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live sequencing / backing tracks (Hardware vs Laptop?)

KLINKDETROIT

Member
Messages
491
What is the safest route to take for sequencing live or having backing tracks live.

Hardware like the Yamaha rs7000, adat, dat ect?

OR

Laptop with a firewire interface?

I am wanting to reamp live as well as have a click track and other backing tracks flown in. At some point I would like to have video synced and possibly lights via midi or audio trigger with the song.

I have sequenced live for years with the rs7000 from Yamaha but it has limited audio storage and would be impossible to reamp with live. I am also very familiar with midi and pro tools / sonar.

Some people swear by hardware and some swear by software. Please give me your pros / cons and advice / oppinions on how to accomplish this. My biggest concern is about reliability and sound quality.

THANKS
 

tanawana

Member
Messages
285
For 2.5 years I've used midi files from a mac laptop running ableton into a Roland XR from the macbook with not a single glitch(knock on wood). I'm fortunate to be busy with this project also, having only 3 weeks off total last year, so I have fully put alot of time into it. In addition, I've run the same all converted down to actual audio with a presonus firebox with equal success and no problems. Initially all was run on on a powerbook g4 with the same ease. This is a band situation doing everything from summer outdoor festivals to eagles clubs to biker bars, etc.

I tried very hard to do it soley with hardware and avoid computers, but I couldn't get the same speed and versatility we needed as a band live to perform as well as put songs together quick enough.
 

KLINKDETROIT

Member
Messages
491
Thanks. Do you use any video live with sequencing? Do you find that mac is better or more stable than a windows laptop? I am unfamiliar with mac and would rather not have the learning curve. I would probably use sonar but I am not sure if my version will work with a mac? I never had midi issues with the Yamaha rs700 but I would be running alot of audio live and I wonder if this would lock the laptop up? Does ableton have advantages over sonar?
 

tanawana

Member
Messages
285
Thanks. Do you use any video live with sequencing?
No video, sorry

Do you find that mac is better or more stable than a windows laptop? I am unfamiliar with mac and would rather not have the learning curve.
This question is forever being debated. Through my experience they both can accomplish what is needed just fine. But for me, I prefer mac and will never touch a PC for live use with music. After working with both for years a PC(for me) can be too unpredictable at times and I don't want the risk.

I would probably use sonar but I am not sure if my version will work with a mac? I never had midi issues with the Yamaha rs700 but I would be running alot of audio live and I wonder if this would lock the laptop up? Does ableton have advantages over sonar?
Depends how you want to run things and what you need to accomplish. In the beginning everything I did was a learning curve I feel and there is always more to learn. I suggest just jump in by trying demo versions of software, think ahead what you want to do, keep it simple at first, see what other people are using that are doing what you want, etc.

Far as audio locking things up. It should be no problem as long as you do things correctly and smartly and run things with respect to your equipment limits. Many, many people, including myself have used audio with no problems.

Hope some of that helps or at least makes you a bit more confident. I was very leary at first myself and so glad I forged ahead.
 

KLINKDETROIT

Member
Messages
491
Thanks. I have been using sonar since it was cakewalk back in 1994 but I hear and see videos of ableton live where you can use a ground control pedal (I have one) for operation of the sequence (start / stop etc). I see and play guitar at the same time so my hands are tied up and would need foot control of the program. I just hate starting the whole program learning curve over again but if mac is better and ableton is better than sonar I guess that is what I have to do? Any thoughts on what mac I should get? The cheaper the better but I need stability
 

tanawana

Member
Messages
285
I use a FCB1010 midi pedal as a guitarist myself. There common and cheap. Tough learning curve but even without knowing much it was vert easy with ableton to use.
I wouldn't say mac or ableton is better. For me ableton gives me the control and functions I need for live use, so I use it. I prefer logic for other recording, etc. working.

I found a simple macbook suits me fine now, you may want to consider the macbook pro since you do video though. Max out the ram is very important. Paid 1,100 this past January to replace my powerbook. Had an accident after New Years Eve with it and needed the screen replaced. My fault though :O( I bought their cheapest laptop and it's more than adequate.

If you have a computer start experimenting and get everything setup much as you can through that first maybe?? Software works basically the same on either platform and when bought new comes for both versions usually, in most cases. It's the operating system that differs and needs to be learned, not the software if you know it already.
 
Messages
132
In this part of the world, the industry standard machine for reliable multi-track playback is the Alesis HD24.

Usually we'll have 2 running concurrently. If one screws up, the sound guy flips a switch and the backup machine takes over immediately. But in the hundreds of shows I've played in with this setup (mostly outdoor stadium shows with lots of heat, humidity and sometimes outright heavy rain), it has never failed even once.

In another band where the music director insists on running Digital Performer with a Macbook Pro, out of about 20 shows I have played, it has hung and screwed up the show 3 times.
 

KLINKDETROIT

Member
Messages
491
I do have a setup like that now of 2 adat xt20 units and a brc. I have not used them yet but the idea of having a backup running at the same time just in case of a problem is exactly what I had in mind. Do you think the tape on an adat xt would wear out and be an isue? Would the 2 be out of sync because of tape stretching? What unit do you use to toggle between the 2 adats? I would not want to spend any more money on going the computer route if it is less reliable. I do however want to sync video and lights eventually to the music.
 
Messages
132
I do have a setup like that now of 2 adat xt20 units and a brc. I have not used them yet but the idea of having a backup running at the same time just in case of a problem is exactly what I had in mind. Do you think the tape on an adat xt would wear out and be an isue? Would the 2 be out of sync because of tape stretching? What unit do you use to toggle between the 2 adats? I would not want to spend any more money on going the computer route if it is less reliable. I do however want to sync video and lights eventually to the music.
Ahhh... The old ADAT tape days. Who doesn't remember the chewed up ADAT tapes that caused you to pull your hair out? Well, in the '90's, those ADAT machines and tapes did cause quite a bit of problems in the studio doing the chewing up thing, although most of the time, it happened on the black 1st generation machines. I personally won't use them for critical situations like shows. But, hey, it might very well work for you.

In the shows that I play, all the outputs of the HD24 are hooked up to the mixer and grouped. So if one machine goes down, the sound guy will just mute the broken machine and release the sound from the backup machine. With this setup, you will need a mixer with enough inputs. I'm sure somewhere out there, there would be a much simpler way of doing this.

I'm sure syncing lights and video is possible with the right equipment, but I'm not familiar with anything that's not audio related.
 

KLINKDETROIT

Member
Messages
491
I think your idea is very goo. Looks like I will sell my adats and go with the adat hd or a laptop. Does the hd have midi sync capabilities with other companies equpment? Can I still use the brc with the adat hd?
 
Messages
6,140
My friend Brad uses Pro Tools with a Digi interface. It is setup so the mastered tracks are set as shortcuts 1/2/3/ect. The drummer just hits the track he wants, then space to play it.
It gives the band a click of 4, then starts. On a few songs video is synced via midi, and also some lights/fireworks are MIDI synced.

As far as I know, they have never had any issues. To minimise issues, they have a flight-cased MacBook that is never used for anything else, so no clogged up HDD and Ram, no viruses. They have also de-installed most of the unused software.
 

KLINKDETROIT

Member
Messages
491
The only thing is my mbox2 won't let me re-amp. I had to buy a 003 to do that or a 002 would work. I wonder if it is better to buy another interface and use sonar or ableton live? Anyone know a good interface to use? I also see that some macbooks dont have firewire. I heard that firewire is the way to go. Doeas anyone have any suggestions on a good laptop with firewire that is under $1000? Any interfaces aside from digidesign that can also be used as extra inputs / preamps with my 003 when I am recording at home? I think it would be great if I were also able to record a feed from the board of the whole band at the same time as the sequence is playing but I am not sure that is possible?
 

runawaymartin

Member
Messages
1
Hi Guys . . . I've been doing a few shows over the past couple of years or so and am achieving what I think you're after.
The shows consist of a live band using some additional pre-recorded backtracks (strings, brass etc...). We're running 7 tracks of Audio (could be more if required), 1 audio 'Click' track, and a MIDI file which operates lights, reverb presets, my guitar pedal patch changes and keyboard prog changes, Video, and just introduced recently, Still Images (great for band/show name and logos etc).
This is how I'm doing it . . . the whole lot is being run from a laptop (one is running XP and the back-up is running on VISTA), but you will need to have the facility to prepare the tracks and MIDI files beforehand . . I happen to be using Cubase.
From Cubase I mix down all the tracks I need, ensuring that for any particular song they are all the same length . . . these can be a mixture of mono and stereo. I then export a MIDI file containing any info I need . . . prog changes, note ON/OFF for lights etc... .
Now this is where it all comes together . . . The laptop is running a program called SCS (Show Cue Systems) where all the required files are loaded into and then it is used as a very sophisticated sort of jukebox. You can get a free demo from SCS . . . tell Mike I sent you.
Into each song created I then load the relevant audio files, MIDI file and Video file all programmed to start at the same time or with delays if required. You then build up a whole load of songs that are then simply displayed as a list on the main screen. Each song is started by the space bar, or a MIDI/USB footcontroller, and at the end of that song it automatically cues at the beginning of the next song. You can easily scroll up or down if you change your running order on the fly.
The 'Click' track is actually an audio file and I use a drum 'stick' sound playing on every beat but you can use whatever you like . . . the beauty of using audio for 'Click' purposes is that you can also add voice prompting such as the count-in or lead–in chord for example.
At present the output for all this is running via an Edirol UA-101 but you could use any USB or Firewire interface (did have some problems with Firewire and VISTA combination) giving you multi-track audio outputs and a MIDI out.
The audio is then run to the mixer for FOH purposes (the 'Click' track is only fed to the drummer and anyone else on stage using in-ear monitoring). The MIDI signal is distributed to the devices mentioned above.
I'm not a lighting person so I can't actually tell you how the lights are working but anyone with some knowledge of MIDI->DMX will know what to do.
It sounds complicated but is in fact a very cost effective way to go.
Hope all of that makes some sort of sense . . . I'd be happy to assist anyone who wants to give this a go. Check out an article I wrote on SCS at http://www.soundachievements.com/SA_Web-Site_3/Live_Show_Control_-_Home_Page.html
Cheers . . . Martin
 

WahmBoomAh

World Crass Guitarist
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,608
Hi Guys . . . I've been doing a few shows over the past couple of years or so and am achieving what I think you're after.
The shows consist of a live band using some additional pre-recorded backtracks (strings, brass etc...). We're running 7 tracks of Audio (could be more if required), 1 audio 'Click' track, and a MIDI file which operates lights, reverb presets, my guitar pedal patch changes and keyboard prog changes, Video, and just introduced recently, Still Images (great for band/show name and logos etc).
This is how I'm doing it . . . the whole lot is being run from a laptop (one is running XP and the back-up is running on VISTA), but you will need to have the facility to prepare the tracks and MIDI files beforehand . . I happen to be using Cubase.
From Cubase I mix down all the tracks I need, ensuring that for any particular song they are all the same length . . . these can be a mixture of mono and stereo. I then export a MIDI file containing any info I need . . . prog changes, note ON/OFF for lights etc... .
Now this is where it all comes together . . . The laptop is running a program called SCS (Show Cue Systems) where all the required files are loaded into and then it is used as a very sophisticated sort of jukebox. You can get a free demo from SCS . . . tell Mike I sent you.
Into each song created I then load the relevant audio files, MIDI file and Video file all programmed to start at the same time or with delays if required. You then build up a whole load of songs that are then simply displayed as a list on the main screen. Each song is started by the space bar, or a MIDI/USB footcontroller, and at the end of that song it automatically cues at the beginning of the next song. You can easily scroll up or down if you change your running order on the fly.
The 'Click' track is actually an audio file and I use a drum 'stick' sound playing on every beat but you can use whatever you like . . . the beauty of using audio for 'Click' purposes is that you can also add voice prompting such as the count-in or lead–in chord for example.
At present the output for all this is running via an Edirol UA-101 but you could use any USB or Firewire interface (did have some problems with Firewire and VISTA combination) giving you multi-track audio outputs and a MIDI out.
The audio is then run to the mixer for FOH purposes (the 'Click' track is only fed to the drummer and anyone else on stage using in-ear monitoring). The MIDI signal is distributed to the devices mentioned above.
I'm not a lighting person so I can't actually tell you how the lights are working but anyone with some knowledge of MIDI->DMX will know what to do.
It sounds complicated but is in fact a very cost effective way to go.
Hope all of that makes some sort of sense . . . I'd be happy to assist anyone who wants to give this a go. Check out an article I wrote on SCS at http://www.soundachievements.com/SA_Web-Site_3/Live_Show_Control_-_Home_Page.html
Cheers . . . Martin
WOW ~ ...on my way to the links NOW ! thanks, Paul
 

WahmBoomAh

World Crass Guitarist
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,608
WOW ~ ...on my way to the links NOW ! thanks, Paul
"Computer- SCS is available for 'IBM-compatible' PC's. If you have an Intel-based Apple Macintosh then SCS will run under Microsoft Windows using Bootcamp or Parallels."

game over !
 

DAB

Member
Messages
791
Me too and now because of this thread I feel bad LOL
I used a rackmounted Mac G4 once with Pro Tools 6.x and a Digi Interface. Haven't tried a laptop. I just don't trust Windows to not lock up in the middle of a gig. Maybe a Mac laptop.

My iPods (i have 2...one for backup) have never failed me. No glitches, nothing. I have come to trust them.

The SCS stuff looks cool but I really don't need about 95% of what it is apparently capable of so I will stick with the iPods.

I don't feel too bad about it. ;)
 

Dickie Fredericks

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,773
I used a rackmounted Mac G4 once with Pro Tools 6.x and a Digi Interface. Haven't tried a laptop. I just don't trust Windows to not lock up in the middle of a gig. Maybe a Mac laptop.

My iPods (i have 2...one for backup) have never failed me. No glitches, nothing. I have come to trust them.

The SCS stuff looks cool but I really don't need about 95% of what it is apparently capable of so I will stick with the iPods.

I don't feel too bad about it. ;)
Yeah its all good. I record the midi as audio and load the tracks into playlists. I just play guitar and sing over them. I would like to start using it with the full band though too for some keys, horns etc...
 
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