Trying to convert to a softsynth rig for live performance!


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I've been using a MOXF8 for playing in a rock cover band. I split my time in the band 60% keys and 40% guitar. The guitar goes through a POD GO pedal and I use in-ear monitors with no amp.

I'm tired of carrying this super heavy beast. Carrying it up the stairs after practice, I actually knocked a picture off the bass player's stairwell wall, where it tumbled down the stairs. The frame broke apart and dented the downstairs wall! Fortunately it was NOT glass but plastic covered so it didn't shatter. And the keyboard takes up a lot of space on tight stages. I also find it pretty hard to match sounds with the original recording on my MOXF8.

I'm considering going to a controller keyboard and using my laptop with software synths. Using VSTs would really open up my sounds for tweaking. I remember using Structure (10 or so years ago) to recreate keyboard sounds from Rush and I was able to get very close to the original sounds, and program splits and layers. My Pro Tools hardware died so I don't have Structure anymore.

My gear setup I would be using is MOXF8 --> midi in to Scarlett 2i4 --> Windows laptop with 8gb Ram, SSD drive

I tried a few things so far -- I downloaded a Mainstage-like VST host called Cantabile (free version) and Ableton Live 11 (trial period). I can't use Ableton at all -- it bogs down my CPU like mad and the sound is very crackly. Even with the buffer set high, maxing out the latency, it's not workable. I have the correct Focusrite ASIO driver installed which works fine for Cantabile and Reaper. Cantabile seems fine but I don't have many VSTs right now since I had to wipe and redo my laptop last fall, so it's hard to get a sense of it. I don't want to buy anything until I know it's going to work for me.

I'm a pretty experienced Reaper user and I think that might work, but I've never used it for live performance.

Our drummer always plays to a click track so I'd like the option of using something where I could incorporate some backing tracks. It's not a dealbreaker tho.

Is there a "one VST to rule them all" that I might be able to get to duplicate basically any sound at all? Or is it better to have lots of individual VSTs?

Any advice is welcome! I'm hoping not to have to go to an Apple setup but if I can run everything off an iPad I would consider it.
 
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Hi Morgan - if you do go down the iPad route than check out Camelot - it may be just what you're after as far as work flow, but you'll still need the sounds. I've not used Camelot but I know a lot of people that do and they love it. I'm a mac guy so again haven't used Cantabile but have heard positive stories. On Mac it's hard to go past MainStage or Gig Performer.
 
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Over on another forum a pro gigging keyboardist has posted about a gig where he used just his iPad, it did have some issues.

Normally he uses soft synths and a Roland A series controller via laptop

 
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if you do go down the iPad route than check out Camelot - it may be just what you're after as far as work flow, but you'll still need the sounds. I've not used Camelot but I know a lot of people that do and they love it. I'm a mac guy so again haven't used Cantabile but have heard positive stories. On Mac it's hard to go past MainStage or Gig Performer.
Expanding on that... Camelot Pro is on all three platforms; Gig Performer is on Mac and Windows. Another nice iPad option is Keystage. But Mainstage (Mac only) is the only program of this type that includes a sound library.

Is there a "one VST to rule them all" that I might be able to get to duplicate basically any sound at all? Or is it better to have lots of individual VSTs?

Any advice is welcome! I'm hoping not to have to go to an Apple setup but if I can run everything off an iPad I would consider it.
When considering "an Apple setup," keep in mind that Mac and iPad are two different environments (though the new M1 Macs have added some ability to also run iPad apps). VSTs run on Macs and PCs (and most are available in AU versions to run in Mainstage), iPads run their own apps.
 
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I've been using a MOXF8 for playing in a rock cover band. I split my time in the band 60% keys and 40% guitar. The guitar goes through a POD GO pedal and I use in-ear monitors with no amp.

I'm tired of carrying this super heavy beast. Carrying it up the stairs after practice, I actually knocked a picture off the bass player's stairwell wall, where it tumbled down the stairs. The frame broke apart and dented the downstairs wall! Fortunately it was NOT glass but plastic covered so it didn't shatter. And the keyboard takes up a lot of space on tight stages. I also find it pretty hard to match sounds with the original recording on my MOXF8.

I'm considering going to a controller keyboard and using my laptop with software synths. Using VSTs would really open up my sounds for tweaking. I remember using Structure (10 or so years ago) to recreate keyboard sounds from Rush and I was able to get very close to the original sounds, and program splits and layers. My Pro Tools hardware died so I don't have Structure anymore.

My gear setup I would be using is MOXF8 --> midi in to Scarlett 2i4 --> Windows laptop with 8gb Ram, SSD drive

I tried a few things so far -- I downloaded a Mainstage-like VST host called Cantabile (free version) and Ableton Live 11 (trial period). I can't use Ableton at all -- it bogs down my CPU like mad and the sound is very crackly. Even with the buffer set high, maxing out the latency, it's not workable. I have the correct Focusrite ASIO driver installed which works fine for Cantabile and Reaper. Cantabile seems fine but I don't have many VSTs right now since I had to wipe and redo my laptop last fall, so it's hard to get a sense of it. I don't want to buy anything until I know it's going to work for me.

I'm a pretty experienced Reaper user and I think that might work, but I've never used it for live performance.

Our drummer always plays to a click track so I'd like the option of using something where I could incorporate some backing tracks. It's not a dealbreaker tho.

Is there a "one VST to rule them all" that I might be able to get to duplicate basically any sound at all? Or is it better to have lots of individual VSTs?

Any advice is welcome! I'm hoping not to have to go to an Apple setup but if I can run everything off an iPad I would consider it.
I have used nothing but my laptop and controllers for 100+ gigs a year for a couple years now. I use Cantabile with Windows. Software includes Arturia, Native Instruments, and more. Never a problem, nor crash. You have to set up your laptop correctly, and all runs smoothly. The only downside to a soft rig is loading time. If you are band that song, into song, into song, you need to plan ahead for it. It is very workable though.
 
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I use a Windows laptop, Reaper, an Arturia Keylab 61, Arturia and other software synths, RME BabyFace Pro into our digital board. IEM's all the way. I play about 60% bass and 40% keys. I do only synth/synth bass as we have a piano player/vocalist. It is easy but there a couple of tricks to make it work for live playing. The most important thing is to have a separate Reaper file for each song you play live. This way it is really quick to move from song to song. Each song has a VSTi/preset saved as an "effect" in Reaper and the BPM for the song is set in Reaper as well. I open whatever songs I will play before the set starts and just click through them as needed.

Hope this helps.
 
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Best software by far for your application IMO is Gig Performer ... I haven't found anything it can't do yet and it was made for live performance. Free trial available, a great support forum and plenty of info available. I've used most of the other options you mention and this beats them all. (No instruments included).
 
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Stilli in Gig Performer can you control the VSTi or preset's BPM in the software or does it need to be set in the VSTi?

Thanks
 
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I've been using a MOXF8 for playing in a rock cover band. I split my time in the band 60% keys and 40% guitar. The guitar goes through a POD GO pedal and I use in-ear monitors with no amp.

I'm tired of carrying this super heavy beast. Carrying it up the stairs after practice, I actually knocked a picture off the bass player's stairwell wall, where it tumbled down the stairs. The frame broke apart and dented the downstairs wall! Fortunately it was NOT glass but plastic covered so it didn't shatter. And the keyboard takes up a lot of space on tight stages. I also find it pretty hard to match sounds with the original recording on my MOXF8.

I'm considering going to a controller keyboard and using my laptop with software synths. Using VSTs would really open up my sounds for tweaking. I remember using Structure (10 or so years ago) to recreate keyboard sounds from Rush and I was able to get very close to the original sounds, and program splits and layers. My Pro Tools hardware died so I don't have Structure anymore.

My gear setup I would be using is MOXF8 --> midi in to Scarlett 2i4 --> Windows laptop with 8gb Ram, SSD drive

I tried a few things so far -- I downloaded a Mainstage-like VST host called Cantabile (free version) and Ableton Live 11 (trial period). I can't use Ableton at all -- it bogs down my CPU like mad and the sound is very crackly. Even with the buffer set high, maxing out the latency, it's not workable. I have the correct Focusrite ASIO driver installed which works fine for Cantabile and Reaper. Cantabile seems fine but I don't have many VSTs right now since I had to wipe and redo my laptop last fall, so it's hard to get a sense of it. I don't want to buy anything until I know it's going to work for me.

I'm a pretty experienced Reaper user and I think that might work, but I've never used it for live performance.

Our drummer always plays to a click track so I'd like the option of using something where I could incorporate some backing tracks. It's not a dealbreaker tho.

Is there a "one VST to rule them all" that I might be able to get to duplicate basically any sound at all? Or is it better to have lots of individual VSTs?

Any advice is welcome! I'm hoping not to have to go to an Apple setup but if I can run everything off an iPad I would consider it.


Im in a very simular situation and would like to change over to Mac and Controller.
Can't find one that doesnt get bogged down and freeze mid performance.
Love to hear what you resort to.
 
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Hi Morgan - if you do go down the iPad route than check out Camelot - it may be just what you're after as far as work flow, but you'll still need the sounds. I've not used Camelot but I know a lot of people that do and they love it. I'm a mac guy so again haven't used Cantabile but have heard positive stories. On Mac it's hard to go past MainStage or Gig Performer.
I long for a better answer than MainStage. I use a ton of layering, splits etc... Mainstage freezes or hiccups mid performance on a regular basis.
 
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If your Mac is not dedicated to music use, I suggest creating a separate user, set up your music stuff on that user account, and log in as that user when doing your music stuff. That way, all the other things you may have installed for your main user account which may be doing various background tasks won't be a factor. Other than that, I've read numerous reports that Gig Performer is, well, a better performer than Mainstage, in terms of efficient use of resources, so you could try the free trial of that as well. I'd still suggest dedicating a user to music use.
 

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