Logic Studio apps Mainstage 2 in action – first real live experience.

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
#1
I played a small session ...

... with Mainstage 2, a wind controller and a bass and it was amazing. People made big eyes and ears and said "what is this, where does the sound come from, what is this bass doing, there is no playback, you do nothing but how do you get all the stuff in sync by just blowing into this electronic flute?"

It was great fun to play and there were some beautiful moments. We had 4 djembes, some small percussion, two female singers (one played occasionally transverse flute and the other a looped jew's harp). I had my combined live/recording rack, this time with a non-MIDI bass and a wind controller. I played the instruments alternating and sometimes another person took one of my instruments. I wish I had recorded a part of the evening but I was not prepared for that.

Especially the new MIDI-out functions and the routing possibilities of Mainstage 2 made this possible. I use generally hardware and software in parallel. Direct sounds, layered sounds, mixed and morphed sounds. I worked on this setup for more than two years (not fulltime of course), the greater part of the time together with a musician who is also here in the LUG (hello, Steven!). We went through insane environment patches, later supported by other software, then I switched to Max/MSP and almost dropped the project because of the complexity and problems in Logic. Finally Mainstage 2 came along and solved almost everything at once.


The setup

The MIDI messages from the Yamaha WX5 wind controller flew wireless to a Yamaha MU100R synth with Patchman sounds to give me a nice attack and strong tone. From there to an audio channel in Mainstage. In parallel I sent MIDI to a softsynth in Mainstage, either Zebra or Glassviper. Only a 2-part sound layer but good for many variations.

The dry bass got amplified by a Sansamp RBI (for attack and basic sound), a second line went through a Rocktron Blue Thunder and the third sound came from a Digitech DHP-55 that was inserted via the interface. Not a serial setup but three parallel lines. And occasionally I added a softsynth in Mainstage, triggered by the bass signal via an audio-to-midi plugin.

All sounds were mixed in Mainstage with fixed relations. I used no foot controller, no pedal. Mainstage was completly static apart from patch changes The sound variations came only from the different behavior of hardware and software. We did not have a great PA, just a good fullrange amp that took mono signals from the mics, the looper and my rack. But it was a nice high room and the sound was convincing.

MIDI-out from Mainstage behaved very well. Most times I could switch the hardware flawlessly (see below). The hardware delivered all the power, a few effects in Mainstage and the softsynths did the rest. A gate and a limiter in the output channel kept the sound under control. I had a huge dynamic range, could blow the drums away or creep beneath a female whisper.

I had no screen elements in Mainstage apart from three activity objects needed for routing. Everything else was programmed with the new functions and worked invisible, without a single glitch. Next time I will add a foot controller and additionally work with key switches.


Problems and drawbacks

There where no problems at all!
(Almost, the only problem was an empty battery of a MIDI transmitter ...)

There where however some drawbacks:

Between several patches I had to manually feed a hardware box with Sysex files, via SysEx Librarian. I hope for this function in a future upgrade of Mainstage.

Sometimes I would like to send program changes to hardware without changing the Mainstage patch but this is currently not possible. Can be done by bypassing Mainstage with hardware or software. Or by selecting the sound manually on the device.

And a small one: No I/O plugin in Mainstage. Not a big deal if you have an interface with a good onboard mixer but would be nice and better controllable in Mainstage.


Conclusion

Mainstage 2 is phantastic for my requirements.

Mainstage is very memory and processor hungry, we cannot use every plugin. But since I am happy overall I am willing to adapt to the situation and use some of the software instruments standalone or not at all.
 

Thor

New Member
#2
Pitch Bend in MS2

Peter,

Nice to see you're doing well in MS2.
I have a WX7 that I use to control a VL70 using the new external instruments feature in Mainstage 2. I have very odd pitch bend tracking when my WX7 is going thru mainstage bfeore the VL70. Do I understand you don't have this issue in your setup?

Do you use midi out to external modules using Mainstage 2 playing your wind controller. In other words are you going from WX5 to mainstage to midi module.


Thanks,

Thor
 

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
#3
I have a WX7 that I use to control a VL70 using the new external instruments feature in Mainstage 2. I have very odd pitch bend tracking when my WX7 is going thru mainstage bfeore the VL70. Do I understand you don't have this issue in your setup?
These controllers send a lot of pitch bend data and I can imagine that your data stream gets reduced on its long way from the WX7 through the interface, then through Mainstage, then through the interface again and finally to the synth.

If you experience coarse pitch bending or if your tone is always a little late compared to your breath and tongue, better connect the WX7 directly to the VL70.

Do you use midi out to external modules using Mainstage 2 playing your wind controller. In other words are you going from WX5 to mainstage to midi module.
No, not for the main instrument. Unless I play just "spheric" sounds or slow pads, I go always first to the MIDI module and then to Mainstage.
 
#4
I switched to Max/MSP and almost dropped the project because of the complexity and problems in Logic. Finally Mainstage 2 came along and solved almost everything at once.
Hey Peter, thanks for the detailed report! :)

I hope you don't mind me asking a few questions. I'm thinking of using Mainstage for live work some time in the future, and it's the only reason I'd get the Logic 9 upgrade at the moment. Obviously, I don't want to spend the AU$300 till I'm reasonably sure it'll do what I need it to do.

Do Max and Mainstage work together? For example, could you use Max for all MIDI input and processing, send the MIDI out "from MaxMSP 1" and have Mainstage receive it?

And occasionally I added a softsynth in Mainstage, triggered by the bass signal via an audio-to-midi plugin.
Which audio-to-midi plugin? How well does it work?

Mainstage is very memory and processor hungry, we cannot use every plugin. But since I am happy overall I am willing to adapt to the situation and use some of the software instruments standalone or not at all.
What are the specs of the computer you used? And am I correct in understanding that some softsynths that don't work within Mainstage (because of CPU and/or RAM limitations) do work standalone?

Thanks in advance for your answers! :)

Cheers, Bill Canty
 

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
#5
Do Max and Mainstage work together?
Yes.

Billious said:
For example, could you use Max for all MIDI input and processing, send the MIDI out "from MaxMSP 1" and have Mainstage receive it?
Yes, it's a normal MIDI port. Mainstage can receive from and send to Max.

But first look into the new mapping features. I adapted my controlling technique and am hopefully on the way to use Mainstage alone. Depends on what aou are doing of course, your milage will vary.

Billious said:
What are the specs of the computer you used?
See my signature.

Billious said:
And am I correct in understanding that some softsynths that don't work within Mainstage (because of CPU and/or RAM limitations) do work standalone?
Correct.

I use Rapture and Kontakt standalone but think I will drop Kontakt because I don't have much use for it in my music. Logic's Sculpture is possible if you don't have much other stuff.
 
#6
Thanks Peter. :)

Yes, it's a normal MIDI port. Mainstage can receive from and send to Max.
Ah, good.

But first look into the new mapping features. I adapted my controlling technique and am hopefully on the way to use Mainstage alone. Depends on what aou are doing of course, your milage will vary.
A lot of it will be mad scientist stuff, but it sounds like Mainstage will be able to do the simpler things.

Billious said:
What are the specs of the computer you used?
See my signature.
Oops - I missed the fine print. I was hoping Mainstage's mild power struggles were because of using an older and slower computer, but yours has the same speed CPU as mine.

Billious said:
And am I correct in understanding that some softsynths that don't work within Mainstage (because of CPU and/or RAM limitations) do work standalone?
Correct.
Ewww, a bit weird. Oh well, Akoustik Piano is the only 3rd party softsynth I use, so that shouldn't be a problem.

You seem to have missed this one...
Which audio-to-midi plugin? How well does it work?
... unless it's been added to Logic since I last looked. If it has, I'll get ready to blush. ;)

Cheers, Bill
 
#9
Mainstage + Reason

Hi there,
I've been using Protools as the interface for Reason for live sounds. This obviously isn't the best/smoothest setup for live use so i'm thinking about getting Mainstage 2.

I've got a whole bunch of Reason sounds i use for different songs for our band that i need to change from fairly quickly. How reliable is Mainstage in a live setting? Does it crash much? are there many cliches with Reason Live at the moment?
Can you create separate tracks for separate reason sounds for live use?
Thanks for your help. I'm new to the computer interface scene :p
Callum
 

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
#10
How reliable is Mainstage in a live setting? Does it crash much?
I find it very reliable. I crash occasionally while constructing the concerts but didn't crash while playing yet.


are there many cliches with Reason Live at the moment?
Can't comment, I do not use Reason.


Can you create separate tracks for separate reason sounds for live use?
Thanks for your help. I'm new to the computer interface scene :p
There are no "tracks" and there is no timeline, since Mainstage is not a sequencer. You may be familiar playing with hardware. Imagine a couple of racks containing sound modules and effects. With a floor board or other switching matrix you can use these electronic devices in various combinations. Mainstage is the software version of that.
 
#11
Hi, I'm new to mainstage and am looking for a few answers too what will probably be simple questions. I can set up mainstage on the pc to get the required sounds but am having major problems getting mainstage to talk to my midi keyboard. I have various set ups. For work (teacher) I want to use a simple Evolution usb 249 midi controller workstation keyboard with ten preset buttons. For home use I can use a technics digital piano but no preset buttons on it, and for live use I have a Roland 500 keyboard, again with 10 preset buttons on it. I have also just purchased a Novation Zero SL Mk ii with automap included.

Now everything works fine when set up into mainstage but I cannot get the idea of programming the actual hardware/s / keyboard to change sound in mainstage by pressing any of the preset buttons on the hardware. What usuaully happens is sometimes it works and I get the correct sound, soemtimes I get a completely different one to what I was expecting, sometimes it defaults to my piano sound that I set up, sometimes it does nothing at all. Anyone have any ideas?

Also I have searched the internet for any information regards working with Mainstage and very little advice is out there. I have tried looking for books to purchase, you tube, Novation website and Apple/Logic website for help. all to very little success. Again any recomendatinos?

many thanks

Kentishmurf
 
#12
I'm not familiar with all your keyboards but I used to own a Novation. What worked best on that was the generic MIDI template.

You need to make sure EACH key/button/knob has a unique MIDI cc number. You can view this in the MIDI information window on the top of the interface.

Commercial warning!!!

I have a MainStage tutorial video with Groove3.com that could help you.

More neutral:

Bill Burgess has one with macProVideo.com.

Those may be your best resources. I don't believe you'll find any written literature.
 
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