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#2255874 - 04/02/14 11:21 AM About playing software through Kawai CA pianos...
ADWyatt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 90
I have no doubt that many Kawai CA/CS owners have discovered the difference in the quality of tone from virtual piano software played through their DPs depending on how that tone is delivered.

When I play software live with my CA65 the quality is very bad, nowhere close to being acceptable. I play live in order to record. However, after I record a song using a virtual piano onto my desktop computer, transfer that song to a USB memory stick, put the USB memory into my CA65 and play the recorded song, the tone quality is fantastic. I add a little bit of bass in Audacity for a bit more emphasis on the low end, and the resulting quality is definitely top-notch. Tonal quality is very good using Pianoteq, somewhat better with Galaxy, and outstanding using VI Labs' various sampled pianos.

This isn't important, since I would really only be recording discs for use with a high-end Home Theater or car audio system, but could there be any way to play live through my CA65 with the same quality as I get from recorded USB songs? I don't think there is, because there is so much wiring involved in live playing, and the signal has to be processed not only in my desktop, but also in Focusrite, but I thought I'd ask for opinions on this.

Thanks in advance for all responses.

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#2255896 - 04/02/14 12:31 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
What kind of audio interface are you using? The digital sound image should be the same in the recording as when played "live", but the digital-audio conversion will be done by CA65 when playing a recording, and by your audio interface when playing live. If you're just using your computer sound card, then that might be to blame.

My experience with the CA95 is that the internal sounds sound great over the speaker system, but relatively poor over headphones. With Pianoteq it's the opposite - it sounds only OK over the speakers, but great over headphones. I haven't tried doing a recording and playing via a USB stick.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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#2255897 - 04/02/14 12:35 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
stamkorg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 62
Could you explain why the sound is bad when you use a softpiano through your CA65? What's wrong?
I too use Pianoteq from my soundcard to the HP-507 line in, and the sound is fine.

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#2255931 - 04/02/14 01:42 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 763
Loc: Dorset, UK
I use a Kawai ES7, VI Labs (mainly Italian) s/w piano, audio output back to the ES7 via a FiiO DAC - although the Mac's native output isn't bad - recording via Reaper. The audio file rendered in Reaper sounds much as the live sound heard whilst making the recording. Copy to a memory stick for tidying up with Audacity. I assume you have audio line in facility on the CA65 to take the audio signal from the computer back to the CA65.

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#2255955 - 04/02/14 02:26 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
minstrelman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/07
Posts: 241
Loc: buffalo
Just thinking off the top of my head,
check your gain staging, and your volume controls (all of them).

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#2255979 - 04/02/14 02:59 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: minstrelman]
ADWyatt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 90
I very much appreciate everyone's responses and advice regarding my issue. Judging from the input I'm getting, I should be able to get live tonal quality comparable to that of songs recorded to USB. That's good news, but now I need to discover where the equipment or settings are causing the problem.

The biggest problem I'm having is clarity. Played live the audio is perhaps similar to listening through the bottom of an empty glass soda pop bottle; the sound is muddy, and cuts out much too soon. Through USB the tone is pristine.

For the record, I'm playing ASIO through Focusrite, and I have no latency. I'm not as technically savvy as I'd like to be in figuring this out, but could my desktop computer's sound card be causing the problem? If so, it's not worth the effort and expense to replace it, as my primary purpose in owning virtual piano models is for recording.

Finally, I'm going to follow Minstrelman's suggestion of looking at the settings of gain staging and the various volume controls. Perhaps virtual piano programs need to be adjusted beyond the default for best results during live play.

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#2256174 - 04/02/14 11:26 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1832
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: ADWyatt
... could my desktop computer's sound card be causing the problem?


Very definitely. You probably would benefit greatly with an external audio device attached between your computer and CA65 audio in.
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D

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#2256231 - 04/03/14 07:25 AM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
OP said he was playing through Focusrite, which is a brand of audio interface, so the computer sound card would not have an effect because it isn't used.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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#2256242 - 04/03/14 08:09 AM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: lolatu]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1832
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: lolatu
OP said he was playing through Focusrite, which is a brand of audio interface, so the computer sound card would not have an effect because it isn't used.


Whoops, my bad. I actually use the same audio interface so I would have to believe that should work fine.
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D

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#2256249 - 04/03/14 08:29 AM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1832
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: ADWyatt
For the record, I'm playing ASIO through Focusrite


How do you have Focusrite connected to your CA65 ?
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D

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#2256317 - 04/03/14 12:21 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
I just tried recording Pianoteq (WAV file) onto a thumb drive and playing it on the CA95, and comparing it with the same session replayed in Pianoteq via my audio interface (Steinberg UR22), and... it sounds exactly the same to me. Tried it over headphones as well - still no difference.

Could Focusrite software EQ settings be to blame? There seems to be something called Scarlett Plug-in Suite - maybe if you're using that it would affect EQ. Other explanation could be that the interface is faulty.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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#2256364 - 04/03/14 02:03 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: lolatu]
ADWyatt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 90
I'm more grateful than I can tell all of you for the excellent input and advice you're all giving. Originally, I'd thought that this wouldn't be an important issue, as I only wanted to use virtual piano software for its recorded quality, played over a high-end audio system. I now see that my thinking was wrong. If the music from a virtual piano isn't played crisply and with full tonal value live on my CA65, there is no way to reliably make recordings ranging from ppp to ff; there would be too much guesswork.

I'm starting to seriously think that the problem can be found in the way I have the Focusrite 2i2 connected. I believe that I will have to find or download the connection instructions and start over again from scratch. I don't think there's anything wrong with the unit itself. At 10ms I have no latency issue, and there is no electrical dropout of any kind. I tried adjusting Monitor and Gain beyond the original settings, but the tone came out even worse.

I'd like to purchase the Ravenscroft 275, but will wait until I figure this out. For the record, I'm using Galaxy with Cantabile and having no problems, and I use Pianoteq by itself with no issues. The only problems I'm having with these programs is that they sound terrible played live over my CA65, while their USB recorded tone is superb, showing that the CA65's speakers certainly can handle these programs quite well.

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#2256448 - 04/03/14 05:37 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
1. Have you turned Local Control off (otherwise you'll get a mixture of the CA65 tone with Pianoteq)?

2. Plug the USB stick into your CA65 and record a few notes in WAV format (with Local Control off and Pianoteq coming in, obviously). Now select that recording in Pianoteq and Export WAV file. Put both versions on Soundcloud / box.com etc so we can hear the difference. Like I said, I tried this and heard no difference so it would be interesting to hear your problem.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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#2256499 - 04/03/14 08:30 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: lolatu]
ADWyatt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 90
Lolatu, I turned the Local Control on my CA65 off, but it didn't make any difference. I appreciate the suggestion though. At this point, I'm starting to think that I may be having an issue with settings, rather than any kind of hardware configuration, and here's why...

When I play a recorded virtual piano song on the CA65 from my USB I get all of it, and there is no cut off of decay. But it is very bright, in fact a little too bright I think. It hasn't fallen out of EQ, but there is absolutely no bass. At all. I know the CA65 isn't the best DP in the world on the low end, but its Concert Grand default isn't as bad in this area as some people might think. Yet the virtual piano sound, as I've said, has no bass at all. Something isn't right about that.

On the other hand, when I play live the tone is way too deep, and I can't get that to change. The tone is cut off quickly, and the overall sound is muddy and clipped.

Here's an example of a recording session: In Cantabile, I will audio record (not midi record) a song from my Galaxy Vintage D. Playing it over the CA65 the tones are heavy, muddy and clipped. Saving the recording as a wav, I will transfer it to USB and play it in the CA65, where it now is too bright, and has no bass. It may also be interesting to note that audio volume playing the Galaxy live is too low, and I really have to crank it up. But if I do it too much it becomes distorted. Even worse, that loud volume will of course transfer to the USB recording, and so I have to turn the volume of the CA65 down when I play the recorded song. To get the right recorded volume, then, I have to play live at too low of an audio volume to hear well. With Pianoteq, the effect isn't quite as bad playing live, but again the recording is too bright and lacking bass.

I'm not as experienced with virtual piano software as I'd like to be, but my feeling is that there may be settings I'm overlooking, either with the CA65 or with the software. Or quite possibly, I may not have the Focusrite wiring or settings configured properly, and that's the source of the problem.

Finally, I've never posted audio files here; this will be my first time trying. I will try to do so in a future response to this post, and let's hope for the best.

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#2256517 - 04/03/14 09:08 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
ADWyatt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 90
Lolatu, I don't know if I've misunderstood your directions, but recording Pianoteq on my CA65 in the manner you've asked is not possible. I turned local control off and pushed record (wav) playing through Pianoteq. Pianoteq of course automatically recorded, and a recording was being made by the CA65. But all the CA65 recorded was dead air. I may not have understood your directions properly, or perhaps there's a connection problem. I would like to know what your opinion might be. Thanks.

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#2256518 - 04/03/14 09:10 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
There's not a lot to mess up on the wiring side: the interface is connected via a USB cable, and then you connect the Line Outs on the interface to the Line Ins on the CA65 with two phone jack cables.

Have you checked the Line In LEVEL knob on the CA65 (just to the left of the Left line-in jack) is adjusted to an appropriate level (try halfway)? You shouldn't need to crank up the volume on the interface so far that it distorts.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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#2256521 - 04/03/14 09:14 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1832
Loc: Pennsylvania
I like to be sure of the basic connections before delving into a multitude of complicated possibilities ...

I would still like to know how you have connected the focusrite to your CA65.

Is there a Stereo Audio IN connection on your CA65 ?

If so, is your focusrite connected to it ?
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D

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#2256522 - 04/03/14 09:17 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
Regarding the recording, that's strange that it didn't record the sound coming from the Line-in. It worked for me. If you could hear it over the speakers, that would be very odd that it didn't record to USB. I think it waits for you to press a key on the keyboard to actually start recording, so if you're just trying to record a replay on Pianoteq, maybe it didn't start.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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#2256530 - 04/03/14 09:33 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
minstrelman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/07
Posts: 241
Loc: buffalo
fwiw, just want to throw a couple thoughts out there.
disclaimer: I am no expert at this stuff.
also, I will speak freely, and give my opinions on things. I apologize if any of it makes anyone unhappy.
ok, got that out of the way.
- I saw the speakers inside my CA65 when the dealer I bought it from (Chris, super guy), took it apart to fix an uneven key.
the 2 speakers in the front, above the keyboard are tiny. really really small. like I think, too small.
the speakers underneath (subwoofers I guess), are a respectable size.
- ADWyatt, I have no idea where you are on the learning curve with hooking up audio stuff, signal routing, audio interfaces, software piano stuff, gain staging and volume settings.
but strip it down to basics, and figure out what is producing sound.
I would say that you have 2 sound sources, the tone generator in the CA65, and the software sound generator. when you route your signal, do you know for sure which one you are hearing? are you hearing some of each?
- signal routing can be cool. there are inputs and outputs. thats enough for now.

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#2256543 - 04/03/14 10:09 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: dmd]
ADWyatt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 90
Don and Lolatu, I think I'm making big progress. Don, let me first apologize for apparently ignoring the suggestions you were kind enough to give. I was trying so many different possible combinations that I was taking too much time trying alternate fixes.

I do believe, though, that with a suggestion Lolatu has just made I've struck pay dirt. There are so many knobs and buttons with the CA65 that I just cannot remember everything, and I had completely overlooked the Level knob beside the Line In jacks. It was turned almost completely off!

For the Galaxy I now turned the audio back to zero in Cantabile and raised the CA65 level to the proper volume. This allowed me to add more color and reverb to Galaxy without overdoing it, and now the live play is quite good, and I believe I can improve it by playing around with the controls more.

I noticed that I couldn't turn Pianoteq as high with the Level setting, but once that was adjusted, the live sound was quite nice. However, for playing recordings from USB to the CA65 I still have to add quite a bit more bass in Audacity, and I don't believe that recordings will give the same amount of bass as live playing. But beyond that, as far as I know everything is functioning properly now, and the live sound from my various pianos is coming through very clearly.

All in all, I'm rather amazed how one small overlooked control can cause an awful lot of extra work. But there's a silver lining. This gave me an excuse for not practicing Hanon today.

Thanks, everyone, for all the help.


Edited by ADWyatt (04/04/14 02:52 AM)

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#2256565 - 04/03/14 10:44 PM Re: About playing software through Kawai CA pianos... [Re: ADWyatt]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 429
Loc: UK
Glad that helped.

I've found that if you play Hanon to a drum beat rather than metronome clicks, it's a lot more enjoyable! I think I'm using Ride Beat 4 or something like that. Save it to a registration for easy recall. In fact, this is the main reason I need drum rhythms on a piano.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Roland FP3 / Pianoteq Stage / Tannoy Reveal Active / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22 / K&M 18810

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