Jump to content

Question for Keyboard players or bands with Keyboard players


VinylMan

Recommended Posts

  • Members

I don't have an opinion on MainStage since I don't use it. As I understand, MainStage is like a virtual rack for live performance for VSTI's. I know that 'sound enhancement was part of the 'marketing gimmick' behind it's launch. Software synths don't sound any better or worse than hardware offerings (depends on the sounds used). MainStage merely provides an environment to use software synths live. The main benefit of Mainstage is the small, light footprint it represents when you walk into a gig with just a laptop and controller. Would I choose to gig that way. Absolutely not.... at least not yet. I own a Muse Receptor and I still prefer to gig with hardware gear... why? There's no crashing. I have yet to experience a Mac or Windows based machine where CPU lag or a spinning beach ball of death was a potential reality. Unless your music requires certain VSTI's or a ton of sequencing and sample playback there isn't any advantage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Well, I don't use it either, but if you look at a couple of demos on YouTube you would see why he likes it. He can set up a playlist of songs/setups where he can change all the patches, sounds, digital effects, parameters he needs with one click or pedal press. He can setup all the parameter controls he needs to be available for the song, have samples ready to be triggered, have backing tracks if you need them. It's easy for him to handle the live performance, doesn't have to carry all the hw modules and effects, you could have effects, backing vocals and other stuff triggered if the song needs it.

 

Now, the big concern is reliability. Can we trust the computer behaves? What if it crashes one day? You would have to be convinced the thing will work 99% of the time and check he has some sort of backup in place - can he take another machine configured the same, even if just a loaner? Can he have HW standing by with the sounds and effects needed to play the gig, even if he has to change them manually between songs? Ask him these questions. See if you can ask other people he has played with if they've had any problems. Rehearse the performance set and play through like if it were live and see how it goes. Many popular world class bands use computer based sounds, effects, sequences... I guess those bands have the budget to make sure they have backups (one ore more identical machines), power protection (UPS, surge protection)...it's a matter of checking what your backups are and if you feel comfortable.

 

Iv

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

LOL that I'm one with experience using MainStage here given recent threads...

 

 

My primary band has used MainStage for backing tracks & click for a couple years, added vocal effects and then swapped out our old hardware to use it as our IEM monitor mixer (running 4 mixes currently) last year AND are now sending MIDI/DMX information to run our light show via DMXIS (past month), all at the same time. Each song gets new tracks (or none, depending), effects and light cues.

 

With ALL of that...we have maxed resources here and there over the past few years as we tried to add new tasks, yes; but it has always led to us figuring out why, recognizing we weren't setting things up efficiently (or correctly), and then educating ourselves to the point that we can actually do everything we've wanted.

 

Aside from those minor issues (manifesting themselves as lagging load times), no real problems, and ZERO crashes.

 

Obviously, backups/redundancies should be in place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

He can set up a playlist of songs/setups where he can change all the patches, sounds, digital effects, parameters he needs with one click or pedal press. He can setup all the parameter controls he needs to be available for the song, have samples ready to be triggered, have backing tracks if you need them. It's easy for him to handle the live performance, doesn't have to carry all the hw modules and effects, you could have effects, backing vocals and other stuff triggered if the song needs it.

 

Now, the big concern is reliability. Can we trust the computer behaves? What if it crashes one day? You would have to be convinced the thing will work 99% of the time and check he has some sort of backup in place - can he take another machine configured the same, even if just a loaner? Can he have HW standing by with the sounds and effects needed to play the gig, even if he has to change them manually between songs? Ask him these questions. See if you can ask other people he has played with if they've had any problems. Rehearse the performance set and play through like if it were live and see how it goes. Many popular world class bands use computer based sounds, effects, sequences... I guess those bands have the budget to make sure they have backups (one ore more identical machines), power protection (UPS, surge protection)...it's a matter of checking what your backups are and if you feel comfortable.

 

Iv

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

There is a big difference, however, between the power necessary for midi control of external sound devices, light controllers, effects units, etc. (which is primarily what I did) and using soft synths on the computer. Some of those soft synths can really be resource hogs. That system better be well setup and tested if that's what he's doing..

 

 

Just to be clear, in my example above, the backing tracks, click, guitar and vocal effects 'source' is MainStage/Logic. The only external piece being controlled via MIDI is lighting software (which we are going back & forth with running on the same machine).

I have a hard time thinking that using MainStage for synth sounds (alone) would use more resources than using MainStage for mixing, vocal & guitar effects and sending light show MIDI information as well as layered synth sounds.

Perhaps I'm missing something?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Just to be clear, in my example above, the backing tracks, click, guitar and vocal effects 'source' is MainStage/Logic. The only external piece being controlled via MIDI is lighting software (which we are going back & forth with running on the same machine).

I have a hard time thinking that using MainStage for synth sounds (alone) would use
more
resources than using MainStage for mixing, vocal & guitar effects and sending light show MIDI information
as well as
layered synth sounds.

Perhaps I'm missing something?

 

Well, it may be me missing something but let's see if we can break it down and figure it out.:)

 

There are three ways anyone could do backing tracks.

 

1. Midi note/performance tracks that send data to external hardware synths. I did lots

of this, pretty easy on the computer.

 

2. Audio tracks that play out as wav, or AIFF, files. It doesn't matter if they were created with soft synths, external synths, guitars or whatever; after they've been "printed" to audio tracks they won't tax the computer much either. I had a few of these tracks too.

 

3. Midi note/performance tracks that play soft synths in real time during the performance. This is generally a real bad idea and can keep the computer from running at it's full potential, or even cause crashing. I'm not gonna say a computer can't do it but I will say it's a silly idea!

 

Effects are a different story, most probably won't cause a lot of strain but beware of convolution reverb, this will often use some serious horsepower.

 

For my click I did use a soft synth in real time but it was a built in DP synth that used very little resources. A closed hi-hat/wood block type sound.

 

Any pre-recorded, or real time, mixing done within the Logic/DP program is also just going to be midi control information rather than some type of large memory resident program unto itself.

 

Then, of course, there's a lot of variation in how much resources various soft synths will use. The ones built into Logic are certainly not going to use as much power as some third party programs do.

 

Like you said, it's all about tweaking it in for the best performance and the newest computers are kicking the asses of ones only a few years old. I was using a 15" core 2 duo 2.4Ghz MBP for my rig. It was a good model because it had both a firewire 800 and a firewire 400 port on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

We have a excellent keyboardist in our band but he is old skool ..I'm not a huge fan of anything computer processed which from what i understand mainstage is a computer based program correct?..

To me although i have heard excellent tone with computer generated effects it is not spontaneous and doesn't have the little subtle differences that i believe a live show should be..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Just to be clear, in my example above, the backing tracks, click, guitar and vocal effects 'source' is MainStage/Logic. The only external piece being controlled via MIDI is lighting software (which we are going back & forth with running on the same machine).

I have a hard time thinking that using MainStage for synth sounds (alone) would use
more
resources than using MainStage for mixing, vocal & guitar effects and sending light show MIDI information
as well as
layered synth sounds.

Perhaps I'm missing something?

 

It depends on the softsynth or sample set. A multi culling patches from a softsynth like Omnisphere can choke a 2-3 year old laptop into a standstill. There's a string patch on the previous Atmosphere's softsynth called Hollywood strings that was 142MB. It really depends on the hardware you are running. I have a dual core 2.4 GB laptop with 3GB ram (Win XP) that runs to a crawl trying to import audio files into Audigy. Windows I wouldn't trust... Mac OS is much better. Still given the number of shows we play, where and tear on gear etc... I can't imagine a laptop being a desired piece of gear onstage. Offstage maybe, but onstage, not likely. At least my Receptor is rackmounted. If it ever fell I'm sure the hard drive could sustain damaged but the rack case would take most of the shock. The MacBook Air intrigues me... still it would never have the response of a Virus live. To me it's the equivilent of using Amp sims. I have no problems with them... it's just not my cup of tea. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

There is a big difference, however, between the power necessary for midi control of external sound devices, light controllers, effects units, etc. (which is primarily what I did) and using soft synths on the computer. Some of those soft synths can really be resource hogs. That system better be well setup and tested if that's what he's doing.

 

Yes, about the difference in power needed... One needs to try to optimize resources one has and test, like fixing soft synth tracks to audio as you mention in a following post...

 

Having a redundant backup is pretty over the top for guys like me who are mostly playing the local bar scene. What I had was a panic footswitch plugged into my Midi Timepiece AV that was programmed to stop the sequence if something went wrong. I had to use it a few times but it was because the humans were screwing up rather than the machines and we could still finish the song as the three piece band we were.

 

Well, yes a totally redundant backup costs a lot. In general, what I mean is have some backup that will allow you to keep the gig going. Like in any computer system there are several levels of backup possible depending on risk tolerance and cost. Depending on what the computer is providing, one could prepare backing audio tracks on an mp3 player, have a substitute HW effects unit on stand by, rehearse alternate song arrangements beforehand (like being able to finish the song a s a three piece band :-) ), etc.

 

I did have my huge Digital Performer project file backed up of course, to a 16gb flash drive which saved my ass once when I was at home working on sequences.

 

Oh, yes...relief. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

We have a excellent keyboardist in our band but he is old skool ..I'm not a huge fan of anything computer processed which from what i understand mainstage is a computer based program correct?..

To me although i have heard excellent tone with computer generated effects it is not spontaneous and doesn't have the little subtle differences that i believe a live show should be..

 

Mainstage is a program, but it does more than generate effects (see my previous post #3). The thing is one can plan and prepare a whole bunch of stuff beforehand and not have to worry changing patches, keyboard splits, audio effects, load backing tracks...between songs on stage. It's a matter of really understanding whatever software you look at in terms of what it can do compared to how easy it will be for you to work it.

 

A stripped down analogy for a guitar player, seems to me, would be deciding between using a multi-effect pedal which you program at home beforehand and then you step through the patches vs. using 7 separate stomp boxes. Some guys will find programming the multi-effect a chore, some guys don't want to stomp and tweak between songs to get a specific sound, some like the convenience of stepping through pre-arranged patches, some like the flexibility of separate stomp boxes. Now, when we talk about software the case is more extreme, with much more possible functionality and possibly more work to get everything right.

 

I'm a computer guy and I liked what I saw in Mainstage, mainly that YOU can design what your screen/display looks like, what parameters you want to have available to tweak while playing live, etc.

 

I'm not sure what you mean about the tone not being spontaneous and have little subtle differences, but perhaps you visualize that once the software is set up that's it. However, on most cases guitar players complement the computer software with a physical pedal/controller that provides stomp switches and continuous control pedals which allows one to control the effects as if you had built your own custom pedal. So, that would provide the way for a player to tweak sounds on the fly.

 

Having said that...I think if one is only doing guitar effects (not backing tracks, synth parts, drums, etc) it's probably more convenient to use a muti-effect unit or separate pedals. It's similar to opting for using pen and paper for to do and grocery shopping lists, but using a word processor for a resum

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

We have a excellent keyboardist in our band but he is old skool ..I'm not a huge fan of anything computer processed which from what i understand mainstage is a computer based program correct?..

To me although i have heard excellent tone with computer generated effects it is not spontaneous and doesn't have the little subtle differences that i believe a live show should be..

 

 

Yup i am a keep it simple kind of keyboard guy. More playing less programing. Hence the band I play in takes more of a old school approach to things. Too much of our show is on the fly. We dont use a set list, and draw from too large a pool of material to ever programs up anything prior to a gig. I would not want to bet the show on a laptop. Now thats not to say that my keyboard could not go tits up during a show ,, but the band could continue without keys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Yup i am a keep it simple kind of keyboard guy. More playing less programing. Hence the band I play in takes more of a old school approach to things. Too much of our show is on the fly. We dont use a set list, and draw from too large a pool of material to ever programs up anything prior to a gig. I would not want to bet the show on a laptop. Now thats not to say that my keyboard could not go tits up during a show ,, but the band could continue without keys.

 

 

If they can play without you, you better be using a 49 note keyboard so you don't take up too much stage space!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

 

Just to be clear, in my example above, the backing tracks, click, guitar and vocal effects 'source' is MainStage/Logic. The only external piece being controlled via MIDI is lighting software (which we are going back & forth with running on the same machine).

I have a hard time thinking that using MainStage for synth sounds (alone) would use
more
resources than using MainStage for mixing, vocal & guitar effects and sending light show MIDI information
as well as
layered synth sounds.

Perhaps I'm missing something?

 

 

That sounds very, very, very cool. And having it send light show data just blows my mind. That's awesome...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

That sounds very, very, very cool. And having it send light show data just blows my mind. That's awesome...

 

 

There are limitations and 'gives' we have to accept alongside the upsides and 'takes', but for what we're doing in this particular band, it's pretty cool, and I personally feel the pros outweigh the cons by a long shot.

This is, by far, the most tech-integrated band I've ever been in...but you could take it all away and we could still play 'our show' for the most part; only a handful of songs we'd likely opt not to play if we had to do without the laptop for whatever reason.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

 

There are limitations and 'gives' we have to accept alongside the upsides and 'takes', but for what we're doing in this particular band, it's pretty cool, and I personally feel the pros outweigh the cons by a long shot.

This is, by far, the most tech-integrated band I've ever been in...but you could take it all away and we could still play 'our show' for the most part; only a handful of songs we'd likely opt not to play if we had to do without the laptop for whatever reason.

 

 

It seems to me if you could do basic hits like: guitar solo, and the guitarist hits his mark, or the blackout except for the lone spot on the vocalist for 8 bars, blasting into wild rhythm based patterns for certain bits. Drums and bass only for an intro. That sort of stuff (pardon me) lights up a show. Sounds fun. I assume then you're playing to a click or locked grid?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

It seems to me if you could do basic hits like: guitar solo, and the guitarist hits his mark, or the blackout except for the lone spot on the vocalist for 8 bars, blasting into wild rhythm based patterns for certain bits. Drums and bass only for an intro. That sort of stuff (pardon me) lights up a show. Sounds fun. I assume then you're playing to a click or locked grid?

 

 

We are starting very basic with a few scene changes in each song where they make sense (at changes for choruses, bridges, etc.), a few songs with obvious 'big' changes on key parts (big breakdown and lights go low, big chorus and it's time for blinders, etc.), and a (semi) blackout at the end of every song. Now that's largely finished, so I believe frontman is making tweaks/changes to get even more aligned with the music; still on the learning curve on this gear, and light show in general (DMXIS and basically the whole light show (fixtures, etc.) were bought in one fell swoop).

 

Using click on the majority of songs; for those without sequences, frontman has some preset light queues able to be triggered by his MIDI foot controller

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

We are starting very basic with a few scene changes in each song where they make sense (at changes for choruses, bridges, etc.), a few songs with obvious 'big' changes on key parts (big breakdown and lights go low, big chorus and it's time for blinders, etc.), and a (semi) blackout at the end of every song. Now that's largely finished, so I believe frontman is making tweaks/changes to get even more aligned with the music; still on the learning curve on this gear, and light show in general (DMXIS and basically the whole light show (fixtures, etc.) were bought in one fell swoop).


Using click on the majority of songs; for those without sequences, frontman has some preset light queues able to be triggered by his MIDI foot controller

 

 

What kind of music are you doing? Original or covers or a mix? How long a show do you have to program up the puter to cover?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Funny.. I've never heard of Mainstage until this forum. I guess I'm not very organized.

 

I use a 2 keyboard setup for 99% of my gigs.. a Yamaha MOX8 and a Korg CX3. In the many bands I play or have played with, much of the repertoire requires very few patch changes. In my MOX8, I have patches stored in Master Mode where I can access them quickly.. very simple setup. No laptop required ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

very simple setup. No laptop required
;)

 

I chucked all that crap too, not that having backing tracks, automated effect/patch changes, and lighting sequences isn't extremely cool and professional, it's just too time consuming to put together, setup and troubleshoot for the average bar band guy like me. In my case I was the only one who knew anything about it and quickly found myself buried.

 

For now I'm keeping it simple, back to switching between guitar and keys in real time. The only hold-over from my "high tech" days is plugging my instruments direct to the board which lightens my overall load. I'm all about streamlining these days!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...