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WSFKeys



Joined: 24/10/11
Posts: 2
Loc: USA
Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new
      #948828 - 24/10/11 03:23 AM
Help please! I am a keyboard player in a cover band that travels the USA, playing 2 or 3 gigs a month. Our band plays modern/current top 40 music (Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, etc.) I currently use a single keyboard, a Yamaha S90ES, but I am limited in my sound design, and I am looking into the idea of replacing my S90ES with a laptop computer, and designing my sounds using VST's, and using those VST's in my LIVE PERFORMANCE. Has anyone out there had GOOD SUCCESS with running soft synths or VST's in a LIVE PERFORMANCE situation? Do any current bands use soft synths in this way, or do most bands still use specific hardware keyboards when playing live? (i.e. Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Nord, etc). I find that it is hard to always rent a specific keyboard from a backline company, depending on where I travel. I wonder if it's better to invest money in a GOOD LAPTOP COMPUTER, and some good VST software plug-ins (and a good DAW) and generate my sounds from a laptop computer in a live performance. However, I'm not sure if this is a good idea in a live situation, and I'm wondering if I should just stick with buying another physical keyboard and either travel with it, or try to rent it from a backline company while on the road. Does anyone have any advice they can offer me on this subject? Specifically, using computer/laptop and virtual synths (VST's) for performing live, OR using traditional keyboards for performing live? Thank you all so much!! Sincerely, Will.


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Chevytraveller
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Joined: 13/05/00
Posts: 735
Loc: London
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new [Re: WSFKeys]
      #948838 - 24/10/11 06:54 AM
Sounds like you might want to look at one of these




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seablade



Joined: 21/11/04
Posts: 3999
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new [Re: WSFKeys]
      #948905 - 24/10/11 11:41 AM
Along with the obvious Muse Research Receptor linked to above, I can tell you that, for example, Wicked (Broadway Musical) uses multiple rackmount computers and sampler software(I believe Kontakt but could be wrong, didn't look to close) for it's pit orchestra and I haven't heard of any major failures there, but keep in mind they tuned those computers to do exactly one thing, which is run their software for the sampler and nothing else.

Seablade


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gazza1967



Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 30
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new [Re: seablade]
      #948924 - 24/10/11 12:37 PM
I use a macbook pro and a novation keyboard. The laptop is running Mainstage (part of the Logic package).
I have not been let down by this set up for the past 3 years (why do I feel I'm going to regret saying that?).
Mainstage allows me to configure a keyboard for each song, splitting sound across the keyboard where required. I can use any of the plugins that I use with Logic (Ex24 etc and Omnisphere, Kontakt etc)and depending on the Audio Interface, each sound can be sent to a separate output (if that floats your boat!).
You can also use it for "guitar" effects, if you switch between being a keyboard and guitar player.
Cant recommend Mainstage highly enough!


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Falconhell



Joined: 16/01/11
Posts: 75
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new [Re: gazza1967]
      #949042 - 24/10/11 10:22 PM
Agreed on main stage, the keyboard player in my band uses it with a macbook pro and a berringer USB controller, very good sound indeed, with tons of flexibility.


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WSFKeys



Joined: 24/10/11
Posts: 2
Loc: USA
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new [Re: WSFKeys]
      #949364 - 26/10/11 02:51 AM
Wow, thanks everyone for your replies! This is VERY helpful information. The Receptor looks really cool, and it sounds like the Macbook Pro has some great options too. I've been looking into the different VST hosts and DAW's, and now I just need to decide which hardware to invest in (i.e. Windows laptop, Macbook Pro, Receptor). This will come down to price and the availability of VST's that I want to run I guess. Seems to me that virtual is making some headway, and that there are many advantages to virtual vs. physical hardware keyboards in today's day and age. Keep posting to this thread if you have any other words of advice on your specific live-performance soft-synth virtual keyboard rig! Thanks everyone!

Will



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Rich C



Joined: 01/09/04
Posts: 285
Loc: Leamington Spa
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? new [Re: WSFKeys]
      #949754 - 27/10/11 10:31 AM
I have been considering this question while preparing to translate all the material I have recorded in Cubase using softsynths, into something that I can play live. I haven't got endless amounts of money, but I do have a decent ThinkPad laptop (very small and sturdy) and a small Firewire interface. The main alternative that I have been considering is using a NI Kore 1 running version 2 of the software. I have had the Kore 1 for a while now, but like it because it has the audio interface built in unlike version 2. As I see it the beauty of this system is being able to spread any sounds anywhere I like accross a single keyboard and load everything up from one Kore file. I realise that Kore is now obsolete, but I am hanging onto mine for the time being.

I think Kore is a similar idea to Mainstage - and also appeals to me because I can run it as a plugin inside Cubase, or as a standalone programme. I like the idea that I can be running multiple VSTs including Kontakt, so virtual analogue synths, 'S&S' style synths and samplers can all be running rather than having endless boxes lying around the stage.

However, after a few rehearsals I have ditched my laptop and MIDI master keyboard because it was just a pain in the neck to set up. I wanted as simple a rig as I could manage with and so bought an old Korg N1, which has (for me) a nice weighted keyboard and plenty of space to play - and crucially - is easier to set up despite being a big old keyboard. I have a Boss SP-505 balanced on top to trigger samples and I have decided that I would rather re-jig my set for simplicity rather than attempt to reproduce everything live. So now I mainly use piano and Rhodes sounds, augmented by the odd pad or effect sound.

I think it is amazing what you can manage to do with just one keyboard, although I appreciate that for someone reproducing chart material, that probably is totally the wrong thing. I guess that you need to be able to call upon many different sounds at the drop of a hat and I think in that case, nowadays, do you more or less have to use softsynths?

--------------------
www.slowworm.net


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tacitus



Joined: 04/02/08
Posts: 939
Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance?? [Re: WSFKeys]
      #949875 - 27/10/11 07:49 PM
I think (and stand to be shot down on flames for saying it) that having a reliable keyboard that makes a noise when you press the keys is the no.1 priority. For covers, matching the exact timbre of every sound the original has is not so important to me as capturing the spirit of the music. Obviously, for a tribute band, the situation is different and you do what it takes to get the exact sounds you need. I've managed perfectly well with very limited keyboards over the years - not that I ever did a lot of flashy stuff, but I got by with a basic selection of piano sounds, strings/synth pads for slush and a hammond emulator. This may not work for you, but if I got stuck trying to match a sound I usually ended up going for something completely different.

I'm, not sure how much help that is, seeing as I'm pretty much a dinosaur as far as keyboard technology goes. But I've never a keyboard fail to make noise for me, and the worst thing that's happened to me live was fiddling with my Roland piano in the dark during a quiet bit and inadvertently switching it into demo mode. Have you noticed how much louder demo mode is than anything you play yourself?


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