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Time for a special issue of keyboard on the topic :playing live with a computer setu


fjzingo

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Hi all,

 

I'm trying to figure out how to exchange my live rig (nord electro and motif 6) to a controller and a computer.....but it's a jungle out there. I like my dedicated hardware but I'm tempted by the flexibiity of having for example scarbee rhodes, synthogy ivory and nativeinstruments B4........ at my fingertips live.

:idea:

Time for a special issue of keyboard on the topic :playing live with a computer setup?

 

What computers to buy (laptops, mini macs, muse)

What host software to use (rax.......)

Examples of artists using computers as live rigs.

 

Comments anyone? Experiences?

 

fred

 

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Thats the whole point of writing an article in Keyboard,

 

Internet is filled with info on computers and music, but mostly for studio use, as the articles in the magazine Computer Music. What I'm after is a more focused limited comparison of hosts done by people with experience of using computers live, especially the ones replacing their workstations(The swiss army knife of the 80s -soon to be a dead concept?).

 

More and more people use VSTi's in their studio instead of workstations etc and we see a lot of people using soft synths like atmosphere live.

 

The current issue of keyboard contains articles about keyboardamps and in ears, so an article about VSTi's live would not be to far away or even closer don't you think?

 

To limit the subject a lot:

 

An a article/issue about the use of different VSTi hosts in a live situation jamming/ performing/playing (software/hardware) pros/cons.

e.g.

*Rax

*Muse

*Kore

.....

 

keyboard of the month

 

http://www.heavyliftmusic.com/2005/05/29/18/

 

/fred

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+ 1

fjzingo share the same feelings with you. I use a laptop live but i still use my nord electro or/and nord lead 2 as a safety net supplement. Computer technology is not stable enouph to fully replace hardware. But i, too, would like to read other professionals experiences using laptops/vst's/midi controllers on stage: accidents, pros and cons, funny stories and so on. And i would like to read those articles in the magazine i'm a long time subscriber :)

yannis

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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Originally posted by fjzingo:

especially the ones replacing their workstations(The swiss army knife of the 80s -soon to be a dead concept?).

I'm far from convinced, although maybe "the market" will decide they are. It is the case that a large proportion of the market are not professionals but hobbyists for whom and if "somewhat near" or "almost" good enough is available in software, that's it for them. Besides, many hobbyists are more interested in technology for its own sake, and I'd guess the software and "crude" measurements (200Gb sample library! It must be good!) hold more interest for them than hardware?

 

I'm not sure that a lot of these soft-synths, for example, have the resources behind them that's necessary for a truly refined 'instrument'. Often the default patches are badly organized and both good and patches are thrown in, even Albino 3 (programmed by Rob Papen who previously did work for the likes of E-mu) suffers from this problem. Besides this, a general purpose computer will always be a compromise, although this can be overcome through platforms such as Receptor.

 

On the other hand we see the likes of Korg OASYS... the opportunities for a high-quality integrated platform of expert design and catching up with the likes of GigaSampler in hardware exist.

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Soundscape: I do agree with you that most hardware synths like motif or kurzeil is hard to beat soundwise, keyfeelwise and interfacewise. But honestly I haven't used the built in sequencers in any of my workstations since I sold my Roland D20 in order to afford the then new wavestation....so why buy a workstation when the sequencerprograms are so much better in a computer??????

 

It is also interesting you mention one of the most expensive linux computers I've ever heard of------OASYS.

 

Synths are moving into computers and workstations are turning into computers so the question is where they intercept.

 

Soundscape says:

"Besides, many hobbyists are more interested in technology for its own sake, and I'd guess the software and "crude" measurements (200Gb sample library! It must be good!) hold more interest for them than hardware?"
I think that is a great underestimation of the general keyboardconsumer......I think in general they try to listen for the sound and playability.

In addition, it's a numbers game when it comes to workstations as well as computers or for that sake buying a car.

 

For some inspirational vst hardware/linux computer I suggest you point you're webbrowser to http://www.museresearch.com/artists.php?a=26 and look at the list of users playing VSTi's on this moher : Herbie Hancock, George Duke...........probably sponsored but anyway.

 

Talking of numbers game:

 

Today I received Scarbees Keyboard gold bundle, and I must say that no keyboard be it motif, oasys,kurzweil, nord stage or electro beats those samples when it comes to expression, similarity to the source piano and the playability.

--The only hardware that can load those samples are a computer with a soft synth sampler like halion or kontakt. In this case the numbers game is a winner and I really wan't to bring these inspirational samples and use them live!

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Wink

/Fredrik

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Soundscape,

 

I read you're post a bit to quick before answering,

 

but you must agree that

 

Synths are moving into computers and workstations are turning into computers so the question is where they intercept.

 

It would be interesting to see sales figures for current lines of workstations and compare those to the number of midi controllers sold.

 

The reason for the post was not to kill off the workstation it was more to look at the computer option for live performance since the quick development of softwaresynhts.

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We've been over this many times in many other posts. I strongly disagree with the notion that hardware offers sonic benefits over software. These workstations sound as good as they do because the presets are drenched in FX, echo and reverb. When you strip all that away, you have mediocre sounds at best. The OASYS, I'm sad to say is included, at least as it relates to it's primitive sample playback engine and compromised sound samples.

 

The top producers are using software almost completely. That's a reality. People have been claiming for years now that hardware is going to catch up, but the gap is huge and the progress very slow. The Receptor type approach does work.

 

Busch.

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

We've been over this many times in many other posts. I strongly disagree with the notion that hardware offers sonic benefits over software. These workstations sound as good as they do because the presets are drenched in FX, echo and reverb. When you strip all that away, you have mediocre sounds at best. The OASYS, I'm sad to say is included, at least as it relates to it's primitive sample playback engine and compromised sound samples.

Not every piece of hardware is brilliant, to be sure. But we can have these "subjective" discussions ad nauseam.

 

OTOH, rarely have "hard" figures been posted such as for aliasing performance. Korg claim the OASYS' AL-1 "virtual analog" synth offers superior aliasing performance, and it's certainly been my experience with many software "virtual analogs" that their aliasing performance is not stellar. (I'd imagine the likes of Virus for PowerCore or Pro-Tools is better in this respect.) Further, in many cases the CPU use/lack of polyphony suggests serious lack of code optimization.

 

The top producers are using software almost completely. That's a reality. People have been claiming for years now that hardware is going to catch up, but the gap is huge and the progress very slow. The Receptor type approach does work.
Workflow benefits and "total recall" are a big win and if your competition has these then you probably better have them as well to keep up. Many current productions sound less than fantastic to me, though.
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Originally posted by fjzingo:

Soundscape: I do agree with you that most hardware synths like motif or kurzeil is hard to beat soundwise, keyfeelwise and interfacewise. But honestly I haven't used the built in sequencers in any of my workstations since I sold my Roland D20 in order to afford the then new wavestation....so why buy a workstation when the sequencerprograms are so much better in a computer??????

Oh, sorry, to be clear I'm not talking about the sequencers in the workstations--although I believe that a high resolution display with a dedicated 'hardware' user interface could have benefits here as well. I don't think any of the current 'software' sequencers (or 'DAW' packages I suppose they could be called today) are that great.

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

It is also interesting you mention one of the most expensive linux computers I've ever heard of------OASYS.

It seems that Linux is rapidly moving into the 'embedded' systems space, where they would traditionally have used speciality OS's such as QNX or something. But the thing is that 'Linux' itself is basically just a resource manager. It just allocates time for each process (program) and handles memory allocation, and so on. It's really just a 'commodity' part handling a lot of low-level generic detail. All the stuff and hear you see is build on top of that. (People often loosely use the term 'operating system' to mean more visible details such as the user interface.)

 

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

Besides, many hobbyists are more interested in technology for its own sake, and I'd guess the software and "crude" measurements (200Gb sample library! It must be good!) hold more interest for them than hardware?
I think that is a great underestimation of the general keyboardconsumer......I think in general they try to listen for the sound and playability.
It would be a huge underestimate of the type of keyboardist this forum attracts, to be sure. But I don't think it is an underestimate of the wider audience. Just look around on various forums online and you'll see tons of people who only ever discuss technology and I doubt have extensive musical skills. It's also not too hard to find various magazines that cater to this audience.

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

In addition, it's a numbers game when it comes to workstations as well as computers or for that sake buying a car.

Quite. Anyone can be woo'd by crude specs. This of course applies to the software world where the 5Gb of samples is "better" than last week's 3, or whatever. (In some cases these mega samples are of workstations that only had a few Mb of Wave ROM!)

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

For some inspirational vst hardware/linux computer I suggest you point you're webbrowser to http://www.museresearch.com/artists.php?a=26 and look at the list of users playing VSTi's on this moher : Herbie Hancock, George Duke...........probably sponsored but anyway.

Yeah, there's an even a Jordan Rudess video demo up. I'll let my ears be the judge of what I buy/play though. ;)

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

Talking of numbers game:

 

Today I received Scarbees Keyboard gold bundle, and I must say that no keyboard be it motif, oasys,kurzweil, nord stage or electro beats those samples when it comes to expression, similarity to the source piano and the playability.

The Scarbee stuff has a great reputation. But there is an awful lot of junk thrown onto the market too!

 

As I've mentioned, hardware has certainly fallen behind the likes of Gigasampler. It depends on what kind of sound you want though, absolutely 'realistic' or not, of course for emulating an orchestra it's Gigasampler all the way these days. I just find it astonishing that a D-50 patch like 'Staccatto Heaven' is, for me, still jaw-droppingly beautiful today, while I don't find most of the 'VSTi's' put out anything that is.

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

--The only hardware that can load those samples are a computer with a soft synth sampler like halion or kontakt. In this case the numbers game is a winner and I really wan't to bring these inspirational samples and use them live!

Well I recently found a test showing the extremely poor aliasing performance of many of these soft-samplers. (http://www.discodsp.com/highlife/aliasing/) I guess it's now out of date. It would be interesting to have a comparison of all current popular soft-samplers and hardware.
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Originally posted by fjzingo:

Synths are moving into computers and workstations are turning into computers so the question is where they intercept.

Sure. The big problem is that general purpose computer is intended for just that, and has a user-interface originally designed for word processing. I guess as we get more dedicated controllers (such as Kore) this problem will decrease. On the other hand hardware is stuck with inflexibility and sluggish manufacturers (but OTOH the software market seems to encourage throwing products out there as fast as possible.)

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

It would be interesting to see sales figures for current lines of workstations and compare those to the number of midi controllers sold.

It would also be interesting to know the total market value of each.

 

Originally posted by fjzingo:

The reason for the post was not to kill off the workstation it was more to look at the computer option for live performance since the quick development of softwaresynhts.

Don't get me wrong, I don't care whether it's hardware, software... wetware. ;) What I care most of all about is quality and I see a lot of hype around all these plug-ins and mega sample libraries and there is just no way all or even most of them deserve it. But if you're finding stuff like the Scarbee "Rhodes" (ahem) stuff is better than anything else (and IMO better shouldn't just mean "sounds real," it should be smooth and polished too) then go for it!
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fjzingo wrote:

Thats the whole point of writing an article in Keyboard,

 

Internet is filled with info on computers and music, but mostly for studio use, as the articles in the magazine Computer Music. What I'm after is a more focused limited comparison of hosts done by people with experience of using computers live, especially the ones replacing their workstations

Amen to that! The internet is an ocean of information, but a magazine like Keyboard can be the rudder that steers you through it. You summed up exactly what we're interested in here every day: how does stuff help (or get in the way of) making music, period.

 

I agree that it's high time for another feature on gigging with soft synths, especially because it's become a mature concept and there are a lot of viable options now: Muse Receptor, Open Labs Neko, as well as a zillion laptops or compact/rack-mountable computers.

 

We'll try to make this a part of our editorial calendar, as soon as possible, and I'll give you a heads-up about what issue it's likely to be in as soon as I know.

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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