Looking for some live performance advice. And by some I mean a lot.


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Alright, I'm very new to the stage piano scene, but my jazz and blues band has starting getting gigs, and I want to improve my live sound. I've saved up a bit, and my budget is right around 2 grand. I currently have a Casio Privia PX-130, which for the price sounds great, but it has a lack of diversity.

I run through a Roland KC-60 amp... which I'm not happy with, it doesn't sound great, and I get a lot of distortion when I play louder (which makes sense, it was a cheap amp and my only option at the time). I've oddly been the most happy with my sound when I ran through my friends bass amp, unfortunately I don't remember the brand.

Now, obviously I have a few decisions, and I would like advice from those that have been there. Firstly, do I run with just keys or do I get a decent laptop and run through VSTs? I mostly use pianos and organs, but I've used strings plenty and my sax player REALLY wants me to have a Styx-esque synth sound. So having a few Synth Lead effects, and maybe some pads too, would be excellent. Is there a keys setup out there that has these options without a laptop? Better yet are there keyboards that I can load VSTs into? I've googled it and come up with nada, but I know that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

If I do run through VSTs on a computer... do I even need a new keyboard? I'm ok with the feel of the Privia, not the best but not bad either, and it has 88 keys and can be used as a controller. If that's the case, I know not any laptop will do, I tried using my current laptop and it had about a quarter to half second of delay... way too much for live performance obviously. So then what options are out there? Do I need to go all the way to a MacBook Pro or is there an external sound card or something that fixes it?

Secondly, what kind of amplification do I need? Is it pretty much PA or gtfo? Or will a bass amp work well? I'm not doing massive venues (I wish) but we do bars sometimes, and then sometimes we do outdoor events, so I do need something that can crank pretty well. Some venues have just had me run through their PA, which worked well, but not all places have that option.

I'm sorry to ask so much all at once, but sometimes I feel like the only keyboardist in my area, I have no one to ask about these things in person, so I figured I'd give the good ol' interwebs a try. Thanks in advance for all your advice!
 
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A lot of questions there...

For amplification go for Active PA speakers. I have 2 x Yamaha DXR10s. The QSC K10/12 are very popular, also similar models from RCF, JBL, etc. These can be used as floor wedges, keyboard amps or as a full PA. The DXR10s I use are simply superb. Listen to them before you buy a bass amp!!

Some people use laptop and VSTs on stage. Don't trust 'em myself. Had too many computers crash on me!

If your laptop has too much delay (latency) to use as a VST host, it's almost certainly the sound card drivers you are using.
If there are specific ASIO drivers available for your laptop (unlikely), then install them, and it will be fine.
If not install ASIO4ALL (http://www.asio4all.com/)
If you can't get ASIO4ALL working, get a decent USB sound card (preferably one with ASIO drivers).
If none of that works, then get a new laptop, but I reckon you won't need to if you follow the advice above.

There are "keyboards" (well, modules really) that will load VSTs - check out Muse Receptor (http://www.museresearch.com/products/index.php]) or V-Machine (http://www.smproaudio.com/index.php/en/products/v-machines/v-machine). They're really just computers inside, though, but then so are some keyboards these days.
 

The Y_man

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, I know not any laptop will do, I tried using my current laptop and it had about a quarter to half second of delay... way too much for live performance obviously. So then what options are out there?
Great post from Oyst3h above.

I noticed a fair bit of delay when using an Atom powered Netbook.

I tried an older Intel Core2 Duo laptop with 2GB ram, and it seems heaps better.

I use one of these
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA222.aspx
with the ASIO4ALL driver.

The Y-man
 
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hello... i use the behringer UCA200, which is the older version of UCA222 (the Y_man's post). it's the same thing without on-off button, volume and phones. i use it with a behringer Uusb audio driver, and it still has a little delay, about 3ms. the Asio4all driver is for your computer's sound card, in live performance i use this UCA200 with his driver, the usb audio driver. i have it from here http://www.behringer.com/EN/Support/U-Control-Downloads.aspx the one i'm using, is the first one. Another problem with the delay can be from your windows version... on XP has the smallest delay.
 

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