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Need some serious help with my solo artist live set up! Can somebody simplify for me? Audio Interfaces
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Need some serious help with my solo artist live set up! Can somebody simplify for me?

I'll start from the beginning...

I've got an important gig coming up and need to send tech requirements to the venue, and because I want to change my set up, I'm worried about telling them the wrong thing. So far, I've shown up to venues with just my laptop and played backing tracks off iTunes, and sing into a mic that the venue provides. But this is a special show for me and I don't want to mess it up. I have weeks to rehearse, but without the right hardware or cables, I can't start to practice.
  • I want to stop using my laptop trackpad on stage, and get myself a keyboard with a controller pad that I can use to trigger each of the 6 backing tracks of my live set.
  • I want to play the music via my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface, because I understand that the sound quality is going to be better through this than from a 3.5mm jack directly out my laptop.
  • I also want to use in-ears because my set is very vocal driven and I've had problems in the past not hearing myself.

I use Logic Pro X, and I have also been looking into MainStage, so I imagine I'll be using one of these pieces of software to line up my tracks.

So...
  • Can somebody please advise me on the controller I'd need to buy, to which I can assign tracks to the pads on a controller to play then stop? I thought this would be easy to figure out but I'm drowning in jargon online. This is what I've been looking at: Nektar Impact LX25+ USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with DAW Integration: Amazon.co.uk: Musical Instruments
  • What cable would I require to connect my Focusrite to a PA system? What cables do you think I'd need for this live set up? (As you can tell, I am struggling here).
  • And do artists usually need to bring their own monitoring system to a venue for the in-ears? A decent quality monitoring system costs thousands, so I'm hoping the answer is, "all you need are your in-earphones themselves", for example: Sound Isolating™ Earphones, and the venue should have the rest.

I have so many questions, potentially overcomplicating things because I'm so confused, so please can somebody tell me the simplest way to do all of this. It shouldn't be this hard..?! Advice would be massively appreciated.

Thank you so much.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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What is your budget, do you intend to play the keyboard or will you just need it for the pads...and finally are you interested in a computer less solution or do have to use a computer and DAW?
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Thanks for your reply Samc. My budget is around £200 - I plan on using just the pads for the live performance, but thought that as I am a pianist, it would be great to have the keyboard too for recording use mostly. But, it's not necessary at this point!

I would be interested in hearing about a computer-less solution definitely, as long as it is reliable and sounds the best it can; for example I've read that playing songs off of controllers with SD cards can take some time to load (which is no good for live) and that's especially risky with 6 WAV files that are 3-4 minutes long each. But please fill me in!

Thanks again.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
This will be beyond your budget right now to do completely, but try to move towards being fully self contained (ie your own mic, in-ears, and mixer)

To do this in a way that venues won't hate, you should use a splitter, for example something like this:
MST-412-A | 4 Channel XLR Splitter

Run your own vocal mic (find something that really suits you) into the splitter, one side goes to your own mixer, the other side goes to the venue's system.

Repeat for your focusrite outputs, and anything else you might need.

For a mixer and IEM setup, you could initially get away with something such as the small Behringer or Midas XR12, which would make it easy for you to dial in your own IEM mix, complete with effects etc to your personal taste. This will give you the same experience regardless of venue, which is really nice as a performer.

For in-ears, you could start out wired and move to wireless later if you are looking to keep costs down. The same is true of a wireless mic.

Put all of this gear into one small rack and you have a very portable rig at a low cost, that you can gradually upgrade in future.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Consider the option of playing the files off your phone/iPad/whatever else you might already have access to. Many apps to trigger files/playlists already exist. There may only be marginal benefit from using the Focusrite.

Then run everything through a small mixer, main out to the sound system, aux to IEM. If you're not leaping about you can use the headphone output on the mixer ("solo" the IEM aux), if you choose the right mixer.

Number 1 major issue - do not destroy your hearing with careless use of IEMs.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yazatron View Post
I would be interested in hearing about a computer-less solution definitely, as long as it is reliable and sounds the best it can; for example I've read that playing songs off of controllers with SD cards can take some time to load (which is no good for live) and that's especially risky with 6 WAV files that are 3-4 minutes long each. But please fill me in!
Check this video:



I would feel a lot more confident with this box over anything except a robust computer with Ableton Live. Connecting this box and your microphone to a small mixer (you will not need the Scarlett interface) will allow you to mix your IEMs yourself and have consistency from gig to gig.

Technically, if you're using a computer with the Scarlett 2i2 interface via USB you can also connect a microphone to one of the analog inputs and the unit will act like a small mixer...I would not do this for various reasons. Using the Scarlett simply as an interface into a small mixer with your microphone and IEM system is probably the best solution.

In either case you will either need a splitter which will split the inputs between your small mixer and the house console, or you will be mixing the house from the stage.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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If you have a Windows laptop you could use Shiw Cue Systems. Its cheap and very reliable and you can control it with midi or your laptop keys.
Try the free demo. You can load all your playbacks into it and startbeach one with one button or even decide for each file separately if you want it to start automatically after the track before started, if you want to have a fadeout ect....
On mac the same can be dine with QLab.

The is a neat little controller called Elgato Stream Deck that is super to control that software if you don't want to touch your laptoo for the gig.

As for inear: I would buy one myself. There are quite cheap options that should work in small gigs where with only one musician you won't have trouble frequency wise.
For example the LD Systems MEI 1000 G2.

If you don't want to rely on the house technicians use a splitter for your mic. One line for FOH and one into the mic input of your soundcard.
Mix your monitor using the mixer of the sound card and let the FOH guy mix the output from your playbacks and the mic signal for FOH.

Including the inear, you will be at around 400.- with software, controller and inear.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
From my many years of experience performing thousands of shows as a musician I would KISS for this particular show and use what you already have. Having all this new equipment could be a big distraction for you on stage while performing. Plus with all this new equipment you won't have time to trouble shoot everything that can go wrong with it live.

The #1 thing you need right now is a AV di box. Below is a Raidal pro av2 that will provide a stereo input from you laptop and give the sound guy stereo xlr LR signals.

Access to this page has been denied.

For monitoring just use the venues for now. No need more headaches with a system you don't know or need.

In the long run you should consider using ableton live. Its the better suited to what your doing. Then you can load up a whole set list at a time a trigger the songs with midi as you need them. A midi pedal like this one below can do that instead of a keyboard.

ActitioN 6 button plastic USB MIDI controller, midi | Reverb
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tribedescribe View Post
From my many years of experience performing thousands of shows as a musician I would KISS for this particular show and use what you already have. Having all this new equipment could be a big distraction for you on stage while performing. Plus with all this new equipment you won't have time to trouble shoot everything that can go wrong with it live.
Simple is relative, none of the solutions suggested thus far are complicated. The computer and a mic into a small mixer...he doesn't need to touch anything during the performance once it is setup properly.

Quote:
thing you need right now is a AV di box. Below is a Raidal pro av2 that will provide a stereo input from you laptop and give the sound guy stereo xlr LR signals.
He already has the Scarlett and will come out of the computer via the USB port which will probably be a better sounding option than the mini jack.

Quote:
For monitoring just use the venues for now. No need more headaches with a system you don't know or need.
Maybe you didn't see this..."I also want to use in-ears because my set is very vocal driven and I've had problems in the past not hearing myself."

Quote:
In the long run you should consider using ableton live. Its the better suited to what your doing.
If he must use a computer, then yes, I agree.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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For just playing back stereo files I would not recommend Ableton Live.

You can do more and easier with QLab or Show Cue Systems (for example start a file after the one playing stopped or stop the file with a midi or button press and the file fades out and more)
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
Simple is relative, none of the solutions suggested thus far are complicated. The computer and a mic into a small mixer...he doesn't need to touch anything during the performance once it is setup properly.


He already has the Scarlett and will come out of the computer via the USB port which will probably be a better sounding option than the mini jack.


Maybe you didn't see this..."I also want to use in-ears because my set is very vocal driven and I've had problems in the past not hearing myself."


If he must use a computer, then yes, I agree.
Missed the bit that he already owns and uses the scarlett. Yes I agree use the scarlett. In ears could work well but can be hard to get used to depending on who is doing the mixing.

As for the overall all set up, my musician/engineer brain agrees with you but my teacher brain does not and tells me adding all this stuff he has never use for a up coming gig could be distracting and add possible points of failure on his end. OP how long till the gig?

As for connecting the scarlett curious to know how others feel about connecting this to the foh. I run a similar set up with a babyface pro for a project. The ideal way is balanced line out xlr(or trs adapter) to snake. Problem is some venues mixer's xlr input might be mic level only. I keep a backup for this situation which includes using the headphone outs into a proco av di box.
Old 6 days ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tribedescribe View Post
As for the overall all set up, my musician/engineer brain agrees with you but my teacher brain does not and tells me adding all this stuff he has never use for a up coming gig could be distracting and add possible points of failure on his end. OP how long till the gig?
The OP said he has several weeks to prepare and we don't know that he has never used IEMs before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tribedescribe View Post
As for connecting the scarlett curious to know how others feel about connecting this to the foh. I run a similar set up with a babyface pro for a project. The ideal way is balanced line out xlr(or trs adapter) to snake. Problem is some venues mixer's xlr input might be mic level only. I keep a backup for this situation which includes using the headphone outs into a proco av di box.
Scarlett L+R into two DI channels will do just fine...
Old 6 days ago
  #13
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post

Scarlett L+R into two DI channels will do just fine...
This. And any decent venue should have DI's, but always good to advance that.
Old 6 days ago
  #14
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You'll still need your laptop to trigger samples.

Old 6 days ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisewagon View Post
You'll still need your laptop to trigger samples.
No...he could just load his samples into a sampler/sequencer and play back directly from the box without a computer which would actually be less complicated and more reliable.



Old 5 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
No...he could just load his samples into a sampler/sequencer and play back directly from the box without a computer which would actually be less complicated and more reliable.



Oh sure. And then just run everything you are not playing from a CD.
Old 4 days ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisewagon View Post
Oh sure. And then just run everything you are not playing from a CD.
I think I remember those. That was before the invention of the phone, wasn't it?

I think we're on a logical trimming process that ends in with an iPhone and a tiny mixer.
Old 3 days ago
  #18
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Thanks everybody for your responses!

I have never used IEM before so it would be an entirely new thing. I've got a couple months to prep for this show, and I'm glad I'm figuring this out so early because as your replies have shown, there's a lot of options.

Couple questions:

If I used a sampler instead of my laptop for triggering, would it be sufficient to load entire backing tracks? That's all I want it for. I want a way to trigger my songs that does not involve mucking with a laptop trackpad or iPod. I want to be able to just trigger play and stop off a pad of some sort.

Secondly, in the case of using my laptop (potentially with Show Cue as suggested), would both my Scarlet and MIDI controller be run via USB from my laptop? And then two 1/4 inch outputs running from the back of the Scarlet to FOH? I think I would want my mic running straight to FOH so that the sound tech can adjust my vocal level if necessary. I don't believe I'll be able to invest in IEM soon since doing some more research.

Thanks again!
Old 3 days ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yazatron View Post
If I used a sampler instead of my laptop for triggering, would it be sufficient to load entire backing tracks? That's all I want it for. I want a way to trigger my songs that does not involve mucking with a laptop trackpad or iPod. I want to be able to just trigger play and stop off a pad of some sort.
Depending on the sampler, yes, this is possible and why I suggested going the route in the first place. You can record each song onto a drive and assign each song to a different pad with the Akai MPX16, which is within your budget.

I suggest you go to a big-box retail store and have them setup a couple of different systems and see what works best for you.
Old 3 days ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yazatron View Post
I would be interested in hearing about a computer-less solution definitely, as long as it is reliable and sounds the best it can; for example I've read that playing songs off of controllers with SD cards can take some time to load (which is no good for live) and that's especially risky with 6 WAV files that are 3-4 minutes long each. But please fill me in!
This is my main concern with the sampler. An example of a comment on Amazon:
Question: Do I need to reload my external kit each time I power up? I want to minimise my set up time on stage.

Answer: Yes and this is very slow to load. It is very unsuitable for live performance as the management and loading of content
is laborious and there is the risk of errors I would suggest you buy something else for a live performance
Would this apply to me playing backing tracks?
Old 3 days ago
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Android app;

"Folder player" by Peter Shashkin.

Load your files into a folder in your phone, set app to "play current and stop", buy Hercules phone clamp for mic stand - gig.

As far as mixing / IEMs goes, do you need wireless? If not, just plug 'phones into the mixer, possibly with an extension cable. If you need wireless then that's another post.
Old 3 days ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yazatron View Post

Couple questions:



Secondly, in the case of using my laptop (potentially with Show Cue as suggested), would both my Scarlet and MIDI controller be run via USB from my laptop? And then two 1/4 inch outputs running from the back of the Scarlet to FOH? I think I would want my mic running straight to FOH so that the sound tech can adjust my vocal level if necessary. I don't believe I'll be able to invest in IEM soon since doing some more research.

Thanks again!
Yes, depending on the midi controller both scarlett and the controller run from the laptop.
Bigger controller with more features may need be powered with a powerplug, but most of the smaller ones don't need that.

Your two 1/4 inch outputs go to the DI box that is usually provided by the venue (just maje sure to have it in the rider)
Old 3 days ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yazatron View Post
This is my main concern with the sampler. An example of a comment on Amazon:
Question: Do I need to reload my external kit each time I power up? I want to minimise my set up time on stage.

Answer: Yes and this is very slow to load. It is very unsuitable for live performance as the management and loading of content
is laborious and there is the risk of errors I would suggest you buy something else for a live performance
Would this apply to me playing backing tracks?
What is the "kit" you're talking about and which specific sampler....this might depend on the sampler you're using and how you use it. There are many user groups and tutorial videos for the Akai products I've linked to, you should be able to find the info easily enough on line, plus you should also be able to get a hands-on demo at an approved dealer/reseller.

Many performers use these boxes on stages specifically because they find them easy to use and reliable.
Old 3 days ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
What is the "kit" you're talking about and which specific sampler....this might depend on the sampler you're using and how you use it. There are many user groups and tutorial videos for the Akai products I've linked to, you should be able to find the info easily enough on line, plus you should also be able to get a hands-on demo at an approved dealer/reseller.

Many performers use these boxes on stages specifically because they find them easy to use and reliable.
Whilst researching the MPX16 some more there's a lot of reviews of it saying the SD card reader loads are slow and not suitable for 3 min long WAV files. Here's an example: Can a sampler also be used as a backing track player for singers?

And here also: Akai MPX16 |

So I am beginning to wonder if triggering playback off of my laptop is the only way. A solution without my laptop is still the ideal.
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