Audio Distortion On Helix Presets

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Sambora73, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. Sambora73

    Sambora73 Member

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    Hey all,

    First post, but I recently picked up a Helix and was running it through my home cinema setup as a stopgap. Last week I picked some half decent headphones (AudioTechnica ATX-40) and noticed that nearly every preset has some weird kind of distortion like the output level is way too high and there's some clipping. The only ones that aren't affected are the crystal clean ones, but anything with any gain sounds really fizzy and not good. Same with patches created from scratch or cuts ones I've downloaded. It was REALLY noticeable when I ran it through my 100w Marshall at volume.

    So here's what I've noticed/tried, but no joy, so I come to you all and bow to your wisdom. Help!!

    - I've tried lots of different guitars and lots of different leads to the input, but they're all the same. Even with the Line 6 connection and the Variax, which is the worst when using a modelled guitar.
    - I've tried lot's of different outputs like headphones, home cinema amp and speakers, 1/4" out, XLR out, 4 cable method to an amp, direct in the front of preset 4 on a Marshall JMD, usb to a Mac, 1/4" to a Mac ,etc and all are the same.
    - I haven't changed any of the levels in the global settings and tried changing impedance, etc but no change.
    - Just to be sure, I full the full factory reset, but no change. Firmware, etc is all fully updated.
    - It still does it when I turn the volume or headphone level on the Helix right down to minimum.
    - Changing the level in each preset or globally doesn't change anything.
    - There's also a weird grounding thing going on where touching or pressing the footswitches causes a different buzz. Touching the mains lead does the same thing. I've tried different power leads, different sockets and even in three other houses, but it still does it.

    I'm wondering if there might some kind of fault or is it just something really obvious I'm missing. I've had an Amplify and FIrehawk before the Helix and never had anything similar with either.

    Lastly here's a clip of what I'm hearing on the "Come A You Are" preset.

    http://soundcloud.co...udio-distortion

    Really appreciate any help as I'm out of ideas.
     
    mbenigni and scook like this.
  2. Hackdog69

    Hackdog69 Supporting Member

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    open up a support ticket, they will take care of you
     
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  3. gidude73

    gidude73 Member

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    I don't think a support ticket will help. The fizz is in all of the Line 6 products that I have ever tried. My Helix does it, and my HD500 did it too. Anything with gain and there is some trailing fizz at the end of the notes.
     
    jrjones likes this.
  4. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    That's not what he's referring to. In his clip, sounds like there is clipping from the first millisecond of the first note played. I can't say I hear it on my Helix with gain-y patches. I've released three high-gain clips, and I defy you to find it in any of them. Something seems to be off or badly configured with his.
     
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  5. Sambora73

    Sambora73 Member

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    I've submitted a ticket as I do think there's fault developed somewhere. I initially thought I maybe hadn't noticed it until I got the headphones, but after trying some higher gain presets again, there's no way they sounded like that when I first got it and the grounding thing definitely wasn't there. Even something like the Plexi Brt preset is a fizzy mess now. I loved that one when I first got the Helix as it was very AC/DC out of the box. That preset I posted is pretty clean as well, only the crystal clean ones aren't effected.
     
  6. scook

    scook Member

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    @mbenigni and I have struggled with this as well. I ended up selling my Helix because of it. The sound in your clip is exactly what I couldn't ever fully dial out of my Helix. I now have an AmpliFIRE and an Axe-FX... Neither of them make the same clipping-style distortion sound.
     
  7. scook

    scook Member

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    Oh, Mikah.
     
  8. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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  9. scook

    scook Member

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    I think you've officially become the @nicolasrivera of Line 6.

    :)
     
    sixesandsevens likes this.
  10. veritechc

    veritechc Member

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    Have you tried reinstalling the firmware? Using different guitars? That sounds like it could be a hot pickup overdriving the signal? Let us know what they find.
     
  11. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    Because I make a factual observation solely about my personal experience with clips to substantiate it?

    That's the opposite of @nicolasrivera, actually.
     
  12. nicolasrivera

    nicolasrivera Gold Supporting Member

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    You'll be known as Mikahlas001 for now on!!!!:D:p
     
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  13. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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  14. scook

    scook Member

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    That's true-- @nicolasrivera's posts are less boring.

    :) kidding
     
  15. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    I have no interest in arguments and personal back and forth. That's why it's boring.
     
  16. mbenigni

    mbenigni Member

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    The good news is: you're not crazy.
    The bad news is: the crazy people seem happier, on average. ;)

    Seriously, though, you (and the people who've responded) seem to touch on at least three different issues here. I'd like to hear (more accurately, I'd like everyone else to hear) a sound clip of a preset with less gain, and less high end, because Mikah's point isn't entirely without merit: there's distortion all over that clip. That's because of the, um, distortion. :) I hear the problem because I'm familiar with it, but that's such an extreme example, it actually confuses matters.

    Problem 2: Grounding. Probably unrelated to the rest of this discussion. If you're hearing ground hum that goes away when you touch a conductive surface, and other comparable gear doesn't behave the same way in the same rig, then maybe you do have an actual defective unit. It's more likely that you just have a perfectly common ground loop problem here.

    Problem 3: The real problem IMO. Yes, there is a clipping/aliasing characteristic in many (most?) of the Helix amp models that manifests as a bit of raspy noise toward the tail end of a note/chord. (I've heard several attempts at explaining this, but the best-educated and most convincing explanation yet is that it's down to FIR filtering at insufficient resolution, to save on DSP resources. The example I/O curves I've seen correspond pretty well with what I'm hearing.) Most people will tell you it isn't there, or that real amps do this, or that you you have dolphin ears, or whatever. I don't buy it. On the other hand, I don't consider it a deal-breaker. I still own my Helix because there's nothing else out there that fits the bill for me, and overall, it still sounds awesome. (Since I remain the nagging voice of dissent on this topic, I have to emphasize: I LOVE MY HELIX I LOVE MY HELIX I LOVE MY HELIX!!!) But it would be really refreshing to hear someone say, "Yes, that is aliasing that occurs on account of DSP process X given available processing power Y and it can or cannot be resolved in future given reasons Z." Instead, IMO, we have our heads in the sand.

    I'll be watching this thread. I want to know if anyone with these concerns proves conclusively that they have a defective Helix. Because if they do, I'll need to consider the same possibility. But I doubt it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
    lowpaygigs, kyolic, Phnurt and 4 others like this.
  17. scook

    scook Member

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    I would be beyond happy and probably buy another Helix if I realized that you, me, and the OP all had/have defective units somehow.
     
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  18. scook

    scook Member

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    Yeah, it makes sense that your posts would be more boring when you're not interested in the argument.

    :p
     
    nicolasrivera likes this.
  19. mbenigni

    mbenigni Member

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    I've occasionally wondered. But it would be such a shot in the dark... I'd have to order another Helix online, compare the two on arrival, and either return the new one or flip the old one (with a none-too-clear conscience), and that's assuming I didn't get a 2nd one with the same problem. If there had been any changes in parts batches or manufacturing processes this soon, after all the racket I've made, I have to imagine Line 6 would have reached out to me by now to rule out the possibility that I had a flaky Helix. I think it just is what it is. My big question is, can it be improved in firmware, maybe with a "high-res" mode that's more DSP intensive, i.e. fewer blocks per preset, no squirrels allowed? A mode for the dolphin-eared cork-sniffers, if you will.

    I have to be Line 6's worst nightmare of a customer: the kind who likes the product too much to just go the *^$% away, but who won't shut up about his one single complaint. :p
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016

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