Am I really going back to ITB with Helix???

dk_ace

Roadie
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876
Maybe? Probably?

I’ve run an extra board in the loops of the helix for a pretty long time now. It started with me wanting better reverbs and adding a Ventris (awesome) to the rig. It grew from there to include a Teese wah and the mxr poly blue octave. I always wanted a Teese, ordered one just to check it out and found it to be really sweet. I can get the helix very close to it but not quite as sweet and the sweep is different. The mxr octave is a cool pedal and frees up dsp from the poly fx on helix. It has all worked great, but it’s extra gear to carry and setup time (not much, but I’m lazy). Also, two of those loops are in front of my amp models, and they add noise. Last weekend prepping for a gig I realized how much clearer things sound without that extra noise.

So… I was still cool with the extra board and I like my tones and the flexibility of the rig. Last night, I started playing with the helix reverbs just for fun. The dynamic hall setting I had worked with before got tweaked a little more and it was sounding really amazing. A/b’d it with my main Ventris sound (which I based on my meris m7), and the dynamic hall sounds every bit as good and there are some things I even like better about it. Big deal I tell myself, the spring sounds in Ventris smoke the helix. So I switch over to my favorite spring setting and mess with helix against it. I can get it 97% there (there was one thing I had never tried that was the “secret” to getting it right)…. But, I tell myself, xyz weird reverb sound I use 4x a year maybe live sounds way better on Ventris… nope, could get those on the helix too. The new reverb work they’ve done is really some great stuff if you pay attention to how to tweak them and have some other things to a/b against.

So now I’m questioning whether or not the outboard gear makes sense anymore. I checked, and I have the dsp for all the sounds I really want in my main helix patch. I could get by on switches too. Less setup trouble and gear to carry, less noise, recoup a little gear money (who am I kidding I’ll never actually sell any of it)….

I’m going to set up a patch or two and gig it. The only way I ever really know what works and what doesn’t is to do two gigs with it.

D
 
I'm all about the easy. Close enough is close enough

6v9xdm.jpg
 
I'm all about the easy. Close enough is close enough

6v9xdm.jpg

So much this.

So much time is spent scrutinizing small aspects of tones/effects in one application. I get it if a guitarist is just jamming alone in their house and doesn’t really get into recording/playing live, because all they’re hearing is their self and small things can draw a lot of attention. But take that same tone and drop it in a mix, recorded or live and you’ll find you’ve got to tweak it all over again because the reverb isn’t sounding the same now that there’s other stuff going on, or it’s buried, or the delays are too loud and stomping all over a vocal, etc.

I’ve had times where I’ve felt almost guilty or like I wasn’t playing the ‘proper’ role of a guitarist by not scrutinizing every little detail, but I spend more time sitting behind Logic recording or mixing and once I hit the mix phase, that’s when I scrutinize everything.

YMMV and if someone is getting their fulfillment from tone chasing, more power to them!
 
I'm all about the easy. Close enough is close enough

6v9xdm.jpg

Lol to be fair to the helix, here’s how that breaks out at the moment:

Main hall reverb: 100+% there - I like my ending point with helix better than my Ventris tone, with some tweaking I might be able to get Ventris to do the same as my helix ending point though.

Wah: 96% there - the eq is slightly different. The pot sweep is different in a bigger way. While I love the Teese, I’ve gigged it for months and I use it once in about 1/3 of the gigs I do. Is a heavy outboard piece and extra noise worth it for that? No.

Spring reverb sound: 97% there, for any given tune/part it’s a coin toss as to which would be better, but I can’t make them 100% identical. The difference isn’t a negative thing though, it’s just a difference.

Poly octave: helix is better for single octave poly stuff. The only reason I have this MXR is that it does multi octave poly stuff. If I’m being honest, I generally use just one octave at a time live. There have been a few occasions where I used more. Helix has a dual octave, it just isn’t polyphonic.

D
 
Update: revisited the sounds yesterday with fresh ears - the hall sound is money. The spring sound is now too, I needed to feed it with an eq to scoop out a lot of 500Hz stuff and goose the top end a little. Now, you couldn’t pick one from the other in a blind test. Took some tricky routing to get everything working the way I want it to including a jumper cable across an effects loop, but everything I want in the patch fits and functions right.

D
 
So much this.

So much time is spent scrutinizing small aspects of tones/effects in one application. I get it if a guitarist is just jamming alone in their house and doesn’t really get into recording/playing live, because all they’re hearing is their self and small things can draw a lot of attention. But take that same tone and drop it in a mix, recorded or live and you’ll find you’ve got to tweak it all over again because the reverb isn’t sounding the same now that there’s other stuff going on, or it’s buried, or the delays are too loud and stomping all over a vocal, etc.

I’ve had times where I’ve felt almost guilty or like I wasn’t playing the ‘proper’ role of a guitarist by not scrutinizing every little detail, but I spend more time sitting behind Logic recording or mixing and once I hit the mix phase, that’s when I scrutinize everything.

YMMV and if someone is getting their fulfillment from tone chasing, more power to them!

The flip side though, is that sometimes (often, for me) when playing loud with a band is when small details become way more audible/apparent. For example, an overdrive pedal can sound the same as another one at home volumes, but crank it through a 4x12 and play loud with a band and the differences are suddenly super evident.
 
The flip side though, is that sometimes (often, for me) when playing loud with a band is when small details become way more audible/apparent. For example, an overdrive pedal can sound the same as another one at home volumes, but crank it through a 4x12 and play loud with a band and the differences are suddenly super evident.

That's not a rabbit hole issue though, just turn the OD down. :LOL:
 
The flip side though, is that sometimes (often, for me) when playing loud with a band is when small details become way more audible/apparent. For example, an overdrive pedal can sound the same as another one at home volumes, but crank it through a 4x12 and play loud with a band and the differences are suddenly super evident.

I’ve never really had that experience although I’ve heard others say the same. Things change at higher volume, for sure. I’ve never found that to be due to the subtleties of pedals, just what happens with any gear when you play it at a completely different volume.

For me, when the band gets going and we’re onstage it’s exactly the opposite. I forget about the gear and the subtle thing that’s happening at 4.2Khz and just play.

D
 
I’ve never really had that experience although I’ve heard others say the same. Things change at higher volume, for sure. I’ve never found that to be due to the subtleties of pedals, just what happens with any gear when you play it at a completely different volume.

For me, when the band gets going and we’re onstage it’s exactly the opposite. I forget about the gear and the subtle thing that’s happening at 4.2Khz and just play.

D
Higher volumes when by yourself or in a more relaxed practice/rehearsal climate can get the milk boiling, but when it's gig time all I'm thinking about EQ-wise is how much low end I'm putting out, and maybe the extreme high end, and whether or not more off-lopping is in order.
 
I’ve never really had that experience although I’ve heard others say the same. Things change at higher volume, for sure. I’ve never found that to be due to the subtleties of pedals, just what happens with any gear when you play it at a completely different volume.

For me, when the band gets going and we’re onstage it’s exactly the opposite. I forget about the gear and the subtle thing that’s happening at 4.2Khz and just play.

D

At home is just a different world. I had a recent SD9 that was awesome on gigs but at home I didn't like it compared to my more boutique stuff. But none of this is universal - some boutique gear is only amazing live - Menatone Red Snapper comes immediately to mind.
 
So it’s time to bump this thread with an update…

Had kind of mixed thoughts on my ITB preset on the few gigs I took it to (lots of traveling for my “real” job lately which slowed the gigging and thus this trial period down). Mostly that was due to some things I didn’t like about the amp tone I was trying and not really the limitations of the ITB preset. Learned a few things about what wasn’t working for me with how I set it up originally.

Had a Christmas gig that covered a wide variety of music (rock, 80s metalish, pop, gospel, R&B…). Given the diversity of the set, I knew I would need the big rig with the external pedalboard, didn’t want to deal with any limitations that might get in the way. Paid close attention to what all I really needed after the second rehearsal - the external gear wasn’t actually necessary. Oh, and I had one of those fun moments where a patch cable crapped out on me, outboard gear lost a point there for sure…

Created another ITB preset after that rehearsal that simplified the switching, still gave me all the sounds I wanted while correcting the things I didn’t like about the previous attempt. It’s good to go.

For now, this is going to be my setup. I’m not selling off anything yet, want to see how this plays out. The normal and ambient reverbs I’ve dialed in with the Helix are 100% as good as the Ventris. The outboard spring reverb isn’t. It’s good, and it does that thing. But with careful listening the Ventris is just a little smoother, sweeter, and more detailed. That isn’t a sound I use all that much though, and it’s not worth the outboard gear. Not sure that I’ve got the wah perfect, but it’s dang close. The helix has the added benefit of being able to do more than that one wah sound. The octave pedals can hang around, I can always throw one in front of the helix should I need to for a gig.

The dynamic Hall reverb was the missing link for me to ditch the outboard gear for most things. Coupled with the more efficient IRs in the latest firmware adding more dsp for me, I’m really happy with this for the moment.

D
 
The Helix delays and reverbs do not cut through as well as some of the outboard you can get, and they certainly don't cut through as well as the Fractal ones do. I've denied this to myself for 6+ years because I really wanted to believe it... but I just can't.

Here's a bit of a scientific comparison - Take the bog standard Simple Delay on Helix. Set the mix to 50% and the feedback to 50%. Send a simple single note stacatto pluck through it. Count the number of echoes you get, and try to observe in your mind a visual line that tracks the loudness of each one of them.

Then do the same with a Boss DD-7 or DD-8 set to regular digital mode.

You'll notice that the Boss will have far more echoes, and will stay present and audible for much longer.

Okay.... so you think "it's just down to different weightings of the parameters.... maybe 70% on the Helix is equivalent to 50% on the Boss" ..... okay.... do that comparison.

You'll notice the Helix now has more echoes, but still not as many as the Boss. You'll also notice the transient of your pluck gets softer over time in a way that is not related to the drop in amplitube. It sounds more like diffusion is being applied in the feedback path to automatically soften the echoes the more you turn up the feedback.

And most of the digital delays on Helix do this. I can only suspect that the core digital delay circuit they are using has this element built into it and that removing it would break everyone's presets, which is why they haven't done it.

I also think a lot of the legacy delays sound better on the DL-4 MKI than they do on Helix and the M-series effects.


I've had similar observations with the reverbs. But for me the long and short of it is..... I keep finding myself unhappy with the Helix delays and reverbs whenever I use them. I'll be happy for a week or two, maybe a month... but then I compare them to Fractal, Source Audio, Boss, and my Hardwire pedals... and always I feel like there is something lacking.

For the last 6 years I've been using Helix as my primary effects platform for both studio and stage work. And 90% of the reasoning behind that is purely about workflow. The sonics always felt like a sacrifice.

I recall a time where I didn't take my Helix to a gig. I did the gig with my Boss DD-500 (which has problems of its own btw!) and every single person in my band remarked at how much fuller and "epic" my guitar sounded - even the drummer!!

Feels like I'm hating on my grandma right now, coz I've always been a loudmouth proponent of the Helix, but it's time to stop lying to myself. I'm super not happy with it!!
 
You'll notice the Helix now has more echoes, but still not as many as the Boss. You'll also notice the transient of your pluck gets softer over time in a way that is not related to the drop in amplitube. It sounds more like diffusion is being applied in the feedback path to automatically soften the echoes the more you turn up the feedback.
I am a very simple man when it comes to delays/reverbs (I just use them in the background for some sense of space), never listened very carefully to the attack of the repeats. That said, two things here: I imagine Fletcher-Munson will reduce perceived high end on every successive repeat, making the pluck weaker; and many delays have modulated repeats, which is part of the sound may also interfere with the attack. At the end of the day, however, if you don’t like it you don’t like it.

For reverbs, I also have a Ventris. I like the dynamic hall and especially the new dynamic ambience. I can work with shimmer and spring, but I like those in the Ventris a little better, and especially the shimmer sounds like I want it with no tweaking. It’s hard to get rid of the Ventris because it sounds so good, but if new reverbs had been there a couple of years ago I doubt I’d have purchased the Ventris.
 
The Helix delays and reverbs do not cut through as well as some of the outboard you can get, and they certainly don't cut through as well as the Fractal ones do. I've denied this to myself for 6+ years because I really wanted to believe it... but I just can't.

Here's a bit of a scientific comparison - Take the bog standard Simple Delay on Helix. Set the mix to 50% and the feedback to 50%. Send a simple single note stacatto pluck through it. Count the number of echoes you get, and try to observe in your mind a visual line that tracks the loudness of each one of them.

Then do the same with a Boss DD-7 or DD-8 set to regular digital mode.

You'll notice that the Boss will have far more echoes, and will stay present and audible for much longer.

Okay.... so you think "it's just down to different weightings of the parameters.... maybe 70% on the Helix is equivalent to 50% on the Boss" ..... okay.... do that comparison.

You'll notice the Helix now has more echoes, but still not as many as the Boss. You'll also notice the transient of your pluck gets softer over time in a way that is not related to the drop in amplitube. It sounds more like diffusion is being applied in the feedback path to automatically soften the echoes the more you turn up the feedback.

And most of the digital delays on Helix do this. I can only suspect that the core digital delay circuit they are using has this element built into it and that removing it would break everyone's presets, which is why they haven't done it.

I also think a lot of the legacy delays sound better on the DL-4 MKI than they do on Helix and the M-series effects.


I've had similar observations with the reverbs. But for me the long and short of it is..... I keep finding myself unhappy with the Helix delays and reverbs whenever I use them. I'll be happy for a week or two, maybe a month... but then I compare them to Fractal, Source Audio, Boss, and my Hardwire pedals... and always I feel like there is something lacking.

For the last 6 years I've been using Helix as my primary effects platform for both studio and stage work. And 90% of the reasoning behind that is purely about workflow. The sonics always felt like a sacrifice.

I recall a time where I didn't take my Helix to a gig. I did the gig with my Boss DD-500 (which has problems of its own btw!) and every single person in my band remarked at how much fuller and "epic" my guitar sounded - even the drummer!!

Feels like I'm hating on my grandma right now, coz I've always been a loudmouth proponent of the Helix, but it's time to stop lying to myself. I'm super not happy with it!!
1. Somewhere else; Phil_M is explaining why you are wrong.

2. Missed opportunity for Beavis ITB meme.

3. Boss delay life is :chef
 
I enjoy reading threads like this where people figure this stuff out for themselves. I've done a lot of that when I had the Helix and felt that what's in the box is more than good enough for me. I was able to match the few drive pedals I had, I was able to get reasonably close to a Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe by pairing the Kinky Boost with the Transistor Tape model and found reverbs I liked with the new Dynamic models. The Dynamic Spring is still weird to me though, it seems like it's always way too short.

For me it was mostly that Line6 just never did that Helix Mini that I wanted, the Helix Floor was too big to use as a desktop system, floor modelers became a no go for me (no bending over to the floor to adjust stuff for me) and I didn't want the Rack (though I considered it...) or the tiny screen HX Stomp.
 
I actually liked the helix delays quite a bit compared to the standalone pedal I was using, the walrus audio arp87. Helix was more adjustable and had a clearer tone, plus it was stereo. The drive pedals were very close to the physical pedals I had too.

Biggest issue with Helix and pedals for me is that it's so easy to make the amp sims sounds small. Like adding drive make it overly compressed and choppy sounding. I much prefer using just amps to get gain. Not sure if that's a me problem with gain staging or what.
 
I am a very simple man when it comes to delays/reverbs (I just use them in the background for some sense of space), never listened very carefully to the attack of the repeats. That said, two things here: I imagine Fletcher-Munson will reduce perceived high end on every successive repeat, making the pluck weaker; and many delays have modulated repeats, which is part of the sound may also interfere with the attack. At the end of the day, however, if you don’t like it you don’t like it.

For reverbs, I also have a Ventris. I like the dynamic hall and especially the new dynamic ambience. I can work with shimmer and spring, but I like those in the Ventris a little better, and especially the shimmer sounds like I want it with no tweaking. It’s hard to get rid of the Ventris because it sounds so good, but if new reverbs had been there a couple of years ago I doubt I’d have purchased the Ventris.
Fletcher Munson has nothing to do with transient softening, and I have experienced this at all volume levels ranging from quiet late night bedroom levels, to headphones, to loud rehearsals and raging metal gigs.

The Simple Delay does not have modulation, iirc.
 
Fletcher Munson has nothing to do with transient softening, and I have experienced this at all volume levels ranging from quiet late night bedroom levels, to headphones, to loud rehearsals and raging metal gigs.

I probably haven’t expressed myself clearly. I was not meaning F-M as in bedroom vs live. I was meaning that every delay repeat is less loud than the previous one, hence one perceives less high end even if the repeat is a perfect copy of the previous one.
 
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