Suggestions of suitable VSTi plugins for live performance

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3 posts since 7 May, 2004 from Sittingbourne, Kent. UK.

Post Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:09 am

I'm now seriously considering the swap from Workstation synths to controllers and a laptop running VSTi plugins.

My current rig is a Korg Kronos 73 and a Fantom 7. I've more or less selected the controllers I am intending to use (both 88 key, one weighted the other semi-weighted) and am already building the PC based rig (running Win10 64bit) and will run either Deskew Gig Performer, Audio Modeling Camelot or Cantabile depending upon performance and external control options. Having just read Angel Powerlord's post about Gig Performer, it is the front runner for my choice of host.

The area where I'd like suggestions is that of VSTi plugins. From my current selection I'll likely be using Roland Zenology (for an exact sonic replica of the Fantom 7 I already use) and maybe Arturia AnalogLab V to cover analog synth and tonewheel organ duties. I may also use Modartt PianoTeq for pianos.

I play keys in a covers band (mostly 80s up to current material and predominantly pop and rock), so the ability to have realistic sounds for specific songs is crucial, and any VSTi plugins that have soundbanks of famous songs would be a real bonus (either free or paid-for).

The main issue I have to consider is the time taken to switch sounds, which would probably rule out most large sample based instruments (a shame, as I already have NI Komplete and Spectrasonics Keyscape) since I need to be able to switch patches instantly, often holding a chord of the previous song as we transition into the next one. Songs can be called in any order during a gig and so any preconfigured pre-emptive loading according to a set list is not an option.

So, which VST instruments would you recommend?

6288 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:38 am

What kind of band?
Generally, a keyboardist needs piano, organ, other keys and just a couple of synthesizers.
I see others on TV that seem to use Arturia often. Although it does have sample based keys as well and can having loading time issues that go along with that. And while I do like Arturia, its use seems mainly to be for quick organs for me.
If I was going for specifics, much would have to do with the band I was playing with though. Whether in compliment or juxtaposition, that's the first consideration.

Since you have Korg & Roland, I'd start with the Korg Legacy Collection.
Arturia Analog Lab would compliment that well then.
And suggest you stay away from Roland's Sound Cloud subscription.
Last thing you need live is where it's suddenly demanding you to sign in.
Last edited by BBFG# on Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

12 posts since 24 Mar, 2014

Post Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:44 am

May I encourage you to ask your question on our community forums? We have lots of users who do similar things to what you want to do and so you'll probably get lots of great suggestions. The URL is

I'd love to give you my personal opinions as I play in several bands as well but as one of the GP developers I don't really feel I can play favorites (no pun intended)

I would however add that if you don't have enough RAM such that you need to use Predictive Loading, with Patch Persist enabled, you should still be able to hold a chord down, switch to another song and the chord you're playing will stay on even while the plugins for the other song are loading. Yes, there might be a delay in this situation but there's no magic here -- if you don't have RAM for everything, something has to give :-)

One thing to consider is Kontakt's Purge facility. In many songs, one doesn't really need the entire keyboard loaded, sometimes one just needs a couple of octaves and not even every note. So that mechanism can be used to reduce significantly the amount of samples that need to be loaded.

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483 posts since 22 Sep, 2016

Post Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:08 pm

I’d think about Logic’s Mainstage, or Ableton Suite instruments. You stay in either those “environments”, they remain ultra stable and super easy to switch instruments once you learn how to make and select your virtual racks. Any particularly DSP heavy instruments can just be sampled for the sake of live performance, so you don’t have to give up what you love working with, you just need to adapt it to the situation

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49 posts since 19 May, 2018

Post Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:56 am

You can try and build your setup in Freestyle, many options with routing, crossfading between patches, snapshots etc.

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2052 posts since 4 Dec, 2011 from Brasília, Brazil

Post Mon Apr 19, 2021 6:59 am

I play with softsynths live for something like 10 years now..

My rig is normally Mainstage + a simple controller (Roland A800pro). In some gigs I use Ableton, but to what you are searching for, something like Mainstage or Gig Performer is more suitable (I will probably chance to Gig Performer some day).

My longest gig is a Pink Floyd cover band.

About VSTis, you can use pretty much anything - just remember that in a Live situation you will have a lot of plugins opened at the same time, so the limit is your computer. I use Pianoteq, u-He synths (Diva, Zebra) some of the Arturia synths.

In the last years Arturia is selling some tribute packs for their synths, and the quality of the sounds varies accordingly the sound designer. The Floyd Tribute packs from Paul Schilling are good, so I assume that other soundbanks from him are good too. ELP tribute is good, TFF tribute pack I don't liked that much, but it's a good starting point. OPX-Pro II has a fantastic sound bank for famous 80s songs (the Famous bank, you can find some good demos on youtube), but I don't like the synth that much. Synthmaster has some nice tribute packs to some artists (Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis), but the synth overall feels very buggy to me, and I kinda stopped using it.

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5501 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Post Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:32 pm

For a cover band I would get just Synthmaster and some readymade sound banks for those styles of music. Listen to the recreations of famous songs of 70s to 90s on their demos...
And then of course good emulations of classic analog synths. I guess Diva will do. If you are a Prophet fan get Repro on top...

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