TOPIC: Questions/Advice on playing live setup

Questions/Advice on playing live setup 3 months 1 week ago #17972

After many years away from playing live, I’m looking to get back into it. Anyway, these days I no longer use an amp and will be fully digital using SGear. My setup will be guitar, midi controller, Presonus Audiobox VSL22 and notebook.

I have a couple of questions:
1. What is better to use a VST Host (LiveProfessor, Cantabile, etc) or a DAW (ie Studio One, Reaper, etc..). Currently I don’t require anything complicated. It will be a few VST plugins pre and post SGear.

2. I’m in the process of buying a 10” or 12” powered speaker (ie something like a Yamaha DBR, Peavey Darkmatter, EV ELX, etc). I currently play/ through headphones. Is there any tips/tricks to be aware of when adjusting the SGear patches that I use through headphones to the powered speaker ?
SGear v2, EzDrummer v2, Studio One v3 Pro, various plugins
Windows 10, i7 4790, 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD, 2TB HDD
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 3 months 1 week ago #17975

Hey there,

here some thoughts on your questions:

1: if you just want to chain the same plugins pre and post S-Gear, any DAW or free VST host (Cantabile Lite is free) will do, but if you want to change your setups dynamically (turn a stompbox on/off, use different configurations for verse, chorus etc) and have a lot of different setups for your various songs, there's nothing better than a dedicated VST live host. Since Forte is not being developed anymore, the best contender on the Windows platform is IMO Cantabile - super-powerful and flexible, great support and a lively and helpful community. On the Mac there is always Mainstage, but Cantabile will be there in the near future as well

2. Ideally, you should use flat-response powered speakers, so the sound should not be too much different from your headphones. But there are two things to be aware of:

First, resonance frequencies can play tricks when moving from phones to speakers - in your headphones they won't be an issue, but they can cause all kinds of feedback squeals on a loud speaker, so it's useful to have a separate EQ in your setup for eliminating nasty peaks (and adjusting the sometimes-not-so-flat response of your speakers).

Second, due to the Fletcher-Munson effect, the perceived loudness of different frequencies varies depending on loudness. So if your speaker is a louder than your phones, bass and treble will be overwhelmingly loud if you create your sounds on quieter headphones. Again, an EQ between your S-Gear setup and your powered speaker can help here.

Cheers,

Torsten
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 3 months 1 week ago #17976

Sounds like you are already on the right track. MainStage or Cantabile are good choices for building a virtual rig based on S-Gear that will provide flexible patch, MIDI control and preset flexibility.

S-Gear is a great amp model, and has great after the amp effects. But for most gigging situations you'll need additional front of the amp effects. I've built a number of S-Gear based solutions using MainStage and Logic Pro X, using an Apogee GiO as an I/O device and MIDI controller. These all required pulling together front of the amp effects. I've tried a lot including BIAS FX, Amplitube, MainStage/Logic pedalboard, as well as many individual plugins from various vendors, many of which have been described and recommended in this forum.

But this solution proved to be pretty complex to build and maintain, and somewhat fragile for live use. I ended up getting a Helix and have been very happy with it. I still use S-Gear for recording and rehearsals at home, but all the front of the amp effects are now from Helix Native. For band rehearsal, we put the whole band through Logic Pro X (using MIDI drums) and all play through headphones. I use Helix Native here with an FCB1010 so I can use pretty much the same patches I use live.

I do hope that future versions of S-Gear will provide a more comprehensive suite of effects plugins and host platform so that I could go with a complete S-Gear based solution using the Apogee GiO. I think this will be more flexible and open then Helix, and may sound better.
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 3 months 6 days ago #17978

jamsden wrote:
I do hope that future versions of S-Gear will provide a more comprehensive suite of effects plugins and host platform so that I could go with a complete S-Gear based solution
Yeah, that's my take exactly.

As the need arose, I had to use some pedal fx in the front of the amp plus an octaver to play a couple of tunes that called for it, so I had to give up S-Gear and I adopted the free version of Amplitube 4.

Granted, the tone is nowhere near with S-Gear, but without any further investment, it fulfilled my immediate needs and then some. I'm using the Mesa Boogie Mark IV emulation with an 1x12" open back cab, EVM speaker and nobody but me seem to "feel the difference". Not even the project leaders in the studio noticed anything. Just my workflow got simpler and faster then before. But I sorely miss S-Gear's Room Thing. Amplitube's present Reverb is *not* the best of the bunch of fx, to put it mildly.

I really hope Mike will bounce back with S-Gear v. 3.0, although it'll need to be not only outstanding, but also complete with the fx before the amp to get me to switch back.
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 3 months 6 days ago #17979

rapids27 wrote:
After many years away from playing live, I’m looking to get back into it. Anyway, these days I no longer use an amp and will be fully digital using SGear. My setup will be guitar, midi controller, Presonus Audiobox VSL22 and notebook.

I have a couple of questions:
1. What is better to use a VST Host (LiveProfessor, Cantabile, etc) or a DAW (ie Studio One, Reaper, etc..). Currently I don’t require anything complicated. It will be a few VST plugins pre and post SGear.

2. I’m in the process of buying a 10” or 12” powered speaker (ie something like a Yamaha DBR, Peavey Darkmatter, EV ELX, etc). I currently play/ through headphones. Is there any tips/tricks to be aware of when adjusting the SGear patches that I use through headphones to the powered speaker ?

Hi rapids27,

Glad to hear that you are considering S-GEAR for live use :thumbs up:

Cantabile is a very good solution if you wish to set up live effect chains with plug-ins before or after S-GEAR. The product is very well supported. Using a DAW might be advantageous if you also want to record or if you want to sequence presets with a backing track etc.

If you choose a good quality full range speaker then you shouldn't need to do much (if anything) to the S-GEAR presets. However, as advised by Torsten, often full range speakers are not so flat and you may need to apply some EQ to get the best results.

Cheers,
Mike
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 3 months 6 days ago #17980

Thanks for the help people - very much appreciated. I'll take a look at using a VST Host and will also keep an EQ plugin in the chain incase I need to make a few adjustments here and there.
SGear v2, EzDrummer v2, Studio One v3 Pro, various plugins
Windows 10, i7 4790, 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD, 2TB HDD
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 2 months 2 weeks ago #18092

I've been gigging with S Gear for a couple of years. It's been rock-solid for me. I'm pretty picky about tone and effects, and the versatitlity of this rig is truly unsurpassed. While I still love the tone of a vintage tube amp (I have a 1960 Ampeg), I'll sacrifice the 3% of tone loss, which no one but me will hear anyway, for the ability to have each song sound different, and right. I use Cantabile 2 (C3 has been out for a year or so and is much better than 2).

I agree with the others on the need for other effects... a Tube Driver or Tape Saturation plug in front of S Gear sounds great. I found that Cantabile handles all of that quite easily for me. You simply add your plugins, both before and after S Gear, and save that as a song/session. I have about 10 "songs" I use... 1 that's my main tone, with both Rythym and leads, and the 9 others are either specific songs or other tones. I'm also in another band that uses backing tracks, with one saved song session for each and every song. Cantabile plays all the tracks (on one song we have about 7 tracks going), triggered from my FCB foot pedal. On those all my S Gear settings and plugs are simply saved within that song session on Cantabile.

Cantabile also manages all my midi. I use an FCB1010 (which sends midi to Cantabile) and designate certain footswitch buttons on that for certain effects... essentially stompbox programming. So button 1 takes a Tube Driver out of bypass, button 2 turns reverb on, etc. With Cantabile essentially any midi program change or CC command can be routed to a plugin, including S Gear itself.

It's very versatile, once it's all set and saved (and backed up to an external drive) you're pretty safe. But I'm not going to say it's really easy. You have to play around a bit and read some manuals.

I like to have the footswitches do double duty and toggle, rather than use 2 swtiches to turn on and off. The main issue I ran into is that Cantabile 2 and S Gear want different types of midi commands for toggling, and it took some trial and error to get that working. Other than that, it's quite simple... press a button, Cantabile detects it, you assign it to a plugin, then tell it what to do (bypass, gain, EQ frequency, you name it... every parameter is there). I've created a great wah pedal that way, having the FCB expression pedal sweep the center frequency of an EQ... a totally customizeable wah that also inverts, and allows you to create the EQ curve anyway you want it. I even looked up a cry baby eq curve and emulated that.

I do carry a backup laptop with me, but haven't needed it yet (fingers crossed). Only once did I have an issue, and that was due to some 34d party software I'd forgotten to disable. But if I did, I'm not worried... I periodically backup my primary gig laptop to my backup, so it's always ready. It's a lot easier than lugging a backup amp. Pre-S Gear, I've had tube amps die on me, pedals crap out, etc. Stuff breaks when you gig, and some day I'm sure some part of my S Gear rig will fail. But It's so easy to carry a backup laptop and an I/O, and my back appreciates the lighter load.

You definitely want a FRFR speaker... I got the Yamaha DXR10... love it. Sounds better than the 12". Re: phones vs. speaker, I've tried all kinds of EQ curves, using a spectrograph, etc...everything I could think of to get the phones closer to the speaker's tone. Dont' waste your time. At best it will be sort of close. I do all my final tweaking through the speaker, otherwise you're wasting your time IMO.

And speaking of Fletcher-Munson, here's another advantage to this rig. I have a global Master EQ in Cantabile that every S Gear patch or song goes through. I've adjusted and saved the EQ response in different clubs and rooms and volumes. So when I return I just pull up that setting... done!

And other thing, our drummer got an electronic kit recently so we've been playing at lower volumes... no more volume wars. So at these lower volumes the amount of volume boost needed for leads is much less than what I had before. Solution... just lower the lead volume on each of the S Gear patches, and re-save all of them as new files. Now you still kept the old patches for higher volumes, plus your new ones for low volumes. See what I mean? It's very versatile.

I've written some other posts on my rig and experience gigging with SG if you want more info.

Best of luck!
Last Edit: 2 months 2 weeks ago by gearhead001.
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 2 months 2 weeks ago #18093

Waiting for the OS-X version of Cantabile 3.

Rock on :rock out:
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 2 months 2 weeks ago #18097

Many thanks for the detailed info, gearhead001

Question - how do you find the 10" FRFR that you have ? I'm guessing that you don't have any issues with low end loss from a smaller speaker ?
SGear v2, EzDrummer v2, Studio One v3 Pro, various plugins
Windows 10, i7 4790, 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD, 2TB HDD
Last Edit: 2 months 2 weeks ago by rapids27.
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 2 months 2 weeks ago #18105

I love it. No low end issues, although I do boost it with my Master EQ, I think I do about +1-3db at 100hz, 180 and 240... just a little fattening up. Also, I learned early on in my mixing career that too much bass on a guitar makes for a muddy mix. It may sound better when soloed, but in the mix it gets muddy real fast... especially when you're in a band playing with live drums and everyone on amps. I tried the 12", didn't seem worth the extra weight and $, for the reasons jsut mentioned.

BTW you can run S Gear through a guitar amp if it has an effects loop or similar line level input. I tried it with my Peavey Classic 30, and it was decent... and if you tweak the eq coming out of SG before it hits the amp you can get some pretty good tones. But I get much more detail and high end control on the Yam FRFR. I also got a shorty speaker stand, and put the FRFR with the tweeter at about ear height, sometimes a bit lower. Fast setup, and easy to get the sound to disperse better. Interestingly, it took me quite a few gigs to get used to that, since the highs were muted a bit when I had it on the floor or on a chair.

Rock on...
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 2 months 2 weeks ago #18106

Be careful of your ears. A FRFR at ear level can be delivering a lot of SPL to your ears that could easily cause permanent damage. Use a dB meter (perhaps on your phone) to see what you’re being exposed to.

Use this as a guide: For every 3 dBA over 85dBA (8 hours exposure time), the permissible exposure time before possible damage can occur is cut in half. So at 106 dBA you can get permanent damage after 4 minutes of constant exposure.

I have hearing loss caused by playing in loud rock bands without hearing protection whey I was in my 20’s. Its not worth it, protect your ears.
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Questions/Advice on playing live setup 2 months 1 week ago #18112

Couldn't agree more. Of course any amp or FRFR has the potential to do damage, regardless of if it's on the floor or at ear height... same is true for stage wedges too.

I set it up at ear height to get better dispersion, just as you would for a PA. But it's not directly behind me like it would be with an amp... I also set it up so it's at distance and I'm off axis. That said, I'm in 2 bands and I much prefer my other band that uses IEMs... and am working on getting this band to make the switch to IEMs as well.

But in the meantime, Hearos attenuators are my best friend. Takes a while to get used to them, but it's worth it. If anyone knows of a better product than Hearos please let me know... they're OK and are necessary, but they do cut the high end a bit. I saw Etymotics has some for $400... not sure how much better they would be...?
Last Edit: 2 months 1 week ago by gearhead001.
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