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Helix very harsh into PA


stevihelix
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I'm running a Helix LT which I really like. I'm running direct to the console, a Midas M32R feeding a Dynacord Powermax 5 FOH speaker system.

In this setup I'm having to setup a really hard core high cut on my guitar channel in the console to avoid a really harsh tone, even though I have setup an agressive high cut of 5 K in the cab block.

 

Is it normal to have to EQ the input channel really agressive on the console even though there is a high cut on the cab? I'm not having the issue using headphones from the Helix.

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First time I set up my sound on the Helix and went to a gig, the same thing happened.  A lot of FRFRs are really bass-heavy, so if you use that as the basis of your sound, you'll get really harsh sound.  I then got myself Yamaha studio monitors and have been using those as my single source of truth in terms of EQ. 

 

PAs are all weird.  Rooms are all different.  I was doing a sound check just last week at a venue with a lot of open space and bare walls.  The sound guy wound up adding a limiter on one of my frequencies, that's how bad it was. 

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If lows aren't there all is left is highs and highs alone are harsh.Or in other words too much above 1kHz is synonymous with not enough below Make sure the PA sounds balanced as well as your presets. Also mind the Fletcher Munson effect.

Btw it's the same with headphones: a preset sounds right on one , on the next bass heavy, on the next harsh, on the next honky and so on.

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3 hours ago, stevihelix said:

Is it normal to have to EQ the input channel really agressive on the console even though there is a high cut on the cab? I'm not having the issue using headphones from the Helix.

 

Sounds created with headphones more often than not (well, at least more often than one would like to think) don't translate well to PAs. In this case, it's a bit weird, though, as headphones usually seem to transport plenty of highs. But it also depends on your listening level, you might want to look up the Fletcher Munson effect @Schmalle already mentioned for further information.

Anyhow, one more thing to check: Are the input levels on the console fine? I would make sure to leave plenty of headroom (even if what you describe doesn't sound like a clipping issue), just in case.

And oh well, any master EQ on the console that might boost the highs? Can be fine for pretty much everything else, for overdriven guitars it might kill it.

Back to your sound: a high cut at 5kHz in the cab block is anything but agressive. The slope of the cab block's high cut is very mellow, I think something like 6dB/oct. Add to this that most useful information in most typical electric guitar sounds happens way below 5kHz. Hence, even if you'd apply a brickwall EQ at 5kHz (as in completely cutting off anything above), you'd likely not notice all that much, the reason being that the IR (which is what the cab block is using under the hood) very likely doesn't let much high end content pass through to start with.

However, next time you're running into the issue, you might want to try out the global EQ to compensate. The reason being that you would then be able to kinda take the results back home with you. You could then try to transfer the global EQ's settings into the patch. Or you might just want to keep the EQ settings for all future gigs in case you're otherwise happy with your sound (just make sure to not forget about it when creating new patches).

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7 hours ago, theElevators said:

First time I set up my sound on the Helix and went to a gig, the same thing happened.  A lot of FRFRs are really bass-heavy, so if you use that as the basis of your sound, you'll get really harsh sound.  I then got myself Yamaha studio monitors and have been using those as my single source of truth in terms of EQ. 

 

PAs are all weird.  Rooms are all different.  I was doing a sound check just last week at a venue with a lot of open space and bare walls.  The sound guy wound up adding a limiter on one of my frequencies, that's how bad it was. 

Just out of interest which yamaha monitor speakers are you using? I got some hs5's for a small guitar room but now thinking of returning them for hs7's just to try and get a fuller sound. I don't know if there's much difference. I know the 7's have better bass response, not that I'm trying to add bass particularly, just get a fuller sound

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On 10/6/2021 at 9:25 AM, theElevators said:

First time I set up my sound on the Helix and went to a gig, the same thing happened.  A lot of FRFRs are really bass-heavy, so if you use that as the basis of your sound, you'll get really harsh sound.  I then got myself Yamaha studio monitors and have been using those as my single source of truth in terms of EQ. 

 

PAs are all weird.  Rooms are all different.  I was doing a sound check just last week at a venue with a lot of open space and bare walls.  The sound guy wound up adding a limiter on one of my frequencies, that's how bad it was. 

 

Just curious, do you happen to know how he went about putting a limiter on just one of your frequencies? Never had to do that but it sounds intriguing. Multi-band compressor? I would probably have just used a GEQ/PEQ to ratchet down a narrow frequency range.

 

Updated: Edited to include PEQ(as @DunnedinDragon mentioned below) which is even more flexible than the GEQ and more likely to be used for cutting/boosting specific frequencies and ranges; especially if the problem is being created by only one instrument or input.  A soundperson might be more likely to use the GEQ for a quick fix if the problem is the room causing issues at a certain frequency.

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I know very little about the Dynacord Powermax 5 system and there's not much technical information I could find on the internet, but it looks to be s a passive speaker setup using a specifically designed power amp system.  If so a lot of your sound will be determined by what specific features that poweramp provides and how you have it configured.  I can only say that using decent powered FRFR speakers such as the QSC K series or Yamaha DXR series I never have any high cuts below maybe 7.5 khz and usually much higher than that if not at all in some cases.

Buth "harshness" can come in many forms.  One of the most common forms of perceived harshness comes from listening to live speakers from a closer than normal position.  PA speakers are designed to project long distances and standing too close doesn't allow the speakers enough space to blend correctly.  Also "harshness" is a subjective term but most often seems to be more related to high mids (roughly 4khz to 8khz) than actual high frequencies which are more known for "fizz".  That type of harshness is best addressed with narrow cuts at specific frequencies using a parametric EQ.  The one most common in my experience is the narrow cut typically used for single coil guitars at around 4.2 khz, but there can be others depending on the speaker system you're using.

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12 hours ago, HonestOpinion said:

 

Just curious, do you happen to know how he went about putting a limiter on just one of your frequencies? Never had to do that but it sounds intriguing. Multi-band compressor? I would probably have just used a GEQ to ratchet down a narrow frequency range.

Probably that's what it was... yeah GEQ would have done that, but I use it for my personal monitor mix, so that's what he had to do.  That sound system was not properly tuned, what I was told. 

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18 hours ago, Paulzx said:

Just out of interest which yamaha monitor speakers are you using? I got some hs5's for a small guitar room but now thinking of returning them for hs7's just to try and get a fuller sound. I don't know if there's much difference. I know the 7's have better bass response, not that I'm trying to add bass particularly, just get a fuller sound

Yamaha HS5 Active Monitors (5 inch).  No Subwoofer, just 2 speakers.  I set the volume on them on 7.  I put them on 2 metal stands with foam underneath.  Plenty of bottom, none of the ghetto subwoofer stuff though...  I'm no pro mixing engineer, but I have mixed/mastered several records using these, and the "clients" were happy.  Here's one if you'd like to hear: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uQGt-4Hyps2toN7k6qoYifw7anVfMPNa/view?usp=sharing  BTW, I recorded all instruments and vocals through my Helix

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2 hours ago, theElevators said:

Yamaha HS5 Active Monitors (5 inch).  No Subwoofer, just 2 speakers.  I set the volume on them on 7.  I put them on 2 metal stands with foam underneath.  Plenty of bottom, none of the ghetto subwoofer stuff though...  I'm no pro mixing engineer, but I have mixed/mastered several records using these, and the "clients" were happy.  Here's one if you'd like to hear: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uQGt-4Hyps2toN7k6qoYifw7anVfMPNa/view?usp=sharing  BTW, I recorded all instruments and vocals through my Helix

Great stuff on the track!

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Believe it or not,   I have found that using my harbinger vari v4115 powered PA speaker is the ticket..  With it set to flat,  I'm able to dial in my tone that is transferred to the FOH PA perfectly.. This is why I don't use FRFR.....        If I need more low end on stage I can EQ my powered speaker quickly for my own taste...     Also,  you hear people always talking about using 12 inch speakers and I understand why,   but there is an advantage to using a 15 inch powered personal monitoring speaker in terms of having a fuller sound on stage..    I'm basing this off of a little more bottom end it can provide...     If I run both 15 inch speakers in stereo it's utterly majestic...

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Thanks for all the replies - I have been researching this for a long time...

 

What's strange is that through my headphones, everything sounds phenomenal. As soon as I plug into our PA, the sound is thin and brittle. I need to remove so much high end information on my guitar channel in the console, even though I run a high cut block after the cabs in my presets. The brittle sound translates from the console to my in ears, but they don't sound as bad when plugged directly into the phones out on the Helix.

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5 hours ago, stevihelix said:

Thanks for all the replies - I have been researching this for a long time...

 

What's strange is that through my headphones, everything sounds phenomenal. As soon as I plug into our PA, the sound is thin and brittle. I need to remove so much high end information on my guitar channel in the console, even though I run a high cut block after the cabs in my presets. The brittle sound translates from the console to my in ears, but they don't sound as bad when plugged directly into the phones out on the Helix.


What you're saying suggests strongly that your PA may be the problem.  As I stated earlier I have no knowledge of that PA system but it appears to be a passive (non powered) speaker system.  Most modern PA systems use powered speakers with digital signal processing (DSP) chips to provide a more flat frequency response.  On most older PA systems that use passive speakers and an inboard amp or simple intermediate amp which depends on the simple crossover in the passive speakers, there is a very prominent dip in the mid range frequencies at the crossover point between highs and lows which results in the kind of behavior you're describing.

What I'd suggest is to see if you can borrow or try out a decent powered speaker like a QSC K or CP series, plug the Helix direct into it and see if that fixes the problem.  If it does then you probably have one of those older style PA setups and I've never found anything you can do to fix that problem sufficiently on the Helix or any other modern modelling system.

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8 hours ago, stevihelix said:

Thanks for all the replies - I have been researching this for a long time...

 

What's strange is that through my headphones, everything sounds phenomenal. As soon as I plug into our PA, the sound is thin and brittle. I need to remove so much high end information on my guitar channel in the console, even though I run a high cut block after the cabs in my presets. The brittle sound translates from the console to my in ears, but they don't sound as bad when plugged directly into the phones out on the Helix.

 

I think your less than satisfactory sound when hitting the stage may be due primarily to the fact that you are using headphones to create your presets. The first thing I would do is use a monitor(FRFR, guitar amp/cab), preferably whatever you will be using on stage, rather than headphones to design my presets. Keep in mind that if you use a guitar amp/cab you may need additional cuts to get the FOH sound reined in as PA speakers do not have as limited a frequency range and response as guitar speakers. An FRFR monitor definitely can make for a more seamless translation to the PA. Try to get the volume as close to performance levels at least briefly(without damaging your ears, earplugs are grand), rehearsal is a good opportunity for final editing of your presets. Although some players have had relatively good results designing their presets with headphones(maybe they had just the right set of phones to translate to their PA) generally speaking that is a recipe for disappointing and wildly different results when you hit the stage.

 

Regarding the PA. A sanity check where you run some pre-recorded music that you are very familiar with, and then EQ'ing the PA at FOH properly, is a great start. Hopefully that will at least ensure that the PA is not too bright or crispy. As others here indicated make sure the PA's EQ is set properly at the board for your guitar input and the level is not too hot. As @SaschaFranck indicated you always have the global EQ as a last resort to respond globally to a PA that is impacting all your presets adversely in a particular room, but until you take the initial step of designing them on a monitor(or headphones if you must) that translates well to stage and at something close to stage volumes, you may continue to be unhappy with your results. At least on a substantial percentage of your presets.

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8 hours ago, stevihelix said:

What's strange is that through my headphones, everything sounds phenomenal. As soon as I plug into our PA, the sound is thin and brittle.


Hi,

 

This is from the Line 6 Release Notes for the v.2.90 update. Guess they must have thought that it was quite important information.

 

Helix/HX 2.90 | Helix Native 1.90

"The Always Level Presets By Ear at Stage Volume with the Rest of the Band Playing Update"


This is the original post.


Essentially, the bottom line is - you cannot expect things to sound the same when using headphones in comparison to a P.A.

The Fletcher Munson Curve is probably at work here.

 

  • At low listening volumes – mid range frequencies sound more prominent, while the low and high frequency ranges seem to fall into the background.
  • At high listening volumes – the lows and highs sound more prominent, while the mid range seems comparatively softer.

 

Hope this helps/makes sense.

 

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Thanks again everyone!

 

I'm gonna setup my preset in a live setting - I'd rather send a signal to the console that doesn't need a drastic high cut on the channel. What I have done now is turn off high cut on the cabs and put a high cut block immediately after the cab. This has a much steeper curve, although I am cutting as low as 3K - that seems low for me, what do others do? I guess if it works it works and the frequency is just a number after all...

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This is what my live test setup at home consists of.  Basically it's a live system setup that allows me to dial in my presets while gain staging them through the mixer and evaluating the tone of both the main front speakers and/or the floor monitors.  What's not pictured here is the Laptop I use for managing the Helix.  I don't use all of this all the time and my comon configuration is a bit different with just the Helix, mixer, and DXR12 speaker.  If you're using powered speakers such as the ones I use it's very important that you give them plenty of space in order to hear them in the same way they'll be heard in a live environment along with other instruments.  I usually stand about 6 to 8 feet away from the speakers when I'm evaluating the tone.

As I've mentioned previously I use a Parametric EQ as one of the last blocks in my chain, and it's typically used for high and low cuts and any tweaks in any other frequency problems.  I make extensive use of IRs, but that's mostly for convenience sake as I can get the same tone out of stock cabs, but it just takes longer to set them up.  I have a set of maybe 50 or so previously auditioned and selected IRs that I work with depending on the type of tone I'm going for on a given preset.  My most common cab/IR setups use a combination of a dynamic mic (MD421) and a ribbon mic (R121)  My high cuts are typically in the 8khz to 10khz and low cuts range from maybe 80 Hz up to no more than 140 Hz.  All of those vary based on the type of guitar I'm using on the preset and the style of the song.

I would personally caution against high cuts as low as you're talking about as you'll lose a LOT of articulation and clarity and probably end up being buried amongst the other instruments you're playing with.  If you're using the right cabinet and mic configuration you shouldn't need those type of dramatic cuts in either live or studio situations.

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