With Helix firmware 2.0 or higher, you’ll see a camera icon in the upper right corner of the screen. The number indicates the current snapshot.
Why should I care about snapshots?
To be honest, maybe you shouldn’t. Ask yourself these questions:
- Hey self, when performing live, does the small gap when switching tones drive me nuts?
- If my delay repeats and reverb trails don’t seamlessly spill over when switching tones, does it drive me nuts?
- Do I secretly wish I were an octopus, so I can constantly change amp and effects settings throughout a song?
If you answered "M’eh" or "Huh?," stop reading this now, go play guitar, completely ignore the camera icon, and you’ll never have to worry about snapshots again. Seriously. However, if you answered "Yes!" to any of these questions, keep reading.
Okay, I’m still reading
There’s always going to be a small audible gap when switching presets in any box with the Helix device's level of dynamic model allocation and routing complexity; that’s just how advanced DSP works. However, snapshots allow for a surprising amount of tonal control from within the same preset, and every change happens instantly and seamlessly.
Similar to the snapshots feature in some high end digital mixers, each of the Helix device's eight snapshots stores and recalls the state of certain elements in the current preset, including:
- Block Bypass — The bypass (on/off) state of all processing blocks (except Looper), independent of any footswitch assignments. Also see "Snapshots > Block Bypass"
- Parameter Control — The values of any parameters assigned to controllers (up to 64 per preset). Also see "Snapshots > Parameter Control"
- Command Center — The values of any instant MIDI CC, Bank/Prog, MMC, and CV Out messages, plus the state (dim or lit) of any CC Toggle, CV Toggle, and Ext Amp messages. Also see "Command Center"
- Tempo — The current system tempo, if "Global Settings > MIDI/Tempo" > Tempo Select is set to "Per Snapshot." (By default, it's set to "Per Preset") Depending on how you set them up, snapshots can act as eight variations of the same tone, eight drastically different tones, or any combination thereof—all within the same preset. In many cases, a single preset's snapshots may accommodate all the various tones required for a song.
Snapshots > Block Bypass
Snapshots store and recall the current bypass (on/off) state for all processing blocks. For example, Snapshot 1—INTRO could have Distortion 1, Amp 1, Cab, Mod 1, and Delay 1 on:
Snapshot 2—VERSE could have Dynamics, Distortion 2, Filter, FX Loop 1, Amp 2, Cab, Delay 2, and Reverb on:
Snapshot 3—BRIDGE could have Dynamics, FX Loop 2, Amp 2, IR, EQ, Mod 2, and Delay 2 on:
Snapshot 4—CHORUS could have everything on:
And Snapshot 5—INTERLUDE could just be Amp 1 and the IR:
Note that all snapshots in a particular preset share the same models; you cannot, for example, add a US Deluxe Amp block in Snapshot 1 and switch its model to Essex A30 in Snapshot 2. However, if Helix has enough available DSP, you can load both amps into the same preset and snapshots can enable neither, one, or both of them.
Snapshots make it easy for multiple blocks assigned to the same footswitch to end up in unexpected states. For example, if FS2 toggles between Delay (ON) and Reverb (OFF) blocks and a snapshot turns the Reverb on, FS2 will suddenly turn both blocks on and off together.
See "Using Snapshots" for more information.
Snapshots > Parameter Control
In addition, parameters can be set to jump to specific values with each snapshot.
Here’s an example where seven parameters (out of a possible 64) are updated instantly with each snapshot:
|Snapshot||Variax Model||Amp Gain||Delay Mix||Split A/B||Pitch||IR Select||Output Level|
|1 INTRO||Spank-1||4.5||35%||Path A 100||0||#27||-7.2dB|
|2 VERSE||Spank-1||4.5||35%||Path A 100||+5||#27||0.0dB|
|3 BRIDGE||Lester-5||5.2||43%||Path B 100||+3||#103||+0.8dB|
|4 CHORUS||Lester-5||4.5||50%||Path B 100||0||#103||+1.5dB|
|5 INTERLUDE||Spank-1||3.9||8%||Even Split||+5||#27||0.0dB|
|6 SOLO||Lester-5||8.7||72%||Path B 100||+12||#103||+2.6dB|
|7 BREAKDOWN||Acous-3||2.0||46%||Path B 47||-12||#12||0.0dB|
|8 OUTRO||Spank-1||4.5||35%||Path A 100||0||#41||-3.6dB|
In the table above, we see that when switching from Snapshot 2—VERSE to Snapshot 3—BRIDGE:
- The connected Variax guitar switches from the Spank-1 guitar model to the Lester-5 guitar model
- The Amp block’s gain increases from 4.5 to 5.2
- The Delay block’s Mix increases from 35% to 43%
- The Split block routes your guitar from Path A to Path B
- The Pitch block’s Interval lowers from +5 to +3 semitones
- The IR changes from #27 to #103
- The Output block’s Level increases from 0.0dB to +0.8dB
If you want a parameter to be automatically updated with each snapshot, a controller (such as the Snapshots controller) must first be assigned to it.
Quick Assigning the Snapshots Controller
To adjust a parameter AND have it automatically update persnapshot, press and turn the knob.
The parameter's value appears white and in brackets, indicating a controller's assigned to it—in this case, the Snapshots controller:
To adjust a parameter WITHOUT it automatically updating per snapshot, just turn the knob like you normally would.
As long as a parameter is not assigned to any controller, its value is maintained across snapshots.
Hold BYPASS and press a parameter knob to quickly remove any controller assignment (including the Snapshots controller). The value appears without brackets, indicating no controller is assigned to it.
See "Using Snapshots" for more information.
Manually Assigning the Snapshots Controller
1. From the Home screen, press and hold the knob for the parameter you want to update with each snapshot. Helix jumps to the Controller Assign page and displays your parameter above Knob 1 (Parameter).
2. Turn Knob 2 (Controller) to select "Snapshots."
Actually, it doesn't matter which controller you assign the parameter to, as all controller-assigned parameters automatically update with each snapshot. The exception is any parameters controlled by EXP Pedal 1, 2, or 3 (such as Volume, Wah, and Pitch Wham, which are only updated per snapshot if "Global Settings > EXP Pedals" > EXP 1/2/3 Pedal Position is set to "Per Snapshot."
3. Press to return to the Home screen.
Each preset can have up to 64 controller assignments, including parameters controlled by Snapshots. If you attempt to add a 65th, "Too many controller assignments!" appears in the header:
In this case, you must clear some controllers to free up assignments. See "Clearing a Block's Controller Assignment(s)" or "Clearing All Controller Assignments"
Snapshots > Command Center
Snapshots also store and recall the following MIDI, CV, and Ext Amp messages sent to external devices from the Command Center:
- The value of any Instant MIDI CC, Bank/Prog, MMC, and CV Out messages
- The state (dim value or lit value) of any CC Toggle or CV Toggle messages assigned to footswitches
- The state (dim or lit ) of any Ext Amp messages assigned to footswitches
For example, say you have a MIDI-controllable reverb pedal connected to the Helix device's MIDI OUT, an external guitar amp connected to the EXT AMP jack, and DAW software connected via USB.
|Snapshot||External Reverb Type (Instant CC)||External Reverb Mix (CC Toggle)||Amp Channel (Ext Amp)||DAW Control (Instant MMC)|
In the table above, we see that when switching from Snapshot 7—BREAKDOWN to Snapshot 8—OUTRO :
- The external reverb pedal's effect type switches from Bloom to Swell
- The external reverb pedal's mix increases from 40% to 50%
- The external amp switches from Channel 1 to Channel 2
- The connected DAW software's playback stops
A Command Center message is only transmitted if its value changes. In the table above, Helix is smart enough to not transmit duplicate MMC > Play messages for every snapshot; it will, however, transmit MMC with Snapshot 8, because its value changes from Play to Stop.
For more information, see "Command Center".
Okay, sick of reading and ready to jump into snapshots? Here we go...
1. Press BANK and BANK simultaneously to enter Snapshot footswitch mode.
The middle eight switches flash,indicatinga snapshotis readyto be selected. The current snapshot's footswitch lights red and its camera lens appears inverted.
2. Press one of the eight snapshot switches to select a different snapshot.
If you don’t want Snapshot footswitches to disappear after selecting one, set "Global Settings > Footswitches" > Knob 4 (Snapshot Mode Switches) to "Manual Return." In this case, Helix stays in Snapshot footswitch mode until you press FS6 (CANCEL).
Alternatively, press the PRESETS knob and turn Knob 5 (Select Snapshot).
If you select a snapshot that hasn’t yet been altered, it appears the same as the snapshot you came from. As soon as you alter a new snapshot (say, by enabling or bypassing an amp or effect block), the snapshot becomes "active" and remembers any changes.
3. Adjust the preset by doing one or more of the following:
- Turn several blocks on or off by pressing stomp mode footswitches and/or the BYPASS button
- Push-turn a few knobs to automatically assign their parameters to the Snapshots controller (their values appear white and in brackets)
- On the Command Center page, adjust the values of any Instant messages or press a footswitch assigned to CC Toggle, CV Toggle, or Ext Amp
4. Switch back to the snapshot you started with.
Helix instantly and seamlessly returns to its previous state.
If you've changed "Global Settings > Preferences" > Snapshot Edits to "Discard,"you must save the preset before selecting a different snapshot; otherwise any edits will be discarded!
Copying/Pasting a Snapshot
Instead of creating a new snapshot from scratch, you may want to copy an existing one to another snapshot location and tweak just a few things. There are actually two ways to do this:
Quick Copy/Paste Snapshot from Footswitches
1. Press BANK UP and BANK DOWN simultaneously to enter Snapshot footswitch mode.
2. While touch-holding the footswitch for the snapshot you want to copy, briefly touch and release the footswitch for the snapshot you want to overwrite.
A dialog panel appears:
3. Press Knob 6 (OK).
Copying/Pasting a Snapshot from the Front Panel
1. Press PRESETS to open the Setlist menu and turn Knob 5 (Select Snapshot) to select the snapshot you want to copy.
2. Press ACTION and then Knob 1 (Copy Snapshot).
Helix returns to the Setlist menu.
3. Turn Knob 5 (Select Snapshot) to choose the snapshot you want to overwrite.
4. Press ACTION and then Knob 2 (Paste Snapshot).
5. Press Knob 6 (OK).
1. Touch (but don't press) the two snapshot switches you want to swap until the following dialog appears:
2. Press Knob 6 (OK).
Renaming a Snapshot
Instead of having to remember the difference between "SNAPSHOT1" and "SNAPSHOT 2," it's helpful to rename your snapshots something descriptive, such as "VERSE," "BIG SOLO," or "D. IGLOO."
1. Press PRESETS to open the Setlist menu.
- Press Knob 6 (Rename Snapshot).**
The Rename Snapshot screen appears:
Move the joystick left or right to move the cursor. Snapshot names are limited to 10 characters.
Turn the joystick (or move it up/down) to change the selected character.
Press Knob 2 (Delete) to delete the selected character and shift all following characters to the left.
Press Knob 3 (Insert) to insert a space and shift all following characters to the right.
Press the joystick to cycle through A, a, 0, and [SPACE].
Press Knob 4 (Remove) to remove the custom name. Remove is grayed out until a custom name is applied.
3. Press Knob 6 (OK). Snapshot names are only retained if you save the preset. See below.
Press SAVE twice to save the preset.
Saving a preset stores all of its 8 snapshots automatically.
Selecting a preset recalls the Snapshot that was active when the preset was saved.
Determining Snapshot Edit Behavior
Say you’re on Snapshot 2 (VERSE) and you change a few things—switch a delay block on, switch a mod block off, tweak an Amp’s Gain parameter from your Variax Tone knob, etc. If you switch to Snapshot 4 (CHORUS) and then back to Snapshot 2 for the second verse, should Helix recall those changes or return Snapshot 2 to its state when the preset was last saved? There’s no right answer, and Helix lets you choose.
1. Press MENU and then Knob 6 (Global Settings).
2. Move the joystick to select the Preferences submenu.
3. Turn Knob 1 (Snapshot Edits) to set snapshot edit behavior:
- Recall — Any snapshot edits are recalled when jumping from snapshot to snapshot, and appear as you last left them (the default)
- Discard — Any snapshot edits are discarded when jumping from snapshot to snapshot, and appear as the preset was last saved. If you want to save changes made to a snapshot while Snapshot Edits is set to "Discard," press SAVE twice before selecting another snapshot
The camera icon on the home screen shows you the Snapshot Edits setting at a glance—When set to "Recall," the camera is gray; when set to "Discard," the camera is red.
At any time, hold BYPASS and press SAVE to toggle this setting.
Arranging Preset, Snapshot, and Stomp Switches
1. Press MENU and then Knob 6 (Global Settings).
2. Move the joystick to select the Footswitches submenu.
3. Turn Knob 2 (Preset Mode Switches) to customize the middle eight switches:
- 8 Presets—Two banks of presets (the default)
- Preset/Stomp—One bank of presets on the top row, switches from stomp mode on the bottom row
- Stomp/Preset—Switches from stomp mode on the top row, one bank of presets on the bottom row
- Preset/Snap—One bank of presets on the top row, Snapshots 1-4 on the bottom row
- Snap/Preset—Snapshots 1-4 on the top row, one bank of presets on the bottom row
- Snap/Stomp—Snapshots 1-4 on the top row, switches from stomp mode on the bottom row (see image below)
- Stomp/Snap—Switches from stomp mode on the top row, Snapshots 1-4 on the bottom row
- 8 Snapshots—Snapshots 1-8
4. Turn Knob 5 (Up/Down Switches) to customize FS1 and FS7 on the far left.
Select Banks (Bank Queue), Presets, or Snapshots (see image above).
At any time, press and hold both FS1 and FS7 to cycle through BANK UP/DOWN , PRESET UP/DOWN , and SNAPSHOT UP/DOWN.
Tips for Creative Snapshot Use
- The obvious use case for snapshots is designating them to specific sections of your song. For example, Snapshot 1 would be the Intro, Snapshot 2 would be Verse 1, Snapshot 3 might be the Chorus, and so on
- Turn any Delay, Reverb, and/or FX Loops blocks' Trails parameter to "On" for seamless spillover between snapshots
- "SNAPSHOT (X)" on the scribble strip isn't very descriptive. Don't forget to name your snapshots—See "Renaming a Snapshot"
- Worried that further tweaking might make your tone worse, not better? Snapshots are a great way to compare minor changes between tones without having to take your hands off the guitar.
- Want to switch channels on your external amp but don’t want to waste a stomp footswitch on it? Command Center MIDI, CV, and Ext Amp Instant messages are automatically transmitted when a Snapshot is recalled.
- Set different keys in Harmony Delay blocks or intervals in Pitch blocks per snapshot
- Set different Variax models (or tuning!) per snapshot
- Having difficulty maintaining consistent volume throughout a song? Set the Output block's Level parameter per snapshot