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Connecting a laptop to mixer


delmar
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I'm meeting someone tonight that has a musical project. Last year I decided to get rid of all my keyboards save my Ace Tone, bought a Kawai ES110 and a 49 key Launchkey, and a MBP with a solid state drive. Loving it so far, but I'm wondering whether I need to hook the laptop to my Apollo Twin as an interface. I'm worried about relying upon the headphone jack. Do any of you do this?

 

Of course, if I end up using the Twin's capabilities, that's the way to go, but I hesitate to bring an expensive (to me) piece of gear out just as an interface if there's an inexpensive substitute that's not a sonic compromise. There's also the question of where it would go. I like the look of the laptop perched on a stand in the back left corner, and was looking for something that had a second shelf for the Apollo or whatever I use underneath. I've seen all the laptop stands that Sweetwater sells, and none of them have a second shelf. Anyway - thought I'd ask here - any recommendations or things to watch out for?

 

On a side note, I've been following with great interest the IEM discussion and want to ask, do you guys using them typically bring a monitor anyway for the benefit of those without IEM's whether band members or people near the stage?

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I was surprised to learn several touring acts use the headphone jack out the MBP for extended road dates - Eddie Jobson's practice on the UK redux tours was the first I heard - he had no issues, but had redundant laptops running (so he must have figured that was the weak link, not the headphone jack, I suppose).

 

You may want to use a dedicated DI to convert RCA to XLR (like the stereo Radial DI AV) if you make that normal practice.

 

Re: IEMs and a monitor - you want everyone to hear you that wants to hear you. If I'm going to run IEMs and I'm not 100% certain 1) everyone in the band is on system and 2) FOH is going to be sufficient for everyone in the audience, I'm going to schlep the DXRs in the car just in case.

 

Unfortunately, there have been too many "just in case" situations where the DXRs have had to get set up on stage.

 

Bottom line is no matter how you decide to configure your rig, you have to plan for the lowest common denominator at the venue.

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If you have an Apollo Twin you have all you need. Use the headphone jack until you find and instance when it is not enough, then use the Twin. No real need for something in between. One of the benefits of paying a premium for a Mac is the decent built in sound.
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In my experience (based on reading a Facebook group's posts who largely use their MBP for Mainstage and worship), there are redundant number of folks who want to troubleshoot why they're getting a popping sound in their audio. The majority of the time they're going out of the headphone jack on their MBP.

 

I believe using an audio interface will also protect your MBP in the off chance you're accidentally sent phantom power.

 

I use a Gator Frameworks MediaTray* (* = 1 or 2, as 2 is a heavy-duty version). Lots of real estate on this stand, so you'd have to check dimensions to see if it'd fit your need. I fit my MBP with a Korg nanoKontrol2 and a USB hub on mine.

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MediaTray1--gator-frameworks-gfw-utl-mediatray1-compact-adjustable-media-tray-stand

MainStage; Hammond SK1-73; Roland XP-80, JV-90, JV-1080, JV-1010, AX-1; Korg microSAMPLER;

Boss DR-880; Beat Buddy; Neo Instruments Ventilator; TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay

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You didn't mention if this was a studio project or a live gig, but if a single stereo output is all that's needed for this project then use the headphone output - it sounds fine. It might even be more reliable than a 3rd-party driver for an external interface. I had issues with my MOTU MicroBook IIc on gigs and switched to my headphone out, it's been smooth sailing since. On my local gigs I go directly from the headphone output to my two QSC powered speakers. On road gigs I go into DIs that feed the house & monitor system.

 

And as far as the previous post's mention of "popping sound" I've never experienced that. What you might experience is buzzing from the MBP's AC adapter. That would affect me on a very small percentage of gigs but I don't remember the last time it happened. If I pulled the magsafe connector off & ran on battery the noise disappeared.

 

So use your headphone output without worry but when you record your project for posterity, use the twin. I'm assuming that for what that piece costs, you're gonna get slightly better specs and I would want to record with the best gear I own.

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I used the headphone jack through three MBPros running Mainstage for at least 300 live shows over the years without ever a problem. My only concern was that I would either wear out the input jack or knock into the cable while plugged in and break something. So I kept one of those little 1/8 right angle adapters taped in place on the laptop and avoided both scenarios. The FOH guys were always happy with the signal I was sending them.

Funny, but only since Ive stopped doing most gigging have I gotten a cheap USB audio interface, mostly because I needed to add an audio input.

 

Yamaha P515, Pianoteq, Mainstage, iOS, assorted other stuff.

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The headphone output is fine.

 

However I have always used an inexpensive audio interface, currently a Gen 2 Focusrite as it gives me an additional fine control over the output from MainStage in gain staging and it shifts the audio processing load off the CPU:

 

I don't bother with the Focusrite drivers, it works fine with Core Audio driver out of the box.

 

It sits right next to the laptop on the slide out mouse tray built-in to the Quicklok Laptop holder available as floor standing, or as an attachment to an X or Z stand.

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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Thanks guys. I checked out that Gator Frameworks stand, found a returned one on Amazon and remembered I still had a $50 gift card from Christmas. Solved a problem this morning before finishing my first cuppa joe.

I love this forum.

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