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Softsynths in Live Performance
Old 30th July 2005
  #1
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Talking Softsynths in Live Performance

I am looking for any advice, cautions, etc... on implementing a dedicated powerbook with softsynths for live performance. I am just wondering about latency issues, and any other problems that could arise. When the signal chain is a midi keyboard, midi interface, computer, softsynth, audio out/interface to mixer, will there necessarily be any major latency issues. No processing should be required within the computer. Thanks for any contributions.
Old 30th July 2005
  #2
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I did it sort of recently a little for a couple of Logic native insts (EVB3 and EVP88) off an old G3 iBook. MIDI in from controller, USB out of the computer to M-Audio Ozone, and audio out to the board from that. Latency wasn't an issue at all.

Your only fear is a crash. Mine did once. I bought a keyboard with onboard sounds the next week.

But, now I have a fast Powerbook and and Presonus Firebox (Firewire connection), and would have no problem relying on it. In fact, I use it in the studio as a live keyboard... I just record straight to ProTools via SPDIF off the Firebox for quick stuff that I don't want to bother sequencing. Handy dandy.
Old 30th July 2005
  #3
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you need to make sure your system is very stable and you use a small buffer so you have low latency. also you need a good audio card with balanced outputs, you need to provide an XLR output(s), as i live enginear it is frustrating when people want to use a system with a bull**** sound card

you are better off just getting a dedicated sound module if you can
Old 30th July 2005
  #4
Old 30th July 2005
  #5
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I just read the openlabs info... ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha.

There are gazillions of reliable, much less expensive ways to deal with soft synths on stage without buying a pro-tools sandwich..at five thousand dollars no less.
Old 30th July 2005
  #6
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I was just putting it out there...

It does seem expensive, but then again, it is the only "all-in-one" that I know of.

"There are gazillions of reliable, much less expensive ways to deal with soft synths on stage..."

Can you give me a couple? RELIABILITY and true PORTABILITY are the key words. (I'd really rather not have a laptop on stage). I am actually looking for a solution, because my hardware synths sound like ass to me since I went software synth. Oh, and I don't use Protools, I use Cubase SX if it makes a difference.

This is what I have come up with so far...Laptop with Kontakt (or Halion, or Giga, or somthing else (?)), interface card, midi controller. I think when you put it together, that would be over $2500, which is where the Openlabs systems start at.
Old 31st July 2005
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussie_techie
you need to make sure your system is very stable and you use a small buffer so you have low latency.
you are better off just getting a dedicated sound module if you can

You can say that again! heh
Old 2nd August 2005
  #8
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bumpola
Old 18th August 2006
  #9
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Softsynths in live performance

Hey folks. Anyone using softsynths like ivory, akoustik piano, minimoog V, etc. on a powerbook in a live performance? If so, what midi/audio interface are you using?

I just bought a tascam us-122 and the midi latancy on this unit is horrible! I need a midi/audio unit similar to the us-122 that can handle my phat cords!! (smile) Thanks in advance!

Fresh_oil
Old 18th August 2006
  #10
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I have the us-122. Junk, it never worked well for me, esp the midi latency

I'd try a pcmcia card, like this maybe
http://www.zzounds.com/item--ECHINDIGODJ
Though, I dont use a laptop

-D
Old 20th August 2006
  #11
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Using a compaq Centrino + Firebox - No problems

Hi there:
I'm using a Centrino notebook (Compaq) with 1.25GB of RAM and a Presonus Firebox for my live rig. I regularly use Ivory, Lounge Lizard, Kontakt and a bunch of other soft synths with no problems at all. Latency is set to 10ms and I've never had ANY problems playing live. I also use two MIDI controllers at the same time.
Old 20th August 2006
  #12
STAY AWAY FROM USB! ITS EVIL! FIREWIRE ALL THE WAY!!!
Old 28th July 2010
  #13
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Reviving this thread from the dark ages. This topic changes yearly, and I am wondering what live soft synth set-ups people have. I am aware of Kore and Muse receptor set-ups, but is anyone doing is all with just laptop and controller? Thanks
Old 28th July 2010
  #14
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I run Mainstage (Logic Studio package) on a MacBook Pro for three services at church every Sunday for pads, strings, rhodes, B3, loops and tracks. It's great. It crashed once, but that was user overload error (and before I went to 64-bit). But, that's once in almost a year now. I'm using the Korg Nano controllers for faders and drum pads, and my CP30 as the main midi keyboard. I use a PreSonus Firebox for ins and outs.
Old 29th July 2010
  #15
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It crashed once .... but ....

Un huh.

In the middle of a song and you crash? Na..... to much other stuff to worry about. Get a rack mount dedicated sound set.

Does your guitarist guitar ever crash?
Old 29th July 2010
  #16
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Receptor and Kore never crash? They're still just computers.

As I said, once due to user imposed overload. Never since, and never since going to 64-bit, with much more involved setups.

And yes, my guitar player breaks strings, has bad cables, has amps die, among other technical issues with pedals, power supplies, batteries and whatever. Not very often, but it happens. Nothing is ever 100% perfect, at least in my world.
Old 29th July 2010
  #17
LX3
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I recorded a gig by a fairly well-known UK band a couple of days ago where all the keyboards were coming off one MacBook Pro running Mainstage.

Two separate keyboard players playing at once, about three or four stereo pairs out of a firewire interface (each virtual instrument got it's own pair), various keyboard splits, patch changes, etc.

All worked well.
Old 29th July 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LX3 View Post
I recorded a gig by a fairly well-known UK band a couple of days ago where all the keyboards were coming off one MacBook Pro running Mainstage.

Two separate keyboard players playing at once, about three or four stereo pairs out of a firewire interface (each virtual instrument got it's own pair), various keyboard splits, patch changes, etc.

All worked well.
Do you know what midi controllers they were using?
Old 29th July 2010
  #19
I am using Apple Mainstage 2 on a MacBook Pro 2009, using mainly Logic's own plugs (EXS24, ES2) plus Albino 3 Synth. I even use 2 external mic inputs for processing and vocoder. Set at 128 samples buffer = 3.2ms. Interface: Presonus Firebox (has 6 balanced outputs) on Firewire. 5 octave M-Audio USB Keyboard.

Not a single crash ever. It's great to arrange the set-list on screen. I don't miss at all the days of lugging around racks of samplers and synths. Air-travel is a lot easier. It's the future.
Old 29th July 2010
  #20
LX3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonoraesthetic View Post
Do you know what midi controllers they were using?
I think they were Edirol 4- or 5-octave jobs, nothing very flashy. Sorry, can't be more specific about model, didn't spend much time on stage.
Old 8th February 2013
  #21
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our guest keyboard has an M-audio 88-key USB keyboard, a Macbook Pro with MainStage, a Stereo DI, and a Roland VK8M. Both the Mac and the Roland go through a small Mackie mixer that feeds his monitor and then FOH.

He has a dedicated speaker stand with a flat piece of wood with anti-slip on the top to keep everything from slipping off and it's worked so far.

He just got an iPad for Christmas and with the Camera connection kit is seeing if he can convert over. He really just needs piano, since the organ sounds all come from the Roland.
Old 31st December 2014
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
It crashed once .... but ....

Un huh.

In the middle of a song and you crash? Na..... to much other stuff to worry about. Get a rack mount dedicated sound set.

Does your guitarist guitar ever crash?
Uh, tube amps have been known to catch on fire at gigs...
Old 4th January 2015
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stonelands View Post
Uh, tube amps have been known to catch on fire at gigs...
Quoting something from 2010 - 5 years ago?
Old 4th January 2015
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
Quoting something from 2010 - 5 years ago?
Yeah my bad, only realized after I'd done it. Still I felt the point had to be made...
Old 9th January 2015
  #25
I suppose there's nothing new I'm saying, but... computer on stage is evil! I've played for a while with ableton. Macbook Pro, 10Gb Ram, Akai Pro keyboard, focusrite firewire interface.. Nevertheless eventually we've experienced awful audio dropouts without any reason, and missing midi notes. I'm not saying it was really often but you know you don't want to have these issues even once! Yep, I had no dropouts during the gigs, but I just was lucky, that's all. And what's bad about computer based system is that everything depends on unpredictable computer behavior, you have to hook up all the stuff in some particular order etc. Having independent dedicated devices for different jobs seems to be much more reliable and much more fun! Anyway, good luck to you with your project!
Old 21st January 2015
  #26
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I think latency is governed most heavily by the quality of your audio interface. I have a focusrite scalett 2i2 running ASIO at about 8 ms or so. I've never played live yet but I can imagine many issues coming up without a dedicated hardware sequencer to back you up.

If I was forced to use my computer I think I would use a dedicated laptop with nothing on it but my sequencer software and the softsynths I planned to use. I would get rid of all background processes that could interfere. NO virus software, internet, or basically anything but a bare OS. Get the fastest processor you can find.

Also if you have any hardware or various midi ctrl to hook up I'd buy a midi patch bay. relying on usb could be very problematic.

Probably obvious stuff to mention but important.
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