First of all I would like to apologize for my English. I am from Greece but I will try to be clear. So, I have a band and I want to make gigs using VST plugins live (on real time), and I am wondering (for example), if I can connect my guitar to channel 1 on my analog or digital mixer and use my VST plugins from my laptops DAW (for example cubase) to create my sound, and at the same time to connect the bass instrument to channel 2 and control it from my pc using VST and connect the microphones on channel 3 (to do the same thing) and my e drums (to do the same thing).

I know that there are many digital mixers that can do almost the same thing that I am describing as it carries some software with built in VSTs but I really don't like them and I think (I am not sure) also that I cant install/add to that kind of software my VST plugins that I am intending to use. If there was a way to add VST on digital mixers it would be the solve of my problem.

I personally thought that if an analogue mixer has a built in sound card then maybe the cubase could see that interface and let me control any channel and at the same time let me use my plugins live.

If anyone have any thoughts I would be glad to hear.

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    When you say "connect the bass instrument to channel 2 and control it from my pc using VST", what do you mean by "control"? do you mean applying effects from a VST effect plugin? – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 27 at 11:54
  • As you're involving a computer for the VST plugins, is it possible that you don't need a mixer at all, but just an audio interface that allows you to route your instruments and microphones into the computer, and get a mix out? – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 27 at 11:55
  • There are some digital mixing platforms that allow you to purchase and use (non-VST) third-party plugins, but they are generally more expensive. Avid Venue and the UAD platform are examples. There are also software packages that let you mix in the software but they can be high latency or demand very powerful computers (MainStage). When I try to distill this question down to its essence, it seems like you're looking for a recommendation for equipment, which is off topic here. If you're asking how to do this with any kind of equipment, well you can't. You have to get certain gear to do this. – Todd Wilcox Apr 27 at 12:01
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    I don't know about every Xenyx product, but if you look at the manual of the XENYX X1204USB, it says that only stereo audio can be sent to from the mixer - in other words, there's no advantage over your two channel sound card. On the other hand, if you look at soundcraft.com/en/product_families/…, you will see that they can send 12 or 22 channels to the computer and back, which they say "allows plug-ins to be inserted on any input channel". That is somewhat unusual though.... – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 27 at 19:44
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    ...and I'm not sure if you can control the mixer from the computer as such - for that, you're likely to need a digital mixer. But of course if you're OK with the latency of going into and out of the computer via USB, again that raises the question - why use a mixer at all? Why not just use an audio interface with enough inputs and mix in the computer? – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 27 at 19:48

You have a few different options.

  • Mix completely "in the box", i.e. all mixing happens in software in the DAW. Your audio interface has enough input channels to bring all audio things into the DAW for mixing, processing with plugin effects and combining with software instruments. Output the main mix and maybe monitor mixes. DAW software such as Ableton Live, Cubase and Reaper should be able to handle so many input and output channels that from your perspective there is no limit, but the computer system including the audio interface, has to be good enough to handle low latencies reliably. You will have to test the entire system thoroughly to know if it's reliable for live use.

  • Hybrid solution 1: use a normal mixer (digital or analog, it doesn't matter), but run the guitar and bass through an audio interface and DAW (with plugins) before outputting to the mixer's input channels. Your computer/DAW only works as an amp+effects simulator, and for the whole mix you'll use the real mixer. You could just as well use a hardware amp simulator instead of a computer.

  • Hybrid solution 2: use a digitally controllable hardware mixer that has a few input/output channels connected to the computer's DAW, so you can process some channels with the plugins you want. With MIDI or other kinds of control protocols, you could remote-control the mixer. There are even rack-mount stage box mixers where the only method for controlling and changing mix balance, EQ etc. is via a remote-control application. But do you really want to control the mix with the DAW software in realtime? Why? Do you have pre-programmed songs with effect and balance automation changes during the songs?

  • Use the DAW computer and plugins as insert effects in a mixer's input channel. Maybe a weird and far-fetched scenario, and for electric guitar you want a proper Hi-Z input with 1 Mega Ohm input impedance or more.

  • Thanks alot, I will try all of that – Petros Petros Petros Apr 28 at 8:22
  • @PetrosPetrosPetros If the DAW is only doing amp sims for guitar and bass, and everything else is handled by a real mixer, then you'll have at least drums and vocals to entertain the crowd while you reboot the computer. ;) – piiperi Reinstate Monica Apr 28 at 8:40

On SE we don't want to give recommendations for specific equipment, but there are some general considerations:

  1. How many channels there are in the audio interface. If a mixer has 10 channels, but the integrated audio interface has only 2 input channels (quite common), then at best you can use only two different effects simultaneously.

  2. Such configuration will unavoidably add some latency. The audio interface, as well as your PC need to be good enough to keep the latency sufficiently low for you. This may also affect how many effects you can use simultaneously.

  3. Do you want the effects to process the whole signal from a channel, or do you want to add it them parallel?

    • In the first case (e.g. how typically a guitar amp modeler is used) you need to make sure the mixer allows you to mute given channel while still sending it to your PC, so that you don't hear the clean signal in the mix
    • The latter case it's easier, but the latency introduced by the whole system might be an issue. It may cause phase cancellation, it will change the sound of modulation effects, etc.

You will need to study user manuals of the mixers and perhaps search for reviews of the specific equipment to answer these questions for you.


I think I know what he’s asking.

Assigning a midi or usb midi controller so that to use it’s nobs, sliders, and buttons to control parameters on a DAW and VST plugin.

The problem I had with this is that you can only assigning links to your midi remote in the DAW(if your DAW supports MIDI remote control) and not plugins, and vice a versa, you can only link a controller to a VST(that is supported) and not the host application’s configurable parameters.

Sounds to me like you want to control knobs, sliders, and buttons that are in your VST with a generic USB controller. This will only work if the VST or DAW supports it. Assuming your setup consists of guitar gear I heard of some VSTs that support remote triggering from a foot pedal, but this linkage only works with the VST software specific to the pedal and circumvents the DAW entirely. It would be nice to control features in the host application with the foot pedal.

Looking at your existing configuration I’m pretty sure you can configure midi remote control of your channel volumes in real time application, but, any other knobs on the VST that you want to tweak live will be untranslatable even though you can tweak it in real-time with the mouse pointer.

Triggering effects with a mouse or USB remote can be recorded too, but this then neglects any real-time play/performance that I think you’re after.

Let me know if this is what you were asking.

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