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#1305487 - 11/14/09 04:21 PM Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations
JBurn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 13
Loc: Mississippi, USA
Hello!

I just ordered Garritan's Steinway virtual piano(standard). I plan to use it with my CLP-380 to make some recordings for a CD, but eventually would like to play it real-time.

Would the CLP's speakers be sufficient? If not what type do you recommend?

I also will probably need a good sound card recommendation. I doubt my Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music is up to the task.

Any input is greatly appreciated!

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#1305512 - 11/14/09 05:46 PM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: JBurn]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: JBurn

Would the CLP's speakers be sufficient? If not what type do you recommend?

I also will probably need a good sound card recommendation.


How picky are you about sound quality. The more educated your ears are the more harm it will do to the back account.

I assume you are buying the software virtual instrument because you think it is better than what is built into the CLP. So you are looking for a quality that is all around better than the CLP. If so then you are not longer in the world of "computer speakers and sound cards" but are into pro audio and studio gear.

When we get to this level we refer to a "sound card" as an "audio interface". They are not hard to buy. Just shop in the "correct" store. Find one that caters to musicians and recording engineers. If you will ONLY be recording one digital piano you don't need much and $200 is more then enough budget for an audio interface. But it you want to also record a vocalist and a few other instruments, in other words four or eight tracks at once it gets expensive and you will need microphones and mic preamps and so on. But for your use two channels in enough and you don't need to mic a digital piano.

Here are a few USB audio interfaces to look at all are top brands $80-$180
PreSonus AudioBox USB
Lexicon Alpha
Lexicon Omega
E-MU 0202 USB 2.0
TASCAM US-144
TASCAM US-122mkII

You will also need some software for recording, mixing and mastering. I use "Logic" but there are others.

Speakers are another issue. If the goal is better than CLP sound at the volume level and power of a real full size acoustic grand piano you are looking at maybe $1K, give or take a factor of two. If you want high quality sound for just one person buy headphones for about $200 (I like my AKG K240 headphones) If the CLP sound is "good enough" then buy a cable and plug the audio interface in to the CLP speakers via the Line In jacks.

When buying speakers you have the choise of powered studio monitors or pasive home streo type speakers with an amp. There is a difference in the sound and you really have to listen carefully.

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#1305643 - 11/14/09 09:25 PM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: ChrisA]
JBurn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 13
Loc: Mississippi, USA
Thank you for your time ChrisA!

I'm thinking I'll just try it with the CLP's speakers. I'm mainly interested in the voice of the steinway.

I'm only recording classical solo pieces. But I do want the lowest possible latency. What kind of latency can I expect from a USB interface like the ones you listed? How do they compare to PCI interface cards?

Edit: I'll be using a Windows based PC with these specs:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz
RAM: 2GB DDR2 800
HDD: 10,000 RPM, 150GB (WD Raptor)

Thanks


Edited by JBurn (11/14/09 09:31 PM)

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#1305864 - 11/15/09 04:33 AM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: JBurn]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9163
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Does your SoundBlaster include ASIO drivers?

If so, given the high specification of your PC, it may not be necessary to upgrade the soundcard at all.

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1306008 - 11/15/09 12:03 PM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: Kawai James]
emenelton Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 481
JBurn

Your card does have asio 2 drivers, so it should work very well. Your new software piano will be recorded 'inside your computer', so you won't need to worry about any thing between your keyboard and computer except your midi and/or USB hook-up.

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#1306034 - 11/15/09 12:41 PM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: JBurn]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: JBurn
Thank you for your time ChrisA!

I'm thinking I'll just try it with the CLP's speakers. I'm mainly interested in the voice of the steinway.

I'm only recording classical solo pieces. But I do want the lowest possible latency. What kind of latency can I expect from a USB interface like the ones you listed? How do they compare to PCI interface cards?


I guess I had this wrong. I thought you were recording the digital piano. No. It seems you will be recording the sound from the virtual Steinway. It that case the sound will go directly to the disk and never have to travel through the audio interface. So the quality of the interface does not matter at all. Except that you may want to hear what you are playing. But you don't need studio grade audio equipment just to drive a monitor speaker.

It would be different if you wanted to record the Line Out from the digital piano, then the sound would be going through the audio interface and it's quality and it's ability to allow you to set the gain would matter a lot.

But the software instrument should be direct to disk without passing through any analog path.

Don't worry about latency in the audio interface. Windows and associated drivers, even with the "good drivers" will introduce 10 times more then the little cable does. Profesional recording studios will use Firewire based interfaces but only because they are sending 8 to 24 tracks into the computer. USB works fine for two to four track recording. If you are really concerned about this you will have to abandon the use on a Windows based PC and go with Mac OS X if you want to squeeze out the last few milliseconds but...

Sound travels at 1ms per second. So even a real acoustic piano has a couple milliseconds of latency just due to the couple feet between your ear and the sound board. I doubt anyone notices this. Think of "milliseconds" as if they are feet.

If you were doing multi track recording, where you listen to a recording in headphones and play along then you'd worry a little more about milliseconds but your task is not so critical. But then how long until you decide it would be fun to record a piano duet where you play both parts?

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#1306064 - 11/15/09 01:12 PM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: ChrisA]
reza Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/08
Posts: 77
Loc: Tehran, Iran
I also think that you don't need a new sound card, your SOUND CARD is a 24bit and ASIO compatible and it should do pretty well for you job. I have a NI Audio Kontrol One and I am very happy about it. If you need an external sound card, it is a very good choice.

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#1306138 - 11/15/09 03:18 PM Re: Speakers/Sound Card Recommendations [Re: reza]
JBurn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 13
Loc: Mississippi, USA
Thanks for your replies.

I'm set for recording with my current setup it looks like. If it doesn't suit me your suggestions will be very helpful.

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