Anyone using a laptop + VST's for their live rig?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Bentayuk, May 7, 2019.

  1. Bentayuk

    Bentayuk Supporting Member

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    I have some great VST's on my Mac. In particular, I LOVE Mercuriall and Neural DSP amps that I have. They're freakin' awesome.

    How do I turn this into an actual rig, that I can take with me to jam?

    I currently run Guitar > Focusrite 2i2 > MacBook Pro i5

    What else do I need for live use?
     
  2. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    I've been all laptop for a couple of years now. Last thing you'd need to use that live is some for of floor control to change patches. Since you are on a Mac, you could get away with an iRig BlueBoard 2 for basic patch changes, with the bonus of being wireless. If you need something more flexible. consider the Morningstar MC6 or Keith McMillen Softstep. After that, just plug into your preferred monitoring source (or set your amp as flat as you can) and rock out.
     
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  3. rmg471

    rmg471 Member

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    Laptop here. Scuffham SGear 2.7. I use a 2i2, as well.
     
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  4. Bentayuk

    Bentayuk Supporting Member

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    Awesome guys, thanks! Have you run into any problems, like latency or noise?
     
  5. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    Latency is dependent on your buffers + audio drivers. For example, at 48 khz each slice if 1/48000 of a second, 128 buffer would be 2.7 ms. Applying that to input and output should give you latency somewhere in the region of 6ms (which is more or less what I achieve). How low your buffer is set depends on the processing power of your system and the demands of your VSTs, I can go as low as 64 samples when running a single VST in most cases. Noise is not particularly an issue on modern converters, in my experience, even the consumer-grade ones.
     
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  6. Bentayuk

    Bentayuk Supporting Member

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    Do you guys use a powered monitor for reference?
     
  7. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    Not that I want or need to play out very often, but this approach has never really gotten where I'm happy about it. Yes, latency can be "acceptable" if the rig is stripped to bare essentials. Depending on the DAW and VST's you're using, however, latency can and (for me) does become an issue. I've looked into "light duty" vst hosts, but haven't pursued those...maybe someone can chime in on that.

    As a result, I'm happier generating a "base tone" outboard and using the PC for whatever I might want, from time based effects to backing tracks. In that use, the latency doesn't matter.

    Hey, maybe I need two laptops?? One for S-Gear (which I do love) in stand-alone mode and one for running the DAW and all it's FX. Now, that would be crazy.
     
  8. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    I use whatever is available (people don't usually bring amps/monitors around in Singapore), and set it as flat as I can. Powered monitor works best, for this, but I have had decent results with neutral amps like a JC120.
     
  9. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    I'm all about laptop rigs for live use. They work great.

    It sounds like you're already liking all the sounds you're hearing using it at home. That means the only thing left to work out is a way to control it and a way to amplify it.

    How much control do you need? How many changes do you need to work through in a set?

    Are you thinking of going direct to a PA, running a monitor, or does the idea of something more similar to a traditional guitar cab sound better to you?


    Also FWIW:
    With modern systems, latency and noise are virtually a thing of the past. Unless you're one of the few people who are super sensitive to latency, it's almost a non-issue anymore. I usually aim for ~5-7ms, and that works fine for me. I can easily get that running a cheap Focusrite 2i2 interface, Ableton, and a ton of different plugins.
     
  10. Elantric

    Elantric Silver Supporting Member

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    What specific Make / Model Laptop are you using?

    How much RAM?

    what OS version?
     
  11. rmg471

    rmg471 Member

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    I have never noticed latency in a plugin, but I only use those that have standalone modes. I also have a powerful laptop. I just run to the PA out of the Scarlett 2i2 and it sounds great. Through a direct box I get no noise. None. Plus, most softwares have built in noise gates if you’re using high gain. I can’t say enough for Scuffham. Give it a shot.
     
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  12. Bentayuk

    Bentayuk Supporting Member

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    Oh, I’m incredibly basic in my tones. I just use simple clean, crunch, rhythm and lead tones. Barely any fx. A bit of chorus / reverb on the clean and then maybe some reverb / delay on the lead. Nothing else.

    I’m more just thinking of how to switch presets using midi. That I’ve never done before. My 2i2 doesn’t have Midi.

    I think for this rig, I’d keep it FRFR. So I can just grab a powered monitor for it.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  13. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    I'm using an older MacBook Pro - mid-2015
    2.5 GHz Intel Core i7
    16GB
    Mojave 10.14.4

    Don't worry about the 2i2, you don't need 5-pin MIDI connections to use MIDI on your laptop.

    There are two options:

    First is a bluetooth controller like the IK BlueBoard: https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigblueboard/

    Simple 4 button controller you could use to change presets. It does require Bluetooth LE, so check your computer first.

    Second option is to use a controller that transmits MIDI via USB.

    Something like the KMI SoftStep2: https://www.keithmcmillen.com/products/softstep/

    That's way overkill for what you want to do, but just to give you an idea of possibilities. These basically just transmit MIDI over USB, so you can plug them directly into a USB port on your computer without worrying about MIDI cables and ports.


    For the monitor, I'd start simple and work from there. Some people go down big rabbit holes looking for the ultimate one. But I think it's best to just pick a starting point, and spend some time with one to get a feel for what you like. You may find what you've got works for you, or you may start to realize some things you wish were different, and then you can start looking for another option that will give you what you're looking for
     
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  14. Imerkat

    Imerkat Supporting Member

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    I was using this for a While with Studio devil's Amp Modeler Pro:
    [​IMG]

    Only works up to VST2 otherwise it worked fine, it tended to heat up it wasn't until recently I discovered a cooling fans that would mitigate that. If I had the Testitude and know-how This would be a Helix killer if you would be able to load Helix Native.
     
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  15. Bentayuk

    Bentayuk Supporting Member

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    Awesome. It looks like I’m not far off then!

    I’ll try that Blueboard, and as for a a monitor I’m good for that. I’ve used digital rigs before and can get a decent one local for cheap.
     
  16. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    Honestly, my concern with latency issues really has to do with running VST's in a DAW where, presumably, more than just the guitar simulation may be running. I can get a (more-or-less inconsequential) sub-8 MS round trip latency running S-Gear as a stand-alone, using a Dell 3.2 MHz i7 and a Focusrite 6i6 (2nd Gen) interface. To do so, that requires running the interface at 96 kHz with a 128 sample buffer in S-Gear. The appeal, for me, of any laptop rig, would be all of the "other bits" you have access to in a DAW, all of which - naturally - adds to latency. For the stripped down rig you describe, stand alone mode would almost certainly be sufficient.

    For MIDI control, lots of devices (including foot controllers) now provide the means to utilize USB input. Assigning such controls in a program like S-Gear is fairly straightforward, even if it has a bit of a learning curve.

    I can't imagine why I hadn't run across this before....would love to know more about your experience with it. I just checked their website out and see two models listed (standard and pro) for €1000 and €1200 respectively. That seems a bit on the high side, but maybe its a winner?
     
  17. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    That's the big appeal to me. Hardware is great for simplicity, but you are limited to using what is built into it. With a laptop rig and a DAW, I can piece together my own rig using whatever pieces I choose. I love that flexibility.

    I can use things like Helix amp models that I like, but post-process them using NI and Waves EQ, compression, and mastering tools. Plus add some modulations and reverbs from Valhalla, and maybe an OD or two from TSE or Mercuriall.

    When I want Vox tones I like to throw in Helix, when I want Tweed I switch to AmpliTube, for Mesa I like Mercuriall, and for Marshall I go to Fortin. I'm not just stuck with one.
     
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  18. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    I noticed that you indicated previously that: a) you shoot for 5-7ms latency and b) use Ableton as your DAW. Are you able to achieve that latency while in Ableton and, do you know, if its generally more efficient. I can't seem to get under (an unacceptable for me) 15-17ms out of Studio One 4. Although, to be fair, I tend to have lots of those "other bits" loaded. I'm sure I could reduce it some, but doubt I could get under 10-12ms.
     
  19. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    There are a lot of factors that play into latency. It seems to me that the number of plugins you're using has far less impact than your system's memory and processor. I'm not sure how much Ableton has to do with that, but I get similar results in Mainstage. They seem to be fairly similar to each other in terms of latency
     
  20. Imerkat

    Imerkat Supporting Member

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    They are on sale now for 700 and 900 for the Pro (but if you ask they will send you the Pro for the Price of the Standard). I bought the previous Pro version at full price;the RAM is really needed. Mine is basically a Native Instrument FloorBoard. I use it for Synth with TriplePlay and some guitar tones like I mention. When it comes to latency, it's basically nonexistent. This is something I didn't appreciate until I fire up the DAW and VST's on my Gaming Computer an notice the slight latency.

    The main draw backs are the dated VST. It's not the vPeds problem per se, it's the way the installer is packaged that makes them unable to load. Also, those companies not making older versions available for purchase. I think they needed some key VST for this to have been a success; for example SGear or Mercuriall.

    Sorry for the long post but I still think that a product like this will be the future. I'm going to try to load Neutral DSP into this over the weekend, Peace
     
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