With reverential’s reduction in size, I’m going to be doing more on stage, and that means I need to be more versatile. There are an amazing number of great-quality, free VST plugins available out there, as well as hosts, and I’ve been looking to add a computer to my setup to run these for a while now. Those of you who know me know that computing power is not a problem; the problem is the connection between my keyboards and a computer: MIDI, and that all-important factor, the audio interface. Well, that problem got rather neatly solved in the form of the Novation X-Station 25 (click here for a bigger image). This is not only an amazing piece of gear, but provided the solutions to several problems or gaps I had in my rig. In addition to a nifty little synth on-board, the X-Station provides, via USB, a MIDI interface and a bi-directional audio interface, as well as a fully-programmable MIDI control surface and 2 channels of audio processing for external gear, complete with effects. This is a beautifully-designed, well-constructed instrument, and it works flawlessly in every regard.
The downside of now owning something that unlocks the VST plugin world for me is that it’s going to take years to play with everything out there long enough to know if it’s going to be useful to me live, then get the sounds programmed/tweaked, and then program the X-Station’s control surface to control it live. Not to mention learning the onboard synth. It’s a daunting task, but wow, is it ever *fun*. I haven’t been this excited about programming patches and MIDI and audio routing in years.
Once I get the new live rig assembled, I’ll be posting some pictures and descriptions (I hope to diagram out the MIDI routing and post that too, along with all the details of reverential’s stage setup). Stay tuned!
Last week was one that could very well be looked back on as a turning point for the band I’m in: after learning that our lead guitarist and bassist wanted out, we got word that our drummer was leaving, too. Fortunately, all the “important” people (sorry, guys!) are left: my friend, Dan, and I. Yup, reverential is now a duo. Which is fine: a lot of the artists I listen to are either solo acts or duos, so this can work. And, thanks to a little technology, we’re going to make it work.
Dan is the creative force behind this endevour. He’s on vocals and guitar, but he’s also the songwriter, and is a wizard with Live, Reason, and putting songs together. As the keyboardist in the group, it was sometimes hard to find that sonic space in the song to put my stuff, but that just got easier, even if it’s more demanding. To that end, I’ve been working on changing my live setup. It’s not finalized yet, but in addition to the Karma and the UF7, I’ll be adding a 25-key controller/synth of some sort (very likely either a Novation X-Station or XioSynth), and a laptop with softsynths. By the time I’m done, it will look a little different from the past.
Stay tuned for updates, pictures and gear/software descriptions!
Thanks to Matrixsynth, I’ve learned that Thomas Dolby has a blog. Cool stuff (and if you don’t know his music, find some and listen!), and it’s great to get some behind-the-scenes info. Also nice to know we have similar taste in controllers (I love my UF7!).
Being the geek I am, I loved his description of his live rig, and now that I’m starting to do more gigs (albeit with a much simpler rig), I would love to see him play live. Hmmm…maybe the PA gig in May…
Here’s a quick shot and link of my new stage rig (yeah, ok, I’m a little proud of it right now – it’ll go away, I promise!). The link takes you to a bigger version on flickr, where there are a few more shots of the gig.
As I had blogged earlier, my plan of adding a new board to my rig happened literally hours before I left for the gig on Friday: I bought a CME UF7.
click for a larger image, but be warned: it’s big!
As I said, I was after a new controller that gave me a better piano feel, without going all the way to hammer-action. This 76-note, semi-weighted keyboard has a beautiful feel to it, and I’m liking the control surface (9 sliders, 8 knobs, both with buttons that change what they control) more and more. The important thing here was that I literally went from the store to packing it in a van, set it up onstage, and using it live (ok, there *was* a soundcheck)! I know, nuts, right? Well, I survived, and where I was using it for piano parts (triggering an Alesis Nanopiano), it was great (the sound being impacted by the velocity curve of the controller, in case you were wondering how a controller could change the sound of something!).Last night, I finally had the opportunity to plug it into my computer (it has USB) and trigger some softsynths. One of the cool things there was playing organs with the UF7’s sliders in “drawbar” mode: very nice.
One of the unexpected bonuses was the addition of a software editor (Windows, but it runs in Wine) for the board, which, among everything else, allows you to edit the velocity curves, something I didn’t think would be possbile.
Overall, this was a great purchase and addition to my rig, both on-stage and studio. This is going to see a lot of use.