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MainStage sample quality vs Logic Pro X?


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No luck using search to find my answer: Are the voices / instruments (samples?) in MainStage any better sound quality than those in Logic Pro X? I'm considering switching to using virtual sounds, but, for example, I played the piano and organ sounds / voices in Logic Pro X (which I own) using my keyboard via MIDI, and frankly, they don't even come close to my hardware voice quality (Yamaha MOXF8). Are the Logic Pro X sounds / samples the same ones used in MainStage? Or does MainStage have much better, upgraded voices (samples)?

 

Any help from those who might have compared the 2 (Logic Pro X voices versus MainStage voices) would be most appreciated.

Ludwig van Beethoven:  “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

My Rig: Yamaha MOXF8 (used mostly for acoustic piano voices); Motion Sound KP-612SX & SL-512.

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It all depends on the virtual instruments you're using. If you're referring to piano sounds, I'd guess you're talking about the legacy ones that originated in the EXS24 sampler, but now have a different skin. As far as I know these would be identical between Logic and MainStage (and for that matter, in GarageBand albeit in simplified versions). Hammond-style organs would have originated in EVB3, and the same is the case there. You can of course host third-party instruments in Logic and MainStage and vastly upgrade your sound (e.g. Ivory for pianos or IK B3-X for organs). I'd also be interested to know how you were listening to the audio output of your mac. If it was just the onboard audio, that could account for some perceived difference in sound quality.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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The factory Mainstage and Logic Pro X sounds are the same.

 

With careful editing, they can be made to sound better than hardware. Take the Steinway, for example. Get rid of the Space D effect, choose another from he list and massage as needed.

Then go into the EXS24 editor and begin to adjust sustain and release times. Mess with the EQ. If you don't like the way the sustain pedal samples work, go into that section and adjust.

 

For organ, you may look up Christian Mathew Cullen. He has a Vintage Organ pack he created using ONLY Mainstage as the starting point. All EXS24.

 

One thing with Mainstage, the provided sound are very good, but can be better if you get away from being a preset jockey (nothing wrong with that, however).

 

Mainstage is only $39 and gives you tons of stuff to play with. Well worth the cost to try it yourself, and see if it does what you want.

David

Gig Rig:Depends on the day :thu:

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for your reply, Stephen, very appreciated. In answer to your question, I have the computer linked via USB to my Behringer XR18 mixer, which then feeds my 2 (for stereo) Bose L1 Model 2 with B2 bass modules. So I believe I am getting very decent (at least) audio sound quality. All the voices directly from my hardware Yamaha MOXF8 (also plugged directly into the Behringer XR18 mixer) are far, far superior to the Logic Pro X voices, there is not even any comparison. Now perhaps, because my MAC is so old (I know I need a new one), it cannot produce high quality sounds... but if indeed the sounds of MainStage and Logic Pro X are the same (or pretty close), I will not make the switch to virtual instruments, and stick with my hardware.

Ludwig van Beethoven:  “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

My Rig: Yamaha MOXF8 (used mostly for acoustic piano voices); Motion Sound KP-612SX & SL-512.

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Thank you, David (EscapeRocks) for the excellent suggestions. I will give them a try. As you suggest, my very reason for considering switching to virtual instruments was that I figured the sheer greater computing power available via a MAC/PC (as opposed to my hardware instrument) should result in better sound quality (of course, if the sampling and number of levels was equivalent or better). If nothing else, I was hoping playing a virtual piano would at least eliminate the polyphony short-comings associated with hardware instruments.

Ludwig van Beethoven:  “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

My Rig: Yamaha MOXF8 (used mostly for acoustic piano voices); Motion Sound KP-612SX & SL-512.

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The age of your Mac has nothing to do with its ability to produce high quality sounds. The sounds available in Logic/Mainstage are the same regardless of the age of your computer. The pianos are certainly a weak point, but you can use whatever Audio Units plugins you want to add additional sounds.
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I know, another county heard from but my .02 on a two of these topics: having heard the stock Logic and Mainstage piano, they don't compare to a top-shelf virtual piano - I think my almost 20-year-old Native Instruments "New York" piano quite superior actually. I'm not surprised to hear you like the MOXF8 piano better than the MS or Logic piano. This shouldn't be a shock to anyone. Mainstage is $30, correct? Does anyone really think you're gonna get a multi-gigabyte sampled piano with release samples, sustain/sympathetic resonances, etc. for that price? That would be a shocker, even if Mainstage didn't also come with a bunch of other instruments and efx, which it does.

 

Topic #2 - again with the oft-used disclaimer "in my opinion", your Mac's audio output is not a factor here. I know I don't have golden ears but for playing gigs and even for recording, I have zero issues with the quality I get from my MacBook Pro's headphone output. If you're one of these folks that uses a green felt-tip marker on your CDs, or interconnect cable that costs $200/inch, you might have a problem. Otherwise, you should probably grab Mainstage, Bidule, or Gig Performer, and research the big dogs in virtual acoustic pianos - there's plenty of them, and I'm fairly confident that at least one of them will put a smile on your face.

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for example, I played the piano and organ sounds / voices in Logic Pro X (which I own) using my keyboard via MIDI, and frankly, they don't even come close to my hardware voice quality (Yamaha MOXF8).

I wonder if there could be some issue in whatever playback system you're using for the Mac. I know sounds are subjective, but to me, even the version of the organ in the iPad version of Garageband is far superior to the organs in the MOXF. And I would think Logic would have to be the same or better than that...

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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In terms of sound creation, MainStage contains the exact same plugins as Logic Pro and accesses the same libraries.

 

The only difference is that usually, whenever something new appears in Logic, it takes a while until MainStage is similarly updated. MS still has the Logic 10.4 plugins and has not been updated to the 10.5 versions yet.

"The Angels of Libra are in the European vanguard of the [retro soul] movement" (Bill Buckley, Soul and Jazz and Funk)

The Drawbars | off jazz organ trio

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Thank you, David (EscapeRocks) for the excellent suggestions. I will give them a try. As you suggest, my very reason for considering switching to virtual instruments was that I figured the sheer greater computing power available via a MAC/PC (as opposed to my hardware instrument) should result in better sound quality (of course, if the sampling and number of levels was equivalent or better). If nothing else, I was hoping playing a virtual piano would at least eliminate the polyphony short-comings associated with hardware instruments.

 

My MacBook Pro is a late-2013 model with the base configuration. Seven years old, and no issues playing as many notes as I need on my Native Instruments New York piano, along with other sounds split or layered. YMMV of course, because there are a lot of factors involved: age and OS of your machine, which host you use for your VIs, what other VIs you might have running, and especially where your output buffer is set. Mine is usually at 128 samples but I've been playing at home (where else these days?!) set to 64 samples with no issues; not too shabby for a computer of this vintage.

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Wow - you folks are really expanding my mind. I very much appreciate the inputs..... in response to David / EscapeRocks suggestion, I went to Logic Pro X and turned off some of the effects, and BINGO, the sound was GREATLY improved. Now it seems my decision is more to whether or not I like the actual samples in MS/Logic (which I still don't feel are very expressive... and some feel like they are distant / lack "immediacy"). And then there is the simple issue of familiarity with one sound (for me, the pianos in the MOXF8). When I started playing some of the MS/Logic pianos for some time, I actually found a few that I almost liked, for certain songs or purposes. But also, as several others pointed out (Reezekeys, Jonathan Hughes) - I can get other plugins / samples from other companies that I would probably like better (I expect at a substantially greater cost). But, yes, if one wants to dance, one has to pay the fiddler!

 

Thank you, all, for the thoughtful inputs. Now I'm going to embark on another investigative journey (into the world of virtual instruments). Based on other previous threads, I gather I should investigate "PianoTeq" and the like, and see how they play for me.

Ludwig van Beethoven:  “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

My Rig: Yamaha MOXF8 (used mostly for acoustic piano voices); Motion Sound KP-612SX & SL-512.

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David: "Mainstage is only $39 and gives you tons of stuff to play with. Well worth the cost to try it yourself, and see if it does what you want."

 

I think that David and most of us who really use it would declare it's well worth 10 times that cost.

Yamaha P515 & CK88, Pianoteq, Mainstage, iOS, assorted other stuff.

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For the question of immediacy, you might want to play around with the I/O Buffer size settings (go to preferences, audio, advanced settings) and see if lowering the buffer size helps you with your finger to ear latency. The finger to ear latency is very important to us piano players of course. I personally don't care for the stock logic/mainstage piano samples. On occasion I have found that reducing the ugly (to me) frequencies in 2Khz to 3Kz range can help. (Using an eq, boost some frequencies and then run around the audio spectrum until it sounds really objectionable, then attenuate the objectionable frequencies at that point by a bit. Be subtle. Even 2-3 db of attenuation can make a huge difference.) The other thing you can do is play with velocity sensitivity settings because frequently we are not just objecting to the sound, we are objecting to the way the sound responds.

 

My solution is pianoteq because of the low CPU load in a live context. Velocity sensitivity is very customizable. Taste is personal however and some of my friends can't stand the "modeled" sound. YMMV. Try different things. Hope this helps.

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Thank you, Tusker. Yes, reducing the buffer size also made a significant difference in the response = much, much better! (I'm learning a LOT from you folks!)

Ludwig van Beethoven:  “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

My Rig: Yamaha MOXF8 (used mostly for acoustic piano voices); Motion Sound KP-612SX & SL-512.

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This may be slightly off the original topic, but another huge benefit to MainStage (in my opinion) is the wonderful ability to split and then transpose the key ranges. It lets you turn a 76 or 88 note controller into 3, 4, or even 5 boards with everything sitting right under your hands the way each person would personally prefer. No more tweaking your left wrist to the breaking point just to play a horn or string part in an upper register...it can be sitting comfortably down on the left and still give you what you want/need. Add in multi instrument layering and the full selection of included as well as 3rd party instruments and effect plug ins, and you've got a monster rig for live gigs, whether it's a single keyboard rig or stacked 2 or 3 boards high. There is no left/right restrictions any more. Want to play a bass line with your right hand? Just put it there. MainStage rocks. I love it.
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