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Super simple live setup

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.

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1594 posts since 13 Nov, 2005, from St. Paul

Postby jopy; Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:26 pm Super simple live setup

I have a question regarding real-time performance with soft synths and effects. Just to clarify where I'm coming from, I have been working "in the box" for the past few years using a tower computer.

I have recently been playing live with a drummer and bassist. As a touchpoint, the sound resembles dub reggae, Brian Eno/Robert Fripp ambience, mid-period Pink Floyd, Stereolab, and assorted Krautrock. My live performance instruments are a Prophet 08 PE keyboard, a Kurzweil Micro Ensemble controlled by a Novation SL 64 MKii, and a couple of basic effects units. These cover nearly everything I want to do, but I find myself really missing access to a few of the uniquely FM sounding instruments in FM8, and the granular effects processing in Reaktor. I've thought about getting portable hardware to match what I'm missing (e.g., a Blofeld module and an Electro-Harmonix Superego), but it's my impression that I could potentially find a laptop configuration that would be around the same price and more powerful to boot. I already have Komplete, so the software already paid for.

So, to be specific, I'd like to get a small, mobile, minimal laptop+USB audio/midi interface that I could play live with. I don't need phantom power for mics, I won't be running complex chains of instruments, I don't even need to run a DAW (all would be standalone), I just want to run FM8 and Reaktor. Everything will be running out to a Mackie mixer.

Any advice on a laptop configuration would be greatly appreciated. Alternatively, if the Blofeld/Superego combination would seem wiser based on your own experiences, that would be good to know also.

4931 posts since 3 Jul, 2012

Postby V0RT3X; Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:31 pm Re: Super simple live setup

If you don't want to bother with a computer you could look into what the Receptor product line has to offer? I think they have small affordable options.
I'm just a guy making electronic music for fun. :phones:
1594 posts since 13 Nov, 2005, from St. Paul

Postby jopy; Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:10 pm Re: Super simple live setup

Thanks for the tip! I've heard good things about the Receptors in the past, in terms of simplicity, flexibility, and reliability. Given what I already have, it seems hard to justify the price of a full-on Receptor though. I did just check, and came across the MuseBox at Sweetwater, but if I'm reading right, that seems more like a sample player than a device I could use to load up presets I made in other software. It does seem to have some stuff from U-he, which is awesome, but it does seem that I couldn't use some of those presets I've done in Zebra or ACE directly either.

So, it seems that this is a step in the right direction, but a used older full Receptor would be a more appropriate match for what I'd need.
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Mister Natural
1440 posts since 28 Oct, 2007, from michigan

Postby Mister Natural; Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:09 pm Re: Super simple live setup

a. welcome to the KVR forum

b. laptops are pretty reliable these days as long as you don't skimp on quality(read Dell, Acer or entry-level HP). A too cheap lappie is just waiting to fail & make you look stupid in front of 10,000 fans wanting to love you at some hip, supermodel-hangout club in Helsinki or Ibeza or Sao Paolo.

I suspect that you'd still one day evolve into a set-up incorporating a host/sequencer at some point. It would allow several layers of automation inside your performance that would make your life 10x less stressful and likely make your music that much more interesting on top of the bass player and drummer.

best of luck !
an expert only on what it feels like to be me
& you are who you google

1594 posts since 13 Nov, 2005, from St. Paul

Postby jopy; Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:21 am Re: Super simple live setup

Thanks Mister Natural. I am sure you're right in terms of using a host at some point--it probably would give me a lot of options that I wouldn't have otherwise. I was thinking of something in that quality line for a laptop. It seemed like a few years ago one would have gone for a super high-end laptop, but the hardware may be catching up with our software, perhaps.
5324 posts since 6 Oct, 2004

Postby glokraw; Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:39 pm Re: Super simple live setup

You could replace a laptop hard-disk and dvd with a pair of SSDs, speed galore,
and no moving parts. Put the dvd-drive in a usb case, if you think it will be
handy later.
1594 posts since 13 Nov, 2005, from St. Paul

Postby jopy; Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:07 am Re: Super simple live setup

Thanks Glokraw. That sounds like a good way to get good reliability for the laptop.
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9762 posts since 13 Nov, 2006, from in Uranus, playin' lollipop

Postby debra1rlo; Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:11 pm Re: Super simple live setup

glokraw wrote:You could replace a laptop hard-disk and dvd with a pair of SSDs, speed galore,
and no moving parts. Put the dvd-drive in a usb case, if you think it will be
handy later.

yeah this^^^

I'm running Mainstage 3 on my MBP w/SSD and it's super fast & reliable. I use the Mainstage plugs (which are from Logic) NI Komplete and a few freebies and between that and the other Mainstage features like WAV file playback I'm covered for all my setups with several bands/projects, and used it live with no problems the past few months. :)
4505 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Postby BBFG#; Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:31 pm Re: Super simple live setup

480 posts since 5 Mar, 2005, from USA

Postby AnalogGuy1; Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:34 am Re: Super simple live setup

Audio interface...are you sure you need one? I've been gigging live with my laptop (a Thinkpad, now a Sony Vaio SZ) and one or two controllers depending on the venue/setlist. I stopped using a separate interface four years ago...it made no perceptible difference. Using ASIO4ALL latency is 7ms using a 64 sample buffer (yes, real latency, not what ASIO4ALL reports). When I practice in my studio I can tell there is a very slight hiss that is not present when I used my Cambridge Studio DACMagic, but you can't hear it when there's a single conversation going on, much less when the rest of the band is going strong. Now I can't be bothered toting an additional piece of equipment. My only remaining fear is that the 1/8 jack will eventually break or get loose...but it's been 3 years with my Vaio and there's no problem yet, nor was it for the year I used my Thinkpad.

I have heard reliable reports of other laptop's DAC's having a considerably higher noisefloor, so test to make sure this works for you first, but it simplifies both the hardware and software of my rig.

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