Does your Helix’s expression pedal squeak? If so, check out this guide:
Have you ever found yourself in the position of wanting to reduce the overall dynamics of your sound while at the same time keeping much of the dynamics from your original performance?
If so, you should take a look at a tried and true, classic recording technique called Parallel Compression.
Parallel Compression is essentially the process of splitting your signal down two paths: an untouched path A and a crushed path B.
Path A will be your original performance. Nothing special needs to happen here.
Path B is where the magic happens. Add a compressor with a high compression ratio (10:1 and up). The idea is to put a hard limiter on this path to crush your signal.
Now, just blend these two paths together to your liking. Path A gives you your original performance. Path B gives you the parallel compression that will beef up your sound and give you more control over your dynamics.
This tip is geared towards the Helix (and guitar) but this technique is used all the time in professional recording situations on drums, bass, percussion, keys, you name it. Give it a shot.
For further reading:
Thanks to MusicLaw!
Thanks to Dariusz
What was a great discovery for me, and may be of interest to other Helix Users, is that Helix has a Studio Tube PreAmp located in the PreAmp > Mic Models List! This Studio TubePre may be placed in Helix’s Signal Path(s) as a Block, once, or several times, and can be just as useful for guitar as it can be for Mics!
Try it positioned early in the Signal Path.
The rotary speaker models are HX updates to rotary speaker pedals. So, they were originally designed to go before an amp. However, once they got in Helix, we realized that they are much more versatile. Let me explain what is going on in the effect.
The dry path is true stereo. The effected path is summed to mono.
The effected path goes through a simulated power amp. It’s nowhere near as accurate as the HX amp modeling. It was just to add some extra grit that one might find in a rotary speaker cab.
Then the signal splits and it gets the separate woofer and horn modeling. This includes filtering an EQ to model the speakers in the cabinet.
Now, how should it be used?
I would use it in one of two way: as a pre amplifier effect pedal, or as a post amplifier cab replacement.
If it’s being used before an amp mode, then there should definitely be a cab or IR model after the amp. The drive knob should be tweaked to the desired amount. I think the drive knob has enough range to distort with just a guitar level signal plugged in.
If it’s being used after an amp model, then the switch that turns on the rotary effect should also turn off the cab or IR block that is being used when the rotary effect is bypassed. Special care should be paid to the Dive knob in the rotary effect. Since it was originally designed to be an effect before an amp, the level coming out of an amp model can sometimes cause a lot of extra, unwanted distortion in the rotary effect. I’d start with the drive at zero and adjust up to taste in this instance.
Most people prefer to use the full amp models with the rotary effect. However, I’ve heard of some people liking to use the rotary effect after a preamp model, and then they will lean into the rotary’s drive knob. This is probably for a parallel path, or a patch where the rotary effect is never turned off.
Finally, I have to put out my standard disclaimer. There is no objectively wrong answer here. If it sounds good, then use it in that setting and enjoy. Users should use their ears and personal taste when setting this up. I’ve just outlined traditional settings for the rotary effects, but non-traditional tones can be exciting, groundbreaking, and inspiring. Dig in, folks!
— Ben Adrian
Sometimes a particularly rough bass or high problem can be fixed using the parametric equalizer easier than high or low cuts. Often with lows you can clean up boominess with a 2 or 3 db cut in a fairly narrow Q in the frequency range around 180 to 220 hz. You can also take a bit of the edge off of highs without killing the whole range with a narrow cut of 2 or 3 db up around 4000 to 5000hz. Place this toward the end of your signal chain.
Always think of the Channel Volume as equivalent to a channel strip on a mixing console. It simply turns up or down the overall volume of the amp. It does not effect the tone.
The master volume is essentially the master volume on the amp itself and therefore will effect tone by adding or decreasing dirt/grit.
The Helix is very accurate in reflecting picking techniques just like a real amp. Very often you can get a more aggressive dynamic or a smoother dynamic by simply altering where you are strumming (between neck and bridge) or the pressure you’re picking with, or even the angle of your pick.
Combining a Reverb and a Delay in parallel paths can provide a very lush reverb/delay sound found in many recordings, but don’t overlook the value of dry patches. There are quite a number of artists that use this to great effect to get a very stark “in your face” crunchy sound when combined with aggressive palm muting.
To keep your options open to doing dual cabs in parallel signal chains you may want to create separate cab blocks rather than amp+cab blocks. Very often combining cabs this way can overcome the harshness or brittleness you my hear negating the need for high and low cuts. Use an A/B split to determine how much signal goes through each cabinet.