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> 1) the simplest set up
> 2) the easiest learning curve
> 3)  the ability to use VST plugins in any chain I'd like to
>     a)  be in front of my LP-1 and
>     b)  be after my LP-1
> 4)  the least amount of price for the software as well (money
> is a factor)

I recently switched to a laptop setup:
- Macbook with OSX
- Motu Ultralite firewire interface
- Logic Mainstage for soft synths, FX and mixer
- LP1
- midi controllers

The only thing I might change is the midi controller I need to play my 
synths and piano. Thatís a real issue because I donít like to travel with 
a 35kg stage piano ;) But other than that, itís compact, light, flexible 
and not necessarily out of your budget because you already own a Macbook 
Pro. Check out this picture how everything is connected in my setup:


Motu Ultralite mk3
The Motu Ultralite mk3 ($500) doesnít look like a budget friendly solution 
but I donít agree. Why? Because itís an all-in-one box offering you 2 
mic/line inputs , 6 line inputs, 10 balanced outputs, midi in, midi out, 
S/PDIF, headphone out, reverb up to 60 seconds, 7-band EQ, compressor and 
a internal mixer, mix software and drivers for both Mac and Windows, FW 
bus-power. What does a DI/splitter, small mixer with EQ, a 1x1 midi 
interface and compressor cost you? And itís very small. Imo, this is 
perfect solution for the traveling live musician using a laptop, this box 
replaces many devices.

Budget tip: try to find a used one of the model, simply called the Motu 
Ultralite without the mk3 tag

Like Per said, Mainstage ($500) can only run AU-plugins, no VSTís. But I 
doubt if thatís a problem because Mainstage has many good effects and 
instruments that I think it covers 80% of your needs out of the box. It 
can sync well to an external midi clock, for example the LP1. It can also 
host non-Apple plugins, for example SuperLooper or Augustus Loop.

I use Augustus Loop and some Logic FX as pre-looper effect and these are 
routed to the LP1 inputs. You can use multiple instances of Augustus on 
the same bus or different busses.

The LP1 outputs are not send back into Mainstage to apply post-FX. I 
havenít tested it but I would expect a latency issue here, which is 
logical. And although Iím not going to use it, I have tested analog inputs 
and processed them thru Mainstage with acceptable latency, no problem.

A feature I like about Mainstage is that you can design your own graphical 
layout of your midi setu and map sliders and buttons to any midi CC 
message on any channel. For example:
- LP1 volume, speed, feedback level (current track)
- Mainstage volume
- Augustus feedback level
- Patch name

Tip: you can often buy a used Logic Studio 8 license on Ebay for 50% of 
the original price, 175 Eur

Bidule is a good and also cheaper alternative to host both VST and AU 
plugins to build your own rig. The big difference for me is that it comes 
with little FX and instruments compared to Mainstage. I like the concept 
of Bidule, it reminds of the Nord Modular synthesizers: you visually patch 
audio and midi devices together with cables. Itís very flexible, stable, 
works well.

The reason I donít use Bidule at the moment is because I also need soft 
synths so Mainstage is a better candidate for me. But if you already have 
VST FX units, I would look into Bidule.


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