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how do you protect your laptop on a gig?


bloodyMary

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Hi everybody.

 

I've finally included a laptop in my constant live rig.

 

And I'm terrified.

 

I know my synths are reliable and they are built to withstand a punch or two before giving up.

 

 

But what about a laptop? It seems it's such a delicate piece of equipment, with all the plastic/moving parts. It surely won't survive a 3-foot fall or someone stepping on it on stage...

 

 

So I know many of you guys have used laptops live for a while, maybe I could learn from your wisdom :)

 

 

Basically I have 3 issues:

 

1.securely transporting a laptop to the gig

 

2.securing a laptop on stage (afraid of falls/steps/spills)

 

3. theft

 

 

last weekend I used a laptop first time (well not really but first time running both vst's and samples, basically relying on it to work the entire gig)

 

during soundcheck I noticed that the whole stage vibrates everytime the drummer kicks that kick drum. that can't be good for the hard drive (yes, I'm still not on SSD.)

 

So I managed to set up the laptop behind the stage riser (it was like a foot-high stage), away from anybody but me, lid closed, and only a usb cable stretching out from there into my rig.

 

I sense I won't be able to do it always, sometimes the laptop will be on stage, visible to everybody. scary...

 

 

 

By the way, I don't need to be looking at the screen during the show.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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I use one of these. Once the laptop is clamped in, it's not going anywhere. It's a pretty solid piece of equipment. I need to be able to see the laptop though, so it's ideal for me to clamp it onto my stand, but there's probably a better option to have it out of sight.

 

As far as transportation, I just use a simple laptop bag. Nothing fancy. Anytime I'm not on stage, the laptop goes back in the bag, and I keep it with me at all times. I'm paranoid about theft, and I figure the only surefire way to keep the thing safe is to always have it on my person.

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Plan on setting it up so it never experiences a 3-foot fall to the floor!

 

When I used a laptop, I set it on a tv tray table to my right, with my powered mixer wedge on its side between my stand and the table. I made a point to set up so that the laptop was always out of arm's reach to the crowd. I tended to play most in just a few venues, where I knew the staff and much of the crowd, and didn't need to worry much about stuff drifting off.

 

In a less-well-known venue I'd take more care, especially in bigger venues with lots of younger patrons and more transients. I never felt the need, but I'd carefully consider what to do with it during break. Someone recently posted a tool that would allow you to disconnect MIDI and audio and reconnect without problems -- it'd be interesting to see how it would handle suspending as well. Might be nice to be able to pull the laptop into the break room.

 

I always kept my laptop backpack close to me during setup and teardown, with the laptop being the last placed and the first removed.

 

I'm interested in what others have to say.

 

Best bet is probably to use an inexpensive, 2-yr-old model that isn't particularly attractive to steal. Extra points if it looks beat to hell. :)

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I bought an inexpensive laptop stand from Thomann which can hold my white Macbook, my Tascam sound interface and my XV2020. Its a very compact system that i usually put on a regular hard case covered with some kind of black tissue for aesthetic reasons. The hole thing is not wider than 35-40cm. When i use the laptop/module set up there's usually a 88 controller (Nord Sage, Roland RD 700) and a 61 controller on top, which they sit on the right side of the laptop/module. My laptop faces the band on the left side and the keyboards looks at the audience

Transport: always in an M Audio gig bag which is very good for protection.

Theft... Never thought of it.

 

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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My laptop sits on a piece of heavy countertop, which sits on a layer of foam, which sits on the top tier of my keyboard stand.

 

This is when I'm a DJ. When I'm in that mode stage vibrations are so intense that literally nothing stays put. I managed to keep it's hard drive functional for a couple of years before errors started popping up. I have a SSD in it now and feel much more secure.

 

As a keyboard player in a praise band, I often just put it on a stool next to me. But that's a pretty safe stage.

 

Don't worry about your laptop being prominently visible. We're way beyond that these days.

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I use an SKB Studio Flyer 2-space rack/laptop holder. It's made so you can keep the laptop in the case, cabled up. I don't do that, I need my computer for everyday stuff so I carry it in a bag and set it up on the SKB at the gig. I try to place the Studio Flyer on the floor and away from any possible moving humans or potentially moving pieces of equipment. I don't need access to the laptop during a gig so it usually works to put it behind one of my powered speakers.

 

Now that I'm touring a little, I find myself on gigs where we are one of two or more bands on a bill. If there's a band following us I know I'm gonna deal with a mad rush of stagehands rushing to do a set change before our last chord has died out. I make sure to have my bag close by, and get the laptop into it and off the stage as soon as possible. Our tech guy takes care of my SKB case & other doodads I leave.

 

And from personal experience: BEWARE the band member late to the gig, scrambling to get his stuff onstage & set up. The last thing they're aware of is a laptop on the ground!

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I use an SKB Studio Flyer 2-space rack/laptop holder. It's made so you can keep the laptop in the case, cabled up. I don't do that, I need my computer for everyday stuff so I carry it in a bag and set it up on the SKB at the gig. I try to place the Studio Flyer on the floor and away from any possible moving humans or potentially moving pieces of equipment. I don't need access to the laptop during a gig so it usually works to put it behind one of my powered speakers.

 

Now that I'm touring a little, I find myself on gigs where we are one of two or more bands on a bill. If there's a band following us I know I'm gonna deal with a mad rush of stagehands rushing to do a set change before our last chord has died out. I make sure to have my bag close by, and get the laptop into it and off the stage as soon as possible. Our tech guy takes care of my SKB case & other doodads I leave.

 

And from personal experience: BEWARE the band member late to the gig, scrambling to get his stuff onstage & set up. The last thing they're aware of is a laptop on the ground!

 

 

 

do you have any extra gear in that StudioFlyer?

 

I always looked at the pics and never understood how exactly does this thing work. Is the laptop permanently fixed to the outside? How do you protect it during transport - is there a lid to fix over the laptop?

 

 

 

 

About the careless band members - that's my major concern. That and clueless stage hands who will just stomp/kick/smash , sometimes in the middle of performance ("..I'm just here to fix the guitar amp mic.. oooops...laptop flying into the dancefloor... " - that's a show stopper!)

 

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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On all of the touring/Broadway shows I work on we use a few things that are handy...

 

1. Locks - the MacBooks we use have a little lock port on the side where you can use a chain lock, kind of like what you'd use for a bicycle.

2. SSD - A solid state drive will make a laptop FAR more roadworthy and robust.

3. Firewire 400 if possible - fast, reliable, stays connected. (Firewire 800 is easy to bump out of the port.)

4. Transport - For moving city to city, our Macbooks are all packed back into their original boxes, which are actually very well designed. Those boxes are packed on a shelf in a large road case.

 

For stands on all shows we were using a very simple QuikLok "T" type for single keyboard with a small laptop table arm extension. I believe the model was WS 550? Sadly it has been discontinued and there don't seem to be any other "T" stands on the market that have a simple laptop table attachment. (We don't want sliding drawers, mouse trays or other nonsense.)

I'm a bit surprised that something so simple and easy was discontinued... but I know they wouldn't have dropped it had it been a great seller.

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I used my MBP 17" a couple of months ago. First time I had used a laptop live. Didn't enjoy the experience because I didn't feel I could let it out of my sight. I bought a Kensington Lock and secured it to a large chair. It was a staged venue so at least there was seperation from the wedding guests.
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If your just using VB like me I use a used EEE netbook @ 99$ with nothing else on it. It is 1.5 lbs, small enough not to be real noticeable esp. when closed and cheap enough to discourage theft (hopefully). Not sure if a cable lock would fit it.

Hammonds:1959 M3,1961 A-101,Vent, 2 Leslies,VB3/Axiom,

Casio WK-7500,Yamaha P50m Module/DGX-300

Gig rig:Casio PX-5S/Roland VR-09/Spacestation V3

http://www.petty-larceny-band.com

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I use an SKB Studio Flyer 2-space rack/laptop holder. It's made so you can keep the laptop in the case, cabled up. I don't do that, I need my computer for everyday stuff so I carry it in a bag and set it up on the SKB at the gig. I try to place the Studio Flyer on the floor and away from any possible moving humans or potentially moving pieces of equipment. I don't need access to the laptop during a gig so it usually works to put it behind one of my powered speakers.

 

Now that I'm touring a little, I find myself on gigs where we are one of two or more bands on a bill. If there's a band following us I know I'm gonna deal with a mad rush of stagehands rushing to do a set change before our last chord has died out. I make sure to have my bag close by, and get the laptop into it and off the stage as soon as possible. Our tech guy takes care of my SKB case & other doodads I leave.

 

And from personal experience: BEWARE the band member late to the gig, scrambling to get his stuff onstage & set up. The last thing they're aware of is a laptop on the ground!

 

do you have any extra gear in that StudioFlyer?

Yes. Inside is a 120GB SSD with samples, a small d-to-a box that connects to my MacBook Pro's optical output, and the AC adapter for the MacBook Pro. All velcroed to the bottom of the case.

 

I always looked at the pics and never understood how exactly does this thing work. Is the laptop permanently fixed to the outside? How do you protect it during transport - is there a lid to fix over the laptop?

It's pretty ingenious IMO. The laptop sits in a top "compartment", held in place only with rubber stoppers that velcro to the base - you can easily place & remove it. Yes, there is a lid. It has foam that presses down on the laptop when closed so that the computer does not move when you're transporting. There are three rubber-grometted holes in the top compartment for passing cables into the rack case itself. If you like, you can leave your laptop in the case cabled up, show up at the gig, pop off the lid and get going pretty quickly. I have an AC cord and two 1/4" audio cables to attach to the amps or DI boxes and I'm good. I usually carry my laptop in a bag since it's my everyday computer, but it only takes a few seconds to drop it into the case and attach the cables.

 

As a plus, the Studio Flyer has rollers and a pop-up handle for airport travel. When I fly it goes in baggage but at those times I never leave the laptop in! because I usually like to have it on the flight with me to watch a movie, also because the TSA always opens the case and messes with the contents. SKB claims it fits in an overhead compartment, to which I say: it may fit in some overhead compartments!

 

About the careless band members - that's my major concern. That and clueless stage hands who will just stomp/kick/smash , sometimes in the middle of performance ("..I'm just here to fix the guitar amp mic.. oooops...laptop flying into the dancefloor... " - that's a show stopper!)

I agree that's the #1 concern. But I've been doing this for many years, and with the exception of one or two close calls (like the aforementioned late-arriving band member) it's been fine. As I said, I don't need the laptop near me, so I have a lot of flexibility as to where I can place it. It's always on the floor, usually against a wall and between my two powered speakers. That way it's safely in my setup "zone" :)

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Reezekeys... which d/a converter do you use?

This is the exact one:

http://www.monoprice.com/Product?seq=1&format=2&p_id=6884&CAWELAID=1329453854&catargetid=320013720000010661&cadevice=c&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CI-dxJju7rsCFSho7AodL10AkA

 

However, it appears to be sold under a variety of brand names. Here's what looks to be the exact same thing with a different name on the box and a cheaper price:

http://www.amazon.com/CX_TOS-ANLG-Digital-Optical-Toslink-Converter/dp/B004C4WPXA/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2NK89850H0GO2

 

Before this I used the headphone out of my MacBook Pro. It usually worked great but there were some gigs where I'd get nasty ground loops or weird intermittent beeps (caused by the switched-mode AC adapter, a documented issue). This device completely cured those issues but the signal output is lower than the headphone output. On some gigs where I need a lot of volume or headroom from my QSC K8s, I set them to mic level input now. There's a little more analog hiss coming from this adapter but it's a non-issue when I'm playing.

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