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Live... with a laptop


Bartolomeo

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I gather that a number of us do live gigs with a laptop. I cringe at the thought, because I've carried a laptop for years for my day job, and I know how unpredictable they can be, and how they're pretty much junk after being on the road for a couple of years.

 

So, is it worth it? How do you cope? Aren't you even more concerned about theft that you would be with keys or a mic? What do you do during the inevitable reboots? How's the reliability? Do you consider the cable connections to really be stageworthy?

 

And, on a related note, does anyone have a computer in their gig rack?

 

Bartolomeo

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Originally posted by bartolomeo:

I gather that a number of us do live gigs with a laptop. I cringe at the thought, because I've carried a laptop for years for my day job, and I know how unpredictable they can be, and how they're pretty much junk after being on the road for a couple of years.

I have been using a laptop for over a year now, and it has never failed on me yet. I take it with me for playing at least twice a week and it's on about all day for my daily work. A separate XP installation for playing and a separate partition for samples, has resulted in really predictable results.

 

I won't think it will hold for many years though. I just hope it will make it through the 3 years of warranty.

So, is it worth it?
Depends on your needs. For my 9-person soul band I'd prefer a simple motif module or something. For jazz in small groups, I don't want anything else; I need the expression and detail there.

How do you cope? Aren't you even more concerned about theft that you would be with keys or a mic?
I am concerned, but I'm careful. Care for it like a guitarists cares about his guitar.

What do you do during the inevitable reboots? How's the reliability?
As I said; it's stable! Never needed a reboot. Just don't experiment with software during gigs. Use only things you know. Don't install software you don't need for playing and don't use internet (on the music XP installation).

Do you consider the cable connections to really be stageworthy?
The poweradapter included with my laptop is a heavy sturdy brick. Much better build than my P80's adapter. The 1/8 audio output on my Echo Indigo isn't stageworthy though. It actually went loose (it still worked, but not relyable). Echo replaced it. Now I always use the hifi-ish cable included with it and connect it to my volume pedal. Heavy cables go from there.

 

Hope that helps.

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Originally posted by Dan South:

I'd be interested in details of how you get more than one soft instrument to "play" at the same time. When I use soft synths in Logic, I seem to be able to play only one at a time from the keyboard.

 

Help me to not be so dense! :D

Just hold down the shift key when clicking on the record enable button for each instrument.

 

That's not how I do it live. I use a variety of environment objects that use combinations of MIDI channels and MIDI program changes to select between the different instances of soft synths I am running. I don't generally play multiple instruments on the Powerbook at the same time, but I do switch between multiple soft synths and require that they respond instantly and without computer keyboard/mouse interaction.

 

Busch.

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edit ** burningbusch beat me to it ** end edit

 

I don't know about Logic and I never play more than one instrument at a time, but if I wanted to, I'd set them to respond to the the same channel. I'm sure some Logic user here can help you with that.

 

I use Chainer as VST-host, with which you can assign either one channel per 'vst-chain' or assign all channels to a chain (vst-instrument). With a self-written program I can vary the channel on which I play with some secret key-combinations (on the piano).

 

My usual set up:

- chain 1: b4 on all channels (b4 itself alwayes reacts to channel 1,2 and 3).

- chain 2: Kontakt on all channels, with rhodes assigned in Kontakt to channel 4 and Vintaudio Yamaha to channel 5, sometimes clavinet on channel 7.

- chain 3: sometimes The Grand on channel 6.

 

Furthermore, I can route the midi back to the P80 (another secret key-combination), with the audio from the P80 going back into my soundcard, which mixes it with the soft-instruments. This way, I can use the P80's piano's as well.

 

Though the laptop has never failed, the P80 provides a nice backup function, since I can always get through a gig with the piano only.

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Hi, that's my experience

I do laptop based gigs over a year now. It's basic a laptop with the M-Audio sound card/keyboard with my Nord Electro as my other keyboard. Up to know the laptop never failed me during a show. I use V-STACK as a host programm. It's a kind of multi channel -wich I usually run with 2 or 3 VST's at a time- and can be played in different midi channels at a time. Basically, from the laptop I run synths, samples and some EP's. The B3 comes from my Electro, but some of the times it also comes from the B4.

If you don't push the laptop too much -and you just have it for live gigs and NEVER for internet or day job use- I think it will never let you down. Plus - I think you should stay to the VST's and the effects you have programmed from home. I don't think it's safe to do a lot of tweaking and pushing knobs on the laptop during the show.

That's my experience. If something goes wrong, I think the Electro will do the (rest) of the job - until I reboot my laptop at list. But on the other hand the laptop's so light and easy to carry, that I happily take this risk using it every time i have a gig.

Regards

Yannis

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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