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#1 2009-06-22 12:27:21

Celtic Charlie
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2009-06-22
Posts: 7
Reputation :   

live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

Hi folks. I've been noodling this one around for a bit, and would love to hear from anyone who is currently (or has tried in the past) to process their live sound using a laptop-based setup with a VST host and plugins. Tight cash and a spine unwilling to haul racks of gear are both prompting me to wonder if the hundreds of VST plugins in my home studio could be put to good use in a live show processing everything from vocals to instruments to the final FOH and monitor mixes?

Research so far tells me that a lot of mobile DJs are running sound through Ableton Live setups, and a few techno bands are making use of virtual synth racks, etc, so in theory this would work as well for a live band. I'm looking to process 2-3 vocal mics, guitar, bass and some ethnic hand drums (mic'd), about 8 input channels of audio in total plus two stereo outs (FOH, monitors).

Any ideas/suggestions/experiences/gear tips/etc from those that have been there, done that would be greatly appreciated.

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2009-06-22 12:27:21

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#2 2009-06-22 22:34:20

Robert Lunte
TMV World Forum - Founder
From: Earth
Registered: 2008-11-08
Posts: 3087
Reputation :   55 
Website

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

Out of my experience here.. can anyone else help here?

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#3 2009-06-23 19:04:22

Celtic Charlie
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2009-06-22
Posts: 7
Reputation :   

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

hi Robert and thanks for your post - this seems to be a somewhat leading-edge idea in the live sound world at present, with mainly DJ and electronic musicians making use of emerging technology. If home audio/video is any indication, though, computer-controller live sound is not too far away from becoming mainstream.

As a vocalist and a  guitarist, I'm really jazzed about the possibilities here - vocal and instrument effects, automated parameter changes, virtual instruments, room analysis, speaker management, etc all wrapped up into a tidy little package you can tuck under your arm on the way out. Too cool! :cool: The average bar band could cut it's setup and tear down time substantially, and reduce the amount of gear its hauling around as well. I figure a 4-5 piece band could get away with as little as a 4-space rack to house a pull-out drawer for the laptop, an audio interface, and a 2-channel/stereo power amp, with everything else mixed, processed and pumped to the amp by the laptop. As a rapidly aging musician, reducing the kit to one rolling rack, FOH speakers, a stand bag and instruments strikes me as a particularly fine idea! ;)

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#4 2009-08-10 04:41:17

RaumKlang
TMV Forum Member
From: Moenchengladbach, Germany
Registered: 2008-12-18
Posts: 46
Reputation :   
Website

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

Charlie,
audio-processing needs a lot of cpu-power, VST-instruments need even more. Think of reverb plugins: Those will 'eat' your cpu.
Audio Latency is another issue that's not solved by now, especially in notebook computers with external interfaces.
The best way, if you don't need VST-instruments is a small digital mixer like yamaha 01V96 or even the old one as you only need 8 inputs and two stereo mixes.
I'm still using my old 01V for clubgigs with a 5-piece band and it does everything you seem to be needing:
Main-Out to main speakers and still 4 socalled omni-outs to feed the monitors.
12 inputs with mic-preamps, 2x stereo-input.
4 Aux-busses and 2 internal effects engines (not the best around but working ok for club-gigs), 19" housing, 4-band EQ (fully parametric), dynamics and input delay on every input-channel and buss.

I would not risk to ruin the show with a bluescreen on the laptop - and a 01V would be _a_lot_ cheaper than a state of the art notebook + converters/interfaces and software...

Last edited by RaumKlang (2009-08-10 04:41:44)

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#5 2010-05-14 14:11:22

nightfly68
TMV Forum Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2010-05-14
Posts: 75
Reputation :   
Website

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

Yes it's possible I did it...

but.. you have to pay attention to a lot of things to avoid blue screen.

It's important to choose the right VST (some have more latency than others that haven't...)
and the right audio device to have latency reduced at maximus.

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#6 2010-06-24 13:11:40

nightfly68
TMV Forum Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2010-05-14
Posts: 75
Reputation :   
Website

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

I read better that the question was for a band gig.. of more than 1 element...

I agree that the cpu resources required could be too much.

It can help a system with a DSP accelerator (EMU 1616, Universal Audio, Focusrite Liquid Mix) and some kind of hybrid gear like Receptor that allow to drive all kind of VSTi in a 2U rack component.

This could be in any case a tima and space saving solution

A powerful laptop, a
DSP accelerator to free CPU resources,
a VSTi rack to free RAM resources
and a digital mixer to monitor at zero latency everything
some new mixers allow to monitor fader signal after coming back from the laptop
it's very important as in many cases the signal coming back from computer is in 2 channels stereo already mixed via sw.. and it's not very handle. MAudio NRV10 for example allow to manage separately all the channels coming back to the mixer after VST processing.

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#7 2010-09-02 14:32:42

Aaron Meyers
TMV Forum Member
From: Fife Washington
Registered: 2010-08-21
Posts: 50
Reputation :   

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

nightfly68 wrote:

you have to pay attention to a lot of things to avoid blue screen.

^^^^
What he said.

I am sure you can get it set up to work but good chance it could become unstable in the process and might be more pain than having to lug a few pedals/ processors.


Singer, Songwriter, Bass player and Guitarist
Student of Robert Lunte

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#8 2010-09-02 20:47:33

Rawg71
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-08-12
Posts: 13
Reputation :   

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

I agree about the digital mixer. I have seen live mixes done in software. I have seen it go wrong. The only stable ones I have seen are really high end setups. Hardware is cheaper and more stable in the long run.

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#9 2010-09-12 11:47:00

akarawd
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-06-29
Posts: 662
Reputation :   

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

Host cpu power and laptop drives won't cut it live, not for the amount of processing you're looking for.
If it were only a voice or 2 it'd be different - better use a hardware mixer or you'll swamp in problems.
A decent mixer will cost as much as a decent laptop but a laptop to do the job will require a
substantial amount of $ to run smoothly. If you own a really good one with lots of memory, ext
firewire drives, firewire sound card and use it for absolutely nothing else but mixing you could run
some tests and see what happens. Can you imgine though ? Being in the middle of a song
and your sound collapsing ? Oh the fun

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#10 2010-11-12 09:36:49

nightfly68
TMV Forum Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2010-05-14
Posts: 75
Reputation :   
Website

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

In my experience for example, I separate the group and live experience with the piano-bar karaoke one.

In the first case I preferred hardware. In the second case as I have a small digital mixer with some simpe good effects like the Edirol M-16 DX, I pass everything from ASIO drivers (virtual synth and effects on voice via VST).
The mixer works both via USB or stand alone. If sometimes I have some problems on the pc, I switch the microphone directly on the mixer and an mp3 player too while I start again the system. But usually everything is very stable.

Since some months however... I found "my hardware" with Voicelive 2 (and probably I'll take the Voicelive Touch too...) and I'm really happy with them...

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#11 2012-05-31 20:23:32

RGFG Band
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2012-05-31
Posts: 7
Reputation :   

Re: live sound processing with laptop & VSTs?

Celtic Charlie wrote:

Hi folks. I've been noodling this one around for a bit, and would love to hear from anyone who is currently (or has tried in the past) to process their live sound using a laptop-based setup with a VST host and plugins. Tight cash and a spine unwilling to haul racks of gear are both prompting me to wonder if the hundreds of VST plugins in my home studio could be put to good use in a live show processing everything from vocals to instruments to the final FOH and monitor mixes?

Research so far tells me that a lot of mobile DJs are running sound through Ableton Live setups, and a few techno bands are making use of virtual synth racks, etc, so in theory this would work as well for a live band. I'm looking to process 2-3 vocal mics, guitar, bass and some ethnic hand drums (mic'd), about 8 input channels of audio in total plus two stereo outs (FOH, monitors).

Any ideas/suggestions/experiences/gear tips/etc from those that have been there, done that would be greatly appreciated.

You can do it.... with a Bose L1 PA system ... VE- 20 for the Mic, a Zoom A-2 for your guitar and a computer for background music..... that makes it simple...... RGFG

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