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Maybe this Helps with Synth Tracking?

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I think I found something that helps the Synth track better, but was hoping to have some people try this out to see if it really does make a difference. I'm hesistant to mention this as a tip in my upcoming Helix book unless other people can confirm it helps...it could be guitar-specific. So I figured I'd ask the Line 6 Community Braintrust. Note: This doesn't seem to work with Filter Preset 3 (Glide), which appears to follow its own rules of engagement compared to Filter Presets 1, 2, and 4.

 

1. Insert the Horizon Gate before the Synth block.

2. Choose the Horizon Gate's Extended Range.

3. To get familiar with this, play mostly in the 7th to 12th fret range. Use your neck pickup.

 

This is where it gets tricky. Reduce the Horizon Gate Sensitivity to where it feels like it's tracking better. 4 or 5 works for me with an input signal that uses up the full Helix headroom.

 

Then, this is the twist...turn down your neck pickup's volume control. I don't know why this is important, it seems like the Sensitivity parameter should be all that's needed, but...you'll (hopefully) find a magic setting where when you play, the crud that normally happens at the end of synth notes disappears. With my humbuckers, the sweet spot was around 6 on the volume knob. I'm not sure how single-coil pups would react. There's interaction between the Sensitivity parameter and the guitar's volume control, so it's worth experimenting with both their settings to nail the best tracking.

 

I also found that for doing synth bass parts, if I keep my hand on the bridge so the strings are heavily muted, the tracking is really good. But, I have to say, I was shocked when I bypassed the synth block and noticed that the guitar notes were so muted they were just little blobs of sound, not sustaining notes.

 

Anyway, I hope this helps. I'm still looking into how to optimize it, but I figure y'all might figure out some clever variations on this theme. Meanwhile, I now find the synth actually useable. If only it had a resonance control for the filter...I so want to turn it down!

 

 

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I use channel 2 of my Source Audio EQ2 to help synth tracking...channel 1 is for regular tone. I have a c4 also as I am not totally digging the tracking in the HX...for bass it really helps to get the mud out of there....the other thing you can do is a string dampener....sock on the headstock etc....

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Did you try the Horizon Gate? At least for me, it's been a "magic bullet" for making the synth track better.

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EQ2 has two gates...I have not tried a gate yet on the synth, but that actually makes a ton of sense. I always use a little physical dampening...gate is just electronic dampening in a way...That may be a very nice finishing touch...My C4 is outside the HX so I can't really use the HX Gate....I have a heavy patch building session to do this weekend to get ready for a Halloween show and I am going to see how the EQ2 gate works...thanks!

 

 

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I tried Anderton's formula above and had little success until I turned my tone all the way down. 

 

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10 hours ago, Hey_Joe said:

I tried Anderton's formula above and had little success until I turned my tone all the way down. 

 

 

Thanks for chiming in, that makes sense. I had roughly equivalent results with turning down volume or tone, but I'm using humbuckers, so they're naturally dark anyway.

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On 10/22/2021 at 10:33 PM, spaceatl said:

EQ2 has two gates...I have not tried a gate yet on the synth, but that actually makes a ton of sense. I always use a little physical dampening...gate is just electronic dampening in a way...That may be a very nice finishing touch...My C4 is outside the HX so I can't really use the HX Gate....I have a heavy patch building session to do this weekend to get ready for a Halloween show and I am going to see how the EQ2 gate works...thanks!

 

Technically, the Horizon Gate isn't a gate in the conventional sense, it's a noise filter that responds to signal level. That's probably why turning down the tone control gives it an extra assist, because lower levels drop the cutoff down further. 

 

In the screen shot below, with an input signal of -20 dB, the top image shows Sensivity at 5.0, the bottom one shows it at 10.0. That extra sensitivity is definitely taking down the highs. The next experiement is to try flatwound strings...maybe that will help further!

 

 

image.png.2b5ddd44588dce93c43b945e0ac7a66d.png

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Keep on experimentin'.
As for mein this instance - maybe I'll just lean on the old proverb;
"you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" and use my GR-55 for my synth tones.

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Fwiw, I've tried what you've suggested and noticed slight improvements. So it seems as if it'd be a valid overall tip.

 

However, for me the synth block is completely useless as it doesn't offer any typical synth options (not even the most simple envelopes for amp and filter) and is not responding to input level. Without anything like that, IMO it's a poor joke. Even as a miserable keyboard player, I'm able to come up with something better easily. Sure, there's the live playing aspect, but I wouldn't touch a sound as unreliable as the Helix' synth block with a ten feet pole in a live scenario.

I would absolutely love it if some company would bring something like SY-300 capabilities (or at least a fraction of it) into their top modeler, but I guess it's safe to say that Line 6 won't be that company. So far they haven't even managed to improve the filters over the legacy ones (others than adding a sensivity slider, which you can as well achieve by slapping a gain block in front of the legacy models), they still sound super harsh and digital once they open up considerably.

 

Fwiw, offering something like input level as general modifier could adresss several of these issues at once, plus it'd introduce a whole new level of sound shaping options, but again, I think by now it's safe to say that we won't see anything like that ever coming to the Helix.

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I totally agree that the synth is not very useful. When I need synth sounds from guitar, I use Melodyne for chords, and Jam Origin for single note leads. 

 

I do find that with this mod, Filter preset 3 is useable, and gives a portamento effect that's pretty cool when combined with echo or reverb. The problem I have with the other filter presets is that even if the tracking was better, not being able to turn down the filter resonance would keep me from using the synth anyway.

 

The real upside of trying to make it work better is now I know how the Horizon Gate works  :)

 

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