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Using Mainstage in a live theatre production


jferrar1

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Okay, so I am doing sound for a live musical production and I want to use Mainstage. Now my experience with Mainstage has been just using midi's and guitars into the programs and just running them to speakers through a two input M-Audio interface.

 

Is it possible or even sensible to run around 12 wireless lavs and a few floors mics through mainstage?

 

Does it sound like using mainstage is overkill? If mainstage is just complete overkill for I'm describing than don't bother reading the rest.

 

If using mainstage is a great idea then would I just add channel strips and plug the lavs boxes in? And I'm assuming a usb or firewire (and really big) interface is the only way Mainstage will mix the lavs.

 

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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It could certainly work, but, as with any live situation using software, you run risks that must be accounted for.

 

I have never once had Mainstage freeze up on me live, but I'm always prepared. What exactly are you wanting to to with the mics when you run them through Mainstage? That will make the biggest difference.

 

If you're simply mixing / muting channels, then I'm confident Mainstage could handle things accordingly. But is it overkill? It might be borderline. Given that a crash would result in total loss of sound from your lav mics, this could be a potentially huge disruption to a show.

 

If you're looking at editing effects or complex mutes and things, then perhaps Mainstage is viable and logical means (haha....logical).

 

One big thing though, if you end up running the lav's through it, make sure airport is turned off, don't turn on itunes or other iLife programs, and don't update anything on your computer while the production is having its run. All of these have resulted in me having issues (more so with audio drivers then mainstage per se, but CPU performance as well).

 

Good luck! I love using Mainstage and frequently trust it with my live shows, fully. But I always have several channel on my mixer ready to go if I lose mainstage. If I have total computer failure, I can quickly repatch my mic's into the mixer and get back going in fifteen-twenty seconds. Unacceptable, but better then no sound!

 

As for getting the audio into the computer, two daisy-chained 8 input firewire interfaces are probably the simplest way to go. Simply use the "aggregate device editor" in the audio utility to combine the two interfaces (search around for specific instructions on this)

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  • 1 month later...
I find it surprising that you mention(TK House) that it is better to NOT have iTunes running alongside Mainstage. I've even seen Apple feature a Mainstage script that plays the next itunes track in a playlist.
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  • 2 weeks later...
I find it surprising that you mention(TK House) that it is better to NOT have iTunes running alongside Mainstage. I've even seen Apple feature a Mainstage script that plays the next itunes track in a playlist.

 

In my experience, I've had instances of slow response while iLife programs are open and I run Mainstage. No idea why, so this is a tip somewhat out of ignorance, it may very well be something with my system.

 

Mainstage certainly can control Itunes (as well as many different programs through Applescript) very well, and I've used it for that before, but in a situation where a Mainstage crash would mean total loss of sound, Mainstage really ought to be the only thing running on the computer.

 

I haven't done tests to see if it is more efficient (CPU wise) to run sound effects or songs out of an EXS24 plugin or out of itunes. With longer samples, I would lean toward itunes, but with shorter instances, my gut leans toward Mainstage.

 

In my apartment, I put one of those security system reed switches above the door, and ran that to the sustain jack of one of my midi controllers. I had a mainstage file that, whenever the door was opened, would trigger a playlist in Itunes with a bunch of songs i liked. It was always a nice way to set the mood when returning back to my room....

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