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MainStage Layout


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So, having happily ran MainStage almost solid for the past three weeks over a few different gigs, thought I'd spend my first day off with a few beers and making a new layout.

Everything is now sent to busses - all pianos, other keys, organ, other bits etc., so the faders are always in the same place should I need to adjust anything at soundcheck.
Had the usual 'levels are all over the place' thing once or twice, and hopefully this'll make it quicker; being more uniform. Always hard to gauge where a pad should be in the mix when rehearsals are scarce!

On the Keylab mkII 61, Organ is always mapped to a layer of controls, mixer and output levels to another, random synth stuff if needed on the third.

On the 88, sure I can fill the control banks up with something(!), but, just output levels at the moment.

Some engineers liked the option of having multiple outs, others were ok with just a stereo send. (Whether they go mono at their desk is up to them 🙂 )
Nice to have separate out levels for tracks and cue/clicks if needed.
Playback I found a bit clunky, so may go back to QLab and have that send Program Changes to MainStage over the IAC bus.

Using this with the two Arturias, and a rack with an OWC USB C hub and an XR18 for local gigs. 

For flying gigs, the XR stuff is ubiquitous enough now to have them backline one, and I've got an iConnectivity Audio 2+ as a backup.
I've used a Kronos, some Roland Axxx's, Nord Stage, and Motifs as controllers, and they've all behaved quite well.

I do have a NanoKontrol which I may map to the XR18, to keep FX on there and save some processing on the little MacBook AIr.

Anyway, just thought I'd share my happy journey into MainStage!

Screenshot 2022-03-13 at 15.23.55.png

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Please keep sharing updates.
I have always been sceptical about using such a set up so will be very interested to see how robust you can make this.
My main concern after the initial horror show of trying to configure such a set up is resilience.

In twenty years of playing live my hardware only let me down once when the lighting tech unplugged me!

So I will be most sceptical until I see real life confirmation that this works!

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Yamaha CP70B;Roland XP30/AXSynth/Fantom/FA76/XR;Hammond XK3C SK2; Korg Kronos 73;ProSoloist Rack+; ARP ProSoloist; Mellotron M4000D; GEM Promega2; Hohner Pianet N, Roland V-Grand,Voyager XL, RMI
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18 minutes ago, Losendoskeys said:

Please keep sharing updates.
I have always been sceptical about using such a set up so will be very interested to see how robust you can make this.
My main concern after the initial horror show of trying to configure such a set up is resilience.

In twenty years of playing live my hardware only let me down once when the lighting tech unplugged me!

So I will be most sceptical until I see real life confirmation that this works!


I've tried really hard to break it! Playing with a good few layers and lots of pedal and having a few YouTube vids in the background… nothing show stopping.
On a gig, the wifi/update checking etc is turned off and not one glitch.

I'm trying to use modelled/ROMpler stuff rather than streaming samples from an external SSD.
(Arturia Collection, Roland ZEN, and a few homemade samples on the local drive - but I really like the Alan Parsons Pianos in an IK MAX Bundle I bought a while ago - may try that next!)
 

The latency is now acceptable - I tried a few times in the past on my 2012 MacBook Pro and it didn't feel like I was playing the instruments. Now I can almost forget about it.

Did maybe 16 gigs with different sets and bands the past few weeks, audience up to 1000pax and I'm finally happy!
I do need a backup laptop, for sure. I do have an Integra7 that can always do the job, too. I thought about flying with it, but I trusted the Mac.

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I've been laptopping for 16 years with one temporary showstopper (my MOTU audio interface disconnected, had to reboot & use headphone output, which is what I've done to this day), and a few smaller incidents that were more bumps than full stops. I carry no backup laptop but have extra cables, power adapters for my keyboard, a Korg NanoKontrol if my keyboard goes down and I need a rental, etc. All this stuff easily fits in the laptop bag. Of course it's probably a little riskier than someone with a Nord or workstation you just switch on & off, and you do need a measure of computer smarts. The payoff is portability, superior sounds and the flexibility to custom-configure your setup to any gig. I accept what to me is the small risk for the much bigger reward. What makes the risk small is my years of experience doing it, which someone just starting down this road won't have; I completely get anyone's hesitation. My main points of advice would be: know your gear, don't update your software too often, and make sure the laptop is safe, wherever it is on the bandstand! Enjoy that Mainstage setup Adam, it looks like you've dialed in the controls you need really well. I do the same, not needing to look at or access the laptop while I play. If it weren't for techs running around the stage doing their jobs as fast as they can, I would have the laptop hidden behind my bass amp rig instead of sitting on top of it!

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Most of us can agree, that laptops began with close to zero reliability and have become more reliable. Early adopters were burned, sometimes.

 

Most of us agree that professional hardware designed for a job is less likely to break down than a combination of tools, some of which were designed for this job and some of which are general purpose tools. I don't see how that would change. But what happens when the number of breakdowns approaches zero?

 

I did have this one experience where there were brown power problems in the building. I didn't have a power conditioner (I should have) and one of my keyboards wouldn't boot properly. It would hang and show &^%^#. The house PA was fine. My monitors were fine. Soundcheck was a circus. I was too nervous to test the computer's vulnerability to the power. I limped through the gig with the working keyboard and I kept the laptop running on batteries for the two hour show. Very unusual experience. Never had it since, but then I never booked a gig at that place again.

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28 minutes ago, Tusker said:

I didn't have a power conditioner (I should have) and one of my keyboards wouldn't boot properly.


I count as an advantage for laptops the fact they don't need a power conditioner. Its power brick is of course a "universal" switched-mode piece that works on AC voltages between 100 and 240 volts. Your laptop was fine but obviously the keyboard was mains powered. My small controller can run off the laptop's USB port, or its own universal power supply, so I would say that a laptop & controller setup can handle power issues better than more traditional keyboard rigs. Another small bonus for me is that I don't need anything other than a plug adapter when touring in Europe. I could probably get through a 90-minute set on battery power alone if I had to, but with my 2013 MacBook Pro's battery being original I'm not gonna test that hypothesis!

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Great layout, Adam!

Back In 2011 I used to play in rehearsals with a MacBook white/mainstage and a m-audio controller. I played with the internal card and never had a problem/crash. At lives I played with my K2661. I had set up the same sounds both Mac and K2661. Now I am planning to play with MainStage, a Mac mini(m1) and to use an iPad as screen for Mac.

What do you prefer, a MacBook Air or a Mac mini/iPad setup?

Kurzweil K2661+full options,iMac 27",Mac book white,Apogee Element 24 + Duet,Genelec 8030A,Strymon Lex + Flint,Hohner Pianet T,Radial Key-Largo,Kawai K5000W + K1,Moog Minitaur,Yamaha Reface YC + CP, iPad 9th Gen, Arturia Keystep + Beatstep

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15 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

 


I count as an advantage for laptops the fact they don't need a power conditioner. Its power brick is of course a "universal" switched-mode piece that works on AC voltages between 100 and 240 volts. Your laptop was fine but obviously the keyboard was mains powered. My small controller can run off the laptop's USB port, or its own universal power supply, so I would say that a laptop & controller setup can handle power issues better than more traditional keyboard rigs. Another small bonus for me is that I don't need anything other than a plug adapter when touring in Europe. I could probably get through a 90-minute set on battery power alone if I had to, but with my 2013 MacBook Pro's battery being original I'm not gonna test that hypothesis!

This is one of the reasons I made sure the controllers were bus-powered. Only mains is the USB-C Hub's 19V adapter, that as you say will run 100-240V so doesn't matter a great deal if, say, generator power dips.

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14 hours ago, UnderGroundH said:

Great layout, Adam!

Back In 2011 I used to play in rehearsals with a MacBook white/mainstage and a m-audio controller. I played with the internal card and never had a problem/crash. At lives I played with my K2661. I had set up the same sounds both Mac and K2661. Now I am planning to play with MainStage, a Mac mini(m1) and to use an iPad as screen for Mac.

What do you prefer, a MacBook Air or a Mac mini/iPad setup?

I do have a M1 Mac mini at home which I thought about putting in the rack, too. And, I've always got an iPad with me anyway… 

No preference as I've not tried it yet; but, I might try it on an easy local gig and see! The mapping seems pretty stable and hopefully I'd never have to touch the trackpad or the keyboard on a gig. Can always grab a cheap Bluetooth keyboard - because I'm still addicted to Command-S constantly.

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On 3/15/2022 at 4:57 AM, Adam Burgess said:

I do have a M1 Mac mini at home which I thought about putting in the rack, too. And, I've always got an iPad with me anyway… 

No preference as I've not tried it yet; but, I might try it on an easy local gig and see! The mapping seems pretty stable and hopefully I'd never have to touch the trackpad or the keyboard on a gig. Can always grab a cheap Bluetooth keyboard - because I'm still addicted to Command-S constantly.

 

Is there any reason to go with an iPad + Mini setup over an M1 Air or MacBook Pro by itself, if one doesn't need to look at or touch the computer on a gig, i.e. everything is controlled at the keyboard? I'm thinking I'm missing something.

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10 minutes ago, Reezekeys said:

 

Is there any reason to go with an iPad + Mini setup over an M1 Air or MacBook Pro by itself, if one doesn't need to look at or touch the computer on a gig, i.e. everything is controlled at the keyboard? I'm thinking I'm missing something.


Logistics and redundancy, really. Just leave the mini in the rack and I still have my laptop to do 'normal' stuff. They're the same machine, basically!
I don't want to look at the computer, but I would have an iPad there for set lists and any performance notes, anyway.

But, I've had a good run of nice gigs recently. May grab another bottom of the range MacBook Air just for gigs. I'm just worried I'll be useless and leave my only sound source at a hotel somewhere - and I'm addicted to saving stuff everytime I adjust something. 

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Got it. I've never been in the position to have a separate computer only for gigs. And never left my laptop in a hotel room –  that might be a problem! I'm pretty anal about making sure to not forget that little detail though.

 

Since my 9-year-old MacBook Pro handles my gigs fine, I'm betting a used/refurb 1st-gen M1 MacBook Air would as well. I'll need a few more gigs to happen first.

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