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Turning your MacBook into a multi-timbral synth?


RABid
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I started the day having a bit of sellers remorse because I no longer have an Access Virus, once my favorite multi-timbral synth. But, I do have a M1 MacBookAir arriving this week so maybe the solution is to find a comfortable way to convert it to my new multi-timbral synth. So, I need advice from those more experienced than me. My goal is to attach my KeyStepPro to the Mac and use the 4 channel sequencer. At times I may also attach a BeatStepPro for 8 channels of sequencing fun. My question is what is the easiest, quickest way to turn the Mac into a sound module? I'm guessing MainStage, but in 15+ years of owning a Macs I never got around to using it. I also have Logic Pro, Reason and Live on the Mac. On PC in years past I would have used Cakewalk to do this. What do you suggest for casual use? By the way, I will probably use Roland Sound Cloud for most patches. Again, this is casual home use only. Not stage.
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Probably either Mainstage, Gig Performer, or Camelot Pro... with Mainstage having an advantage in already including a large sound library.

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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I would suggest Mainstage for your first foray into this. Spend the $39. It comes with an excellent sound library and you really can dive very deep into editing. Also, the Autosampler is very good. I have sampled some of my hardware into it to use in Mainstage concerts.

 

Gig Performer is also wonderful, especially if you use a lot of intensive third party (non Apple) VST's

 

I'm not a fan of Camelot Pro .... yet.

 

I personally use both Mainstage and Gig Performer. Depends on my mood :) I think GP has better scripting for complex stuff, and it handles heavy duty VST's. Keyscape, Kontakt, PianoTeq etc.. all behave nicely together in Gig Performer.

However, my new Mac Min M1 machine is handling all those and more without breaking a sweat. I'm still in testing pahse with it. My main gig machine is a 2018 MacMini running the latest MacOs and latest Mainstage and Logic Pro.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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I love and use MainStage. I've used it for multi set productions with dozens of instruments at a time, samples, loops, midi automation, orchestral libraries, etc. It's great.

 

But you asked "what's the quickest, easiest way to turn the Mac into a sound module?"

 

You already have it. One of your DAWs. Take Logic Pro X for example... You could use Logic as a) a slave Sound Module or b) do interactive real time things with KeyStep Sequencers. If the latter, your Beatstep will synchronize to MIDI clock coming from Logic. (Project settings=>Synchronization=>MIDI=>MIDI Clock Device) You may need to adjust the jumpers on the back of your KeyStep to allow it to slave.

 

Or you can use Logic as a Sound Module. Each Logic track is like a Roland JV Patch. Group tracks together using Summing Stacks to create the equivalent of your Roland JV Performance. Your tracks can have individual effects. Your summing stacks can have effects also. Individual tracks will filter midi by channel, note, range velocity, etc. Summing stacks can do likewise. So you can create your split and layers as well as receive different KeyStep notes to different timbres.

 

Logic provides you the entire MainStage library, and the mixing/effects capability. What it doesn't give you is the attractive visual interface. All the best.

 

 

BTW, I'd be curious how you end up scratching that "Virus" itch. It's a great sound. Please let us know.

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Yeah. MainStage. Crazy price. And you get the full Logic Pro sound library.

But maybe wait a while if you can. New update coming.

Since Apple has moved to the App Store model, at least so far, updates to new versions of all their apps has always been free anyway. In fact, that's been a developer complaint about the inherent structure of the App store... it's not possible to offer paid-for updates. Only in-app purchases, entirely new versions, or bundles. Apple has basically phased out the idea of buying updates to new versions, and the app store has basically forced developers to follow their lead. So unless Apple changes the app store philosophy, or makes a new Mainstage an entirely new product, I think it's safe to buy at any time.

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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...

BTW, I'd be curious how you end up scratching that "Virus" itch. It's a great sound. Please let us know.

 

I have most every U-he synth and Zebra is a favorite. If I get main stage set up the way I like on the new M1 Air that will be the go to, with the Roland Cloud group and NI Komplete as backup. I'm doing this to connect a KeyStepPro and have fun sequencing. Oh boy, I can imagine a trio of Zebra, Jupiter 8 and Massive along with a drum machine. Lots of fun. :)

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David,

 

I'm sure you've answered this somewhere, but I don't remember. When using a Mini as your gig rig, what do you do for display and navigation? Do you use a Lilliput monitor, or a full size...or?

 

Tim

 

Hey Tim,

 

I use 15' USB-C Monitor (it also has hdmi). It"s only 8mm thick. Powered by the MacMini usb

 

In use it mostly for setup at home. On stage I use my iPad with DuetPro. Gives me a touch screen Mac Mini.

 

I use my hardware board to do everything, so once I launch the Mini, I never touch it again, which was a factor in moving away from the a MacBook.

 

Here"s a pic of the monitor on my Gibraltar keys stand.

 

nkcxrE.jpg

 

I"ve also been experimenting using my old 2013 MacBook Pro in remote mode. I have a router in my rack so I can control the Mini from the MBP. If anything, it gives me a basic backup should the Mini go tits up at a show.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Mainstage is more built-for-purpose than a DAW, not that a DAW couldn't work.

 

^ This. A DAW *can* do it, but it's like trying to use a Ferrari to pull a trailer, they're built for different things. If you're juggling dozens of patches and songs and need mouse-free switching on-the-fly, DAWs have almost NO functions for that. DAWs can create incredible and complex keyboard tones, they have all the VIs and effects, but switching between them in a live setting is clunky. With a program designed from the ground-up as a live performance host, you can setup your on-screen visual feedback on a per-song basis. I have all my chords and notes on a huge window right there for each song. I have every patch I will ever use for a gig loaded into RAM and can advance through them from a button on my controller. I can create layers and split points that change on the fly, andI can modify them quickly without wading through tons of studio-centric features.

 

I've used many DAWs, and some have features suited for live performance, but no DAW has ALL the features of a live host, or honestly anywhere close. If you're doing even moderately complex setups, or don't want to have to touch the computer at all, a DAW isn't going to cut it. This is why you see Jordan Rudess with 3 MainStage laptops behind him, not Logic or Pro Tools (which he uses in the studio). I wouldn't even know how to setup a DAW to do what I can do with MainStage.

 

I actually like Camelot's workflow philosophy even better, but it only JUST is coming into its own, and with a 300+ song MainStage project, I have little incentive to switch and start from scratch. But do give it a look, it's patch cycling features are FAR more advanced than Mainstages, and for me, that's actually my #1 reason for using software.

 

Here's a screenshot of my setup:

http://www.ericbarker.com/dropbox/MainStageSS.png

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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Camelot's...patch cycling features are FAR more advanced than Mainstages

Can you give an example of what you mean here? Also, have you compared to Gig Performer?

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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Well I'll say this:

 

I can make the Mainstage interface look as simple as I want, and visually map almost 1:1 to my hardware, with as many or as few of controls as I want, thereby turning a Mac+controller into a workstation-like synth where the screen reflects real buttons, knobs, sliders, etc.

 

 

I can't do that with a DAW.

I make software noises.
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...

BTW, I'd be curious how you end up scratching that "Virus" itch. It's a great sound. Please let us know.

 

I have most every U-he synth and Zebra is a favorite.

 

:thu::thu:

 

I get it. Almost Juno-esque in that it's hard to find a bad sound. Waiting for Z3 ... :love:

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