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Helix Pitch Shifting vs. Digitech Drop pedal.


Aged_Cheddar
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OK, so I have a question for the Helix hive mind.

 

I’m a bassist in a cover band, and we work with multiple tunings, but predominantly E standard, and then standard but everything tuned ½ step down (I’m sure there’s a name for it, like Eb Standard??)

 

Anyway, I’m looking at buying a Helix LT so I can run ampless, and have a LOT more tonal options, in this band we’re all currently running Digitech Drop pedals for the Eb stuff, but I was hoping on ditching the pedalboard entirely if the Line 6 pitch shifting is good. I’ve done enough research to know that the LT can check all of my other bass boxes.

 

Can anyone tell be how they stack up? Better yet, has anyone ditched their Drop pedal in favor of the built in Helix pitch shifter??

 

Thanks in advance!!

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I had never used the pedals in the past for pitch adjustment.  On the Helix, the Poly Capo is great.  It tracks very well, there are settings to prioritize sound quality vs. low latency.  I chose lowest latency -- for a live situation it is more than adequate.  Even with low latency, you can still feel that it's there.  Your body adjusts to it, but just worth pointing out that digital gadgets will always have latency... even digital keyboards, digital drums! 

 

My advice, if I may... if you are playing in Eb standard -- just tune to Eb standard.  It will never feel as natural with any pedal or Helix. 

 

Helix poly poly pitch shifting is great if you all of a sudden need to play a Drop-B song or something like that.  But not to play the entire set with that thing on.  You will be sacrificing the feel.  Helix already has (slight) latency due to digital signal processing, etc.  The more pitch processing you add, the more latency you get on top of that. 

 

https://youtu.be/w73gKQzN0to take a look at my video using poly pitch on guitar...

 

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On 11/26/2022 at 7:18 AM, theElevators said:

I had never used the pedals in the past for pitch adjustment.  On the Helix, the Poly Capo is great.  It tracks very well, there are settings to prioritize sound quality vs. low latency.  I chose lowest latency -- for a live situation it is more than adequate.  Even with low latency, you can still feel that it's there.  Your body adjusts to it, but just worth pointing out that digital gadgets will always have latency... even digital keyboards, digital drums! 

 

My advice, if I may... if you are playing in Eb standard -- just tune to Eb standard.  It will never feel as natural with any pedal or Helix. 

 

Helix poly poly pitch shifting is great if you all of a sudden need to play a Drop-B song or something like that.  But not to play the entire set with that thing on.  You will be sacrificing the feel.  Helix already has (slight) latency due to digital signal processing, etc.  The more pitch processing you add, the more latency you get on top of that. 

 

https://youtu.be/w73gKQzN0to take a look at my video using poly pitch on guitar...

 

 

Yeah the latency is an issue, but it's there with the Digitech pedal too, you can't get around it, like you said, it comes with the territory. You and I (and pretty much any other musician) can probably hear it, but I doubt the crowd even notices.

 

We don't really play entire sets in one tuning, we'll play a few in E standard, then one or two in drop D (thank you Hipshot Xtender), then we'll play some in E standard again, then go to Eb standard etc...We're all over the place, so swapping guitars isn't really practical for keeping the crowd going. The Drop pedals we use really do keep the show momentum going, and I'm hoping I can accomplish it with the LT, because being able to ditch the whole board in favor of one completely self contained "do it all" solution would be HUGE for me...Walking into a gig with a dual bass gigbag, and a Helix backpack would be a DREAM.

 

I'll have to check your video out after work, I just found out my company blocks YT, so I can't load it here....

 

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What theElevators said. The only thing I'd add is that the poly block does require a fair amount of CPU, although somehow I don't picture you wanting to add 40 effects to your bass :) However, there are plenty of workarounds to stretch the CPU, especially with the new cabs.

 

I think Helix is perhaps underrated for bass. I use it a LOT and there are some effects that are amazing, like doing synthesizer-type slides with a pedal.

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My own experience with the Poly Capo is that it's perfectly usable, especially for a -1 shift. I've used it at -5 (Korn) and while there is latency and artifacts, it beats bringing a whole other guitar to a gig for one song. I don't have any experience with the Drop, other than that the other guitarist in the band used one and it wasn't obvious to either of us that either was better. 

 

@SaschaFranck can offer an opposing view of the Poly Capo. He says the latency and artifacts make it unusable, which is a valid position because every player is different. I don't know what he uses for his pitch shifting needs. 

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On 11/26/2022 at 10:07 AM, craiganderton said:

What theElevators said. The only thing I'd add is that the poly block does require a fair amount of CPU, although somehow I don't picture you wanting to add 40 effects to your bass :) However, there are plenty of workarounds to stretch the CPU, especially with the new cabs.

 

I think Helix is perhaps underrated for bass. I use it a LOT and there are some effects that are amazing, like doing synthesizer-type slides with a pedal.

 

Yeah my bass isn't super effects laden usually, I'll probably be using an amp & cab, several flavors of drive, a comp, a chorus, a phase, a pitch shifter (hopefully), and probably some kind of octave....Obviously not all at once, those mentioned effects are the ones I typically use for our setlist across all the songs...I have to assume the DSP is robust enough.

 

Ultimately I'm hoping I can use all of the above along with some kind of split output...if you can picture a string of effects before the amp/cab block, then right at the amp/cab block split the output, so all the effects go through the amp/cab, but also out of the other path.

 

Basically so I could send the signal with effects & amp/cab to FOH via the XLR, and then send a signal with effects only to my stage amp...in the event I ever need one, which I'm hoping I won't.

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Also, a thing happened today...I brought home a new Helix LT!

 

With the Guitar Center 15% off sale, combined with a forgotten gift card from last Christmas, I managed to get this well under a grand...Pretty stoked...Also pretty overwhelmed by how much this thing can actually do, I'm currently suffering from options paralysis...

 

 

 

 

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@Aged_Cheddar Be sure to download and install the latest Line 6 HX Edit 3.50 on your computer. Then, connect your Helix. HX Edit will handle installation of the Firmware 3.50 to your Helix. Follow all the instructions precisely! And, be sure to do the Power On Factory Reset after the firmware is installed! Even if GC may have done the firmware install to your device, you should do the process yourself, to be certain that it is done completely and that the Firmware version 3.50 Factory Presets are installed. One of the new FX in 3.50 is the Boctover, based on the BOSS BC-2.

 

Also, if you were not otherwise aware, Line 6 started running a promotion yesterday which entitles you to a free bundle of Helix Native, Cubase LE12, and the Line 6 Metallurgy plugins. All the information is on the Line 6 website. 

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On 11/26/2022 at 9:55 PM, MusicLaw said:

@Aged_Cheddar Be sure to download and install the latest Line 6 HX Edit 3.50 on your computer. Then, connect your Helix. HX Edit will handle installation of the Firmware 3.50 to your Helix. Follow all the instructions precisely! And, be sure to do the Power On Factory Reset after the firmware is installed! Even if GC may have done the firmware install to your device, you should do the process yourself, to be certain that it is done completely and that the Firmware version 3.50 Factory Presets are installed. One of the new FX in 3.50 is the Boctover, based on the BOSS BC-2.

 

Also, if you were not otherwise aware, Line 6 started running a promotion yesterday which entitles you to a free bundle of Helix Native, Cubase LE12, and the Line 6 Metallurgy plugins. All the information is on the Line 6 website. 

 

Yeah I updated it right away, I had been pretty slow at work today, so I plenty of time to read about it LOL!

 

However I thought that promo was only for Sweetwater, I'll have to go look into it!

 

I don't need Cubase (I run Studio One), but the other stuff looks really interesting, especially Native...

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Well,

 

I can confirm, IMHO the Poly Capo isn't quite as good as the Digitech Drop, and I'm only using them to drop 1/2 step, never lower...And I'm using them with bass, so that's even more of a tall order.

 

I was REALLY hoping to ditch the Pedaltrain and just have the Helix LT (with the backpack) at gigs, and now I find myself with a Pedaltrain JRMax in the cart so I have room for both the LT & Drop on the board (current board isn't large enough for both).

 

I'm not bummed about the Helix LT, quite the contrary actually, this unit is amazing, and if the only shortcoming I have is the Poly Capo, I got nothing to complain about.

 

Now to sort out how to mount the LT, I don't want to remove the feet, so I need to find a creative solution....Google search didn't really net much.

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And, I'm guessing you tried experimenting with the various parameters, like the X-fast is what I use.  What exactly is the issue with the Helix's poly capo in your opinion? 

 

Just for fun, try other transposition blocks.  Before 3.00, I used Pitch Wham and it was decent enough to transpose my guitar into D standard.  Try out every single transposition thing that the Helix has and play around with parameters -- they can make a huge difference. 

 

Also, where in the chain do you keep it?  Try in the beginning, and maybe even at the end of your chain (after the amp block).  In my experience, Helix transposition is very accurate, so much so that I use a 3-voice harmonizer that I place after distortion/amp/cab. 

 

Try adding a compressor beforehand, etc... let us know!

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On 11/29/2022 at 6:55 AM, theElevators said:

And, I'm guessing you tried experimenting with the various parameters, like the X-fast is what I use.  What exactly is the issue with the Helix's poly capo in your opinion? 

 

Just for fun, try other transposition blocks.  Before 3.00, I used Pitch Wham and it was decent enough to transpose my guitar into D standard.  Try out every single transposition thing that the Helix has and play around with parameters -- they can make a huge difference. 

 

Also, where in the chain do you keep it?  Try in the beginning, and maybe even at the end of your chain (after the amp block).  In my experience, Helix transposition is very accurate, so much so that I use a 3-voice harmonizer that I place after distortion/amp/cab. 

 

Try adding a compressor beforehand, etc... let us know!

 

Currently it's the first effect in the chain, I used the same mentality that I used with the Digitech, I figured first was going to be the "cleanest/purest" signal I could feed it.

 

I did mess around with some of the parameters, I think I found the best usable tone with it set to "Fast".

 

For me, the biggest issue is the note tracking, and some overall muddiness added to the tone, neither are as obvious with the Drop.

 

Now, full disclosure, I could attribute some of this to a "less than clean playing technique", if I play slow deliberate notes, it's tracks fine, but if there are passages where I need to pick up the pace a bit, it falls short...In these cases the Drop is the clear winner, hands down.

 

I'm playing finger style, with a P-bass w/Flatwounds, volume & tone dimed. Despite the use of flatwounds, I would describe my tone as bright & clear.

 

The thing is, if I grab my Strat and play, the Poly Capo is perfect, every bit as good as the Drop...So it seems (to me) that the Poly Capo struggles a little with the low strings of a bass?

 

I'm certainly not giving up, I'm going to try Poly Shift tonight and see what I come up with.

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I've heard people say the Helix one is inferior. I couldn't hear a weakness and as soon as it came out I bailed on the physical pedal. Obviously the one blatant and objective weakness is if you are running out of DSP. As a full floor user who probably could survive on a stomp, for me, that's never an issue. Other people have different experiences. 

 

I always encourage people to use what they like, so if it just isn't working for you, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Still, I'd strongly encourage anyone to hang with it because it's probably just a tweak somewhere you're not doing. The below videos matched my own experience. The first one is about bass which relates to your usage. 

 

 

 

 

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On 11/28/2022 at 7:23 PM, Aged_Cheddar said:

Now to sort out how to mount the LT, I don't want to remove the feet, so I need to find a creative solution....Google search didn't really net much.

 

I had mounted my Helix Floor to a flat board with the feet still on it using Dual Lock and it held great. Never had an accidental release. I got a roll of it from Amazon but this set would probably do the trick. I think I used 6 1.5-2 inch pads and it held great. 

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On 11/29/2022 at 7:55 AM, theElevators said:

And, I'm guessing you tried experimenting with the various parameters, like the X-fast is what I use.  What exactly is the issue with the Helix's poly capo in your opinion? 

 

Just for fun, try other transposition blocks.  Before 3.00, I used Pitch Wham and it was decent enough to transpose my guitar into D standard.  Try out every single transposition thing that the Helix has and play around with parameters -- they can make a huge difference. 

 

Also, where in the chain do you keep it?  Try in the beginning, and maybe even at the end of your chain (after the amp block).  In my experience, Helix transposition is very accurate, so much so that I use a 3-voice harmonizer that I place after distortion/amp/cab. 

 

Try adding a compressor beforehand, etc... let us know!

 

Good advice regarding working the parameters! Various reviews seem to demonstrate the Helix pitch blocks are excellent. I tend to use them infrequently. The question is, does this apply to bass as well as guitar? Are you using this with bass as @Aged_Cheddaris? Tracking for lower frequency notes has historically been more prone to latency or glitching for almost any transposition or synthesis effect, on any device, as the lower notes have a "slower" waveform. Maybe there is also more potential for glitching as there is lots of room for harmonics over the fundamental. 

 

 

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