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New Helix LT User Amp Model Struggles


rbets
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Hi there.  I recently pulled the trigger on a Helix LT and have been having fun playing with effects and sounds that were just not attainable with my antique pedal board.  I'm now trying to prepare some patches for use when my band resumes rehearsals in a few weeks but I'm struggling to control the tones in what I'm hearing in my headphones.  My plan is to go entirely amp-less, so I am not using my physical amp to fill out the sound.  I'm finding that all the amp models, with the exception of the Rivet Jazz 120, are thin and either over-the-top distorted or right on the edge of break up, and the various amp EQ and gain settings don't seem to have that much effect on the sound.  I have looked at some YT tutorials, and when I try replicating their settings, sound is still too thin and crunchy.  I even tried just replicating my pedal board and amp, and I get a very unfamiliar thin sound (not to mention that the Triangle Fuzz doesn't match my Big Muff very well at all - I use it mainly the thicken up and warm up the sound a bit, but the TF is always really fuzzy).

 

Not sure if there is any real advice other than to keep working at it, but if anyone has any suggestions for a newbie on how to warm up and clean up the sounds of some of the amp models, that would be fantastic.  I know that some will say that it will sound different when running through the band's PA, but there must be a way of getting decent tone while I'm building the patches - I'd really like to be ready for the next rehearsal rather than sucking up all the practice time trying to get the tone right.

 

Thanks in advance,

Ron

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I encountered similar challenges when I started with the Helix as well.

My first advice would be to check your input level. If you feel that every amp as well as the fuzz are too hot, then lower the gain at the input stage some db.
Another thing to keep in mind is, that you don't hear an "amp in a room" through the helix. You hear a "miced up cab" through the helix. This tends to reveal more highs than we are used to from normal apps, which emphasizes existing distortion. What sounds pretty clean to us through an amp, some meters away can be quite distorted when putting a mic close to it and listening through studio or hifi'ish equipment. 

The Helix (and the modelling world in general) is not really kind of plug&play. It needs some time to get used to. Things are different and the possibilities to overcome them are overwhelming. In other words: Even yedi need to train to use the force :D

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The input level tip is a good one. Also try different cabs and mics. Some of the mics have a much more pronounced bass response, some are thinner. Moving the mic closer to the virtual speaker increases bass as well, in most cases.

 

I often roll off the highs somewhat before feeding an amp. Distorting high frequencies creates even higher frequencies, which may account for some of the fizz and thinness.

 

Bassbene is 100% right about the modelling world in general not being plug-and-play. It's more like trying to get a good guitar sound in the studio as opposed to just plugging into an amp and rockin.' But, the sounds you want are in there somewhere! You just have to find them.

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Another thing to consider is how to train your ears/mind for how sounds in your headphones will translate to PA or other reproduction systems.

 

If you already record material that may be easier as you can hear sounds you know across mediums. If not, getting a few tracks that you know inside and out that you can critically listen to on different systems to hear what sounds thin, full, or pokes out or hides (yes very technical terms) will help you understand building patches that translate. What you'll be learning is what frequencies are emphasised or suppressed - but thinking about it as how the instruments sound rather than knowing frequency ranges will help.

 

If you can find some isolated guitar tracks for songs you like (there are some on youtube) that may also help you 'get' what the Helix is doing. As far as I can tell there are no shortcuts or super easy ways to relearn what you've heard for ages coming from amps and cabs. I suspect most of us here that are happy with our Helix have gone through this transition.

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Something obvious but you don’t specifically mention it….. Make sure you are using a Cab/Mic model along with the amp model. In other words, don’t just use the Helix Preamp models. Start by using a good pair of headphones and go from there. Once the tone sounds reasonable through headphones you can move on to tweaking with a PA system.

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Thanks for the advice from all who answered. As I work with the Helix more, things have begun to settle down a little bit.  I have found that listening via monitors gives a much better feel (I guess I'm kinda hearing the "amp in the room" this way).  I have some stems for a project I'm involved with that I have been listening to (they were made in a pro studio using a Kemper), and some of what I've done is getting close.  I still feel a lot of brassiness when I start a new patch with an amp/cap, but I never considered an input pad.  I promise to be as patient as I can be :-).

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One more thing as you develop patches for live use - mono only, and remember Fletcher-Munson. When playing loud, bass and treble will be perceived as louder. This means mud and harshness, so when listening at reasonable levels in the studio, be shy about the bass and treble. They’ll get turned up anyway.

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