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Line 6 Helix Multieffects

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A Multiband Processing “Test Bed”

 

I’ve had a chance to dig deeper into Helix lately, and have been paying special attention to multiband processing. I don’t have time to do an audio example tonight, but wanted to at least share the setup I’ve been using to experiment with multiband processing. My goal is to create a selection of presets tailored specifically to Les Pauls and humbucker pickups.

 

The guitar splits into four bands, arranged as two groups of two bands. There’s an LA Studio Comp at the beginning of each group of two because, well, I like it and it evens out the dynamics somewhat.

 

KkReFBu.png

 

The graphic EQs are the key to splitting the signal into four bands. The four bands are:

  • Low band: 31.25 Hz, 62.5 Hz, 125 Hz bands all the way up, the rest all the way down
  • Low mid band: 250 Hz and 500 Hz bands all the way up, the rest all the way down
  • High mid band1 kHz and 4 kHz bands all the way up, the rest all the way down
  • High band: 4 kHz, 8 kHz, 16 kHz all the way up, the rest all the way down

The four amps are all Line 6 Epic amps, with some tweaks. For example the low band amp has the treble pulled back a bit. They all have more drive than the default, because the filtering is feeding in less signal than usual.

 

After the amps are four Gain sections. These are mostly for isolating the individual channels during the tweaking process, e.g., turning up the low band, turning down all the others, and adjusting the low band amp.

 

A Pan stage follows each Gain stage to do some tasty stereo imaging. Also, note the Delays added to the midrange bands...they’re not essential, of course, but they add some “beef” because they’re not delaying the lows (which can get muddy) or highs, which can “step on” other instruments.

 

This setup is a sweet “lab” for creating multiband setups. It does use quite a bit of processing power, so you won’t be able to add any luscious reverbs. But overall, this makes it easy to switch out amps and hear the results. The definition and articulation is really quite something compared to going into a single amp.

 

And by the way, yes...the Editor really is great.

 

Edited by Anderton

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Helix 2.0 Software!!

 

 

Helix 2.0 along with the latest Helix edit software can be downloaded here - http://line6.com/software/index.html .

 

Here's a list of new Amps & FX for 2.0. Along with some feature highlights…most notably is “Snapshots”, a new mode that allows a new level of control within pre-sets. A more comprehensive overview of Helix 2.0 can be found here - http://line6.com/support/topic/18284...-firmware-112/

 

New Amp Models

  • Cali IV Rhythm 1, based on* the Rhythm I channel of the MESA/Boogie® Mk IV
  • Cali IV Rhythm 2, based on* the Rhythm II channel of the MESA/Boogie® Mk IV
  • Cali IV Lead, based on* the Lead channel of the MESA/Boogie® Mk IV
  • Line 6 2204 Mod, Line 6 Original based on* a hot-rodded Marshall® JCM 800
  • Line 6 Fatality, Line 6 Original based on* THALL

New Effects Models

  • Distortion > Wringer Fuzz (Mono, Stereo), based on* Garbage’s special BOSS® FZ-2
  • EQ > Cali Q Graphic (Mono, Stereo), based on* the MESA/Boogie® Mk IV’s 5-band EQ
  • Modulation > Harmonic Tremolo (Mono, Stereo), Line 6 Original
  • Delay > Vintage Digital (Mono, Stereo), Line 6 Original

New Feature Highlights

  • Snapshots—Select one of eight snapshots to instantly recall all block on/off states, up to 64 parameter values, certain Command Center values, and tempo. Any Delay, Reverb, or FX Loop block with its Trails parameter turned on will spill across snapshots seamlessly.
  • Global Settings > Footswitches > Preset Mode Switches—You can now determine whether each row in Preset footswitch mode (upper or lower) selects Presets, Snapshots, or Stomps. The default setting remains the same, but is now called “8 Presets”
  • Controllers to Variax Parameters—Controllers (including Snapshots) can now control/recall Variax parameters, so you can do cool stuff like toggle between two guitar models with a footswitch, control Variax’s tone knob with an expression pedal, assign a momentary footswitch to drop D, recall completely different tunings with each snapshot, and more. There’s nothing special to do; just assign a controller to Variax parameters like you would any other parameter
  • Per Preset Guitar In Impedance—Global Settings > Ins/Outs > Guitar In Impedance has been moved to the Input > Multi and Input > Guitar In block and is now recalled per preset. It appears at Knob 4 as “Guitar In-Z.” Now that it’s on the Home page, you can assign a footswitch or snapshot to it and determine how your guitar’s pickups are loaded in real time. The default has been changed to “Auto.”
  • Enhanced Tuner Display—The tuner display now shows an additional –3-cent to +3-cent row of bars, providing more granularity when the note played is close to being in tune. Accuracy remains the same

Edited by Anderton

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Okay...finally have the studio in workable shape at my new place, and did the update.

 

It's getting to the point these days where I'm always reluctant to update because it can be time-consuming...logging in, restarting, downloading, etc. Start to finish on the Helix was about 45 minutes, but that's because I followed the instructions VERY carefully.

 

I must say that Line 6 is really on a roll. The update instructions are both clear and specific. The only possible point of confusion someone might encounter is that on the download page, the firmware update is higher on the list than the new Helix Editor, but you have to install the new Helix Editor before updating the firmware.

 

Also remember that when you're updating firmware, any interruption in the process has the potential to cause problems. This is just one of the many reasons I recommend putting your computer on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), and plugging Helix into it so if the power goes out, the update can continue. If your UPS can't handle both, then plug the Helix into the UPS, and use a laptop (with a fully charged battery) to do the updating.

 

Anyway, after the updating was done it was time to get ready for bed, so I haven't checked out the new features yet...that's next. Stay tuned!

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First, a point of order: As you may have noticed, posts in this thread come in batches, as often influenced by travel schedules. If you subscribe to the thread, you'll be notified when there are new posts. And now...

 

Snapshots: Yeah, Baby!!

 

You can summarize this feature as "variations on a theme (preset)," and it's very useful. But first, let's look at the main limitation: It can't really change the structure of a preset, e.g., a snapshot can't have a different roster of processors than another snapshot. What you can have is different control settings (up to 64), and bypass/enable effects. So for example, you can't change a flanger to reverb, but if the preset has both flanger and reverb processors, you can enable one and bypass the other.

 

Because you're working within a single preset, you don't get a "gap" when switching snapshots as can happen when switching presets (the gap occurs because a lot of stuff has to be "flushed" and then re-loaded). Another advantage is you may not have to create different presets to use in a single song. For example, you can bring down an amp's drive parameter, turn off delay, and alter EQ to change from a lead sound snapshot to a rhythm sound snapshot. I've also found turning amps on and off in multiband presets can do all kinds of cool stuff.

 

In terms of altering parameter values, you can think of each preset as having a "master snapshot controller" that keeps track of which of 64 potential parameters are being altered from one snapshot to another. This is because if you change a parameter value in any snapshot, the parameter value turns white and is enclosed in brackets. This change in "look" occurs in all snapshots, so you can see which parameters are subject to being altered as you switch from one preset to another. Note this does not mean the parameter will be altered in all snapshots if you alter it in one, it's just a handy way of seeing at a glance which parameters are under the "master snapshot controller."

 

Bottom line: The Snapshot feature is really useful, and further supports my contention that Helix isn't just a processor, it's a platform. Next up: let's check out the new amps.

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More Multiband Fun

 

I've been playing quite a bit with the multiband template in Post #63, and come up with a new template that doesn’t require quite as much CPU power as that one, so it’s more likely you can add other effects before maxing out the DSP. Remember that components like amps and cabinets suck up a lot more DSP power than components like panners and delays, and some amps are so greedy you may not be able to put an amp in each of the four signal paths. We're really pushing Helix with this kind of thing...then again, guitarists have always pushed their amps...right? :)

 

The top two parallel paths are the low and high bands. Because I panned these to center, putting them in the same parallel patch meant eliminating two panpots. However they don’t seem to draw much power, so go ahead and keep them if you want independent panning controls over the four lines.

 

cJQhQL7.jpg

 

Also, there wasn’t much difference if there was one cab for both amps (the amp is the component that benefits the most from dividing the guitar into separate frequency bands), or if each amp had its own speaker.

 

The lower parallel paths are the two midrange bands. They also needed only one cab, but I kept the two panpots (remember, these are also named Volume—in the screen shot, they’re the last two Volume components in the signal chain)..

 

Speaking of cabs, try different cabs (and amps) for the two paths, like a 2 x 12 for the lows and highs, and a 1 x 8 for the mids. Or vice-versa...you can’t really go wrong. For example, I tried substituting the Line 6 Doom amps for the Interstate amps, an upon turning up the Drive, got that big, fat, fuzzy sound.

 

Also, although I assume the Global EQ is more to even out differences among venues and live situations, it has other uses. You can use sharp notches to tame “fizz-prone” frequencies, or if you want to make the sound creamier, roll off the highs but add a bit of a bump in the upper midrange to preserve the articulation.

 

 

FggisWs.jpg

 

However, what really brings these multiband patches into their own is the Snapshot feature. You don’t even have to get into assigning parameter changes for snapshots (although that has its merits!). Just switching different blocks on and off can make a big difference. For example, I have three main snapshots for the Interstate Zed amp-based “Interstate Epic.” The first one bypasses the two midrange amps, which gives a bright, somewhat “stratish” tone. The second snapshot has full multiband processing. The third bypasses the EQ for the lowest band, so it becomes full-bandwidth. That gives an extra “kick” to the sound of the other frequency bands. Of course altering parameters can change the sound even more radically.

 

Finally, don’t forget about applying effects to one band only. For example, the Harmony Delay sounds completely different, depending on which band you use (I gravitate toward the upper mids, but it’s a matter of taste).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EQ blocks may be a bit more tweakable for multiband processing, but if you want to save some block locations and DSP, you can also switch the Split blocks to act as crossovers.

Edited by Digital Igloo

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Thanks, great tip. As you've surmised I do tweak the EQs a bit, but I'll create some patches with the crossover and report back. Your participation is always appreciated!!

 

BTW also check out the Firehawk 1500 review. Don't know if you had anything to do with it, but that is a very sweet-sounding amp, especially considering its digital ancestry.

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Global EQ: The Great Equalizer

 

I’ve concentrated on sound creation options so far, because frankly, that’s the part that interests me the most. Helix’s flexibility is refreshing. However, there are also several “convenience” features that deserve a look—like Global EQ.

 

Global EQ is truly global; it applies to all presets, all set lists, and affects the main audio outputs (1/4” and XLR). It’s not applied to the digital outs or the send outputs.

 

The reason for Global EQ is to compensate for a variety of factors. For example, some venues might have harder surfaces that require reducing highs somewhat, while other venues are (hopefully!) so packed with people they absorb a lot of the highs, so you need to boost them. Or, you may need to place your amp in such a way that the bass is more or less prominent, and you can compensate for that as well.

 

The EQ itself is pretty comprehensive. There are three pages with parameters for three parametric bands, along with variable high and low cut filters. Conveniently, when active you’ll see a small Global EQ icon on the home screen to remind you it’s enabled. Another convenience is that you can reset the Global EQ to its flat position.

 

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Edited by Anderton

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Sorry, but there weren't any. Here are all the related Helix video examples I did:

 

(​Y Split vs. Crossover Split Routing with Parallel Amps)

(amp+cab dynamics testing - 41 examples)

(compressor evaluation)

(modulation effects)

(reverbs Part 1)

(reverbs Part 2)

(pitch/synth effects demo)

(wah demo)

(distortion breakup test video

(preset audition 1: rhythm guitar)

https://youtu.be/om6Bxhd5QV0 (preset audition 2: lead guitar)

https://youtu.be/Y6S4WcWJR1c (preset before and after editing)

 

 

 

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Indeed...it's amazing what some tweaks can do. That's one of the reasons why I like the Helix so much - if you want a sound, you can probably get it somehow.

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I hate to dig up a zombie thread, but I'm just coming back to HC after a long hiatus. Was there ever any comparison of the Helix as a prosumer-level recording/mixing interface? I know the s/n ratio is supposed to be relatively high, but was there ever a comparison done between the Helix and dedicated interfaces in the $300-$1000 range? Just throwing those numbers out there, since this is a mega-multi purpose unit.

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Hey, sorry for the late reply, I've been working with Helix Native. I haven't done any head-to-head comparisons, but Line 6 has a history of doing interfaces with very respectable specs...I used their TonePort UX8 8-channel mic interface for several years, and thought it delivered seriously good performance for the price. I've used the Helix interface aspects when running it stand-alone, and I certainly didn't have any issues...but I haven't gotten into the weeds and measured it.

Edited by Anderton

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OS 2.30 just got released with some new amp and FX models, and allegedly this new update has killed the "squirrels" - some of those artifacts that annoyed some people. Line 6 has really hit a home run with the Helix, and it's exciting to see them still releasing new OS versions with new models and capabilities over two years after the Helix was brought to market. Impressive!

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Line 6 has really hit a home run with the Helix' date=' and it's exciting to see them still releasing new OS versions with new models and capabilities over two years after the Helix was brought to market. Impressive![/quote']

 

Couldn't agree with you more. Line 6 seems to regard Helix as a platform, not just a "let's sell this multieffects and then come up with something else." I keep finding new things to do with it...and Helix Native is extremely cool.

 

 

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