There’s no perfect way to set up a keyboard rig, but here’s a glimpse into what has been successful for me. This is the equipment I currently use and the way I use it.
Macbook Pro – Quad Core i7, 16gb RAM, 1tb ssd hard drive, 500gb ssd hard drive
Mainstage 3, Omnisphere 2, Keyscape, Komplete, Addictive Keys, Valhalla Shimmer, the Output Collection
Yamaha S90 and Nord Electro 2 (73 key), or similar (used as midi controllers)
Moog Little Phatty Stage II or Juno 60 with Strymon Big Sky or Lunar Echo
Akai LPD8 Pad Controller, Radial JD6 DIs (Jensen equipped), DMB Pedals Stereo A/B Switch, Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 Interface, 1964 A12 in-ear monitors
Mainstage 3 is the brain of everything in my rig. Nearly every sound and effect that I send to FOH is from the computer. I use the Akai LPD8 to control filters, trigger effects, fade volumes, switch from one patch/song to the next, and so on. The rig is set up so that I never have to touch the computer. In the midst of a fast transition, laptop keys are just too small to hit accurately. I also have a backup setup plugged in. Even though Mainstage is very stable, it can still crash. So, I use a DMB Stereo A/B Switch to always keep one of my keyboards patched in. With that pedal I can switch from the computer’s sounds to the keyboard’s internal sounds with one button. That way if the computer does crash, I can keep playing. In addition to software, I use a Moog or Juno as additional flavor. A Juno through a Strymon Big Sky is a magical combination, and the Moog is an unbeatable bass synth. Sometimes it’s nice to depart from my pre-programmed patches in the computer and just tweak on a sound live in the moment. Altogether, I send 5 channels to FOH: Keys 1 left/right, Keys 2 left/right, and the Moog (mono). Keys 1 is where I send leads and pianos, and Keys 2 contains mostly pads and synth chords.