Is it advisable to use an audio interface for live effects?
I am interested in purchasing a M-Audio Fast Track Interface, to use in live performances.
I would use it with Ableton Live on my laptop, to apply effects to my sound.
I would run the signal from my Bass to the interface and then from the interface, to my bass combo amp.
Is this advisable? Or are there issues I would run into using a setup like this?
The real problem that you will face is latency. Depending on the interface and computer, it might work but it might not. Latency is the time it takes for the signal to be converted from analog to digital, the effects to happen and the signal to be re-converted to analog and out. It just takes time...no way around it I think.
Ps. A Ms is 1/1000 of a second.
I use Guitar Rig 4 and a fairly nice Asus R.o.G. laptop and I've got mine down to about 10 ms. It's not noticeable to the audience but I can feel it. 10 ms is really really fast...only 1/100 of a second.
I'd never do this. Too many points of failure. But the EDM community does stuff like this all the time, no reason you can't. It seems these days most 'live' sets have some dude with a laptop up on stage.
Actually, there are less possible points of failure than in a pedal based rig. In a pedal based rig, every connector is a possible failure point. You've only got input and output in a digital rig. Yes, your computer might take a dump, or your CPU might hit a really busy cycle or something.
The reality is anything can fail. Is one more likely than the other? It all depends on how they are treated. If the comp is set up properly, defragged when it needs to be and doesn't have a bunch of unnecessary gack running, it's just as dependable as an analog signal chain that is properly maintained.
Technically you are correct however I still view the computer as potentially more of a pain in the rear when it comes to failures.
If a pedal fails, simple onstage fix to bypass, and keep using my other pedals then the sound is probably not drastically destroyed. If the computer fails you can bypass to your amp or FOH DI but you lose EVERYTHING about your sound that the computer provided. And if you are using a lot of effects that's a big deal. If you are just using the computer for a single effect maybe not so much, but then why not use a pedal?
Also, an analog signal chain won't fail in the same way that a digital computer will. It's whatever you are comfortable with I suppose and I understand people use computers on stage for their sound. I'm just not going to be one of those.
Cant think of any reason to use laptop for bass guitar effects. Hardware pedals or multi effect unit makes much more sense to me. Programming some sort of suitable foot controller for laptop is another requirement of going that route. Whereas with hardware pedals and multi effect units you got the needed foot controllers and other controls allready at hand.
I have played with this some as well. The best solution I have come up with is that I have an A/B box splitting my signal from my normal rig, to the computer rig. I only have a few short times when I may want the computer, so I can switch over to it when needed. I run from my interface to the board directly for that output as well, put it in the monitors and front of house.
Although to be honest, I'm finding that its better to turn those sounds into recordings and just launch them from my computer instead of trying to play them live.
Latency is a real issue and its just annoying.
Thanks for the help everyone!
I forgot to mention I would use this playing with a band.
I seems like the main issue I will face is latency. I have a few more questions on that front.
If I use the M-Audio Fast Track interface, and a mid-high end laptop, is it easy to get the latency down to 10ms (without lowering the sound quality by too much)?
And if I can acheive 10ms latency, will this mean I will no longer lock in with the rest of the group? or will it not be too noticeable?
Definitely possible, Sergio Vego of Deftone used Guitar Rig 3 for years live and never had a failure.
I'm playing around with a similar idea with the iPad but its so achievable with a decent laptop already.
Give it ago and see how you get one worst case you've got a recording rig.
10 ms is really fast man. Think 1/100 of a second. I doubt that will make you not lock up. I think that 20 might not even be noticeable.
20 would be noticeable, IMO, but 10Ms most people could probably live with.
It's interesting to me that in all the "laptop as effects rig" threads I've read here, no one has considered the possibility of using a midi track as an auto effect switcher. It's the main reason I'd considered one in the past, especially since the drummer I had at the time was using a click anyway...
I ended up getting an M-Audio M-Track 2 Channel audio interface and using it with Guitar Rig. Performed live with it once so far, and everything went well (had 18ms delay, but it wasn't really noticeable) so thanks for the help!
Considering getting a POD XT effects pedal for easier switching between effects live in the future though.
FWIW a dedicated bass processor like a Roland VB99 is 2ms.
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