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Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby Kurt Cowling » Fri Jun 09, 2017 9:19 am

Random thoughts on Gig Performer

I downloaded the free trial of Gig Performer. I use MainStage quite a bit so this is really a comparison to MS.

I like that incoming MIDI can be separated not only by device but by transmit channel. That’s one thing that frustrates me about MainStage. I sometimes use a Yamaha MX61 and when you change sounds in part mode it changes the corresponding MIDI transmit channel. Sometimes I’d like to use that to my advantage. MainStage ignores incoming channel data unless the VI itself is capable of multitimbral operation. Most of MainStage’s built in plugins are not multitimbral.

The process of creating the node connections is kinda finicky. I’m doing it with my mouse on a desktop and more often than not I somehow miss the target. Wish they would make a little more room for error on the drop zone of each connection. I can imagine getting very frustrated trying to make or change connections in the heat of the moment on a laptop.

When they say there are no included plugins, they mean it. There are gain change and balance, and one to split a mono signal out to a stereo output, but I couldn’t find one to collapse a stereo signal to mono, which I need fairly often. I tried to create a mono mix by crossing connections (input 1 going to both outputs 1 and 2 and then input 2 going to both outputs 1 and 2), but something didn’t sum right, like one channel had reversed polarity or something. The same inputs mono’d out perfectly in MainStage.

No MIDI processing plugins like arpeggiator or chord trigger. I sometimes find those functions (esp. chord trigger) in MainStage to come in very handy. There is a velocity change capacity, but it isn’t a graphical curve. It’s numeric, as in 1 - 127 input equals 30 - 110 output. You can further choose to remap the velocities by either constraining them to those minimums and maximums or by rescaling the incoming velocities to the restricted range. You can block or remap CC numbers and other MIDI data, but not scale them.

One of the things they tout is that they don’t use the mixer/sends paradigm. Well, I’m comfortable with the mixer and sends analogy. I found myself wanting to grab a fader to change the volume of something rather than have to create a knob first just to accomplish that. Because there’s no mixer you also can’t solo or mute a node without first creating a button on the front panel of your rack space. I could easily create a button to bypass a VI, which is close to muting it but not exactly the same because it works at the MIDI level rather than audio. If I hit bypass with a note held down and then released the note while bypassed the note would still be ringing when I toggled the bypass back to active. This is because it wasn’t muting the audio, but bypassing the MIDI input to the VI, thereby not sending/receiving the note off. In order to build a mute button I had to first add a “Gain and Balance” node and then create a button to toggle the value between 0 dB (no gain change) and off. This wasn’t as straight forward as it might sound because the values of the toggle switch were not scaled in dB, but as 0-100 numerical values. A value of 100 gave a 6 dB increase, so I had to set the max value to 75.1 to get no gain change. That’s a lot of tweaking just to get a mute button. I have no idea how to make a solo button.

There is a very tiny mixer in the lower right corner, but it has no numeric readout and I couldn’t find any obvious way to group two faders as a stereo pair. There is a trim knob at the top of the GUI, but I believe it changes all outputs on your audio interface.

Speaking of the GUI… when you open a plugin in DP or MainStage there are popup menus at the top… above the actual plugin GUI. You can choose presets from there, although I guess most VIs have a place in their own GUI for doing that. I just happened to choose the free OB-Xd from Datsounds and it does not have a preset chooser as part of the GUI. It comes with plenty of presets that are available when used within DP or MainStage, but not from within Gig Performer.

You can do keyboard splits within GP, but there is no learn button for the high/low notes of the range AND you can’t type them in. You must choose the pitches from a very long popup menu! These splits are represented graphically within the editor for each node on a keyboard along the bottom of the edit window, but since each node opens its own editing window you can’t see the various ranges displayed over the same keyboard. I kinda like that in MainStage you can always see the note range of each patch over the same keyboard, at least while in edit mode. GP doesn’t do floating split point (like MainStage does).

When I heard the description of this as using “rack spaces” I’m thinking of DP’s V-racks, where something can be accessible at all times without having to be duplicated, like a main piano patch. MainStage has something like this in that you can instantiate a VI at the “concert” level. I have never gotten that to work the way I want though. Seems like it always plays then, in every patch set up in that concert. Maybe I’m not understanding something. Anyway, I was hoping that “rack spaces” would be the answer I’m looking for. Well, rackspaces is the term for the GUI, not the equivalent of a V-rack in DP.

Each rack space can have variations, but I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what that means. Every change I made at the top level or individually in any of the variations then was carried over to the whole thing. I thought maybe it meant that you could a various front panels for one set of node configurations. Well, that didn’t seem to be the case either. So, you ask, why don’t you just look it up in the manual? There is no manual…

Patch remain seems to work as advertised. You can change rack spaces via MIDI patch change messages. Also, I was able to use a trick that use often in MainStage, which is to assign the two lowest keys on my keyboard to move up and down the patch list. I obviously set the keyboard split zones so that those keys don’t make any sound. This done through Options -> Global MIDI.
DP 9.13, Sierra 10.12.5, 4-core MacPro, 26 GB ram, Omnisphere, Trilian, Stylus RMX, EZ Drummer 2, MachFive3.11, Real Guitar2, Real Strat, Sample Modeling trumpet, saxes, trombone and clarinets, double reeds, flutes and Fr.Horn/Tuba, Kontakt 5.6, UAD-2, Flux Pure Limiter 3, PSP Vintage Warmer, PSP MixPack, PSP StereoPack, Altiverb 7, Yamaha S-90ES, Roland XV-5080, MOTU HDX-SDI, MOTU MTP-AV, Sibelius 7, Adobe CC and Motion 5
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby stubbsonic » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:59 pm

Thanks for taking the time to give us your impressions. I'm not really in the market for GP, but like to keep my options open for the time when I need a more complex performance set up.

It's useful to get an idea where it is, and what it's like in the initial stages of learning.
RMBP (2.6 i7), FF800, OS 10.10.5, DP8, Kontakt, Reaktor, K2661S, K2500RS, iPad4, (also an old sawtooth G4 with a UAD-1 for legacy apps).

http://www.jonstubbsmusic.com
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby bayswater » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:38 pm

Yes, thanks Kurt. Good that it can deal with multiple MIDI channels properly, something I could not get Mainstage to do, so I've stuck with Logic. But my main use for Logic/Mainstage is to access EXS24 for which I have a load of samples, so not so sure this would be worth it for me.
2009 iMac 27" i7 16G, DP 8.07/9.02/9.5 & OS 10.12.6, Logic 10.3.2, Scarlett 18i8
2011 MBP 16G DP 9.5 & OS 10.12.6, Lexicon Alpha
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby dhjdhj » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:53 am

Kurt, thanks so much for the comprehensive report. I've some family stuff going on that doesn't leave me a lot of time to respond right now but let me just quickly respond to a few things

1) Rackspaces are a little similar to MainStage patches in that they represent a collection of plugins wired the way you wish

2) Variations allow you to quickly switch from one set of "settings" to another within the same rackspace, essentially an easy way to reuse a rackspace. For example, suppose you have a rackspace with a Rhodes along with separate phaser, chorus and flanger effects, each with rate and depth controls. You can tie those controls to Gig Performer widgets and then if you have multiple variations where the widgets have different values, switching from one variation to another will instantly change those widget settings

3) Rather than a "concert level" setup, Gig Performer actually allows you to run multiple independent instances, each with its own collection of rackspaces. So for example, you could create an instance with a single rackspace whose job is solely to handle a hammond organ, perhaps associated with a dedicated controller and then have another instance with all your other rackspaces used with other controllers for all your other sounds. Or you could have multiple musicians running gigs independently on the same computer.

4) You're absolutely correct in that configuring some things (e.g. MIDI splits, scaling) is not as usable at this time. Candidly, our philosophy has been, "Let's make sure GP is reliable on stage and we'll improve some of these usability items as we go forward". On a personal note, I tour with GP and I get 100% reliability on stage. In the short term, that's more important to me than having an easier way to define a split.

5) By the way, GP also has full support for OSC, not just for such things as tweaking parameter values or viewing them on an iPad with Lemur but you can also send MIDI events over OSC. That makes it really easy to use applications such as Max to do sophisticated MIDI processing and leverage Gig Performer's audio engine. For what it's worth, when I'm on stage, I never even look at my laptop!


Well, that didn’t seem to be the case either. So, you ask, why don’t you just look it up in the manual? There is no manual…

Actually, there's an extremely good manual (along with a Getting Started guide) on the main http://www.gigperformer.com/support.html page. The manual was written by Howard Massey, he of "The Complete DX7" fame and it's pretty darn good.
___________________
David Jameson, Ph.D.
http://www.deskew.com

Macbook Pro (2) running GigPerformer, Max 7 and Loopback, iPad (3), various weighted and lightweight MIDI controllers, Eigenharp Alpha, plugins from NI, AAS, Arturia, Modartt, G-Force and many others

Currently performing with The Security Project (http://securityprojectband.com) and Beyond The Wall (http://beyondthewall.net)
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby Kurt Cowling » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:24 am

1) Rackspaces are a little similar to MainStage patches in that they represent a collection of plugins wired the way you wish


Yes, I got that right away. I was just hoping for an equivalent to DP's V-Rack and the terminology similarity made me think this would be it.

2) Variations allow you to quickly switch from one set of "settings" to another within the same rackspace, essentially an easy way to reuse a rackspace. For example, suppose you have a rackspace with a Rhodes along with separate phaser, chorus and flanger effects, each with rate and depth controls. You can tie those controls to Gig Performer widgets and then if you have multiple variations where the widgets have different values, switching from one variation to another will instantly change those widget settings.


I set up a simple rack space with a VI and a reverb and then used the Gain/Balance widget to create a send to that reverb. I tried setting the Gain/Balance at 0 dB in one variation (named "with reverb") and set off in another variation (named "no reverb") but that changes I made were reflected in both variations and also in the top level rack space.

3) Rather than a "concert level" setup, Gig Performer actually allows you to run multiple independent instances, each with its own collection of rackspaces. So for example, you could create an instance with a single rackspace whose job is solely to handle a hammond organ, perhaps associated with a dedicated controller and then have another instance with all your other rackspaces used with other controllers for all your other sounds. Or you could have multiple musicians running gigs independently on the same computer.


That certainly could be useful, although it isn't what I was looking for.

4) You're absolutely correct in that configuring some things (e.g. MIDI splits, scaling) is not as usable at this time. Candidly, our philosophy has been, "Let's make sure GP is reliable on stage and we'll improve some of these usability items as we go forward". On a personal note, I tour with GP and I get 100% reliability on stage. In the short term, that's more important to me than having an easier way to define a split.


I agree that reliability is the #1 goal. I'll just mention that I sometimes end up programming MainStage for use by someone else and that they often need to make tweaks after I've handed the thing off to them and I'm not personally there in front of the computer. In that case having good visual feedback and easily understood editing methods are appreciated. If the end user was up to the task of doing the programming from scratch they wouldn't have hired me in the first place.

Actually, there's an extremely good manual (along with a Getting Started guide) on the main http://www.gigperformer.com/support.html page. The manual was written by Howard Massey, he of "The Complete DX7" fame and it's pretty darn good.


I will check that out. I believe I had Howard's book back in the day... I will mention that there is no link to that page through the help menu or via the Ilio website, which is where I downloaded the demo. In fact the only mention of gigperformer.com from within the app is the "About..." window, which I only look at just now.

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

--Kurt
DP 9.13, Sierra 10.12.5, 4-core MacPro, 26 GB ram, Omnisphere, Trilian, Stylus RMX, EZ Drummer 2, MachFive3.11, Real Guitar2, Real Strat, Sample Modeling trumpet, saxes, trombone and clarinets, double reeds, flutes and Fr.Horn/Tuba, Kontakt 5.6, UAD-2, Flux Pure Limiter 3, PSP Vintage Warmer, PSP MixPack, PSP StereoPack, Altiverb 7, Yamaha S-90ES, Roland XV-5080, MOTU HDX-SDI, MOTU MTP-AV, Sibelius 7, Adobe CC and Motion 5
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby dhjdhj » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:05 am

Are you sure you created a front panel widget? It sounds like you're just using the Gain/Balance PLUGIN directly through its editor.

I set up a simple rack space with a VI and a reverb and then used the Gain/Balance widget to create a send to that reverb. I tried setting the Gain/Balance at 0 dB in one variation (named "with reverb") and set off in another variation (named "no reverb") but that changes I made were reflected in both variations and also in the top level rack space.
___________________
David Jameson, Ph.D.
http://www.deskew.com

Macbook Pro (2) running GigPerformer, Max 7 and Loopback, iPad (3), various weighted and lightweight MIDI controllers, Eigenharp Alpha, plugins from NI, AAS, Arturia, Modartt, G-Force and many others

Currently performing with The Security Project (http://securityprojectband.com) and Beyond The Wall (http://beyondthewall.net)
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby Kurt Cowling » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:21 am

Yes, I was making the changes from within the editor. I get it now. Thanks! Guess I should look at that manual...
DP 9.13, Sierra 10.12.5, 4-core MacPro, 26 GB ram, Omnisphere, Trilian, Stylus RMX, EZ Drummer 2, MachFive3.11, Real Guitar2, Real Strat, Sample Modeling trumpet, saxes, trombone and clarinets, double reeds, flutes and Fr.Horn/Tuba, Kontakt 5.6, UAD-2, Flux Pure Limiter 3, PSP Vintage Warmer, PSP MixPack, PSP StereoPack, Altiverb 7, Yamaha S-90ES, Roland XV-5080, MOTU HDX-SDI, MOTU MTP-AV, Sibelius 7, Adobe CC and Motion 5
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Re: Gig Performer... Mainstage alternative?

Postby dhjdhj » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:36 am

These are great points - we will work with ILIO to address them. Thanks
I will check that out. I believe I had Howard's book back in the day... I will mention that there is no link to that page through the help menu or via the Ilio website, which is where I downloaded the demo. In fact the only mention of gigperformer.com from within the app is the "About..." window, which I only look at just now.
___________________
David Jameson, Ph.D.
http://www.deskew.com

Macbook Pro (2) running GigPerformer, Max 7 and Loopback, iPad (3), various weighted and lightweight MIDI controllers, Eigenharp Alpha, plugins from NI, AAS, Arturia, Modartt, G-Force and many others

Currently performing with The Security Project (http://securityprojectband.com) and Beyond The Wall (http://beyondthewall.net)
dhjdhj
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:21 am
Location: New York
Primary DAW OS: MacOS

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