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Mainstage and backup plans #3013044 10/20/19 04:35 PM
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So In a couple of months I’ll start playing live with my new band. Rig is mainstage running on MacBook connected to studiologic sl73. Works perfectly in rehearsal but I know I need some kind of backup plan in case the laptop crashes. I will have a small mixer with me on stage that will feed foh and monitors. I need to limit the amount of additional gear involved.

Interested in others mainstage users’ backup plans in case of failure...I’m deliberating between (1) hooking up an iPad running Ravenscroft via a korg microplug or (2) using something like a xv2020...with both options I’d take the midi out from my sl73 (usb out is driving mainstage) and run the audio output into my mixer, so if the laptop failed I could switch Immediately to my second sound source.


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
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Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013052 10/20/19 05:51 PM
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Either sounds good. Make sure you soundcheck your backup before every gig, to ensure the mixer cabling, gain structure etc is correct.

The SL73 has plenty of empty front-panel real-estate for an iPad doesn't it? I think in an emergency I'd want to easily see what's going on with my sound source. The XV2020 might be tucked away on the floor where you can't see it as easily?

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013056 10/20/19 06:19 PM
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XV2020 would be in a rack, right? Or just laying out somewhere on stage naked? In my view, one of the big pluses of a laptop rig is minimizing the gear count & cable clutter. I started using a laptop on stage close to 20 years ago. I carry a small 1/2 rack module in my accessory case along with my pedals – a Roland JV1010 – for emergencies. I got it used on Ebay for around $150, don't remember the year. I've used it on a gig twice – once when I accidentally left my laptop bag home, and once when my speakers thermalled on a gig and I thought it was the laptop.

Anyway, carrying a rack enclosure with a synth module "just in case" is not something I would personally consider, but I understand you doing whatever makes you comfortable. There was a brief period of time when I first started doing laptop gigs where I would hook up both the JV1010 and laptop audio into a small mixer so I could instantly switch to the JV if I had to. That never occured and I went to leaving the JV in the accessory case where it remains today. I wish you a trouble-free experience like mine has mostly been (I've never had an actual crash, but a few hiccups here & there that were not show-stoppers).

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Reezekeys] #3013058 10/20/19 06:54 PM
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There are common sense things to do to avoid laptop problems.

1). If outdoors in the heat, keep it cool. (This is the only situation in which my laptop crashed. My fault.)

2). Reboot immediately before the gig.

3). Turn off WiFi.

4). Make sure your connections to the laptop are well secured.

5). In Mainstage before starting the actual performance load each of your presets, thereby pre-loading each of your VSTs into RAM.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013062 10/20/19 08:35 PM
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This is my usual rig on my fly in gigs. BUT...
I just returned from a brief tour of the Balkans and guess what: my XV2020 died on the last gig. Just like it did one month ago in Turkey and two years ago in Tunisia. Every time it was the software that did the job whereas the old hardware died!
For the future my back up to my current Macbook/mainstage rig will simply be my older MacBook (with an older version of mainstage). No more XV2020...

Last edited by yannis D; 10/20/19 08:36 PM.

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Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013069 10/20/19 09:25 PM
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Since we're talking laptop strategies, I'll add a few of mine. I have a late-2013 MacBook Pro, currently on Mojave (10.14.6). I use a separate partition on the internal drive dedicated just for playing gigs, with its own separate OSX install (not a second account that shares the same system). Mojave on the "gigging" partition is a stock install with no 3rd party software added except what I need to do gigs with: midi & audio drivers and the music sw I use. Zero "iCloud" stuff, email accounts, etc. I do go online via a web browser occasionally to download driver updates or other things I need to do gigs with, but that's about it. When I play, wifi is turned off. I also disable Notification Center by turning on "Do Not Disturb" in System Prefs with the time set from 5:00AM to 4:59AM (it will turn on for a minute at 4:59AM!). I also have Energy Saver prefs set to "Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off" and to not "Put hard disks to sleep when possible." I might be a little overzealous but don't want to leave anything to chance!

I find that OSX still manages to do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff and I wonder if it occasionally interferes with audio. "Spindump" reports and log files are what I see the most; I've noticed very occasional "blips" in the audio (at home, not on gigs) and I check the system logs to see that a logfile was written, or there was an attempt to "phone home" to some Apple server at around the same time – but I could be wrong about this.

And it goes without saying – never upgrade system software automatically, or just because the upgrade is available! That most certainly applies to the latest version of OSX (Catalina) since 32-bit apps will stop working.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013070 10/20/19 09:45 PM
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It's a great question and one I think of all the time. In my current band I originally had a rig that involved using sounds only from my laptop / Mainstage. Then after some challenges with reliability, over a few months I moved to a more hardware-based rig with my MODX7 providing 100% of sounds at smaller gigs and my Kronos or Crumar Seven as a second board at bigger gigs. All of this is still controlled by Mainstage but purely as an easy way to change patches / performances. My next step, and my ideal, is to have the same hardware boards but use software sounds the songs. My plan is eventually to have two Mainstage setlists. One for hardware only (where MainStage just switches performances) and one where it's fully softsynth. Then, if my laptop dies, I just revert to my board to manually switch patches. Only downside is setting up two lots of sounds each time I add a new song....

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013075 10/20/19 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by philtre71
I’m deliberating between (1) hooking up an iPad running Ravenscroft via a korg microplug or (2) using something like a xv2020...with both options I’d take the midi out from my sl73 (usb out is driving mainstage) and run the audio output into my mixer, so if the laptop failed I could switch Immediately to my second sound source.


I’d go the iPad route, but just curious what other apps you’re talking about in addition to Ravenscroft - given that your other option is a module.


Arturia Keylab MKii 88 | Mojo61 A/B | iConnectAudio4+ > iOS / MacOS
VI Ravenscroft | Neo-Soul Studio | Acoustic Samples V-Tines | iSymphonic | Pure Synth Platinum | iFretless Bass
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: PianoMan51] #3013082 10/21/19 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
5). In Mainstage before starting the actual performance load each of your presets, thereby pre-loading each of your VSTs into RAM.

This is one thing that MainStage does automatically, whether you want to or not. ALL patches are pre-loaded into RAM/VRAM (OSX offloads a lot into VRAM). It's one of the best and worst things about the program. For me, it's the vastly preferred behavior, and I can't think of a situation where I wouldn't want it on. However, some people don't like this. Some programs like Gig Performer allow you to select which patches get pre-loaded. While others (Camelot) don't pre-load at all, which is a dealbreaker for me. I love MainStage, and have learned to accept this behavior, as I find it vastly preferable to not-preloading, though I wouldn't mind if they made an option to turn it off or allow selection to satisfy other people's needs.

My solution: I just gig with a Mojo61 too, so if something were to ever fail, I can play it on organ/rhodes and make do. At the end of the day, most of the audience just knows 'that's a keyboard', and 'that's a guitar', so if something gets played on the wrong patch for a few minutes while I have to re-boot, it's not the end of the world, and we can avoid heavy synth numbers until I'm back up and running. I could probably play all night on just the Mojo and the gig would go fine.

So my recommendation is to have some simple hardware board there that can be a "spare tire" if things fail. It might not be perfect, but you can still get through the set. iOS alternate wouldn't be bad either, though if software fails me, I love just switching to hardware to take my mind off computers for a sec while I fix the problem during breaks.


"All's fair in love, war, and the recording studio."

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Arturia Keylab88, Mojo61, Seaboard Rise49, Vortex Keytar (RIP), Trumpet
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013097 10/21/19 02:56 AM
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MX49


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Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013104 10/21/19 09:01 AM
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Use DMC-122 with Macbook Pro 2102 with Mainstage.

My first backup is: Gemini module in the DMC-122 (I do not use it because Mainstage can do the same and more and is easier to not mix the two)

Second backup is a Boss DR-synth module (General midi box), where I can select instruments per channel.
Sounds good enough to get through an evening

In case of laptop error, Perhaps I'm going for the second backup. is more flexible.
This reminds me to train my backup setup and add the new Gemini-open piano to the Gemini.

In simple band siutations I can leave the MBP home and play with DMC-122 + Gemini alone. now the new piano seems nice.


DMC-122, Macbook Pro 2012, Mainstage 3.3,RME Fireface UCX (Backup on stage, Gemini board | backup in car: Dr. Synth)
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: drawback] #3013110 10/21/19 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by drawback
Originally Posted by philtre71
I’m deliberating between (1) hooking up an iPad running Ravenscroft via a korg microplug or (2) using something like a xv2020...with both options I’d take the midi out from my sl73 (usb out is driving mainstage) and run the audio output into my mixer, so if the laptop failed I could switch Immediately to my second sound source.


I’d go the iPad route, but just curious what other apps you’re talking about in addition to Ravenscroft - given that your other option is a module.



I have a bunch of different apps on the ipad...and it's already running Forscore so it's sitting on my SL73 anyway (the magnetic back on the SL73 keeps it locked in place).

I mentioned Ravenscroft because piano is core to most of my patches, and I'd be able to busk through a couple of tunes (or the whole set if needed) using piano, while the laptop was (hopefully) re-booting!


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Charleston] #3013111 10/21/19 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Charleston
MX49


That's what I've been doing up until now...having two keyboards on stage, one of which was capable of producing its own output (e.g. Yamaha CP33) as a backup to Mainstage.

For this band I'm keen to stick to one keyboard only...the portability of the SL73 is great and I'd like to stick to using it rather than the CP33.

So I guess I'm looking for the most compact backup option...I will have a small table beside me with laptop, mixer, breath controller etc, so it would be trivial to add a small module like the XV2020 as a backup sound source, taking midi from the SL73.

Some great feedback here guys...I'll let you know what I decide to do.


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Reezekeys] #3013112 10/21/19 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Reezekeys
XV2020 would be in a rack, right? Or just laying out somewhere on stage naked? In my view, one of the big pluses of a laptop rig is minimizing the gear count & cable clutter. I started using a laptop on stage close to 20 years ago. I carry a small 1/2 rack module in my accessory case along with my pedals – a Roland JV1010 – for emergencies. I got it used on Ebay for around $150, don't remember the year. I've used it on a gig twice – once when I accidentally left my laptop bag home, and once when my speakers thermalled on a gig and I thought it was the laptop.

Anyway, carrying a rack enclosure with a synth module "just in case" is not something I would personally consider, but I understand you doing whatever makes you comfortable. There was a brief period of time when I first started doing laptop gigs where I would hook up both the JV1010 and laptop audio into a small mixer so I could instantly switch to the JV if I had to. That never occured and I went to leaving the JV in the accessory case where it remains today. I wish you a trouble-free experience like mine has mostly been (I've never had an actual crash, but a few hiccups here & there that were not show-stoppers).


Sounds exactly what I'm planning on doing! The gig is a Peter Gabriel cover band so the keyboards are REALLY important...I just dread the thought of Mainstage crashing as it would be very difficult for the rest of the band to carry on. Compact but comfortable sounds like a good objective!


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013128 10/21/19 02:23 PM
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My situation is different and not as demanding as yours - I play mainly jazz/r&b/funk type gigs and need basic sounds like acoustic & e pianos, strings, organ, clav, horns, some synth pads and a lead sound. They all get loaded at the beginning of the gig. I do have a few presets with splits & transpositions, but for my main touring gig there are only six of those. If something were to go wrong I could muddle through with another board set up with a few sounds – but it seems that might not work for you.

The one thing that made me comfortable and confident using my laptop rig on the road with a touring band without backup was doing a lot of smaller local gigs with it first. I did this in years past when I was in a full-time band doing weddings & corporate work. When you play 30-60 gigs a year with a laptop for a few years, you'll figure out what works and what doesn't. You might not have that luxury (if you can call playing weddings that! smile ) but I think software has matured to the point where it's pretty reliable now. I would still not want to deal with a full-size rack module like an XV2020 as a backup – at that point I'd be wondering, why not leave the computer at home and just use that? If the iPad can work as a backup that might be cool, or maybe there's a more modern version of my JV1010, a small Sound Canvas module perhaps, that will fit in a laptop bag and give you the basics for getting through a gig if something happens to the computer.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013133 10/21/19 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by philtre71
Originally Posted by Charleston
MX49


That's what I've been doing up until now...having two keyboards on stage, one of which was capable of producing its own output (e.g. Yamaha CP33) as a backup to Mainstage.

For this band I'm keen to stick to one keyboard only...the portability of the SL73 is great and I'd like to stick to using it rather than the CP33.

So I guess I'm looking for the most compact backup option...I will have a small table beside me with laptop, mixer, breath controller etc, so it would be trivial to add a small module like the XV2020 as a backup sound source, taking midi from the SL73.

Some great feedback here guys...I'll let you know what I decide to do.


I was thinking the MX49 would be good (sitting offstage/nearby/unseen/etc.), just in case the SL73 goes down. You could have the MX49 power/audio cables always ready to go on the stand, and just switch out boards quickly. Just as a last resort (backup of backups) kind of thing.


NI, Arturia, Ableton, Waves, Casio VL-1/MT-500, Yamaha KX5, Roland Juno 106/D50/XP80/P-55/A-49, Korg M1/WavestationSR/Microstation/Microkey, Peavey C8, SK1, QS6, Yamaha G2 grand
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: yannis D] #3013137 10/21/19 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by yannis D
This is my usual rig on my fly in gigs. BUT...
I just returned from a brief tour of the Balkans and guess what: my XV2020 died on the last gig. Just like it did one month ago in Turkey and two years ago in Tunisia. Every time it was the software that did the job whereas the old hardware died!
For the future my back up to my current Macbook/mainstage rig will simply be my older MacBook (with an older version of mainstage). No more XV2020...


That hadn’t even occurred to me...I have a few older MacBooks I could use...thanks!

Last edited by philtre71; 10/21/19 03:55 PM.

Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Reezekeys] #3013138 10/21/19 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Reezekeys
My situation is different and not as demanding as yours - I play mainly jazz/r&b/funk type gigs and need basic sounds like acoustic & e pianos, strings, organ, clav, horns, some synth pads and a lead sound. They all get loaded at the beginning of the gig. I do have a few presets with splits & transpositions, but for my main touring gig there are only six of those. If something were to go wrong I could muddle through with another board set up with a few sounds – but it seems that might not work for you.

The one thing that made me comfortable and confident using my laptop rig on the road with a touring band without backup was doing a lot of smaller local gigs with it first. I did this in years past when I was in a full-time band doing weddings & corporate work. When you play 30-60 gigs a year with a laptop for a few years, you'll figure out what works and what doesn't. You might not have that luxury (if you can call playing weddings that! smile ) but I think software has matured to the point where it's pretty reliable now. I would still not want to deal with a full-size rack module like an XV2020 as a backup – at that point I'd be wondering, why not leave the computer at home and just use that? If the iPad can work as a backup that might be cool, or maybe there's a more modern version of my JV1010, a small Sound Canvas module perhaps, that will fit in a laptop bag and give you the basics for getting through a gig if something happens to the computer.


Thanks for the feedback. The xv2020 is half rack so it wouldn’t take up much space beside my MacBook. I’ve played live with mainstage for ages and never had a serious problem...but I’ve always had some kind of hardware backup like my cp33 or xp50 as part of my rig. The iPad is already sitting on my sl73, so that might be the simplest way to get some redundancy in the setup.


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013149 10/21/19 04:30 PM
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So after a bit more thought, I’m leaning towards a two-laptop solution, I should stress that this is very situation-specific...if you know Gabriel’s output, you’ll know it relies on a lot of keyboard and for some songs I run through 7 or 8 patches in mainstage, usually with a number of layers and splits within each patch. It’s much closer to musical theatre in that respect. So a laptop crash would derail the whole thing, I could cope with basic piano for a couple of songs IF the laptop could re-boot and I could get mainstage back up and running, But if not....I’d be screwed, as would the band. I’m one of those people who always expects the worst, and probably overthinks.

Adding another laptop (which I have) running mainstage with the same set of patches would probably be the only way to really be safe here. It’s closest to what I’ve seen in rundowns that are mainstage based (David rosenthals springs to mind). Carrying round an extra laptop and power supply isnt a hassle, and possibly worth the piece of mind! I mean, if I can’t get that shakuhachi sound in sledgehammer, or the bagpipes in Biko, it ain’t going to down well!

So maybe running the sl73 usb into the main MacBook, and its midi output into a second MacBook via a midi-usb interface would do the trick. Unless there’s an easier way to split the single usb out into both MacBooks?


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013169 10/21/19 05:54 PM
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Sounds like a great plan since you have the 2nd laptop and all the sw! I would also go with USB on one and 5-pin midi for the other, as you mentioned. As I just wrote about in a recent thread, USB issues can sometimes bite you.

And, my bad for not remembering the XV2020 is a half rack unit! I must have been thinking of the XV50-something.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013277 10/22/19 10:02 AM
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philtre71
That hadn’t even occurred to me...I have a few older MacBooks I could use...thanks!
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Good thing about this option is that you can duplicate your patches, so even if the new Macbook goes down, the old one w/Mainstage will do the exact same sounds. The XV is very dated soundwise, even with the SRX cards on. You will never have a Scarbee rhodes, a Pianoteq, even the quality of ESX24 instruments (you name it...) on an old XV2020. It might be reliable (it was for many years to me, but it failed me three times...) but you compromise on the sounds.


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Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013293 10/22/19 01:29 PM
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The only headaches I can see with a 2-laptop rig on a gig are the logistics of placement, setup, and protection from all the possible issues of being on a stage. My situation is pretty easy – the computer is on an SKB Studio Flyer case sitting on top of a bass amp, in back of me. I still worry a bit when we're an opening act, or on a festival gig where a tech crew swarms the stage as soon as your last chord dies out. They're there to clear the stage as fast as possible – that's a concept that doesn't go well with laptops. Our road manager/monitor guy tells all the crews at our gigs to leave my stuff alone after our set. I come back on stage quickly after we're done our bows to the tumultuous applause and cheers of the crowd smile where you'll see me quickly gathering my USB & midi cables, wall wart, etc., putting it on top of the SKB and getting off the stage as fast as I can. Things would be a little more complicated if I had to deal with two laptops!

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013314 10/22/19 04:25 PM
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Does anyone use a headless setup? In theory something in a mac-mini-like format that's configured to start up everything you need on boot would be a little easier to schlep and keep out of the way. Assuming you only need to interact with it via MIDI and don't need monitor or keyboard.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: yannis D] #3013328 10/22/19 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by yannis D
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philtre71
That hadn’t even occurred to me...I have a few older MacBooks I could use...thanks!
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Good thing about this option is that you can duplicate your patches, so even if the new Macbook goes down, the old one w/Mainstage will do the exact same sounds. The XV is very dated soundwise, even with the SRX cards on. You will never have a Scarbee rhodes, a Pianoteq, even the quality of ESX24 instruments (you name it...) on an old XV2020. It might be reliable (it was for many years to me, but it failed me three times...) but you compromise on the sounds.


Yep...I think in my original post I was really thinking about creating a 'make do' backup that would get me through a couple of songs while the macbook (hopefully) rebooted. But that's not going to be enough for this gig.


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Reezekeys] #3013332 10/22/19 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Reezekeys
The only headaches I can see with a 2-laptop rig on a gig are the logistics of placement, setup, and protection from all the possible issues of being on a stage. My situation is pretty easy – the computer is on an SKB Studio Flyer case sitting on top of a bass amp, in back of me. I still worry a bit when we're an opening act, or on a festival gig where a tech crew swarms the stage as soon as your last chord dies out. They're there to clear the stage as fast as possible – that's a concept that doesn't go well with laptops. Our road manager/monitor guy tells all the crews at our gigs to leave my stuff alone after our set. I come back on stage quickly after we're done our bows to the tumultuous applause and cheers of the crowd smile where you'll see me quickly gathering my USB & midi cables, wall wart, etc., putting it on top of the SKB and getting off the stage as fast as I can. Things would be a little more complicated if I had to deal with two laptops!


I'm wondering about using a flightcase for this. I currently carry the SL73 in a soft bag, but will be getting something more rugged in the next month or so. I need a flat surface to put my breath controller, small percussion instruments etc. anyway, so maybe sitting the flightcase on a X-stand at a right angle to the keyboard would give me a suitable surface for two laptops (with appropriate velcro etc) plus mixer, and other odds and ends. That way the whole setup would be two stands, SL73 in flightcase + bag with laptops, cables etc.

Would still need to have a think about quick setup/strip-down etc...

Last edited by philtre71; 10/22/19 06:05 PM.

Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013336 10/22/19 06:18 PM
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When I use the Mainstage or Gig Performer rig, My 88 note controller is my Casio PX-5S. My 61 note controller is either my Komplete Kontrol 61MKII or my Arturia Keylab Black Edition
The PX-5S is obviously my backup should something go haywire. So far I've never had to do that.

As Reeze has stated, I, too, have several years now of gigging with Mainstage (and GigPerformer) and have not had a failure.


David
Gig Rig: Casio PX-5S | Yamaha MODX6 |

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: EscapeRocks] #3013339 10/22/19 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by EscapeRocks
When I use the Mainstage or Gig Performer rig, My 88 note controller is my Casio PX-5S. My 61 note controller is either my Komplete Kontrol 61MKII or my Arturia Keylab Black Edition
The PX-5S is obviously my backup should something go haywire. So far I've never had to do that.

As Reeze has stated, I, too, have several years now of gigging with Mainstage (and GigPerformer) and have not had a failure.


Thanks David...that's similar to what I've been doing up til now...fully Mainstage, but with the safety of the audio outs from my CP33. Like you and Reeze, I've never had a problem with Mainstage.


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013341 10/22/19 06:57 PM
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Maybe consider a board that has a built-in Audio i/o?

I've used my MODX6 a couple times along with Mainstage. Nice clean setup since the MODX is an audio i/o and even has it's own volume knob on the board for that.

Just an idea.


David
Gig Rig: Casio PX-5S | Yamaha MODX6 |

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013421 10/23/19 05:12 AM
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I feel like when I don't have the backup is when I'll need it. I carry an Ipad with Korg Module and the M1 apps. . Since I already use the Ipad for charts it's not anything extra to bring. The Korg Module app is a great bread and butter synth/piano that you can even load on an iphone, which I also do.
I also keep an ancient Alesis Nanosynth ($20.00 at Goodwill) in my gig bag on fly/road dates, and a Kurzweil ME1 in my car for local gigs along with back up power supplies, cables, and a cheap back -up sustain pedal- which I've needed more times than I can count!

I've had my Mainstage rig fail once. It was user error: stage -hand had mistakingly turned off the powerstrip on my macbook after soundcheck and I never noticed, until it died mid show.


Chris Corso
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Lots of stuff.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: obxa] #3013452 10/23/19 01:56 PM
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So, other than my admission that I had a laptop fail in the outdoors sun, has anyone come back telling you about a failure?

Check out Reezekeys, who is all too reticent about his gigs, and tell us that you need to be more prepared than him?

Sorry, but I have gigged for years with a laptop without problems, and assert that the worries about crashing are from those who haven’t developed the discipline to take care of their laptop, or those who have never tried.

There is a constant skirmish on this forum between hardware vs software. You stepped into the no-man’s land and will decide which side you run to for shelter.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: PianoMan51] #3013526 10/24/19 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
Sorry, but I have gigged for years with a laptop without problems, and assert that the worries about crashing are from those who haven’t developed the discipline to take care of their laptop, or those who have never tried.

There is a constant skirmish on this forum between hardware vs software. You stepped into the no-man’s land and will decide which side you run to for shelter.

Agree 100%. I've never had a laptop all-out fail, at least not something that i couldn't quickly recover from. I've seen my guitarists and bass players fail 10x over before I have even a minor glitch with my gear. But there ARE concerns. New MacBooks with the new ID chip have a glitch which will reboot the audio system if the headphone jack comes loose. Same will happen if a USB interface breaks connection. That will put you out for a minute. Has it ever happened? No... but it could.

I'm all about "Backups you already use". The kind of problems that occur with laptops or any technology are typically only things that will set you back a minute or so. Switching out another laptop will probably take just as much if not more time. Better still is to have another board already hooked up, maybe with some additional features that make you want to use it anyway. Don't just clone your setup on a set of gear you'll possibly NEVER use. Get yourself a smaller second board. Maybe it feels great to play synth on, maybe it's an organ or has a killer rhodes sim... something that you'll be tempted to have setup and play at every gig anyway. Then if your laptop fails, you've got a fallback that you already know how to use, just right there at the ready.

Almost no keyboard patch is "special" enough that it can't be momentarily substituted with something else. For the few tunes that use something crazy like backing tracks or a full orchestra with splits ("I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing"), you can just skip it for a bit until your equipment is back up and running. Trust in your own ability to adapt to the situation and use the patches at hand. Sometimes it's refreshing to play "Sweet Dreams" on grand piano for a change! Remember, the best bands don't "not fail", they just know how to adapt when things go wrong.

I've been doing the MainStage thing for 9 years now, every week. Software + Hardware is a GREAT match made in heaven.


"All's fair in love, war, and the recording studio."

MacBook Pro running MainStage and various plugins (NI and other)
Arturia Keylab88, Mojo61, Seaboard Rise49, Vortex Keytar (RIP), Trumpet
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: PianoMan51] #3013549 10/24/19 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
So, other than my admission that I had a laptop fail in the outdoors sun, has anyone come back telling you about a failure?

Check out Reezekeys, who is all too reticent about his gigs, and tell us that you need to be more prepared than him?

Sorry, but I have gigged for years with a laptop without problems, and assert that the worries about crashing are from those who haven’t developed the discipline to take care of their laptop, or those who have never tried.

There is a constant skirmish on this forum between hardware vs software. You stepped into the no-man’s land and will decide which side you run to for shelter.


I don't think we should be so hard on poor Chris! Everyone has their own comfort level with their gear's reliability, and if someone feels the need to bring an extra keyboard on the slight chance that it might be needed someday, it might help them relax and enjoy their gig more – so it's all good.

For the record, I don't bring an extra keyboard, and mine is a controller with no sounds so I should probably worry more than most about my keyboard failing than my computer! As I mentioned in another thread somewhere, I pack a Roland JV1010 in my accessory case for local gigs so I have something to make sounds with if I don't have my laptop. For road gigs I don't bring the JV – It's just my MacBook Pro and Roland A800 Pro controller. You could say there's a little more at stake there – either one of those malfunctioning could be a problem. Based on my years of using this same basic setup I've come to use these backup strategies which have served me well, up until now at least:

I carry a Korg NanoKontrol that duplicates the buttons & sliders of my Roland A800, so I can do a gig using any "keyboard du jour" as long as it has a midi output, a sustain pedal, expression pedal and pitch & mod wheels. Give me an original DX7 or Korg M1, I don't care – I can do the gig with all my sounds. I also carry a spare SSD with all my samples so if my regular SSD were to fail I can substitute it. It happened on one AWB gig but that was back when I was experimenting with using a USB3 stick instead of a true SSD to stream my samples. It lasted a year, then I learned the hard way (in the middle of a gig) not to trust that form of storage for important gigs! Luckily it failed during a long drum solo, so I was up and running quickly and didn't miss an eighth note.

I also carry another SSD with an OSX system and my music software, so in the unlikely event that my laptop were to fail or get stolen, I could borrow any Mac laptop with USB3 ports and a headphone jack and be in business. Of course this is an option I hope to never exercise, but another 2.5" external SSD doesn't take up much room in my laptop bag so I bring it.

Anyway, I guess I wanted to say (with my usual verbosity, lol) that I don't just go out on the road and "wing it." smile

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013556 10/24/19 04:02 PM
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I've used a laptop and have had the hard drive decide it was time to take a dump. And I have had to replace a board that was plugged in when lightning struck a transformer.
Those are small one time events with minimal chance of repeating. On that note though, I will say I have had way more incidents of things like crackling noises and stuck notes from software instruments then I ever have with hardware. And to assert that that is due to a lack of discipline is a bit over the top. Stuff happens, you may go for years without an issue. Until it happens.

I rode a motorcycle for 35 years without ever crashing or laying one down. Until it happened, which made me very happy I was wearing an armored jacket, gloves, boots and a helmet!


Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12
Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013572 10/24/19 05:09 PM
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Regardless of whether someone is using hardware or software, the backup choices seem to be between either: a) redundant/similar equipment, or b) a fallback solution with reduced capabilities. The main considerations appear to be cost, transportation, space, and setup/teardown effort relative to the types of gigs being played and music that needs to be covered.

There is also an additional choice whether the backup eqipment will be "hot" and ready for immediate use or just be available for changeover when the time is appropriate, such as between sets.

For those that play primarily AP/EP/Organ and/or a commom set of sounds used across all songs, the fallback solution seems feasible. For those in situations like the OP and me with more customized sounds per song, the redundant/similar equipment solution is likely preferred.

As my band's gigs get better paying, have a higher profile, and more people plan their evenings around seeing us, I had been trying to figure out a solution for a backup for my NS3-HA88, which I use as a single-board rig. Only 10-15 of the 75 or so songs in my band's repertoire (mostly keyboard-driven or featured) have a single AP/EP program and/or a simple split with an organ. The rest involve some combination of 2-way/3-way splits, customized synths with effects, morphs and multiple programs for different parts of a song.

After trying a Juno-DS61 and a MODX7 (both great values for their price range), I came to the conclusion that it wasn't practical to re-create what I needed to survive a gig with either board, which resulted in my getting an NS3 Compact. Outside of converting about 20 programs with splits to have both 88-key and 73-key friendly versions, all I need to do now is a two-minute backup and restore process from one keyboard to the other to keep them in-sync.

The first gig, I kept the NS3C in a case on standby, then realized that was silly and now run a 2-tier setup. I'm working in the NS3C to reduce the number of program changes in a song and to add parts that I wasn't able to cover in a single board. I also have the benefit of bringing my entire set of sounds in a more compact format for practices and casual situations where dragging a large 88-key board isn't practical.

On the other hand, maybe I just used all of this to justify my G.A.S. for an NS3C.


Nord Stage 3 HA88, Nord Stage 3 Compact, Radial Key Largo, Westone AM Pro 30, Rolls PM55P, K&M 18880 + 18881, Bose S1 Pro, JBL 305p MKII, Zoom Q2n-4K
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Toano88] #3013606 10/24/19 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tombstone88
On that note though, I will say I have had way more incidents of things like crackling noises and stuck notes from software instruments then I ever have with hardware. And to assert that that is due to a lack of discipline is a bit over the top. Stuff happens, you may go for years without an issue. Until it happens.


Well put. It's USB and crackling issues that initially turned me off relying solely on software. Just last night at a practice I couldn't get MainStage to recognise I'd connected my MODX7. Yes that's a USB cable issue but it's generally something you don't need to worry about if travelling hardware only. I'm tweaking things and eventually it'll become a rare issue but it's certainly not the case now.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013612 10/24/19 09:58 PM
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Whatever you do, I HIGHLY recommend your laptop has an SSD Drive. The few times I did experience problems, it was due to HDD speed and errors. SSD wipes all those problems away. I still think that Software with an HDD was a solid endeavor, but now with SSDs, I disagree with pretty much all of the critics of going the software route. Many hardware boards have HDD, so by having a laptop with SSD, you're already safer than hardware, IMO.

The new USB-C jack type is about 50x more secure than the old USB-A, which could potentially drop (but never did for me). Go out and get a USB-C -> B cable to connect to your controller. Take any USB-A jacks/adaptors out of the equation, those are potential failure points.


"All's fair in love, war, and the recording studio."

MacBook Pro running MainStage and various plugins (NI and other)
Arturia Keylab88, Mojo61, Seaboard Rise49, Vortex Keytar (RIP), Trumpet
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013613 10/24/19 10:23 PM
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Not to argue with ya but I used a spinning platter drive for sample streaming on my laptop rig for many years with no issues I can recall. Of course today I would never recommend them, given the price drops and improved reliability of SSDs. I have a few 2.5" SATA SSDs in Inatek UASP enclosures since my MacBook Pro is a Late-2013 and uses the older jacks (I guess USB3 is now "old", lol). Old USB3 with these old SSDs is plenty fast enough for the sample streaming I do and I have never had any issues there. I see these new tiny external M.2 SSDs with USB-C connectors and there's no doubt they will work great for what we do, though they're still more expensive than the 2.5" guys. And, I feel confident saying you don't need screaming NVMe speeds to stream audio files.

I always used external drives to store & stream audio. First because I didn't want my OS & app drive's heads to get too much of a workout. Then, when I got a MacBook Pro with an SSD, it was only 256GB so I didn't want to clutter it up with large libraries of samples. I just upgraded my internal to a 1TB so my next little project is to start moving some of the libraries from my external to my internal & see how it goes. The older I get, the less gear I want to carry – even if it's a single SSD! smile

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013625 10/25/19 12:28 AM
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Yeah... I paid a pretty-penny to get a 1TB SSD on my new MBP. But I always go internal for my live setup, Another drive is just another thing to have to hook up, and another connection that could potentially fail. I had a 2011 MBP and swapped out the platter for an SSD about 4 years ago, and it made a WORLD of difference. But a newer machine with faster caching and bus speeds may not hit an HDD so hard either. I didn't have many problems with the HDD, but it took a while for my big MainStage Project to load, and occasionally I would get clipping when it would reach its 16GB limit (I had over 100 songs/patches at the time, I'm now up to 300). Swapping out for an SSD was like a breath of fresh air. Now my new MBP has 32GB RAM and loads the whole project into memory.


"All's fair in love, war, and the recording studio."

MacBook Pro running MainStage and various plugins (NI and other)
Arturia Keylab88, Mojo61, Seaboard Rise49, Vortex Keytar (RIP), Trumpet
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013642 10/25/19 02:02 AM
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I waited years to upgrade my MBP SSD because the upgrades were so friggin expensive. Then a Chinese company (Sintech) came out with an adapter that let you use any NVMe drive once you update OSX to High Sierra. I jumped on an Intel 1TB for around $90 and so far it's been fine except for some sleep issues that I knew about going in. At least I was able to upgrade the drive – I'm sure you know that newer MBPs have the SSD chips soldered to the motherboard.

For grins I went to Apple and priced a new 15" MBP with a 1TB drive and 32 gigs of ram.... OUCH MAN! I'm sure it's a screamer. Enjoy every day with it!

Last edited by Reezekeys; 10/25/19 02:03 AM.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3013862 10/26/19 08:14 PM
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Thanks again guys...this is all really helpful (and I hope it's a useful on-going discussion).

Just to reiterate...this is for situations where we use a controller board or boards only with Mainstage (or similar)...no boards with their own sound-production.

Tonight I did a test at a 'low risk' gig...vocalist with acoustic guitar + me playing Pianoteq on Mainstage via SL73. I had my ipad running Forscore anyway (we were doing some Blue Nile stuff, which I sometimes struggle to remember) so I had Ravenscroft loaded on the ipad and connected via korg iplug...USB from the SL73 went to my macbook and Midi from the SL73 went to the ipad via microplug. Audio from macbook and ipad/microplug went to a little 5-2 mixer from Thomann, and from there to the PA. This was a really compact setup where the only 'added baggage' was the microplug+power, a midi cable, two 1/4" jacks and the mixer.

With the ipad output on mute, if anything happened with macbook/mainstage I knew I had an immediate backup that just needed a press of two buttons (mute macbook, unmute ipad) to get back on track. It gave me the psychological comfort I needed to play without worrying about the technology. So, for my Gabriel cover band (see what I did there!), I might just create a basic multi-layer patch in sampletank on the ipad for each song. Wouldn't be the same as mainstage, but would get me through the gig in the event of a catastrophic failure and would involve the smallest number of additional parts.

I know you can't account for every eventuality, and even the hardest of hardware options can let you down (I once had to repair an accordion with a carrot 15 minutes before a gig).


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3015354 11/08/19 11:23 PM
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Hi all,

As someone contemplating a move from conventional keyboards to a Mainstage rig, this discussion has been really helpful (and reassuring!). So thanks to everyone.

One question I have: what is everyone using for output? Direct connection to amps via your Mac's headphone socket? Outboard DAC? DI box? Mixer?

Keen to hear!

Cheers,

David

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: DavidSydney] #3015355 11/08/19 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidSydney
One question I have: what is everyone using for output? Direct connection to amps via your Mac's headphone socket? Outboard DAC? DI box? Mixer?

I used to be a HUGE proponent of using the headphone jack, because if it got unplugged by accident, it would be no big deal (USB Interface disconnects cause reboots of the sound engine). HOWEVER, newer MacBooks with the ID chip have a "bug" where they reboot the audio engine if the headphone jack is unplugged. So that precaution doesn't hold true anymore. And USB-C ports are the most solid ports I've ever used, so I would DEFINITELY be comfortable with a USB-C audio interface, but I would be much less comfortable with a USB-A interface which has a history of bad connectivity. I believe MOTU have some new USB-C interfaces they just released, I would seriously consider them (and MOTU stuff is really high quality).

So, at this point I would say go either way: audio interface or internal sound card. Macs have always had very high quality audio and low latency, so you won't hear any difference, but if you feel a USB-C interface is safer and better for your workflow, that wouldn't be a bad way to go. Use a mixer if you have multiple boards or mics, but no reason to otherwise, just use a passive DI. However, sometimes a cheap line mixer makes more sense than a stereo DI, so whatever is most convenient.

There are few hard-fast rules, and everyone's needs are different. Computers/Keyboards put out fairly high-gain audio, so you shouldn't have to worry as much about cable runs and noise like passive guitars and mics. If you happen to play right beside the mixer, there's little argument against plugging right into the board. For longer runs I use a DI. I also gig with a trumpet and vocal mic, and I have two boards, so I need a mixer to output all that. But you might not need that.


"All's fair in love, war, and the recording studio."

MacBook Pro running MainStage and various plugins (NI and other)
Arturia Keylab88, Mojo61, Seaboard Rise49, Vortex Keytar (RIP), Trumpet
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: philtre71] #3015375 11/09/19 01:44 AM
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Honestly I have never had my headphone cable accidentally unplug. I do take a precaution – winding it around the handle of my SKB Studio Flyer case the computer sits in. That acts as a strain relief should anything pull on the other end of the cable. After an incident with my MOTU Microbook IIc suddenly dropping its connection in the middle of a gig, I went to using my headphone out. No 3rd party driver involved, or a potentially flaky USB-A connection (which is what I think messed me up with the MBIIc). Smooth sailing ever since.

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Reezekeys] #3015381 11/09/19 03:51 AM
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My rig is USB from laptop to Focusrite audio interface to small format mixer. 2 feeds from mixer, one to my on stage monitor second to DI to FOH.

For me it is all about being able to manage gain staging. Despite many hours spent carefully balancing each patch, live the room acoustics and how loud other members of the band are vary from venue to venue so much I find I always need to able vary volume easily and often between songs. I find it better to leave the MainStage Master output alone so if I want increase or cut my volume both onstage and to FOH I adjust the big round knob on my Focusrite. It has a nice analog response facilitating small adjustments on the fly. If I just want to adjust on stage volume, which is the case most of the time, I use the fader for that output on the mixer.

Despite what many will say about loose USB A and B sockets I have a laptop that has a tight fit USB A socket and the Focusrite has a tight fit USB B socket. Tight enough that I could swing the Focusrite around my head and it would not dislodge from the cable. I always carry a DI to avoid ever being the cause of audio or ground loop hum and to protect my mixer against the possibility of FOH accidently sending phantom power.

I always map each channel strip volume in a patch to a rotary encoder on my controller so I can vary volume for splits and layers on the fly if needed. I also use the generic Apple core audio driver for the Focusrite, it is automatically recognised by MainStage and works like a charm. I make sure that it and the controller are plugged in to the same USB ports before I turn on the laptop so there is never any need for MS to reconfigure the attached devices on boot up. It is exactly the same state as when it was last shut down.


MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P
"Music is a journey. We are all at a different stage in that journey." James Morrison, Australian trumpet legend
Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: DavidSydney] #3015439 11/09/19 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidSydney
One question I have: what is everyone using for output? Direct connection to amps via your Mac's headphone socket? Outboard DAC? DI box? Mixer?

Radial USB-Pro DI

Re: Mainstage and backup plans [Re: Markay] #3015489 11/10/19 04:50 PM
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 31
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philtre71 Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 31
I’ve now added a teccontrol breath controller to my setup...used in conjunction with mainstage it is simply amazing and keeps the setup nice and minimalist!


Yamaha CP33/Roland XP-50/Studiologic SL73/Roland A-800/M-Audio Prokeys 88/Yamaha U1/ (retired: M1/W30/CZ1000/Juno 60/U20/DX7/RD1000) + Hohner Nova 96 CBA.
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