You need an Apple computer. It MUST be an actual computer (MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini, etc.). MainStage is NOT available for iPad. You also need a copy of MainStage installed. MainStage is available from the Mac App Store for only $30. 

SPECS: It doesn't have to be too fancy! Ideally, your machine should have an SSD (solid-state drive) and at least 16GB of RAM. These features are standard on all new Apple computers and have been for several years, so even most used/refurbished models should be sufficient.

You will also of course need adequate free storage space in order to download the MainStage files themselves, which can range in size from 500MB up to 12GB. We recommend having at least 50% of your drive space available for best performance.


Obviously, you need an actual instrument to play! Fortunately, since all the sounds are coming from MainStage via your computer, the make/model keyboard you use does not matter whatsoever. Virtually anything will work.

Ideally, your keyboard should of course have 88 keys (full-sized), since most keyboard parts take full advantage of the range of the instrument. It's also best to make sure you have adequate pedal inputs (see "PEDALS" below) if you wish to use them.

Finally, you will need to connect the keyboard to your computer via one of two ways (either MIDI or USB), so you will need to determine which method your keyboard uses. Both are acceptable, but we do recommend MIDI if possible. In our experience, MIDI connections are significantly more stable (literally and figuratively) than USB when it comes to connecting hardware.

If your keyboard only supports USB, that's not a problem. All you need is a standard USB A to USB B cable (also known as a "printer cable"). You may need to install a "driver" (firmware) from the keyboard manufacturer's website in order to make this work correctly.

If your keyboard supports MIDI, then you can use a standard MIDI cable to connect it to your audio interface (see below). No driver required.


When using pro audio applications such as MainStage, it is vital to use an audio interface. This is a device which offloads the majority of processing power from your computer and provides you with inputs/outputs to use with your hardware. In the past, many of these used "FireWire" connections, but nowadays most are available using USB cables like most other standard peripherals.

We recommend using audio interfaces which support MIDI in/out. This enables you to connect your keyboard directly to the interface using one standard MIDI cable, meaning you only need one USB connection (from interface to computer).

Your audio interface will provide you with stereo (left and right) 1/4" outputs which you can then use to connect to an amp, speakers, or your house PA system. We do recommend running audio in stereo whenever possible.

Here are a few models we recommend:



ZOOM UAC-2 ($249)


These additional pedals, while not required, do offer significant advantages when performing keyboard parts with programming. Keep in mind, you will need to ensure your keyboard supports these additional inputs. Refer to the manual provided by the manufacturer if you are unsure how to set them up.

PATCH CHANGE: A footswitch-type pedal which you can use to skip ahead in the patch list while playing. This allows you to change patches without taking your hands off the keyboard (essential for some books!).

BOSS FS-5U ($46.99)

EXPRESSION: Also commonly referred to as a "volume pedal" (which is not technically the same thing). This allows you to control the level of your playing, again without taking your hands off the keyboard. You should only use models which correspond to your keyboard's make, as the wiring for these types of pedals varies between manufacturers (i.e. Kurzweil pedals won't work with Yamaha keyboards and vice versa).

YAMAHA FC-7 ($38.95)

ROLAND EV-5 ($74.99)

M-AUDIO EX-P ($29.00)

If you have any questions about equipment, or are unsure if what you have will work, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to chat!