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Anyon running standalone software synths (VSTi's)

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  • Anyon running standalone software synths (VSTi's)

    Hi all,
    Is anyone out there running software synths (like Reason, Hypersonic, Native Instruments stuff, etc) LIVE for worship? I am tired of upgrading hardware synths when the sounds get stale and decided to get a new laptop to get into software synths. I was hoping there were some success stories out there (or, gulp, horror stories so I know what to stay away from).
    I run a lot of synths on my desktop at home and they are pretty rock solid, so I figure, in standalone mode (not using a sequencer to host like Sonar or Live), that I could get a rocksolid setup to introduce some new sounds and sonic textures to our service.
    FYI- my laptop came with Vista so I am now on the hunt for compatable software/hardware which is a real pain.
    Thanks
    Jason

  • #2
    Hey Jason -

    ooh, working w/ Vista and loops makes me cringe (spoken like a true Mac-Addict!) ...

    Nah, seriously - I really need to take the time to devote to learning some of these things - I've been proficient at MIDI and ProTools for a while now, but never really started using loops-based. I've downloaded Reason and Ableton dozens of times only to get distracted and not invest the time in learning them.

    I've got some Native Instrument's plugins in ProTools, but PT isn't designed to be run "live" like that., of course.
    Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
    blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

    Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
    www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
    www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

    Comment


    • #3
      I've just begun working in Reason 3.0 so I can't relly help you much except for the fact that it is an amazing program.

      Comment


      • #4
        I am running the Reason demo for the time being. I must say, it just seems not friendly for live performance. I really like Hypersonic as it is basically a really great sounding ROM player (I want to setup my key patches and play them fast, without tweaking). Reason has a lot in it but in the end, it seems very difficult to quickly load up a pach (especially since it has to load it which takes many seconds).

        As for Mac-I almost went with a Mac book. Then I saw what I could get from an HP laptop for about $400 less than the mac (17" widescreen vs 13.3" screen, full size keyboard including number keys, 2GB ram vs 1GB, 160GB disk versus 80GB). It was just not enough to go to Mac when I looked at everything (yeah yeah, I know- Macs are rock solid). But if I do end up blowing away Vista and go back to XP- I know that there are solid synths out there that will do the job (and afterall, this is volunteer work so I am putting my own money into it).

        Although I do think Macs are great and are the way to go when money is not an issue.

        Comment


        • #5
          You might try Band-in-a-Box with it's new soft-synths. They have real drums that sound really good. Good live features for jumping to verse or chorus. I used the PC to lay down tracks and imported them into Garage Band or Cubase on the Mac. BIAB has come a long way. Great features. The price is right and I believe they have a demo version. I bought my MacBook on the Apple store refurb page. Good deals. God be with you.

          Comment


          • #6
            I can understand the desire to use Hypersonic - great soft synth!. I use it occasionally, running on a Gateway AMD (Turion?), 1 GB RAM, running XP, and Toby Bear's MiniHost VST host software. In my last use, I did "Above All" with a few of the youth (on guitar), had a soft Phil Collins 808 type percussion loop underneath, a few stacked moving pads, a few arpeggiators, a few layered PADs, etc. Some were triggered by velocity when we hit the chorus. Total of 10 layers (I know, excessive - but WHAT a sound!), CPU hit was about 40-50%, but no crackles. Used the onboard Realtek Audio with ASIO4ALL - does the job for live use. Roland controller (A70) in via Edirol MIDI to USB to notebook.

            Lessons learned - make sure your power options are set to 'Always On' for everything. No screensaver. Kill as many unneeded apps and services as possible - spyware detection, A/V, etc., etc.

            Only thing with MiniHost is that it does not seem to store Hypersonic presets. Not an issue this time, as we did only one song....

            Comment


            • #7
              I've just downloaded Ableton Live 6.0+ demo and will try to cram learn it by Sunday 'cause I'm leading worship ALL BY MYSELF on an out-of-town event.
              Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
              blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

              Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
              www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
              www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

              Comment


              • #8
                If it would help any of you guys out, I made a little video tutorial on my site regarding the use of Reason's synths in Ableton live...such as using multiple patches and running them effectively and in a stable way in a live situation...

                Check it out, if you care to know...

                http://themonobox.com/?p=46
                Last edited by Mattjhuber; 05-26-2008, 05:12 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm starting to play with adding non-drum stuff to the loops we run. We've been using Live as a drummer replacement for a while now.

                  So, I haven't played VST synths live yet, but I am playing them with all the same stuff going as I will have when I go live, and so far -- no problems!

                  What I will probably do at first is add some strings or horns to a couple choruses and fire them as loops. If that works, I'll look at playing something else live. Probably will render stuff I'm currently running as separate clips on the laptop into one audio clip or set of clips for each song--to free up processing power for the live synth.

                  If that makes sense, great. If not, let me know and I'll try to say it better.

                  Troy

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Oh yes...I made a tutorial regarding using Reason as a live synth. Both reason 3 and 4 have accommodations for this...you know, being able to switch between instruments in a live situation. I hate to continue linking out to my blog, but I thought that it might directly address your situation...

                    http://themonobox.com/?p=110

                    What version of Reason do you have?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Matt,

                      I just remembered something else. Brian Bergman (sp?) who plays keys for Charlie Hall has been playing softsynths (NI stuff) for quite a while. He used a Nord Electro, so he'd have backup sounds, but said mostly he played Absynth. You can email him at info@charliehall.com

                      I've done this a couple times and he answered pretty quickly.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I would REALLY recommend Ableton Live as your basic program. Not only does it have some great basic sounds in it, it is also designed to be used live, so it is set up great for triggering what they call "scenes."

                        In my set up, each song is a "scene." When I trigger that scene it can have virtual instruments, a click for the drummer at the programmed tempo, loops, midi to a hardware synth or lighting, etc. It can even play video!

                        It can handle VST or AU synths so I also use the Native instruments "Classic Keys." That gives me a great piano, rhodes, B3, and a Prophet.
                        If needed, you could also run Reason as a slave and bring it in on a track. The new Live 8 is about to be released and is even better. Its not cheap, but is well worth it if you are serious about this stuff. Check it out at http://www.ableton.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I use VSThost. It's a tiny, free piece of software that lets you load vstis and access them with MIDI. Great to set up a couple different sounds (organ, pad, etc), and then switch between them. There's a also an even tinier version that turns a single vsti into an executable and runs standalone - pretty sweet!

                          It's windows based (works fine for me on XP SP3), but not sure about Vista. Might be something to look into if you want to go very bare bones and don't feel like spending the $ on Reason or Ableton.
                          Eric Frisch
                          www.ericfrisch.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Noise from line

                            I have collected some great vst programs from NI & AAS, I use Ableton Live and Sonar for recording and purchased V-Stack, Forte and tried VSTHost. I have an M-Audio USB audio interface that sounds great with headphones and latency is tolerable.

                            But everytime I hook up an amplifier, I get this intolerable noise that would definitely be present in a typical worship team mix... to say nothing of a simple solo piano. I had the same problem with an older computer and a Tascam USB interface. I can't blame it on the amp... I have no problems with my hardware instruments running through it.

                            Anyone else have issues with this type of configuration? How could I eliminate this hum... short of spending money?
                            "Rock On" (Matt 7:24-25)

                            Dave Brown
                            facebook.com/7.Funk.7.Master.7
                            twitter.com/funkmaster777

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I get this same problem occasionally with the Presonus Firebox I use on stage. The ground lift on my DI box usually takes care of it. As far as eliminating the problem without spending any money, that is all I can recommend.

                              As for the matter at hand, I use Reason, Omnisphere, a bunch of the Native Instruments stuff and IK SonicSynth on stage. I route it all through Ableton, which essentially serves as a "midi clearinghouse" for the data coming from my Triton synth.

                              I run it all simultaneously, as well as all our click tracks, on a Macbook (the white one) that is connected to a Presonus Firebox.

                              Originally posted by funkmaster777 View Post
                              I have collected some great vst programs from NI & AAS, I use Ableton Live and Sonar for recording and purchased V-Stack, Forte and tried VSTHost. I have an M-Audio USB audio interface that sounds great with headphones and latency is tolerable.

                              But everytime I hook up an amplifier, I get this intolerable noise that would definitely be present in a typical worship team mix... to say nothing of a simple solo piano. I had the same problem with an older computer and a Tascam USB interface. I can't blame it on the amp... I have no problems with my hardware instruments running through it.

                              Anyone else have issues with this type of configuration? How could I eliminate this hum... short of spending money?

                              Comment

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