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Headphone distortion vs speakers


Paulzx
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So I tried some headphones on my helix floor for the first time in a few years just out of interest and instantly noticed that my high gain patches all sounded a hell of a lot better in the actual characteristic of the distortion/breakup/dynamics. In fact, its what I've been trying to achieve using FRFR speakers but not really got close.

 

The headphone distortion is really aggressive, very tight bottom end, no woof, no mud just razor like bite in the high gain. I don't think I can reproduce that using real speakers, it's too different a sound.

 

Why is this the case that the Helix can produce this tone via the headphones but not to real speakers as such?

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You mention FRFR speakers, as in plural, like more than one.  Is that correct?  Are you running your Helix in stereo?

 

If so, at least part of it could be due to the absolute 100% separation between left and right.  Headphones provide no spillover at all.

 

 

If you are looking for razor sharp bite I suggest turning off all cabs and IRs.  Maybe copy a preset into a new unused location for experimental purposes.  If that preset uses amp blocks that include cabs (like combo amps) then swap those blocks out for the amp only version and delete the cabs altogether.  I think you will find that leaves your preset with a very cutting, biting and in your face tone.

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12 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

Why is this the case that the Helix can produce this tone via the headphones but not to real speakers as such?

 

It's perfectly capable of doing both...

 

But different output devices will always yield different tones... it's inevitable. Headphones and studio monitors are fundamentally different. The cans are right on top of your ears... monitors are a mile away, relatively speaking, and positioned off-axis. The miracle, would be if they actually did sound identical... In fact, that's the fantasy that is requested time and time again on these very forums... but that magic formula doesn't exist. If you change the output, your tone will change. Period.

 

EQ appropriate to the task will forever be the only way to take a patch designed for one scenario, and successfully adapt it to another.

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9 hours ago, MGW-Alberta said:

You mention FRFR speakers, as in plural, like more than one.  Is that correct?  Are you running your Helix in stereo?

 

If so, at least part of it could be due to the absolute 100% separation between left and right.  Headphones provide no spillover at all.

 

 

If you are looking for razor sharp bite I suggest turning off all cabs and IRs.  Maybe copy a preset into a new unused location for experimental purposes.  If that preset uses amp blocks that include cabs (like combo amps) then swap those blocks out for the amp only version and delete the cabs altogether.  I think you will find that leaves your preset with a very cutting, biting and in your face tone.

 

Yep, using two monitor speakers at moment. My patches are all amp and separate IR, it's still not the same though

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9 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

It's perfectly capable of doing both...

 

But different output devices will always yield different tones... it's inevitable. Headphones and studio monitors are fundamentally different. The cans are right on top of your ears... monitors are a mile away, relatively speaking, and positioned off-axis. The miracle, would be if they actually did sound identical... In fact, that's the fantasy that is requested time and time again on these very forums... but that magic formula doesn't exist. If you change the output, your tone will change. Period.

 

EQ appropriate to the task will forever be the only way to take a patch designed for one scenario, and successfully adapt it to another.

 

Oh yeah, I realise you tone will change from output device to output device, but what I'm talking about is not really just a change of tone,

it's a fundamental difference in how the high gain distortion is produced. It's a completely different sound and EQ'ing it doesn't really get you there

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6 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

Which ones have you tried so far?

And which headphones are you using?

 

I'm not even using proper headphones as such, I'm using earphones - because I don't use the Helix in the headphone mode, no need for me to buy decent headphones, but I did this as an experiment really. I remembered when I first got my Helix and I didn't have any real output speakers at the time. I did have proper headphones though so I started using it that way and remember the high gain stuff sounded fantastic. When I got around to getting some FRFR speakers, I was completely underwhelmed because the character of the distortion was completely different.

 

I've been chasing that type of distortion ever since and not really achieved it. I tried the ear phones last night and again, distortion high gain from the unit itself without speakers is night and day different, so much better. I have discovered for myself how much better the sound can get when you change speakers - I went from some dreadful muddy bassy Alto TS212 speakers to the other extreme of Yamaha HS5 monitor speakers and that is a much crisper sound for sure - but it's nothing like the ear phone sound.

 

Honestly, if you're a rock or metal player, listen to the high gain with headphones - it's so tight and aggressive that if anything, you would probably dial it back a bit, but it's exactly what most high gain players are looking for, which is the opposite to what you get through speakers. What I can't get my head around is that surely what you hear on the headphones direct from the unit itself, is the true tone/distortion that the unit is making? Where it goes wrong (for me) is when it goes through external speakers, so why can't we get the Helix to make the exact same sound, or near to, with speakers - any speakers?

 

On a side note but relevant to this - all the countless tone demo videos/artist patches you can buy, that sound so epic on youtube - that sound nothing like that when you run them through your own speakers - now I know why. Those patches were not recorded through speakers were they, they're recorded direct from the Helix through a PC, so more akin to what you get through headphones etc.

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1 minute ago, Paulzx said:

Honestly, if you're a rock or metal player, listen to the high gain with headphones - it's so tight and aggressive that if anything, you would probably dial it back a bit, but it's exactly what most high gain players are looking for, which is the opposite to what you get through speakers.

 

I can't second that. Yes, with headphones, the highs are easier to notice and/or control, but in general, my patches transfer quite well between different pairs of headphones (mainly a Sennheiser HD-25 and an AKG K-271 MKII),  and my rather inexpensive monitors (either a pair of older Tannoy Reveals or a newer pair of Presonus Eris 5) or fullrange floor monitor (Alto TS310, heaps better than the TS210, fwiw).

In all honesty, ear phones aren't exactly the tools of trade when it comes to judging sounds. They often have a kind of built in loudness function that you can't switch off. You might want to crosscheck your patches through a decent pair of studio headphones.

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So ask yourself this simple question.  What has changed when you move from headphones to a powered speaker?  Certainly nothing has changed in the way the Helix is producing that tone because it has no idea how you're listening to it.  The output device has certainly changed and the way it produces sound, but the other thing that's changed is your position relative to the output device and the room in which you're listening.  With headphones your ears are positioned precisely in the center of the sound with no interaction from the room.  That's the reason EVERYTHING sounds better on headphones typically because it's pure sound with nothing interfering with it, and that's never the case with any other type of output device.

Play through a traditional amp and cabinet and stand behind it, or stand to the side of it, or position yourself dead center in front or the speaker cap and your sound will change dramatically.  Why do you think studios spend so much money on sound baffling, and positioning monitors so precisely?  Why are line arrays flown high above the audience in every concert venue?  That's all related to the nature of sound reproduction.

It's not an insurmountable problem as it's solved every single day by the VAST majority of people using the Helix.  In my studio my monitors (Yamaha HS7 speakers) are positioned in a precise equilateral triangle from my listening position and are located relative to the side walls and the rear walls to get the best results from rear bass reflex ports as prescribed in their documentation.  When using powered FRFR live speakers I have the correct DSP contour selected for how the speaker is positioned (which is not available on cheaper speakers like the Alto) and I stand a minimum of 5  or 6 feet away from the speaker as any audience member would or I would on stage using it as a floor monitor.  Even then the sound will be different, but I expect it to be and can account for it in how I build my presets.

This has nothing to do with the Helix and everything to do with you understanding what an output device is designed to do and how to optimize it and what to expect from it.  As I mentioned to my friend who's a product manager at QSC the other day, there are way too many musicians who know nothing about what happens after their sound leaves the output connection of the device they're playing through other than some weird, unknowable black magic.

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3 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

I can't second that. Yes, with headphones, the highs are easier to notice and/or control, but in general, my patches transfer quite well between different pairs of headphones (mainly a Sennheiser HD-25 and an AKG K-271 MKII),  and my rather inexpensive monitors (either a pair of older Tannoy Reveals or a newer pair of Presonus Eris 5) or fullrange floor monitor (Alto TS310, heaps better than the TS210, fwiw).

In all honesty, ear phones aren't exactly the tools of trade when it comes to judging sounds. They often have a kind of built in loudness function that you can't switch off. You might want to crosscheck your patches through a decent pair of studio headphones.

 

Absolutely - ear phones are not what you would normally use, but it's what I had to hand at the time - but that's not really the point, I experienced the same thing years ago when I did have head phones. Yes you'll get different quality on better headphones but the point is, the sound is completely different. The Helix as a unit is producing high gain distortion to die for - when you listen with headphones, earphones whatever - but when you listen direct to the unit itself. That type of sound does not seem to be transferable when using external speakers - that I have found so far, not even close.

 

I am wondering now whether the only way to capture that, is to actually play the thing through some kind of direct connection via some pc software?

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3 hours ago, Paulzx said:

On a side note but relevant to this - all the countless tone demo videos/artist patches you can buy, that sound so epic on youtube - that sound nothing like that when you run them through your own speakers - now I know why. Those patches were not recorded through speakers were they, they're recorded direct from the Helix through a PC, so more akin to what you get through headphones etc.

 

Those "epic tones" you hear on You Tube will sound that way through their studio monitors and/or FRFR as well. If they didn't, nobody would ever use this thing live, yet many do.  How are you listening to them? 

 

The key factor is making tones that translate well from speaker system to speaker system. No two playback systems sound the same so that creates this big challenge. If you think about it, this is the exact same with music production. Take you favorite song and play it on 5 different systems... it will sound GOOD on all systems, but it will not sound the SAME on all systems? Recording producers/engineers take years honing this mixing craft.... you need to hone it for guitar tones. There is no "one size fits all" remedy, it's something you need to learn. 

 

3 hours ago, Paulzx said:

I went from some dreadful muddy bassy Alto TS212 speakers

 

There is a lot of low end hype in these speakers. Keep the contour off, lift it off the ground, and don't place it in a corner.... then you might have a fighting chance. 

 

3 hours ago, Paulzx said:

to the other extreme of Yamaha HS5 monitor speakers and that is a much crisper sound for sure - but it's nothing like the ear phone sound.

 

The Yamaha's will be great, honest sounding speakers, but the 5's are too little IMO. The 7's is about the smallest I would go, the 8's would be my preference. 

 

7 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

The Helix as a unit is producing high gain distortion to die for - when you listen with headphones, earphones whatever - but when you listen direct to the unit itself. That type of sound does not seem to be transferable when using external speakers - that I have found so far, not even close.


The Helix tone has not changed, the playback has. Don't blame the wrong product. 

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2 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

So ask yourself this simple question.  What has changed when you move from headphones to a powered speaker?  Certainly nothing has changed in the way the Helix is producing that tone because it has no idea how you're listening to it.  The output device has certainly changed and the way it produces sound, but the other thing that's changed is your position relative to the output device and the room in which you're listening.  With headphones your ears are positioned precisely in the center of the sound with no interaction from the room.  That's the reason EVERYTHING sounds better on headphones typically because it's pure sound with nothing interfering with it, and that's never the case with any other type of output device.

Play through a traditional amp and cabinet and stand behind it, or stand to the side of it, or position yourself dead center in front or the speaker cap and your sound will change dramatically.  Why do you think studios spend so much money on sound baffling, and positioning monitors so precisely?  Why are line arrays flown high above the audience in every concert venue?  That's all related to the nature of sound reproduction.

It's not an insurmountable problem as it's solved every single day by the VAST majority of people using the Helix.  In my studio my monitors (Yamaha HS7 speakers) are positioned in a precise equilateral triangle from my listening position and are located relative to the side walls and the rear walls to get the best results from rear bass reflex ports as prescribed in their documentation.  When using powered FRFR live speakers I have the correct DSP contour selected for how the speaker is positioned (which is not available on cheaper speakers like the Alto) and I stand a minimum of 5  or 6 feet away from the speaker as any audience member would or I would on stage using it as a floor monitor.  Even then the sound will be different, but I expect it to be and can account for it in how I build my presets.

This has nothing to do with the Helix and everything to do with you understanding what an output device is designed to do and how to optimize it and what to expect from it.  As I mentioned to my friend who's a product manager at QSC the other day, there are way too many musicians who know nothing about what happens after their sound leaves the output connection of the device they're playing through other than some weird, unknowable black magic.

 

I'm doing more or less exactly what you're doing with the monitor speakers, positioning etc. The Alto's are gone, now using HS5's - pretty good, but I'm sending them back to swap for a pair of HS7's, I already have the stands for them. That's not it. That's not what I'm talking about. Just by going to the HS5's, I've been surprised how much better you can get the output to sound, and if you go the Elis.8 route you'll probably get even better, but that is a separate topic and not to be confused with what I'm trying to explain.

 

Obviously speaker to speaker, you can improve your overall sound, what you can't really do though is get completely different distortion using the same patches.

 

Best way I can describe it is my current high gain patches all sound 'not bad' through my yamaha monitor speakers. There is still some character about it that I don't particularly like, but it's okay, it just doesn't wow me but it's usable. Regardless of how you increase the gain in the patch, it always sounds a bit like the guitar is slightly under powered. Use the same patch, same guitar but now listen on headphones/earphones whatever, and it sounds like the guitar is now on steroids and you've got gain going through the roof, it really is a night and day difference.

 

Try it - dial in a high gain with a screamer pedal in front even a 0 gain - listen direct then see how much weaker it sounds through the speakers. I get all the stuff about factors that change the output sound but it doesn't change the fundamental level of distortion you're getting, not by enough to make this difference anyway. 

 

I realise this isn't the Helix itself and that was my original question - the unit direct sounds fantastic. I just need to find a way of getting that high gain out the other end! 

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32 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

Those "epic tones" you hear on You Tube will sound that way through their studio monitors and/or FRFR as well. If they didn't, nobody would ever use this thing live, yet many do.  How are you listening to them? 

 

The key factor is making tones that translate well from speaker system to speaker system. No two playback systems sound the same so that creates this big challenge. If you think about it, this is the exact same with music production. Take you favorite song and play it on 5 different systems... it will sound GOOD on all systems, but it will not sound the SAME on all systems? Recording producers/engineers take years honing this mixing craft.... you need to hone it for guitar tones. There is no "one size fits all" remedy, it's something you need to learn. 

 

 

There is a lot of low end hype in these speakers. Keep the contour off, lift it off the ground, and don't place it in a corner.... then you might have a fighting chance. 

 

 

The Yamaha's will be great, honest sounding speakers, but the 5's are too little IMO. The 7's is about the smallest I would go, the 8's would be my preference. 

 


The Helix tone has not changed, the playback has. Don't blame the wrong product. 

Thanks for the comments mate...

 

Youtube demos - I don't know if those tones all sounds as good through live speakers but it's a very common complaint that you buy a preset and it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as the demo and I think that is because it's been recorded direct.

 

The Alto's - did all that, still sounded like mush. End of the day, nice speakers for music or disco PA, horrible for guitar. You just don't realise until you try the monitor speakers.

 

Yamaha's - yep I'm going to swap to the HS7's as I also felt the 5's were just lacking a bit in the overall size of the sound.

 

I'm not blaming the Helix - what I said was, the unit itself is making epic distortion high gain, when you listen direct. I don't know why that isn't reproduced using speakers, that's what I want to know. Totally understand what dunedin dragon says about the only thing changing is the output device, and I fully agree - but how do you solve that?

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1 hour ago, Paulzx said:

I don't know if those tones all sounds as good through live speakers but it's a very common complaint that you buy a preset and it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as the demo and I think that is because it's been recorded direct.

 

This is a misconception that you need to rid yourself of.... it's leading you down the wrong path of correction. 

 

If the demo clip sounds good on your speakers, that is how that preset sounds. You are listening to it on YOUR speakers.

The differences by the time a person installs a purchased preset is obvious ...

  • A different guitar
  • Different hands
  • Possibly different global settings in the Helix
  • Different playback ONLY if you are listening on a different set of speakers than the ones you listened to the DEMO on. 
1 hour ago, Paulzx said:

I'm not blaming the Helix - what I said was, the unit itself is making epic distortion high gain, when you listen direct. I don't know why that isn't reproduced using speakers, that's what I want to know. Totally understand what dunedin dragon says about the only thing changing is the output device, and I fully agree - but how do you solve that?

 

You need to LEARN how to create tones that translate from playback to playback. It's not a button, it's not a setting, it's not easy! Everyone that succeeds with a <insert modeler choice here> has solved this equation to some degree. 

  • Start with a GOOD SET of speakers..... 
  • Create tones on those speakers at a high enough volume to avoid the Fletcher Munson curve. If you don't get the volume up, the tones you create will be thin/boomy/shrill (no depth) by the time you get them up to stage volume, yet they will always sound good on headphones (read the next bullet)
  • Don't create tones on headphones.... they don't give true representation of what is going on regardless of how good they might sound. 
  • Expect this to be a learning curve that NEVER ENDS.... you just get better at it over time. 
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17 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

 

The headphone distortion is really aggressive,

 

 

What kind of headphone do you use?

Is it a 32 Ohm ?

For music player at least a 70 ohm is a lot better

32 ohm is more to listen music from a player or phone

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1 hour ago, codamedia said:

 

This is a misconception that you need to rid yourself of.... it's leading you down the wrong path of correction. 

 

If the demo clip sounds good on your speakers, that is how that preset sounds. You are listening to it on YOUR speakers.

The differences by the time a person installs a purchased preset is obvious ...

  • A different guitar
  • Different hands
  • Possibly different global settings in the Helix
  • Different playback ONLY if you are listening on a different set of speakers than the ones you listened to the DEMO on. 

 

You need to LEARN how to create tones that translate from playback to playback. It's not a button, it's not a setting, it's not easy! Everyone that succeeds with a <insert modeler choice here> has solved this equation to some degree. 

  • Start with a GOOD SET of speakers..... 
  • Create tones on those speakers at a high enough volume to avoid the Fletcher Munson curve. If you don't get the volume up, the tones you create will be thin/boomy/shrill (no depth) by the time you get them up to stage volume, yet they will always sound good on headphones (read the next bullet)
  • Don't create tones on headphones.... they don't give true representation of what is going on regardless of how good they might sound. 
  • Expect this to be a learning curve that NEVER ENDS.... you just get better at it over time. 

 

All good points, but I know all of this lol.. Maybe you're right about the demo preset's but it's not really the point, it was just a side observation, either way, I can't get anything

like the earphone sound to replicate through speakers.

 

What you've said above learning how to create tones etc - I already do that, it's only relevant to creating tones to use through your own speakers.

No matter how good you are at dialling in tones, you are not going to be reproducing the same high gain as what you hear through the headphone jack. They are two totally separate sounds.

 

Somehow - the Helix can produce a direct distortion tone that sounds superb until you put it through 1/4 inch cables into speakers. That's what I do know for a fact.

I will state again - I'm not saying it's crap through the speakers, I'm saying it's totally different and it's lacking quite a lot of the gain that it has through headphones.

 

Try it yourself. I think people are misunderstanding what I'm trying to get across. I'm not commenting on whether headphone listening is good or bad or FRFR speakers are good or bad,

I just want to be able to re-create the high gain distortion I hear on the headphones. It's a lot different from the sound through the speakers using the same patch.

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27 minutes ago, Punkyboy said:

What kind of headphone do you use?

Is it a 32 Ohm ?

For music player at least a 70 ohm is a lot better

32 ohm is more to listen music from a player or phone

 

I don't intend to use headphones at all really, it was just an experiment

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Pretty much amen to pretty much anything @codamedia said.
 

I may add something to this: Once you've did it that way, you'll be able to apply the things you've noticed even when dialing in tones at lower volumes and/or through headphones.
As said before, by now, I experience pretty little issues with my sounds not transfering well to whatever playback systems - the main reason being that when I started going the modeler route, I've been spending plenty of time checking out things at various levels, notably at rehearsal/gig volume. I even went as far as creating and finetuning a set of IRs that I'm using ever since (it's really just a mere handful, in fact for most of my gigs I'm using one single IR for years already, regardless whether it's some bar jazz stuff or solid rock - mind you, I'm not into metal, though).
As a result, these days I can take the patches created back then and the things I went through as a reference, which, in return, allows me to create new patches on pretty much any halfway decent playback system.

 

1 hour ago, Paulzx said:

either way, I can't get anything

like the earphone sound to replicate through speakers.

 

Maybe you could post a little recorded snipplet of a patch you think sounds great (possibly along with the patch used). That way, there'll be more ears to have a listen and analyze.

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1 hour ago, SaschaFranck said:

Pretty much amen to pretty much anything @codamedia said.
 

I may add something to this: Once you've did it that way, you'll be able to apply the things you've noticed even when dialing in tones at lower volumes and/or through headphones.
As said before, by now, I experience pretty little issues with my sounds not transfering well to whatever playback systems - the main reason being that when I started going the modeler route, I've been spending plenty of time checking out things at various levels, notably at rehearsal/gig volume. I even went as far as creating and finetuning a set of IRs that I'm using ever since (it's really just a mere handful, in fact for most of my gigs I'm using one single IR for years already, regardless whether it's some bar jazz stuff or solid rock - mind you, I'm not into metal, though).
As a result, these days I can take the patches created back then and the things I went through as a reference, which, in return, allows me to create new patches on pretty much any halfway decent playback system.

 

 

Maybe you could post a little recorded snipplet of a patch you think sounds great (possibly along with the patch used). That way, there'll be more ears to have a listen and analyze.

 

Appreciate the comments but somehow, this thread has gone sideways.

I was never trying to dial in patches to transfer from device to device. My original point wasn't that I was unhappy with my patches. I've been dialling in patches for a long time and I've tried every trick so I think I'm getting the best result possible there.

 

It was only when I tried using ear phones direct to the Helix for a test that I realised the distortion in my high gain amps sounded massively different when you listen direct. No amount of tweaking for speakers is going to resolve that.

 

I think I just have to accept it can't be reproduced exactly the same through speakers, so great if you practice a lot with headphones but a bit underwhelming when using monitors or speakers

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1 hour ago, Paulzx said:

I think I just have to accept it can't be reproduced exactly the same through speakers, so great if you practice a lot with headphones but a bit underwhelming when using monitors or speakers

 

For me, it's exactly the opposite. Not that I'd hate headphone playing (I'm absolutely used to it, too), but I *vastly* prefer playing through pretty much anything else.

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8 hours ago, Paulzx said:

Somehow - the Helix can produce a direct distortion tone that sounds superb until you put it through 1/4 inch cables into speakers. That's what I do know for a fact.

 

I can't imagine anyone would be using the Helix if this was actually fact. I know I'd sell mine off rather quickly :) 

  • Is your Helix healthy? 
  • Have you tried the XLR out's to see how they sound? 

 

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1 hour ago, codamedia said:

 

I can't imagine anyone would be using the Helix if this was actually fact. I know I'd sell mine off rather quickly :) 

  • Is your Helix healthy? 
  • Have you tried the XLR out's to see how they sound? 
  • Have you tried the HEADPHONE out direct to the monitors (HS-5's) or FRFR? If you think the the sound is better from that output... try it! 
    (NOTE: Turn the headphone output down before doing this... it will be a lot louder than the 1/4" outs)

 

 

To the best of my knowledge it is healthy yes

Haven't tried XLR, consensus on here was there should be no difference in sound quality so I went for the 1/4 " as I had the cables.

 

Haven't tried headphone out to the speakers, can you do that? I would certainly be curious to try.

 

I want to emphasise that I'm not saying that Helix to the speakers is terrible, just that the headphone sound was noticeably better on the distortion bite that's all. It's just that one characteristic in the sound that's all

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29 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

 

To the best of my knowledge it is healthy yes

Haven't tried XLR, consensus on here was there should be no difference in sound quality so I went for the 1/4 " as I had the cables.

 

Haven't tried headphone out to the speakers, can you do that? I would certainly be curious to try.

 

I want to emphasise that I'm not saying that Helix to the speakers is terrible, just that the headphone sound was noticeably better on the distortion bite that's all. It's just that one characteristic in the sound that's all

 

There really shouldn't be any difference between the makeup of what's in the signal whether you use XLR or 1/4", although there could be signal level differences which might be significant depending on your situation.  XLR offers some advantages over longer runs over simple 1/4" lines and it's certainly the preference of choice for connecting up PA mixers and components.  I would certainly NEVER advocate using the headphone out as an output as that's not what they're designed for and run more highly amplified and specialized signals rather than the standard line,. mic or instrument level signals as the other outputs on the Helix.  But certainly you have to recognize the difference in headphones has little to do with the connection and more to do with the design of the headphones themselves since all headphones use the same type of connectors and there are VAST differences in their sound and quality.

I get it that you're simply trying to fix a very specific difference in the sound of the distortion between headphones and monitors, but I'd suggest spending your time looking at options within the signal chain rather than chasing different output methods.  I have many presets that I've used both in the studio and for live performances, but there will be some differences in how those same presets are dialed in simply due to the differences in the way those speakers are designed to operate.  The very nature of the design used on these different types of speakers will dictate much of that, particularly between studio monitors and live powered speakers.  One key component that may help you get the type of gain sound you're looking for is the Retro Reel block in the Modulation section.  That allows you to apply vintage tape artifacts to a preset which can help enrich and add more fullness to your signal and that may be the answer for what you're looking for.  Try it both at the beginning of your signal chain or at the end depending on how much of it you want to apply.

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1 hour ago, Paulzx said:

Haven't tried headphone out to the speakers, can you do that? I would certainly be curious to try.

 

Although I use headphones out on my studio mixer to feed a particular power amp... I am keenly aware that I need to keep the headphone output very low so it is more on par with a LINE LEVEL output. 

 

Bottom line.... It's a risky thing to try, and I shouldn't have suggested it on this forum. I am going to remove it from my post so others are not tempted to try it. 

 

Sorry about that.... 

 

 

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At first: Yes, I have tried to run the headphone out through some typical monitors (thinking it might come in handy to have another analog output level control available) and while, as @codamedia already mentioned, leveling is at least tricky and has a certain potential to damage the input stages of the following device, it does sound exactly the same as the other outputs. So there's no extra mojo happening on the HP out. Just to get that out of the way.


However, as this seems to somewhat go in circles: @Paulzx, it should by now be pretty clear that your experiences are a result of you liking what's likely a less than ideal listening device. Fact is, the Helix modeling hasn't been crafted using things such as earphones. It has certainly been tested with all other kinds of output devices, though - so it was programmed in a way it'd sound good/great/decent when being used through those rather than through earbuds.

Why and in what way your earphones affect the sound so you like it more - tough to know what it might be (in addition to a certain loudness-alike coloration, some of these earphones also somewhat compress the sound, likely due to the small size of their membranes, but I wouldn't exactly happen to know). It could as well be your ears perceiving things in a different way.

Anyhow, as you seem to like the sound of some sound demos (that you apparently listened to using other devices than just your earphones), it's pretty clear to me that your earphones aren't the only important things in this equation. And we could possibly speculate about those things until the cows come home. Maybe it's your listening devices, maybe it's your playing, maybe it's your patch programming skills (no offense meant), maybe the Helix just isn't for you, maybe modelers aren't for you (unless you play them through earbuds), etc. All kinds of possible explanations have been elaborated in this thread by now (and they're all pretty valid, AFAICS).
 

At this point of the discussion, the only thing that might take us a little further would be a sample patch that people could possibly evaluate. Ideally along with a little audio clip (simply because the guitar type and playing style have a huge influence on the overall tone) and a description/comparison of what kinda sound you have in mind.

 

Alternatively, you might want to record/loop something, listen to it through whatever devices you have at your disposal and fool around with EQs until the sound is getting closer to your earbud experience. In the end, all your earbuds are likely doing is some frequency coloration and *maybe* some compression (plus the fact that your listening "position" is fundamentally different, but no other monitors than headphones will adress that issue). This should be recreatable using an EQ (and maybe some compressor/limiter). But only you would be able to do so because only you can listen through your earbuds the way you do.

Anything else is not taking this discussion much further, if at all. Oh well, you could of course nag Line 6 to come up with some "earbuds mojo" block in a future update.

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10 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

There really shouldn't be any difference between the makeup of what's in the signal whether you use XLR or 1/4", although there could be signal level differences which might be significant depending on your situation.  XLR offers some advantages over longer runs over simple 1/4" lines and it's certainly the preference of choice for connecting up PA mixers and components.  I would certainly NEVER advocate using the headphone out as an output as that's not what they're designed for and run more highly amplified and specialized signals rather than the standard line,. mic or instrument level signals as the other outputs on the Helix.  But certainly you have to recognize the difference in headphones has little to do with the connection and more to do with the design of the headphones themselves since all headphones use the same type of connectors and there are VAST differences in their sound and quality.

I get it that you're simply trying to fix a very specific difference in the sound of the distortion between headphones and monitors, but I'd suggest spending your time looking at options within the signal chain rather than chasing different output methods.  I have many presets that I've used both in the studio and for live performances, but there will be some differences in how those same presets are dialed in simply due to the differences in the way those speakers are designed to operate.  The very nature of the design used on these different types of speakers will dictate much of that, particularly between studio monitors and live powered speakers.  One key component that may help you get the type of gain sound you're looking for is the Retro Reel block in the Modulation section.  That allows you to apply vintage tape artifacts to a preset which can help enrich and add more fullness to your signal and that may be the answer for what you're looking for.  Try it both at the beginning of your signal chain or at the end depending on how much of it you want to apply.

 

Thanks for the suggestions mate, I'll certainly try that although I think I just have to accept it's not the sort of thing you can replicate by altering anything in the signal chain, it's just a totally different saturated type of sound. It's a bit like your high gain tone through speakers would be a 7 out of 10 whereas the headphone sound is more like a 15 out of 10! and you can't match it by upping your gain in the preset on speakers because it just gets noisy and messy. There's just a fundamental difference between the two modes, unfortunately for me.

 

However, on a happier side note, one tip that has worked well is to turn up the master volume to max in the high gain amp, turn volume down a bit on helix big volume knob. It hasn't cured the discussion above, but it has produced a better high gain patch in that I can actually dial back the gain a little bit so it's smoother sounding, but still very overdriven with that master cranked. I was actually able to duplicate a live Def Leppard sound using that method, which I've been chasing for a while, so I'm quite happy with that outcome even if it was by accident!

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9 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

Although I use headphones out on my studio mixer to feed a particular power amp... I am keenly aware that I need to keep the headphone output very low so it is more on par with a LINE LEVEL output. 

 

Bottom line.... It's a risky thing to try, and I shouldn't have suggested it on this forum. I am going to remove it from my post so others are not tempted to try it. 

 

Sorry about that.... 

 

 

 

Too late, I blew everything up last trying that, I hope you're happy Now?!

 

Just kidding, thanks for the suggestion anyway

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6 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

At first: Yes, I have tried to run the headphone out through some typical monitors (thinking it might come in handy to have another analog output level control available) and while, as @codamedia already mentioned, leveling is at least tricky and has a certain potential to damage the input stages of the following device, it does sound exactly the same as the other outputs. So there's no extra mojo happening on the HP out. Just to get that out of the way.


However, as this seems to somewhat go in circles: @Paulzx, it should by now be pretty clear that your experiences are a result of you liking what's likely a less than ideal listening device. Fact is, the Helix modeling hasn't been crafted using things such as earphones. It has certainly been tested with all other kinds of output devices, though - so it was programmed in a way it'd sound good/great/decent when being used through those rather than through earbuds.

Why and in what way your earphones affect the sound so you like it more - tough to know what it might be (in addition to a certain loudness-alike coloration, some of these earphones also somewhat compress the sound, likely due to the small size of their membranes, but I wouldn't exactly happen to know). It could as well be your ears perceiving things in a different way.

Anyhow, as you seem to like the sound of some sound demos (that you apparently listened to using other devices than just your earphones), it's pretty clear to me that your earphones aren't the only important things in this equation. And we could possibly speculate about those things until the cows come home. Maybe it's your listening devices, maybe it's your playing, maybe it's your patch programming skills (no offense meant), maybe the Helix just isn't for you, maybe modelers aren't for you (unless you play them through earbuds), etc. All kinds of possible explanations have been elaborated in this thread by now (and they're all pretty valid, AFAICS).
 

At this point of the discussion, the only thing that might take us a little further would be a sample patch that people could possibly evaluate. Ideally along with a little audio clip (simply because the guitar type and playing style have a huge influence on the overall tone) and a description/comparison of what kinda sound you have in mind.

 

Alternatively, you might want to record/loop something, listen to it through whatever devices you have at your disposal and fool around with EQs until the sound is getting closer to your earbud experience. In the end, all your earbuds are likely doing is some frequency coloration and *maybe* some compression (plus the fact that you're listening "position" is fundamentally different, but no other monitors than headphones will adress that issue). This should be recreatable using an EQ (and maybe some compressor/limiter). But only you would be able to do so because only you can listen through your earbuds the way you do.

Anything else is not taking this discussion much further, if at all. Oh well, you could of course nag Line 6 to come up with some "earbuds mojo" block in a future update.

 

Are you questioning my ability to dial in a patch.. I'm shocked and offended, where's my safe space lol. No worries mate, thanks for all the suggestions, I know it's not an easy one to crack and I know I can't solve it.

 

It is definitely a head phone thing because both times I tried it, once with real head phones and once with ear buds, although the sound varies a bit in richness, the distortion is the same so it doesn't really matter what you wear on your ears it's just completely different from the speaker distortion. The speaker sound is better overall - I'm just zeroing in on that type of distortion I hear on the headphones that I've never had through speakers, using same patch etc, just different method of listening. If there was an effect clock you could add to do this I would be very happy but there isn't!

 

I might try and record an example, but I don't have any software to do that. What would be the best thing to use to try and capture the direct signal without it going through the monitor speakers?

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36 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

one tip that has worked well is to turn up the master volume to max in the high gain amp, turn volume down a bit on helix big volume knob.

 

Uhm. Seriously, you should possibly get informed a little about what the different parameters/controls do.

 

Master Volume on the amp is a sound shaping parameter. It emulates the master volume of a tube amplifier. When you crank it up, you will get more grit, saturarion and compression. Look at it as a second gain stage. Some amps have it cranked up all the way by default, typically those that don't have a master volume in real life (such as a Twin). Others keep it pretty civil by default, such as most modern high gain amps, the reason being that you usually don't even remotely crank them up in real life, either. In most of those amps, the distortion is created in the preamp stage(s). A very typical example would be a Rectifier. Cranking the master volume up on these usually doesn't result in better clarity or what not. It's a nice tool to have, though, especially on the not-as-high-gain amps, most notably probably some half-old-ish Marshall kinda amps (a plexi style amp typically sounds a lot better when you crank the master a bit).

 

To compensate for possible master volume level jumps is done via the Ch.Vol parameter - which is just a super neutral volume control placed behind the other amp stuff, not affecting the overall amp sound at all. This is the tool of choice to keep levels balanced within the Helix' signal chain.
 

The main big volume is just your main output volume and shouldn't be relevant when working on patches. The fact that you seem to notice a difference in sound might as well be a hint that there's a sort of level mismatching between the Helix' output and the following device. And it could as well be a reason for some unwanted coloration. Input amplifiers of whatever monitors (or consoles) don't take all levels the same, that's why most of them (even the analog ones) have input meters to inform you once you run a too hot signal into them. That should be avoided at all costs (unless you do it on purpose, such as what people often did on old analog tape recording machines - but these days it's rare and you really need to know what you're doing, so skip that for now). In case the Helix' output knob alters the sound, it's more or less clearly indicating that the output signal is too hot for the following device.

 

As a general rule of thumb when doing patches: keep the output block volume where it is by default (0.0dB) and set up the amp and cab blocks that they don't raise the overall volume too much, compared to just the dry guitar signal. Following that rule, you should at least theoretically be able to turn the volume knob all the way up when feeding a device accepting line level. Personally, I would however still recommend to keep it somewhat centered, that way you can go up and down just from the Helix (which is pretty comfortable in a live situation). You might find different advice, such as in turning the volume knob all the way up, but for practical reasons I personally don't think it's making much sense. And as said, defenitely make sure the following device is *never* overloaded. That's one of the most important conditions to be aware of when creating patches.

Also try to never get fooled by the good old "louder.= better" when turning up volumes within a Helix patch. Our brains typically suggest that, but it completely kills all decent gain matching attempts in the digital realm. Pretty much all digital devices are made to work best with their output levels not being much higher than the bypass state. Of course, in an amp modeler, things are different because you actually *do* want to push the input of an amp with a stompbox - and that's perfectily fine, too. But once the signal leaves the amp stage, it should at least not be *much* louder compared to everything on bypass. Yes, the internal Helix blocks will usually still work fine with higher levels (especially in case input level isn't relevant for their function), but cranking things up too much once the drive/amp stages are done could be asking for trouble. Having said that: Watch the LED function of the output block. It should never (!) turn red.

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21 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

What would be the best thing to use to try and capture the direct signal without it going through the monitor speakers?

 

A simple wave editor such as Audacity. It's free, too. Just select the Helix' USB 1/2 as an input device and record away.

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1 hour ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

Uhm. Seriously, you should possibly get informed a little about what the different parameters/controls do.

 

 

Uhm seriously, you should possibly look at all the conflicting information in these forums!

 

Thanks for the run down, and yes I know all that, I know what a master volume does on a real amp, but I've seen info on here where people have said no, leave the master down and put the channel all the way up - no put the channel down and crank the master... no, leave them as default and switch the helix volume to digital!

 

In the end you just do what sounds better, theoretically correct or otherwise

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33 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

but I've seen info on here where people have said no, leave the master down and put the channel all the way up - no put the channel down and crank the master... no, leave them as default

 

Just forget about all that. Treat it as you would treat a physical amp for a start.

You cannot dial in any master volume on a Twin, so leave it where it is (fully up - which actually is the way it works on a real Twin, which ia also why they often hum quite noticeable, even with the volume knob way down).
Would you crank the master of a Rectifier all the way up? No way. The Recto power amps are designed to offer truckloads of clean headroom and usually don't sound too great once you do in fact crank them (in case the environment even allows for such maneuvers). So keep it civil here before you start experimenting (which, of course, can be quite some fun, too).

Would you however crank the master of a Marshall style amp? Heck yes. Not that your neigbours would like it, either, but they just sound great with their power amps working hard. One of the reasons Marshall has been among the first to come up with power attenuators (the almost legendary SE 100).

 

In a nutshell it's pretty much like:

Vintage amps: Master fully up.

Modern high gain: Master at reasonable settings.

Anything inbetween: Feel free to experiment.

 

Doesn't mean that you couldn't get as great sounds otherwise, but in case you're into some more or less classic tones, these rules of thumb apply pretty well.

 

And regardless of what you do, the Ch.Vol parameter is exclusively to balance out levels, no more, no less. As said before, it's a good idea to adjust it so the overall volume isn't all too high compared to bypass (kinda like a "leveling 101 in the digital domain").

 

47 minutes ago, Paulzx said:

switch the helix volume to digital!

 

I have no idea what's meant by this. Switching the big knob so it controls the digital out in the global settings? That would really only make sense in case you were actually using the digital out. Fwiw, I have mine set to control the 1/4 outs (feeding my monitor) only, the XLR outs are used for FOH duties. That way I can do adjustments to my monitoring volume without the FOH folks getting mad. But that's pretty irrelevant for this thread.

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On 10/7/2021 at 7:44 AM, Paulzx said:

 

Absolutely - ear phones are not what you would normally use, but it's what I had to hand at the time - but that's not really the point, I experienced the same thing years ago when I did have head phones. Yes you'll get different quality on better headphones but the point is, the sound is completely different.

 

Yup... and that's the way it'll always be, for all the reasons that everyone has already outlined. It's not supernatural, there's nothing "wrong" with your Helix, nor is it deficient in some way compared to anything else on the market. You are simply comparing two completely different kinds of output devices.  They will never sound the same. Period. Pick any other modeler on the face of the earth and conduct the same 'experiment'... and you'll get the exact same results. 

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You still have not considered my idea, have you?

Let's put aside for a moment the issue of WHY the headphones sound different and concentrate instead on the fact that you prefer that razor sharp sound.

You said you don't intend to use the phones regularly anyway so lets ignore that because it's just a distraction from the real point.

You said you wanted more bite, sharper edge.

I already told the fastest way to get that.

Remove or disable the cabinet blocks.

Don't tweak them; get rid of them.

Turn down the mix level on your IR blocks, way down.

You want razor sharp?

That will get you there.

You're being talked into worrying about cross-platform compatibility but you're not going to use multiple platforms so what's the point?

You yourself said you weren't trying to get even results across different devices.

You just weren't happy with your patches.

 

So?

What are you waiting for?

I promise you.  Removing your cabinet blocks will absolutely and instantly transport you into Razor Sharp Land.

Try it and let me know.

If it doesn't work I'll shut up.

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21 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Yup... and that's the way it'll always be, for all the reasons that everyone has already outlined. It's not supernatural, there's nothing "wrong" with your Helix, nor is it deficient in some way compared to anything else on the market. You are simply comparing two completely different kinds of output devices.  They will never sound the same. Period. Pick any other modeler on the face of the earth and conduct the same 'experiment'... and you'll get the exact same results. 

 

This thread wasn't about comparing other devices or about bashing the Helix, I simp,y wanted to find a way to get that headphone distortion through my speakers because the high gain was so much better. Its frustrating that you can hear something you really like when practicing with headphones, and that is the sound the Helix is producing, yet you get something quite a bit different through real speakers, and although the guitar sound varies from speaker to speaker or any output device, none of it sounds like that direct headphone sound

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20 hours ago, MGW-Alberta said:

You still have not considered my idea, have you?

Let's put aside for a moment the issue of WHY the headphones sound different and concentrate instead on the fact that you prefer that razor sharp sound.

You said you don't intend to use the phones regularly anyway so lets ignore that because it's just a distraction from the real point.

You said you wanted more bite, sharper edge.

I already told the fastest way to get that.

Remove or disable the cabinet blocks.

Don't tweak them; get rid of them.

Turn down the mix level on your IR blocks, way down.

You want razor sharp?

That will get you there.

You're being talked into worrying about cross-platform compatibility but you're not going to use multiple platforms so what's the point?

You yourself said you weren't trying to get even results across different devices.

You just weren't happy with your patches.

 

So?

What are you waiting for?

I promise you.  Removing your cabinet blocks will absolutely and instantly transport you into Razor Sharp Land.

Try it and let me know.

If it doesn't work I'll shut up.

 

Okay I'll try this for sure. I don't have any cab blocks just the amp and an IR.

You're saying I'll get this from just turning the mix level down on the IR?

I'll be shocked if this works haha, but I can't wait to try just in case you've got a gem of a tip here. 

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4 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 

Okay I'll try this for sure. I don't have any cab blocks just the amp and an IR.

You're saying I'll get this from just turning the mix level down on the IR?

I'll be shocked if this works haha, but I can't wait to try just in case you've got a gem of a tip here. 

Yes, it should.  I would start by turning the mix down to zero and if it's too sharp or in-your-face you can slowly dial some IR back in.

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12 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 none of it sounds like that direct headphone sound

 

And it's never going to, not without (often significant) adjustments,... that's the whole point.The sooner you accept that, the easier this will get. Different output = different sound. End of story. There is no magic workaround, no push-button solution. Patches must be tailored for their intended use. That "perfect" sound that you dialed in at a nice comfy volume with headphones will not sound the same through studio monitors, or cranked to stage volume through some other FRFR/PA speaker.

 

I keep three set lists... one tweaked for headphones, one for studio monitors, and one for live use. EQ is your friend... and the need to make adjustments based on how you intend to use a given patch will never go away.

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5 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

And it's never going to, not without (often significant) adjustments,... that's the whole point.The sooner you accept that, the easier this will get. Different output = different sound. End of story. There is no magic workaround, no push-button solution. Patches must be tailored for their intended use. That "perfect" sound that you dialed in at a nice comfy volume with headphones will not sound the same through studio monitors, or cranked to stage volume through some other FRFR/PA speaker.

 

I keep three set lists... one tweaked for headphones, one for studio monitors, and one for live use. EQ is your friend... and the need to make adjustments based on how you intend to use a given patch will never go away.

 

This is where I disagree with you. I don't think any tweaking will replicate that sound. It's not an EQ thing, it's more like a completely different device is creating the distortion. Try it and you'll see what I mean

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