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Helix MIDI Playback (block)


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Just posted this in IdeaScale, vote it up if you too find it useful ☺️



I believe this has the potential of being a true differentiator and massive value add for the Line 6 Helix. It could conceivably be implemented 100% via software using current Helix hardware, notwithstanding a massive assumption on the unit's memory capacity. But since the MIDI files for most use cases would be pretty small, I'm hoping it wouldn't be too much of an issue with the current hardware version.


I would like to see functionality in the Helix that is somewhat analogous to the Looper block, but that would playback MIDI data (PC, CC, note on/off, etc) instead.


This could be a "global block" like the Global EQ, or perhaps a per patch block (exact UX TBD). MIDI data would be uploaded into the Helix internal memory in the form of MIDI tracks and WAV files, much like we upload IRs. One or more of these tracks could be associated with patch or global MIDI Player block (UX TBD), and the data could be routed then into the Helix itself, or to external devices via MIDI ports or USB.


The ultimate goal here would be for the Helix to become the "orchestrator" of itself and various other devices (saving me from bringing to stage a laptop, or synth with MIDI playback functionality or a standalone device like Cymatic Audio LP-16; Cymatic Audio uTrack24 (total overkill); idoru live; AMT EgoGig EG-4 does some of it; iConnectivity PlayAudio (tho not sure it's standalone); M-Live B.Beat; AKAI MPC; etc...


A few use cases:


  • Countdown/Metronome/Tempo Map: This is one of the simplest uses. Paired with an internal click generator and perhaps even some WAV files, we could route the metronome audio output to the Headphone output or any other relevant channel for an in-ear monitoring solution, for example. This would also allow for complex tempo maps and even a "countdown" (variation of the metronome). Memory permitting, it could trigger even samples for a full percussion track.
  • Trigger WAV files: Likewise, we could use it to trigger WAV files (e.g. sound FX) to a tempo map - judging by the Looper capabilities, memory is prolly too limited for reasonable backing tracks
  • Internal MIDI automation: Avoid the switch tap dance by triggering block parameter, snapshot or even patch changes; a fade out timed to the metronome (think the end of Epic by Faith No More); or any other time modulation for that matter
  • Trigger external lights and other stage FX: self-explanatory
  • MIDI sync across devices: other devices could slave to the Helix MTC and also receive MIDI data; particularly useful when hooking up the MIDI out with something like a CME WIDI device.


Many keyboard players are well used to type of functionality, and as guitar are ever more comfortable with MIDI capabilities, this could be a game changer and money saver for a number of us.







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I personally think this is well outside the range of what Helix as a product and Line 6 as a company do.  There are any number of external devices that specialize in such things and they specialize for many reasons.  One of which is having access to virtual instrument libraries which is a considerable task and an essential part of augmenting live performances with additional instruments or synths.  The band I'm with has been doing this sort of thing for 3 years now and Helix (as a guitar processing unit) fits nicely into that situation and is greatly simplified by being under programmatic control of that system.  But when I originally began trying to develop the abilities using the Helix as the centerpiece it fell way short of what was necessary to be competitive so I moved on to more specialized setups from companies that are built to address that kind of stuff.  I do use the iConnectivity PlayAudio12 device for track routing and MIDI routing and realtime failover which is spectacularly useful, but well outside the range of what the Helix was built to do.


Keyboard players with high end workstations can certainly do such things these days, but there's a reason they're three times the price of the top Helix unit.  There are other units made for this sort of thing that are finger pad triggered such as Native Instruments Maschine and others if you want to have a dedicated person on stage triggering things but they don't have keyboard skills.

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Helix can only handle "passive" MIDI actions (that wont require internal MIDI/WAV data storage), that are already available via commands.


What you are asking would require lot of extra memory (both non-volatile and volatile) that unfortunately isnt there.

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This has been brought up before. I don't think it will happen. The Helix is an amp simulator that has a simplified looper in it. It's not a looper trying to be an amp FX simulator. The memory is mainly there for the amps and FX and not for a looper. I personally think I would rather buy my own looper that has exactly what I wanted instead of Line 6 making something that probably will not make all the looper people happy. It's easily patched into a SEND/RETURN. There's always hope, but I wouldn't count on it to happen in the near future at the very least.

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Helix is a guitar amp and FX modeler, one of (if not THE) best.

It also has limited capabilities as a MIDI floor controller.

It is NOT a Swiss Army Knife.

Between this sort of thing and the looper fanatics, there are too many users who want to make it a Swiss Army Knife.

I'm NOT one of them.

I am opposed to using Helix resources for anything other than making it better at its intended purpose, the best guitar amp sim and FX modeler.

Maybe small enhancements to its MIDI capabilities, but not at the cost of consuming major HW resources, support and developer time.

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On 5/24/2023 at 8:25 AM, LesSand said:

saving me from bringing to stage a laptop, or synth with MIDI playback functionality or a standalone device


Yeah, well that says it all really.


The Helix is not, and cannot be all things to all men, but it is extremely good at what it does, plus it has some basic MIDI functions but that's it. 


If you want a fancy looper or MIDI player then you're looking in the wrong place - what you are speculating about just isn't going to happen. This is in the same category of "why is there no onboard drum machine in Helix?" - it's not what it was designed for and there are far too many options already available. Line 6 don't need to reinvent the wheel.


"...this could be a game changer and money saver for a number of us."  - Yeah, right!


Guess you're going to be stuck with the laptop and synth option, so put your hand in your pocket and buy another solution.

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