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LINE 6 HD500(x) ... it's best kept secret (IMO)

Discussion in 'Modeling Amps, Plugins and Apps' started by codamedia, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    I'm sure there are some of you (besides me) that can't upgrade to a Helix or Kemper anytime soon... I thought I would share what I consider the HD500's best kept secret. (I have no idea if this is an option on the HD300 or HD400)

    My setup... When I play my HD500 it is direct to console and I either monitor through my own monitor mix, or through an FRFR cab. If you plug yours into an amp, this may or may not have much effect.

    Backstory... when I first got my HD500 I found it to be very "hi fi" compared to the X3 I had previous. The tones were better, but there was an "ice pick" high end and boomy low end that I found difficult to dial out. The "ice pick" is similar to standing in a 2x12 speaker beam. This was not the "amp models", or "speaker sims"... it was something inherent in the unit itself. Subtle, but annoying to me.

    Enter the "best kept secret"!

    The "mid focus" EQ. Yes, that EQ that nobody uses on the HD500 is my secret weapon. It fixes the problem I describe earlier while adding depth to everything, including acoustic, mandolin and dobro patches. The tones become more dynamic and sit in the mixer nicer.

    Caveat: There is an inherent problem with the Mid Focus EQ...
    1. It is NOT intuitive. There is no clear explanation of what it is, how to use it, or what it even does.
    2. The default setting when you add it is really ugly and LOUD... after fiddling with a few parameters it only gets worse (because of #1) and it gets removed and never looked at again.
    What is it?
    The mid focus EQ is a very powerful and flexible "High Pass / Low Pass" filter. It is not transparent (like the global EQ) but the color it adds is why I like it as much as I do.

    How to use it?
    • Place it last in the chain... I put it right at the end of every chain, but it should - at the very least - be after the amp block.
    • Don't play a single note with the default settings :D. Change those immediately... start with these.
      • High Pass Freq: 0% (raise this to roll off low end as needed)
      • High Pass Q: 50% (no need to ever change this... unless you really know what you are doing)
      • Low Pass Freq: 100% (lower this to roll of high end as needed)
      • Lo Pass Q: 50% (same as High Pass Q)
      • Gain: 12% (no rhyme or reason, but this setting is roughly unity gain)
    • Now play your patch with and without the mid focus engaged. You should notice the low end is tighter yet punchier, the high end is softer (like a beautifully broken in speaker) and the mids are richer. All while retaining the fundamental tones of your patches.
    On my electric patches I run the HPF around 15% and LPF between 65% and 80% depending on the patch. For acoustic patches (acoustic, mandolin, dobro, etc...) I run the HPF between 15% and 25% and the LPF at the full 100%.

    If you dig in deeper you will learn the "Q" creates resonant peaks with increased values and resonant valleys with decreased values. Don't go there unless you really know what you are doing - leaving those settings at 50% will suffice for most.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017

  2. Wound3rd

    Wound3rd Tele-Meister

    Dec 27, 2006
    Thanks for the tip! I will try this and see what happens.

  3. RyCo1983

    RyCo1983 Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 15, 2012
    Central PA
    Helix users use the low and high pass filters extensively.
    The functionality of it is not buried and given a confusing name on it.

    I think the Helix is my next purchase.

  4. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    I'm not disagreeing, but It should be noted that the HD500 also has HP/LP filters that are not cryptic as well. There is just something about the mid focus EQ that adds a very appealing tone to the patch. Like I said earlier, unlike the other EQ's this one is NOT transparent - it imparts it's own character.

  5. rockycreeker

    rockycreeker Tele-Meister

    Mar 25, 2003
    Maybe that's why I wound up sending one back to MF a few years ago. We tried it in our church system and it sounded awful, even after a lot of tweaking. I bought Boss ME-70 which was for me 1000% easier to use and program and I'm still using it to this day. It'd be worth a try because the Line 6 does have tons more options.

  6. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    What you are describing is a parametric eq when the marketing folks aren't trying to be helpful. So if you are googling around looking for how the things generally work that term might get you a little further. I wonder how many different amps/pedals people have bought trying to get/fix something that could be solved with a parametric eq (or just eq period). On my Line6 FX100 the parametric eq is fantastic...being able to create presets is almost necessary because on the fly twiddling is not practical.

    I suspect one reason they are not ubiquitous is that a tube implementation is...difficult. Although I have pondered that some of the old amp circuits that are known for having tone and volume controls that interact sorta kinda scratch this itch if you squint at it. In a way that's like using chopsticks with boxing gloves on.

    And parametrics are not super user friendly (kinda the point about needing some kind of preset ability). But anyone who has used older mixers has probably encountered the "sweepable mid" control. Same thing.

    Quilter seems to do this analog fashion by hardwiring switched presets for you but then giving you some easy one knob override control.

    There are some eq pedals that do it too.

    You're right...probably best not to noise it about too much...could gut whole segments of the GAS industry if it got out and that wouldn't be much fun. :)

  7. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    The mid focus EQ is not a parametric... it is a filter (LFP and HPF) which is adjustable. Don't let the "Q" fool you, although it can apply a resonant peak it is not the same as the "Q" found on parametrics. You need to put this EQ on an analyzer to see what it is really doing.

    Line 6 made a big mistake by not taking the time to accurately describe what this EQ does or how to use it. It's like they re-wrote the rules, but forgot to give people the rule book.

    I fully agree with this statement, but the mid focus is NOT a sweepable mid... (don't let the name fool you)... they are sweepable LPF and HPF which is a different type of EQ than a parametric. This EQ does not touch the MIDS in any way... it only CUTS highs and lows to varying degrees.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017

  8. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Got it. Useful.

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