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Has anyone made a recent move to a controller and a Laptop


seratone

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I play in a couple of indie bands (for a better word) in the Toronto area. The stages are small, very little set up time and chaotic drunken crowds. I'm usually so squished up next to the drummer, we have to shift my mic stand and his hardware to get to our seats. I also play acoustic guitar on some songs. I bring out beaters - as there's rarely enough room to have a guitar stand.

 

People have been asking when I'm going to simplify my rig to a controller and a Laptop (Mainstage?) - I use a Nord Electro 4, Yamaha Mox 6 and a Korg R3 on an Apex stand.

 

I rarely have a vocal monitor, and often run the acoustic guitar through my Keys amp just so I can hear it.

 

Due to the nature of the live Music scene in my hometown (a lot of acoustic country music), having a 5 piece band with the keyboard player is becoming difficult.

 

Has anyone migrated a similar rig to a Laptop sourced system? On the rare occasion when I run into another keyboard player who does - they say it works about 70% of the time. (!)

 

Thoughts?

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The stages are small, very little set up time and chaotic drunken crowds.

 

I use a laptop live at some gigs, but given the description above, I'd never even attempt it in that situation.

 

I use a Nord Electro 4, Yamaha Mox 6 and a Korg R3 on an Apex stand.

 

The question begs, why 3 boards (especially given your cramped stage situations)? Also, how do you foresee a laptop meaning fewer boards on stage?

 

Due to the nature of the live Music scene in my hometown (a lot of acoustic country music), having a 5 piece band with the keyboard player is becoming difficult.

 

Acoustic country music? Are you sure you're in the same city as me? ;):)

 

Has anyone migrated a similar rig to a Laptop sourced system? On the rare occasion when I run into another keyboard player who does - they say it works about 70% of the time. (!)

 

Thoughts?

 

You need to find better keyboard players to talk to. ;)

 

Just kidding... but I doubt there's any reason you couldn't shrink your rig by 1 board pretty much immediately... you've got some overlap there, especially between the MOX and the Korg that the aforementioned "chaotic drunken crowds" would never notice. I don't really see a laptop being a solution for you. YMMV. :)

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I use my laptop at home to compose/record but gave it up for live use. I tried a few times in several bands to make it work but even in practice I had a few issues. Everyone else plugs in/picks up drumstics etc and I'm over there wrestling with a USB issue...not fun. I'm a database programmer by day, and I can say that when it comes time to play I do *not* want to troubleshoot computer issues.

 

I like to have a backup for everything if possible...so with a laptop, I'd tend to use a hardware keyboard as my backup.

 

Small stages are more of a reason to avoid laptops IMO. They present a logistics issue. I'd prefer an iPad or other tablet but I'm not sold on them for live audio just yet either.

 

Also consider the drunk/obnoxious audience factor. Mostly I'm tucked in the back but occasionally I'm setup where someone can walk (or blunder) into my rig. Again just make sure it's safe and secure.

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I use a laptop with a small & light 61-key controller, it's been 100% reliable (so far almost eight years and counting!). It's in an SKB "Studio Flyer" case, which offers reasonable protection from mishaps IMO. I don't have to access it at all during a gig everything I need to do is mapped to the knobs, buttons & faders of my controller. From your description of the gigs you do, I might be a little concerned about its safety more about other band members with drinks on stage, setting up in a rush next to it, etc. I've had a few near-misses myself.
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"blunder into my rig" hilarious. Yes, I do realize a laptop at a gig like that is not good. I keep my main rig set up at my rehearsal studio, at home I have a Yamaha MX49 for the Mox sounds and control my iPad for everything else. I use an older Power Book Pro to record with Logic. For my home system and in the studio I generally try to duplicate my live rig, and don't often go for anything it can't produce. It would just be nice to have something that I could tuck under my arm for any situation. Computers and live gear have always been a little 'church and state' with me. I dream of a module with 3 midi in's and firmware you can load yourself - with 'scenes' for each song - oh, I think it's called 'Mainstage'. Even when I slaved an E-MU Vintage Pro rack for its Pads and Mellotrons, I knocked knobs off it and experienced outages due to crappy Midi cables. I like using three Keyboards as most of my songs have three sounds that need to sustain into each other.
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No way I'd use a laptop rig on this gig.

 

I suggest you dump the electro and the Korg and bring just the MOX.

 

Save yourself a lot of effort, and I bet nobody's gonna notice the difference. If you invest some time into programming splits/layers - it'll EASILY replace the 3 boards in your application.

 

 

 

I am currently working on my new rig which includes the MOX and a laptop running through it (via single USB cable). But I only allow 'non-essential' stuff on the laptop. In case the laptop gives up mid-song I'm only losing extra fancy sounds. My AP's for example come from the MOX.

 

And I'm only doing this because we are playing better gigs now with decent setup times and soundchecks.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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Anyway, you should consider that a laptop might be easily stolen/broken/spilled onto/dropped/stepped over. That's something hardware boards are more tolerant to.

 

I think the ideal situation for such gig is playing just one board and keeping a backup board in the car just in case.

 

 

Last time I played in a similar settings I just brought my old and cheap Yamaha S-03. The drunks didn't mind mushy strings and fake Hammonds. I didn't worry of my rig safety.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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I agree. Where would you put a laptop? Vertically stacked, extra keyboards don't take up much extra room, but a laptop usually does, one way or another.

 

I went from DP+laptop to DP+NE2, largely because of the convenience and I like having two keyboards to play at the same time. My rig is now about 8" deeper, but significantly narrower (I used to put the laptop to my right, on a TV tray table or a barstool.) If your stand can handle a laptop stand, so much the better for you, but it still takes extra space in front.

 

If the iPad works at home, why not use that live, instead of a laptop?

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BTW, most of us who use a computer live don't use a controller. Instead, we use a keyboard with good sounds that also has good controller capabilities. I believe the MOX fits that bill, as would a Casio PX5S or a Kurz PC3 series board.

 

That way, if for any reason the computer craps out, we still have a bunch of good sounds to depend on.

 

With my DP+NE2, if either board takes a dive, I can limp along on the other one, with a bit of rearrangement of course, and dropping a couple songs. No point playing Gimme Some Lovin with just a piano!

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BTW, most of us who use a computer live don't use a controller. Instead, we use a keyboard with good sounds that also has good controller capabilities. I believe the MOX fits that bill, as would a Casio PX5S or a Kurz PC3 series board.

 

That way, if for any reason the computer craps out, we still have a bunch of good sounds to depend on.

 

Absolutely. :thu:

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To me, the main idea of using a laptop was to pair it with a lightweight controller. I guess I'm the exception to "most of us." :)

 

I carry an accessory case with cables & pedals and a Roland JV1010 module in case the computer goes down. I needed the module once in the seven years I've been laptop-only. And that one time, as it turned out, was not due to the laptop crapping out on me.

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I think I'm going to take my MOX home and do some holiday programming as suggested by bloodyMary. My Band has 36 original songs and set lists are often abandoned two songs in. If I can get 36 approximate splits and dump it down to a USB Key....peace of mind!

 

I take it Motifator.com is the best place for tips? I did a bunch when i first got the board, but recall the manual being a little vague.

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I suggest you dump the electro and the Korg and bring just the MOX.

 

Save yourself a lot of effort, and I bet nobody's gonna notice the difference. If you invest some time into programming splits/layers - it'll EASILY replace the 3 boards in your application.

 

My Band has 36 original songs

You're not going to get the organ sounds of the Nord out of your MOX, nor some of its sample library sounds (mellotrons and some other vintage keys, if you use them). It also may not be easy to approximate the synth functionality/sound of the R3, and there's the vocoder there too, if you use it. These boards aren't really very redundant. The nice thing is that, the songs being originals, you have flexibility to give them different flavors without anyone complaining. ;-)

 

The MOX is a pretty decent controller. So you could consider using a laptop (or tablet) just for the key sounds you're losing from the other two boards... i.e. run an organ app and a VA app on your laptop/tablet. In some cases, you may even be able to use that device to run samples of some of the "missing" R3 and Nord sounds, which you could create from those instruments. (This is a nice feature of the newer MOXF, you could load those samples right into the board itself.)

 

Still, I think it's good for you to take bloodyMary's advice and work out combos of sounds on the MOX alone so you always have that available as fallback regardless.

 

Another issue, though, is if you're used to jumping around among the three different boards, coming up with splits that will accommodate 3 sounds over 61 keys can be tricky (even two can be restrictive sometimes), you may end up needing to do a lot more in-song switching. So there are really two issues here... getting the sounds you want, and having the key real estate to have them accessible as you need them, without too much button pushing distracting you from the pleasure of making music.

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Check out the John Melas software editors for MOX series. Made my life so much easier. Reduced my programming time ten-fold.

 

By the way, I use a lot of splits/layers. What I do is set up multiple master programs per song, you may call those "scenes". Sometimes I have a "scene" for verse and a chorus and another one for the C-part. Sometimes I have a scene for each chorus and each verse. I arrange them in progressing order and use a foot switch to flip through.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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