Computer vs dedicated keyboard on stage


Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
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I've probably mentioned my bias towards "actual" keyboards (actually, dedicated computers now a days) on stage vs. using computers.

Here's an interesting video about the keyboards used in Hamilton. They use computers, but the part I found interesting is that they used two computers running in parallel. If one died (or rebooted or whatever), they switched over from one to the other.

Not a cheap solution, but it does address some issues.

 
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happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
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I am against software VSTis for mainly one simple reason. They are almost all Windows and Apple based.

I run Linux, and believe me, Linux does not like cheap hardware. A good investment in solid hardware holds a significant resale value compared to software which has exactly ZERO resale value.

Then there's the matter of crashes. After over thirty five years experience with computers in one form or another I have learned to be wary of their idiosyncracies. Hardware/Software Obsolescence. Ridiculous terms of Service Agreements. Random and inexplicable crashes for no reason.

My guess is that if Hamilton is still running twenty years from now they'll still be running the same software held together by duct tape and a prayer.

Sure a cheap controller running Pianoteq on a PC may sound like a $50,000 Bosendorfer Grand Piano but for the reasons I've outlined, I'll stick with as much hardware based music as I can for as long as I possibly can.

In short. A twenty year old Korg is a collector's item. A twenty year old PC is landfill. :D :D :D

That's my honest take on the subject.

Devil's Advocate signing off :)

Gary ;)
 
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I have been in tech support for the last 25 years and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would go for dedicated keyboard everytime. Computers have a tendancy to crash and stop working at the most in opportune moments. It's also one less thing in the chain to go wrong!
 
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I'm a hardware keyboard user, but I also run a tablet, iPad and laptop on stage for charts, samples and video projections respectively. I won't weigh in on what's "better" for sound generation as I know there are passionate advocates for laptops and virtual instruments out there, but I'll just say they're not for me.

Two gigs ago I had an unprecedented occurrence - one of my keyboards locked up completely and my laptop also crashed. Not simultaneously, thankfully. We were playing in ridiculously cold temperature so I wonder if that may have impacted the gear's reliability, which has until now been flawless - perhaps one of my Canadian friends can advise.

The keyboard issue was resolved by using another board while rebooting the first one (approx 90 second boot time - yikes). As for the laptop, well it didn't come back for the rest of the show. No video for that audience!
 

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