Selecting Blocks/Adjusting Parameters
Blocks are objects that represent various elements of a preset, such as amps, cabs, effects, splits, loopers, and even inputs and outputs.
1. From Stomp footswitch mode, briefly touch (but don't press) the footswitch assigned to the desired block.
The selected block appears with a white box on both the main LCD and the scribble strip:
If multiple blocks are assigned to a footswitch, its scribble strip reads "MULTIPLE (X)." Touch the top of the switch repeatedly until the desired block is selected.
Repeatedly touching a "MULTIPLE (X)" switch may jump to completely different screens, depending on its assignments. For example, if a switch is assigned to an effect block, an effect parameter, and a Command Center MIDI message, repeated touches will cycle through all three items on the Home, Controller Assign, and Command Center screens, respectively. Basically, anything on the switch is only a touch away.
Alternatively, move the joystick to select a block.
Press to quickly select the Amp+Cab, Amp, or Preamp block and its tonestack parameters (Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, etc.) appear. If a preset has more than one of these blocks, press repeatedly to cycle through all tonestacks.
2. Turn Knobs 1-6 below the screen. Some blocks have more than one page of parameters, in which case dots on the right side of the inspector indicate the current page. For example, the dots below indicate that page 1 parameters are visible (the colored dot) and a total of four pages of parameters are available:
3. Press < PAGE/PAGE > to access more parameters (if available).
If a footswitch is assigned to the block, press the switch.
Alternatively, select the block and press BYPASS to toggle the block on and off.
Bypassed blocks appear semi transparent and, if assigned to a footswitch, its LED ring dims and scribble strip label grays out:
The switch's LED ring and scribble strip label reflect the color and bypass state of its most recently selected block or item, even if other blocks assigned to the same switch are enabled.
To change an existing block's model, select the block and turn the joystick.
To create a new block, select an empty location and turn the joystick.
Selecting models within the same category can be very quick. However, as Helix has hundreds of items to choose from, using this method to, say, change a mono distortion block (beginning of the list) into a stereo FX Loop block (end of the list) is very slow. Instead, you should open the model list:
1. Press the joystick to open the model list:
Most model categories include subcategories. For example, effects can generally be mono or stereo (stereo models display the icon). Amp+Cab and Amp models have Guitar and Bass subcategories. Cab models have single and dual subcategories.
Turn the joystick (or move it up and down) to select items in a list.
Press the joystick (or move it right) to view a category or subcategory's contents.
Move the joystick left to go back one column.
If you encounter items in the list that are grayed out or unavailable, this means the current path (1 or 2) cannot accommodate that category, subcategory, or model. See "Dynamic DSP"
2. Using the joystick, select the desired category, subcategory, and model.
Amp+Cab and Cab > Dual blocks are special in that they represent two models within a single block. To change the amp model in an Amp+Cab block, press < PAGE until the amp icon is white and turn the joystick. To change the cab model, press PAGE > until the cab icon is white and turn the joystick.
To change the first cab model in a Cab > Dual block, press < PAGE until the left cab icon is white and turn the joystick. To change the second cab model, press PAGE > until the right cab icon is white and turn the joystick.
3. To close the model list, select an item in the far right column and press the joystick again (or press HOME).
Move the joystick left to select an Input block and turn the joystick.
Normally you should select "Multi," which includes three simultaneous inputs: Guitar, Aux, and Variax.
To view a list of available inputs, press the joystick.
From any Input block, joystick left to jump to the Output block.
From any Output block, joystick right to jump to the Input block. We call this the "Pac Man Shortcut."
Move the joystick right to select an Output block and turn the joystick.
Normally you should select "Multi," which includes four simultaneous pairs of outputs: 1/4", XLR, Digital, and USB 1/2.
If Path 1 doesn't have enough block locations or DSP to accommodate your tone, it can be routed to Path 2:
Select Path 1's output block and turn the joystick to select Path
Path 2's Input block displays an arrow, indicating it is being fed by Path 1.
If Path 2 has two input blocks, you may select either Path 2A or 2B, or even split your signal further to both 2A and 2B. See "2 into 1" for an example.
To view a list of available outputs, press the joystick.
1. Select any block (other than Input or Output) and press ACTION. The block appears "picked up" and the action panel appears. The inspector's icon shows you the directions in which the block can be moved.
2. Move the joystick left or right to move the block. Moving the joystick down moves the block to a new parallel B path. See "Serial vs. Parallel Routing" for details.
A block on Path 1 cannot be moved to Path 2 (and vice versa). You can, however, copy and paste a block from one path to the other. See next section.
3. Press ACTION again (or ) to close the action panel.
Blocks from one path can be copied and then pasted into the same path, the other path, or a path in an entirely different preset.
- Select the block you wish to copy and press ACTION.
- Press Knob 1 (Copy Block).
- Select the location you wish to paste the block—even in a different preset—and press ACTION.
- Press Knob 2 (Paste Block).
Inputs, Outputs, Splits, Merges, and Loopers can also be copied and pasted. However, if you, for example, try pasting the Looper into the Split block's location, Knob 2 (Paste Block) will be grayed out. Furthermore, if the destination path's DSP cannot accommodate the copied block, the header will briefly read "Cannot Paste—Path 1 or 2 DSP full!" See "Dynamic DSP"
- Select the block you wish to clear and press ACTION.
- Press Knob 3 (Clear Block).
Clearing all blocks removes all processing blocks (including the Looper) and resets both Path 1 and 2 to serial. It does not affect Path 1A or Path 2A Input and Output blocks, nor does it affect the "Command Center".
- Press ACTION.
- Press Knob 4 (Clear All Blocks).
The following dialog appears:
- Press Knob 6 (OK).
1. Press SAVE to open the Save Preset screen:
Move the joystick left or right to move the cursor.
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.
2. Turn Knob 4 (Setlist) and Knob 5 (Destination) to choose the Setlist and Preset location you wish to overwrite. Any of the Helix 1,024 presets can be overwritten.3. Press SAVE again or Knob 6 (Save).
For many guitar tones, a serial (one stereo path) signal flow is more than adequate. For example, our 8 TEMPLATES > 01A Quick Start preset has a volume pedal, wah pedal, Amp+Cab, reverb, and looper, but there's still room for distortion, modulation, and delay blocks:
For more sophisticated tones, a parallel (two stereo paths) signal flow can be created. This lets one split the signal into two stereo paths, process them separately, and mix the two paths back together.
1. Select the Amp+Cab block and press ACTION to pick it up.2. Move the joystick down.
The Amp+Cab block is moved to a newly created parallel path B (lower).
In the illustration above:
- Our guitar signal goes into the Volume and Wah blocks.
- The signal is split to path 1A (upper) and path 1B (lower).
- Stereo path 1A (upper) is sent to the Reverb and Looper blocks and Stereo path 1B (lower) is sent to the Amp+Cab block.
- Stereo paths 1A and 1B are merged together after the Looper block and sent to the Multi Output.
3. Press ACTION again to drop the Amp+Cab block.
This preset probably doesn't sound ideal. A more appropriate tone may have paths 1A and 1B each with an Amp+Cab block, only to merge again before the Reverb...
...or maybe a single Amp block splitting into two separate Cab blocks...
...or two separate Amp and two separate Cab blocks...
...or two separate Amp blocks merging into a Cab > Dual block.
Remember, this is only half of your tone. You still have Paths 2A and 2B to play with!
To remove path B, simply clear any blocks on path B (lower) or move them all back up to path A (upper).
1. Use the joystick to select the point where paths A and B split
"Split" and "Merge" blocks only appear when selected, but can be adjusted and moved like any other processing block.
2. Press ACTION to pick up the Split or Merge block for moving.
Choose one of the following parallel routing options:
Like nearly all modern audio processors, the Helix engine is based on DSP (Digital Signal Processing). Some models require many times more DSP horsepower than others, so it makes logical sense that fewer of those models could exist in a tone. To work around this, some processors restrict you to one amp, one reverb, one delay, etc. With Helix, we feel it's important to let you keep adding whatever you want to your tone, even if you may eventually run out of DSP.
That said, there are some rules governing the number of certain types of blocks you can add to a preset:
|Block Type||Total Count|
|Amp+Cab, Amp, or Preamp blocks||Any combination, up to four (two per path)|
|Cab blocks (includes Amp+Cab blocks)||Up to four (two per path; Cab > Dual blocks are considered two)|
|Impulse Response blocks||Up to four 1024-point IRs (two per path) or two 2048-point IRs (one per path)|
To see which models can be added to the current path, press the joystick to open the Model List.
Grayed out items cannot be accommodated and are skipped over - See "Selecting Blocks/Adjusting Parameters":
Tips to Optimize DSP
- Each of the Helix device's two primary paths utilizes its own DSP. If all of your blocks are on paths 1A and 1B, you're only using half its horsepower! If you plan on creating tones with two or more amps and more than a handful of effects, expect to use both paths 1 and 2
- Some block types use much more DSP than others, such as amps, cabs, IRs, and pitch shifters. Not surprisingly, the Amp+Cab block uses the most. EQ, Dynamics, Volume/Pan, and Send/Return blocks use relatively little
- Some models may use more DSP than others in the same category. This is especially true with amp models
- Instead of a parallel path with two Amp+Cab blocks or two separate Amps and Cabs, try adding a single Amp block followed by a single Cab > Dual block (mixing two different Cabs can provide some substantial variations)
- The stereo version of an effects block will use roughly twice as much DSP as a mono version of the same block. Likewise, the dual version of a cab block will use roughly twice as much DSP as the single version
- Some model categories have "Simple" blocks, which utilize less DSP than others
- Instead of toggling between two of the same amp or effects blocks (with different settings), use controllers or snapshots to instantly adjust parameters within a single block.
Most of the Helix effects models have both mono and stereo versions. A stereo block displays after its model name in the inspector. The stereo imaging—or how wide your tone appears with stereo speakers or headphones—is highly dependent on the type of blocks you add and in what order.
Keep the following things in mind when building tones:
- All Amp+Cab, Amp, and Preamp blocks are mono, so any stereo signal sent into these will be collapsed to mono. As such, it's a good idea to add only mono blocks before amps and preamps
- Adding a mono effects block will collapse any preceding stereo blocks on the same path to mono
- If you're only ever connecting Helix to the front of a single guitar amp or PA/FRFR speaker, there may be no need to use stereo models at all (except, of course, for models that are only offered as stereo!)