Connecting Hardware with Software in Apple MainStage
Now that you have all your hardware, it’s time to hook it all up. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to connect your equipment to your computer, how to create a proper layout for your MainStage concert, and how to map your physical hardware to their virtual counterparts.
How to Connect Everything
The first step is to connect pedals to your keyboard. The sustain pedal should be plugging into the sustain or damper port. The volume pedal should be plugged into one of the auxiliary ports that support continuous MIDI data. The patch change pedal should be plugged into another auxiliary or footswitch port. The nomenclature of these ports differ across different brands, so refer to the keyboard’s manual for more precise instructions.
Now you’re ready to connect your keyboard to your computer. In most cases, you’ll have two choices — MIDI or USB. If your audio interface has a MIDI input, I recommend connecting your keyboard to that for maximum compatibility. If not, you can use a USB cable to connect your keyboard directly to your computer. If you decide to go the USB route, a driver will likely need to be installed for proper functionality. Consult the manufacturer’s website for information regarding driver downloads and updates.
The next step is to connect your audio interface to your computer. Depending on the model you own, the connection will either be USB, FireWire, or ThunderBolt. Here are a few things to keep in mind…
USB 3.0 and 2.0 are 99% backwards compatible.
FW800 to FW400 cables can be purchased if needed.
ThunderBolt to FW800 adapters can be purchased if needed.
I say USB 3.0 and 2.0 are 99% backwards compatible because everything will work fine most of the time. Occasionally, I’ve had issues connecting certain pieces of USB 2.0 equipment to my MacBook Pro’s USB 3.0 ports. I tend to stay away from FW800 to FW400 adapters because of compatibility issues in the past. I recommend this cable, which has always worked for me. If you own a Retina MacBook Pro, you’ll need a ThunderBolt to FW800 adapter to connect FireWire equipment.
Once you’ve connected your audio interface to your computer, power it on. Some audio interfaces are “bus-powered,” which means power is supplied via USB, FireWire, or ThunderBolt without the need for a power supply. If your bus-powered audio interface also happens to come with a power adapter, the best practice is to plug it in. Bus power isn’t the most consistent source of power, and it’s best to use a dedicated power adapter whenever possible. It’s also important to try to avoid using splitters. While some splitters are powered, un-powered models distribute bus-power to more ports. This might result in stability issues with equipment expecting a constant supply of power.
Creating a Layout in MainStage
With your gear powered on, launch MainStage and open up the default layout. It should look something like this…