My Experiences with VST Live for a Live Keyboard Player

Hello all,

I’m a keyboard player mostly playing at Churches and the sporadic cover band gig. I also Music Direct and run backing tracks on occasion. I’ve been using Mainstage for almost a decade but that software has been slow, rarely updated, and increasingly unstable as MacOS and Logic get updates that don’t get along well with the software. I’m evaluating VST Live as a potential replacement.

With this latest update to VST Live that fixed Kontakt having hanging notes, I’ve finally started deploying VST Live well, Live. I’ll update this and share my thoughts when I find out something new about actually performing with the software. Here are some things I’ve noticed while preparing and performing with VST Live. Hopefully, this helps someone looking at VST Live for a similar use case.

But first, my Hardware.

2016 i7 Macbook Pro with 16GB Ram and 2TB SSD
MacOS Catalina

Audio Interface

MIDI Controllers
Native Instruments S25
Native Instruments S49
Native Instruments S88
Kawai MP10
Kawai MP8II
Nord Stage II
Nord Stage III
Yamaha Montage 88

Thoughts on preparing my session:
CPU Usage is amazing. A project of similar complexity on Mainstage would hit 80%. On VST Live it will be between 15% and 50%. I had experienced similar improvements in my testing of Gig Performer but that UI was inscrutable for my purposes.

Changing Sample Rate and Bit Depth is drastically faster. Literally minutes faster on larger sessions.

I can not plug in MIDI controllers after starting the software. This would be a deal breaker on Mainstage since it takes 2-5 minutes for me to load a session, but on VST Live starts so quickly that it hasn’t been a problem.

Global instruments are not available. I normally use drone pads or samples to help fill silence and transition from one key to the next. I’ve been also using Omnisphere stand alone to get around this but the ability to have this native inside VST Live would have been nice.

Those are in the making, more specifically, a “Global Part” where you can create Layers and Stacks as usual which stay active throughout the entire project.


I read your article and would like to use VST-Live on stage in a similar way. The article is a bit old and I’m wondering: Do you still use VST Live and do you have good experience with it on stage? And I would be interested to know how you switch the sounds: via the keyboard on the notebook or in another way? Thanks for your feedback!

You can use the mouse, touch (if avalable), MIDI controller, or automated actions to switch sounds. Also program Change and Bank Select, provided the Instrument supports it.