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Backing tracks live - what are you using?


NicoMcJ
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It seems so straightforward, click track panned hard right and backing track itself panned hard left, send them to separate channels on the mixer and voila!

 

However, it’s the sending it to the mixer part that’s causing the issues. Using the headphone out on a laptop and a splitter cable is causing some bleed between the channels.

 

What are you guys using to get your click tracks and backing tracks into your PA?

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My bands use a Mac PowerBook into a Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 interface. Backing tracks on outputs 1&2 and Click on 3.

 

Audio-wise it's complete overkill for what we need, but for us an essential requirement was that everything fitted into a 3U flight case, and at the time the Focusrite interface was the cheapest decent one that was properly rack mounting. Our previous half width interface could only be properly rack mounted if it took up 2U of space and none of the bodges I did to try and make it work in 1U lasted long enough to be reliable. 

 

One thing I have discovered with the Focusrite interfaces is that all the outputs need to be balanced line otherwise there can still be cross-talk between channels. Our backing goes into an ART DTI box which completely isolates the audio interface from the PA and protects it against any phantom power the PA may inadvertently supply. We also have a Behringer headphone amp which accepts balanced line inputs for the drummer's click.

 

Apart from the headphone amp everything else is contained in a single 3U flight case. Anything that could possibly move is cable-tied and/or hot glued into place inside the case, and the laptop as attached to a rack shelf using effects pedal velcro. IME consumer-grade computer connectors have no place on stage at a gig, so any that cannot be replaced with professional grade locking ones are fitted in such a way that once everything is in place and plugged in nothing can move. All audio connections to the outside world are made from a XLR patch panel mounted on the front of the rack. It looks a bit more messy this way, but its loads easier and quicker to set up on cramped and dark stages.

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From my perspective, one of our guitarists presses play and I can hear 75% of our track mixes in my ears, before any of us pretend to play it all on our instruments.

 

Hope this helps.

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1 hour ago, mike257 said:

The bleed is often down to poor quality sound cards within the laptop, and/or cheap cables. A half decent external interface should sort you out. 

I think you are right.  I’m going to try my Scarlett 6i6 on my wife’s laptop.

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57 minutes ago, Kev said:

From my perspective, one of our guitarists presses play and I can hear 75% of our track mixes in my ears, before any of us pretend to play it all on our instruments.

 

Hope this helps.

Superb 😂

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I use a digitec JamMan stereo looper pedal to trigger backing tracks (just a few keyboards and organs in certain keys). It has a SD card slot and I recorded some stuff onto that. Playing bass and changing loops mid song is always..erhm interesting.

Edited by skidder652003
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23 hours ago, BigRedX said:

My bands use a Mac PowerBook into a Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 interface. Backing tracks on outputs 1&2 and Click on 3.

 

Audio-wise it's complete overkill for what we need, but for us an essential requirement was that everything fitted into a 3U flight case, and at the time the Focusrite interface was the cheapest decent one that was properly rack mounting. Our previous half width interface could only be properly rack mounted if it took up 2U of space and none of the bodges I did to try and make it work in 1U lasted long enough to be reliable. 

 

One thing I have discovered with the Focusrite interfaces is that all the outputs need to be balanced line otherwise there can still be cross-talk between channels. Our backing goes into an ART DTI box which completely isolates the audio interface from the PA and protects it against any phantom power the PA may inadvertently supply. We also have a Behringer headphone amp which accepts balanced line inputs for the drummer's click.

 

Apart from the headphone amp everything else is contained in a single 3U flight case. Anything that could possibly move is cable-tied and/or hot glued into place inside the case, and the laptop as attached to a rack shelf using effects pedal velcro. IME consumer-grade computer connectors have no place on stage at a gig, so any that cannot be replaced with professional grade locking ones are fitted in such a way that once everything is in place and plugged in nothing can move. All audio connections to the outside world are made from a XLR patch panel mounted on the front of the rack. It looks a bit more messy this way, but its loads easier and quicker to set up on cramped and dark stages.

If you don't mind me asking, what software are you using to actually play the backing tracks?

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34 minutes ago, matski said:

If you don't mind me asking, what software are you using to actually play the backing tracks?

 

At the moment Logic.

 

One band has the whole set as a single (very long) Logic arrangement with gaps between songs and uses Section Markers to define each song and Meta Events to automatically stop playback between songs where we know the singer will want to do some talking. We've been using this method long enough to know how long each inter-song gap needs to be, and one the whole it works very well. The only downside is that changing the set order on the fly is a bit cumbersome.

 

The other band just has each song as a separate Logic file and I load each new one while the singer (who is much more verbose) talks to the audience.

 

I've looked at MainStage, but because it won't directly import what I have already done in Logic, it seems a bit pointless that I have to recreate the whole song again in a different format, and it doesn't appear to have the most important functions IMO for live work which is on coming to the end of one song, either automatically start the next, or stop with the next one cue'd up ready.

 

Because of this I've been looking at swapping over to Presonus Studio One which has a dedicated "show" page which integrates perfectly with the main arrangements done in the DAW and has all the stop/start/pause functions that seem to be missing from MainStage.

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  • 3 months later...
On 03/02/2022 at 14:25, BigRedX said:

 

At the moment Logic.

 

One band has the whole set as a single (very long) Logic arrangement with gaps between songs and uses Section Markers to define each song and Meta Events to automatically stop playback between songs where we know the singer will want to do some talking. We've been using this method long enough to know how long each inter-song gap needs to be, and one the whole it works very well. The only downside is that changing the set order on the fly is a bit cumbersome.

 

The other band just has each song as a separate Logic file and I load each new one while the singer (who is much more verbose) talks to the audience.

 

I've looked at MainStage, but because it won't directly import what I have already done in Logic, it seems a bit pointless that I have to recreate the whole song again in a different format, and it doesn't appear to have the most important functions IMO for live work which is on coming to the end of one song, either automatically start the next, or stop with the next one cue'd up ready.

 

Because of this I've been looking at swapping over to Presonus Studio One which has a dedicated "show" page which integrates perfectly with the main arrangements done in the DAW and has all the stop/start/pause functions that seem to be missing from MainStage.

How are you getting on with this now? Did you make the change to Presonus one? 

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1 hour ago, Phil Starr said:

How are you getting on with this now? Did you make the change to Presonus one? 

 

Unfortunately I haven't had enough time to iron out all the issues I had with the Show page of Studio One, the most important of which is being able to change the levels of individual tracks from one song to the next. I'm sure I'm missing something really obvious, but at the moment when you change the level of a track it changes on that track for all the songs. I got around this for the one instance where we used Studio One by simply having a separate track for every part in the set, but it made using it somewhat unwieldy.

 

I might have another look at it for Hurtsfall who have much simpler backing - drums and the occasional synth parts and will get away with a much smaller track count for a full set. However I'd rather work out how to program in track level changes per song.

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2 hours ago, Phil Starr said:

It's these sorts of issues that make it so laborious isn't it?

 

Is the Perform mode a useful feature of Studio One?

 

The basic setlist construction and song playback functions are great, and a massive improvement (for me) over what is available in MainStage which for Mac users is it's main competitor. So it allows you to select what happens after a song finishes playing, whether it will automatically start the next one (and how long a pause there is before this happens) or stop with the next song loaded and ready to start when you tell it to.

 

Also because the playback in Show mode is essentially a cut down version of the full Studio One sequencer, it's easy to add things you need just for live performance such as program changes for hardware MIDI units etc. Doing this in MainStage was a lot more complicated, and doubly so because it wouldn't allow you to load elements from a Logic song as your starting point, whereas Show Page will let you import parts from the full Studio One arrangement automatically (although this does require you to do all your main programming in Studio One).

 

However if you are using a Windows computer for live playback you should also look at Cantibile.

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On 11/05/2022 at 18:15, Elfrasho said:

We use a splitter cable from a mobile phone! I was expecting bleed but there's zero! Might be worth a pop over you're laptop 

You must have younger eyes than mine, I need large print :)

 

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55 minutes ago, Phil Starr said:

You must have younger eyes than mine, I need large print :)

 

Well the time it takes our drummer to line up a track, i think we need large print too! :D

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On 02/02/2022 at 20:59, mike257 said:

The bleed is often down to poor quality sound cards within the laptop, and/or cheap cables. A half decent external interface should sort you out. 

 

Except on the Focusrite interfaces with balanced jack outputs, if you use standard TS jacks the earthing method used by the interface will induce cross talk between the outputs.

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On 02/02/2022 at 15:08, BigRedX said:

My bands use a Mac PowerBook into a Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 interface. Backing tracks on outputs 1&2 and Click on 3.

Almost the same, but with an added patch bay where all our other signals went through to split them between our own IEM sets and the FOH. We used to play with a stereo backing track with synths and backing vocals and a click track. I think we used Ableton Live on a Windows laptop. 

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