while we’re not actively gigging (locations here still afraid of doing indoor gigs), I have time to fiddle with my rig and optimize, so I came across one question:
Normally, I set up my live rig (two keyboards w/ pedals, plus a guitar, my live rack containing audio interface, PC and VoiceLive) directly at my place on stage, so USB cable length is not an issue. I feed the stage box from my rack via a symmetric multicore, so all good so far.
But when playing festival-type settings, where set-up and tear-down times are super-short, it would be better to have everything Cantabile sit safely in a rack backstage, with just a long lead run down-stage. That way, I’d simply shlep my keyboard and mic stands on-stage and connect, while the Cantabile setup is already running nicely backstage.
I see guitarists do that with their rack-based Kemper setups - they just drag their remote to the front of stage and are done.
With a Cantabile-based setup, this is not so easy - essentially, I’m constrained by USB cable length specifications. So it’s either having my rack mounted on wheels so I can easily roll it on-stage or find an intelligent solution like USB via Cat5 or something similar.
Those of you guys on the festival circuit - how do you deal with your Cantabile setup there?
Quick answer (well, I don’t have a detailed one) :
Electrically speaking, USB is too low voltage and current to fit long distance, even using cat5/6/etc. cables. Only a robust, balanced connection (like Ethernet) can assure reliable connections.
Looking more at a wired solution. Plus, my “minimal” connection is not “classic” DIN MIDI, but USB to my upper keyboard, and from there a short MIDI lead to my lower. So my stage kit needs two USB connections, one to my upper KB, one to my touch screen (ideally powering the touch screen). Plus, I need HDMI to connect video for my touch screen.
Just not sure how much this “nearly zero latency” means, that’s why I’m interested in any practical experience.
Would be a nice setup, though - I’d probably just velcro the “receiver” part to my lower KB and be pretty much set with HDMI and USB. Then my PC could sit nicely with my rack somewhere backstage. I’d just have to run the Cat6 cable, plus guitar and microphone to the rack and be done. Would probably have to also velcro a guitar buffer onto my KB as well - don’t like long cable runs from my guitar.
Could be pretty clean - will have to experiment a bit…
I thought about a LAN protocol since the end of '90s, with audio and MIDI, but I never built/developed a real working thing. Too busy with work, gigs and other hobbies. So I’m not so updated with audio-MIDI over Ethernet (like MADI) and all those high speed "standards). Too bad, it’s a very fascinating world.
Like you, I’d like a wired solution. A black box with bidirectional multichannel audio, USB, MIDI, video, etc. would be perfect (in my dreams).
TBH, my ambitions aren’t that high - I’m quite happy to have everything digital audio safely around my Cantabile rack. I only need to connect my keyboards and touchscreen (and maybe a mouse to be safe) to that rack and to get a HDMI signal to my touchscreen. That’s pretty much it at a minimum.
Getting more ambitious, it would be nice to have a MIDI back-channel from the rack to my LivePrompter tablet, but currently, that’s connected happily via WiFi. Since we run our mixing via WiFi, we have a WiFi hub on stage, anyhow.
Should we ever get to the stage where that’s not possible (festival organizer not allowing individual WiFi), I’d probably have to find a solution for that back-channel using MIDI via Ethernet (iConnectivity mio interfaces) - could be made to work as well. In that case, I’d probably run all MIDI through that route back and forth, and use the KVM extender just for the touchscreen and mouse.
So you are planning that KVM extender and iConnect. Using the 5-pole MIDI, avoiding the USB?
I have doubts about sending USB-MIDI controllers over that extender. You know, reliability? Latency? My gut says no.
Well, I’ll see about that KVM extender - will get it soon, so will be able to test it. I’ll definitely report back on my experience.
Worst case, I’ll just run the touch screen and mouse over it - not timing-critical.
re MIDI connection: no, I won’t send that over long DIN cables, although that would probably work, since we don’t play huge stages. But the iConnectivity interfaces are fully networked, so the alternative scenario is to run a second Cat6 cable along with the KVM one and use it to connect the mio interface (underneath my keyboards) to the router / WiFi access point that sits on top of my rack. So the mio would be
USB connected to my LivePrompter tablet on stage
DIN or USB connected (both should work) to my two keyboards
ethernet connected to the Cantabile PC
MIDI latency over wired ethernet should be below 0.5 ms, so should be neglegible
So I’d have a manageable cable run to the backstage rack:
Cat6 for KVM
Cat6 for MIDI
XLR for vocals
(buffered) line for guitar
[XLR back for in-ear —> probably not for the typical festival set-up]
Wrapping these together with tape into a quasi-multicore, and set-up and tear-down should be manageable…
OK, KVM extender just came in - and I have to say, I’m impressed! Works plug&play - just inserted it in the HDMI and USB connections, and everything simply worked.
First, I only ran the touchscreen over it, then I got courageous and also connected my MIDI keyboard via USB - and there’s really no noticeable latency or jitter! Feels rock-solid.
I’ll definitely keep everything set up like this for the next couple of weeks and give it a thorough shake, but it looks like I may be on to something. One single Cat6 connection between my on-stage keyboard rig and the Cantabile rack - that’s all it needs to function! Of course, I’d probably keep the USB and HDMI cabling for the “standard” solution with me, but this promises a much more flexible on-stage setup, where I don’t need to keep my Cantabile PC directly around my feet, but can set it up safely at the back of the stage.
Now just a bit more fiddling with the rest of the setup (mic, guitar, in-ear) - I think I’ll wrap that into a nice multi-core and be done with it - two leads from my place to backstage, that’s pretty clean
MOTU AVB could do this using ethernet, although their units are expensive. Basically you’d have a small interface on stage such as the MOTU ultralight then connect that via ethernet to another MOTU AVB interface (such as the MOTU 8M), which would be connected to your computer on a rack offstage. You could run audio through this as well.