Using plugins and massive sample libraries live have huge advantages sonically, with one achilles heel: it’s easy to crash your computer without setting it up well. Here are some best practices for using MainStage live:
1. Get a dedicated computer.
If you can possibly afford it, get a dedicated computer for just your live rig. Keep any extra programs off of the computer, and make sure that you install as few drivers and 3rd party software programs as possible.
2. Get as much RAM as you can.
Seriously, maxing out your RAM will do wonders for the overall speed of your live rig (samples are stored in RAM, meaning more RAM = faster load times on plugins). Yes, I know it’s expensive, but it’s worth it.
3. Use an external SSD drive for your samples.
If you’re running third party sample libraries I recommend using an external SSD drive to store your sounds. SSD drives are super fast, and will allow MainStage to stay fast even with large sample libraries up.
4. Restart your computer before you get onstage.
This helps to stop any background processes you might not know were running that could affect your system. For an extra boost, turn off wifi, too.
5. Keep your audio buffer size as high as you can stand.
In the Settings section of MainStage, experiment with buffer size to see what you can handle. The higher the buffer size, the more time your computer has to load and trigger the samples.
6. Don’t hot swap cables.
Shut down your computer before unplugging all your cables, and you’ll be less likely to create weird driver problems with your audio interface and midi controller.
7. Stress test your computer at home.
Most onstage problems can be fixed at home with a little pre-prep. Set up your rig exactly how you’d set it up at the gig, and then play through your set. Try starting extra CPU-hungry programs and see how your computer reacts. The more you experiment, the more likely you’ll find those weak spots in your system.