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#2890146 - 11/13/17 06:42 PM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: wcsound]
AnotherScott Online   content
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Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 11211
Originally Posted By: wcsound
My main concern is having a solid quality machine with really nice action and responsiveness...I also want 73/76...I'm thinking it's not a bad idea to have the controller double as a lightweight good quality standalone like maybe the Roland VR730. Haven't played a Nord, but they're so expensive and so many models are organ focused which I don't need. Also want to...not buy anything old...I'm also hoping to keep it under 30 pounds, preferably even 25 or less..something other than Korg


7x keys, decent action, built-in sounds, current, under 30 lbs, non-Korg... The good thing about having lots of requirements is you'll have only a short list of possibilities to check out!

Roland VR730 - haven't played it, but so far, all of Roland's waterfall actions have felt good. More organ oriented than you need, but still has enough other stuff to be useful. Unfortunately a bit weak as a MIDI controller as its main tweaking controls, the drawbars, don't send MIDI CC (sysex only), and patch selection is a bit lame. Advanced synth editing requires iPad app.

Kurzweil Artis7 - some people really like the action, some find it too heavily sprung, but at the moment, syntaur has some replacement lighter springs in stock again. I have the lighter springs and like the action a lot. Lots of MIDI controller functionality. Good patch selection functionality, whether calling up internal or external sounds. A bit heavier then the other options here, but still under 30 lbs. Advanced synth editing requires Mac or Windows app, which I haven't really used and unfortunately has a reputation for being buggy.

Nord Stage 3 - yeah, pricey. But unlike the others, it has aftertouch, and a ton of real-time synth controls. I happen to really like the pitch stick for pitch bend, too. Nord SW actions have also generally been a bit heavily sprung so again you'll get some mixed opinions. MIDI and patch selection functions are fair... better than VR730, not as good as Kurzweil.

and maybe...
Super lightweight, under 20 lbs:
* Yamaha Piaggero (NP-V80 probably the best of the Piaggero options, note that its only MIDI connection is USB; minimal controls; action is borderline, better than most other cheap stuff, but not as good as the other stuff listed here, but then that's always somewhat subjective, too)
* Numa Compact 2 (88 keys, but still super light, nice action, plus it has aftertouch; some decent MIDI functionality but minimal controls)

Other lightweight 7x options that are too organ-oriented...
* Nord Electro 5D, Dexibel J7, Hammond SK1 don't even have pitch and mod controls
* Numa Organ has pitch/mod but no internal sounds at all except organ

I think the Artis7 is the pick of the litter, with your emphasis on using it as a MIDI controller.
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#2890157 - 11/13/17 08:47 PM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: AnotherScott]
wcsound Offline
Member

Registered: 02/01/16
Posts: 3
And there's the standalone list. That's awesome you knew what my request list boiled down to, saves me a lot more fishing time. Also thanks for the insights, really helpful to compare those functions between machines.

There's some things I didn't know existed. Took a quick peek at the Kurzweil and sounds, haven't checked out what they're up to for a while...Hmmm.....

Thanks all for narrowing down both sides of the field for me. Now it's going to be both easier and harder to choose, but just what I needed.

Best regards.

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#2890158 - 11/13/17 09:19 PM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: Al Quinn]
EscapeRocks Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/12/03
Posts: 4395
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Al Quinn
David, I'm glad the hear that it's working so well for you. Do you have any audio or video you can share?


Here's the intro from Don't Stop Believing.

Don't Stop on Soundcloud

I am using
  • Mainstage Steinway (EXS24)
  • Syntronik SY99 "FM Piano"
  • IK-Mulitmedia T-Racks EQ
  • BlueCat Audio Chorus

I used my PX5S as the controller keyboard.

Here's a quick clip of Faithfully my drummer took. The Piano you hear is just the Mainstage Steinway with the Tracks EQ





Edited by EscapeRocks (11/13/17 09:32 PM)
_________________________
David
Gig Rig: Casio PX-5S | Arturia Keylab 61 | Roland Fantom X6 | Mainstage |


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#2890165 - 11/14/17 02:56 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: EscapeRocks]
Markay Offline
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Registered: 01/28/12
Posts: 2671
Loc: Australia
I'm amazed, that's a good sounding piano David. And little embarrassed, I ditched the EXS pianos back when MS 2.2 was fresh as I couldn't get the dynamics quite right.

Tried Sampltekk White Grand (nice Nord sound) but not optimized for EXS, then Pianoteq and been a happy camper ever since.
_________________________
MainStage | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P
"He helped me onto the bottom rung as a musician, from which, I might add, I never ascended" Glyn Johns - Sound Man

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#2890182 - 11/14/17 06:18 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: wcsound]
teashea Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/24/17
Posts: 51
I have been looking into the VR 730. It seems to have good sounds but there is too much menu diving and the construction of the top panel is plastic.

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#2890203 - 11/14/17 08:15 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: teashea]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
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Registered: 11/30/14
Posts: 5372
Loc: USA, greater NY area
They have to get the weight down somehow. There's only as much menu diving as you need during a set or tune. Changing a patch is button press, it has physical draw bars and knobs for the current patch's fx parameters. If you really need to dig, there's the iPad editor.
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Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k

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#2890226 - 11/14/17 10:03 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: ElmerJFudd]
Iconoclast Online   content
Senior Member

Registered: 09/12/11
Posts: 364
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
My experience with the Mainstage/Logic pianos is they sound good but feel weird.

I use hardware keyboards for everything piano or EP. Just can't get past the feel!
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#2890227 - 11/14/17 10:09 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: Iconoclast]
jeffinpghpa Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/22/07
Posts: 354
Loc: Charlotte, NC
I have done a "Rhodes Only" gig at my local watering hole jam using just my iPad with Neo Soul Keys Studio, my 17 lb. Roland FA-07 as a controller and the Korg plugKey to my iPad.

That's it... no internal sounds, nothing else. iPad and Neo Soul Keys.

Would I go on tour that way? No. But unless Steve Gadd calls, that ain't happening anyway....

Would I show up at a local gig and fire that up for the night? Yup. So easy. Sounds so good.
_________________________
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#2890229 - 11/14/17 10:12 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: ElmerJFudd]
AnotherScott Online   content
10k Club

Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 11211
Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
There's only as much menu diving as you need during a set or tune. Changing a patch is button press

Patch change is one of my biggest issues with the VR09. It's not a button press (or even two) unless you only need access to a pretty small number of sounds.

Patches fall into two categories:

1) Stock sounds underneath the various tone select buttons (Piano, EP, Clav, Brass, Strings, etc.). Sometimes that gets you to the sound you want, but often, you'll need to scroll within the category (a kind of menu dive) to get to the sound you want. Disappointingly, you can't change which sound comes up by default when you hit the button.

2) Your own saved, customized patches. These get saved in registrations. You can get to 4 of these with a single button press, or 16 within two button presses. For more than 16, you have to use the scroll wheel, which is really awkward for live performance, especially with that large wheel that makes it tricky to move in small increments. And this kind of sound recall is a multi-step process, as you first have to use the wheel to scroll to the bank you want, and then use one of the four buttons to select a registration that was stored in that bank. You can't call these sounds up over MIDI, either, so there's no way around it.

So without real-time menu diving mid-performance, as I see it, you're basically limited to 16 custom stored sounds, plus the sounds under the category buttons, which will reset to factory default (likely often not the ones you want) every time you restart (so if you want those buttons to function as quick recall buttons for your favorites for each category, you'll have to start each gig by scrolling in order to place the desired sound under each button, and then hope there's no power glitch during the show, or else you'll have to do it again).
(ETA: I *think* it remembers the last sound you used in a category, until you power off. If not, even that trick wouldn't help, but I think it does.)

For such a live-oriented board, patch selection is surprisingly weak, and I think unnecessarily so, in that even within the limitations of the number/placement of buttons they are locked into, software changes could have yielded better patch selection options.


Edited by AnotherScott (11/14/17 10:19 AM)
_________________________
Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our new video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out!

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#2890232 - 11/14/17 10:26 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: Markay]
EscapeRocks Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/12/03
Posts: 4395
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Markay
I'm amazed, that's a good sounding piano David. And little embarrassed, I ditched the EXS pianos back when MS 2.2 was fresh as I couldn't get the dynamics quite right.

Tried Sampltekk White Grand (nice Nord sound) but not optimized for EXS, then Pianoteq and been a happy camper ever since.



Thank you! Don't be embarrassed. It took me a very long time to dial in the Steinway, beginning wit the way the sustain pedal samples worked. They would darken the sound to a noticeable degree and I would lose my sonic place in the mix.


Once I found these third party effects like the IK EQ and the Blue Cat Chorus, I was able to dial in the EXS24 piano the way I needed it to sound. For Don't Stop, I added the Syntronik SY99 "FM Piano" sound just a bit to punch it up in that 80's way smile

I assigned a knob on my Arturia to the "wet" amount on the Blue Cat Chorus, so i can place it wherever I need it in real time.

FYI, using a bunch of Mainstage sounds is another way I keep CPU under control on my less than optimal Macbook.

I have found, as many here have, it's the Mainstage effects that blast our CPU usage. My third party effects play much nicer on my machine.


All in all; If I were using VST in a studio setting to track piano parts, sure, I'd love to have IvoryII or Keyscape, etc..
However, that's a ton of money to just be used in a band setting.
My $39 Mainstage is turning out to be more than a great value, the more I really dig into it.


Edited by EscapeRocks (11/14/17 10:34 AM)
_________________________
David
Gig Rig: Casio PX-5S | Arturia Keylab 61 | Roland Fantom X6 | Mainstage |


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#2890256 - 11/14/17 12:02 PM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: AnotherScott]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/30/14
Posts: 5372
Loc: USA, greater NY area
Originally Posted By: AnotherScott
Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
There's only as much menu diving as you need during a set or tune. Changing a patch is button press

Patch change is one of my biggest issues with the VR09. It's not a button press (or even two) unless you only need access to a pretty small number of sounds.

Patches fall into two categories:

1) Stock sounds underneath the various tone select buttons (Piano, EP, Clav, Brass, Strings, etc.). Sometimes that gets you to the sound you want, but often, you'll need to scroll within the category (a kind of menu dive) to get to the sound you want. Disappointingly, you can't change which sound comes up by default when you hit the button.

2) Your own saved, customized patches. These get saved in registrations. You can get to 4 of these with a single button press, or 16 within two button presses. For more than 16, you have to use the scroll wheel, which is really awkward for live performance, especially with that large wheel that makes it tricky to move in small increments. And this kind of sound recall is a multi-step process, as you first have to use the wheel to scroll to the bank you want, and then use one of the four buttons to select a registration that was stored in that bank. You can't call these sounds up over MIDI, either, so there's no way around it.

So without real-time menu diving mid-performance, as I see it, you're basically limited to 16 custom stored sounds, plus the sounds under the category buttons, which will reset to factory default (likely often not the ones you want) every time you restart (so if you want those buttons to function as quick recall buttons for your favorites for each category, you'll have to start each gig by scrolling in order to place the desired sound under each button, and then hope there's no power glitch during the show, or else you'll have to do it again).
(ETA: I *think* it remembers the last sound you used in a category, until you power off. If not, even that trick wouldn't help, but I think it does.)

For such a live-oriented board, patch selection is surprisingly weak, and I think unnecessarily so, in that even within the limitations of the number/placement of buttons they are locked into, software changes could have yielded better patch selection options.


Similar to my VR-700. I put all my patches for a set in a bank and punch through them with a button press. If the patch situation is elaborate, an iOS patch change app would definitely be welcome. But I bring two boards on gigs that require a lot of shinanigans. I guess the 09 and 730 need more buttons.
_________________________
Live: Yamaha S90ES, Roland VR-700
Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k

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#2890398 - 11/15/17 06:31 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: ElmerJFudd]
Red Ranger Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/22/15
Posts: 37
Loc: Central MA
Quote:

Similar to my VR-700. I put all my patches for a set in a bank and punch through them with a button press. If the patch situation is elaborate, an iOS patch change app would definitely be welcome. But I bring two boards on gigs that require a lot of shenanigans. I guess the 09 and 730 need more buttons.


That's basically how I use my VR-09, too. It means having a setlist and putting sounds in order before the show (which is a pain in the butt, but it gets me by). I change patches by hitting the "next" button. Roland would make me very happy and save a lot of time if PC messages would just call up the saved registrations.

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#2890410 - 11/15/17 06:53 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: Red Ranger]
Red Ranger Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/22/15
Posts: 37
Loc: Central MA
And back to the original topic, I do use a laptop live but it's not my only sound engine. I've got a VR-09 on top and MOXF6 on the bottom (MOXF8 when space allows), hooked up to a MBP running Mainstage. I mostly use the sampler in Mainstage but the Alchemy synth comes in handy every now & then, too. My laptop is a well-worn 2010 model, so I don't rely solely on that for sounds (but knock on wood, no problems so far!)... I really like the MOXF to drive the laptop because of its built-in audio interface and controller capabilities. Wish it had a second set of outputs, though, to send a click to the drummer.

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#2890425 - 11/15/17 08:30 AM Re: Anyone here gigging with a MIDI controller+laptop? [Re: Red Ranger]
AnotherScott Online   content
10k Club

Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 11211
Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
Similar to my VR-700. I put all my patches for a set in a bank and punch through them with a button press.

VR700 was better because you could directly get to 64 sounds without scrolling (8 banks of 8), which is a whole lot more useful than 16 (4 banks of 4).

Originally Posted By: Red Ranger

That's basically how I use my VR-09, too. It means having a setlist and putting sounds in order before the show (which is a pain in the butt, but it gets me by). I change patches by hitting the "next" button.

which of course doesn't work for the many situations where people don't work from fixed set lists that are known ahead of time. But sure, for some players, that approach can work too.
_________________________
Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our new video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out!

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