Studio To Live Performance - Hardware Questions

Hey guys,

I’ve been writing a lot of ideas in Renoise and Ableton Live over the past few years, as well as doing 3D / Video stuff and artwork, and I’ve decided to compile it all together and create a layout for a live show.

I’m wondering about different hardware solutions specialized for live performance. The hardware I own now is a few SM58 mics, a RODE NT2-A (probably couldn’t be used live), an Evolution Keyboard / Midi controller, an Ipad, a Galaxy tab, and an iPod touch, all newest generation with midi interfaces, an older Roland keyboard / groove machine and one of those air controllers where you can do filter sweeps in the air like a theremin.
I have 5 guitars - 2 acoustic in different tunings, 1 classical, a PRS electric and am American Strat electric, a 100W Vox amp, a ukulele, banjo, and fiddle (those 3 don’t have any sort of pickups). I also have a crybaby wah and a Rocktron Banshee talkbox that I mostly use with keyboards, I don’t really like the sound it makes with guitar. I also have an Ibanez bass and fairly loud Ampeg bass amp. I play all this stuff regularly and would like to end up playing all of it live (not at the same time hah).

I have a few decent desktop machines that I would not want to lug around, and also a macbook that I feel is too underpowered to use for this, I don’t even like writing stuff on it.

I’ve been looking at some DJ hardware, it looks like Pioneer makes a few things, Native Instruments Maschine looks interesting. I’ve also heard about these I’m assuming Solid State rack devices that allow you to take VST plug-ins and run them on hardware to save CPU power. I’m really interested in that because I like to use Guitar Rig (Behringer makes a nice looking foot controller I’ve been eyeballing) and the AVOX toolkit form Antares for vocals, both are serious CPU hogs. I also use Addictive Drums and Kontakt, often with East / West Gold Orchestral patches loaded.

To explain the kind of performance I’m putting together, I’d like to have something that is fairly well scripted from start to finish, but doesn’t necessarily need to keep rolling constantly. I’d like to have minimal pauses and keep the audience’s attention. I’m looking at a minimum of 1 hour to start but would like to eventually have enough pieces to go for 3-4 hours with a few short breaks.

The music would be a mixture of cover songs from the classic rock era like Hendrix, Bowie, Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, but updated and morphed into the electronic era in a mostly dubstep style, going back and forth between acoustic / electric instruments to full on electro tech and a mixture of the two. I’ll also have a bunch of large flatscreen TVs setup playing video that I’m compiling to go along with the performances. I want them all to display the same thing, I’m wondering if there’s an HDMI hub that would do this. I’ll also be performing songs from the older eras like “They’re Red Hot” (Robert Johnson) and “Tonight You Belong to Me” on the ukulele, Django Reinhardt’s Minor Swing all the way to Guns and Roses to Skrillex.

I’m going to have other musicians and dancers / singers get involved from time to time during the show, but to what degree will depend on who I can find. I know tons of people that would be interested, but the people I really want are professional and frequently busy, and I’ll have to sell the idea to them first. I have most of the music recorded and sequenced already, and in the case of an extra musician coming in I’d just turn that part off in the sequencer.

So…I don’t know if I sound nuts but I’d like to hear what you guys think, primarily what suggestions you have in terms of hardware I should look into buying. I have money but I’m far from rich. Lets say I’d be willing to spend up to 2000 in the beginning, and then buy more stuff later on. I can also borrow stuff, I know people at all the music stores, studios and clubs in town, so additional PA and mics wouldn’t be a problem.

I haven’t played live with my own rig (outside of sitting in with a band and playing on their stuff) since probably the early 1990s, so things have changed. I’d like to hear from people who are currently doing live shows, anywhere from DJing to metal bands to folk / acoustic music and in-between, and what gear you find indispensable in a live environment, advice, new gear, video equipment, programming tools (I’m also a computer programmer and can pretty much write code in anything), anything to help me automate the process, setup things ahead of time and improvise a bit while the show is going on. There are really no limitations to what kinds of sounds could be made.

Looking forward to hearing from you and thanks in advance.

Lots of cool gear here :rolleyes:. But tell me : how the hell would you use a galaxy tab for live performance :blink: ?

Same as the iPad, you use an app that draws pads or keyboards or even just lets you swipe around in a grid and it sends that out as midi messages to your synth. Or you can use midi controller to send midi to the tablet where a synth app is running, then send audio out to the board. One really cool thing you can do with tablets is have an app that draws a keyboard but you tell it what scale and key you want to play in, so it only draws the keys that are in that key. This enables you to simply swipe you hand across the screen and shred out keyboard solos with no wrong notes. Then you can press a toggle switch and go right back to a full keyboard or switch to a different scale or mode. I put my tablets on the these little picture frame type stands so the screens are up and facing me. I also write my own custom iOS and Android apps so the possibilities are many in terms of using it as a controller. I code software for a living at a hospital about 10 hours a day though, so I’d much prefer to buy something that works well rather than write it myself.

Also, I forgot to mention, Android is not that great in this category. The latency can be a pain sometimes, iOS devices work much better.
I often use the Galaxy tab to trigger samples that don’t necessarily need to be in perfect time, or change parameters that meet the same requirements like a volume or filter knob.

On a personal level, I honestly don’t like Android that much. I was given the Galaxy tab by someone who bought it and decided they didn’t want to use it for a project. I’ve programmed for both platforms and I just find iOS much more to my liking. The “closed” architecture of iOS is actually a good thing to me because it keeps the device a lot more stable. Apple has done a great job at making sure the whole system doesn’t just get completely whacked out from pressing a few buttons, (although I’m sure there are people that have had horrible experiences). I actually feel secure about handing my iPad to a 5 year old kid and letting them play around on it, but I’d never let them near my computer.

Also, if I really need something off the beaten path I can just jailbreak my iOS devices. So far I’ve not really found it essential though. The two different Android devices I’ve used have both locked up and crashed fairly often, but I have used 4 iOS devices for several years and maybe had 1 or 2 crashes total. Everbody’s experience is different though.

If you can code apps for android, then the only usefull thing I see would be to link the Galaxy Tab your computer with the provided USB cable, then to link it to the Renoise XY Pad Meta device. And maybe with the multitouch you can handle not only one but two XY Pad meta devices. But you’re right, android seems good at lots of things excepted music. I’ve got to cleanse lots of apps so that it stays stable, and even with that, the OS stays frozen for unknown reasons…

Well, one option that works quite well on both android and iOS, surprisingly, is to run a network server on the host machine that’s running your daw like renoise or ableton. This server listens for incoming messages via the wireless network, then converts them to midi and routes them to something like midi yoke, then your daw can get them from there.
So basically your mobile app is sending them over the network to your host machine’s ip address. When it works it’s not bad at all but if the LAN is screwy you get all sorts of issues. Your best bet would be to bring your own wireless router to the club and broadcast on an odd channel.

If you have an iOS device check out nanostudio and animoog, those are my favorite apps. I also use a line6 mobile midi that plugs directly into iPads sync port and gives you midi in and out cables. The only thing I hate about it is you cant charge the battery when you do this, and music apps drain the battery hardcore.

You can configure your laptop to act as a router which is the best and the lowest latency solution.

… I see you’re aware about every options, but with android… I would not recommend it… there are apps like wifikill that start to emerge and I’m sure that you’ll find more “offensive” concepts in a near future.

After that it can be a part of your aesthetic and artistic choice, to make a bond between classical rock and the “geek” culture for example. Of course, using pads like the galaxy tab on the stage, with a video projector on the background that shows a bit your eye candy gear, it would totally make it.

I forgot to mention that I also had a very boring problem with my Galaxy Tab and my wifi profile. Because of unknown reason, the Galaxy tab has recorded a bad/wrong wifi profile, and whatever I did, I was disconnected all the time. I had to restore completely my tab, so reinstall completely the applications setups, and then… I had to change my wifi connection mode. I had to choose a “fixed ip”, for example. This kind of “bug” that suddenly appears, without any explanation, make this device not that reliable to my eyes in terms of live performance. That’s probably why I was initially suprised about the usage of this device on a stage.

I had always harboured the hope that an independent who has the knowledge and experience of both would say the opposite of this but guess it’s not too much of a surprise really. The amount of idiots I speak to who use Apple products and are totally clueless (say things like “You can’t upgrade RAM in a Mac can you” or sending away a MacBook to get the keyboard replaced for £200 rather than fit one themselves for £20) puts me off ever wanting to own one and get sucked into the borg like entity of the Macs-Are-Perfect-And-Never-Crash (honest) users…

I do know I am just holding prejudices and half the time it is just to wind up the people I do know that use them blindly…

Anyway sorry to be Off Topic.

Haha Kaza, I just turned 40 this month and I’ve been programming since I was 4 years old, so I’ve seen pretty much everything from a machine you program by feeding it a stack of punchcards to the latest and greatest gadgets. I see everything as hardware first, then software, then the company behind it. Lots of people think about the company first. In fact, the less people know about a product the more they seem to focus on the company that makes it.

At this point, after programming for so long, I look for software that’s programmed well, or maybe programmed in a way that I would have programmed it myself. I’m very reluctant to sit down and code something because you can find an app that will fit almost any situation.

That being said, I don’t really want to seem like I’m bashing Android. I have a few friends that are extremely good tech guys that love the platform, but they coincidentally are the type of people that wouldn’t use an Apple product if you gave it to them, so its hard to know how much their opinion is worth in that regard. The problems I’ve had could be due to crappy hardware. I’ve had a Samsung phone that ran Windows Mobile, which at the time was just horrible, pretty much humorously bad. However, the phone was rock solid, never broke or locked up and ran great for about 3 years even after I dropped it like 50 times. The screen eventually cracked but it still worked fine, but that’s why I replaced it.

The Samsung tablet I have though, really makes me wonder if the hardware is not messed up in some way. I pulled it out of the box that it had been sitting in for about 6 months, but outside of that it was in brand new condition. It took me the better part of a workday to get it where I could actually use it. The software was out of date but it wouldn’t even sync, my computer would recognize it then reboot and then it couldn’t find it. I had to unplug it, turn it off, update to a certain step where it would crash, then try again and eventually everything went through, then it started updating over the Wi-fi. The whole process was really cumbersome and I had to repeat a lot of the stuff I mentioned several times. If I wasn’t an IT guy I would have just assumed the device was broken and given up. It might have something to do with why it was given to me in the first place.

As of now it works pretty good for the most part but some apps seem to crash for no good reason whatsoever. Its not just one app like I would commonly see on iOS, its random apps that crash, which makes me question the underlying framework. I haven’t dug super deep into the details of the Android SDK. I’ve gotten decently far, but not to the degree I have with iOS, and over the last year or so I’ve been using a system that lets me code in one language and automatically compiles the app out for both Android and iOS. Its not perfect though, so I frequently have bugs on one platform and not the other, and I have to dig into the specific documentation for that platform.

I’m starting to ramble and I’ve got to head out to New Orleans to party all weekend long (poor me), but I’d like to discuss the details of what I know about why Android sucks for music as compared to iOS later on when I have more time.

Wow what a reply! Didn’t expect such a reply but would be interested to read your thoughts on the matter if you wished to write them down at some point that you’re not on your way out to a party :)

Just got home, exhausted. I had to laugh at it myself. It must have been the coffee I was drinking on Friday. I played guitar and sang in the streets saturday, this cool old dude loaned me his. The music out there this weekend was phenominal, paticularly the street music.