You are here

Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby WSFKeys » Mon Oct 24, 2011 3:23 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. :?
WSFKeys
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:00 pm

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby Chevytraveller » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:54 am

Sounds like you might want to look at one of these


:bouncy:
User avatar
Chevytraveller
Frequent Poster
Posts: 849
Joined: Fri May 12, 2000 11:00 pm
Location: Hastings

Soft: MBP 15", X-Station, LogicX, Mainstage 3, Korg legacy, Diva, Alchemy,

Hard: Emulator II, E-Synth, Roland Promars, Obie TVS-1, Waldorf Q, AS Vostok, AS Telemark, AS Leipzig-S.. Eurocrack disease


Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby seablade » Mon Oct 24, 2011 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
seablade
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby gazza1967 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 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!
gazza1967
Poster
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:00 am

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby Falconhell » Mon Oct 24, 2011 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.
Falconhell
Regular
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:00 am

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby WSFKeys » Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:51 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

:lol:
WSFKeys
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:00 pm

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby Rich C » Thu Oct 27, 2011 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?
User avatar
Rich C
Regular
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:00 pm

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby tacitus » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:49 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?
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 757
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby ryno2019 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:43 pm

I do it all the time! I wrote a post on how I set up my rig here: http://ryanbrink.com/live-music-part-1-hardware/
ryno2019
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:00 pm

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby tacitus » Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:19 pm

I'm a complete dinosaur, but then I don't gig on keys as my main thing. If it's not heavy enough to swear at, I don't trust it. Now I have a Nord C2D I actually have a keyboard I can carry fairly easily, but I do have a non-Leslie rotary to make up for that.

Between the Nord and my ageing Roland stage piano I have more sounds than my limited keyboard skills can manage. Don;t do them new-fangled synthemesisers, either.

If God had meant us to use all these stupid bleepy noises you hear nowadays, he would never have given us the Hammond organ, or, for that matter, the grand piano.
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 757
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby damoore » Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:20 pm

I am using a laptop for my sounds with a light 88. Works fine. Would like a master controller of the same weight (or lighter!) with more gozintas. Say a couple of continuous pedal controllers and a couple switched and if it worked as my A/D interface as well I would not complain.

I am using Forte as my VST player. The only significant issue I have is that you have to "save" your sounds as presets in the VST and then configure that preset to come up at load time - changes don't "stick" when you stop and restart the player. But I can live with that.
damoore
Frequent Poster
Posts: 978
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:00 pm
Location: New Hampshire

Re: Computers, laptops, virtual synths (VST's), or traditional hardware keyboards for live performance??

Postby Chord Voicings » Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:49 am

I use a Asus 2nd gen i3 with 8 gigs & a 500 gig hd with Cubase artist as my vst host & HaLion 5 & some UVI sample instr no problems on my gigs
Chord Voicings
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed May 19, 2004 11:00 pm


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests