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#1376330 - 02/17/10 09:35 AM Piano software, computer requirements enought?
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Hi,

I'm interested to buy a Kawai CA63 but I'm not impressed of the default piano sound. At the same time I have read a lot of piano software but until now I have not been interested in these at all. The reason is that I don't trust the stability of these computer implemented sources, I would hate a situation where the sound shortcomings due to technical performance.

I have listened to some software programs and in my opinion "Pianoteq" is the most expressive one. Synthogy "Ivory" is the most realistic one. I would like to address a question to those of you who are familiar with technical performance in this aspect. Do you believe that my computer (specifications below) will be sufficient regarding the intention I want with these programs?

Dell Studio 1745
Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13 GHz, Cache 3Mb
RAM 4Gb
OS Windows 7, 64-bit
Hard-drive 7200 rpm, 270 Gb
Probably an external USB soundcard, recommendations would be great.

I appreciate your help

/Andrée


Edited by Andree (02/17/10 09:44 AM)

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#1376428 - 02/17/10 11:22 AM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

I have listened to some software programs and in my opinion "Pianoteq" is the most expressive one. Synthogy "Ivory" is the most realistic one. I would like to address a question to those of you who are familiar with technical performance in this aspect. Do you believe that my computer (specifications below) will be sufficient regarding the intention I want with these programs?

Dell Studio 1745
Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13 GHz, Cache 3Mb
RAM 4Gb
OS Windows 7, 64-bit
Hard-drive 7200 rpm, 270 Gb
Probably an external USB soundcard, recommendations would be great.

I appreciate your help

/Andrée



I have a several years old Apple iMac with identical specs (dual core 2.16Gz 3GB and so on.) It plays Pianoteq flawless;y without even using most of the CPU or RAM. Undetectable latency.

But you will need a good external audio interface, good studio monitor speakers and think and experiment with speaker placement. Also because you have a Windows setup you will need to find a special low-latency driver for whatever audio interface you buy. Check that Dell has not done something dumb like put USB and the hard drive on the same interrupt -- basically some minor setup tweaks like that and you'll be good.

If all you will be using the audio interface for is driving monitor the Lexicon "Alpha will do. A more general purpose box is the Presonus "Audio Box". Prices are $80 and $150.


Edited by ChrisA (02/17/10 11:59 AM)

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#1376446 - 02/17/10 11:39 AM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
Cashley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 530
Your specs look very high.

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#1376535 - 02/17/10 02:17 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Cashley]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
E-mu's 1616M series has good converters - I use the 1212M internal version - but is more expensive.

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#1376553 - 02/17/10 02:46 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: FogVilleLad]
BB Player Online   content


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2717
Loc: Not in Texas
I think your computer will be more than adequate. I previously used Pianoteq with a Celeron processor running at 2.39 GHz and 800 MB of ram through an M-Audio 2496 sound card. When playing music that had a lot of pedaling, especially in the bass, I'd get serious clicks and pops through the speakers. I'm now using a dual core pentium and all is well.
_________________________
Greg

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#1376559 - 02/17/10 02:54 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: BB Player]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5366
Loc: Europe
You can actually run a simple test: Download pianoteq demo, and reaper, put a whole a lot of notes with pedalling and whatnot and find out the limits of your CPU (RAM should not be a problem for pianoteq)...

4 GB are more than enough for Ivory.

Also keep in mind that there are other choices, like the Garritan Steinway (which I personally love), and the QL pianos (huge and demanding), as well as Galaxy II and other VST pianos to chose from.
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1376653 - 02/17/10 05:05 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Nikolas]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Thanks a lot. It seems like you believe that the computer specifications are enough for running programs like Pianoteq and Ivory. Do I have to make any limitations to achieve good performance, such as disabling features or reduce some parameters, or do you think the specifications are good enough to serve the whole set?

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#1376692 - 02/17/10 05:43 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Andree
Thanks a lot. It seems like you believe that the computer specifications are enough for running programs like Pianoteq and Ivory.


You are good to go with the current batch of software.
But why not download some demos, they're free.

I have a computer with your specs and it run pianoteq with ot even causing the fan to come on.

Fans are a real issue. Is your computer truly silent? That is one important consideration. The other is the physical setup. You will need to put the computer someplace so that you can work the keyboard and mouse and DP all from the same chair or bench. Cables can notbe run across open floor.


Edited by ChrisA (02/17/10 05:44 PM)

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#1376697 - 02/17/10 05:51 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: ChrisA]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Hi Chris, what do you mean "fans are a real issue"?

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#1376704 - 02/17/10 05:56 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5366
Loc: Europe
I'm not sure that fans will be an issue, Chris, for a rather 'amateur' circumstance (not mixing, or recording live, or anything like that).

Andree: Computer fans, keep the motherboard (CPU) cooled, because with all the stuff going on inside there's plenty of heat happening. A loud computer, gets in the way of the recording process, simply because it's too loud. There are ways to counter noise coming from fans, which include water cooling systems, to noise reductive cases, to anything in between...

But I still think that you wouldn't be needing anything like that, altough Chris is right.

(Chris, sorry for replying istead of you... :D)
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1376714 - 02/17/10 06:06 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Nikolas]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Okey, but I will not record anything live so this is not a problem

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#1376735 - 02/17/10 06:31 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
With Pianoteq or Ivory do you think I will reach the ceiling quickly with these computer specifications?

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#1376746 - 02/17/10 06:45 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
BB Player Online   content


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2717
Loc: Not in Texas
Originally Posted By: Andree
With Pianoteq or Ivory do you think I will reach the ceiling quickly with these computer specifications?


I think it'll be fine for Pianoteq. My current setup is similar to what you've described and I can hold the damper pedal down and play nothing but bass notes with no pops or clicks. Even doing that, the %CPU utilization seldom rises above 50%.
_________________________
Greg

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#1376749 - 02/17/10 06:48 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: BB Player]
BB Player Online   content


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2717
Loc: Not in Texas
Looking at your specs, the one thing I would change is the external USB card. I think you'd be better off with a PCI card such as the m-audio 2496 or similar.
_________________________
Greg

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#1376753 - 02/17/10 06:51 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: BB Player]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Originally Posted By: BB Player
...the one thing I would change is the external USB card. I think you'd be better off with a PCI card such as the m-audio 2496 or similar.
+1.

I like cards with built in MIDI connections.


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#1376760 - 02/17/10 06:56 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Andree
Hi Chris, what do you mean "fans are a real issue"?


It's annoying to play a piano next to a machine that sounds like a jet airplane. Nothing technical at all. The same with a TV set in the same room, just an annoyance.



Why spend the time and money to get the sound just right only to have to listen to a loud fan. Especially when you don't have to, just choose a computer that is quiet.

The other optin is to use very long cables and put the noisy computer in a closet

Some computers are engineered to be silent. The best method uses low power parts the don't require much cooling and then other tricks like using the entire aluminum computer case as a heat sink or using larger diameter slow running fans.

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#1376763 - 02/17/10 06:58 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: BB Player]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: BB Player
Looking at your specs, the one thing I would change is the external USB card. I think you'd be better off with a PCI card such as the m-audio 2496 or similar.


Unfortunately it is a laptop so I have to use a USB sound card

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#1376778 - 02/17/10 07:15 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Andree
Originally Posted By: BB Player
Looking at your specs, the one thing I would change is the external USB card. I think you'd be better off with a PCI card such as the m-audio 2496 or similar.


Unfortunately it is a laptop so I have to use a USB sound card


Not unfortunate at all. It is always better to have "real" jacks to plug in the equipment and real knobs to control gain and playback volume.

Also the USB interface is small enough that it can go in a convenient location, like on top of the DP. Anything that can house a PCI card will be a big, ugly box that needs to live under a desk on the floor. It's good to have the monitor level volume as a knob near the DP and not controlled with a mouse same for the headphone jack

The hardest part is the physical setup, getting the controls all in the right place.

Little things like can you reach the computer's headphone jack and can you adjust the monitor volume without getting out of your chair or reaching for a computer mouse or how to change voices. All this kind of stuff effects ease of use.


I'm a little excited to see how Apple's new iPad works out as a control surface for music production. You can do a lot with a color touch screen that is wirelessly connected back to a computer. Not only use it to control just about anything but maybe scroll music notation from a digital sheet music library.


Edited by ChrisA (02/17/10 07:16 PM)

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#1378157 - 02/19/10 01:14 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: ChrisA]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Do you have any suggestions of USB sound cards? I have heard that it might be a problem with sound cards using USB 1.0, is this correct? Do you get a better result if you use USB 2.0?

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#1378168 - 02/19/10 01:31 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: Andree]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Andree
Do you have any suggestions of USB sound cards? I have heard that it might be a problem with sound cards using USB 1.0, is this correct? Do you get a better result if you use USB 2.0?


Even USB 1.0 is more than fast enough for simple monitoring. You will want faster if you are recording. For recording more than a handful of tracks you want Firewire.

Are you ONLY using the audio interface for monitoring and you will not be recording and you don't need a built-in MIDI interface. If so then go for something like this
Alpha

If you want someing that has more features for recording and midi then look at one like this
audio box

Even if you don't need all the bells and whistles It is nice to have separate volume controls on the monitor speakers and the headphones. It's worth $50 not to have to re-adjust the volume when you switch from phones to speakers. and then also think about if the wires come out of the front or back. (I hate plugging headphones in the back of boxes.) Little things like the location of plugs and how many volume control knobs and the size the out headphone jack matter at least as much as the technical specs. Once you are into the $100 range all of them have decent technical specs. (don't bother to look at anything under about $80.)



Edited by ChrisA (02/19/10 01:36 PM)

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#1378359 - 02/19/10 05:42 PM Re: Piano software, computer requirements enought? [Re: ChrisA]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Thank you Chris, what about USB 1.0 or 2.0?

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