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jcshirke

HX Stomp XL: Noob Questions/Problems

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Hi,

 

I just got an HX Stomp XL. I'm brand new to it, and I'm starting to learn my way around. I will be using it in two ways. First, it's basically a portable travel rig that I can use with headphones. Secondarily, I have it on a small pedalboard with a few other fx that I will put in the HX loop, and I can use it as an fx rig with an amp. All my questions--for now--are about getting optimal tone out of it with headphones.

One of the things I was expecting right out of the gate was to be able to look for presets that had "DIR" in them, because I thought those were the ones that would already be most closely dialed in for my needs. Instead, all of my presets are generically labeled "New Preset." There is no other information about them. So, to get an idea of how they sound and how they are built, I have to load each one and then examine all of the blocks. Is there a way for me to d/l the stock presets with their names, so I have a quicker way to scroll through what I might want to try out first and skip past the ones I know I don't have any interest in? Should I be checking out the ones labeled "DIR" first? I know they are designed to go to FOH or to a studio monitor, right? So using them with headphones is similar. 

Despite that rough start, I started tweaking the presets that sounded decent to me, and I tried setting up a couple from scratch. The results so far have been mixed.  I want to take one example of a preset I was trying to create that ended up not sounding good to me at all, even though I would have expected it would be pretty easy to dial in. 

I wanted to use a JTM45 model, a KOT OD, some tape delay, and a 4 x 12 cab with 25w Greenbacks. That is a tried and true combo that--I would think--should sound great without a lot of tweaking. Instead, with the KOT added in especially, it sounds way too fizzy and harsh through my headphones, despite all the adjustments I've made. 

Easy solution (give a man a fish): Could someone send me their JTM45 style preset that they think sounds great, and I can see how it sounds with my setup? I'm using Beyer DT770 headphones, btw. I'm also using a Strat with this preset to try to get slightly broken up cleans and then a somewhat, chewy, saturated tone with the KOT engaged. 

More complex solution (teach a man to fish): Could someone tell me what parameters I should be adjusting first and foremost to get a good tone without having it get fizzy and ice-picky? I've done the obvious: cut the highs, turn down the treble on the amp block. Where should I set the master? Where should I set the drive? I can't tell yet if it's the drive that is making it sound fizzy or the master. I will experiment more. 

I'm certainly open to using IRs, if anyone thinks that's a solution. But I didn't think I necessarily needed to go down that rabbit hole just yet.

KOT question: I own this pedal, so I know how it works. But how does it work in the HX Stomp? It looks like --just like the real pedal--you get to tweak both the "yellow" and the "red" drive settings. I assume you can choose to have one or the other--or both--engaged? If I want to just use the yellow side, for example, I can select if I want it to function as a boost, an OD, or a higher gain drive, and then I can tweak the other parameters as well. I was able to figure that out without much trouble. How do I turn off the red side? Just dial everything down to 0? What if I want to leave yellow on, but then engage the other side as a boost? I don't think there are two dedicated stomp switches to do that, are there? Anyway, when I engage the KOT model, things go south pretty quickly, despite me turning down the gain and adjusting other parameters. It just sounds too fizzy and muddy to me.

Bottom line: I don't want to get discouraged because I trust what I've heard elsewhere in demos, on YT, and so forth. I should be able to get a really good sound out of this unit and out of this amp model in particular. I am a little concerned about trying to be able to get authentic amp tone and feel through headphones, but I'm trying to lower my expectations a bit, too. I just want it to sound good; I don't expect it to sound/feel exactly like sitting in a room with a cranked JTM45, but at a volume that isn't deafening through my headphones. That's surely not possible.

 

Just help me get rid of that fizz/sizzle, and help me get it to feel pretty good under my fingers?

Thanks for any suggestions, presets, tutorials to read/watch, etc.

Jeff

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The factory preset names should be showing up. If they aren’t, someone probably updated it and didn’t do the factory reset after updating. To do the factory reset, hold down footswitches C & D while powering up.

 

Of course, export any preset you may have created that you want to keep before doing this.

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45 minutes ago, phil_m said:

The factory preset names should be showing up. If they aren’t, someone probably updated it and didn’t do the factory reset after updating. To do the factory reset, hold down footswitches C & D while powering up.

 

Of course, export any preset you may have created that you want to keep before doing this.

I bought it new, so no one had it before me. I'll try a factory reset. After that--try the DIR presets, as I mentioned above?

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Factory reset did exactly what you said it would. I don't know why my unit arrived the way it did. Thanks.

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Here's what I would suggest for getting settled in with building your presets.  Spend some time watching Jason Sadites "dialing in" series of videos on YouTube.  He just recently re-did some of the originals to exploit some of the newer features in recent releases.  The reason this is important is that Jason goes through a pretty full explanation of the different values you can use in the different blocks and their effect on the sound so you're not just turning dials and hoping for the best.  His YouTube channel has a very wide variety of topics and I'm sure you can find some that will hit on topics to help you figure out the system.

The fact is, everyone is different in what they're looking for in tone, and much of what people describe in their tone such as "chewy, saturated" tone might mean something very different to me than what it means to you.  I will point out a couple of important take away impressions I got from reading your post.  One thing is that the amp models are all going to be a little different in terms of how they handle the master volume based on the design of the original circuit.  However as far as the channel volume they all should be the same in that the channel volume on the amps doesn't affect the tone.  It only increases/decreases the volume.  That is the primary thing I, and many others, adjust in my presets to get them gain staged to the same volume level.  The amp master volume can have a significant influence on the tone by itself as well as when it interacts with other OD type pedals before it in the signal chain.

Similar to you, I also use Beyer DT770 headphones when I use headphones.  I don't necessarily get a lot of "ice picky" sound, but then I'm pretty moderate in my use of gain and OD on most of my presets because at a certain point you're going to get a lot more noise than definition because you've turned the gain into a limiter with very little dynamic response.  You can mitigate a considerable amount of the "ice pick" sound in a couple of ways.  The most important way is the use of different mics and position of mics on your cabinets.  I tend to prefer a combination of mics such as one dynamic mic such as an MD421 which has a good, round (less harsh) midrange along with a ribbon mic such as a R121 for a more pleasant overall full range.  You'll hear a lot of people advocate high cuts which I do use on many presets at the very end of my signal chain using a parametric EQ which has a faster slope than the cabinet high cuts.  However, I agree with Jason Sadites that you don't really need drastic cuts if you've got a good mic'ing situation on most cabinets.  My high cuts are seldom deeper than 8khz and more likely up in the 9khz or 10khz range and help retain the high end articulation for pick attack on strings.  I'm convinced a lot of folks end up cutting down to the 5khz range because what they're hearing is not high frequency harshness, but high mid frequency harshness.  That's especially true when using single coil guitars.  In those cases I find I get better results by slicing out a deeper but narrow slice in the 4.2 khz range with the parametric EQ.  You may also find you get some better results on some amps by simply adjusting the SAG and BIAS on the amp.

The first thing I thought about when you mentioned the "chewy and saturated" feel is a new effect in the modulations area named the "Retro Reel".  This simulates the natural vintage analog tape effect and might be worth looking at.  You can place it before the amp or at the end of the signal chain with different effects, but you don't need much of it to get that lovely, rich saturation you might be looking for.

Again, all of these things are covered very completely by Jason Sadites so I'd really encourage you to take a look at some of his videos as they've helped a LOT of Helix users get comfortable with building their own presets.

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36 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

Here's what I would suggest for getting settled in with building your presets.  

 

Thank you for taking the time to write such a lengthy, helpful reply. 

I watched some of Jason S's videos before I made my purchase, but I haven't yet explored his channel in depth (obviously! lol) since I just got the HX Stomp XL. But now I will. 

 

And what you wrote about ch vol vs. master volume helps me *a lot* because all I kept thinking about regarding some of the real amps I enjoy most is that they don't have master volumes--but they do, of course, have channel volumes. And it seemed like I wasn't really getting the tonal adjustments in my sound that I wanted by adjusting them. But I started to clue in to the fact that the ch vol in the HX must basically just be a simple volume control for overall volume. My ears were starting to detect that, I guess. I assume the master volume controls of each amp have been modeled on the actual amps? Or is that kind of hit or miss?

 

Anyway, thanks. I've been messing around with the HX a lot today and have been having some pretty good overall results. 

 

One of my next moves is to try running it through some studio monitors (Focal CMS 65s) and see what kind of differences I detect vs the headphones. The main thing I'm wondering is how the gain tones are affected, and also how much I will have to tweak the presets to go from one output source to the other. 

 

Thank you!

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22 minutes ago, jcshirke said:

 

One of my next moves is to try running it through some studio monitors (Focal CMS 65s) and see what kind of differences I detect vs the headphones. The main thing I'm wondering is how the gain tones are affected, and also how much I will have to tweak the presets to go from one output source to the other. 

 

Thank you!


I think it really depends on your speakers.  In my studio I use Yamaha HS7 studio monitors which seems to be a pretty good match to what I hear with the DT770's...not enough difference to fixate over.  I think in all audio output devices you tend to get what you pay for.  I think the biggest leap in tone differences can come when you take the preset to a live environment because the speaker designs are so different than headphones or studio monitors.  Again, I think the quality and consistency is part of what you pay for with any speakers including live powered speakers.  There are differences in the sound from what I hear in the studio and what I hear on stage using my Yamaha DXR12 or my QSC K10.2, but I really don't worry about it because the overall general sound of a live performance is different just because of the requirement to fill a large space consistently and the audiences can't really tell the difference because they don't listen to studio monitors generally.

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2 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

I think it really depends on your speakers.  In my studio I use Yamaha HS7 studio monitors which seems to be a pretty good match to what I hear with the DT770's...not enough difference to fixate over...

I second that: My DT770s are the first thing I use to get the basic tone from scratch. Those sound good and well balanced through my Neumann KH120A's.

 

BUT:

When I do it the other way round (Neumanns first then headphones) my ears tend to adjust to the room I'm in and presets sound less good on headphones later.

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How do you add a second mic to the cab? Or do you have to add a separate cab block?

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45 minutes ago, jcshirke said:

How do you add a second mic to the cab? Or do you have to add a separate cab block?


Not possible - add another cab block and mic!

 

One of my biggest gripes with Helix.

 

Why not - ye gods - it is possible with AmpliTube!

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4 hours ago, jcshirke said:

<Snip>

I assume the master volume controls of each amp have been modeled on the actual amps? Or is that kind of hit or miss?

<Snip>

For those Amps which actually have Master Volume Controls, Line 6 Modeled the parameter. For Amps which do not actually have Master Volume Controls, Line 6 created a Master Volume Control parameter in the Modeled Block. As I recollect, this "created" parameter will act as an attenuator (of the signal level hitting the Power Amp stage of the modeled amp) if not set to Maximum value. Regardless, always use your ears and go with what sounds good to you.

 

I too often use closed back BeyerDynamic DT700 Pro 250 Ohm headsets with my Helix Gear, although I generally prefer the comfort and tone of my open back Sennheiser HD600 300 Ohm. 

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1 hour ago, jcshirke said:

How do you add a second mic to the cab? Or do you have to add a separate cab block?

Either add a separate cab block or replace the existing cab block with a dual cab block. Using two cab blocks affords the capability to place one in a split path with split parallel FX processing, levels, etc. 

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Thanks...there's a lot to chew on and experiment with. One thing I'm noticing is that I'm getting really good rhythm sounds if I bash chords. Single note lines sound plinky in most cases. I know there's really no way to replicate the amp in a room feel and response, particularly with headphones. So, I have no illusions here. I'm going to watch some of the tutorials mentioned above to see if there are any suggestions about trying to get the feel and response as close as possible to playing a real amp. I know that what I'm hearing through my headphones is the modeled sound of a mic'ed amp, which is sometimes shockingly different from playing the amp itself. But I still think I can do better. (Been using the Princeton model the last hour or two) Off I go...

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22 hours ago, Schmalle said:

 

I wanted to circle back and let you know my thoughts. First of all, yes, I do like them, and I think you must have learned from Jason S's videos, since you put that LA comp at the end of the chain. I tweaked a few things just a little bit for my own tastes, and I think I'm getting some really good tones overall. I still think that single note lines sound a bit thin and plinky (yep...that's a technical term), but not so much that I'm not having fun playing/practicing. I really have to pick hard and use a heavy touch with my left hand to get those notes to sustain and ring out. Part of that is just a feature of the real amps. Part of it is playing with a Strat through those models (or real amps). But part of it is just the fact that it sounds a bit thinner still through a modeler and headphones. But it's still good/fun...I'm not complaining...I'm learning.

Thanks again.

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21 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:


The first thing I thought about when you mentioned the "chewy and saturated" feel is a new effect in the modulations area named the "Retro Reel".  This simulates the natural vintage analog tape effect and might be worth looking at.  You can place it before the amp or at the end of the signal chain with different effects, but you don't need much of it to get that lovely, rich saturation you might be looking for.
 

 

Is that a model of Strymon's Deco (which I happen to own)?

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21 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:


I think it really depends on your speakers.  In my studio I use Yamaha HS7 studio monitors which seems to be a pretty good match to what I hear with the DT770's...not enough difference to fixate over.  I think in all audio output devices you tend to get what you pay for.  

 

The Focal 65s are really nice, and were really expensive, although not quite as nice as my other pair. I still haven't put the Stomp through it, but I may try to do it today. I had my Focal 65s up for sale b/c I wasn't using them, so I have to get everything set up again first.

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2 hours ago, jcshirke said:

 

Is that a model of Strymon's Deco (which I happen to own)?

Probably similar if not a direct copy

 

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