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Re: On the progress of compiling a laptop-based (looping) setup

Hi Rainer,
this is a very good info as I am letting you all explore this idea and 
wait the right time to make this step.
what do you think about creating a yahoogroups or whatever to let us all 
follow and contribute to this and be able to collect files and infos 
about the "laptop rack" ? ( this is how I named a folder in my pc where 
I put all the important infos I collect about this project).
Ld's activity has become really intense these last times and I find 
difficult to swim in the various topic diramations and I am always to 
lose important infos or references.
What do you think ?

my best,

Rainer Thelonius Balthasar Straschill wrote:

>(Warning: below is a lengthy description of my attempt to design a nice
>laptop setup for my playing. It's what you Americans seem to refer to as
>"anal", and I still hope somebody would explain that metaphor to me. 
>also kind of a question to folks interested in or versed in audio/MIDI
>interfaces at the end ("ad (1)"). If you're not interested in this kind of
>stuff and/or hate laptops, please delete).
>So, I've also decided to go laptop. While I did think about the fact that
>laptop-based apps can do some cool stuff, I simply didn't think I needed 
>The reason for me was entirely different: when playing looping-related
>stuff, my gear setup usually consists of three synths, a drum machine, an
>8HU angled rack filled to the brim with stuff and lots of things on the
>floor (VBass, DL4, FCB1010 and various expression pedals and 
>footswitches) -
>ah, and something like a guitar and a bass guitar.
>It's nice to play with this setup at home, and I've become relatively 
>with it, although I can perhaps use 10% of the power this setup gives me.
>It's also possible to take it to a gig in, say, Northern Italy, where I
>drive by car. Or Switzerland. Or something like that. Taking the setup to
>places where going by car is a problem like, say, the USA or Poland, this 
>not so good.
>So my plan was this: Limit my setup to a laptop plus audio/midi interface
>plus specific controllers (floorboard, faderbox), and design it in a way I
>can work with any keyboard and/or guitar/bass anyone is kind enough to
>borrow me.
>First thing: the hardware. along with my Toshiba laptop (PentiumM 2GHz, 
>RAM), these would be the Behringer BCR2000 and FCB1010, and an interface. 
>started prototyping with my Terratec Phase26 (simply because it's already
>connected to the laptop), but knew this wouldn't work for the final 
>no real mic inputs, and with that no phantom power. I don't like the RCA
>connectors. Only 1 MIDI port would've been just sufficient (as I already 
>another MIDI in and two outs at my disposal from the BCR2000).
>Digging through my gear, I decided upon the combo of RME Cardbus
>Interface/RME Digiface/Behringer ADA8000. About the Behringer: it's an
>8-channel in/out to ADAT box, and for that (and for the fame that 
>has) it's really outstanding. I have had one of those for years in my live
>recording setup, and if you can live with the stupid fact that the XLR 
>connectors only work for microphone levels (so if you're connecting 
>in the "line" range, you've got to use the (balanced) 1/4'' jacks), it's a
>fine and reliable box. There's not much to say about the RME stuff from a
>quality standpoint - their stuff has a top reputation, also with regard to
>driver stability and performance. The Digiface itself offers three pairs 
>ADAT connectors, a S/PDIF coaxial pair, two pairs of MIDI in/out and - 
>important - a headphone jack. It also runs a mixer software on its 
>DSP, allowing for some mixing and routing - sufficient to say it does
>everything I need at this point. By its clever routing matrix and the
>abundance of ADAT connectors, it would also allow me to connect something
>like one of my retired VR880 harddisc recorders to do multitrack 
>of performances. And eight ins and outs in this setup should be enough for
>any solo performer.
>What I had to add was a way to connect the guitar or bass - and for this, 
>use Behringer's small DI20 active DI. It can be connected to one of the 
>ins and fed by phantom power and also has a great reputation.
>After some extensive thinking about which software platform to use, I
>decided on Ableton Live. First of all because I had already used it in a
>live performance context so had some experiences what worked here - and 
>did not. Designing the basic layout of the setup and then choosing plugins
>that would not completely throw down the system performance-wise did also
>require some thinking and also trial-and-error - and I quickly found that 
>requriements coming from my hardware setup (see above) were somewhat hard 
>fulfill. But the final layout looks some like this:
>1      guitar/bass ( Amplitube and dfx Scrubby)
>2      vocals (EQ Four, Compressor I, Memory, MadShifta, Scrubby)
>3      Submix/recording 1 (EQ Three, Compressor 1, MadShifta, Scrubby,
>4      Submix/recording 2 (EQ Three, Compressor 1, MadShifta, Scrubby,
>5      Drumsampler [t.b.d. - perhaps Kontakt] (EQ Three, Compressor 1,
>MadShifta, Scrubby, SupaTrigga)
>6      Synth [t.b.d. - perhaps Pro52] (Pitch, Compressor 1, Scrubby)
>7      Synth [PPG Wave] (Pitch, Compressor 1, Scrubby)
>8      Organ [OrganTrio] (Pitch)
>9      Piano [mda ePiano] (Pitch)
>10     Tron [tapeworm] (Pitch, Scrubby)
>11     Weirdo [Sun Ra] (Geometer)
>12     Loop2 [Out2 of Mobius] (Eq Three, Compressor 1, MadShifta, Scrubby,
>13 R   Loop [Mobius] (Eq Three, Compressor 1, MadShifta, SupaTrigga)
>14 R   Delay [tbd]
>15 R   Weird FX [tbd]
>16 R   Reverb [Reverb]
>17     Mains (EQ Four, Magneto)
>Tracks marked with "R" are return tracks.
>So here's how this works: all plugins are turned off by default. I guess
>having all of them going at once would give me a system load of perhaps
>300%... So it's about keeping track what's on and what's not on. About
>everything Live allows me to is controlled by either my BCR2000 or the
>FCB1010. This is not the case for everything I'd like to control. Hey
>Ableton, why can't I control the Route to and Route from with my faderbox?
>And why can't I control the aux pre/post selection? And while were at it:
>at a
>real mixer in your life?
>What I have yet to decide on are details of how the operation of this
>thingie is shared between the FCB1010 and the BCR2000. First ideas: 
>of typical "mixer" or "front panel" functions is done with the BCR2000 
>the mixer or some dials on plugins), anything having to do with 
>is done by the FCB1010 - as is the control of the Mobius. Now there's an
>interesting question: the "record arm" switches - something for the floor 
>for the table? These are some things I've yet to work out. And I still 
>to know why this stupid java-based editor for the BCR2000 allows me to
>transfer patches from the device to my computer, and edit them, but won't
>send them back!
>Now to working with this thing: it's real great fun! As I mentioned in
>another post, I've taken to edit patterns realtime (so, in addition to
>realtime looping, we get realtime pattern editing!) One thing I recently
>"invented" is recording a noise-based or atonal, non organized,
>quasistatistical source (analog-synth lovers call these "noodles"), record
>it into a Live clip and then put an envelope onto it to control the pitch
>over a 12-bar length and play the blues with this noise. Then program a
>pretty normal drum groove and activate both Scrubby and SupaTrigga on the
>corresponding track. And then use this madness as a background for a nice
>cozy guitar melody ;).
>There's still lots of unsolved questions and open points - some of them in
>short form:
>       * actually implementing the interface for the FCB1010
>       * implementing most of the interface for the BCR2000 (so far, only
>the mixer functions have been done)
>       * get my lazy ass down and do hook up the RME/Behringer audio/MIDI
>interface solution to replace the Terratec thingie
>       * reduce the number of plugins (very important!)
>       * reduce the number of tracks
>       * check out wheter an even more compact interface hardware would be
>possible (1)
>       * develop fallback strategies (2)
>       * try wheter I can control one of the synths (Sun Ra?) effectively
>with my PS5 data glove
>ad (1): currently, it's two boxes: the RME Digiface and the Behringer
>ADA8000, making a total of 1.5 rack spaces. On the other hand, I need a
>minimum of two ins and four outs, headphone out, micpres and phantom power
>and at least one MIDI pair. On the bright side, I recently discovered that
>my laptop does in fact have a firewire interface, so this simplifies the
>choice a little bit ;). But perhaps there is a better and more compact
>solution. Anyone got an opinion on the ESI QuataFire 610, on the Marian 
>CX or on the Hercules FW 16/12?
>ad (2): I still take into consideration that my sturdy laptop setup might
>fail at one point during a performance - either short-time-temporarily or
>for longer (meaning: until I get home after the gig ;). In this case, I'd
>like some minimum fallback strategy. The Digiface allows to retain the
>configuration of its internal mixer even if the unit is disconnected from
>the computer. So one idea would be to send my analogue input signals to 
>outputs of the ADA8000 leading to a, say, Boss DD20, which in turn return
>via two inputs. Normally I'd turn off the Boss (so no signal from it hits
>the mains), but if the computer fails, I could still do simple schticks 
>guitar, voice and the DD20...
>Thanks for listening - I keep you posted as I progress further ;-)
>       Rainer