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Need Help Figuring Out Live Setup
Old 10th March 2014
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Need Help Figuring Out Live Setup

I've been doing a lot of research, trying to figure out the optimal live setup for what I have. I'm fairly new to this stuff, so forgive me if I don't explain it that well.

External hardware I have:
Roland JX-3P
Oberheim DX (No MIDI)
Roland SP404SX (just bought/on the way)

I also have Logic Pro X as my DAW (only really been using it for studio recording, not sure of live capabilities).

So live there will be two of us. We both can play guitars/synths. All the drums are created in my Oberheim.

My question is should I load the oberheim samples into the 404 and recreate the drum sequences there, or should I be retrofitting my Oberheim with MIDI and connecting the two, and making the Oberheim a slave. Im basically confused on why you would need to do the latter, but sounds like it's a timing issue?

I also need to figure out how exactly would you sync everything to a click and run that click through in-ear.

Lastly, I have bass parts, synth parts, and multiple guitar parts. So my ability to constantly control the sampler on the normal song structure ones is limited. Would it be stupid to load a full song's drum/bass sequence in one or two sample pads?

And how does this all affect sound quality live?

Any help is much appreciated.

Last edited by peskin; 10th March 2014 at 04:37 AM.. Reason: more info
Old 10th March 2014
Lives for gear
donsolo's Avatar
Ok, here are my thoughts:

Leave the Oberheim at home. Sample it and play back the samples live. Or, retrofit for MIDI. Syncing to your Oberheim is a can of worms without MIDI and you'd be syncing to it rather than vice versa.

Are you leaving your computer at home or taking it with you live?

It sounds like you're essentially going to be using backing tracks rather than trying to perform the sampler. No judgement, not an approach I dig on, though.

The click is SUPER-simple. Live, everything is mono. So, send everything L and send your click R. Done.

Syncing is going to require a master, probably a laptop running logic. You generate all of your MIDI from there as well as play back your Oberheim and any backing parts you can't get to.

That's how to solve your problem. But, if you're in the same boat as me, you may find the karaoke approach to be artistically unsatisfying. The solution to that is simple: write new stuff around your ability to perform it live. That's how I came to the Korg Volcas.

I hope that helped a bit.
Old 10th March 2014
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Ok yeah that's what I was thinking and honestly I don't want to carry around the oberheim when playing around. I'll also definitely take the laptop live.

I don't really want to do the karaoke approach so I may just have to experiment with it and rework some stuff to allow me to perform the sampler more. Anyways all of that definitely helped. Thanks.
Old 10th March 2014
Lives for gear
donsolo's Avatar
My final thought/word of wisdom is:


I'm a guitarist. I have a pedalboard, an amp, an axe, and that's it when I play live (hell, I'm a jazzer, usually the pedalboard stays home.). I can be off a stage in 30 seconds and on in under 3 (including letting my tubes warm/tune up)

The pitfall with a lot of electronic cats that I see running these complex rigs is they aren't always great about streamlining the setup/breakdown.

That's the part that I'm working on for my own live rig for solo stuff. I'm about to see how an iRig MIDI, my volcas and a small mixer, my ipad, Kaoss Pad, Sub Phatty, guitar and/or bass are going to play together. But, the rabbit hole is more about keeping it easy to set up/breakdown. I can build a studio to perform with live on stage. But, it's a moot point if it takes me all day to set up. Even guys with complex controller+laptop rigs.

Actually, the laptop guys are usually worse. When all of your stuff is rack-mountable, you come to the logical conclusion that you should get a rack. The ease of setup seems like a pleasant side-effect when in reality, it's the whole point of getting a rack. But, when you've got 4 BCR2000s, a midi keyboard and a DJ controller for example, none of that stuff screams to be put in a rack or rack-equivalent.

And you know what's lame? Watching a guy setup/break down. That's why big acts have techs. The less I have to do on-site, the better.

With a laptop, I count 3 pieces that need to be hooked up, not including some sort of audio interface for your laptop. (Hint, radial DJ DI box and the onboard sound card if you can, otherwise, make sure it's SUPER-simple and try to have it already hooked up to the sampler or laptop when you put it on stage.

I think 3 pieces is one's limit to load on/off quickly. It's why drummers buy tom racks, guitarists buy combo amps, etc.

You may decide that a little more is fine. But remember, it can snowball on you quickly and spiral out of control. You've already got a guitar in the mix as far as I can tell. That's a whole second rig to carry and setup/break down.

Finding the balance SUCKS. I'm excited to figure it out for myself, though.
Old 10th March 2014
Gear Addict
🎧 5 years
KISS principle = Keep it simple, stupid (no ofence intended!)

As donsolo sugested, sample the oberheim into the SP404 or directly into logic better, so you can use the SP404 for performing rather than playback (that's why you bring a laptop live after all). Then, get an audio interface with MIDI output for your laptop and send the notes from logic into the Roland. If you can handle latency, get the audio from the Roland back into Logic for processing and do your own mixing.

Over the years I've been simplifying my gear and, although I've been adding a bit again lately, I don't think I'm gonna add anymore, so far what I do is (playing in a band);

-Laptop with a DAW (Reason in my case) and M-Audio Fast Track Ultra as Audio interface (cheap for the number of I/O)
-Arturia Laboratory 49 as MIDI controller
-A MIDI Keytar

M-Audio Ins:
- 1 for Microkorg
- 2 for Electric Bass

M-Audio Outs
- 1 & 2 for all synths
- 3 for Bass (both synths and the electric bass)
- 5 sends click to drummer (or whatever he wants)

The Arturia goes connected to the macbook via USB, the Keytar uses the MIDI In port on the M-Audio

That's it!
Old 10th March 2014
Registered User
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I'm experimenting with similar small live rigs, and to a certain extent different venues call for different approaches. The fast set up and tear down thing is a huge one for me, and I want it to be part of the total performance in short sets. I think the visual aspect of everything is totally important, and unfortunately the music is possibly of lesser importance when it comes to pleasing a crowd. Related to the amount of processing power our brains devote to visuals as opposed to everything else.

I view a live performance as something like a magic act - you set up expectations, and hopefully surprise and delight your audience. That's the plan anyway. So there are some things that really don't get an audience excited - like lugging too much gear wearing sweaty track pants with a builders crack presented to the audience ...

I've got a rack based rig, but sometimes I use a pedal board based rig. I've thought about building slightly different rigs in things like industrial plastic crates, or custom wooden cabinets - for different vibes and functions. Stuff like laptops and ipads I like to hide, because I think they can present a bad image or false expectations - depending on what you are trying to create.

I agree with keeping the music technology super simple. You audience won't care 1% whether your vintage midi boxes are running from a vintage midi sequencer, or if you've sampled them or just playing them from an mp3 player. The end result is the same, but you won't be embarrased with hung notes or wrong instruments playing or wrong tempo if you're playing an mp3. But an mp3 player has no sex appeal, so I would not recommend you make this visible if you choose that.

I would suggest you consider the whole show and choose stuff that displays the expectations you want to set, the image you want to create, and have something that you can be seen to be doing. An audience loves to watch music being made - the faster your hands move the better. So choose the instruments you want to be seen with and want to play for maximum effect - and everything else can be pre-recorded for all anyone cares. Like a magic act - keep them distracted.

It's a real balancing act - and something only you can figure out for yourself. Make yourself happy and make the audience happy. That means don't make life hard for yourself, but don't make it too easy either.

So if assigning a whole song to one pad works for you - just do it. If you have something cool to do while it's playing nobody will care.
Old 12th March 2014
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Thanks for all the tips, definitely a lot to think about. Especially, when it comes to keeping the rig manageable. Hadn't though about the DI or interface either. This will be a load of fun to figure out ha.
Old 12th March 2014
Lives for gear
donsolo's Avatar
Well, to give you perspective, and to simply hash this out, let me tell you what I'm doing with my live setup and what I plan to add later. I'm going pretty small initially (at least IMO)

So, I ordered a Behringer Mx400 4-to-1 mono line mixer. No aux sends, panning, nothing. But, now I can blend my volcas so it's off to the races.

It's going to go: individual lines > MX400 > Kaoss Pad KP2 > MAYBE a compressor > PA

So, I have 4 individual lines
1. Volca beats
2. Volca Bass
3. Volca keys
4. Undecided.

But, I have some toys (guitar pedals, sub Phatty, etc. undecided what and where)

My plan is to set everything up on my pedalboard and drop that on a table or a keyboard stand.

A lot of my gear is stereo, so I could use my Memory Man w/Harazai on two lines simultaneously. I'm seriously thinking about making line 4 a bass or guitar...

But, that's the very core of my live setup that I'm going to start gigging everywhere I can.

As I have more setup/breakdown/money, I'll add my ipad with a midi connector and loopy HD, eventually a bigger mixer, a rack of stuff like a midi patchbay and mixer w/aux sends. I can add drum machines, a beat step, my sub Phatty, dx7, anything I want. But, none of that matters if I don't get started.

Just stick everything on a table, make sure you can send it to a PA easily and then use whatever means you deem to transport to a gig. But, in my opinion, you should be able to participate in an open mic night with it. That's the setup/breakdown I'd aim for at least initially.
Old 12th March 2014
Lives for gear
pinkerton's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Heres a tip: I like my live mixers to have faders, personally. So I can set the levels with the gain control and slam em in and out.
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