Basic setup revision

Hi guys, I tried now three days to get a plan working … where Cantabile is a major part of. Not sure if this is the group to go, so, just let me shortly outline, what I want to achieve, to make it clearer for sorting out where my question is placed best.

I would like to check Line 6 Helix Native (VST plugin) in a “live situation” (to find out if the hardware board is something to go for; 15 days grace period).

As I don’t need a DAW for that I thought about a VST host software and did find Cantabile 3.0.

Now, I installed it first on a Win10 notebook (later on a Win7 desktop), using several interfaces to get a signal into the system (L6 TonePort DI, L6 POD X3 Live, and a few “Audio to USB” sticks as well).

What I’ve got is that I could watch the Input is moving the bar, but no output at all from the VST sitting in Cantabile.

My question now is: did I missed a main concept for to get it run that way? And what would be your suggestion to look for for troubleshooting the setup?

Needless to say that I am completly new to Cantabile as well as to VST hosting itself. I always used VST plugins in a DAW for post prod tweaking.

Would be thankful for a good hint or link that hels here.


From the sound of it (well, for the lack of sound I guess), it seems you did not add a stereo output to the VST.

Here are some good videos and guides to get you rolling.


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If you remain stuck, let me know. I have Helix Floor and Helix native, and thinking of getting Helix native into Cantabile as a backup if ever the hardware unit went down.

I have been running Helix Native for a few weeks now. Like any of the amp sims, tweaking is a must. I ran Amplitube earlier, but switched to TH3,Bias and S-Gear. After running the aforementioned 3, Helix Native seemed very weak in a live situation. I would imagine custom made presets would make it much better, because the factory presets are terrible at best. The factory presets in TH3 and Bias are a little better, but I had a much easier time dialing in a good live setting with both of them, but Bias, unfortunately, is a CPU hog. S-Gear is much better for live performance IMHO. Many of the presets work well without a lot of tweaking. The one outstanding thing that I liked about Helix was it loaded very quickly in Cantabile and was very low on CPU usage. I used Helix on 3 gigs, using some custom settings, and was very disappointed. Again, this is just my experience. If you have some custom presets from Line 6 hardware that can be loaded in Helix, I would suggest starting there, especially with a 15 day trial looming.

Terry, your link lead me to the essential video (ports and routes). Problem solved!! Sorry for that silly question. It was that blindness in the beginning when there is a new workflow or new concepts you’d find yourself in front of …

But I saw the other posts which is already step two and three with my testing … So, I would like to expand a bit the aim and the limits that I see in this scenario.

My aim was to check out if I could live (work) with the sounds in that VST, because with the Helix I could copy settings from the “dev” system (Helix Native @ home) to the hardware and vice versa. This was not possible with the POD X3 live and POD Farm 2.5. Those are 2 complete different worlds on the same hardware. Quite annoying not to be able to use the same genious settings I’ve created while working on the tracks in the DAW. So, this feature of the Helix is quite attractive to me now.

Playing with the Helix Native in a live situation is a different song. I already considered it before as at least “not so easy”. Here are my points:

Problem #1: latency! This is what I dicovered first when the routings in my test environement (Cantabile, POD X3 live) have been corrected. To me that delay was definitely not acceptable for a live performance. Even which tweaked settings (buffer sizes, bit depths aso.) it got better, but still not something to consider for a possible live setup.

Problem #2: complexity! I’d need to carry the stuff (several “boxes”, some may be fragile?!), connect these together, hoping that all movable parts and cables survived from the last gig, play the gig, disconnect all devices again, store them neatly in their housings, and, guess what, carry them back into the car, and lastly pick all up again and carry them into the reheasal room! If I would be done with just a single box it would tear down complexity to a great deal!

Problem #3: presets. The genious settings stored in the Helix Native need to be immediately available while performing on stage. Mouse or even a touch screen is not a good option there. Another piece of software need to be introduced to translate my wishes into the right set of commands that grab that right preset and switch it on. I saw an interesting video where a worship guy explained the exact situation, but only with a MAC environment. There he’d use “Mainstage” to accomplish that … I’m sure there is software out for Windows, too, but complexity’d grow again and if I can have it before my feet in just one single box just attracts me.

So, finally I am able now to bring the “test environement” (Notebook w/ Helix and Cantabile, POD X3 live, Variaxes) to the rehearsal room and for a decision try to get happy with what’s in the Helix. Thanks guys for helping me upon the track!! :slight_smile:

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Hey André,

let’s take these one at a time:

1: Latency
This really depends on your audio interface. For playing guitar amp sims live, the problem is bigger than for your average MIDI keyboardist, because you essentially have double the latency (from your guitar into the box, then back to the analog world after processing) - what we call “round-trip-latency”. This is why for amp sims “in the box”, only the fastest interfaces are really satisfactory. So we’re talking RME Babyface, Zoom UAC 2 or maybe the new Focusrite Clarett series. I can vouch for the Babyface and the Zoom, since I own both - with both of them, you can get to decent latencies for live use.

I own the X3 Live myself, and I’d not recommend to use it as an interface to play amp simulations live - it’s just not built for this; the round-trip-latency is just too long (as you’ve discovered yourself). The intended purpose of the X3 audio interface is just to record either the clean guitar (for re-amping) or the processed signal in your DAW, while listening directly to the signal from the X3. In this scenario, latency is not an issue, so the X3 isn’t optimized for best round-trip-latency.

2: Complexity:
Yes, there is a certain amount of complexity involved, but if I compare my current setup (laptop + audio interface + just two pedals to step through song states) to a “classic” guitar setup (tube amp + pedalboard), the complexity is not so much worse; and no tubes to blow up! Plus, it’s relatively easy to carry a spare for your laptop (no need for a super-high-end machine just for amp sims), compared to carrying a second tube amp (or even a second Helix).

But I’ll admit: if you’re “just” a guitar player with no fancy keyboard setups - and you’re happy with the Helix sounds - it’s probably the simplest setup: just drop a hardware Helix, connect two cables plus power, and rock on…

You can eliminate quite a bit of the complexity by packing most of what you need (audio interface, barebone computer, all the funny power adapters and everything) into a rack, and just connect a small screen - but you’ll still need some kind of a pedalboard to control the whole shebang, so you’ll admittedly never get to the simplicity of just one Helix on the ground before you.

3: presets
If the worship guy was talking about Mainstage and you’re wondering what the Windows equivalent is: THAT IS CANTABILE (and it’s more than Mainstage could even dream of being :wink: )

Cantabile will allow you to build configurations for every song in your repertoire that combine your Helix plug-in with any number of other plugins you’d want to put before or after your Helix, so you can have a super-complex processing chain beyond everything that Helix can do (although Helix is already pretty complex).

Next, Cantabile will allow you to create individual states (“snapshots”) within your song, so you can have different sounds for intro, verse, chorus, solo etc. Each of these can be a completely different preset of your Helix, plus different settings for all the other effects in your setup. Now, when you play a song, you simply load the song file into Cantabile and use just one foot pedal to step from verse to chorus, to solo, to next verse, etc.

Taking this further, Cantabile allows you to set up setlists of your songs for a show in advance - now you can not only step through a single song, but a whole show with one pedal (well, maybe you’ll want three: two to navigate your set list - you may want to change the sequence now and then - and one to step through a song; but that’s still a pretty lean and mean setup).

So, Cantabile is the ideal tool if you want to have the right preset at the right time in your show. In fact, you might even get some value out of using Cantabile just to remote-control the presets of a hardware Helix and manage your songs and setlists in Cantabile (although Cantabile might get bored with that simple task… :wink: )

So, in a nutshell:

  • if you want to use Helix Native and Cantabile in a live (or rehearsal) situation, you’ll want to invest in a decent audio interface with a short round-trip-latency.
  • the complexity can be reduced somewhat, but the simplest setup is still just dropping a pedalboard unit like the POD x3 or the hardware Helix on your stage and get rocking. So if you like the sound of the Helix, and you don’t need to add any additional processing, it might be better from a complexity standpoint to just shell out the money for the hardware Helix
  • Regarding you “presets” scenario, Cantabile can do all that and more.




Excellent description, @Torsten. I recently purchased the gen 2 Scarlett 6i6 and it just isn’t cutting the mustard, particularly since I do both keyboards AND guitar. I don’t believe the drivers are any different for the new USB Clarett, just the mic pres. I’m returning it and ordering a Babyface Pro after a gig tomorrow. I really hope it’s as awesome as everyone says it is.

@rmftc, Torsten is right in that Cantabile is like Main stage on steroids.

Wow, what a nice forum here!! With Torstens remarks I just could straighten my perception towards Cantanbile (for which I am an absolute newbe to).

And these thoughts about interface roundtrip delays were valuable to me as well, as you’re finding me already trying to sort out which interface I should take to accomplish the job best without being feature overloaded at the same time. And I really came across these Scarlett interfaces already, too, but did not like the bad experiences of some of the users (which you basically confirmed as well). So, your suggetions (Babyface or the Zoom UAC 2) is a good resource for me now. Indeed, the Zoom seem to be a good fit from a mobility standpoint as well … the Babyface seem to be a bit overloaded with all these digital inputs and it clearly is too expensive for me … :slight_smile:

Actually, the hint that the POD X3 live’s Audio Interface could only make it worse as an interface to use for monitoring an external hosted VST plugin was an eyeopener to me as well.

Having your response it is much easier for me to have a big picture of what now the options are.

Even though, two questions still come up to my mind:

Q1: What would I need to make Cantabile understand foot controls? I suspect a midi footcontroller would be needed and a USB midi interface for the PC (which I do not have yet) … Will Cantabile understand plain midi controller software instantaniuosly, or would another “translator” kind of software be necessary?

Q2: To be sure about the real latency would it be feasible to add an “Oscilloscope” VST pugin into Cantabile to monitor both input and output signals? Or maybe a software oscilloscope to monitor the “PC Output” (with both the input and output signals)? Do you eventually use a oscilloscope VST for analysis purposes maybe?

While checking already some of the factory presets: there are really funny and fancy sounds in it, but which mostly are useless for me. I need some good basic tones w/ a tiny bit of reverb and here and there a modulation/delay fx for certain songs. And the ability to take over settings I developed at home is also THE driving factor for me to consider a purchase.

Again, thanks a lot for your time and thoughts!! This forum feels like a good place to hang out!!

Hi Andre

Torsten IS absolutely amazing.

As for your questions, I use a Line 6 foot pedal to control whatever I need thru usb midi. It works like charm. I use bindings at song level to control my amp sim. I also use a Focusrite audio interface to get my guitar signal into my laptop. Latency is not a problem. Cantabile is great for controlling my guitar setups. This is a generic answer, I can provide much more info later unless someone else chimes in 1st.