Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Am I wrong thinking I can really gig with VST's?


AnalogGuy1

Recommended Posts

Adult beginner here. Started studying keyboard seriously 3 years ago, started playing keys in a band 6 months ago. Obviously I'm not great, but I work hard and I'm learning. So far have a grand total of 4 hours of live play in paying gigs! (Like I said, I'm new - I play in a 5 piece band with people much more experienced than I.) System: Roland RD-700SX and Axiom Pro both as controllers, Cantabile Solo as host, Kontakt for orchestrals, Massive for synths, Pianoteq for piano/EP, and VB3 for Hammond/Leslie. Genre: 60-80's covers.

 

So I'm new to all of this. I love my laptop-centric model since it's so easy to practice with (drum pad to trigger practice MP3 playback), program (drum pad to trigger jet taking off for "Back In The USSR"), cheat with (drum pad to transpose up half a step for modulated portion of "The Letter"), and expand (grab a free vibraslap soundfont for Cake's cover of "I Will Survive").

 

But I'm terrified of the laptop failing. I could imagine it starting to rain one day. Or some auto-installing Windows update breaking the ASIO driver. Or a failure of its SSD (drive). Or just an automatic reboot following auto-OS-update that I thought I turned off.

 

I noticed most of the pros here stay far away from laptop-based solutions. My question (which may well be unanswerable): is this because most of you, being pros, have played for a long time so you're most used to hardware solutions, or is it because the stability of a general purpose software system can never approach that of a special purpose hardware system?

 

(Really, the question is: in ten years will I be playing on a hardware-based solution, or will most of you hardware folks be playing on a software-based system? Because if I'm going to find myself changing over, I'd rather do it earlier than later.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 81
  • Created
  • Last Reply
Because if I'm going to find myself changing over, I'd rather do it earlier than later.)

 

I fail to see the logic in this. Early adopters (and say what you will, playing live with a laptop/VST setup is in the early adopter phase right now) often bear the brunt of the pain while technology matures to meet the needs of the consumer.

 

Frankly, as a new player, I think you should be focusing on making your playing more clean, more professional, and becoming a better performer than playing with the latest and greatest toys. Your audience will absolutely notice.

 

As with everything on this forum, YMMV.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But I'm terrified of the laptop failing. I could imagine it starting to rain one day. Or some auto-installing Windows update breaking the ASIO driver. Or a failure of its SSD (drive). Or just an automatic reboot following auto-OS-update that I thought I turned off.

 

I'm not a pro, but I can say this as an IT guy:

 

If you have Windows set to auto-update, you've misconfigured your laptop. No update should go into your live, "production" setup without a shakedown.

 

Is this a pain in the butt? Sure, but it's the only way you can be sure that you have a stable system. Most of the time you really don't NEED the updates Windows is pushing out. They will affect things that are not part of your "laptop as sound module" system.

 

Re: rain: that tends to screw up all kinds of electronics, not just laptops. :D Many laptops certainly aren't built to withstand the ambient temperatures and humidity you might find in outdoor conditions. Consider a Receptor for that purpose (if you are gigging a lot... they aren't cheap).

 

SSD or hard drive failing? Yep, a possibility. Need more reliability than that? Do you have a backup laptop (for what you are running, it doesn't have to be state of the art)? Or a cloned hard drive you can swap in real quick? Would you consider an older used multitimbral sound module to "get through" a gig?

 

Tradeoffs everywhere.

 

I'm not that nervous about laptop gigging, but only because I accept the inherent constraints and risks.

 

-John

I make software noises.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really, the question is: in ten years will I be playing on a hardware-based solution, or will most of you hardware folks be playing on a software-based system?

 

In 10 years,- what will a "hardware solution" be for you against a "software based system" ?

 

A.C.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sven, thanks for the fast reply! I guess I'm not clear, since I agree wholeheartedly with everything you've written. Let me say it differently.

 

I want to spend my time practicing, not playing with toys. I notice in this forum I'm in a small minority of live use of VST's. As a newcomer I'm surprised, and worried that there's a killer reason (maybe stability, maybe something else) that I haven't yet discovered because I'm new. If so, I want to find out now, rather than spend years making patches and learning the equipment and then start over again with hardware (for whatever reasons make most of you not use software).

 

Is there a reason obvious to veteran but not to someone with 3 gigs experience about why going the way of VSTs is ultimately a mistake? (To be clear I'm hoping not, since it's worked out for me so far!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

VSTs are the future. You are not tied to updating hardware. Software is the solution for best sound, light weight and flexibility. I am still at the learning stage. Just my opinion, but I got on the bandwagon a short time ago and so far it works for me. I enjoy figuring out the problems that come up. Can't beat the sound quality though. Last gig was done with a Privia PX330 controlling NI Kontakt - since I'll use just A-200, scarbee rhodes (killer), berlin grand piano, and rock3 B3 there's not much to it. Join that up with homegrown composition and it's a very useful thing
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You've pretty much nailed the main issues involved with gigging with laptops; you're using a general purpose tool (a computer, whether Windows or Mac) for a very specific, time-crucial and mission critical purpose. You know that things can happen with open systems that need to be tweaked to any specific purpose, and that there's more inherent risk therein than with a closed, customized system (i.e. your RD700SX). It's worked out well for you in 3 gigs; will it work for 30? Perhaps. 300? Hopefully. Eventually, though, there are enough variables at play in your setup that SOMETHING will go awry at one point or another. Whether that results in a stuck note, or a complete system failure, remains to be seen. Odds are much better that it'll happen to your rig than to a hardware-only solution.

 

The important reality, though, is that if your focus is split between "gotta play a good show" and "damn, I hope my laptop doesn't crash" then you're not being the best musician you can be. Given that our focus here is (or at least should be) being better musicians first, it bears repeating.

 

Of course, if you're just having fun, and aren't really concerned with improving as a player, then knock yerself out and fill yer boots, as they say in the Maritimes here in Canada... and don't be using that laptop for anything OTHER than music (i.e. no web surfing, no email, no spreadsheets, nothing) otherwise you're injecting more uncertainty into your system each and every time. ;)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow...that's *fast* replies.

 

Daviel - you're exactly right; I'm an EE/CS professor but a keys player noob, so I gravitated to VSTs instinctively without first canvassing what more experienced people do. Sounds from everyone's comments that as long as I bring an emergency 1/4" cable for the Roland, and maybe a backup imaged laptop, I should be fine over the long haul.

 

Al Coda - yeah, you called me on it - I have no idea what it will be in a decade so the question is really unanswerable!

 

Sven - good point about split thinking. Yes, to some degree it's there...although problems are a lot more likely to be caused by me than my equipment at this stage! (But the glory of nailing that Lucky Man synth solo has made it all worthwhile so far!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a tip - as if an EE prof needs it, I got kicked out of engineering school - but just dedicate your laptop to the mission - don't have it on line - if you can avoid it. Get the controllers right for your situation, and the sounds planned out and I do not see any reason why you should be afraid of the lap top. They don't crash on Leon Russell and he's been using software at shows for a long time.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I notice in this forum I'm in a small minority of live use of VST's.

First off, I'm not so sure how "small" the live performance VST minority is, here. I suspect that a majority of forumites use, either for recording or live gigs, some type of soft synths, from time to time.

 

I'm a live VST (primarily Mainstage on my Mac, which I use exclusively for this purpose) user, but I also have a second keyboard that compliments and, if necessary, can replace the Mac setup.

 

Hardward and software glitches, along with a dearth of user-friendly controllers with good action are the common reasons for going the hardware route. I, too, believe that VSTs are the future, although the need for a separate, "full" laptop computer will vanish, at some point.

"I never knew that music like that was possible." - Mozart ( Amadeus movie)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Someday, things like the Musebox concept will hit the market and become a poor man's alternative to the receptor. Dedicated VST player systems for less than $1000. Maybe it will even come in a 19.5" unit.

 

Musebox is SUPPOSED to get released late 2011 and I think it will be around $800 or $900. But I won't be first in line for one. I will let someone else try it first and see if it works. ... and see what third party software vendors will support it with sound libary cards.

 

[video:youtube]

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People who gig with laptop are NOT a minority any more. I do it and know a lot of players who combine hardware and software on stage. I believe that VSTs are the future, whether we like it or not. So, just keep you laptop off the internet and spend some time to do your homework (set up etc).

When i start to play i forget what platform i'm on and i just have a good time!

 

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Al Coda - yeah, you called me on it - I have no idea what it will be in a decade so the question is really unanswerable!

 

No, it´s not unanswerable.

The main prob is to make a decision NOW, because there´s a s**tload of "solutions" out there already and that will never change in future.

 

The difference between hardware and software minimized since digital technology was developed and if you decide to go w/ digital technology, the only difference is the hosting machine incl. CPU used, related code, user interface and more electronics to make all audible.

In the audio world, many things are different compared to consumer electronics or office tasks,- so it´s important to investigate and get knowledge about these differences.

Problem no. 2,- it costs time most don´t have or want to invest.

 

Since the 90th, we´ve seen computers in 19" rack devices called "hardware modules",- like the Creamware NOAH, based on a PC mainboard incl. stock PC processor and RAM (for the UI) hosting a DSP card, that running virtual instruments, FX and a mixer, MIDI and audio routing system on SHARK DSP chips.

It was an excellent piece of gear at that time and has it´s successors up today.

 

Looking at a Acces Virus TI shows, it runs on SHARK DSPs as does a UAD card and a Kurzweil runs on MARA chips.

 

All examples only.

 

What was a Yammi DX7 ? It´s a micro computer processing algorhythms combined w/ electronics to make all audible and usable.

 

Is it comparable to native software like VST ?

No !

 

Running music software natively on a stock PC or Mac is a different story which has disadvatages and advantages,- mostly depending on usage of stock OSes and computer hardware components.

 

I don´t think VST is the future for music instruments but VST will be and is the leading tool for composing, arranging and recording music w/ help of virtual instruments.

 

For gigging, specialized gear is the future as it was always and it´s up to you to find the right one for you.

 

Using a laptop, for me personally, is a hard decision.

There are devices I want to use but need a compatible PCIexpress 34/54 slot and/or TI firewire as examples,- hard to find features in todays laptops.

If you want to run VST, needing actual and fast CPU,- and specialized devices, both being hosted and controlled by a laptop, it becomes even harder.

It´s a question of the dependencies, personal decisions and budget.

 

In fact, you can buy all from both worlds (VST and DSP being hosted and controlled by a laptop) if you want and if you´re able and/or willing to pay for.

 

And if you´ve made a buying decision, the next better device is waiting in the store for you already.

 

A.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But I'm terrified of the laptop failing. I could imagine it starting to rain one day. Or some auto-installing Windows update breaking the ASIO driver. Or a failure of its SSD (drive). Or just an automatic reboot following auto-OS-update that I thought I turned off.

 

why is that? when you prepare your laptop properly it will not be more prone to failure then hardware solution. When it start to rain on keyboard it will be the same effect as raining on laptop, although many laptops are now spill resistant so not sure if laptop is not safer here. I have recently switched to software solution after 20 years of hardware abuse and I'm not looking back.(unless that hardware is acoustic)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've tried both ways - I use computers and VSTs in the studio, but for live gigs I stick with hardware. Primary reason is reliability - pro level keyboard are generally designed to stand up under some abuse in loadin, loadout, being shaken around while travelling, etc.

 

Another strong reason is the player to instrument interface - not so much indepth editing (presumably done at other times than live performance), but being able to work the instrument controls and make any adjustments needed in extremely variable lighting and weather conditions. I want something that I can plug in, select patch, and play. My PC3 has enough sliders to handle Hammond style drawbar emulation. When I used a notebook with VB3, I got a very good Hammond sound, but needed something like the PC3 to have enough sliders to control it.

 

Also, even for gigs when a single board will do, my other travel board (Electro 3) is usually quickly available just in case sodething does go wrong. No time for lots of troubleshooting in the middle of the gig.

 

BTW, I'm not an EE, but I've earned my living for close to 50 years building and servicing various types of electronics, including broadcasting, 2-way radio, musical, and now - computers.

 

Either way will work - I still have a notebook that runs EWQL Piano as well as it being on the DAW in the studio. I just find that the internal sounds on my keyboards are quite adequate for live performance in a band.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MBK: One thing I would argue about the laptop thing (I'm dealing with it now) is that the expanse of options is only limited by your willingness to add softsynths.

 

Another thing is that, if you're like me, you're much more adept at working with softsynths than you are necessarily programming a board - but YMMV on that. I'm relatively new to keyboards that go beyond 1-200 numbered patches and into the "create your own sound from scratch" area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're making it work and should stick with it. Learn from experience; see where it takes you. You're not in megabucks gigs. Just be sure you know how to find a few key patches to limp by on your RD700 if need be.

 

I gigged for several years using a digital piano and laptop; on the laptop I ran NIB4 organ and my free Rhodes soundfont (which you might want to give a spin; I like the stereo version best.)

 

About two years ago I switched the laptop to a Nord Electro 2 73. I liked the sounds better on the computer, but the NE2 gives me a semi-weighted keyboard, a 2nd keyboard, and a single keyboard I can use for practice. So, the reason is convenience, not functionality or reliability.

 

However, the NE has been more reliable than the laptop. A couple times over say 4 or 5 years playing almost weekly, I had computer issues and either had to reboot or just skip the computer for the night. It wasn't a major problem since I had the piano to fall back on.

 

My laptop wasn't dedicated to music only. I used the same one for work, recording, live playing, web-trolling, and whatnot. Worse yet, it belongs to the company I work for and they routinely download "security upgrades" that sometimes goof stuff up. If reliability had been seriously important to me, I'd have gotten a laptop for dedicated use for live music, and never connected it to the internet (using thumb drive for updates).

 

BTW, I used MIDIOX to make my keyboard contol all the features I use on a Hammond. Very useful little bit of kit. I also have a NIB4D drawbar box; I wouldn't want to play Hammond without drawbars or drawbuttons of some sort.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People who gig with laptop are NOT a minority any more.

 

I realize that English is your second language (or third, or fourth..), and I certainly don't speak Greek, but this is not an accurate statement. If they are NOT a minority, then they are a MAJORITY? I don't think so.

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People who gig with laptop are NOT a minority any more.

 

If they are NOT a minority, then they are a MAJORITY? I don't think so.

 

wrong logic - it can be fifty fifty.

Math was not your first or second (or third?) subject I guess.

 

Agreed. Not only that, but there also are subsets, i.e. people who actually use the vintage gear (Hammonds, Moogs, other exotics) onstage, people who use racks exclusively, people who use boards with rack support, people who use boards with laptop support, etc. etc....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They don't crash on Leon Russell and he's been using software at shows for a long time.

 

You know this how, exactly? Let's try and limit the rhetoric and stick to what we know first hand to be true, shall we? :thu:

 

Lordy, Sven - take a deep breath - count to ten.

 

I know he used them at the local venue here in Waxahachie Texas some years ago, reported to me by an astonished bandmate who has unimpeachable credibility. not to derail the thread, but what is rhetorical about that observation? Just asking' - not arguing with you either. I most certainly did not intend to hit a nerve. Do you have a dog in this fight that I did not notice?

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second the use of VSTs with a hardware keyboard backup. I just recommend a few things for using VSTs live. 1) Get a good controller. This will help make VSTs seem more like a "real" keyboard. I use a Novation X-Station 61 and use the 9 sliders to control the drawbars on VB3 in real time. For me, it worked out better than my NE3, which I sold, since I thought the organ sound was much better and the sliders were much closer to drawbars than the buttons which I never got used to. Waterfall keys would be nice, but this keyboard handles smears really well, and has a fast action. 2) Have a VST dedicated laptop with all the other crap removed. Disable all the automatic updates, anti-virus stuff when using it live, and make sure all that stuff is off before the gig starts. I even turn off the wireless, so the laptop can't decide to "reach out and call someone". 3) Use a audio pro-interface for the laptop with 1/4" jacks. So far, this has been a very stable set up for me. It also helps that the X-Station also has built in sounds in case of computer failure. I do use a weighted 88-digital piano (Yamaha P85) for hardware, and can control sounds on the laptop as well. This way, I have the best of both worlds. I have great VST sounds, and each controller has built in sounds as backups if the laptop goes south.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've successfully gigged (non-pro!) running Guido's stuff and a bunch of NI vst's...on a netbook just running XP. Yes, backup hardware is a must, but the economy of it is truly stunning.

Loves me some vst's!

 

(Last minute gig comes up...hmmm? Take the Hammond/Leslie-etc?..or take the Acer?)

 

Maybe I should find my flamesuit about now.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've successfully gigged (non-pro!) running Guido's stuff

Yeah, Guido's stuff is awesome. Just wish he joined the 64 bit bandwagon. VB3 the only thing I didn't check before I went with a 64bit OS and 64 bit host controller. Although it's never crashed jbridging yet (unlike some other 32 bit VSTs I've tested) it would still make me feel safer if it was native.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know he used them at the local venue here in Waxahachie Texas some years ago, reported to me by an astonished bandmate who has unimpeachable credibility. not to derail the thread, but what is rhetorical about that observation? Just asking' - not arguing with you either. I most certainly did not intend to hit a nerve. Do you have a dog in this fight that I did not notice?

 

My bad for not quoting just the statement I took issue with:

 

They don't crash on Leon Russell

 

There's no way you could possibly know whether or not his system has ever crashed on him; that is what I take issue with. Especially when you're using this as the foundation of your recommendation.

 

So perhaps counting to 10 should be something you do before posting... :thu:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for the feedback and for the welcome to the forum! It's an interesting mix here, from the friendly to the, uh, friendly-irascible, but every reply intelligent and helpful. I'm geographically isolated, so it means a lot to me to hear your advice and stories. Glad to know I'm not as alone in the VST thing as I first thought reading through some of the posts here. Thanks!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...