Playing live with laptop/DAW/VSTs?

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by WarMachine, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    With how good amp modeling has become with computers, i was curious; have any of you tried or considered trying going with a laptop + DAW + VST's and maybe midi controller? I'm currently hooked on Overloud TH-U and started thinking about this. Which granted, i'm not playing out ATM, but i would think if you would have a laptop dedicated strictly to being used for DAW and nothing else it would be a great alternative to even the FRFR/preamp setup.
     
  2. c7spheres

    c7spheres SS.org Regular

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    Why not if you trust your system is stable. People play through modeling computers live all the time like the AxeFx, PoD, Kemper, Digitech, etc. It's all digital technology with hardware integration, just a different package and different levels of quality and stability. If you do this I would certainly dedicate it as you talk about and also learn, if you don't already know, how to disable and remove everything that isn't absolutely essential to what you want to do.
    I remember a friend who saw a Bjork show once at Coachella and they had to stop the show while they reset her Mac G5's, the baddest ass computer of it's day for recording etc. Now everyone laughs at those computers, but look what was accomplished. And the same thing will happen 20 years from now when everyone laughs at the Axefx3 etc as a vintage piece that is so "dated". Yet, those old tubes amps will still be around, if you can afford it, because tubes will probably be banned for production by then, due to "environmental" emmisions concerns. Sorry to go on a tangent but it is possible.
    Also check out the Muse Receptor boxes which are perfect for this sort of thing (VST's etc). You can load VST into a stable dedcated VST unit and have access to only the essential parameters. Although it's much more expensive.
    Running a laptop, I would go out via a digital connection like firewire, USB-3, spdif, or lightpipe, etc to keep the quality on par, as laptop analog out tend to sound bad.
     
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  3. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    That's exactly what i was thinking. And your friend's story about the Bjork show was the very first thing that ran through my mind lol. Definitely disabling everything would be a necessity to try and prevent things like that. I was sitting around thinking that all preamps that kick around now are digital, what we use in DAW is obviously digital, so why not try out the laptop method? Could be a very good substitute to a poor mans Axe-Fx/Kemper lol.

    EDIT: Another thought, for using VST's, if you don't go the stand alone method and run it through a DAW then you could have multiple inputs going, like 2 tracks for guitars (if running with 2 guitarists) and a bass track as well. Running 3 instances of a VST at the same time with sims isn't CPU/Memory intensive at all. That could be a kick ass alternative and make a central hub for most of the band with a tiny footprint.
     
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  4. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    So long as you have a backup, have at er.
     
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  5. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    I think i will.....now to just get another band together :lol:
    I love me some real deal, no BS tube amps but i'm always tinkering with getting the same sounds out of smaller more compact setups. This is the next most logical step. And considering i record 99% of the time using amp sims it would be perfect in the sense that i would be getting the exact same tones running through FOH.
     
  6. c7spheres

    c7spheres SS.org Regular

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    Run it on a power cord with a battery backup in the laptop, so if the power cord falls out the battery should take over. I don't trust them puters. I'm gonna go yell at a cloud now : )
     
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  7. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I mean, this would be the same if you were using a guitar amp, as well as the FOH speakers. If the power goes down, or the cable gets yanked out, you have no sound at all.

    To OP, I think it would be fine. Obviously make sure it's a decently powerful computer. Make sure it's stable. Make sure it won't start installing system updates etc during the set. I'd probably suggest a dedicated computer with only the essential software/plugins installed. Have Wifi, bluetooth, all cloud shit disabled. Anything that could cause the computer to get "distracted" and start doing a massive dropbox sync or something during your show, haha

    Guys like Periphery and Devin Townsend run their whole show through laptops. They have backing tracks. Periphery doesn't even have a bassist live. The computer is giving them a click track in their ears, playing all the backing tracks, and also pushing MIDI changes to their Axe-FX units. If their laptop goes down, the show stops (as numerous Youtube clips show, haha).

    But I think running the actual amps on the laptop isn't really any more advanced or scary than that, as long as you can do it with low latency.
     
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  8. ChugThisBoy

    ChugThisBoy SS.org Regular

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    I can't give you my personal input as I've never tried this live but I've played with this kind of setup at home at it's fantastic. Just be sure that you have strong enough laptop/PC or whatever and prepare some kind of backup. Check out Ola Englund, he actually had his clinic tour done that way.
     
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  9. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for all the input duders :cheers:. I was talking this out with one of my buddies last night, and as it has it, im still quite on the fence about the whole thing lmao. Its ridiculous i know but i guess that's the ADD/Nerd that comes out of being a guitarist haha. I've chased tone for years just to have new toys that sound the same as everything else i use. Some a little better, some worse but for the most part the same. I'm still rocking a GSP1101. Ive got that, a furman, relay G90 and powered EV monitor with PLENTY of volume. Maybe I should just keep things focused and simple; i'm digging sims for recording, so do that. Then i'll match the tones as close as possible on my GSP for live use. Done and done. Maybe then i can spend money on something else; Like a hand truck and ratchet straps to put my case + monitor on for taking out :rofl:sigh - maybe ONE of these days i'll just be happy with what i have...but where's the fun in that??
     
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  10. ChugThisBoy

    ChugThisBoy SS.org Regular

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    Don't know what sound exactly you're chasing but Neural DSP VST's are hot right know and you should check them out if you didn't already
     
  11. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    I actually just picked up the demo of nameless suite a few days ago, late to the party i know. But yeah it does sound really nasty. I'm more of a 5150 fan myself but damn if the fortin set doesn't sound wicked! I was actually able to match that tone quite well. I'd planned on making a few tracks using my GSP and matching tones to put up here to share in case anyone wanted the presets. I was making matches for that along with several sims in the TH-U; 5150/Fireball/RandallT2 etc. So far, the trick i've learned to getting it DAMN close to anything i've thrown at it is obviously a similarly voice amp sim combined with running Fab Filter Pro-Q2's EQ Match. Then i just roll the bands back to 3 bands and tweak the built in Parametric EQ of the GSP to get it there.
     
  12. concertjunkie

    concertjunkie SS.org Regular

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    I did this with my former band: used the Jason Richardson Toneforge VST (four instances running: 2x with cab sim running to split ->FOH and In Ear Mix, 2x no cab sim, running directly to 2x12 cabs on stage), also ran lights , automated patch changes (why have a midi controller when you can automate it all and make the changes tight AF?), backing tracks, click and reference track, etc. I am running a MBP 2016 with 16GB ram , i7, SSD , no issues ever when it came to performance! On tour I made sure to have the project ready on another bands laptop so in case something did happen, I could borrow theirs for the set. I was told by JST who makes the Toneforge plugins that they run very low memory/cpu, so yes, I definitely did this for about a year + , toured with it, and had some killer tone along the way! I'm looking back into other amp modelers as I want to use more FX, but that setup was excellent.
     

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