[chuck-users] performing with laptops

Andrew C. Smith acsmith at willamette.edu
Tue Apr 14 17:15:51 EDT 2009

I just did a couple of laptop performances, and having two DI boxes on
hand is extremely helpful.  You can either use a Firewire interface or
a Y-plug from your headphone jack, but the DI box is important because
the snake that runs to the front of the stage is usually balanced XLR
only.  I carry my own two DI boxes, because I want them to be
identical and sometimes the venue only has one box.

Also, when doing stereo, think about how you want the channels to be
split at the board.  If I have both drum beats and sound FX, I like to
pan one hard left and one hard right, just so that they can be
separated in the monitors and at the board.  For example, the drummer
(if this is a live rock setup) may want any kind of beat machine you
have going, but might not want to hear all your little glitch noises.

The absolute most fun setup I've had was two laptops running ChucK (my
current MacBook Pro and my old PowerBook G4), with a DJ mixer in
between.  I would set up beats and algorithmic processes on one, then
pan back and forth like a DJ livecoding his own turntables.  It just
provides for a really fun performance situation, and if one laptop
locks up you can vamp with the other.  Since ChucK is free and
standard on many systems, you can just borrow a laptop from a friend
to set up for this, and a DJ mixer is $50 or so for the cheap one.

Okay, long response, but I hope that gives some options.  I've gotten
more reactions not from "great sound" but from "great/hilarious
presentation," usually because I'm playing with an indie rock band and
using a playstation 2 controller or something.  Although, the sound
has gotten good reactions as well.  Good luck.


2009/4/14 Jay Klein <jay at autonoetic.com>:
> Hi all,
> I'm getting ready to start playing shows with a band that will mix live
> instrumentation with material from a laptop (primarily using Live, and ChucK
> at some point I hope).  I've never done this before and I'm not sure of the
> best way to connect a laptop to a typical rock club's mixer/PA.  I've found
> a small number of answers on the web that range from a simple cable between
> the laptop's headphone jack and RCA inputs on the mixer, to a firewire audio
> interface and a stereo DI box.  Audio quality and hum from AC power are
> mentioned as reasons to go with more advanced solutions.  I don't want to
> spend money and carry around these devices unnecessarily, but I'd also hate
> to be unprepared or inflict bad sound on the audience.  There must be a lot
> of experience with this on this list, so what do you think?
> Apologies for the arguably off-topic post, but I wasn't sure where else to
> turn.  I'll try to redeem myself with something more directly ChucK-related
> in the future.
> Thanks,
> -Jay
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