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jcmathews

Building Helix tones on FRFR

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Hi - this isn't specifically about Helix, but I want to hear from Helix users. In my band we use IEMs for monitors and I send signal direct to FOH from my Helix LT. On those rare occasions when we used provided sound without IEMs, I've used an Fender combo amp on stage to improve my ability to hear myself instead of relying solely on the stage monitors. It wasn't great (I didn't tweak patches at all), but it worked. I'm looking a purchasing an FRFR to use for that instead, and am wondering whether it would be better to build/tweak my patches using that as opposed to the studio monitors I'm currently using. There is a difference between how the patches sound on the studio monitors vs. FOH, but it's not a "bad" difference so I've mostly ignored it. So now I'm choosing an FRFR to buy, and it makes sense that I'd want it it sound like what FOH hears (that's the whole point, right?).  So...do you FRFR users build your patches on your FRFR and get good translation to FOH without tweaking, or do you do something else?

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I have a pair of Alto TS212 monitors. No fans, Class D no-nonsense flat monitors.

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20 minutes ago, jcmathews said:

I'm looking a purchasing an FRFR to use for that instead, and am wondering whether it would be better to build/tweak my patches using that as opposed to the studio monitors I'm currently using.

 

What are you using for studio monitors? The quality of those, along with the LEVEL you monitor to create your tones makes a huge difference. 

 

I use two sets of Studio Monitors (a 6.5" set & an 8" set) and create my tones at about 90db. When I get the tones to sound good on BOTH SETS it translates to any FOH and Monitor setup I have ever used, and it also translates well to my FRFR. I never have to tweak my tones live. As nice as my FRFR sounds, I don't think I could setup tones there that would translate as well as the studio monitors. 

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2 hours ago, spaceatl said:

I have a pair of Alto TS212 monitors. No fans, Class D no-nonsense flat monitors.

 

How do tones/patches you build on them at home compare to the sound at FOH?

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2 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

What are you using for studio monitors? The quality of those, along with the LEVEL you monitor to create your tones makes a huge difference. 

 

I use a pair of small but good-sounding powered Sterling monitors, taking a mixed signal of Helix  and digital audio from my laptop (via a Behringer audio interface). It's pretty accurate, in terms or translation to FOH sounds, but if I go with FRFR, I'd want to build them usi\ng it so my on-stage monitor sound matches (as closely as possible) the FOH sound. Obviously the sound guy has to tweak for the room, but getting them close is the start I'm looking for. 

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33 minutes ago, jcmathews said:

I use a pair of small but good-sounding powered Sterling monitors

 

The 8's, 5's or 3's..... 

 

IMO, the 3's would not provide you with an accurate enough "LIVE" sound... and you would likely get better results with an FRFR. If it's the 5's or 8's, you might (or might not) find an FRFR to be any better at preparing sounds. 

 

33 minutes ago, jcmathews said:

if I go with FRFR, I'd want to build them usi\ng it so my on-stage monitor sound matches (as closely as possible) the FOH sound.

 

This is highly unlikely... unless your FRFR is the same FOH Top that is used. None of these boxes are truly "flat response", they all have a sound of their own. The trick is not getting tones that sound the same on everything, it's getting tones that sound good on everything.  (ie: the term "translates well")

 

EG: If I listen to a well produced song through 3 different stereo's it will sound different on all three.... but it will still sound good on all three. The same applies to guitar tones through various FRFR/PA/Monitors. 

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15 minutes ago, codamedia said:

The 8's, 5's or 3's..... 

 The 5s. Like I Said, they're working pretty well for me right now. 

15 minutes ago, codamedia said:

This is highly unlikely... unless your FRFR is the same FOH Top that is used. None of these boxes are truly "flat response", they all have a sound of their own. The trick is not getting tones that sound the same on everything, it's getting tones that sound good on everything.  (ie: the term "translates well")

I think that goes without saying, but maybe I should have said it anyway, lol. What I really mean is, I don't want to build tones on the FRFR that sound good on it but lousy through FOH -- and vice versa.

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19 hours ago, jcmathews said:

 

How do tones/patches you build on them at home compare to the sound at FOH?

They translate just fine. 

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19 hours ago, jcmathews said:

 The 5s. Like I Said, they're working pretty well for me right now. 

I think that goes without saying, but maybe I should have said it anyway, lol. What I really mean is, I don't want to build tones on the FRFR that sound good on it but lousy through FOH -- and vice versa.

 

Volume differences loom large when it comes to the perception of tone, and will always be the biggest factor when making these comparisons... it won't matter how similar the speakers you tweak with at home are to the PA system(s) you play through live, if there's a significant enough volume discrepancy between the two scenarios.

 

In fact, you could drag the PA home from a gig and set it up in your living room... but if you then proceed to dial in your tones at a nice comfy volume for you and the neighbors, then the next time you crank up to stage volume, I guarantee that what you'll hear will be a horrible mess. Perceived loudness is not linear across the frequency spectrum, and the curve changes dramatically with increases  in volume. Our brains are f*cked up in this regard, it screws with our perception of sound, and there's not blessed thing you can do about it, save one: Dial in your tones at (or very close) to the volume at which you intend to use the patches... otherwise prepare to be chronically disappointed with how things sound on stage.

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19 hours ago, jcmathews said:

I use a pair of small but good-sounding powered Sterling monitors, taking a mixed signal of Helix  and digital audio from my laptop (via a Behringer audio interface). It's pretty accurate, in terms or translation to FOH sounds, but if I go with FRFR, I'd want to build them usi\ng it so my on-stage monitor sound matches (as closely as possible) the FOH sound. Obviously the sound guy has to tweak for the room, but getting them close is the start I'm looking for. 

 

18 hours ago, jcmathews said:

 The 5s. Like I Said, they're working pretty well for me right now. 

I think that goes without saying, but maybe I should have said it anyway, lol. What I really mean is, I don't want to build tones on the FRFR that sound good on it but lousy through FOH -- and vice versa.


Since getting my Helix about 7 years ago I've exclusively used typical higher end live powered speakers such as Yamaha DXR12, QSC K10.2, QSC CP8 and EV ZLX-12P both as floor monitors in live performances and for dialing in my patches at home.  They all have slight differences, but all are very accurate and usable and have always been a good match for live FOH systems that are quality modern systems whether traditional setups or line arrays.  The trick is in setting them up and using them correctly in a home environment.  I also have a separate studio setup with Yamaha HS7 speakers but I rarely dial in my live guitar tone on them.  They're specifically used for studio work.

These types of live speakers are built to do a very different job than what studio monitors do.  Studio monitors are designed for close in listening from a listener in a fixed position whereas these type of speakers are designed for filling a big and wide space across a lot of users and the higher end speakers have DSP customizations that can account for the differences in how they'll be used whether as floor monitors or main audience speakers as well as other customized applications.  You need to take theses things into account both at home when dialing in patches and in live use as to how they'll be placed and used in order to get the best results.

All of these type of speakers have a limited vertical sound radius and a very wide horizontal sound radius when placed in an upright position, and just the opposite in a monitor position.  The reason for this is so sound energy won't be wasted projection sound into ceilings and floors but rather contained within the audience space for greater efficiency.  They also use a bi-amp design where one amp is dedicated to the speaker and the other for the high end driver for the horns.  Wattage has very little to do with loudness so forget about the wattage rating (which can be very deceptive), but focus on the SPL ratings which are specific to actual sound production.

At home I use a single speaker in an upright position placed at roughly chest height.  I maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from the speaker in order to allow the sound from the high end horn driver and speaker to blend, and I'll typically listen from various positions in the room at a loudness of around 90 or 95 dbSPL which overcomes the human ear Fletcher-Munson effects.  I have the setup on the speakers set for live performance but I do apply the built-in high pass filter used for bypassing subwoofers which is typically 100 to 125hz.  That helps to isolate and identify the lower guitar frequencies that will be most problematic in a live performance.  I also only set this speaker's gain knob at unity or 12 o'clock as that better ensures I won't inadvertently engage the speaker's built-in limiter with a signal that's too strong.

Although I prefer to use the DXR12 for dialing in my tones at home, I prefer the QSC speakers for my personal live stage monitor as they have a bit more of an "in your face" punch as monitors which better separates my guitar from the other stage monitors which are DXR12's.  In all cases for floor monitors I employ the 125hz high pass filters in order to avoid any bass coupling with the floor.  I also use DXR's for front speakers if I'm not using our line array as they have the most musically appealing tone.

 

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23 hours ago, jcmathews said:

Obviously the sound guy has to tweak for the room, but getting them close is the start I'm looking for. 


Oops...one thing I meant to mention.  Don't worry about the sound guy tweaking for the room.  That has nothing to do with your channel on the mixer.  If he's doing it correctly he's adjusting the final output of all channels because adjusting for the room (what's referred to as RTA...Real Time Analysis) applies equally across all instruments and voices in that space.

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For those of us who rehearse in a small space who can't turn things up, but play at louder volumes (and have good EQ software for their monitors/PA) I'm wondering if anyone has experimented with applying a sort of Fletcher Munson EQ curve to simulate volume change effects?

 

Did a little digging, and found this discussion on the Kemper site:

https://www.kemper-amps.com/forum/index.php?thread/11631-fletcher-munson-curve-eq-for-playing-at-different-volume-levels/

 

and found other threads about others doing similar stuff for different applications (including mastering and live performance.

 

If I free up some time I may experiment a bit....

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On 9/5/2021 at 11:12 PM, soundog said:

For those of us who rehearse in a small space who can't turn things up, but play at louder volumes (and have good EQ software for their monitors/PA) I'm wondering if anyone has experimented with applying a sort of Fletcher Munson EQ curve to simulate volume change effects?

 

Did a little digging, and found this discussion on the Kemper site:

https://www.kemper-amps.com/forum/index.php?thread/11631-fletcher-munson-curve-eq-for-playing-at-different-volume-levels/

 

and found other threads about others doing similar stuff for different applications (including mastering and live performance.

 

If I free up some time I may experiment a bit....

 

I have a Vetta II and it had a Loudness parameter that, when turned on, would incorporate a Fletcher Munson curve as you turned the volume up. I can't say that I noticed a big difference but i never really investigated how well it worked. Never did a comparison. The main thing is I haven't seen it in any other Line 6 products. I am not familiat with any of the other Line 6 amps so don't know if any of them had this parameter.

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All my old stereos back in the 70s had a LOUDNESS switch on them intended for making things sound better at low volumes. It basically turned up the bass and treble, but perhaps they mysteriously applied a carefully calibrated Fletcher Munson curve. I like the idea of a volume knob that would compensate the EQ as you turned it up or down. Seems like a simple thing to engineer. And perhaps something easy to market. Like laundry detergent magic crystals.

 

 

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That might be something useful if you're just a bedroom player, but to me it spells disaster if you intend to play live.  It seems like it would deceive you into believing you have a good tone which would dissipate into a nasty mess once you put it through a PA.  If you look at a Fletcher Munson curve you can also easily see it's not a static transformation.  It changes incrementally as the volume goes up.  In order to do that correctly you would have to be able to monitor the actual volume in the room to make those corrections which is outside the scope of what Helix or any modeler is designed to do.

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On 9/10/2021 at 1:03 PM, brue58ski said:

 

I have a Vetta II and it had a Loudness parameter that, when turned on, would incorporate a Fletcher Munson curve as you turned the volume up. I can't say that I noticed a big difference but i never really investigated how well it worked. Never did a comparison. The main thing is I haven't seen it in any other Line 6 products. I am not familiat with any of the other Line 6 amps so don't know if any of them had this parameter.

 

12 hours ago, soundog said:

All my old stereos back in the 70s had a LOUDNESS switch on them intended for making things sound better at low volumes. It basically turned up the bass and treble, but perhaps they mysteriously applied a carefully calibrated Fletcher Munson curve. I like the idea of a volume knob that would compensate the EQ as you turned it up or down. Seems like a simple thing to engineer. And perhaps something easy to market. Like laundry detergent magic crystals.

 

 

 

The problem with these features is that they're just an approximation...a "best guess" EQ curve that will mitigate the problem in some instances, but not others... the "Loudness" feature that lots of stereos used to have was designed for some theoretical "average" use, when listening to commercially released  finished mixes on consumer level playback systems. The odds of having it work successfully when applied to a single guitar tone is slim to none.

 

Bottom line is the quick fix that everybody wants ain't coming. There is simply to much variability in perception from one person/scenario to the next for there to be a "one size fits all" solution.

 

What will work though, 100% of the time, is the same as it's always been: Dial in sounds specifically for their intended use, under the same (or as similar as humanly possible)  conditions. The end. Is it inconvenient and time consuming? Yup. Will there ever be a day that any of us are 100% happy, and done tweaking sounds? Very doubtful. Would I avail myself of some universal push-button solution should there ever be one that proved reliable? You bet your a$$, I would. Am holding my breath for this bag of magic wonderfulness to appear? F*&% no...

 

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Of course if you really get down to it, you need a sound engineer out front who can not only shoot out the PA, but also tweak the EQ of every channel to fit the room acoustics. I don't have a sound engineer. I don't even have a roadie. So I made 6 EQ smiley curves (from flat to drastic) for my PA that I can use at a gig. That as close to a bag of magic as I'm gonna get for now.

 

A few years ago I used a dBX Driverack which I would use to "pink" a room. It would level out the PA EQ using pink noise and a calibrated RTA mic. It worked amazingly well and the result sounded pristine. But there were usually people in the venues I played so it annoying. But if you are setting up good sound at a venue before people show up, its pretty darned cool magic.

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