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Hi Gary.
There is a related news story on our site – https://www.ilive-digital.com/news_story.asp?view=538 – Steve, the engineer on that show has also recently run FOH for Alphabeat using just laptop on their recent tour.

I use various combinations of racks and surfaces for my shows and am using my laptop now for an increasing number whether FOH, monitors or both. For me the advantages hugely outweigh the compromise in not being able to grab a handful of faders. I was initially more concerned about the reliability of a laptop running Windows, and usually add a PL-10 remote configured as a get-out-of-jail backup. That said my laptop has proved pretty solid. I have been pleasantly surprised to find how easy it has been to manage shows without sound check or with multiple acts. Careful planning of the Editor layout and channel organisation before the show makes a big difference. I use a ‘Festival Plot’ user show I created as a starting point for the shows I do.

Here are a few notes which you may find useful…

You may find it easier or quicker to use a touch tablet rather than mouse. Mine is a Toshiba Portege with stylus, but there are others available now. How nice it would be to get a touch Mac though! Consider the weight if you are wanting a big screen. My laptop screen folds flat and I can choose landscape or portrait view, easy to carry around. It’s good to be able to dim the screen for operation under show conditions. Editor provides an option to change the background colour.

Use the Custom Strips to ‘design’ a suitable layout. You can put gaps between strips, for example inputs and masters, by dragging a channel there and then dragging it out of the window. That leaves a gap. I usually create 3 Custom Strip layers – ‘Monitors’ (inputs and wedge/IEM masters), ‘FOH’ (inputs, FX, some DCAs and main masters), and ‘Setup’ (CD, vocal inputs, all masters, DCAs). The Setup layer is used for getting the PA running and ringing out the vocal mics in the monitors before sound check.

The DCAs can give you that missing ‘hand’ on multiple faders. I put an FX DCA next to the FX masters to quickly mute or reduce FX between songs. For a small show my others are typically DRUMS, BK/LN (guitars, bass etc), DI (acoustics, anything that may go pop when the talent pulls the plug!), VOX and CD (walk-in playback).

For my less than perfect eyes I find it helps to colour the channels in a way which makes them quick to find on the Editor screen, for example drums green, bass blue, guitars green separates those groups of instruments nicely.

A good screen layout for ringing out the monitors is to open the RTA top left (Edit menu/Meters/RTA), Custom layer with inputs and monitor masters bottom, then select the GEQ for that monitor putting it top right just below the RTA display. Select PAFL for the monitor you are working with. Now select Mix for the vocal mic channel. The monitor master fader becomes the send from that vocal mic to that monitor. Raise the master (send) fader until you start to hear the ringing. The RTA displays the dominant frequency helping you identify it and therefore pull it back in the GEQ.

There are plenty more tips but I don’t want to ramble on too much. I’m sure other forum folk can add their methods and tricks here too. We are working on some exciting updates to Editor for the forthcoming V1.6 release due in a month or so. These are aimed at making the job of mixing on the fly even easier.
Let us know if you want any more information on this application.