Show me your Cantabile Rig!



Iam thinking about what’s the best way to use cantabile on stage.
What do you guys use on stage? A 19" Rack for the notebook and interface…?
Thats why it’s interesting for to see YOUR rigs… for inspiration! :wink:

Iam thinking about having it as light and small as possible.
Maybe like this: A flightcase (like the Doepfer LMK Masterkeyboard)
Everything is INSIDE the flightcase (interface, usb hub, macbook, 230 distribution, headphone amp)
Only an ipad and my iphone is on the top.

With the ipad I can see the macbook display (with a remote software… at the moment I use “splashtop”)
I use the iphone to control my headphone mix.
Like here:

So I can program sounds… because I can use a mouse and a keyboard. And I can see whats going on when I
play live.

How are you guys doing it?


Cantabile 3 recommended control devices

A rack is cool, and depending on your needs is probably best. I don’t fly to gigs, my gear is always in my car, so I made this rig, which works really well for me. What I like about it is:
-I don’t need to find a table… the stand makes it self-supproting.
-It’s light, easy to carry with the handle, and fast. Pop the top off, connect a few cables and I’m done.
-I have instant access to the laptop. I use the laptop’s mousepad, but on those occassions where I’m using a mouse, like back at home when creating songs/patches, I clip a mousepad to the case.

I used a Plano 108021 handgun case, mounted with 4 bolts/nuts to a Quik-Lok LPH-001 stand. I mounted my Scarlett 2i4 under the laptop, and even mounted my wireless Guitar receiver underneath. I wouldn’t throw it in the back of a truck, but in the back of my car it’s fine, been using it over 1 year, works great.

To make it, I made a laptop “shelf” from plywood, and made some brackets to raise it up about 3". Closed cell and regular foam provide the cushioning on top of the shelf for the laptop. Under that shelf I put a Scarlett 2i4 (sandwiched in foam), the power supply for laptop, and there’s space to coil and store usb and power cables under there. Be sure to leave room for ventilation.

it is definitely not top heavy. It’s a solid as any stand can be, really… and the quiklok legs are plenty wide enough to make it really stable. Hope this helps.


Here are some pics


OK, I’ve been meaning to write everything down for a while. My rig is designed to use any keyboard. I use the Novation SL ZeRO MK II as a controller and MIDI in device. I use Bome MT (because I have for a long time) in conjunction with the Novation to let me make on-the-fly changes while playing. The 8 faders represent 8 layers or splits. I use Triggers to set MIDI and the the Cntl 7 volume values and mix at the beginning of the song. Verse/chorus changes are Song States with Triggers to change the sounds (via cntl 7) in a song. “Next State” is a button on the Novation or a footswitch. MT maintains the volume levels and changes with a set of global variables. Sending the MIDI controls can adjust the number of layers on, the split points, or both. States would seldom change patches, only volumes. Once the volume level goes below Cntl 7 2, MT filters out NOTE ON, however NOTE OFF is still sent for active layers. MT also implements a PANIC function that sends Cntl 121 and Cntl 120 to each channel individually.

The computer is a custom build. I wanted to have an IEEE 1394 (Firewire) interface rather than USB. I use the Focusrite Sapphire Pro 40 for an audio interface. It also provides mic in and guitar in via the front panel. Various output mixes are controlled by Focusrite software. My only grip about them is they were late to the Windows 10 party. If I had the custom build to do over again, I would use and Intel CPU and chipset.

The Lilliput monitor works pretty well. It’s 10" and can display leads heets well enough to read. Lead sheets are presented using Show Notes. Each Song State has it’s own lead sheet attached. I try to keep everything to 1 page, but sometimes, you just need more room.

Pictures follow…



Surface Pro 4 running Cantabile 3.
Focusrite 2i4, using the 2 balanced 1/4" outputs.
CME X-Key 25, used for the bass guitar (NI Scarbee Pre-Bass)
CME X-Key 37, used for strings/keyboard/synth/etc (Also use the expression pedal input for volume/swell)

I’m currently designing a wooden case to hold everything, as it currently takes me about 10-15 minutes to setup/teardown everything.


Nice setup OrangeBug! How do you find the X-Keys for performance/feel?

10-15 minutes setup… I dream of mine talking anything under 45 minutes! :slight_smile:



The X-Keys use a chicklet style switch, kind of like a laptop keyboard switch. That being said, they feel great! They are still quite velocity sensitive, so I can get expressive with them. The extremely short travel distance also means that it’s very easy to play fast licks across the keyboard. And the entire key depresses, so you can even play on the top of the keys (where the fulcrum would normally be on a standard keyboard).

I actually have the velocity sensitivity turned off on the X-Key 37, because I primarily use it for strings, organ, and synths. I have the expression pedal mapped in the global rack to modulate the main volume of the 2nd rack, so I can do nice swells with the strings.


I have to have a setup of 15 minutes or less, as our contemporary service is the middle service, and there is a traditional service directly following. So we have to vacate the choir loft post-haste before the choir starts stepping on all our gear.

The case will have a tiered keyboard setup, with room for 2 X-Key 37s, if I end up getting a second one. It will hold my 2i4, Surface Pro 4, as well as the USB hubs, and maybe power as well. I’d also like to install a set of 4 DI transformers inside, so I can isolate the 4 unbalanced RCA outputs on my 2i4, and then send them directly into our sound system. Then all I’ll need to do is setup my stand, plop the case down, plug in power, 4 XLR cables, and be done.

I can post a pic of the current design (in Sketchup) when I get home, if you’re interested.


My next RIG (in construction yet!!!) for live performances - trying to reduce it at máximum:

  • Surface PRO 3 (i5 - RAM 8 GB)
  • NI Komplete Kontrol S88
  • Cantabile 3 performer
  • Komplete 9 Ultimate and more sounds.

I hope to be able to setup an usable combination of everything.


Nice rig, Montxo! That Akai EIE Pro looks wonderfully retro!



Hi Neil,
yes and the best of all : it acts also as USB HUB with its 4 USB ports!!!

Contemplating on taking the plunge

OK, here is my live rig.

I started out with two keyboards, a (virtual) guitar amp, plus a number of external boxes for hammond, leslie etc. With Cantabile, I’ve stripped everything down to

  • my masterkeyboard (Kurzweil PC3K) with keyboard stand
  • my guitars (James Tyler Variax + Yamaha Acoustic)
  • my music laptop (Acer Nitro) plus audio interface (RME Babyface or MOTU UltraLite Hybrid v3)
  • my TC Helicon VoiceLive 2 voice processor + TC Helicon microphone MP-75
  • two pedals (double switch + expression)
  • a small 7’’ monitor on my keyboard for Cantabile Live View (laptop is normally closed) and an 8 ‘’ Windows tablet for lyrics & chords

Setup time is now down to less than 15 minutes when I’m in a hurry…

And this is what things look like in action:

I have now done three gigs with my Cantabilized rig and I’m not looking back! Works perfectly and lets me concentrate on the music…




Hey @Torsten,

Very cool - thanks for posting!



Nice to see your setup, @Torsten, looks highly functional, yet compact!

I see you’re not using the audio outputs on the PC3x - does it ever worry you what you’d do if your computer failed mid-song? The reason I ask is that when I read the descriptions of the keyboard rigs of people who use plugins for their live sound, a common theme is that the controller keyboard is wired up to make a few basic sounds in case of emergency (assuming they’re not using a pure controller with no sounds). Knock up the volume, and they have a piano/organ etc.

In my setup, probably 90% of my sounds come from my rack, and 10% from my PC3x (primarily strings and a few electric pianos), and I’m in the process of moving towards making that 0% (using plugins instead of those PC3x sounds), to simplify my live setup (no need to wire up jack cables, no need for a mixer). But one thing that worries me is that I’d have no safety net mid-song if my computer flipped out. And since some of my band’s songs are 20 minutes long, that could be a problem.

Just interested to hear your perspective on relying entirely on the laptop.



@Neil_Durant I have been 100% soft synth for 6 yrs. I used to carry a Roland module around “just in case”, but left it home for the past 3 yrs. I never had to use it. Keyboards can also crash as they are also computers. My laptop crashed 1 time several yrs ago, but so did our PA and a bass amp. That was either from the heat or a power problem. I always run my gear thru a power protector and my laptop sits on a cooling pad. In contrast, I have had 2 keyboards (not contollers) fail on me in the last 10 yrs. I gig normally 2-3 days a week, big shows and tiny joints. Just my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.


@Corky That’s great to hear! Could you give some more details about the cooling pad you use?



@Neil_Durant I am away from my rig for the next few days or I would be able to tell you exactly, but it is about 1/2 inch thick, has 2 quiet cooling fans on it, and runs off usb or DC power. The plus is that it also serves as a usb hub. My older laptop had 1 usb port, so I would send that usb to the cooling pad, which in turn would give me six usb ports. It was very inexpensive, but again, I will send details and some pics when I get back home.


Hey @Neil_Durant, as an IT manager, I’m paranoid by profession ;-). So I usually carry tons of backup stuff, especially for gigs where just driving back home for some replacement kit just isn’t an option.

So I usually take along a spare mixing desk (A Mackie DL1608 to back up my DL32R), a spare guitar and sometimes even a spare keyboard. And of course I bring along a fully installed backup laptop (that’s why I love @brad’s new set list verifyer) , complete with audio interface. I prefer this to a “crippled piano” scenario, since my setups have gotten pretty sophisticated - difficult to improvise with a few basic sounds.

If I was playing big paying gigs like you with songs lasting 20 minutes, I would probably run my backup laptop on hot standby, fully booted up, running the same setlist and either wired into separate channels or using hardware switches into the same channels.

But given that we are just a gang of amateurs doing this for fun (albeit with a pretty professional attitude…), we mostly play pub gigs, where our audience is more tolerant of a short break to replace a broken string, cable, blown tube or whatever goes wrong in the heat of the battle. So in case of catastrophic failure, I would simply boot up my backup machine and switch a couple of cables…

But so far, my setup has been pretty stable.




The Acer Nitro only has one HDMI port… how do you sync/connect the 8" windows tablet to cantabile?
Do you run a seperate app on the tablet which sends midi program changes to cantabile?