Host for live performance

Plug-in hosts and other software applications discussion
User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
3782 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Post Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:57 am

Hi all,

I'm trying to find a host for live performances (well, jamming in my case) that has certain features, and so far i was unsuccessful in doing so. I'm hoping you could help me and perhaps point to things i missed.

Required features:
- On-the-fly switching between different FX chains on the same input [1]
- Bar-based transport and loop section length [2]
- Support for VST2 and VST3 plugins and instruments
- Not cost an arm and a leg

Nice bonuses:
- Easy control over number of loops to perform [3]
- Audio and MIDI looping capabilities [4]
- Built-in arpegiator and sequencer

[1] what i mean is something akin to GIG mode in Revalver 4 - that is, preloading a number of FX chains, and switching between them on the fly. a lot of modular hosts have power routing capabilities, but it seems that there's no easy way to switch between different chains on the fly with a "next chain/previous chain" MIDI-mapped command. also, since these are mostly guitar processing chains, a lot of them will be quite straining on the CPU, so the host should also be able to not just mute the non-active chain, but avoid running any processing on it.

[2] we're using Jamstix for our live drum track, and it works on bar basis and automatically picks up the time signature set in the project. the problem is, in all of the sequencers i've tried, the loop length is specified either in time intervals or in beats. this means that if i've created an 8-bar loop in 4/4 signature, if i then change the signature to 6/4, the looped section is no longer 8 bars long. i would like to keep the amount of bars in the looped section, not the amount of beats.

similarly, i would like to have a "recompose everything" Jamstix MIDI event at the start of each loop, but if i change project's time signature, since the transport is either time- or beat-based, the timing of the event drifts off, instead of staying at the start of the looped section.

[3] what i would like is "i have a section of 64 bars which i would like to loop three times". it has to be looping, because that's how Jamstix works - so i can't just stretch out a MIDI track or something.

[4] currently, i'm using Audio Damage Enso to do looping, so this is not a huge problem. still, native looping capability would be welcome.

----

What i've tried so far:

- REAPER. this is my main DAW, and although i could cobble up [1] in it, this kind of thing is not really its strong suit and is very cumbersome to do. Also, no [2] or [3] or [4].

- Live Lite. It does the looping part well, but it seems that it doesn't do [2] and [3], and I couldn't find an easy way to do [1] either.

- Kushview Element. This is my main modular host for guitar practice, unfortunately there's very rudimentary transport and no looping at all, and i couldn't find a way to do [1] either.

- BloxPander demo. Routing is very inflexible, but "sets" could work as a substitute for [1]. Has a "loop counter", which covers [3]. Unfortunately, the demo is very limited so i couldn't check out if it can do [2], but since it has no transport whatsoever, it probably doesn't. Doesn't do [4]. Also, pretty much abandonware, so i am wary of investing in it.

- MuLab demo - seems to have [4], but doesn't do [2] and [3], seems no easy way to do [1] either, although i didn't look in depth.

- zenAudio ALK - didn't try, looks very promising, but it seems to expect that i have a song mapped out in advance - it seems to be geared towards more automation rather than jamming.

Anything else i'm missing? Am i looking at this wrong?
From Russia with love
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Schmidi
KVRist
211 posts since 23 Apr, 2011 from Seattle WA

Re: Host for live performance

Post Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:46 pm

Man, it's a real search to find "the one" when it comes to an environment for actually performing live. I've been searching for years.

Maybe check out Plogue Bidule? Maybe a combo of that and some custom Reaktor ensembles?

I have given up on finding "the one" in software only form and now mix in Virtual DJ > ableton link to MPC Live + JDXI.

I wish you the best man. It's a hell of a lot of trial and error.

User avatar
phreaque
KVRian
981 posts since 17 Jul, 2007 from Baghdad-Iq

Re: Host for live performance

Post Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:55 pm

Consider checking out: Unify by Pluginguru
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PhilG
KVRist
175 posts since 8 Dec, 2004 from A small village in the north of Germany

Re: Host for live performance

Post Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:13 pm

Hi, I was looking for a similar solution (Live backing loops/clips, playing VSTi and capable of saving gigs as setlist or similar) for some years, but finally gave up.
Especially tempo and signature changes are killing most available solutions, like Live, Bitwig or Maschine.
Maybe Cantabile would be the right thing for you, but it is not very intuitive.
Digital Performer 10 can do everything you need, but it has a very steep learning curve and is very expensive.

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User avatar
antic604
KVRAF
3657 posts since 4 Jan, 2017 from Warsaw, Poland

Re: Host for live performance

Post Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:37 pm

phreaque wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:55 pm
Consider checking out: Unify by Pluginguru
That literally doesn't tick any of the boxes OP's asking for...
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User avatar
Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3842 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Host for live performance

Post Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:58 pm

Bitwig can do 1 easily with a FX selector.
I would look at Gigperformer or if you are on Mac you should have Mainstage anyway...

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
3782 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:43 am

PhilG wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:13 pm
Digital Performer 10 can do everything you need, but it has a very steep learning curve and is very expensive.
can it, really? i remember looking at it, and came away very underwhelmed, but then i was looking at it as a potential main DAW, not as a live host. i might give it another go, if they allow re-demoing...
From Russia with love
Our online jams (if you speak Russian - you're welcome to join!)

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
3782 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:47 am

Tj Shredder wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:58 pm
Bitwig can do 1 easily with a FX selector.
i haven't had a chance to check out Bitwig yet, maybe it's time :)
Tj Shredder wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:58 pm
I would look at Gigperformer
i missed that one, looks interesting! thanks for suggestion!

EDIT: it seems that it does not have transport and looping at all?
From Russia with love
Our online jams (if you speak Russian - you're welcome to join!)

V0RT3X
KVRAF
8124 posts since 4 Jul, 2012 from Alesia

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:58 am

Required features:
- On-the-fly switching between different FX chains on the same input [1]

Bitwig can do this quite easily. You can build multiple effects chains, and then turn them on and off whenever. As a bonus, if you want you can utilize the modulation system the same way if you're into this sort of thing.


- Support for VST2 and VST3 plugins and instruments

Bitwig has support for both.

- Not cost an arm and a leg

Price is a bit of an issue, they charge a new owner the full price and then they use a update plan which you can get on board if you want new features as they release them. As it is, Bitwig is a very full featured DAW and sketch pad tool.

Nice bonuses:
- Easy control over number of loops to perform [3]

Bitwig has support for a variety of Ableton tools such as the APC40 which can let you trigger all your loops in what order, which is much faster than using a mouse.

- Audio and MIDI looping capabilities [4]

Yes and yes. Bitwig is great at this, and the built in-sampling tools lets you get really creative with your audio loops if you want to chop them up etc.


- Built-in arpegiator and sequencer

Bitwig has the typical midi roll style sequencer for its loops, which is similar to how Ableton works. You have an Arpeggiator device which you can load onto the track, and enable to alter any incoming audio into arpeggiated midi. If you want a step sequencer style device similar to say Reasons Matrix Pattern sequencer, you're in luck as you can build such a thing using Bitwig Grid system.

[1] what i mean is something akin to GIG mode in Revalver 4 - that is, preloading a number of FX chains, and switching between them on the fly. a lot of modular hosts have power routing capabilities, but it seems that there's no easy way to switch between different chains on the fly with a "next chain/previous chain" MIDI-mapped command. also, since these are mostly guitar processing chains, a lot of them will be quite straining on the CPU, so the host should also be able to not just mute the non-active chain, but avoid running any processing on it.

I think Bitwig does this, not sure how fast it is... but it would be worth testing.

User avatar
mgw38
KVRAF
2222 posts since 26 Jul, 2015 from Philadelphia

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:07 am

Not sure if it ticks all your boxes but you might want to have a look at Audioström LiveProfessor:

https://audiostrom.com/

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
3782 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:09 am

@VORT3X please read more about [3], this is not what i meant by "looping" :) i'm not referring to audio/MIDI loops, i'm referring to transport looping, e.g. loop from bars 8 to 72 3 times, then continue.

otherwise, thanks, one more reason to check out Bitwig!
From Russia with love
Our online jams (if you speak Russian - you're welcome to join!)

User avatar
Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3842 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:52 am

I think Usine Hollyhoock is capable of 3, as is Kyma with Capybara (not really an option)
Usine is a powerful beast and also deals with video or light. But has a learning curve. Its aimed at theater productions and other, big live performances...

And of course you can try to build something in Max/MSP, but that learning curve might be even steeper and the time to build your own tool might be a bit long. I am working on mine since 25+ years, but my points are very different than yours anyway...

Btw. you can always run multiple programs and route them for example with Dante or AVB to your audio out...

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
3782 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Host for live performance

Post Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:20 am

Hollyhock looks very interesting as well, thanks! It's a bit on the expensive side, but if it's half as good as its product page says it is, i'll take it!

I'm not opposed to doing things in Max/MSP in principle (i'm a software developer by trade, so i'm pretty sure i can handle a bit of coding), but i'm completely unfamiliar with it.
From Russia with love
Our online jams (if you speak Russian - you're welcome to join!)

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
3782 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Host for live performance

Post Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:25 am

V0RT3X wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:58 am
Required features:
- On-the-fly switching between different FX chains on the same input [1]

Bitwig can do this quite easily. You can build multiple effects chains, and then turn them on and off whenever. As a bonus, if you want you can utilize the modulation system the same way if you're into this sort of thing.
i've been demoing Bitwig and i can see that the FX selector is what i was looking for. however, i just have one more question. i'm trying to get it to switch between different FX chains independent of how many chains there are. the FX selector seems to recognize the Program Change events, however my controller only has "increment/decrement" functionality, so it is easy to go out of range. Is there a way to map the "next chain/previous chain" buttons, instead of the absolute path? right-clicking on it doesn't seem to bring up any mapping options.
From Russia with love
Our online jams (if you speak Russian - you're welcome to join!)

User avatar
liv
KVRAF
1550 posts since 26 Feb, 2013 from Sweden

Re: Host for live performance

Post Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:00 pm

An arm and a leg?
If bitwig doesnt work for you, maschine with hardware is great for live performance.
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