10 Tricks to Using Mainstage Live on a Slow Computer


So you’ve installed Mainstage on your computer, and you’re all set to hit the stage. Mid way through the set, Mainstage crashes. The CPU meter is pegging out at 90%, the hard drive isn’t keeping up with Mainstage’s massive sample library, and you’re convinced you’re going to have to upgrade your computer to use it. Here’s 10 tricks to try before you head to the Apple Store: 


1. Make sure that you have at least 40% of your internal hard drive free. It’ll make it a lot easier for your computer to access big sample libraries.


2. Quit all other programs, and restart your computer. This will get rid of the RAM that might be tied up in other programs, which will make your computer run more smoothly.


3. Add only the sounds you need into your Mainstage set. This will cut down on the amount of active samples used in your session. 


4. Convert sampled synths to modeled synths. If you’re using the EXS24 for sampled synths, consider using the ES1 or ES2 plugins instead to reduce sample sizes and strain on your CPU.


5. Only open one Mainstage project at a time. It sounds simple, but worth mentioning. 


6. Reduce polyphony on your synths. Each plugin does this differently, so check out the user’s manual if you get stuck.


7. Upgrade your RAM. I know- this is an upgrade, and isn’t even possible in some newer Macs. Still, it’s the simply way to improve your rig without getting a new computer. If you can, shoot for at least 4 gigabytes of RAM, or ideally, 8 gigabytes. 


8. Select a solid color for your desktop background. This can slightly ease the GPU on your computer, which can actually boost your performance slightly in some cases. 


9. Simplify, simplify. If you don’t need 4 patches stacked with instruments each, don’t do it. You’ll be amazed how simple you can make your patches, and not miss anything live.


10. Supplement with hardware. Get a hardware keyboard to have ready at a minute’s notice onstage, just in case your Mainstage rig goes down. This will keep you from that awkward silence onstage as you try to reboot your computer. If you’re trying to slim down your rig, consider using a hardware synth as a midi controller with Mainstage. I often use an older Korg M50 synth for this purpose.


Bonus: if you’re looking for great mainstage patches for worship, I’ve got quite a few great patches, some of which are free. Check it out here.