In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan of MainStage 3. For keyboard players it’s the de facto live performance software on the market, and is easily the best software deal on earth at just $30 for a whopping 90 gigabytes of samples and loops, 28 VST soft synths, 63 processing plugins, and a slough of other amazing features.
Even under the best of situations, there’s always room to improve. Here are 10 areas I think MainStage could up its game in 2016:
1. better piano sounds. The pianos in MainStage are decent, but have fallen behind the leaders over the last 5 years. Apple, how about buying a company like Pianoteq and incorporating physical modeling pianos into MainStage?
2. more loop playback features. MainStage rocks as a strictly keyboard rig, but it would be cool to see more Ableton-esque options like tempo synced looping, etc.
3. An online patch sharing community. It would be so cool to have an official Apple-supported patch exchange website. Musicians could exchange their best patches, and build a community around the app.
4. Plug and play midi integration with the iPad. I’d love to be able to use my iPad as a midi controller by simply plugging it into my computer. While they do offer a great app for controlling MainStage, it only works if you have a wifi connection. I don’t have time to set up a wifi hub at every show, and simply plugging in a cable would be really handy.
5. Apple certified MainStage accessories. I know- I’m really reaching with this one. But wouldn’t it be cool to have laptop stands you could attach to your keyboard onstage, specifically built with MainStage in mind?
6. Viewable plugin elements. I’ve often wished I could select a part of a plugin and place it in a designated part of the the screen.
7. Better metronome. The limited Klopfgeist plugin is well past it’s expiration date. Guys, give us a new metronome plugin that we can drastically mod to fit our needs. How about even adding a measure number option, with the ability to put in “one, two, three, chorus, etc” at specific measure numbers?
8. A sampler. MainStage badly needs an audio sampler plugin, with the ability to record sounds, map them quickly, and then tweak them out live. Focus on making it fast, while keeping powerful functions like reversing, looping, pitch shifting, granular, slicing effects, etc available for quick access.
9. Redesign the mapping section from the ground up. I’d love to see a dedicated full screen mode where you could drag and drop patches across a keyboard, and adjust the velocity, volume, and basic EQ of every patch super quickly. I could see an extension like this working really well on the iPad.
10. Midi sequencing plugin. It’s time to add a simple midi sequencer to the MIDI FX plugins introduced in MainStage 3. I’d love to see a grid sequencer similar to Ultrabeat’s, with a few slope lanes down below that could affect midi parameters.