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MSP for string quartet/small ensembles
#1
I've read through the manual and had a play around with the freeware - this app looks incredible. Props to Mike.

I've ordered an Onyx Boox Max 3 and will put the eInk version of MSP on that when it arrives. Planning to try it out with some piano music to start with and if it's not too glitchy then the main goal would be to set it up for use playing in string quartets at weddings and then move all our repertoire from paper to tablets. It sounds like the master/slave set up will be ideal for that - I could create a set list for each wedding beforehand and then share it to the other players. I imagine the versioning update Mike has mentioned could work well for situations like this - a group all playing the same piece but playing different parts and sharing set lists. Until that is up and running I just wanted to see if anyone else is using it this way and could give me some pointers.


1. Is there any advice for setting up the library and sharing songs and set lists between tablets that will be playing different parts for the same piece? I was thinking about having each part for each piece as a separate song with the same title but the instrument in the custom field
2. Is it better to use wifi or bluetooth for connecting the tablets?
3. Is it possible to connect a bluetooth pedal while also connecting to other tablets using bluetooth/wifi?
4. Is there a benefit to having the piano parts in a separate library to the quartet parts or should I just have them as different collections?
5. I was thinking that eInk might work best for wedding gigging - low power usage, easy reading outdoors etc. Happy to hear what others think.

Many thanks to anyone who can help, and to Mike. I've been hoping for an app like this for a while now
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#2
You will be probably better off using Bluetooth rather then WiFi. Onyx tablets are notorious for consuming lots of power while on WiFi which cancels the advantage of an E-Ink screen. Either Onyx is using cheap hardware or don't care to optimize the code.

With 12.3-inch Pixel Slate you can achieve 12 hours of giging when using Bluetooth only with screen at 50% and in sleep mode while on breaks. If more power is needed it has a quick charge.

Using 4 Slates in 1x Master and 3 Slaves and with Airturn BT-105 which is based on Bluetooth 2.1. Turning pages for all 4 tablets with one and only page turner - exact/same bar numbers on the page are must.
Hardcore Master/Slave mode. Holy grail for leaders. Less powered gadgets to care for.
Can't thank Mike enough.
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#3
Thanks otnt. I'll give Bluetooth a go. I might have a look at the Slate as well. A couple of threads have suggested it but I'm not sure if they're discounting them here yet. How are they for using in sunlight? Sounds like power consumption wouldn't be a problem and if they're good for outdoors gigs then they might be a better plan than Max 3's - significantly cheaper at least.

Same bar numbers are a bit of a rarity for us but most gig music fits into 1 or 2 pages so we shouldn't need to control page turns. Good to hear that you can connect the page turner and use master/slave by BT at the same time though - hopefully the Max 3 can do the same. For the occasional parts that run into 3 or 4 pages we can probably just turn pages with the touchscreen I guess. Should be quicker than turning pages in a display folder.

Any advice on how to set up the library for sharing set lists and songs with different parts? I was thinking of using a custom instrument field but would be glad of any tips.
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#4
Hello,

1. Is there any advice for setting up the library and sharing songs and set lists between tablets that will be playing different parts for the same piece? I was thinking about having each part for each piece as a separate song with the same title but the instrument in the custom field

This is a little bit tricky to get everything set up initially, but then it should be smooth after that. What you will need to do is have multiple copies of the same song on each device (one for each part), but the way you will connect these songs when using the "Connect Tablets" feature is another field such as the Custom field. This is controlled on the slave devices if they tap the Settings button on the "Connect Tablets" dialog. If you match on Custom, then you need to insert values on each device to match up the parts you want displayed. So if the master loads one version of the song, the other tablets will load different versions of that song based on which version they insert the matching custom value in. Hopefully this makes sense. While you can use Song ID for this, if you also use the library synchronization feature, this can cause issues as the library sync will match up and sync songs with matching song IDs.

As a side note, I'm going to be adding a feature in the future for instruments/roles. I've talked about this in other posts, but you'll be able to assign instruments to different versions of a song (although you can use whatever identifier you want in this "instrument" field), and then there will be an instrument selection on the main library screen.  After picking an instrument, MobileSheetsPro will always choose the version of a song that matches the instrument if one is available. So you could then use the "Connect Tablets" feature and the correct version of the songs will be loaded on each device. This also simplifies the library synchronization as you can then just have the same library on each device.

2. Is it better to use wifi or bluetooth for connecting the tablets?

It depends on your device and requirements, but I personally find WiFi to be more reliable with my standard Android tablets. This does not take into consideration power draw though. WiFi also supports any number of tablets connected at once, where as bluetooth can allow anywhere from 3-7 devices. The limit depends on the hardware in the device and/or the bluetooth stack in the OS.

3. Is it possible to connect a bluetooth pedal while also connecting to other tablets using bluetooth/wifi?

Yes, you can maintain multiple simultaneous bluetooth connections, but you still have the same limit I described above. So the pedal eats up one of the possible bluetooth connections. 

4. Is there a benefit to having the piano parts in a separate library to the quartet parts or should I just have them as different collections?

This is a complicated question as it depends on how you want to manage things and how many songs you'll have in the library. In general, having a separate library isn't really necessary and you wouldn't gain much from that. If you had 10000+ songs in each library, then it might be easier to have separate libraries just when it comes to navigating and managing the library.


Hope that helps a little,
Mike
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#5
Hey Mike, that's all very helpful, thanks. I hadn't really grasped how the Connect Tablets settings worked so I went back and had a look at the manual again and I think I've got it now. They've only just sent the Max 3 from China so I'm probably getting ahead of myself - I'll give it all a proper try when the tablet arrives. Really looking forward to getting the Max 3 with MSP. The combo of the eInk, the size, the processing power, the OS and your app is something I've been waiting for for years. I'll post a report once I've had a proper go on it. The versioning update you've got planned sounds like it will be really useful and I think would be a real selling point for the many musos who work in combos/ensembles etc, although the iOS update is probably just as important. I'll leave you to it but many thanks.
Cheers, Guy

Quick question - it looks like the filters that are shown on the library screen are fixed. There's no way to configure those, right?
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#6
Not at the moment, but at some point, I'm going to redesign those. Right now my tentative plan is to move those to a pull-out window on the side so they can be aligned vertically. This would make it really easy to allow them to be configurable so that users can pick which ones are shown and in what order. It also means the filters will be hidden when not in use so that they can still be utilized without it taking up space. The only downside to this approach is it will take one extra step to pull out the filters before changing them. I'm probably going to ask for user feedback on this though as I'm not sure what the majority of users will prefer.

Mike
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#7
Glad to hear you have plans for making it configurable. Pullout sounds great but I'm no UI expert.
Cheers, Guy
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#8
Just a small remark on (low power) BT pedals, especially if you have lots of pieces that fit on two pages and thus do not need pedal interaction for a while: At least my BT pedal goes into sleep mode if not used for a longer time, presumably for power saving reasons. So it may happen that the first page turn step on the pedal will not perform, but just wake it up, and only the 2nd step will actually turn the pages as wanted.

This may be confusing it not anticipated, and it impedes going into a subconscious page turn automatism.

Cheers,
Petra
Playing classical music on a wind controller hobby-wise - and tired of carrying around tons of paper sheets.  Wink
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#9
Hi Petra,

Good to know. Thanks for the warning. It's going to take some getting used to - on cello you normally have to stop playing completely to turn pages. I was thinking I might just start with a cheap BT mouse and see how much I use it and how many pedals I might need etc. Looks like the tablet is arriving next week.

Cheers, Guy
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#10
Hi Guy,

you will certainly adapt to the behaviour since you are now forewarned.  Wink

It may be sufficient if you familiarize with a simple trick: Just at the start of every piece do a (not immediately necessary) page turn fore and back. After that the pedal will (presumably, but may depend on the brand) stay "alive" for the rest of the piece, and you will not experience the described issue.

Much fun with the tablet!

Petra
Playing classical music on a wind controller hobby-wise - and tired of carrying around tons of paper sheets.  Wink
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#11
(05-29-2020, 06:33 AM)Petra-Kathi Wrote: Just a small remark on (low power) BT pedals, especially if you have lots of pieces that fit on two pages and thus do not need pedal interaction for a while: At least my BT pedal goes into sleep mode if not used for a longer time, presumably for power saving reasons. So it may happen that the first page turn step on the pedal will not perform, but just wake it up, and only the 2nd step will actually turn the pages as wanted.

This may be confusing it not anticipated, and it impedes going into a subconscious page turn automatism.

Cheers,
Petra

From my experience I can confirm I have no problem maintaining Bluetooth connection between AirTurn BT-105 page turner and Google's Pixel Slate whatsoever.
I've done many 4 hour gigs with similar scenario where 1 page pieces do not need pedal interaction and occasionally turning multiple page pieces.
In between the hours we would have 5-10min breaks and I would leave AirTurn-tablests Bluetooth connection untouched and I would only put 4 Slate tablets into the sleep mode.
When I wake tablets up with my fingerprint they are all ready to go in Master/Slave mode including page turning with multiple page pieces.

Perhaps people should start mentioning their specific devices (in case of problems) for other people to avoid them.
What pedal, device (tablet/notebook), operating system (ans its version) or firmware is used.
Your poor experience might not correlate with experience of other MSPro users.
It sounds as that everybody should apply your "waking up" advice as a general rule.
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#12
(05-26-2020, 11:29 AM)Oz Cello Wrote: Thanks otnt. I'll give Bluetooth a go. I might have a look at the Slate as well. A couple of threads have suggested it but I'm not sure if they're discounting them here yet. How are they for using in sunlight? Sounds like power consumption wouldn't be a problem and if they're good for outdoors gigs then they might be a better plan than Max 3's - significantly cheaper at least.

Same bar numbers are a bit of a rarity for us but most gig music fits into 1 or 2 pages so we shouldn't need to control page turns. Good to hear that you can connect the page turner and use master/slave by BT at the same time though - hopefully the Max 3 can do the same. For the occasional parts that run into 3 or 4 pages we can probably just turn pages with the touchscreen I guess. Should be quicker than turning pages in a display folder.

Any advice on how to set up the library for sharing set lists and songs with different parts? I was thinking of using a custom instrument field but would be glad of any tips.

Right now all Pixel Slate versions are discounted. M3 version is $440 on Amazon at the moment.
I am not using Pixel Slate on direct sunlight because I would never expose my violin to direct sunlight.
In case of an outdoor gig I would play always under gazebo/canopy to protect the instrument.
I think string quartet playing outdoor should be always amplified unless it is a seated concert in acoustically very good venue.
I am always amazed looking at string quartets performing and outdoors background music events and nobody could hear them.
Using gazebo/canopy is must to protect electrical equipment.
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#13
Hi otnt,
We don't play in direct sunlight if it's hot out, particularly if the sun is high in the sky. Even so we often end up playing in situations where there's a lot of light and glare. I was assuming that backlit screens would be difficult outdoors even without direct sunlight but I'll have to give it a try and compare it to the eInk. The price you mention for the Slate is less than half the price of the Max 3 so it's certainly worth looking into for me.
Thanks again, Guy
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#14
(05-30-2020, 08:27 PM)otnt Wrote: Perhaps people should start mentioning their specific devices (in case of problems) for other people to avoid them.
What pedal, device (tablet/notebook), operating system (ans its version) or firmware is used.
Your poor experience might not correlate with experience of other MSPro users.
It sounds as that everybody should apply your "waking up" advice as a general rule.

My posting on that issue was a general one and not addressing a certain brand/combination, rather an expected power saving feature of a BT device. But I agree that a relatable definition of the used system can certainly help.

So here is my setup:
# Two Samsung 12.2" tablets (P900 and P905(?), with 2560x1600 resolution) placed side by side into a wooden rim, with Android 5.0; MSP coupled by BT, operating in master/slave mode with alternate paging
# Dual foot pedal Donner DMB-1, coupled by BT to master tablet

M/S operation works mostly flawlessly, provided that you adhere to a certain switch-on order and timing, so the MSP instances find their partners in due time windows. Songs library is maintained on the master only, and then copied to the slave without the installation specific settings(!) via a Linux host computer - that hosts the song library backup as well at the same time.
Pedal is going to sleep after some time it wasn't used, and then exhibits the behaviour as described in my former posting.

Btw: If you are lucky you get those Samsung 12.2 tablets as used ones for some 200 EUR. They are not the newest ones, of course, but do a very good and long-lasting job for MSP-only operation. Thy connection tablet-pedal is very stable. (Only tested in electro-magnetically "quiet" conditions in rather small private groups, though.)

Cheers,
Petra
Playing classical music on a wind controller hobby-wise - and tired of carrying around tons of paper sheets.  Wink
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#15
(05-31-2020, 06:00 PM)Petra-Kathi Wrote:
(05-30-2020, 08:27 PM)otnt Wrote: Perhaps people should start mentioning their specific devices (in case of problems) for other people to avoid them.
What pedal, device (tablet/notebook), operating system (ans its version) or firmware is used.
Your poor experience might not correlate with experience of other MSPro users.
It sounds as that everybody should apply your "waking up" advice as a general rule.

My posting on that issue was a general one and not addressing a certain brand/combination, rather an expected power saving feature of a BT device. But I agree that a relatable definition of the used system can certainly help.

# Dual foot pedal Donner DMB-1, coupled by BT to master tablet

Pedal is going to sleep after some time it wasn't used, and then exhibits the behaviour as described in my former posting.

Cheers,
Petra

DONNER is prime example of unauthorised industrial design copying in Gina. Selling "cheaper" but not as quite same as AirTurn. Donner has no support at all for surprised owners like you.
Donner's has short automatic sleep mode baked into the firmware that cannot be turned off. That means when you need to make a fast page turn nothing happens.

With AirTurn you can change time out period or turn it off completely with AirTurn Manager software.

You are still presenting Donner's power saving feature as some expected general rule but it is just bad firmware design not suitable for music. Avoid Donner if you are serious about performing.
Similar to buying "cheap" tablets from Gina and then people are surprised battery died after a year.
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