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My setup looks like this: Guitar goes to Line6 Helix, amp and cab sim there, output goes to AV receiver via either analog or digital input.

The problem is, when the simulated amp is really loud, helix global volume is loud, and/or I hit the string hard, especially the initial attack, I hear crackling sound from the speaker connected to receiver, although the sound volume is not that high at all.

When I reduce the volume on Helix and increase it on the receiver, it seems to remedy the problem. But, if possible I'd like not to change the receiver volume, because other sources such as PC via optical cable, HDMI ARC and so on are more or less matched to the desired final volume level.

So, my question is - I assume the cracking I hear means the source volume is too high. Can I do something about it, except for obvious things like playing quieter, preferrably without increasing volume on receiver?

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  • Probably not. The dynamic range of your guitar rig is probably much wider than the other sources on the receiver. That means even though the other sources sound louder without overdriving but the helix can sound quieter but still overdrive when it gets loud enough. Jan 6, 2023 at 14:07
  • @ToddWilcox you mean initial attack of the note is actually so loud it causes speaker to crackle, although I didn't hear it because its volume drops really fast? If that is true, why increasing receiver volume while decreasing helix volume helps? Jan 6, 2023 at 15:31
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    Yes. If the loudest sounds from the Helix are too loud, and you lower the volume on the Helix enough, then they aren’t too loud anymore. That’s why lowering the helix volume helps. Jan 6, 2023 at 17:18
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    I don’t understand your last question. You said yourself that lowering the volume on the helix makes the problem go away. That means that the volume on the helix is too high. Compression has nothing to do with it. A home stereo receiver is technically a power amp but it’s so different from musician power amps that we shouldn’t expect it to work like one and it doesn’t work like a musician power amp. You’re trying to do something that’s never going to work well. Either accept that it doesn’t work well or change what you’re doing. Jan 6, 2023 at 19:11
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    @AlexeyMalev it's because the Helix is sending too strong signal and it overdrives the receiver. Hi-fi amps aren't designed to be overdriven so it sounds bad. Turning down the volume helps because lower level signal doesn't overdrive the receiver any more. Also, for some historical reason aux inputs work with 10dB lower levels than regular line inputs, so signal that is good for line input will overdrive aux input.
    – ojs
    Jan 7, 2023 at 14:24

2 Answers 2

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Answering to summarize the discussion:

The high output level overdrives the input on the receiver. Hi-fi amplifiers aren't designed to be overdriven, so instead of nice distortion you get the crackling sound. Turning down the volume at Helix helps, because the lower output level doesn't overdrive the amp. Additional detail is that Aux inputs are designed for 10dB lower level than regular line input, and the Helix was plugged into Aux instead of line level input.

If you want the Helix to send similar output to other sources, add a compressor after the cabinet model. When it is set up correctly (which is an art in itself), it will clip the peaks and boost quiet parts without changing tone too much. Almost all music that you hear has some degree of dynamic compression.

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  • Thanks for the information regarding AUX input, I could have never guess that. Will recheck that the issue is the input, not the cable. Jan 7, 2023 at 15:10
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The problem was using AUX input instead of regular analog input. As mentioned in the other answer and comments, it seems to expect lower input level, thus signal from Helix causes overdrive.

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    Aux expects lower signal level
    – ojs
    Jan 8, 2023 at 11:35
  • @ojs Thanks for correcting me, I meant lower of course. Jan 9, 2023 at 7:50

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