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#1417684 - 04/15/10 06:20 AM Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language!
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Hi all, following my previous threads on choosing between the Kawai ES6 and Yamaha P155. I am nearing a decision based on the following:

The piano sample on the Kawai is much nicer, the Yamaha is so bright and cutting it actually hurts my ears when using headphones.
Also, I think the action on the Kawai is slightly more expressive.
However, the big minus point for the Kawai is the other, non-piano samples, which are dire! The church organ sounds like a wheezing emphysema sufferer. The harpsichord is poor too compared with the Yamaha. Also, the Yamaha has a lovely, warm, nylon guitar sample.

Anyway, as I will be primarily using piano, it would seem the Kawai is the way to go.

Now, my question is, I believe it is possible to get other external sound samples on one's computer, connect the keyboard to the computer and then on to a sound system (in my case a denon hifi). This would solve the problem of the crappy on-board samples on the Kawai. However, being a complete technophobe, I haven't got the first clue how to do any of this!!

Can anyone help? Where can I get good (cheap) samples do download? How do I connect the keyboard to the laptop to control the sounds and then on to the hifi (which has usb and standard aux inputs).

Thanks!

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#1417697 - 04/15/10 06:59 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Kidders, you're right the sounds other than the pianos are sub-par on KAWAI DPs.

Due to being "technophobe" smile I would probably go buying and additional MIDI-Expander. This is a box of hardware that has additional sounds built in. You can easily connect it to the piano by MIDI In/Out! It's really plug and play! There are several models available nowadays, you can also check for some from Yamaha to get the preferred Yamaha sound. I'm not up-to-date on the current available models, so maybe someone else can jump in here!
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417706 - 04/15/10 07:35 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Thanks for the advice Kawaian. I have googled some prices but they look like expensive bits of kit. However, I have just had a thought that you may be able to advise me on. The CL35 is £400 cheaper than the ES6 and as far as I can see has the same piano sampling speakers and keyboard action as the ES6. So if I got that, I would have the same basic features as the ES6 with some money left over to spend on a MIDI expander. Are my assumptions on the CL35 correct? I guess I really don't need the portability of the ES6.

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#1417707 - 04/15/10 07:42 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
As far as I know CL35 has the identical keyboard action (AHA IV-F). Regarding sound the only drawback I could see is that it has only 96 notes polyphony compared to the 192 notes polyphony of the ES6. I don't know if this is a problem in daily play.

So yes, if you're fine with this you could save 400 for a decent MIDI expander.

Edit:

I checked for current modules:

If you like the Yamaha sound then this module would be my dream solution, it also includes great Yamaha-style piano sounds:
YAMAHA MOTIF RACK XS
http://www.thomann.de/de/yamaha_motif_rack_xs.htm
It's quite expensive (1,349 Euro), but IMHO worth it!

If you're on a budget, I would definitely check eBay for used stuff:
Yamaha MOTIF-RACK ES MIDI Sound Module (the predessesor of the above):
http://cgi.ebay.com/Yamaha-MOTIF-RACK-ES...=item2559fdda7d
$599 incl. shipping

Or, if you're even more on a budget, something like this:
YAMAHA MU80 MIDI Synth Tone Generator
http://cgi.ebay.com/YAMAHA-MU80-MIDI-Syn...=item27b0c27df7
$149




Edited by kawaian (04/15/10 08:05 AM)
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417710 - 04/15/10 07:45 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9207
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Kidders, the CL35 and ES6 use different speaker systems, however they do indeed share the same keyboard action and piano sound technology (Harmonic Imaging, 88-key sampling).

If you do not require portability, nor the additional features of the ES6, the CL35 would probably be a better instrument to go for. In addition, you'll have a matching stand and three pedals as standard.

Hardware-based MIDI expanders were very popular a decade or so ago, however I believe much of their functionality has been replaced by software instruments, with the added benefit of greater flexibility and often cost.

Good luck!

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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#1417711 - 04/15/10 07:46 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
You might want to consider a Mac, they're pretty much plug and play too and possibly cheaper than a dedicated sound module which can be pretty expensive. A Mac Mini can be had for about £500 (plus monitor and keyboard but you can probably use any you already have) That will come with Garageband a music app that can be used for midi arrangements, audio and digital recording and performance and comes with a wide range of decent instruments. Others can be added quite cheaply. On top of that you'll need a USB cable (if your DP has USB out) or a USB to Midi converter (£10 to £20)

You could also use a WIndows computer but but they can be tricky to set up, I gave up trying to get my wifes XP laptop to work with my controller. With a Mac you just plug in and it works. Plus you'd probably need a new soundcard with a Windows machine, they rarely come with one good enough for music production. Macs are generally good enough out of the box.
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1417730 - 04/15/10 08:31 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: BazC]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
...and now the ultimate budget solution with even less money than most expanders and the MacBook:

Buy a Netbook! Even a cheap one will do, just check that the included soundcard is of decent quality and does not introduce noise.

Cost: About 250$, nothing more.

Regarding software, you can download a freeware sequencer like Garageband, there are excellent freeware sequencers with VST support. Then you can choose between thousands of software instrument add-ons, there's plenty to choose from.

In most cases you don't need an additional soundcard, for low latency (so that you can play the sounds without latency) you can download ASIO4all.

Connect the Netbook to your DP by USB, driver will be installed automatically, and ready you are!
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417745 - 04/15/10 09:00 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
LaRate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: mucci

Regarding software, you can download a freeware sequencer like Garageband, there are excellent freeware sequencers with VST support. Then you can choose between thousands of software instrument add-ons, there's plenty to choose from.


Just to avoid confusion: GarageBand is part of Apple's iLife, and apart from being Mac-Only also definitely not freeware (iLife costs $79 if you buy it separately). However, you get a free licence with every Mac you buy.

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#1417756 - 04/15/10 09:18 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: LaRate]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Maybe my statement was a little bit misleading: I mean with a Netbook (with Windows 7 as OS) you can download freeware sequencers which are similar to Garageband. I'm talking about a Windows system, not a MAC.
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417768 - 04/15/10 09:57 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
@mucci - So with my existing laptop, I can download these freeware sequencers, then run a midi to usb from my keyboard to the laptop and then on to the stereo? BTW, what's the best way to link laptop to the stereo? I'm such a technophobe, I'm not even sure how to do that! Is it USB to the stereo red and white inputs?

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#1417791 - 04/15/10 10:29 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
Originally Posted By: Kidders
@mucci - So with my existing laptop, I can download these freeware sequencers, then run a midi to usb from my keyboard to the laptop and then on to the stereo? BTW, what's the best way to link laptop to the stereo? I'm such a technophobe, I'm not even sure how to do that! Is it USB to the stereo red and white inputs?


Yup you can certainly use your existing laptop but as I said earlier you will almost certainly need a USB soundcard/interface like M-Audio Fastrack Pro

http://www.amazon.co.uk/M-Audio-9900-410...1638&sr=8-1

and be prepared that you might have to do some troubleshooting before you get it working.

The soundcard will have line out jacks that you use to connect to amp/speakers.
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1417792 - 04/15/10 10:30 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Originally Posted By: Kidders
@mucci - So with my existing laptop, I can download these freeware sequencers, then run a midi to usb from my keyboard to the laptop and then on to the stereo?


Exactly! With virtually no additional costs, if you have the cables ready.

Originally Posted By: Kidders

BTW, what's the best way to link laptop to the stereo? I'm such a technophobe, I'm not even sure how to do that! Is it USB to the stereo red and white inputs?


smile

First thing is: USB of the keyboard to any of the USB connections of the laptop. Then wait a little bit until the laptop (is it Windows 7 or Vista?) reports that the driver was installed successfully. Now you're ready to go, install whatever sequencer or VST instrument you like.

To actually hear the sound, you can of course use the internal speakers of your laptop, but for obvious reasons this is only useful for a quick test if it works at all... I'm sure your laptop has a standard headphone out (or maybe also a line-out which is preferable). You then need an appropriate audio cable: 3.5mm stereo to whatever the input plugs of the amplifier are (mostly 3.5mm left/right cinch). Then just select the right input selector on your amplifier, put it on and - there you are! If you don't hear anything, please check if you've set the volumen on the laptop to maximum - just experiment with that a little, so that it is loud enough but no distortion appears.

Oh, and don't forget to install ASIO4all (www.asio4all.org).


Edited by mucci (04/15/10 10:30 AM)
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417796 - 04/15/10 10:35 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Haha! Sorry about that, I think you can see that I'm really not much good with technology!

That's really helpful advice. My laptop is pretty new and runs Windows 7. If I can get good instrument samples for free with these freeware sequencers then I can stick with my original plan of getting the Kawai ES6 which is good news! Is there a particular sequencer you would recommend? I've had a quick google and there seem to be lots out there. My main criteria is a reasonable selection of good quality instrument samples, including classical guitar.

Thanks again for all your help!

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#1417802 - 04/15/10 10:41 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
@BazC - blimey! That soundcard usb thinggy is a bit pricy! Will I not just get away with using the headphones socket on the laptop or will that compromise sound quality?

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#1417807 - 04/15/10 10:48 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
I would recommend REAPER:

http://cockos.com/reaper/

This one is actually not freeware, but it is a superb sequencer and it has a unique business model: You can test it with absolutely no limitations, there is no protection whatsoever. If you finally decide to buy it, it costs you only 60$ for non-commercial or small business commercial use which is really cheap.

To answer your other question:
A sequencer itself ususally does not contain instruments, but if the sequencer supports VSTi, then you can choose from whatever freeqare VSTi that are available.

So this is the way to go:

1: Install a sequencer which is kind of a vehicle to load the actual instruments "VSTi"

2: Get VSTi and add them to the sequencer

This could be a starting place to search for your favorite freeware VSTi:

http://www.vst4free.com/
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417813 - 04/15/10 10:56 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
I second the Reaper solution.

Also check out kvraudio.com and Hitsquad.com for free and low cost vstis
_________________________
Rob

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#1417816 - 04/15/10 10:57 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
Originally Posted By: Kidders
@BazC - blimey! That soundcard usb thinggy is a bit pricy! Will I not just get away with using the headphones socket on the laptop or will that compromise sound quality?


That's a cheap one! smile I don't have any experience of these, I use the built in sound card of my Mac, I just know that nearly every Windows user uses and external soundcard or upgrades the internal one (probably not possible on your laptop?)

But try the built in card to begin with, just be prepared that it may not be up to the job.
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1417820 - 04/15/10 11:01 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: BazC]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Yes, I second that. But if that's not working then there are much cheaper solutions as the above mentioned. You don't need to shell out more than, say, 50 Euros.
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417830 - 04/15/10 11:08 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
Originally Posted By: mucci
Yes, I second that. But if that's not working then there are much cheaper solutions as the above mentioned. You don't need to shell out more than, say, 50 Euros.


Can you recommend a cheap one? I've not found anything much cheaper than that M-Audio.
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1417831 - 04/15/10 11:10 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Thanks for that guys.

I think I'll get some cables and have a play around with a cheap old Yamaha PSR keyboard I have at home and some of those free downloads before I make a decision on the my new DP.

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#1417833 - 04/15/10 11:14 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: BazC]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-UCA202...4178&sr=1-1
Cost: 23.48

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Griffin-iMic-110...4231&sr=1-3
Cost: 32.05

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lexicon-Alpha-St...4231&sr=1-6
Cost: 62.19

http://www.amazon.co.uk/August-US01-bus-...4231&sr=1-4
Cost: 4.49 (Don't laugh! This one is better than you think! At least it's so cheap you can definitely give it a try!)
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417836 - 04/15/10 11:19 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Kidders
@mucci - So with my existing laptop, I can download these freeware sequencers, then run a midi to usb from my keyboard to the laptop and then on to the stereo? BTW, what's the best way to link laptop to the stereo? I'm such a technophobe, I'm not even sure how to do that! Is it USB to the stereo red and white inputs?


The Key is to set this up "backwards" start with speakers and with the piano and check each step.


We don't know what your existing laptop is. What OS does it runs, what hardware is inside. As others have said Macs come setup at the factory for making music. If this is a Windows based PC then you will need to hunt down a few parts and some asembly is required. You CAN make it work but is is not "plug and play."

What yo should do first off is make sure you can play recorded music and that you are happy with the sound quality. Just play any old MP3 file you have from iTunes. Hopefully you have some solo piano music. if Not spend $0.99 and buy a download of your favorite pianist. Then play it. There is no way, on Earth your digital piano will sound better then what you just played. It is good enough? If not stop here and fix that problem. If a profesional recording of a concert pianist playing a real acustic grand sounds like crap of you system there is zero point in going to the next step. Likely you will need to connect an amp and move the speakers around nearer to your DP. Keep working untill the sound seem to come from the piano and sounds very good.

OK now you have the output end working well. Get this end working first becaust you need it the judge the quality if the other end.

For the other end, get both "the free Kontact" player and a copy of the "Pianoteq" demeo. For non-piano sounds Kontakt is what you want. The free player comes with enough free voises so you can test it.

Now just click on the piano keys, don't use the DP or MIDI yet see if you like the sound. If you do there are hundreds of sample sets yu can install into Kontakt from drums to flutes all of varying quality and price from free to $$

Finally connect the DP to the computer. Using a MIDI to USB cable. Or if the DP has USB just a direct connection. Set the source in Kontakt to "omni" which will listen for ANY midi device. Play anot on the keyboard and it shuold be working if every previos step worked.


Next yu can go back an improve thins, add a speaci Windows audio driver to reduce latency and upgrad to a better externa audio intrface and buy beer speakers and so on.

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#1417849 - 04/15/10 11:33 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: ChrisA]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
ChrisA, thanks for that, you have explained it in exactly the simplistic way I needed. I haven't got my laptop with me at the mo as I'm at work but it's pretty new, windows 7 os, 320 gigs hard-drive etc, although slow processor. I can't remember what the soundcard is off hand. The sound will be coming through a Denon hifi. I shall try the first stage you have suggested and report back!

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#1417852 - 04/15/10 11:34 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: ChrisA]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Hey, ChrisA, you're really great in baffling people... smile

We were talking about getting a sequencer and load freely available VSTi, and you're now talking about another solution with the proprietary Kontakt player. Well, this is also a possible solution, but I would guess only the second best, because Kontakt is hardware hungry and the freeware selection is somewhat limited, but still a lot.

Your other recommendations about testing the sound quality is of course good!
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417858 - 04/15/10 11:40 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
Originally Posted By: mucci


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-UCA202...4178&sr=1-1
Cost: 23.48

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Griffin-iMic-110...4231&sr=1-3
Cost: 32.05

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lexicon-Alpha-St...4231&sr=1-6
Cost: 62.19

http://www.amazon.co.uk/August-US01-bus-...4231&sr=1-4
Cost: 4.49 (Don't laugh! This one is better than you think! At least it's so cheap you can definitely give it a try!)


Thanks for those but I must be missing something, none of them have midi in or USB in, how would you connect your DP?
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1417859 - 04/15/10 11:42 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: BazC]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Directly via USB
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1417865 - 04/15/10 11:55 AM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Oh, one more thing, with all the connections (keyboard to PC, PC to amp, amp to speakers) is there a danger of noticable time delay between playing notes and hearing sounds? That would be very annoying!

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#1417925 - 04/15/10 01:05 PM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Update from the techno-cripple:
Have successfully connected the laptop to the Denon and it sounds great, just played some nice piano jazz mp3 through it and sounds as good as from the ipod dock. Connection is headphones out to aux on the hifi. All I need now is to get a midi to USB cable and download some of the suggest freeware.

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#1417986 - 04/15/10 03:06 PM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: Kidders]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Kidders, you don't need a midi to USB cable for the ES6, because it has a USB-to-host interface. So you just need an ordinary USB-cable which you surely have to connect to the DP. Also no drivers needed, the DP will be automatically detected by Windows 7. I don't know if your Yamaha PSR does already have a USB-to-host interface, so this test might not work without a dedicated MIDI-interface... Maybe someone can borrow you an interface so you can perform this test, buying something doesn't make sense if your soundcard is that good.

Or maybe you can buy something really cheap like this USB-to-MIDI interface:
http://www.amazon.de/LOGILINK-USB-MIDI-A...8338&sr=8-1
Only 9 Euro...

Regarding time delay: This is something that can happen, but for this I advised you to install ASIO4all which will deal with this and should reduce the delay significantly so you shouln't notice it on your relatively new laptop.


Edited by mucci (04/15/10 03:09 PM)
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1420683 - 04/20/10 03:52 PM Re: Using external samples (laptop) in lay man's language! [Re: mucci]
Kidders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Bath, UK
Hi all, thanks again for all your suggestions. I've successfully downloaded Kontakt but it's going to take a lot of playing around to learn how to use it and add samples etc. However, in the meantime, I have made a decision on my keyboard and today ordered a Kawai ES6. Even though most of the instrument voices aren't great, the piano sample is much nicer (in my opinion) than the P155, and as I will be using it for classical piano 99% of the time then it must be the one for me. It arrives on Saturday! Can't wait!

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The Steinway S in 1936
by Rich Galassini
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Yamaha CP5
by Synner
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