Jump to content

Using MainStage to run Backing tracks


Recommended Posts

Hi, I am getting together a collection of backing tracks for 'live' performance. I have a macbook air and wondered if MainStage would be the best programme to run them on. For example, Would I be able to connect a foot switch so I can stop, start and flick between songs without having to go back and forth to the laptop (if so can anyone recommend what foot switch I could use and if I need any external hardware to connect it to the laptop?) Also do I need to have Logic or can MainStage run independently?


(Just to clarify, I am looking to just play standard MP3 and WAV files. No individual stems or anything)




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Not sure about Macbook Air, but I'm running Mainstage 3 on my Macbook Pro and over 50 backing tracks. As you may already know, they are used with the 'Playback' plugin on a Channel Strip. Therefore, you can control the track with fader, EQ and so on.


Yes, you can trigger the Playback via foot pedal/MIDI. I have the footswitch set to 'Start/Stop' (same button) from the beginning of the song, but there are 3 choices for this too (ex. you can Stop/Start from where you left off)


I am using the Roland FC-300. I've programmed it to 'Mute/Unmute' channel strips; Patch Advance/Back; and the two expression pedals are assigned for CC7/Volume for my two MIDI sound sources (Yamaha VL70m & DynaSample/XPression. My main controller is EWI/Electronic Woodwind Instrument.


The original Mainstage 3 required AIFF audio, but now also will accept MP3 audio. It's very easy to load, name, save all your backing tracks to your Mainstage. I would recommend doing this with Patches.


You will need an interface, and there are so many out there. It will depend on your budget and application. I needed one that had a lot out In/Outs ... MOTU Traveler 8 x 8 Analog. Make sure whatever interface you get has MIDI IN/OUT ... some lower priced versions don't.


Think all this thru carefully before you buy, and consider possible expansion for the future. You may spend more initially, but you'll save in the long run.


Hope that helps,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I DO NOT recommend using MP3's in the Playback device.

To each, their own, but my reasoning is such:


1) sonic degradation. When MS is doing live stretching and/or pitch shifting, the degradation on an MP3 file is much more noticeable than a .wav or a .aif.


2) Stability. I took one of my songs, and replaced all of the Playback samples with .mp3 versions, and all of the sudden, my show went from being stable, to mush. (crashing right left and center) (MainStage V3.03, AND V2.2.2)

3) File Size= Irrelevant. My show is VERY sample heavy IMHO, but still my projects seem to be around 500MB, which is amazing to me. In this day and age, with hard drive sizes ranging from 64GB to 4TB, 500 MB is a joke.

4. Compression vs. No compression. I remember owning Macintosh computers that simply were NOT capable of playing back an mp3, because it was too much demand on the CPU. Those same computers were perfectly capable of playing back a 16 bit 44.1 kHz .aiff.

Bringing the argument from the Stone Age to Modern day, I think it is less relevant now. That being said, I'm sure that you will get much more mileage on your CPU if it doesn't have to DEcompress every sample. If you look at the video side of things, you can see that an H264 encoded MP4 is nice and small. But as soon as you start jogging along the timeline, you will conclude very quickly why MP4's are NOT considered an editing CODEC.


To test that theory, would be easy to do: simply take a project full of Playbacks, and monitor the CPU. Then, do a comparison by replacing all of your aiff/waves with MP3's.

But due to my points 1 and 2, I can't be bothered to try it.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...