I get asked a lot if I recommend running 3rd party plugins with Mainstage, and if so, what my favorite VST plugins are. While I definitely recommend sticking with as many of the built-in plugins as you can for stability reasons (they also sound as good or better than most VSTs) I love the extra features some plugins offer Mainstage. Here are my top 5 for live use:
5. Native Instrument’s Kontakt player. While not technically a synth, it’s the shell that a bunch of great plugins run in. Either your samples will load in Kontakt or the EXS24, or they’re not really worth having.
4. Output’s REV engine. REV offers the most amazing organic pads, rises, and loops on the market. I’m still getting used to this thing, but it’s incredible how “analog” it sounds.
2. Audiobro’s LA Strings Section. Easily the most realistic strings samples on the planet. Again, still getting used to playing it live, but it’s worth the effort- this strings sample library offers legato slides, divisi modes, and a lot more.
1. Native Instrument’s The Maverick. This is the most moody, realistic sounding piano plugin I’ve ever used (and yes, I actually own Synthogy's Ivories plugin). Perfect for worship sets where you're shooting for sensitive, moody piano parts.
Note: all of these synths are super stable, and I’ve yet to have a crash running them live. That said, be sure to test before you get onstage. Everyone’s computer behaves differently under stress.