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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm the keyboard player as well as sax player with my primary rock band, and I've settled into a live rig that I'm very happy with, sound-wise. I know several other players on here double on keys, too, and I'd like to see what your experience is using laptops/soft synths/midi controllers vs. integrated VA synths (Nord Lead, Korg R3, Alesis Ion, etc) and ROMplers (Roland Fantom, Yamaha Motif, etc).

I use Logic 9/Mainstage 2 for live performance with an M-Audio Oxygen controller, and I like how everything sounds overall. I get great, easy control over the sounds, and Logic's plugins sound so good that they seem to blow away boards that cost two or three grand, for my purposes. Plus I could potentially use it to trigger loops and samples, which makes for some great creative possibilities.

I'm worried about durability. My Macbook is a tank, and I haven't had any serious problems yet. I take good care of it, but I use it A LOT-- I worry that some day it will just give out, whereas a dedicated keyboard/synth, like a Motif, which is designed to be gigged with, might be more reliable. I also don't know how easy it is to tweak sounds on a Motif, whereas with Logic everything is incredibly intuitive and easy to edit.

Maybe this belongs on a keyboard forum, but since I'm primarily a sax player, I thought I'd see what other sax/keyboard players' experiences are. Besides, I like geeking out about synths. If anyone else does, go to town.
 

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Forum Contributor 2015, SOTW Better late than neve
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I dought the electronics inside most keyboards are any more or less durable than your laptop. Get an anvil case for your laptop and rock on.
 

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I think the likelihood of the hardware of the Mac dying are remote (motherboard, cpu, memory). The thing that I would be concerned about is the hard drive. That is the weak point. Have backups, and have an external Firewire or USB2 drive of the internal drive (a clone) in case of it dying or becoming corrupt. It happens, rarely, but usually when you need it the most.

Another thing you could do is perhaps ditch the internal CD/DVD drive and install a second hard drive in that bay. Then you can mirror your internal hard drive to that drive so that in case of the main drive crapping out, you could use the other drive to repair or run your system. I'd still have a USB2/Firewire drive "just in case" ready.

And get a good case for the laptop. And a good gig stand/mount for it so it doesn't slide off or anything. That would be fatal.

That is what I would do if the laptop is going to be out on gigs regularly. I'm sure that some people would recommend SSD (Solid state disk drives, ie: use memory instead of moving parts) but the price just isn't there yet, and something like Logic and maybe several sound libraries would not fit on them. Heck, I have a 500 gig HD on my Mac for sample libraries and it has 10 gigs free......
 

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My Powerbook G4 died after 7 years of use. It still powers up SOMEtimes. Still, I'd go with the VA synths just because it's easier to pack a lot more horsepower in a Mac Book Pro than in most synths. I've heard incredible raves about the Korg Oasys, though.

Edit: FWIW, I'm scouring ebay for a decent Mac Book Pro for this use right now, myself, so I guess you can see what my decision would be for myself! I'm gonna load up Komplete 6, Logic 9, Omnisphere and this new Minimoog V I got last night and be an EWI GOD!!!! MWWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's a really, really good idea, Dan-- I've been needing a new external hard drive anyway, and hard drives are the only things I've ever heard of going out on Macs, anyway. I should probably get one ASAP.

Komplete 6 is high on my list of plugins-- I'll need to upgrade my computer first, though, probably. Although if I were running it from the external HD it might not matter. (Is that a good idea, or is there too much lag for live shows?)

If I were going to go the integrated keyboard route, I'd be all about a Nord Electro on the bottom and a Korg R3 on top. Or a Motif subbing for the Nord. One day, maybe, when this music career nets me the billions of dollars I assume it will.
 

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Two points of comparison between a laptop/softsynth and a hard synth are (1) what is the likelihood of failure, and (2) what is the recovery time from a failure? With my hard synth, there was once I had to power it off and back on at a rehearsal or gig during the last 4 years. It took about 10 seconds, and it was just one button to press (twice).

There is no hard drive in my hard synth - I am guessing this is true for most. The hard drive is the component most likely to fail on a computer.

If I were using a laptop for live gigging, I would have a second identical one ready to boot up if needed at any gig.

For sound quality for certain patches, I would think the soft synth will be better.
 

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I dunno about this worry about failure. You can always get a solid state drive if you're tripping. Logic boards do go bad on macs, and power management can get squirrely. All I can say is there are tens of thousands of DJs out there who run their entire shows off a computer, so failure can't be that much of an issue. Keep in mind that many of those guys work much more than real musicians, so I'm sure the gear gets put through it's paces.
 
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