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Helix and Clarett 4pre connection confusion


Veneficuous
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Recently, I upgraded to a L6 Helix, two M-Audio speaker monitors, and the Clarett+ 4pre audio interface. My issue is how to connect what I have to get the most out of it. This setup isn't for gigs, it's for home recording. 

 

1.-- I have a spdif cable connected from the output of the helix to the "optical in" of the clarett+. It's a "cinnamon" toslink optical cable. I have two more "digital" livewire spdif cables. I see there is an extra spdif "in" and "out" on the back of the Clarett audio interface, besides the optical in. On the Helix, the spdif output is connected to the clarett optical in, but the input is available. How many spdif cables should I connect? How should they be connected?

Also, I have xlr to 1/4 cables--the music store said I would still need these even with Spdif input and output. Do I need to use two xlr - 1/4 cables in addition to spdif (Helix xlr outputs to Clarett audio interface 1/4 line inputs)?  Should I not use both spdif and xlr together?

 

2.-- Both the Clarett+ audio interface and the Helix use usb interfaces to connect to a computer. Clarett uses a mini usb, and Helix uses a more traditional (looking) usb. I was told to either use the Helix usb or both, and they leaned toward both being preferable. Which is the best configuration?

 

3.-- I feel novice as hell asking this, but should I plug my instrument (guitar, in this case) into the Clarett AI or the Helix? If I want distortion, do I have to plug it into the Helix?

 

Appreciate the help

~Ven

 

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If you want to record and listen through the Clarett;

 

Helix SPDIF OUT -------------> Clarett SPDIF IN (Standard RCA SPDIF CABLE)

Clarett USB---------------------->Computer USB

Clarett L/R (1/2) Out-------> L/R Speakers

Guitar plugged into Helix

 

If you want to record and listen through the Helix;

 

HELIX USB----------------------------------------------------------------->Computer USB

HELIX L/R Out (your call if XLR or 1/4")---------------------> L/R Speakers

Guitar Plugged into Helix

Clarett can be just turned off. :)

 

First scenario you use the Clarett as audio interface, and Helix as a modeler. Guitar signal goes into Helix, getting modeling and effects, and being sent to Carlett/DAW through the spdif digital. From the DAW, the signal is then being sent to speakers through Clarett hardware and its ASIO drivers. Remember to set the Carlett Clock Source to external in the settings. (it should auto lock tho.)

 

Second scenario, you use the Helix to do both, working as audio interface and modeler. Guitar signal goes still into Helix, getting modeling and effects, and being sent to DAW through the Helix internal audio interface, via USB. From the DAW, the signal is then being sent to speakers through Helix hardware and its own ASIO drivers. This has the advantage to allow you to access reamping, recording just a dry signal (available at USB channel 7), without any modeling nor effects, and then find the final tone (always available at USB channels 1/2) without have to record a new take for every sound you want to try.

 

You don't want to plug your guitar straight into Clarett as you have Helix hardware. You do plug your guitar into Clarett as soon as you use virtual instruments. Like Helix Native and other VSTs.

 

Check the Helix manual for details about routing, reamp and many other great things. :)

 

 

 

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I'd only add to what PierM said that if you use the Clarett as your Audio Interface (AI) and you want to get a DI (unprocessed) track for re-amping you'll need to get an unprocessed signal into the Clarett. There are many ways to do this. However, input impedance can be an issue. The input impedance matters because "classic" FX that require a lower than 1M impedance for "authentic" tone load the PUPS in such a way as to attenuate the highs. Like using a very long cable without a buffer.

 

KISS method:

 

Since I use a Relay G10 wireless, I just take the XLR from that to a Channel of my Scarlett 18i20. This loads my pickups at 1M which defeats the auto-impedance function of the Helix Guitar input. As mentioned above that's a problem if you're after "authentic tone" from certain "classic" FX in Helix. I don't care about that so it's not a problem for me.

 

Other methods:

 

If you're hard-wired you can use an instrument splitter before the Helix (affects the Auto-Impedance function of the Helix input same as wireless).

 

You can place a SEND block at the beginning of Path 1 but that also loads your PUPS at 1M when active unless you specifically set the impedance function to accommodate it, which attenuates the highs on both paths. Catch-22.

 

You can take a Split at the beginning of Path 1 and route Path 1B's output to XLR or 1/4" but that uses up the parallel path option of Path 1. OK if you don't need the parallel processing on Path 1.

 

If you're using a MAC you can create an Aggregate ASIO Driver and use BOTH the Clarett and Helix as ASIO devices, but that has certain drawbacks too which I don't know much about since I use a PC. Some will say that you can do the same on a PC using ASIO4ALL. It might work. It never has for me and I don't recommend it.

 

Sorry if all that is confusing, but impedance and re-amping are big deals for some and non-issues for others. Just thought I'd make you aware of some of the issues and workarounds.

 

"With great power comes a great PITA!"

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Thanks for the help. I just wanted to clarify a few things. 

 

What is the purpose of the spdif Clarett "optical in?" I have an expensive "Cinnamon" optical cable connected to it right now from the Helix spdif out (the kind that have phone jack shaped connectors with plastic covered nubs). I also have two LiveWire digital 75 ohm coax cables that connect to the more conventional, round, gold-colored spdif in and out, on the back of Clarett. Should I connect Helix and Clarett using the "optical in" with optical spdif cable, or the Livewire digital spdif cable to gold colored coax spdif out? 

 

Do I plug only the Clarett usb in if I use Helix through Clarett? There's never a situation where both are plugged in, right?

 

How do I set external clock source on the Clarett? I should download the latest asio drivers for the Clarett? Where can I find drivers for the Helix. It didn't come with a flash drive, so I assume I dl all of that. 

 

Will going straight through the Helix cut out impedance, and how much does impedance effect tone. 

 

Thanks again

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All of the drivers you need for the Helix are downloaded when you download and install HX Edit.  As far as impedance, that affects the signal coming into the Helix from your guitar and that becomes part of the digital signal chain as it moves through the modeling you've setup.  You're outputting directly from the digital signal output, so whatever affect it has on your guitar will still be there.  The general rule is that hotter pickups tend to have problems with impedance affecting the behavior of certain blocks.

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54 minutes ago, Veneficuous said:

What is the purpose of the spdif Clarett "optical in?" I have an expensive "Cinnamon" optical cable connected to it right now from the Helix spdif out (the kind that have phone jack shaped connectors with plastic covered nubs). 

 

The TOSLINK connector is usually used to link multiple Clarett/Scarlett devices to expand the I/O. RTM!

 

55 minutes ago, Veneficuous said:

I also have two LiveWire digital 75 ohm coax cables that connect to the more conventional, round, gold-colored spdif in and out, on the back of Clarett. Should I connect Helix and Clarett using the "optical in" with optical spdif cable, or the Livewire digital spdif cable to gold colored coax spdif out? 

 

This is how you typically connect Helix - Helix SPDIF OUT to Scarlett SPDIF IN. Using this method eliminates an AD/DA conversion and frees up a pair of analog ports on your Clarett.

I've never found a good use for it, so I don't bother with the Scarlett SPDIF OUT to Helix IN cable.

 

1 hour ago, Veneficuous said:

How do I set external clock source on the Clarett? I should download the latest asio drivers for the Clarett?

 

Yes, always use the latest driver version and check often for updates.

If the Clarett is like the Scarlett there's a "Focusrite Control" application (could be called something else for Clarett) that allows you to set the I/O routing and Clock Source. Set that to INTERNAL and the Sample Rate to match the sample rate in Helix (48k is the default in Helix). RTM!

 

1 hour ago, Veneficuous said:

Where can I find drivers for the Helix.

 

When you install HX Edit all of the necessary drivers are installed. If you're using a MAC there may be something extra you need to use higher sample rates(?), but I'm not sure as I'm a PC guy. Check the DOWNLOAD area at the Line6 website.

 

1 hour ago, Veneficuous said:

Will going straight through the Helix cut out impedance, and how much does impedance effect tone. 

 

Impedance is complicated, as you must've gathered from my previous post. Your guitar pickups are designed to be plugged into a guitar amp's input. The USUAL input impedance of a guitar amp input is 1000 ohms (1mega ohm/1M). If you plug a guitar into a device with lower input impedance it "loads" the guitar's pickups in such a way as to attenuate the high frequencies. Most modern FX use 1M input impedance, but some "classic" FX such as Rangemasters and Tube Screamers (mostly ODs and Fuzzes) used a lower input impedance and the attenuated high frequencies are part of the "classic" sound of those devices. When you plug a cable from your guitar directly into the Helix there's an Auto Impedance circuit that can be set to change the Helix Input Impedance to a number of different values, or to change it based on the modeled impedance of either the first effect in your signal chain OR the first ACTIVE effect.

 

RTM!

 

AFAIK, all wireless units load the pickups at 1M except for a few that have a "cable length" option. Long cables (>15' and curly cables)) also attenuate the high frequencies, which is why BOSS FX have built-in "buffers" which restore those highs. Using all "True Bypass" FX on a large board will also attenuate the highs, and standalone buffers are available for those applications.

 

 

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