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How Helix ruined the most important concert of my life


edding
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I've came from AxeFx just to reduce equipment size and weight.
After all this time using it, I can say the sound quality is "enough" for what i need, so i was happy with it. Also I Love the fact that i can use  native plugin matching presets recording and playing concerts.


But i never thought that this equipment could spoil one of the most important concert in my life.

 

We made the soundcheck at 15.00. Temperature was 28ºC. I decided to cover the Helix with a hand made flightcase becouse the sun was directly striking the unit.
We started at 17.00. I just remove the flight case and start to play.
25 mins later the Helix freeze in the middle of the song. I've tried to turn off/on a few times getting the message "boot failure"
The rest of the band look at me with a wtf-is-going-on-faces. I just could say them: "Go on without me, i will just simulate im playing.

After being two minutes turned off, it started to work again, but it was too late, my concert was ruined.

 

 

241019064_4334816246585022_1402421554749544116_n.jpg

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6 hours ago, edding said:


I've came from AxeFx just to reduce equipment size and weight.
After all this time using it, I can say the sound quality is "enough" for what i need, so i was happy with it. Also I Love the fact that i can use  native plugin matching presets recording and playing concerts.


But i never thought that this equipment could spoil one of the most important concert in my life.

 

We made the soundcheck at 15.00. Temperature was 28ºC. I decided to cover the Helix with a hand made flightcase becouse the sun was directly striking the unit.
We started at 17.00. I just remove the flight case and start to play.
25 mins later the Helix freeze in the middle of the song. I've tried to turn off/on a few times getting the message "boot failure"
The rest of the band look at me with a wtf-is-going-on-faces. I just could say them: "Go on without me, i will just simulate im playing.

After being two minutes turned off, it started to work again, but it was too late, my concert was ruined.

 

 

241019064_4334816246585022_1402421554749544116_n.jpg

 

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ugh, it sucks!!!  But you know things break, all of them!  Amps blow up, pedals and guitars get wires inside un-soldered.  Every single piece of equipment can unexpectedly fail.  I think in your case it was simply that it overheated.  What to do for next time.... have a backup!  Have another small pedalboard, processor, whatever you need to go into until your problem is resolved.  I have 2 Helixes, and bring them both.  If not that, I have a separate self-contained pedalboard + amp thing that I can also bring. 

 

Ultimately the Helix is a computer.  And even the best laptop if left in the sun is not going to work.  Heck my cell phone does not turn on if I leave it in the glove box of my car on a sunny day. 

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Totally feel for ya....

 

 

...Myself, this is where I've greatly considered one of the smaller units to be able to at least keep the same amp/cab, nuts and bolts type presets available.  Not sure that would have solved your issue, but being able to seamlessly just unplug and plug into essentially the same presets would be helpful. 

 

 

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Sorry to read this, I feel ya.
It's why I have a backup in my utility case (in my case an Amplifirebox and an old Zoom G3 for some FX).
Others than that, to me it seems to be that the Helix simply hasn't been made with any remotely critical outside situations in mind. Visibility is extremely bad and a big, bold black unit needs some serious heat protection, which the Helix apparently doesn't have.

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1 hour ago, SaschaFranck said:

Sorry to read this, I feel ya.
It's why I have a backup in my utility case (in my case an Amplifirebox and an old Zoom G3 for some FX).
Others than that, to me it seems to be that the Helix simply hasn't been made with any remotely critical outside situations in mind. Visibility is extremely bad and a big, bold black unit needs some serious heat protection, which the Helix apparently doesn't have.


Eh… 28C is only like 82F… Heat wasn’t the issue. I’ve done shows at the State Fair here in August where it’s been in the 90s all day, I had my HX Effect in the sun all afternoon and used it for four sets throughout the day without powering it off. I’ve also done plenty of other outdoor shows with the Helix itself on very hot stages.

 

I’m not sure what caused this particular issue, but it wasn’t heat. The Helix can operate in much higher temperatures than this.

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11 hours ago, edding said:


I've came from AxeFx just to reduce equipment size and weight.
After all this time using it, I can say the sound quality is "enough" for what i need, so i was happy with it. Also I Love the fact that i can use  native plugin matching presets recording and playing concerts.


But i never thought that this equipment could spoil one of the most important concert in my life.

 

We made the soundcheck at 15.00. Temperature was 28ºC. I decided to cover the Helix with a hand made flightcase becouse the sun was directly striking the unit.
We started at 17.00. I just remove the flight case and start to play.
25 mins later the Helix freeze in the middle of the song. I've tried to turn off/on a few times getting the message "boot failure"
The rest of the band look at me with a wtf-is-going-on-faces. I just could say them: "Go on without me, i will just simulate im playing.

After being two minutes turned off, it started to work again, but it was too late, my concert was ruined.

 

 

241019064_4334816246585022_1402421554749544116_n.jpg


Sorry to hear about the issue. When the Helix first froze, was it still passing audio, or did it cut out? Was there anything on the screen or scribble strips?

 

The -28 message is just kind of a general

boot error message. These sort of things that are hard to replicate are always the most frustrating things to deal with.

 

 

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That does really suck.....but, I don't think there is a musician alive that hasn't had some sort of "technical difficulty" occur while on stage.  I've had catastrophic failures with tube amps, pedal boards, guitars....etc. Luckily, depending on the gig, I've been able to push on through with varying success. 

 

I've been to concerts by major performers, national acts, and seen them have issues. It happens. 

 

I"ve had the LT since almost from the time that they were  first available. I've played a fair number of shows in the middle of the day contending the  blistering Texas heat (Nearing 100 degrees F). Fortunately I've never had any show stopping experiences.  It's worked like a champ. I do have to agree with @SaschaFranck, visibility is an issue in such conditions, but I've learned to deal with it. 

 

I have had experiences with the LT where it's performance was less than stellar. I had a gig where the expression pedal was "glitching" causing my wah to activate on it's own. I've only experienced it once and  only at one venue....since then, never had the issue again.  I really think it was an issue with the power source I was given, but I don't know.  When I got it home, I set it all up and tried to duplicate the issue and couldn't. 

 

All that said, I'm not trying to downplay what happened to you, really not. It's just that these things happen.  It could have been any number of things that caused your Helix to behave badly. Really sorry it ruined your experience. Hopefully your future experiences are positive. 

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What happened sucks, and I feel your pain... but to be brutally frank, what really ruined the show wasn't the Helix, it was the fact that you apparently had no Plan B. You can't show up to the "most important gig of your life" without some sort of backup, and just assume that there will be no problems....that's practically begging the universe to kick you in the nuts. What should have been a brief Spinal Tap moment (which you would have eventually laughed at) became a catastrophic failure because you didn't have a failsafe... you can't do that.

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Agree.. to a degree! 

 

I was going to say the same thing, was there a back up unit? I guess not everyone has the funds to duplicate these units maybe, and even if he did have a spare unit, unless

you run that ready to go instantly, you'll still suffer the embarrassment of having to drop out of the show briefly, but yes, the back up is an obvious omission in the story, the failure

of the unit though, is a bit scary and it's relevant because clearly, in certain circumstances, the Helix has a vulnerability most of us didn't know about, whatever that was.

 

I think if it happens again, you have to look at whether the unit is reliable enough to use full stop. It just sounds like a nightmare scenario.

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So I am sorry to hear about what happened. TOTALLY sucks. I saw Jethro Tull about 1-2 decades ago at an outdoor "festival". Both Ian Anderson and Martin Barre were playing. First, Ian needed a new ear piece. I'm going to guess the stage crew had been celebrating a little with something because this young guy comes out with a shoe box, knelt behind Ian wile he was singing and spent a good minute trying to untangle the ear pieces to get Ian one. Ian finally got frustrated during the song and just grabbed one out of the box, whipped his hand once and came up with an untangled ear piece. Later on, Martin had his Matchless amp sitting on top of an Anvil case. Well, the top of the case must not have been seated properly because the top of the case and the amp fell to the ground in the middle of another song. AUUUUGH!!!! The crew picked it up and it was still working. They were both obviously pissed off but both quickly shook it off and went on performing as if nothing happened. Worst thing I've ever witnessed on stage. They were able to still keep performing which was not your case and not that it helps at all, but just know it happens to everyone. I just hope it has little to no effect on your reputation.

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10 hours ago, phil_m said:

Eh… 28C is only like 82F… Heat wasn’t the issue.

 

28°C plus direct sunlight can easily cause temperatures way over 50°C inside a black, more or less completely closed unit. And that is before you even switch it on. Add to this the normal operation heat and you might easily end up with something above 70°C inside the Helix. Might still be fine for soldering joints, caps, resistors, the entire PCB and what not, but might already be bad enough for some plastic components to bend away enough from each other so certain electronic contacts get compromised. Not even a rare thing with, say, footswitches, which usually have some sort of plastic/rubber/spring-based mechanism inside. Same for all the encoders, which aren't high quality at all, so chances are, one of them will not sit in whatever it's mounted in properly anymore, causing an the circuit to short.
The fact that the Helix worked for another 25 minutes after being covered for a while also speaks in favour of a heat issue.

Heat related malfunctions are a very common issue with plenty of electronic devices (even on indoor gigs). And usually the rule of thump would be "the cheaper the device, the easier you'll run into such issues".

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1 hour ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

28°C plus direct sunlight can easily cause temperatures way over 50°C inside a black, more or less completely closed unit. And that is before you even switch it on. Add to this the normal operation heat and you might easily end up with something above 70°C inside the Helix. Might still be fine for soldering joints, caps, resistors, the entire PCB and what not, but might already be bad enough for some plastic components to bend away enough from each other so certain electronic contacts get compromised. Not even a rare thing with, say, footswitches, which usually have some sort of plastic/rubber/spring-based mechanism inside. Same for all the encoders, which aren't high quality at all, so chances are, one of them will not sit in whatever it's mounted in properly anymore, causing an the circuit to short.
The fact that the Helix worked for another 25 minutes after being covered for a while also speaks in favour of a heat issue.

Heat related malfunctions are a very common issue with plenty of electronic devices (even on indoor gigs). And usually the rule of thump would be "the cheaper the device, the easier you'll run into such issues".


Did you miss the part where I said I’ve had mine in the direct sun, on, for multiple hours?

 

According to the Line 6 guys on Facebook, they’ve stress tested the Helix in much, much higher temperatures than this with no issues. There’s always a chance of something failing in a unique way, but in general, people shouldn’t be that worried about the heat. The direct sunlight can cause issues with the optical sensor under expression pedal,  though.

 

Frankly, if being in the direct sun in 82F weather was enough to cause issues, I’d think we’d be seeing failure reports galore. I imagine there are tons of people doing gigs in those conditions and hotter all the time during the summer (and I would be delighted if 82 was the highest daytime temperature I had to play in).

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22 minutes ago, phil_m said:


Did you miss the part where I said I’ve had mine in the direct sun, on, for multiple hours?

 

According to the Line 6 guys on Facebook, they’ve stress tested the Helix in much, much higher temperatures than this with no issues. There’s always a chance of something failing in a unique way, but in general, people shouldn’t be that worried about the heat. The direct sunlight can cause issues with the optical sensor under expression pedal,  though.

 

Frankly, if being in the direct sun in 82F weather was enough to cause issues, I’d think we’d be seeing failure reports galore. I imagine there are tons of people doing gigs in those conditions and hotter all the time during the summer (and I would be delighted if 82 was the highest daytime temperature I had to play in).

Direct sun with air ventilation vs. in a closed box in the sun.  Like how it always gets so hot inside a car with closed windows. 

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6 hours ago, Paulzx said:

I guess not everyone has the funds to duplicate these units maybe...

 

Nobody's saying that one's backup must be identical to their main rig. Mine certainly isn't...I don't own a second Helix, and I don't plan to... but you simply must have something else to use in a pinch, no matter what it costs... because if you gig enough, sooner or later something will crap out at the worst possible moment. On a long enough timeline, it's an absolute certainty.

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4 minutes ago, theElevators said:

Direct sun with air ventilation vs. in a closed box in the sun.  Like how it always gets so hot inside a car with closed windows. 


Yeah, that would make some difference, although, a big reason it gets so hot in a car is the greenhouse effect. It would definitely get hot in the box, how hot I’m not sure. The fact that it worked for 25 minutes and then froze actually leads me to believe it’s probably something like a corrupt preset or something more than a heat issue, though.

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Yup. South Italy... I can't go lower than 31°C in summer (even using ACs), in my studio...and that's ~89F. Honestly never suffered a boot failure because of heat. Must have been an awful feeling.

 

Anyway, stating the obvious; s..t happens. Always did, will always do.

 

Can't remember how many shows I fu*ed up because some amp, or pedal, decided to stop working...and that was in the era when digital modeling wasn't even a thing.

 

Backup it's the solution. Even a little Stomp HX in the chain, can save your a**.

 

IMG-6140.jpg

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Paulzx said:

I guess not everyone has the funds to duplicate these units maybe, and even if he did have a spare unit,

 

There is no need for it to be a duplicate Helix.... my backup is currently a BOSS GT-1, prior to that it was a Zoom G3. Sure I sacrifice some function and tones.... but it still sounds great and would allow me to finish the show. It was the same when I gigged amps... I always had something else on hand "just in case". 

 

2 hours ago, Paulzx said:

the failure of the unit though, is a bit scary and it's relevant because clearly, in certain circumstances, the Helix has a vulnerability most of us didn't know about, whatever that was.

 

I'm not losing any sleep over this thread.... anything could have caused this Helix to crash based on the info we've been provided. All we have here are "maybe's".... a bunch of guessing at best. Until I see a consistent run of problems/reports I'm writing this off as nothing more than "bad luck... should have had a back up".

 

58 minutes ago, phil_m said:

The direct sunlight can cause issues with the optical sensor under expression pedal,  though.

 

Yep.... I am a repeat contributor to this topic. Just this past Sunday I did an outdoor gig and the sun was hitting my LT at the exact angle required to cause problems. Since my EXP is setup for a volume pedal... it was quite noticeable. Volumes were all over the place depending on whether or not I was shading the Helix. It's a bit of a pain, but I know what the problem is and can work around it easy enough. I'd love to find a cure for it though. 

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4 hours ago, codamedia said:

I'm not losing any sleep over this thread.... anything could have caused this Helix to crash based on the info we've been provided. All we have here are "maybe's".... a bunch of guessing at best.

 

How dare you bring logic to a perfectly good assumption-fueled, hand wringing panic? ;)

 

It seems that some folks just aren't happy unless there's impending doom lurking just around the corner... but you are correct. This guy's unit failed, and that's too bad... but it's an absurd leap to conclude that based on this enormous sample size of one, that every Helix in the wild is a ticking time bomb for an identical failure under similar conditions. 

 

This is a cautionary tale, folks...with exactly one useful take-away: ANYTHING can fail, at any time. Period. Bring a backup. Every time, no exceptions. The end. Because no matter what two units/rigs you have at your disposal, the odds of both of them $hitting the bed simultaneously is vanishingly small. One or the other will work and you'll live to fight another day. Or just roll the dice, risking embarrassment, lost jobs and/or money, and blown opportunities.

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41 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

Some folks just aren't happy unless there's impending doom lurking just around the corner. This guy's unit failed, and that's too bad... but it's an absurd leap to conclude that based on this enormous sample size of one, that every Helix in the wild is a ticking time bomb for an identical failure under similar conditions. 

 

Some folks jump out of planes for fun, but they are usually equipped with a parachute, and that will also include a reserve!

 

Turning up for the "most important concert of my life" with out Plan B, Fail Safe, Get Out of Jail Free Card, or a reserve Chute is tempting fate.

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Hmmm! I've had a couple of tube amps over the years lose tubes during a song and was down for more than a couple of minutes while I got them going again or plugged into the backup. I don't recall it ruining the entire show. 

I agree with everyone. If I started gigging again, with the Helix, I'd have a backup/plan B. Not that I don't trust the Helix, but that's the way to roll.

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21 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Nobody's saying that one's backup must be identical to their main rig. Mine certainly isn't...I don't own a second Helix, and I don't plan to... but you simply must have something else to use in a pinch, no matter what it costs... because if you gig enough, sooner or later something will crap out at the worst possible moment. On a long enough timeline, it's an absolute certainty.

 

Totally agree. It's a scary thought either way though, the thought of the failure, then the thought of trying to get going with a back up lol. Looking past the initial problem with the Helix and what may have caused it, I too was a bit surprised that the OP didn't appear to have a back up particularly in what seemed to be a big show at least.

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20 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

How dare you bring logic to a perfectly good assumption-fueled, hand wringing panic? ;)

 

 

I don't think anyone is panicking, it is just an interesting story to discuss because some people may at least be more mindful of it when playing live in hot weather, and indeed

some people will hopefully remember to take a back up having read something like this.

 

We should be able to have an objective discussion about these things at the end of the day, I don't think it will dent the Helix sales ;)

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Im going to guess a power issue.  Maybe an intermittent power cable, power strip or the power supplying the stage.  I would definitely check your power cord, plug in the back of the unit & any power strips you may use.  You are at the mercy of the power provided by the venue.  Carry a $20 Harbor Freight multi-meter & learn how to check the incoming AC voltage when you setup.

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