Multi-FX Boards -- How Do You Read?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CandidPicker, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    In recent days, my thoughts have turned towards a wider range of creative process; that is, owning a multi-effects board that can act as a pre-amp for a powered amp or PA speaker.

    Although I'm not a mind reader, several folks have made known on this forum that they prefer specific FX boards over individual and groups thereof, effects, simply because the multi-effects offer the wider range of FX and amp/cab options, whereas the individual grouping of FX is limited in their functionality.

    So, I've taken this to my Sweetwater sales rep, who has not worked extensively with the particular product I've thought of, but can speak with his product representatives and communicate with me his findings of the product in question.

    So, without influencing your ideas or philosophy regards multi-FX, what multi-FX products have you found particularly easy to use, with comparatively simple user-interfaces, with deep-dive capabilities for tweaking or modifying parameters, and lastly, an affordable price-tag for us budget-conscious folks who might wish to save some cash on a good deal...?

    (Will follow up with my research and the Q/A my research revealed...)
     
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  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Great thread idea.

    It’s kind of a complicated thing, as far as I’m concerned. One important factor is what the multi-effects are capable of doing (i.e., the number of effects, ease of use, etc.).

    The other important factor is how well it does those effects (i.e., how does the multi effect unit sound?).

    Both of these questions can only be answered by the individual player; there’s no right or wrong answer, and moreover, there’s no such thing as “the best” answer. Since all of us have different opinions about nearly everything when it comes to the above questions, even a salesperson at Sweetwater who sees lots of gear can only give you his/her opinion. I’d take that opinion with a grain of salt for that reason.

    In my own situation - to be clear, this is not a prescription for anyone else, it’s only what I do for myself - I’ve gone with a hybrid combination.

    Dedicated analog effects and real amps work best for me. However, I’m in the business of creating music for clients, and sometimes they want effects I’d very rarely use. So, I need to have those effects available, and my solution was to put a couple of Eventide H9s on my board. I bypass them when I want to go all-analog, and I use them to meet client requests. I’d do the same if, say, I was in a cover band and needed something like a multitap digital delay to cover a U2 song, or a phaser to cover EVH.

    If I didn’t make music for clients, and only worked on my own material, I’d probably not need the H9s.

    I went with the Eventide for two simple reasons: I used the old H3000 d/se in my studio for many years when I had mostly analog gear and didn’t work in the box. I like the way Eventide’s algorithms sound. Second, I like the fact that I can control them and program them pretty deeply with an app on my phone or iPad. I hate kneeling down with a guitar on to dig through menu screens.

    Just personal preference here, there are many other valid choices, and my choices may not work for anyone else on the planet, just me.

    So this reply isn’t to suggest what to buy, only you can make that decision. It’s just to give an example of some approaches to consider.

    If I was gigging regularly in a cover band, I might consider other approaches, like a Helix or Kemper, simply because at my age it’s difficult to drag a bunch of heavy gear around. Thankfully, my gigs are all at my studio, so I don’t have those concerns. But you might. Etc. YMMV and all that.
     
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  3. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    After doing quite a bit of research, I went for a Line 6 Helix Floor - although the LT is a more budget friendly version and puts it in direct competition with the Boss GT1000 and Headrush. The big difference between the LT and Floor is that the Floor has the scribble strips and a few more connectivity options inc 4 'loops' to add your own pedals compared to just 2 with the LT.

    As far as ease of use goes, I find it relatively easy to set up a signal path and tweak the parameters to my preference. You just add a block where you want it and assign that block to be any number of pedals, amps or cabs. When you are on the block, the various parameters are listed at the bottom of the screen and you just twist the associated knob to adjust - much like you would with a pedal or amp. If you have more than 6 parameters - like Amps can, you have the option to page across to the next parameters.

    [​IMG]

    This is an example of a signal path - the bottom path is for a mic but you can see the blocks with different icons relating to different FX, cabs etc. In the top path, you can see 3 pedals between the guitar in and the Amp. After the Combo amp, the signal is split with Delay on the 'lower' path and a greyed out block means that the looper is actually off at the moment. The Delay is highlighted (its type 'Harmony Delay' is also stated) and you can see some of the parameters available with each parameter assigned to the knob below it. You adjust these just like you would with a pedal by turning the knobs. The fact it has 4 dots with the first in green tells you there are 4 pages of parameters and you are on page 1. If you were to highlight the Amp, the amp type and parameters replace the Delay info and you adjust in the same way.

    Its up to you how deep you want to go, how much tweaking you want to do. There are a lot of supplied, general patches which you can use without having to set up your own but being 'general', they may not sound great to your ears with your guitar etc so some tweaking will be needed. Its the same if you buy new pedals and amp, connect them all up and plug your guitar in of course - you will need to tweak them all to get the sound you want/prefer but its exactly the same process. Instead of twisting knobs on the pedals/amps, you twist knobs on the Multi-fx unit and in some cases, its more accurate as you get a read-out of the exact figure - 37% feedback, 40% mix. Its the same with the Bass, mids and trebles - you know its exactly on 7.8 Bass for example and not ~8 on a real Amp.

    I don't really know what more info you want. Adding a block, selecting what FX, Amp or Cab it is, dialling in the parameters etc is all easy - even moving the blocks around, changing the order etc is all very easy. There are a number of youtube video's too demonstrating how easy it is. How deep you want to go is up to you....
     
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  4. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Slightly Older Than New Member

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    +1 for a helix.

    I got it two years ago so I wasn't moving amps in road cases all the time. It really came in handy for acoustic gigs too because you can plug in with an IR and it sounds like it's mic'd and serves as a DI/Turner/reverb unit.

    For basic guitar in with some effects and an amp model, it works flawlessly and is extremely easy to use. The best part is the updates which have new models of amps and effects for free. The best one being when they ported every effect they've ever made on the helix plus what the helix already had.
     
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  5. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy New Member

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    Ease of use... Imho, all mfx/modelers will require a learning curve especially if you are new to them. But when you get the hang of it, they will give you a lot of options and tools for creativity.

    I had the Boss GT-1 and the GT-100 (as well as the earlier GTs). I like them because of the ability of connecting them to my computer and being able to tweak or create my tones on the computer.

    My current Headrush Gigboard doesn't have the interface software to tweak patches and tones on the computer, but the generous 7" screen and user friendly interface was good enough.

    I have heard good things about the Helix series as well as the Boss GT-1000, Axe, and Kemper. I guess it all comes to which has options that would fit your needs. You can't go wrong with whatever you choose.
     
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  6. drdoom8793

    drdoom8793 THAT guy at Chick-fil-A

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    I'll add another vote for the Helix. I used to have a Kemper, which I sold to buy a Helix Floor Unit. It's just much easier to use. Just due to the nature of the Kemper, there are more amp tones available, but I find the Helix infinitely easier to dial in a tone and just play. Plus the effects on the Helix are even better than the Kemper in my opinion.
     
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  7. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Les,

    Thank you for your input. I am sure there is a ton of white paper documentation previously published that describes these devices in detail. From what the previous responses prefer, the consensus seems to be for the Helix or Helix LT.

    Because my leg strength is in my right leg, not my left, it's more strenuous for me to put weight on my left leg and use my right for expression pedals. That in itself would preclude the use of an FX board with the expression pedal on the right side.

    For that reason alone, my preference, for both budget-friendliness, ease of use, and intuitive, simple user interface, is the HeadRush GigBoard, with outboard expression pedal.

    @littlebadboy and I had been discussing this in a separate thread. With his help, it's been possible for me to view numerous YT videos that delineate the HR's capabilities in fine detail. The beauty of the HR is the easy to use interface, which in principle, allows the end user to create a variety of rigs and "scenes" simply with the HR's generous 7-inch touch screen. The HR also has quad DSP processors, compared to comparably priced devices, which allow for seamless creation and patching of effects and amp/cab models. Plus, there are many IR cabs models available at no charge online which can supplement your HR's cab library, all without paying anymore that the cost of the original hardware and accessories required for the HR's use.

    The only caveat I foresee in potentially selling my analog/digital FX board might be that my existing combo amp might not pair well with the HR, and would require a 4-cable connection method that would employ my combo amp's input and FX loop. The global parameter setting within the HR does allow connecting to an amp, not just a line out to a powered speaker, so this might be the thing I'd need to consider before offering my combo amp for sale.

    Otherwise, it might be easier to just downsize my existing FX board and combo amp, and replace it with the HR Gigboard, an expression pedal, and an FRFR108 HR powered speaker. This would preclude the requirement for the complicated 4-cable method, which according to several YT videos, has a slightly more challenging learning curve than the straight-ahead line out to FRFR108.

    I think in due time, perhaps in the next several months, a transition to the HR GigBoard might be possible, if not for greater versatility and range of options, then for the capability to create rigs and store them for use for home practice, recording, or in open-mike settings.
     
    #7 CandidPicker, Jan 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  8. RickP

    RickP One Guitar Short...

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    Warning: This absolutely does not fit into the "low cost" category!

    I've been gigging with a Fractal Audio Axe FX since 2011. I started with the Ultra, and have upgraded a few times. I currently use an Axe FX III, controlled by an RJM Mastermind GT/22 pedalboard and Mission Aero Expression pedals. This is, by no measure, a cheap solution to an FX only need, but I can't imagine a better one. Much like PRS, it ain't cheap, but it is a good value. The quality of everything in this box is phenomenal, as is the support and updating of the effects and other offerings by Fractal Audio. Firmware upgrades are free, and happen multiple times in a year. In addition, their forum is a lot like this one; filled with helpful and experienced users willing to share their extensive knowledge.The owner and programmers are regular contributors there. Not that it is specific to FX, but I have found the same quality and support from Ron and the folks at RJM.

    It was the Avid Eleven Rack that got me to try digital all-in-one solutions, but it was the FAS product that delivered on all the promises. Now in my 9th year of gigging use, I can say they are a stellar and eminently roadworthy solution for anyone seeking top of the line amps, FX, routing. I have a wall of amps that I love, ranging from 60s Fenders to current Mesa and Carol Ann products, but when I go to make money, it is the Axe FX I'm using. Some pretty monumental artists are using them solely for the effects, so I figured it might be something to include here.

    They also have an FX only pedalboard, the FX8, but I haven't used it so I can't personally recommend it. I suspect it is also top shelf, in line with FAS quality standards.
     
    #8 RickP, Jan 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  9. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Thank you for your input. The Fractal is indeed one of the most powerful DSP engines available on the market today. I'd think that the learning curve for this device must surely be daunting, or at least require a collegiate technical degree. (I've tried using several programmable devices, only to return them because they're just too complex. My tiny mind can't fathom intricate complexities unless someone sits me down and teaches me about them.)

    If it weren't for the steep learning curve with the Fractal, I'd consider this. One problem is also the steep price tag. While you get what you pay for, sometime the price tag also comes with a study course you must learn before being able to understand how to work with the device. The "poit" moment you understand.
     
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  10. RickP

    RickP One Guitar Short...

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    With the editor app, the workings become quite a bit more apparent. There are both basic controls, mimicking what is on the referenced pedal, and deep diving pages that go as deep as you’re willing to dive. In other words, it can be a lot simpler than it appears, but has many paths to the dark side, if you need to get your inner Sith on.

    The price to play, alas, offers no easy solutions! I totally get that. My gigging pays for it, so the expense is also an offset of income for me. Once I stop doing it professionally, I’ll have that to think about!
     
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  11. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    That's a given. My feeling is, I don't try to "deep dive" too often because I'd invariably come for gasping for air...that translates to not overthinking things too much, which "deep diving" can produce...

    The reason the HR Gigboard appeals to me is that while it is deep, there is never something that can't easily be backed out or corrected with a few simple touchscreen taps. That is what helped me decide that the HR touchscreen is comparable to modern mobile devices like smart phones or tablets devices...and less so like following highway roadmaps, or reading wiring or signal routing diagrams that need proper connections to function correctly.

    These devices are all user-friendly, but some are less intuitive than others, and require higher levels of knowledge than the normal user might have...
     
  12. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    The Helix has a LOT more effects, amps etc and you can plug in your own expression pedal too if you prefer to have one on the left hand side. In tests, the Helix actually came out on top in ease of use and the time it takes to set up the same signal path despite the Headrush having a touch screen. I am referring to the 'full' Headrush. It seemed to me that you are paying for the touch screen and scribble strips rather than for FX, Amps etc but at the end of the day, you have to decide if that is the right option for you - for me, the Helix was the clear winner.

    There is a Helix Stomp too which is getting a LOT of praise and use. Its more limited and only allows for 6 (I believe) blocks (an Amp and a cab would be 2 blocks but you can use combo Amps) but seems more suited to going on to existing pedal boards. You could use it more for just modelling, going straight to FoH and the odd FX pedal if you wanted and still keep all your favourite pedals.

    I have no personal experience with the Stomp at all but it maybe a better option for your needs than a complete 'pedal board' type set-up that the Helix/GT1000/Headrush offer. The Stomp is more reasonably priced too and, like I said, designed more to fit on existing pedal boards. NAMM could well throw other options into the mix as well as modelling/digital solutions are becoming increasingly popular.

    Anyway, hope you find the right solution for you...
     
  13. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    The HX Stomp is also in my radar screen for use with an expression pedal. My only concern with HX is the routing paths are similar to the remaining Helix devices...my feeling would be that trying to connect effects and amps regards the HX would prove more challenging than the HR touchscreen...this is where I'd feel less capable to work with a more complex device that is less intuitive to use easily...

    The HR Gigboard is also a smaller sized device, that could be placed on a music stand, just like you place a bottle of water on a nightstand...or on the floor and where you could use the footswitches instead...

    My plan would be to position the HR Gigboard at just below shoulder height, where the touchscreen, toggle wheels, footswitches, and connecting cables could be easily accessed.
     
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  14. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy New Member

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    Just an fyi, my Headrush is powered by Eleven HD!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That's what I do with my Gigboard. If I'm recording in my studio, it is on my music stand with the expression pedal on the floor. I do not have it on picture but I have it on my video:

     
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  15. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Any possibility we could see an image of the HR located on the music stand from a few feet back, to include the connections to the FRFR108?
     
  16. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy New Member

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    This?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I apologize for the messy wiring. I didn't have the time to tie and tidy them up.

    I have the time long ts and trs cables for when they're on the music stand and studio, and I also have a shorter set for playing out and set on the floor.

    Headrush just released they're stand alone expression pedal. Great... I just got my Mission Engineering expression pedal. But, I've always been happy with my Mission Engineering pedals anyway.

    Hey, I'm not saying Headrush is the best. I myself change it up every now and then. I'm all over the place from Digitech mfx to Zoom to Boss to Headrush. Perhaps, I will try a Helix in the future. I stuck longer with the Boss ones though.
     
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  17. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    No complaints about the image. Just trying to understand what does what...

    The L (MONO) jack feeds the FRFR108 via TRS cable?

    And forgive me, though I can't quite determine if the "TOE" jack is being utilized or not...

    The Mission has two connecting cables...are they both connected to the HR's EXP & TOE jacks? How is the TOE used if this is how the Mission is connected?

    One last question...the headphones jack/cable feeds a set of headphones for use when the FRFR108 is not on?

    If perhaps you have some time today, please describe how your rig connects regards my previous questions. I think once you've answered, I'll understand more completely how the HR connects with the FRFR108....
     
  18. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    It does seem to me that you have your heart set on the Headrush anyway so these video's may not interest you at all but I thought you may want to see what the Stomp offers before you commit to anything. You can use the Stomp in so many ways, whether you use it for purely modelling and direct to your PC for recording, FoH or powercab, use it for FX into your existing Amp(s) inc 4 cable method or combination. It has a much smaller footprint than the Headrush but whether you want/need that, its up to you.

    There are a lot of video's and demo's of the Stomp in action and how 'easy' it is to set-up your signal path, set up snapshots etc. I am sure there are video's of Headrush too. As for routing paths etc, I think the Helix is easy and no more difficult than the Headrush but like I said, it seems you have your heart set on the Headrush so no matter whether others will say Helix is easier/quicker and offers more Amps/FX's, you will go with Headrush. I am not saying Headrush is bad or the wrong choice for you at all and should do the job you are looking for but whether its the 'best' option or just a very good option or not, that's up to you to decide.
     
  19. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy New Member

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    Yes, the L mono goes to the FRFR or whatever amp you are using using a TS cable. If you desire to go stereo, you may use the R mono to a second FRFR or amp. The HR Pedalboard has balanced XLR, I think.

    Yes, that is correct.

    You connect the ME expression pedal to the Gigboard using a trs cable. You use a ts cable for the toe switch. You can assign the expression pedal to 2 different uses, I think. For me, I use it as a vol pedal and wah. I switch back and forth using the toe switch. You can assign more ways to it such as gain control, delay time, pitch shifter, etc.
     
  20. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Actually, these videos are appreciated since I've not looked into the HX Stomp entirely. This evening, I am just "recharging my batteries" and resting until preparing for a day of work tomorrow. I'll also check the Helix YT vids the company puts out, as I'm sure many others have also.

    From your images, it seems like the HR's TOE jack is connected. Or, is the momentary toe switch connected to the Mission expression pedal, and not the HR TOE jack?
     

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