Many of you that follow my blog know that the last time I used MainStage for a gig, I was not happy with the way it performed. I spent some serious time working on a solution, and I think I may have found it for me.
Today I’d like to introduce to you today. . . my Mainstage rig!
What exactly is this contraption? It’s basically a cross between a DJ board and a guitar pedal board. I took all of the elements that I use in the studio, bought duplicate cables for each of them, and then velcro/taped everything to a custom cut wooden board. Here’s how the various parts works:
On the left I have my power supply (a simple powerstrip from Lowe’s) with all of my inputs attached. I also have my Roland System-1 synth within easy reach. This thing does double duty, primarily both a midi controller for all my synths in MainStage, but also has a fail-safe backup if the system breaks down.
I’ve run my System-1 out to the mini-input of my audio interface for audio, and I have it sending midi via a USB cord. I also use this keyboard as 2nd tier option in MainStage, but I’m still fleshing out exactly how it’ll be most useful.
On the right side I have my MOTU MicroBook II audio interface, as well as a great USB hub by Plugable. All things USB (including the audio interface) runs directly into the Plugable 7-input hub, and the USB hub is powered with iPad-charging quality power. The MicroBook handles all of the audio, including audio from my Nord Stage, System-1, and all my MainStage sounds. (I didn’t have my Nord plugged in picture, but the cables hang loose in the RH corner)
Note that all the cables are taped or velcroed down, and I never remove them. This keeps the connections tight on the road.
In the middle I have my laptop on some blocks of wood that I used to create a makeshift laptop stand. I hide all of my cords in the middle, and added some padding to keep the boards from scratching the laptop. In front of the laptop is my Novation Zero Remote SL midi controller, which I’ve programmed to control all of the FX in my MainStage sessions. I’ve assigned all VST instruments to my System-1 and all FX to my Remote SL, and having two separate controllers has helped me keep everything straight.
I haven’t gotten to use this system at a live show yet (I finished it over the weekend), but I did do a session with it and was super impressed with its performance. The entire rig fits comfortably into a gutted guitar case, making it easy to move quickly. The setup/tear down time to assemble all of these components separately was about 25 minutes, and dropped to just 4 minutes with the new rig. Also, I had no connection issues, since all of the cords were staying plugged in.
In terms of usability, I was blown away at how easy it was to reach out and grab a knob, fader, or my laptop. I’m used to being at awkward angles onstage with my rig, and having everything so easily accessible inspired my creativity. The producer on the session even commented at the end of the time how quickly I flew around the faders, knobs, and buttons on my midi controllers. I wish I could take credit, but I’m pretty sure it’s the rig.
I’ll keep updating you all about these, but right now I’m very excited about the possibilities. Stay tuned!