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Author Topic: How many use a laptop for live performance?  (Read 3423 times)

SWriverstone

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How many use a laptop for live performance?
« on: January 13, 2008, 08:40:41 AM »

I'm already making plans for live performance with my (near-future) Zendrum. At the moment, what I have available to me is a reasonably good laptop (Pentium 4, 3.0ghz, 1GB RAM, WinXP, Echo Indigo audio card and Edirol UA-25 interface).

I have Sonar 7 (with lots of great DXi and VST plugins), as well as Kontakt 2 and a TON of samples. What I do *not* have is a Muse Receptor (and won't be getting one anytime soon due to cost), nor do I have any other hardware modules.

I'm curious to know how many people here are using their Zendrums for live performance triggering samples and playing DXi's and VSTs from a laptop? I'm emphasizing live performance here because almost everyone uses computers at home or in the studio...but live performance requires a certain level of, shall we say, reliability!

If you are using a laptop for live performance, what software/DXi's/VST's are you using? And are you using them in standalone mode? Or from within a larger app like Sonar?

Have you found this to be a fairly reliable setup?

Thanks,
Scott
« Last Edit: January 13, 2008, 08:42:10 AM by SWriverstone »
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jeff sanders

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2008, 02:18:40 PM »

i suggest 2 ram just cause thats what everybody recommends with virtual instruments. more is better but 2 is recommended for most popular apps for use in pc, mac or muse receptor.

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Geosphere

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2008, 07:19:57 PM »

Personally, I am terrified of ever taking a laptop to a live performance.

The chance of someone spilling something near a laptop (or on it) are terrifying, especially since laptops are much more fragile than other road gear, not to mention far more prone to theft.
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Zendrumdude

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2008, 09:25:35 PM »

Hello!

If you want the functionality of a laptop and a reliable rig, there is no better choicethan the Muse Receptor.  MANY more details can be found in these forums...check 'em out!

Jer
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SWriverstone

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2008, 07:27:29 AM »

Hello!

If you want the functionality of a laptop and a reliable rig, there is no better choicethan the Muse Receptor.  MANY more details can be found in these forums...check 'em out!

Jer

Oh believe me...I know all about the Muse Receptor. But frankly, I think the price point for those things is WAY too high for what they are. I don't know if it's because they routinely sell them to rich rock stars? Or that they sell so few of them they've got to recoup development costs...but it'll be a while before I plunk down $2K for rack-mount box. (But admittedly I might be forced to do it sooner or later.)

I'm a pretty hardcore "Windows Tweaker" and am pretty good at stripping a Windows install down to the bare bones, so laptop reliability isn't too much of a concern for me...but the fragility is an issue, definitely.

If I could find a used Muse Receptor for $1,000 I'd buy one...but like the Zendrum, the only people who buy them seem to know their value and hang on to them!

Scott
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Bruce Richardson

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2008, 08:51:52 AM »

Scott,

I hear you on the Receptor.

I use a four-space rackmount computer (a PC) for live gigs.  It fits in the deeper Anvil cases just fine, and allows me to use a high-quality hardware I/O that works great.

It's no big deal to take a computer out.  Fear of that is unreasonable--if you do it right.  People who are doing it successfully don't give it a second thought.  You just have to be smart about it, and keep it dedicated as a gig box.  The protocol is simple enough...everything backed up, OS backed up, installs backed up, everything double-redundant.  Then you're good.  The bonus is that you can use it in the studio as strictly an offline tone-generator...and when you want the best most fastest new gig box, you can use the old "guts" for building a good internet surfing box, and stuff the rack box with a set of the latest greatest.

I prefer that to a laptop, for the reasons mentioned...but even a laptop is OK, if you just play it smart.  As long as your cabling is completely off the ground, and you use a racked firewire I/O of some kind for connecting up to the amps and house, then you're going to be fine.  Again, you just have to design a mission critical rig, and work out the kinks.  It's no different than keeping an Udu drum from getting shattered.  You just have to have the right cases, the right stage setup, the right racks, and everything's good.

B.
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SWriverstone

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2008, 09:38:43 AM »

Good comments Bruce. I've never looked into a rack-mount PC, but that's a good idea.

It's surprising how tough some laptops are. I hauled my HP Pavilion laptop on a 5,000-mile motorcycle trip (including dirt roads) to Newfoundland, carrying it in a sidecase on the bike wrapped in a fleece jacket...and it survived the trip fine. I figure that's a lot more abuse than it'll ever see at a gig! LOL

Another tool I've found invaluable is Acronis TrueImage---it's a hard disk mirroring/cloning app (similar to Norton Ghost but far superior) that has changed my computing life! I reformat my Windows PC's, intall my apps, tweak everything to perfection, then mirror the whole setup. If at any point the system becomes unstable (or virus/spyware-infected), I just break out the mirror image and restore it to a pristine state---it literally takes about 10 minutes. Amazing, and fantastic!

Scott
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coxdrum48

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2008, 10:44:32 AM »

FYI: I'm using a Music XPC M4X Laptop:
        * CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz CPU/667 FSB
        * Memory: 2GB DDR2 667MHz
        * Hard Disc: 100GB, 7200 RPM, SATA 1.5GB/s, 9.5mm, 2.5' HDD
        * Windows XP SP2 Home Edition
        * Glyph GT 050 250GB 250GB FireWire Desktop Hard Drive For Pro Audio Production
I got it from Sweetwater.  Works pretty good.  It comes with Acronis TrueImage.
Lantz
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Zennerman1

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2008, 06:55:12 PM »

I'm running a MAC i book 2.0Ghz with 2 gig of RAM. No troubles live. I always have a backup though. A drum machine and an acoustic Dejembe. ALWAYS have a backup. ALWAYS.

Cheers,
Steve
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Zenfem#9

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2008, 01:53:49 PM »

I've done several gigs with my macbook running bfd through an external hard drive.  It does work, but it is a pain to set up quickly and after a few gigs, I decided it really wasn't worth it.  Once it did fail, but I still don't know why, the sound just stopped.  There are so many factors: setup, leaving your rig if you're sharing a stage, vibration (we are loud), and liquid, drunks, etc.  I switched over to a Roland td-20, and it made a big difference.  I can set up fast, switch kits fast, and tear down fast.  At this point I wouldn't go back. I can't afford a receptor, and I really like how fast kits change with the Roland, I can do it on the fly.  I can set up faster than our bass player.

Lots of people use laptops for live performance, I think if you cover all possible problems, it is indeed workable.  The more control you have over your stage situation the better.  Go for stability and at least 2 gigs of ram. 
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Geosphere

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2008, 02:31:24 PM »

I can set up faster than our bass player.

Small farms can be set up faster than my bass player.
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loosesnare

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2008, 07:46:41 PM »

I have a macbook 2.2 Ghz with 4GB and a Firepod. I'm just waiting for a particular hard drive to come back in stock and I'll start making a set up. I will be using BFD2 which I currently run on my main mac in the studio. I will probably have a custom 'live' data folder with cut down sample sets (ie reduced velocity layers) installed to save RAM on certain pieces like crash cymbals - also BFD can be optimized a great deal. Looking forward to seeing what the macbook can achieve - I'd like to get down to 64 buffer size but 128 would be bearable.

I will also be using the macbook for backing tracks and samples alongside an acoustic kit. I have been using an old G4 (on its side in a rack unit tied in with string!). I guess as far as theft / drink proofing it I will have a look at hard cases (maybe the DJ style open top ones) once I have the rig set up. I am sure I will be able to figure out a way to have everything safe on stage - I will either carry the laptop with me at all times or if I'm going to have it set up in advance I will design some sort of lockable restraint for it (similar to those on display in shops). I'm sure it won't be too hard to sort out but if anyone has done anything along these lines I'd love to hear about it!
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Zennerman1

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2008, 10:19:34 PM »

The MAC has one of those Kenniston (I think I spelled that right) lock brackets built into the laptop. All you need is to buy the lock for it. It has a cable attached to the lock similar to a bike lock for attaching around a pole or something.

Cheers,
Steve
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SWriverstone

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2008, 05:26:30 AM »

I guess I tend to play in more "tame" venues than you guys...because I've never once even come close to having to worry about spilled beer, people puking, fights, chairs being thrown, etc. LOL

The places I play tend to be the kind of place where I could leave my whole setup unattended for an hour, and when I came back find one drumstick moved and a note saying "Your stick fell on the floor---I put it back for you." LOL

Maybe the Zendrum will open up some of those more "brawling" establishments for me...LOL.

Scott
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jeff sanders

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Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2008, 03:37:13 PM »

I guess I tend to play in more "tame" venues than you guys...because I've never once even come close to having to worry about spilled beer, people puking, fights, chairs being thrown, etc. LOL


Scott

venue? that's just at practice!  :)
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