Keyscape, an extensive collection of expertly sampled keyboard sounds, is Spectrasonic’s latest masterpiece. Keyscape’s sound quality and playability are amazing, but it’s also a very resource intensive virtual instrument. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to optimize Keyscape for your live performace rig.
Samples can be loaded in one of two modes — Streamed and Not Streamed.
When Not Streamed is selected, Keyscape will load all samples into RAM. I don’t recommend this unless you have an obscene amount of RAM — think 64GB or more. While it’s true that RAM offers insanely fast speeds, modern SSDs are more than capable for the task at hand.
When Streamed is selected, Keyscape will load the attack of each sample into RAM, and stream the rest of the sample from your hard drive. Ensure that the Pre-Load Memory Size is around 50,000 and Stream Brake is around 0.1 for optimal streaming performance.
Best of all, the sample-thinned patches have been designed with maximum sound quality in mind. It’s very difficult to distinguish them from their non-thinned counterparts — especially in a live performance setting.
The sample thinning function can be locked by clicking on the lock icon. This will ensure that all Keyscape patches are sample-thinned. This function is useful for live situations, where you would never want to load a full patch.
Lowering polyphony reduces CPU usage, but will also prevent you from playing many simultaneous notes. Keyscape has a great “voice stealing” engine, so lower polyphony counts will still sound musical. Experiment with various polyphony settings to see what works with your style of playing.
Use Effects Wisely
The location of Keyscape’s reverb settings are patch-dependent. For example, the reverb setting in the LA Custom C7 patch above can be found under the main tab. Reducing the amount to zero does not turn off the reverb. You need to click on the REVERB button to switch it off.
Other effects can be turned off at your discretion. In general, modulation effects probably shouldn’t be turned off. In other words, if you choose the LA Custom Retro Trem, don’t turn off the tremolo effect. The same goes for EQ and compression. If you like how it sounds, just leave it as is.
On a side note, if you’re serious about using high quality effects live, look into Universal Audio Apollo audio interfaces. They have built-in DSP chips that run their extensive collection of world class plugins at near-zero latency without hogging your computer’s CPU.
There’s More to Life Than Keyscape
This is perhaps the most obvious tip. Keyscape sounds amazing, but its level of detail and quality isn’t always necessary. Think about how your keyboard parts will fit into the overall mix. If you’re playing a solo set, go ahead and load up Keyscape. If you’re playing a rhythm part that will be get buried in the overall mix, perhaps Keyscape isn’t necessary. Know your role!