Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Jump to content

Helix - Great at home - not great at Band Practice


barnsleyboy
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi All,

 

I have a mate who has just joined the Helix club. He is only a week into ownership, but is having trouble using the unit for band practice. I think it's quite a common problem that patches built at home sound great when the volume is relatively low but don't necessarily translate when the volume is higher when you are playing with the rest of the band. He is playing through a Marshall power amp and a cab with PA speakers in both situations, so "relatively" FRFR. Are there any easy tweaks that will get him closer to what he has dialled in at home? Could it be just a case of global settings, or is it that the mix should be turned down on certain effects? or is it that in louder settings he should go for less gain?

 

I feel bad because I have raved on about my Helix and how great it is, and I want him to really get the most out of his.

 

Any help or advise would be much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

pull up a comfy chair and hang on!   this site has what you need, but you have to dig for it.  There is so much that could be going on.  Type of guitar, type of helix/floor/stomp (that really doesn't matter), type of music, volume.  Yes, you are correct that the lower volume patches will be different.  Its the Fletcher Munson (spelling ?) effect.  Bass and highs will get boosted more than mids when the volume is louder. (or something like that, there are very smart people on here that can help).

 

it could be your effects (reverbs,delays) are washing out his tone.  could be he just needs to drop the gain some (you don't need as much as you think), drop the lows and highs (either on the amp and/or high/low cuts on the amp or an eq block at the end of the chain).  

 

Jason Sadites has a ton of explanations and is very good at explaining the why of things... maybe too much sometimes, but I like it.  Also John Nathan Cordy and Steve Sterlacci.  all good stuff there.

 

Hope he sticks with it.  I and others have spent many hours (mostly enjoyable) tweaking things in the helix and have gotten pretty awesome results.

 

Good luck

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This problem is not only about Helix.  People all over are having the same problem whether they use a Helix or not, whether they use amps or FRFRs, whether they use pedals or multi effect units.  It has become a very common problem.  It's because "bedroom" level paying has become so popular.  Nobody wants big loud amps anymore but then they get an opportunity to play "out" and  they can't understand why they don't sound great.

 

Here are two very simple rules.  They should never be broken for any reason.

 

First rule.  Bedroom level playing is for personal practice time only, never for tweaking stage tones.  Stage tones must always be created and adjusted at or very near full gig volume levels.  You do not adjust or tweak your stage tones at bedroom levels. Ever.

 

The second rule is similar.  If you are practicing for an upcoming gig, open mic or any other sort of "performance", you practice at gig level, never at apartment level or bedroom level.  Ever.

 

Strict adherence to those two rules will prevent future stage-tone problems.

You're welcome.

  • Upvote 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The above all apply. Another thing to consider is starting with one or two basic patches that he tweaks at practice. Yes it will bore the pants off everyone, but:

 

  • they will be heard in context (ie with the band) which makes a huge difference
  • they'll be heard at volume in using the play back system to be used live
  • he will be able to save the new versions seperately and compare what sounded good at home with what sounded good with the band and get better at building patches

Ultimately they have to sound good with the band, not stand alone and thats very different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the future, he should create a handful of patches at band volume through the equipment used for band playing. You can then compare them at home and draw your conclusions when designing more patches at home.

For a quick remedy, he might want to try the Global EQ and a relatively broad mid boost with a center frequency somewhere between, say, 700Hz and 1kHz. Just set it up and fool around with it while playing (as much as possible at least). In addition, it's always a pretty good idea to have the low and high cuts in reach, to tame excessive boom and shrillness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So it sounds like you use a Helix as well. Perhaps he should use and do what you are doing. The main thing, as has been mentioned, is to create patches at 80dB. I don't know exactly what PA speakers are but if he's creating the patches in his bedroom with the same setup, I'm pretty sure the speakers will also respond differently when pushed from bedroom levels to band levels. He may want to consider trying another FRFR that may be work better to do this kind of thing. I think the 8008 was made for dedicated guitar preamps and an actual guitar cab, not to be used as a PA. Not that it can't. It's just not designed for that as I recall. As is the Marshall cab as well. Even with "PA speakers" it will still affect the sound since it's made for guitars and not for accurately reproducing sound. Is he using the virtual cabs with his Helix? Perhaps try turning them off. I have even just kind of whipped through cabs quickly as kind of an EQ buffet. Sometimes I get surprised at what comes out. Have you guys tried his Helix through whatever rig you play your Helix through?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your friend seems to be under the impression that the buttons on his Helix somehow magically know when they're in a studio and cease to work inside the rehearsal room boundary. This is not the case. The buttons still work in the studio and they should be tweaked at the studio while playing to optimise the sound for that particular live environment.

Even before the days of amp-modelling, it would have been insane to set up an amplifier at home and then drag it into a studio and expect it to sound great in a band context. For 99% of band rehearsals ever, you walk into a room with an amp you've never seen or played with before, you turn it on, plug in, start jamming, and fiddle the knobs until you get a tone that can actually be heard above drums and bass. If you kicked on a delay pedal and you realised your sound disappeared in the middle of a solo, you'd quickly dive to the floor and, while playing, adjust the delay settings so your sound came back. 

Rehearsing isn't just about playing the right notes and getting tight as a band, it's also rehearsing your SOUND and coming up with a sound that actually works as a live band. And even then, it will have to be tweaked again by the band and/or most likely the sound tech at any live gigs, because what works in the rehearsal room might not work from one venue to the next.

So, in short, my advice to your friend is to treat the Helix the way he would an amp in the room. Go in with a preset that has all the amp settings dialled at noon, and have him craft the amp tone while playing with the band. There is a reason the Helix has those 6 little knobs under the screen and a big button that takes you straight to the essential amp settings. This is the reason. He can probably keep all his FX and stomp boxes at similar settings that he uses at home, but he may have to dive to the floor and adjust the mix % or output level on a particular effect if it's too much in the live context, particularly for reverbs or delays. Or he can plan ahead and assign the mix % to a pedal so he can adjust it on the fly and land on the setting that works best in context.

All sound is relative to the environment it's played in, and therefore this entire philosophy among modern digital guitarists that you can set and forget a guitar sound is utter bunk. Playing guitar is just not a set-and-forget type of activity. The knobs on your amp and your fx should be dynamic.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/27/2023 at 6:44 PM, PaulTBaker said:

yes, thanks to this forum and many smart people like yourself.  Found out several years ago.  Used to use an EQ block to get close.  Not perfect of course.  However, I'm getting to the point now where you can kind of understand what will happen at the different levels.

The idea is not to use an EQ to get closer to the curve. The idea is that you craft the sound at 80 dBSPL at your years because that's where the curve tells us we get the flattest subjective experience of the harmonic information. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/28/2023 at 1:58 AM, gsmanon said:

The idea is that you craft the sound at 80 dBSPL at your years because that's where the curve tells us we get the flattest subjective experience of the harmonic information. 

 

And then you would still have to use corrective EQ should you play louder (very likely to happen in a band context).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try 90 to 95 dB instead of 80.

 

80 db is the occupational exposure limit for an 8 hour work day.

In other words 80 db for 8 hours a day, every day is not loud enough to be considered harmful to your health according to OH&S, OSHA or whatever it's called where you live.

You do not need hearing protection if exposed to 80 dB for 8 hours every day.

It used to be 85 but they changed it a couple of years ago.

 

Now think about playing in a band for 8 hours every day and what that might do to your hearing.

90 to 95 is closer to what you might find yourself in.  Give or take.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/28/2023 at 2:31 AM, MGW-Alberta said:

Try 90 to 95 dB instead of 80.

 

80 db is the occupational exposure limit for an 8 hour work day.

In other words 80 db for 8 hours a day, every day is not loud enough to be considered harmful to your health according to OH&S, OSHA or whatever it's called where you live.

You do not need hearing protection if exposed to 80 dB for 8 hours every day.

It used to be 85 but they changed it a couple of years ago.

 

Now think about playing in a band for 8 hours every day and what that might do to your hearing.

90 to 95 is closer to what you might find yourself in.  Give or take.

 

There is not much difference in the curves between 80 dB and 90 dB, so there's no real benefit going to 90-95 dB, so might as well save your hearing. Plus by the time we start comparing the 80 dB and 90 dB curves, the effect of variance from person to person becomes more significant anyway. Suffice to say, once you're in the ballpark of 80 dBA, you're probably hearing loud enough to judge frequencies with the least amount of psychoacoustic colouration. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/27/2023 at 3:44 PM, gsmanon said:

Your friend seems to be under the impression that the buttons on his Helix somehow magically know when they're in a studio and cease to work inside the rehearsal room boundary. This is not the case. The buttons still work in the studio and they should be tweaked at the studio while playing to optimise the sound for that particular live environment.

 

I don't think anybody is naive enough to think that you can just take a home patch, turn it up and get the exact sound you want at rehearsal volume. The essence of the post is that faced with a myriad of parameters to play around with are there any quick and easy things to look out for and adjust to get the sound closer to where he needs to be? I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've read that you need to tweak the sound when you play at higher volumes, but what do you tweak? is it EQ? Reducing reverb mix? Less drive? etc. My go to patch has all sorts of stuff going on with it to get the sort of post-punk noise that I like. If I were to take it out to practice/ performance levels, I really wouldn't know where to start. I'm guessing that I would probably begin with the straight amp sound and add effects in one at a time.

 

With a conventional tube amp the tweakable parameters are a lot simpler. Helix is a powerful and versatile unit which brings with it a lot more complexity in fine tuning the sound. The responses here have been a good starter for ten, so many thanks to you all for taking the time to reply. The Sadites videos have been a big help. I think it's a case of him spending time getting to know the Helix. He'll get there in the end!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thing is, there's way more of a difference between home and live/band setups but just to defeat Fletcher Munson.

As said before, mids are your friend. They help you to stand out without raising volume. And at the same time, as you will likely lower the overall output when boosting some mids, this will help with Fletcher Munson as you're essentially reducing low and top end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/29/2023 at 10:45 AM, barnsleyboy said:

I don't think anybody is naive enough to think that you can just take a home patch, turn it up and get the exact sound you want at rehearsal volume. The essence of the post is that faced with a myriad of parameters to play around with are there any quick and easy things to look out for and adjust to get the sound closer to where he needs to be? I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've read that you need to tweak the sound when you play at higher volumes, but what do you tweak? is it EQ? Reducing reverb mix? Less drive? etc. My go to patch has all sorts of stuff going on with it to get the sort of post-punk noise that I like. If I were to take it out to practice/ performance levels, I really wouldn't know where to start. I'm guessing that I would probably begin with the straight amp sound and add effects in one at a time.

 

With a conventional tube amp the tweakable parameters are a lot simpler. Helix is a powerful and versatile unit which brings with it a lot more complexity in fine tuning the sound. The responses here have been a good starter for ten, so many thanks to you all for taking the time to reply. The Sadites videos have been a big help. I think it's a case of him spending time getting to know the Helix. He'll get there in the end!!

 

Unfortunately, many people are that naive, especially in the modern amp-modelling world. We have thousands of YouTube videos of people getting great tones and sharing their settings, with viewers studying them closely and copying them on their own units, we've got Line 6 Custom Tone where people upload patches claiming to sound like x, y, z, and we have a guitar-gear industry in general that's constantly promising people that if they buy product A and follow tutorial B they can sound like artist C, etc, so you can forgive people for thinking that you can take a set-and-forget approach to guitar tone and that the holy grail of guitar tone is all about the precise values of your Helix parameters. 

 

The Helix is an amp modeler, so all the settings that you would tweak on the real tube amp are replicated in the Helix, and those are the main ones to focus on. As I said earlier, there's a reason Line 6 added a button that takes you directly to the amp settings and they placed that button right next to the home button - because, as with real amps, those are the settings you most likely want to tweak. I would encourage all Helix users to approach the Helix in a similar way you would a real amp+pedalboard setup, and try not to get too side-tracked with all the extra functionality that the Helix can offer. 

 

The one thing that Helix offers over the real world that I maybe WOULD tweak is the cab selection. Any given guitar tone is probably at least 80% down to the cab, with the amp itself having much less importance, so if my tone really sucked in rehearsal, I might first try scanning through cabs to see if there's something that just sounds better. 

If tweaking just those doesn't get you were you need to be tonally, then I'd be throwing an EQ in after the cab and tweaking that. Probably something like the 5-band EQ or the 10-band EQ, since it's simple enough to adjust on the fly, but also highly effective (I also like the Cali IV amps which have the 5-band EQ built into the amp settings). But I'd also be aware that having a tone-shaping EQ in your chain is quite rare in the analogue world, so I wouldn't get too down in the weeds over the EQ and would prefer to do without it if I can get close enough with just the amp settings.

 

And then apart from that, I'd just be keeping my ear out for any FX which have a negative effect on tone and tweaking the mix/level on those effects if they are too much.



 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/29/2023 at 10:45 AM, barnsleyboy said:

I don't think anybody is naive enough to think that you can just take a home patch, turn it up and get the exact sound you want at rehearsal volume. The essence of the post is that faced with a myriad of parameters to play around with are there any quick and easy things to look out for and adjust to get the sound closer to where he needs to be? I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've read that you need to tweak the sound when you play at higher volumes, but what do you tweak? is it EQ? Reducing reverb mix? Less drive? etc. My go to patch has all sorts of stuff going on with it to get the sort of post-punk noise that I like. If I were to take it out to practice/ performance levels, I really wouldn't know where to start. I'm guessing that I would probably begin with the straight amp sound and add effects in one at a time.

 

With a conventional tube amp the tweakable parameters are a lot simpler. Helix is a powerful and versatile unit which brings with it a lot more complexity in fine tuning the sound. The responses here have been a good starter for ten, so many thanks to you all for taking the time to reply. The Sadites videos have been a big help. I think it's a case of him spending time getting to know the Helix. He'll get there in the end!!

Don't worry, you always get the obligatory sarcastic reply from someone. Most people just want to try and help. So the solution to your issue is for him to duplicate his bedroom presets and save a copy for live playing so he has two set lists basically, one for each scenario. The live presets just need to be re edited at live volume level in your rehearsal place. That should just be a case of re editing the amp and cab settings for that environment. 

 

I do find with my Helix Floor that I need to have a copy of my presets not only for volume differences but also for different guitars. Basically any time you change one of the factors, be it guitar, environment, volume, you need to edit the preset. I don't use the global eq for that, I much prefer a nicely dialled preset copy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just add an EQ block for that and assign it to a foot-switch.  The block is set up to add a little bit of volume, thicken up the low mids, and trim a little off the high end.  I rename the scribble strip assigned to the block so I know what it's for.  I used t call it "Single Coil" but now I call it "Ric EQ".  I engage it when I switch from humbuckers to my Ric with singles.  It takes that dramatic difference and pretty much cuts it in half.  Half is fine by me.  I switched guitars for a reason.  I still want to hear some difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...