digital tinge. I should have stated from the start that I am coming from using a Suhr Reactive Load box with my Marshall DSL40CR and speaker sims…into headphones. I’m certainly not comparing the Helix to the sound of being in the same room as an all valve amp and speaker cranked. I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I am dialing things in wrong with the Helix. Very possible. But, going from my previous setup as described above with the Suhr Reactive Load, the Helix, in general, sounds more ‘plastic’…by plastic I mean more digital.

Do you still own the Marshall - Suhr - speaker sim system?

You could A/B both directly by putting the Marshall and Suhr in the Helix loop.Use a Looper block - play a riff - and then A/B both systems.

I'd start with the Revv Gen Purple amp block with Aggro at 1 to match the DSL.

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2 hours ago, deckard1 said:

To the previous poster of the A/B Orange amp comparison, the two sound identical. That’s a great example. Thanks for posting. 
 

Hard to quantify digital tinge. I should have stated from the start that I am coming from using a Suhr Reactive Load box with my Marshall DSL40CR and speaker sims…into headphones. I’m certainly not comparing the Helix to the sound of being in the same room as an all valve amp and speaker cranked. I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I am dialing things in wrong with the Helix. Very possible. But, going from my previous setup as described above with the Suhr Reactive Load, the Helix, in general, sounds more ‘plastic’…by plastic I mean more digital. 
 

 

 

Given your previous setup the only thing that would make a difference in what you're hearing (assuming you're using the same cab, mic, and mic placements as in your reactive load box) would likely be in the extended amp model parameters that generally simulate tube amp behaviors and can affect certain dynamic and articulation aspects of the tone such as Sag, Bias and Bias X.  These defaults are set to replicate the perfect conditions of the specific amp model, but comparing it to an amp model that's different, or one that may vary in tube types, older tubes and circuitry differences may sound more like what you're used to if you adjust them.

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I will just point to the comment about low and high cuts - the minute you start limiting the frequency response to a typical guitar amp and speaker range, it all comes together.

I personally drastically cut everything below 100Hz and above 5.5KHz.  With that as my base setup, I can still get what people would call a "glassy" strat.  Smooth, but bright.

You can obviously try that and then back some of that off if you feel I go too far.......I like to keep well out of Bass and big keys area.....so if you like your bass well up on a Marshall, you might not like 100Hz - but 70 or 80Hz is still capable of giving you lots of bottom (I'd say too much!) and 7Khz I'd call sizzle that's too edgy for my liking - the more high frequency, the worse distortion sounds.

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1 hour ago, rvroberts said:

I will just point to the comment about low and high cuts - the minute you start limiting the frequency response to a typical guitar amp and speaker range, it all comes together.

I personally drastically cut everything below 100Hz and above 5.5KHz.  With that as my base setup, I can still get what people would call a "glassy" strat.  Smooth, but bright.

You can obviously try that and then back some of that off if you feel I go too far.......I like to keep well out of Bass and big keys area.....so if you like your bass well up on a Marshall, you might not like 100Hz - but 70 or 80Hz is still capable of giving you lots of bottom (I'd say too much!) and 7Khz I'd call sizzle that's too edgy for my liking - the more high frequency, the worse distortion sounds.

 

Will try that and adjust accordingly. Thanks! Which EQ are using, by the way? Which one probably doesn't matter too much, but I was just curious. 

 

The Marshall DSL I have is a very bright amp to begin with. 

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6 hours ago, Schmalle said:

Do you still own the Marshall - Suhr - speaker sim system?

You could A/B both directly by putting the Marshall and Suhr in the Helix loop.Use a Looper block - play a riff - and then A/B both systems.

I'd start with the Revv Gen Purple amp block with Aggro at 1 to match the DSL.

 

Had to sell the Suhr Reactive Load, unfortunately. Would have loved to try what you suggested though. 

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I too am tired of people talking about things "sounding digital".  There a great vid around from an Audio Engineering conference where they ran a file through a cheap ($30.00) soundcard over 100 times and no -one could hear any difference.
Yes, back in the first year or two of CDs there were issues with the brick wall filters on the Players....and issues with mastering engineers preparing tapes for vinyl and then having it put on CD.  None of that is relevant now.

plastic is also  a useless term - just like saying it sounds too orange, or too fur coat. 

also unhelpful is not specifying the signal chain and the monitoring system.   If you run your helix though a headphone amp and into a 1000w poweramp then into a 1 inch compression driver with no horn there is a real chance it will sound "thin".

 

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What EQ to use is up to you.  The high and low cuts on the IR or Cab are where I start.

I personally like the Cali Q for a bit more tuning as I find the frequencies well placed for tonal sculpting. (not as the main cuts though - not what it's designed for)

But sometimes, I'm feeling like I need to hone in on more specific frequencies............which might be the 10 band or the parametric.

So I'm cutting top and bottom and then tuning after that. 

I also have a basic set of cuts in my Global EQ too - but a lot of people here will say your global EQ is for room tuning.  I never room tune - but then, I'm using 2 wedges in stereo pointing straight at me and if there is a bit of bass boom (a definite problem on some stages), there are bass and treble control on the wedges - and I just tweak that - therefore FOH always gets the same sound (I don't leave anything to FOH - they are asked to start flat and then adjust where necessary - but that's the only place to tune a room I think).

Anyhow, there are lots of ways to skin a cat - you make your own decisions!

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11 hours ago, lawrence_Arps said:

I too am tired of people talking about things "sounding digital".  There a great vid around from an Audio Engineering conference where they ran a file through a cheap ($30.00) soundcard over 100 times and no -one could hear any difference.
Yes, back in the first year or two of CDs there were issues with the brick wall filters on the Players....and issues with mastering engineers preparing tapes for vinyl and then having it put on CD.  None of that is relevant now.

plastic is also  a useless term - just like saying it sounds too orange, or too fur coat. 

also unhelpful is not specifying the signal chain and the monitoring system.   If you run your helix though a headphone amp and into a 1000w poweramp then into a 1 inch compression driver with no horn there is a real chance it will sound "thin".

 

 

Well, while I do agree about the difficulty to describe a sound with words, we do also have to agree that (given the personal taste) hearing is a subjective experience. Not sure if you ever did an audiogram test, but as with speakers, we do also have our own "frequency response", and we are all different as humans, due age, high volume damages (yep, it's a serious thing between gigging people), etc etc.-. Also, when you are getting older, you start developing specific frequencies notches (typically on top of 4Khz), and an early falloff on both edges of the spectrum. This means you may want to pull more highs to compensate your hearing perception, while a young folk would perceive this as way too much. Same on the bass side.

 

This is something people tends to ignore, but it's a fact... so yeah, I do tend to believe (or at least Im not bashing them) these folks that are hearing stuff that Im not, and viceversa. You could easily test this, "hiding" a generated tone above 8KHz@0dB SPL, in the middle of a guitar signal - and see how many will spot it.

 

I do always suggest my friends gigging musicians to do an Audiogram, at least once a year. ;)

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@deckard1, make certain that you have updated your device's firmware to the latest release to be assured of the latest sonic improvements. This in addition to the suggestions of the prior responses in this thread. 

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On 6/2/2021 at 11:33 AM, deckard1 said:

Hard to quantify digital tinge. I should have stated from the start that I am coming from using a Suhr Reactive Load box with my Marshall DSL40CR and speaker sims…into headphones. I’m certainly not comparing the Helix to the sound of being in the same room as an all valve amp and speaker cranked. I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I am dialing things in wrong with the Helix. Very possible. But, going from my previous setup as described above with the Suhr Reactive Load, the Helix, in general, sounds more ‘plastic’…by plastic I mean more digital. 
 

 

 

Were you using speaker sims on your computer with your Marshall + Suhr setup?  Have you tried running Helix with cabs/IR's off into those same speaker sims?

 

From personal experience and opinion, I found the Two Notes cabs in their Wall Of Sound plug in much better sounding than Helix cabs and IR's (on the Helix floor or in Helix Native).   It actually drove me to buy a Two Notes Cab M+ to use with Helix.  This might translate to "less digital/plastic" to you.

 

BTW, as others have posted, EQ, high cut, and that analog tape echo block suggestion (very interesting...I have to try it!) can help as well.  But I feel ya. 

 

P.S. I went so far one time as to put a self-attenuated Fryette Powerstation PS-2 into a send/return block of Helix between the power amp and cab (or IR) model blocks to get that real tube amp-to-cab impedance curve effect and liveliness mojo that is missing in all digital modelers IMO.  The PS-2 Bright and Warm switches, along with the Presence and Depth controls are really powerful too.  But this is some really cork-sniffing, holy grail type stuff that may not be worth the cabling and extra gear, especially if you have to move your rig a lot.

 

 

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