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Anyone using a laptop onstage?


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I find laptops onstage interesting...

 

I went to see Radiohead last year... it was cool seeing a laptop sitting somewhere on the stage and one of those 'bloddy' guys banging on it. Also, there's a bunch of electronic musicians that play laptops onstage... even entire shows based on that tiny little device... like BT's Laptop Symphony and our very own GustraX's act WoM.

 

So... anybody else trying that? Have you encountered any problems by doing so? What applications do you use on it?

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don\'t_click | day_job

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You should *really* check out the January issue of EQ, it's all about using laptops in music and the issue was VERY well received (it even includes some material from Gus). Also, if you're specifically interested in using a laptop live for a loop-based act, check out an article I wrote on that subject in the January issue of Sound on Sound.
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I used to have an I book running Logic audio with exs,and I tried couple of gigs to play live and it was fun , I have a yamaha cs 2 x and this synth has cool knobs so I programmed those knobs to control volume and pan in my laptop so really nice.Now I have a pc laptop and I'm planning to do the same thing but I bought this program called forte ensemble and this is really great you should check the demo if you don't have or heard about this[www.brainspawn.com],and this thing is made for musicians on stage.
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My tube amp was in the shop for a gig a while back, so I carted in my laptop, my M-Audio USB interface, and loaded Amplitube in Cubase. It wasn't too bad. If it weren't for the lack of a foot controller, I might even prefer it. It was much lighter than my amp, that's for sure.

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.

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Reporter: "Ah, do you think you could destroy the world?" The Tick: "Ehgad I hope not. That's where I keep all my stuff!"

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Originally posted by Anderton:

You should *really* check out the January issue of EQ, it's all about using laptops in music and the issue was VERY well received (it even includes some material from Gus).

I've got that one! Great issue. I haven't read your article on Sound On Sound, though. But I will! Just wanted to get some feedback from the community... :) Thanks for your reply, Craig.

Who Put The ' M ' In MySpace?

don\'t_click | day_job

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I have been using computers onstage since 1992... back then, it was a huge PC AT 80286 with 2 MB of RAM running MS DOS-based Sequencen Plus Gold from Voyetra (it rocked!) and all my MIDI modules.

 

I have tried everything since then and never had a problem with computers onstage. Make sure your software/hardware work in a tight way all the time and be prepared for the unexpected :D

 

Nowadays I am a MAC user in live situations and it rocks too... like the old days of PC/Voyetra stuff... but much less equipment, much better sound.

Músico, Productor, Ingeniero, Tecnólogo

Senior Product Manager, América Latina y Caribe - PreSonus

at Fender Musical Instruments Company

 

Instagram: guslozada

Facebook: Lozada - Música y Tecnología

 

www.guslozada.com

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I've recently shunned my bass in favor of a laptop (an iBook) running mainly Live onstage. I use it, a Radium controller, and simply run the headphone out to the PA (not the best audio i/o, but until something goes horribly amiss, it's the solution for now). I love it and get a pretty good response from the audience.

 

I highly recommend using a keyboard controller, even if it's just for show. One time early on I used just the laptop w/ no keyboard and someone in the audience later said "It looked like you were up there reading your email." Having a keyboard definitely makes it look like you're playing an "instrument." :)

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Originally posted by gmstudio99:

One time early on I used just the laptop w/ no keyboard and someone in the audience later said "It looked like you were up there reading your email." Having a keyboard definitely makes it look like you're playing an "instrument." :)

:D

Músico, Productor, Ingeniero, Tecnólogo

Senior Product Manager, América Latina y Caribe - PreSonus

at Fender Musical Instruments Company

 

Instagram: guslozada

Facebook: Lozada - Música y Tecnología

 

www.guslozada.com

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Funny, music is the ONLY thing I use my computer for, other than talking on this forum. ;)

 

I still prefer to do all paperwork by hand, though there are some disadvantages. For some reason, people just don't understand that a handwritten resume is more personal... :(

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in about 2 month's i'm doing VJ stuff for a rave, gonna be purchasing Arkaos next week.It will lots of fun to play visuals as opposed to sound.i'm gonna have a DVD player/G4 powerbook/oxygen8(maybe) and video mixer to a projection system.Its so amazing what laptops technology has allowed us to do.i will probably never own another desktop at this point.

 

Midimonk

 

Shout out to The Jeebus :wave:

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well, just to be clear, I love my Laptop and use it all the time for music, it IS amazing what is possible with it. I just don't think it will ever be a part of my live rig(s) but I'm not doing live video stuff or loop based music. actually, I'm not doing a whole lot of live anything right now other than sitting in at the local bar on guitar. :D
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<>

 

I think you're going to see more and more guitarists replacing their rack o' gear (assuming they use one) with laptop setups. It's hard to argue with the transportability factor. Latencies are good enough now that you don't have any of those annoying delays.

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Originally posted by Stephen LeBlanc:

I know it works fine for people but I would never use a Laptop on stage...mostly out of fear that it would crash or just start failing to keep up or something...anything...I just hate the idea of being dependent on a computer in that environment. It's scary enough depending on a desktop for recording.

in the past 12 months, I've had more guitar strings break on a gig (3) than laptop crashes (0), with about an equal amount of shows on each instrument.
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Originally posted by gmstudio99:

Originally posted by Stephen LeBlanc:

I know it works fine for people but I would never use a Laptop on stage...mostly out of fear that it would crash or just start failing to keep up or something...anything...I just hate the idea of being dependent on a computer in that environment. It's scary enough depending on a desktop for recording.

in the past 12 months, I've had more guitar strings break on a gig (3) than laptop crashes (0), with about an equal amount of shows on each instrument.
well there ya go...my fear is irrational :D

 

maybe it's just that I'm not the meticulous type...my laptop runs like a dream for a few weeks but I end up using it for a lot of things and don't defrag for a while or whatever then it's slow as hell. or maybe I shouldn't have bought a PC...or maybe I haven't tweaked it enough for audio...?? maybe I'm just a young dinosaur

 

wait a minute...you just use your laptop to run Live? well I WOULD feel comfortable with a laptop if all I had to run was a loop playing program.

 

The fears I posted above were in regards to using soft synths played live with a controller or effects for a real guitar, etc.

My fear may still be silly but well just playing wav files on a Laptop is a lot simpler than what I'd be doing with it.

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Originally posted by Stephen LeBlanc:

 

The fears I posted above were in regards to using soft synths played live with a controller or effects for a real guitar, etc.

My fear may still be silly but well just playing wav files on a Laptop is a lot simpler than what I'd be doing with it.

If using Live is "just playing wav files"...well, I'll save that rant for a whole other thread.

 

In any case, yes, I have used it for playing soft synths as well as Live, mainly the sampler in Reason, but also Absynth, Crystal and the B4. Crystal requires me to run it through Cubase (no stand alone) and I haven't had a problem yet.

 

I have not, however, used it as a guitar effects processor live.

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<>

 

I've never had the Mac crash live, but that's why I use Macs: There's something comforting about knowing that the same company spec'ed the software AND hardware. Once latency gets below 3 ms or so, I think it just doesn't matter, especially live with all the reflections and such...I mean, it's the same thing as moving your head another meter away from the speaker.

 

Lee, I didn't think you were a "rack fulla stuff" kinda lady! Frankly, I don't like having lots of gear onstage, for my guitar it's just a volume pedal and AdrenaLinn, so it's unlikely I'll need to replace that with a computer any time soon :) I use the Mac only for the live/remixing kind of stuff I did at NAMM.

 

I think where the computer thing is REALLY going to take over is session work. When I was doing lots of sessions, carting gear was such a huge pain because you never knew what the producer was going to want. So in this case you load up a bunch of plugs, bring a nice little tube amp, and you're covered no matter what.

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If using Live is "just playing wav files"...well, I'll save that rant for a whole other thread.

 

In any case, yes, I have used it for playing soft synths as well as Live, mainly the sampler in Reason, but also Absynth, Crystal and the B4. Crystal requires me to run it through Cubase (no stand alone) and I haven't had a problem yet.

 

I have not, however, used it as a guitar effects processor live.

I've never used LIVE...I assumed it was like ACID but I don't know so just forget I said anything about it.

 

glad you haven't had a problem yet...I probably wouldn't either but I'm still scared of it...call me a pussy, I prefer rock solid gear when playing live. When I was gigging regularing I was forced to play in very odd places sometimes because I didn't always get to work for the big boys. I'd hate to rely on a laptop and end up playing outside an air force base with dust so thick you can hardly see...the laptop might make it through but well I prefer to play stuff that just don't quit.

 

AND, those are just me thoughts on the subject...I've never met a laptop that seemed like it could handle what a well built synth can for instance...weather, electrical problems, etc. etc.

 

Maybe someday in the near future I'll only be working gigs where everything is perfect...maybe I'll try using a laptop then. :)

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Originally posted by gmstudio99:

in the past 12 months, I've had more guitar strings break on a gig (3) than laptop crashes (0), with about an equal amount of shows on each instrument.

Yeah, but if a string breaks, you're back up and running in a minute (or less if you just change guitars). If your laptop craps out, you're SOL. Unless you have a whole other laptop onstage as a backup.
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I think where the computer thing is REALLY going to take over is session work. When I was doing lots of sessions, carting gear was such a huge pain because you never knew what the producer was going to want. So in this case you load up a bunch of plugs, bring a nice little tube amp, and you're covered no matter what.
No doubt whatsoever about that, being able to work in multiple studios for one project with ease is the best part. I recorded Grand Piano at DB's house, Organ at my brother's studio, Dobro in my garage, Drums/Guitars/Bass/Vocal at RaderRanch and I've only done a little over two tunes for that proj. so far. Computers/Digital recording is a whole new world that is getting affordable for all.
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One thing about laptops is that battery saves your butt when the electricity dips, cuts out, or spikes. A very cool advantage.

 

The one thing you have to do with a laptop is have a breakout box that is ANCHORED to something, and make ALL your connections to the outside world through that. Then run cables from the box to the laptop. You just always have to assume that someone's going to trip on a cable, and you'd rather have them rip it out of the breakout box than your laptop.

 

I don't know if Panasonic still makes ToughBooks, they were expensve but could survive just about anything. You might be surprised how good some laptops are -- a lot of people take them into really inhospitable field conditions. I wonder if any of my synths could have survived a 6 foot drop to concrete and lose nothing more than their LCD...

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Originally posted by Lee Flier:

If your laptop craps out, you're SOL. Unless you have a whole other laptop onstage as a backup.

Most of the "big boys" have two completely separate systems running in parallel, so that if one craps out, yes, the show keeps going without missing a beat.

 

I'm not a 'big boy,' though, so I live on the edge and just have one system. If it tanks, I'll make the same small talk and humor that I use when a string breaks. :)

 

Besides, that's why I use Macs. I have three in the studio, and in 6 years I've had one major crash. (And that was my own fault for incorrectly installing an operating system.)

 

It is interesting, though, to hear from people that don't and never will use a laptop on stage keep telling those of us that do about the pitfalls of why we shouldn't. I keep my gear in optimum shape for performances. That includes guitars, basses, laptops, everything. I'm not more or less worried about my iBook failing me than I am about my Fender Jazz or my Yamaha acoustic. (Of the three I just mentioned, the acoustic gives me the most fits onstage!)

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Interesting thread. Most T-40 bands here locally almost always have a laptop or sequencer onstage.

 

My old band used a laptop onstage for click, background sequences and as a light controller. I cant remember if we had it tied into our Yamaha 01v. There werer times when the laptop did crap-out for whatever reason, but after we upgraded the laptop and sequencing software everything seemed to go without a hitch.

 

In my current 80's band we are using a Rio player for our click/sequences with someone at the lighing controller. Im trying to get my band to run the click, sequences and lighting from a laptop.

 

Personally I dont mind having a laptop onstage, as long as its not the center of attention. And I dont mind watching a band that uses a laptop.

 

ikestr

...hertz down low....
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