Keyboard Offsite Rig for stage and studio sessions


Last Update 07-28-2019

Rack Design
The Racks of the System
Stacking Keyboards
System Diagram
Rack Cases/Management
Standardized analog synth multi effects
MIDI Configuration

The bands I had performed in since 1996 didn't demand much in the MIDI department so I hadn't needed a MIDI controller for gigging.  That changed in 2013 when I had joined a southern rock weekend band playing piano, EPs, Hammond, and 3rd guitar.  By the time I joined the popular 70s/80s rock band Shylock Foxx in 2018 I really had to up the ante.

I've always been a systems guy and have built a few MIDI keyboard stage rigs over the years.  With the different genres I have played, the required elements varied.  As the years progressed with stage and studio work, I abstracted the elements needed for a stage system for whatever genre I was playing (and I've played many).  There are elements common to all the genres while others required more gear.

The 70s/80s rock band placed a heavy demand on keyboards so this was an opportunity to build the last stage rig I would need.  Since this was the genre that would maximize the gear I would need, I took the modular approach to building the stage rig.  Besides the sound sources, I planned effects into the system.  With a modular system, I only take what I need for the genre.

So after many years of leading a double identity as studio rat and gigging musician, I decided to design a keyboard offsite rig with the following attributes:
Since this was going to be a MIDI controlled system, my Kurzweil MIDIBoard was designated as the master MIDI controller.  Besides a controller for playing, it can configure my entire system for each song.  This would include sound patches, effects, MIDI matrix routing, etc.  For each sound patch I can configure volume, variations in envelope and filter settings, etc over MIDI.  The MIDIBoard also has the best feeling action I have ever played, which is important to the piano player in me.  Since all my MIDI devices can respond to MIDI volume control, I chose a simple line level mixer instead of a MIDI controlled mixer.  I do not need EQ, I prefer to shape the tone at the MIDI device.

I bought my MIDIBoard brand new back in 1989 and had gigged it often back then.  It is very reliable and very powerful.  The MIDI features are well thought out and it is an essential element in any MIDI system for automating sound configurations.  Thirty years later my MIDIBoard is firmly rooted in my studio and is currently in the basement with no ground level access.  When I last gigged with the MB it was a big hassle because of repetitive teardown and setup between studio and stage, especially up and down stairs from the basement. 

As the demands of the music grow, with a modular approach adding components is easy.  Here I have to be careful to avoid two things: excess weight and excess cabling.  My desire was to use rack mounted devices wherever possible and minimize external devices.  Rack mounted devices reduce the setup/teardown time as most of the cabling can be prewired.  I learned long ago that large racks can get heavy fast.  I have to load in/out by myself.  Yes wheels can ease the job, but they won’t help if there are stairs and lacking a trailer I had to lift the racks into the back of my pickup truck.

Now to find a MIDI master controller.  After reviewing the crop of new MIDI controllers on the market, I found nothing that came even close to the power and feel of the MIDIBoard.  There are 88 note digital pianos that can transmit MIDI, but they are not a MIDI controller that can automate sound configurations nor can they transmit MIDI on multiple channels.  Frankly I was spoiled by the power, flexibility, and feel of my MIDIBoard so I opted for a 2nd "road" MIDIBoard and found one in short order on the 'bay.  There were other benefits to this decision:

Designing the Racks
Since I would need my Alesis Andromeda for some genres, I designed the racks so they could double as a keyboard stand for the Andromeda.  I now knew how tall I would need the racks.  To control the weight, instead of a single tall rack for supporting the Andromeda I chose to stack two racks.  The two racks are different size (8U and 12U) to distribute the weight evenly with rack mounted devices.  Weight does vary per rack unit space depending on whether the device has an internal transformer (which is heavy) or is powered from an external power source.

One thing that is absolutely forbidden from my stage system is “wall wart” power supplies.  Wall warts made cheaper product possible - they were used as an external power source to get around UL requirements for high voltages in an enclosed box and eliminate an expensive development process.  Unfortunately wall warts are unreliable and not rugged enough for the rough rigors of the road.  Since I had devices that required external power sources, I eliminated all the wall warts with a Juice Goose 12Paq.  The 12Paq can supply low voltage sources such as 9VDC and 12VDC (both polarities), plus 9VAC (which can be configured to supply 18VAC if you know what you’re doing).  I bought a new one for my studio years ago and it has proven so reliable that it was the optimal tool for the stage system.  Today the 12Paq is no longer made so I acquired a used one which required some restoration.  The power outputs are on RJ45 interconnects similar to computer network ports, and I already knew the wiring for the 12Paq so I could build my own cables.

I was looking at a diverse assortment of rack mounted devices so I planned out the racks using a spreadsheet listing weight, power source, interconnects, and size of each device.  I had a total of four racks, two 8U and two 12U racks.  This spreadsheet really helped to plan the weight distribution and position of each device in the racks. 

Heat distribution is also a parameter I had to pay attention to when planning the racks.  FEW DESIGNERS CONSIDER THIS PARAMETER.  If any device generates too much heat, then it is in danger of becoming unreliable.  I don't want stuff breaking down in the middle of a show.  I wanted to avoid cooling fans as they can also fail. 

Everybody knows that heat rises.  Passive heat convection allows heat to escape by rising in open space, so it is the most reliable method of eliminating heat and maintaining reliability.  The components that usually generate heat are the transformers and voltage regulators, which are almost always located at the rear of the device.  The experience from building my studio taught me that arranging the rack devices with the deepest one on the bottom with shallower ones above exposed the rear of the devices to open space, achieving passive heat convection.  When I couldn’t get optimal arrangements, I used a vent panel between devices to create open space.  This has not yet failed me.

I built the I/O panels which are arranged in each rack so that they are in close proximity when the racks are stacked. That permits interconnect cables between racks as short as possible which reduces the tangle of longer cords.

I use a Magliner cart that converts into a dolly, so I can pile the cases and minimize the trips back and forth to my pickup truck.  I don't require access to the racks during performances.  For the shows where there are multiple bands requiring fast band change-outs or where we play on an elevated pavilion in a park, the racks are set offstage and only the keyboards get changed out with long cable bundles to the racks.

Security covers are used to prevent unauthorized access (believe me it does happen).

The Racks of the System
Over the years of performing various genres in clubs and studios, I have abstracted the minimum ideal keyboard setup into the following:
  • weighted action 88 note master MIDI controller
  • Kurzweil Rack containing effects processors and sound generation components for "bread-n-butter" sounds like acoustic pianos (APs), electric pianos (EPs), brass, reeds, winds, strings, tuned percussion
midi-controller kurzweil-rack
base system

First rack on the design table is the Kurzweil Rack as seen above.  For the "bread-n-butter" sounds (again, zero learning curve and known reliability history) I elected for the Kurzweil 1000 romplers which can also be found cheap on the used market.  I bought a 2nd 1000PX to provide the percussive family sounds such as APs, EPs, guitars, basses, percussion, harps, vibes, and choirs; a 2nd 1000SX to provide strings, winds, reeds, brass, tympani, and other orchestral instruments.  That's pretty darn near a complete orchestral sampler system!  The 1000 units I bought did not have the latest OS so I copied the OS and soundblocks from my existing units (while I had them out of the racks, I also performed periodic replacement of the patch backup batteries).  I copied the studio configurations and patches to the road units, then modified the MIDI mapping slightly for the offsite system.  The new OS and soundblocks for the 1000SX actually comprises a 1000AX system, so I combined my 1000SX and 1000HX patches into a single library - this barely fit into the RAM capacity on the unit.

Being early generation romplers, the Kurzweil 1000 units lack DSP effects like reverb.  I prefer outboard effects for maximum dedicated processing horsepower so I chose the Lexicon PCM-60 digital reverb, which is a portable compact version of my studio reverb units - Lexicon Model 200 and Eventide 2016 reverbs.  The studio units are too big for the rack I had planned, and the PCM-60s are much smaller, cheaper, and simpler.  Piano and percussive instruments generally work best with room reverb and strings/brass with plate reverb; so I opted for one PCM-60 configured to room reverb "normalled" to the 1000PX, with a second PCM-60 configured for plate reverb "normalled" to the 1000AX.  There are songs where I alternate rapidly between piano and brass/strings, and two separate reverbs were required because a single reverb unit would produce audio gaps when toggling between reverbs.  Because each PCM-60 is a fixed configuration, MIDI control of the effects is not required.

For studio sessions, I designed the I/O panel on the rack to get the raw sounds without effects.  I also included I/O for inputs to the PCM-60s so they were available as separate processors, and inserts so I could patch pre-delays for the reverbs.  This rack generates some heat so I installed vents and fans on the rear lid.  The fans aren't quiet - not a problem on a loud stage, but for studio work I can simply remove the rear lid.

The Kurzweil Rack and MIDIBoard form the "base system" which is a scaled down subset of my home studio system.  I wanted to minimize setup/breakdown time by consolidating multiple footswitches and sweep pedals used with the MIDIBoard.  My Moog Polypedal hadn't seen much use as I no longer used it with the Polymoog so I decided it would be the perfect footpedal solution, as everything I needed was in one unit and it could eliminate multiple cables with a single multicore cable.  Being a heavy road-rugged unit, it also doesn't slip away from your feet like individual pedals do.  Even though I gigged the Polypedal since 1985 without a case, I acquired a new Anvil case for it.

  • For performing on stage, I add the Moog Synamp and Bose 802 speaker.
  • For those shows involving loud guitar players, I add a 2nd Bose 802.  Two of them combined with the Synamp can easily compete with a 100w Marshall full stack.
  • The monitor system consists of the Bose 802s and 802-C companion controller unit which have proven adequate for stage use.  The 802-C is a required component with the 802 speakers as it processes the signal for optimal sound reproduction in the 802 speakers - the fidelity is so good that they sound nearly equal to my home studio monitors, so my sound design in the studio translates easily to the stage.  The Moog Synamp is an integrated system with four channel mixer, 10 band graphic EQ, and two 200 watt power amplifiers each with protection circuits.  The Synamp was the first stage sound system designed exclusively for keyboards.
  • If I am performing left hand bass or bass guitar, then I have to add a 2x15 cabinet as the Bose 802s do not project bass frequencies very well.  In this configuration, the Synamp is configured in biamp mode and both power amps are in use.  The Bose 802-C controller in the Synamp rack also serves as a crossover for splitting into high and low frequencies.  Although the Synamp does have an onboard crossover, it is custom tailored for the Synamp speaker cabinets which I do not have (and am unlikely to ever want as they are HUGE).
stage-system-1 full-system

This system can be expanded as the event requires:

How do I stack extra keyboards?

I added these four rubber glides to the top of the MIDIBoard... supports-1
...for placing the Hammond XK3 on top... supports-2
The racks are designed to double as a keyboard stand.  Since no one makes a tabletop keyboard support system with tiers, I had to build one.  The base frame is fabricated out of 2x4 pine, and I used bare tiers from K&M.
keyboard tiers

Next up is the Base Analog Rack.  This is named because it is the base component for MIDI control, and since expansion was going to involve all the modules and analog synthesizers it contains the mixers for such.

This contains the core components of the stage rig - mixers, MIDI matrix control, sequence playback, SYSEX backup, and modules essential for rhythm.  My preference for line level mixers have been Rane SM82 as they are clear & transparent, and they can be chained as your system grows.  For sequence playback and SYSEX backup I chose the Alesis Datadisk - it uses floppy disks but no one has made a MIDI accessory like this with newer memory like USB sticks!  Proving again that old stuff fits the bill, I use a JL Cooper MSB+ for a programmable MIDI matrix.  Most of these are duplicates of my studio system, and I prefer to minimize the learning curve of new devices.  Since most of these devices use eternal power supplies, I placed the Juice Goose 12Paq in this rack.  None of the other racks have any need for external power supplies.

  • Juice Goose 12Paq (universal low voltage power supply, designed to eliminate “wall warts”)
  • Alesis Datadisk (portable media MIDI backup/restore and MIDI sequence playback)
  • JL Cooper MSB+ (programmable MIDI matrix)
  • Alesis DMPro (ROMpler sound source drums and percussion with built in digital effects)
  • Rane SM82 (line level mixer, stage monitor summing)
  • Eventide 2016 (removed, no longer needed)
  • I/O panel, MIDI & AC distribution
  • Moog Minitaur (analog sound source for huge Taurus pedal sounds)
  • Rane SM82 (line level mixer, main keyboard to FOH)
  • I/O panel, main keyboard inputs, monitor output, & FOH outputs
base analog rack

Minitaur output has its separate FOH send, giving the sound engineer better control to balance bass pedals and main keyboards.

Need to add the Hammond and a monophonic analog synthesizer for leads and effects?  That's the purpose of the Minimoog Rack:

  • Minimoog Voyager RME.  This is the Rack Mount Edition (RME) of the 21st century Minimoog Voyager.  I acquired this RME for a decent price from the Moog Store as a portable version of the Voyager SE I keep in my studio.  Both have the Slew Rate modification which brings the tone a lot closer to my original RA Moog synthesizer.
  • Standardized analog synthesizer multi-effect system (see below)
  • Dynacord CLS-222 Leslie Simulator for the Hammond organ.  While I do own a real Leslie cabinet, it is heavy and bulky enough that I can't justify lugging it around unless the genre requires a lot of Hammond playing.  Also a Leslie takes up stage space and requires miking.  Simulating the effect of a rotating speaker is extraordinarily difficult (there are simulators that are adequate for guitarists but not for Hammond organ), but the Dynacord CLS-222 delivers a very convincing rotating speaker effect in a rackmount 8lb package that does not require micing.  The CLS-222 has long been out of production but it is still the standard against which other simulators are measured against.  I grew tired of the bulky fragile 11pin interconnect system - the connectors are breakable plastic for which no rugged metal shell replacement is available, so I designed a replacement interconnect using Switchcraft XLR 6pin connectors which are far more reliable.

And finally, the 70s/80s rock band placed a heavy demand on polysynth sounds that warranted bringing them.  I initially included the Alesis Andromeda and Oberheim OBX, and later eliminated the OBX when I succeeded in duplicating OBX sounds in my Andromeda.  The Andromeda covers sounds from my Memorymoog and OBX, as well as secondary monosynth lead lines and many many sounds only the Andromeda can pull off.  Many of the songs we play can't be accomplished by a single multi effects unit.  The Andromeda has internal digital effects but were not enough.  The Andromeda does have auxiliary outputs, so I route these to extra multi effects units in the Analog Polysynth Effects Rack:

Components: standardized analog synthesizer multi-effect system (see below) analog processors


System Diagram

This diagram of the full system shows the maximum I could conceivably need for any genre.  There are certainly situations where I don't need all of this, I only take what I need.  Everything I could potentially need for the stage and for any genre.  IE Southern rock would not need the analog synths. 

Despite the appearance, it is not that complex and it sets up easy.  I started using TRS I/O for stereo signals between keyboards and racks which reduces cabling and setup time by half.  My interconnect cables are between 10 and 18 inches long, and for each stereo signal instead of dual cables I chose a single two conductor cable with TRS connectors.  This convention speeds up setup and teardown time.

Since my keyboard duties tend to be dynamic, snakes are not a solution.  I generalized audio and MIDI cables into bundled sets, with separate sets for each external keyboard but not instrument specific.  I designed the cable bundles to be 25ft long, for those events with multiple bands which require fast band change in/out.  With the long cable bundles I just leave the racks offstage and only switch the keyboard in and out.  This has worked for events like those.

Of all the stage MIDI systems I have built, these racks are actually the LIGHTEST I have put together.


Rack Cases & Management

I refuse to buy molded rack cases.  They can crack when dropped.  They warp in heat and you can't secure ANYTHING to the sides (adhesive Velcro strips are not a solution).  I don't like slip nuts on the rack rails, pre-tapped rails are much better.  And you can't put recessed latches on a molded case.

I prefer Anvil ATA cases.  Anything cheaper does not last, you get what you pay for.  With the wood sides, I can secure power strips, cable ties, etc with screws.  And beware of auction sellers loosely using the "ATA" tag for their cases as they are NOT ATA compliant cases.

My racks are split between studio and stage use, between recording/keyboard/FOH use.  Some are multiple use racks.

One of the first racks I ever owned was a 24 space Anvil ATA racks.  My initial rack system had everything pre-wired and ready to set up with absolute minimal cabling, but it was bulky and very heavy.  I sold it years ago and never owned another big rack again.  I came to prefer smaller racks no bigger than 12 space as they are a good compromise between minimal cabling and reasonable weight.

Minimizing weight is an ever lofty goal of gigging.Wheels are great for mobility but they add weight.  If you are carting your gear by yourself, racks with wheels can get heavy when lifting into your truck/SUV.  Do not buy wheels at hardware stores, they have failed on me.  Buy 3-1/2" wheels that can support 300lbs and have a rubber tire on cast wheel frame.  Never had one of those fail yet.

Internal interconnect cables is another place to minimize weight.  I make my own interconnects and realized I did not need rugged stage cable for internal interconnects so I opted for Canare L-2B2AT cable which is a lot lighter and easy to strip & build.  I have been using the Canare cable since the late 1990s and have yet to suffer a broken cable.  To minimize weight I used Switchcraft plugs with plastic shells.

If you go the DIY route for cabling, use nothing less that genuine Switchcraft and Neutrik plugs/jacks.  Beware that there are "look-alike" (read: counterfeit) Switchcraft and Neutrik products on the market.  I made the mistake of buying asian substitute products in bulk for making rack interconnects - big mistake.  A fifth of the plugs out of the bags had the tip shorted to the sleeve because the tip solder tab had rotated to the shell, effectively rendering it useless.  I discovered as the metal shell worked loose during transit, the shell also worked the insulating tube loose which exposed the tip solder tab.  Then the shell rested on the tab, shorting the tip to ground.  This created an intermittent malfunction that was a PITA to track down, and I had to add insulating tape to every one of those inferior plugs to solve the problem.  Do not EVER skimp on plugs/jacks.

Since I build my own I/O panels and cabling, I started using TRS I/O for stereo signals between keyboards and racks which reduces cabling and setup time by half.  I use Ernie Ball stereo 25K volume pedals which were the impetus for the TRS system.  Since my keyboard duties tend to be dynamic, snakes are not a solution.  I generalized audio and MIDI cables into bundled sets, with separate sets for each keyboard but not instrument specific.  I left AC cords out of the cable bundles to prevent 60hz EMI from creeping into my audio signals, and my power strips don't always land in the same place.

I built my own snakes for my recording system, between hard disk recorder and mixer.  I have bundled patch cables for the FX used in the studio and FOH sound system.  Big OTS 150ft snake between stage and FOH mixer.  That's the limit of bundling and snakes.

I stopped carrying cables in drawers, they add too much weight to the rack.  I use generic tool cases to pack my cables and accessories, they are lightweight and easy to carry.

Then there's the part that almost nobody pays attention to... heat dissipation.  Some rack units generate a lot of heat.  Electronic components do not like heat and will become unreliable if they get hot.  A cooling fan is noisy and not always the best solution.  That leaves passive heat ventilation which takes some planning.  Everybody knows that heat rises.  Example: if a certain rack device gets hot and is a deep unit, arrange it with shallower rack device above it.  This creates an open space from which heat can freely rise and escape - this is passive ventilation, no noise no power required.  Sometimes this approach isn't possible and you have to leave a 1sp gap between rack devices so that heat can escape.

Then there's interferences between rack items, which happens less often.  I found I had to avoid putting certain rack devices adjacent to each other because one of them generated enough EMI radiation (especially anything with a microcontroller or CPU) to create noise in an adjacent device.  top


In my experience there is no way a single multi effect processor is adequate with all the sounds I have to use.  When I was starting out with a single multiFX many years ago I quickly ran into limitations.  Every digital effects processor interrupts the audio when its algorithm is changed, and because there are songs where I switch sounds multiple times I cannot have the audio interrupted.  The only way around this is dedicated effects processors where needed.

While the Kurzweil 1000PX & 1000AX do not have built in digital effects, I used two Lexicon PCM60s for digital reverbs.  Orchestral sounds such as brass, reeds, and strings work best with plate reverb so I dedicated one PCM60 set to plate for the 1000AX, while piano and others from the 1000PX get a dedicated PCM60 set to room reverb.  I don’t need MIDI control of these reverbs.

The DMPro I use for drums/percussion has built in digital effects with flexible routing - it is plenty adequate for stage needs.   top

The standardized analog synthesizer multi effects explained:

I did a lot of experimenting in my studio and settled upon a standardized effects system that has proven effective with all my analog synthesizers.  Most of the effects I use are subtle - I do not use long reverb tails, I prefer ambient room processing that helps the synthesizers get heard in a dense mix.  I was never happy with factory preset chorus/flanger/phaser effects and preferred my own effects.  All of my effects are stereo.  Since I am almost always working with a guitar player with a beefy guitar sound, I need processing like this to be heard in the mix. 

The Lexicon PCM60 proved to be a worthy digital reverb in place of my studio Lexicon M200 which was a large unit that I did not want to cart around for gigs.  For stage work I prefer to keep things compact.  On its own, the PCM60 isn’t terribly flexible with analog synths.  While it lacked MIDI control this was not a great concern.  Frankly I never found that reverb on its own was enough for synthesizers - I needed a delay unit too.  One of my beefs with multiFX units is that the processing power is compromised as you add effects, and the audio quality is clearly degraded because the cpu horsepower has its limits.  I had enjoyed the Korg SDD series of delays - 1200, 2000, 3300 - and being a tweaker by nature I found the SDD-3300 to be VERY flexible for its delay based effects.

The SDD-3300 is a programmable triple delay unit with input and output jacks for each delay (or mix of delay outputs).  The delay units can be combined internally, with a pair of LFOs per delay unit for complex modulated delay FX plus highpass or lowpass filtering on the signal.  Because of its matrix design, you can compile delay based effects that no multiFX can dream of.  The 3300 works extremely well with synthesizers.  When using a mono source like an analog synthesizer and stereo outputs on the 3300, I found a third output and two inputs looking for a home.  Since the PCM60 is not programmable I decided to try using the leftover I/O on the 3300 to integrate them.  So I routed the third 3300 output to the mono input of the PCM60, then routed the stereo PCM60 outputs to the two unused inputs on the 3300.  With this combination I found a more flexible effects system, and since the inputs and outputs of the 3300 can be programmed I could program the reverb levels of the PCM60!

I have gotten some very good effects with this combination.  I can put the delays and reverb in series in any order or in parallel, and I actually process the PCM60 reverb tails using the 3300 to get better stereo reverb effects that sounds like the Lexicon bigger brothers.  The bonus is it doesn’t alter the tone of the original signal one iota.  It quickly became apparent that I would need a separate 3300/PCM60 set for each synthesizer, and I am very glad I went this route.  The 3300 includes a bonus as it can map effect patches to MIDI program numbers, so when sharing the same MIDI channel of the synthesizer I can map a specific effect to a synthesizer patch number.  That conserves MIDI channels.

The bass pedals need no effects at all - simply not needed especially with the big fat sound of the Minitaur.  None of my analog synthesizer sounds need long reverb tails.

Lexicon changed their reverb algorithms over the years and I preferred the “legacy” era Lexicon stuff like the PCM60 and 224/200/300/480.  Those old Lexicons just work right, it is hard to make a bad sound with those. Very few modern FX never came close to those Lexicons, and certainly not the budget effect units.  You get what you pay for…   top

MIDI Configurations

Configuration of patches for each song is imperative.  My master MIDI controller is my Kurzweil MIDIBoard, which I configure so that I only need to push one button and everything changes for the next song.  All of my patches, volume levels, effects, splits, layers, are automatically configured.  That is some SERIOUS MIDI power.  I designed a default MIDI string that configures my MIDI matrix, my Andromeda, my Hammond, and others into a “default” configuration and this MIDI string is included in the “skeleton” MIDIBoard configuration that allows me to quickly build configurations for songs.  I can add “modifiers” to the default configuration as needed (IE change MIDI Matrix to route Taurus pedals to trigger Andromeda sounds).  All of my MIDIBoard configurations are compiled in a spreadsheet from which I can print out a table listing songs and their associated setups.  Thus if the band chooses to deviate from the set list, I am ready.

I chose to exploit the MIX mode on the Andromeda as so many songs require splits and layers, and each with their effects.  The Andromeda has two auxiliary outputs and MIX mode allows me to route patches to these outputs which are tied to my multi effects.  I quickly found that the 61 note keyboard on the Andromeda was not enough so I explored using my Hammond XK3 as a MIDI controller for those times when I am not using it for Hammond parts.  The reason I prefer the XK3 was for visual impact; the XK3 is stacked on top of my MIDIBoard, and the audience cannot see my hands moving on the MIDIBoard but they can see them from the XK3.  To use the XK3 as a MIDI controller I use the CANCEL preset key which mutes the organ sound.  I found that the XK3 ALWAYS transmits on the MIDI channel for upper manual, but at FULL VELOCITY.  However the XK3 MIDI configuration can be stored with the CANCEL key (!!) so when I configure the MIDI transmit channel to a different channel, THEN the keyboard is velocity sensitive!  So on the Andromeda, I reserved those two channels for sounds I want to trigger from the XK3.  Although the XK3 transmits MIDI note data across the entire keyboard, I can use MIX mode on the Andromeda to control the range, so I can play splits or layers on the XK3 - sweet!  I can also play Andromeda patches from the MIDIBoard if playing organ from the XK3.

The final MIDI controller is my Moog Taurus II Controller which has been retrofitted with MIDI.  I can use it to trigger bass pedal sounds from the Moog Minitaur (a worthy rackmount substitute for original Taurus bass pedals), and using the MIDI matrix I can trigger other sounds from the pedals.  The musicians in the 80s rock band are big fans of the Taurus pedal sounds, and our sound engineer makes sure they are heard in the mix as I can feel them radiate from the subwoofers.

The JL Cooper MSB+ programmable MIDI matrix is a crucial asset to the stage system.  It routes MIDI signals from any input MIDI port to any output port, and two “processors” are available for filtering, shifting MIDI channels, transposing MIDI notes, etc.  Current tools can do the same thing, but they require a host computer (I REFUSE to use a laptop on stage) and they are not rack mount.  Keeping a MIDI system free of glitches is a challenge and requires some pre-planning.  Chasing down a malfunctioning MIDI device can put a few grey hairs on your head!  One of my first prerequisites was to restrict the Andromeda to MIDI Note on/off and program change messages, so I used one of the MSB+ “processors” for that task.  With the intense power of MIX mode on the Andromeda, I didn’t want a stray MIDI controller messing with it.  Since The Moog Taurus II is a static controller (fixed MIDI channel and note numbers), I employ the other “processor” to transpose note numbers and shift the MIDI channels when I want to control other MIDI devices.  I can even layer Taurus pedal sounds with other sounds (Taurus layered with Grand Piano is way cool).

The MSB+ is configured to receive MIDI program change messages only from the MIDIBoard.  This allows me to program the MIDI routing per song, which is a feature I only recently started to exploit.

Since the stage system is a compact duplicate of my studio, I can do the song configurations on my studio system since the studio also has the Alesis DMPro, Kurzweil ROMplers, and Moog Minimoog Voyager which has the same sounds of the RME.  I only need to carry the Andromeda back and forth, which minimizes the gear cartage when configuring songs between shows.  So as my configurations change, I save MIDI SYSEX to my studio Alesis Datadisk (I keep another in the studio!), then carry the floppy to my stage rig and download the updates.   top


This has turned out to be an EXTREMELY powerful system.  A lot of planning went into this system and it works great - why didn't I think of this years ago?!? glamour 2
glamour 1


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