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Laptops surviving live shows? Desktop Synthesizers
Old 5th April 2007
Lives for gear
Tibbon's Avatar

Thread Starter
Talking Laptops surviving live shows?

Does anyone have any tips for making it so that an Apple laptop would survive well in a live environment? I've always figured that I've had to have two of them running the same sessions, just in case of a crash/failure. Other companies make "tough" notebooks that are somewhat water proof/resistant, but Apple (I mean they have to realize that people use these live) doesn't have anything such.

Flying water bottles, thrown guitars, keyboard stands knocked over, etc... Thinking a NIN's concert, and trying to make a laptop survive (or is this why NIN doesn't use any computers on-stage live?)
Old 5th April 2007
build a custom stand to shield it. maybe decorate it a bit like a prop.
Old 5th April 2007
Gear Head

“The new band started with [drummer] Jerome Dillon, bassist Jeordie White [a.k.a. Twiggy of Marilyn Manson fame], and I holding open auditions in L.A. My first thought when Alessandro walked in was that he didn’t look like what I had in mind. His presence was intense but gentle, not the ‘I’m gonna attack you’ energy fans might associate with NIN. Then he started, and within 30 seconds I was like, ‘That’s the guy!’ I’ve never once regretted it. Without taking anything away from Charlie, Alessandro is really into playing the studio parts as much as humanly possible. Before, our mentality was to get all the licks into a sampler so nothing could screw up onstage, but now, things are much more organic.
Cortini explains taking it all to the stage: “Dissecting the album began with Atticus Ross at the Pro Tools rig exporting original tracks. I’d be on another Mac on the network, and would open them in [Native Instruments] Kontakt, building a patch designed for playing live, not just triggering sequences from one key.
“I love N.I. stuff, but with gear bouncing all over the world, I’m more comfy with hardware, so I use Akai Z4 and Z8 samplers, controlled by an M-Audio Keystation Pro88. We actually shaved the knobs off of it, so nothing can get bumped by mistake. A Keystation 49 above that plays an Access Virus C for lead sounds.
“My pride and joy is the ‘analog corner.’ Several Analogue Systems modules are played from a French Connection. I can also route our minimal backing tracks through my Sherman Filterbank or the Virus, tweaking the latter with my custom Korg KAOSS pad. My tech, Jason Cobb, mounted the membrane on clear plexiglass, which sits on a boom coming off my keyboard stand. The guts are back in the rack.”
Old 5th April 2007
Lives for gear
Tibbon's Avatar

Thread Starter

I wish I could get a keyboard stand like they had on the current NIN tour. It's strong enough that two adults can jump/stand on top of the keyboard and not break the keyboard (too badly) or topple the stand.
Old 6th April 2007
I got a Pelican case for transporting the laptop, or sensitive converters, or mics. If you use an executive type case, you can put some foam in, and tie the laptop in there with some velcro, so it's more protected. If someone bumps into it, the lid closes, and the computer stays in the case. If you really want to do it perfect you can make some connections on the side of the case, so the wires can't be jammed inside. You can paint the case to have it look more like a container for biohazard stuff of course. If you're into that kind of thing.
Generally the apple powerbooks, and macbook pros are very sturdy, and will take a LOT of beating. The new ones also have that motion sensor that puts the harddrive on sleep if you drop it. Never tried that particular function yet.
most "accidents" happened to my stuff transporting. Like a cabdriver slamming a flightcase full of records on top of a mixer in the back of his cab. the mixer was in a plastic crate, without a top. It was like: Wait wait noooooo *SLAM*
A friend of mine had a laptop die on stage (he's a VJ) when some joker put his beer close to it, and managed to drop it into the laptop, while grabbing it. Of course the guy took off, and never paid anything.
Keep your stage area clean, and stomp anybody in the face (like Keith Richards LOL) that takes his drink or BS too close to your stuff.
Old 20th April 2007
Gear Head
oddeo's Avatar

I can vouch for the powerbookthumbsup

I had cut some new samples on the plane. At the gig I loaded them into my sampler via usb and my Powerbook. Somehow the powerbook came out of my incase holder, fell from 5 feet up, hit right on the corner by the super drive. Sure, the corner is dented in, but you know what,that happened a year ago and everything still works fine on it.

I do wish there was some see-through rubber case you could buy to keep liquid out. The laptop can take a beeting stike , but just a little bit of moisture dfegad can cause a whole lot of damage.
Old 20th April 2007
Lives for gear

the only bad thing i've heard happening to laptops at gigs is someone spilling beer all over the keyboard. one friend did crack his screen (after he spilled beer on it) but that was sort of a punk rock electronic night and i think lot's of whiskey was involved.
Old 21st April 2007
Gear addict

I hit my MacBook Pro pretty hard, and it has a small dent in the case, but is still working no problem. My guess is that the normal MacBooks would be harder to dent.
Old 21st April 2007
Gear Maniac

I would also suggest if you are looking to use apple macbooks or pro macbooks look at brenthaven. Also there are hard shells for macbooks. I have a 17" so they don't have one for me that I have found but this company is cool!
Old 27th April 2007
Gear maniac
theoryinmotion's Avatar

I blue screened once at a show when my partner dropped his glass of water into the keyboard of the laptop. Needless to say, I was pissed as hell, he was sober, I was wasted, and he f*cked it up.....go figure.

Since then, only his laptop is anywhere near him.

The good news is that I always have a backup copy of the Ableton Live session and a fan had brought his computer in his car with Ableton on it....loaded our set and finished the show after a five minute intermission.
Old 27th April 2007
Gear Head
oddeo's Avatar

Old 27th April 2007
Lives for gear
Meriphew's Avatar

Originally Posted by theoryinmotion View Post

The good news is that I always have a backup copy of the Ableton Live session and a fan had brought his computer in his car with Ableton on it....loaded our set and finished the show after a five minute intermission.
Sweet! thumbsup
Old 2nd May 2007
Gear Maniac

Anyone have any ideas on how a macbook pro will copy being placed on top of a bassbin with a concrete flag on top of it to ease the vibration?

Not too happy about the suggested set up but apparently the club is small and it's the only place for me to go.

Old 2nd May 2007
Lives for gear
esaias's Avatar
on top of a sub is a BAD place for your laptop.

I'm VJ'ing and I've been in places with my computer where your vision gets blurred because of the huge amount of bass.

I have been trying to design some sort of platform for the computer that would efectively isolate the computer from the vibration but haven\t come up with anything genious yet. The only reasonable solution for making the computer more sturdy is to use solid state disks. Too bad those thingies still cost about 450usd 32gb...

but if you have to be in a very bass heavy enviroment, take atleast some old piece of camping matress to put between your computer and the hard surfaces.

hmm, I just got and idea. I have the gel-type wrist supports on my mouse and keyboard, this stuff could actually work quite nicely if cut to proper size pieces etc.
btw, try skinning one of these gel wrist supports, the keyboar support makes a huge lizard-tongue :D

Old 2nd May 2007
...not to mention that most speakers are not magnetically shielded, meaning the voice coil magnet could do some real harm to sensitive memory based electronics...
Old 2nd May 2007
Lives for gear
lampmeister's Avatar
Some camping shops sell inflatable seats/cushions about 18" square and 1" - 1.5" thick. I'm thinking of tracking one of them down, putting a sheet of 18mm ply on top and the having my laptop on top of that. I've also hear of hi-fi types using a small bicycle tyre inner tube for vibration isolation. Worth looking at.


Old 3rd May 2007
Gear Maniac

Cheers for the replies guys some good ideas here. I'm quite drawn to the innertube one. What about tennis balls cut in half under the laptop would they provide much in the way of suppression the vibrations.

Oh yeah I didn't even think about the massive great magnets inside the subs Oops

Old 3rd May 2007
Lives for gear

For acoustic isolation, you might try the auralex mopads, or something else they make out of that foam. It did wonders for my monitors. The steel stands don't resonate at all anymore.

For magnetic isolation, you might try a portable faraday cage, but I'm not really sure how practical that is. If you try it, let us know how it works out.
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