Playing live with just a laptop


yup, I hear you and feel with you. I’m also (amongst other things) a trained accordionist, but (still) very un-MIDI at the moment. I’m a Hohner man - a good old Imperator V (see below) as my main beast and an Atlantic IV as a lighter alternative when playing standing up.

But given the focus of my current projects (classic rock and traditional R&B), these two don’t get nearly as much air-time as they deserve :frowning_face:




I suppose the whole concept of an accordion at large is still that it’s totally old-fashioned and acoustic, without any kind of technological enhancement. Probably there are a lot of keyboardists out there still today who don’t realize there are such things as MIDI accordions- let alone lay people. It would be interesting to craft a vertical controller that has a keyboard and a recreation of bellows movement, without the bulk and weight. Kind of like what a wind controller is to a sax.


For me this is not the only problem with vst’s that I need the arranger functionality.

So there is the question of what PC Beast I need? …I had problems with my i7 intel board …optimizing,optimizing,optimizing and ?? …short latency ends in dropouts.

also my i7 Surface pro …2instances of Avenger with many osc’s and I can use it as a heater… so in the end for me thats no realy fun…

Yes i have testet also with cubase effects and that sounds great, also the mixer is great …only the dropouts i can not control



When you say “short latency”, how short are we talking, when you start getting dropouts?


256 sample buffer for Latency under 10ms


my problem was i tested with latency mon and all tools i could find…
ProcessLasso to optimize but no chance to find the problem…
Normal use of vst Monitor was about 20% but then suddenly …Bääämmmm



Hi Torsten,

That’s a beautiful accordion. I’ve ALWAYS loved the sound of a Hohner. Wonderful tone!

As an aside, I like doing solo street gigs sometimes for fun, and with the MIDI stuff everything is available. I’ve had smart alec kids come up and ask me for Freebird, or Stairway to Heaven, or other classic rock songs, just as a joke thinking it’s just a silly old-fashioned accordion. They’re usually pretty stunned when I give them a taste of MIDI. I love changing their minds about accordions! :slight_smile:



I have this sudden urge to stand on stage with a MIDI accordion, playing a huge Mellotron choir sound…


Hi FredProgGH,

Roland makes the ultimate accordion. Here’s a video of world champion Cory Persaturo playing “How High The Moon.” This makes me drool!



Actually Izotope Nectar is such an app :slight_smile: And when used in “Tracking Mode” latency is pretty much zero. It also has harmonies that can either be auto generated or via MIDI input!


I think we know they are available, it is just the prices are horrendous!!


That made my day.


Hey Dennis,

I’m aware of Nectar, and I’ve tried the demo. It’s definitely a great tool for production, but its Harmony module is not at the same level for live playing as the TC Helicon offerings. With TC, I simply play (either on my guitar or my keyboard) and the harmonies follow. With Nectar, you need to be very specific with the MIDI you feed it, and its auto discovery is not designed for playing live.

When I sing backing sections, I need the chords created follow my playing (near) instantly - I sing an E, and depending on what I play, the vocal section needs to change from an E major to maybe an A major or an F#7 chord. And I’m not simply holding 4 notes - I play a pretty dynamic piano or guitar chords.

This is where the TC Helicon stuff shines. They used to have a plugin, but that was TDM only and is now discontinued.

So anything outside live harmonies, I’d agree - you can get that very well out of Nectar. But live harmonies are still too difficult with any plugin I’ve seen.





I second what Torsten mentioned: I’m using a Voice Live 2 since years and tried out several harmony plugins before and after buying it.

The TC Helicon is miles ahead when it comes to live use. I can use it absolutely intuitive when playing midi notes into VL2 and it next to aleays does the right thing in a magical way.

Additionally soundquality plus the lower latency in comparison to 2 conversions when using a soundcard are a benefit.

Regards, humphrey

Btw: VL2 is my only left effect outside cantabile



Actually m8 it is…I use the TC Helicon Harmony M module, and with a tiny bit of tweaking I get better harmonies out of Nectar! You just need to run it in MIDI mode for the harmony. It follows exctly what notes you enter from the keyboard :slight_smile:

And if you want the software to create the harmonies, when switched to tracking mode, it is instant! Just the same as the helicon. I probs have different requirements. When doing solo shows I don’t necessarily wnat four part hamony as it sounds so fake. But one can get away with one or two voices to add the dynamic “colour” and variety for an audience and myself :slight_smile:


But I don’t want it to follow exactly my notes from the keyboard - that’s the point! I simply want it to instantly recognize the chords from my piano (or guitar!) playing and then interpret its pre-set voicing, say one voice above, one below my lead voice.

When I last tested Nectar, it didn’t do that; if you wanted to control it via MIDI, you had to play exactly the notes that you wanted the vocal harmonies to play, because it assigns voices to the MIDI notes currently playing. When switching on MIDI mode, you effectively LOSE the ability to tell it to musically add one note above and one below, because it will map EXACTLY to the MIDI notes you play - which I don’t want. I want a more indirect mode like TC Helicon uses: it needs to detect the chord I am playing (like in the “off-line” recognition feature of Nectar for audio - I haven’t seen a MIDI chord recognition in it) and then intelligently voice notes to it (as Nectar does, when you manually select a chord).

So what I’m missing in Nectar is (nearly) INSTANT chord recognition from MIDI and audio - that’s what the TC stuff gives you.

I’m fully with you when it comes to solo shows - generated harmonies sound too obvious in these. But in my classic rock project, we have two lead singers, and whoever is not leading does the backing vocals using a VoiceLive. And in a rock mix, a two- or three-part harmony via VL sounds surprisingly good.




haha, and that’s what I wrote earlier it (Nectar) CAN do live tracking as well. But hey this is going in circles hahaha…my helicon is much older than voice live and nowhere nears as capable, so it (VL) would have far greater and improved audio recognition. Not that the Harmony M does it is total MIDI.

Whatever works :slight_smile:


OK, Dennis, after you insisted so much that it can do this, I’ve downloaded the current version from Izotope’s website. Put it in a Cantabile project, wired a Mic input and a MIDI input into it and started trying.

Now I put it in MIDI mode, played around on a keyboard and sang with it. Observed the following:

  • I play a quick G chord and release it - no more harmonies, because no more MIDI input. On the VoiceLive, once a chord is recognized, it stays locked in.

  • I play the same chord in various octaves while singing - in Nectar, the generated voices move up and down with the MIDI input. So when I play high piano comping, suddenly all vocals become chipmunks. And when I do quick staccato chords, they even become chopped-up chipmunks :smile:. On the VoiceLive, wherever I play a chord, it doesn’t matter, because VoiceLive will add the generated voices where I’ve set them to be, RELATIVE TO MY LEAD VOCALS and in tune with the chord I play; one close interval above and one below the lead, or two above, or whatever. They will not move up or down when I change the octave on my piano. And of course, they won’t stop when I release the keys - they will sound as long as I sing the lead part.

  • So in summary, Nectar has no chord recognition in its MIDI input - it simply uses the MIDI input as fixed tone references for additional voices. The only modification it makes to the notes is shift them up or down an octave as my vocal line progresses up or down. An when notes get released, the respective note will not be generated anymore - because Nectar doesn’t “know” that I’m currently in G minor

  • There is no audio sidechain in Nectar for audio chord recognition, so it has no way to track my guitar playing and recognize the chords. The key detection only works on the voice input - that’s why it needs to listen to a full verse and a chorus before it can propose a scale. A VoiceLive has an audio input that you can feed with your instrument (guitar or other) or even a full mix, and it nearly instantly detects the correct chord and generates harmonies to fit it.

The Tracking Mode you mention only means that any lookahead functionality that creates latency is deactivated - has nothing to do with chord tracking.

So, the result of my quick test is very much like I expected: if you use Nectar in a production environment it is a great tool, also you CAN use it live if you focus your keyboard playing specifically on controlling the additional voices. You need to hold long chords to keep the voices sounding, and you need to play them in the correct octave to avoid “chipmunkcy”.

But as a live tool that analyzes my live piano and guitar playing and generates upper or lower harmonies that fit with my song, it’s not even close to practical for me.

@pax-eterna - please jump in if I have misrepresented anything here or if I have missed some hidden function.




Nah, you wanted the last word so you can have it :slight_smile: