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#2551872 - 06/24/16 09:11 PM No line-in input: recording question
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
I want to record from digital piano to computer, and I have several laptops, but unfortunately none of them has a line-in input. Buying an external USB sound card appears to be the best solution.

Now I've been browsing on Amazon.de, and these are some options:

1.) https://www.amazon.de/CSL-Soundkarte-Lau...+usb+soundkarte

2.) https://www.amazon.de/LogiLink-Dolby-ext...+usb+soundkarte

3.) https://www.amazon.de/Sweex-SC016-7-1-ex...+usb+soundkarte

Can anyone recommend one of these, or should I be looking for a different product? I'm unsure what I should be looking for. For example, are there different kinds of line-in inputs, such as mono and stereo? If so, I'd need a stereo input, but not all of these products have a detailed description, so I really don't know what to choose.

My DP only has a phones output, so I'd be recording phones to line-in, which is fine by me, as I've heard the results and see no issues.

Any advice is much appreciated.


Edited by Stephano (06/24/16 09:11 PM)
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#2551881 - 06/24/16 10:05 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
Hi Stephano

Seems to me Amazon in pointing you in the wrong category of audio cards.
You will be better off with a semi-pro audio card from the likes of Tascam, ESI, M-audio, Steinberg, Lexicon, Focusrite, Edirol etc.
These semi-pro audio cards will give you low latency and decent quality of recording and playback for the price.
>> Lexicon Alpha, Steinberg UR12, M-audio M-track mkii etc.

On the subject of connections; since your DP only has a phones out, this gives you a stereo signal on a single (mini)jack. Look for a cable that transfers this into two mono 6,35 mm jacks. So basically what you need is called a 'Y-cable' = 1 connector on one side, 2 connectors on the other side.

To explain this in detail:
Typically, one of the output jacks will be labelled "L" (left signal - black color), and the other will be labelled "R" (Right signal - red color.) They are mono jacks or TS jacks and have 2 seperate metal rings ('tip' and 'sleeve'). The jack that connects your DP is a stereo or TRS jack and has 3 seperate metal rings ('tip', 'ring' and 'sleeve'); hence the TRS and TS abbreviations. (The 'sleeve' isn't really a ring, it's more of a long and thin cilinder.)
>> So the jack that you connect to the piano has 3 metal rings (TRS), and both jacks on the other side that go into your sound card each have 2 rings (TS). You can then connect these to the appointed 6,35mm jack inputs of your sound card.

Hope this was clear and helpful.

Good luck!
Emanuel


Edited by DeskDesign (06/24/16 10:54 PM)

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#2551885 - 06/24/16 10:18 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Thanks for your input, Emanuel, but I have to admit that I'm now more confused than ever.

I intended to use this cable:

http://www.thomann.de/de/cordial_cfs_3_ww.htm?ref=search_rslt_Cordial+CFS+miniklinkenkabel_188560_0

With this adapter/connector:

http://www.thomann.de/de/the_tbone_headphone_adapter.htm?ref=search_rslt_6%2C3+adapter_300470_1

As was suggested to me in this thread:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2546365/Question_about_recording_with_.html

Why is that wrong? I don't understand.


Edited by Stephano (06/24/16 10:18 PM)
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#2551886 - 06/24/16 10:27 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
No worries.
Thing is that most dedicated audio cards have better connectors than that fragile 3.5mm minijack.
Because I would advise you to go for a different type of audio card, the cable needs to be different.
Am I right in understanding that your DP has a 6.35mm stereo jack output?
In that case, go with a cable like this:
http://www.thomann.de/be/cordial_cfy_09_vpp.htm


Edited by DeskDesign (06/24/16 10:28 PM)

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#2551888 - 06/24/16 10:37 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
No worries.
Thing is that most dedicated audio cards have better connectors than that fragile 3.5mm minijack.
Because I would advise you to go for a different type of audio card, the cable needs to be different.
Am I right in understanding that your DP has a 6.35mm stereo jack output?
In that case, go with a cable like this:
http://www.thomann.de/be/cordial_cfy_09_vpp.htm

Now I understand better. smile

Yes, the DP's phones output is 6.35mm stereo.

Thank you for the link! Is there any difference between that cable and this one: http://www.thomann.de/de/the_sssnake_sk3153_insertkabel.htm

Except for the length I mean? In any case I will need something 3 meters in length.

My other question is, would you recommend any soundcards from the Thomann website?

I really appreciate your help.
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#2551890 - 06/24/16 10:45 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
You're welcome!

The jack connectors of cheaper cables tend to 'not really' fit, so try to avoid these as they will stress the fragile surface-mount connectors of your soundcard/DP. (Cordial is a decent brand, Sssnake typically manufactures cheap products so you might want to avoid these.)

This is the 3meter Cordial cable (and they also have 6m)
http://www.thomann.de/be/cordial_cfy_3_vpp.htm

Soundcard depends on your budget, and on what other things you would expect from it. For example; you might need a (seperate) microphone input, or seperate stereo studio speaker outputs? .. What is your setup? And are you using USB2 or 3?



Edited by DeskDesign (06/24/16 10:55 PM)

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#2551899 - 06/24/16 11:44 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
You're welcome!

The jack connectors of cheaper cables tend to 'not really' fit, so try to avoid these as they will stress the fragile surface-mount connectors of your soundcard/DP. (Cordial is a decent brand, Sssnake typically manufactures cheap products so you might want to avoid these.)

This is the 3meter Cordial cable (and they also have 6m)
http://www.thomann.de/be/cordial_cfy_3_vpp.htm

Soundcard depends on your budget, and on what other things you would expect from it. For example; you might need a (seperate) microphone input, or seperate stereo studio speaker outputs? .. What is your setup? And are you using USB2 or 3?

I'm pretty sure all my laptops have USB 2. Would it be a problem if it's USB 3?

No microphone input needed.

No separate speaker outputs needed. I'll be able to hear the sound on the laptop while my DP's speakers will be silent, correct?

Budget... don't know what to tell you. I didn't intend to spend much because I thought those soundcards on Amazon would be okay. But now your advice has changed things and I probably need to increase the budget. Is there anything for 50 or 60 Euros on Thomann which would be a good choice?
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#2551937 - 06/25/16 08:22 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
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Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
I'd strongly suggest reserving a higher budget for an audio card. That being said, the Lexicon Alpha will do an ok job given it's price tag. Not sure if this will output to your laptop speakers though, I believe you need to use the output on the card itself.

No you are right, USB 2 or 3 won't really matter.


Edited by DeskDesign (06/25/16 08:27 AM)

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#2551947 - 06/25/16 09:32 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
I'd strongly suggest reserving a higher budget for an audio card. That being said, the Lexicon Alpha will do an ok job given it's price tag. Not sure if this will output to your laptop speakers though, I believe you need to use the output on the card itself.

No you are right, USB 2 or 3 won't really matter.

Are you talking about this one:

http://www.thomann.de/de/lexicon_alpha_studio.htm?glp=1&gclid=CMCKqoCjw80CFUefGwodUPYL8A

And speaking about budget, which more expensive ones on Thomann would you recommend and why?

The whole time I assumed that when using a program like Audacity to record, I'd be able to hear the sound through the laptop. If not, what would be the simplest method to hear myself?
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#2551982 - 06/25/16 11:56 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
You could go for a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, or Steinberg UR22.
Why? Just read some of the reviews.
Cheap = cheap, there's no way around it.

About hearing the sound through the laptop; I'm just not sure how this works because I'm not a laptop user. Somebody else needs to chime in - or ask the guys at Thomann to make sure.

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#2551987 - 06/25/16 12:17 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
You could go for a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, or Steinberg UR22.
Why? Just read some of the reviews.
Cheap = cheap, there's no way around it.

About hearing the sound through the laptop; I'm just not sure how this works because I'm not a laptop user. Somebody else needs to chime in - or ask the guys at Thomann to make sure.

Sorry, I have almost zero experience recording from a DP, which is why I'm asking all these questions. You've been really helpful!

Is the link I posted in my previous post the product you said would be okay? Please let me know.

And you also mentioned Steinberg UR22. How much worse is the UR12?

Keep in mind that I don't really require superb recording quality. What you hear in those YouTube demos that advertise digital pianos is the quality I'm going for.
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#2551988 - 06/25/16 12:22 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
Frédéric L Offline
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Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 786
Loc: France
The UR12 has one input for a microphone and another one for an instrument like a guitar. These inputs are not made for a digital piano.
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#2551993 - 06/25/16 12:34 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
Originally Posted By Stephano
Is the link I posted in my previous post the product you said would be okay? Please let me know.


Yes that's the one. I am worried about built quality though (monitor switch and usb socket - as read in some reviews on Amazon etc.) and also worried about high latency. But it's only € 51 so..

Yes exactly, Frédéric has it right; don't go for the UR12.


Edited by DeskDesign (06/25/16 12:37 PM)

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#2552021 - 06/25/16 03:44 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
Originally Posted By Stephano
Is the link I posted in my previous post the product you said would be okay? Please let me know.


Yes that's the one. I am worried about built quality though (monitor switch and usb socket - as read in some reviews on Amazon etc.) and also worried about high latency. But it's only € 51 so..

Yes exactly, Frédéric has it right; don't go for the UR12.

High latency meaning I play a note and hear it a bit later? That'd be very annoying.

If I bought one of those inexpensive external soundcards on Amazon (not audio interfaces but just cards with line-in input) and used the cable I mentioned earlier in the thread, do you think there'd still be latency issues?

And if I had a laptop with line-in, would you still recommend buying an audio interface for recording?

I have zero experience with this, and apologize if my questions are annoying you. I'm just trying to understand why audio interfaces are better than a regular line-in input when it comes to recording from a DP.


Edited by Stephano (06/25/16 03:46 PM)
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#2552026 - 06/25/16 04:23 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
EPW Offline
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Registered: 07/09/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
On the windows side the Audio Interfaces come with a different set of drivers to
run the hardware. Built-in hardware will use the Windows Device protocol. Mili-second delay in the 20-50ms. Fine for just playing audio back. For playing
you want the ms delay under 10ms smile

Focusrite, Tascam, MOTU etc will have ASIO drivers that deliver this lower latency.

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#2552030 - 06/25/16 04:39 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
Frédéric L Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 786
Loc: France
I use my card with Windows drivers and my DAW repports 3.2ms in, 7.1ms out. But I use an exclusive mode which bypass the Windows mixer.

With a shared mode I have 10ms and 28ms !
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#2552038 - 06/25/16 05:45 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
DeskDesign Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
Originally Posted By Stephano
If I bought one of those inexpensive external soundcards on Amazon (not audio interfaces but just cards with line-in input) and used the cable I mentioned earlier in the thread, do you think there'd still be latency issues?

And if I had a laptop with line-in, would you still recommend buying an audio interface for recording?


Yes; in both cases you would have too much latency. As EPW pointed out the latency should be under 10 ms (under 7ms really) and that's one of the reasons to have a dedicated semi-pro audio card.

@Frédéric; so do you mean that using 'shared mode' allows you to use your laptop built-in speakers?

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#2552049 - 06/25/16 07:12 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
Yes; in both cases you would have too much latency. As EPW pointed out the latency should be under 10 ms (under 7ms really) and that's one of the reasons to have a dedicated semi-pro audio card.

So even a laptop with line-in would have latency? Wow.

I'm thinking if the following would solve the latency issue: First recording right onto the digital piano's internal memory, and then playing back the audio later while recording onto the laptop. I mean latency would still be present while recording, but it wouldn't be relevant anymore.

BTW, is there a way to find out how big the latency is on the Lexicon Alpha?

And thank you all for the input.
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#2552060 - 06/25/16 08:33 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4736
Loc: North Carolina
1. Latency matters only when you listen to piano sounds coming from the computer as you play.

2. If you're just playing back a recording, latency doesn't matter.

3. If you're just recording a piano performance (listening to the piano, not the computer), then latency doesn't matter.

I believe you are in situation #3. So, latency doesn't matter.

As for requiring a line input on the laptop ... you don't need one. A microphone input is just fine.

You need simply reduce the input signal level (because that mic input expects a very weak signal from a microphone, but it will be getting a strong signal from your piano). But try it anyway. Some equipment is claimed to auto-sense the levels.

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#2552079 - 06/25/16 10:02 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: MacMacMac]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Hi MacMacMac,

Originally Posted By MacMacMac
I believe you are in situation #3. So, latency doesn't matter.

Actually, #1 would be my preferred option, so I'd go for #3 only if #1 is difficult to pull off. It is surprising to me that a line-in input on the laptop would have latency, and if so, then I think it would also apply to the microphone input you mentioned.

Either way it would appear that #3 is the only solution unless one buys a more expensive audio interface with low latency. Then again I have no information how good/bad the latency is on the Lexicon Alpha, so I don't know if I could tolerate it.

Quote:
3. If you're just recording a piano performance (listening to the piano, not the computer), then latency doesn't matter.

I don't think I can listen to the piano if I'm using the phones output, as it automatically turns the internal speakers silent. If there was a way to also have sound coming from the speakers, I wouldn't need to worry about the latency issue.

Quote:
As for requiring a line input on the laptop ... you don't need one. A microphone input is just fine.

You need simply reduce the input signal level (because that mic input expects a very weak signal from a microphone, but it will be getting a strong signal from your piano). But try it anyway. Some equipment is claimed to auto-sense the levels.

This is very interesting, as I've heard in the past that a mic input absolutely cannot work. Supposedly the result would be bad audio quality. Now, by reducing the input level do you mean simply lowering the volume on the source (the piano), or adjusting some settings on the computer?

I also take it you don't recommend an audio interface at all in my case?

Much appreciated.


Edited by Stephano (06/25/16 10:07 PM)
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#2552116 - 06/26/16 04:32 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: MacMacMac]
DeskDesign Offline
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Registered: 09/29/15
Posts: 49
Good points MacMacMac.
Not sure about the mic input trick though (impedance mismatch), but there's no harm in trying.

@Stephano; you can always use the dedicated outputs on the audio interface itself. Most of them have a phones output.


Edited by DeskDesign (06/26/16 05:34 AM)

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#2552119 - 06/26/16 04:52 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: DeskDesign]
Frédéric L Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 786
Loc: France
Originally Posted By DeskDesign
@Frédéric; so do you mean that using 'shared mode' allows you to use your laptop built-in speakers?


If you want to use the built-in speakers, any mode will work (ASIO with ASIO4All, WASAPI shared or exclusive).

The difference between shared and exclusive is that in shared mode several applications can use the sound card. This mode is made possible with the Windows mixer which adds a lot of latency. This is why I use exclusive mode (with an integrated card) in this mode I use the Windows driver with no mixer.

The Windows mode I use is called WASAPI (Windows Audio Session Application Programming Interface)... And I have it on Reaper. It may not be proposed in other software.
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#2552187 - 06/26/16 12:02 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4736
Loc: North Carolina
About this:
Originally Posted By Stephano
It is surprising to me that a line-in input on the laptop would have latency, and if so, then I think it would also apply to the microphone input you mentioned.
There is virtually no latency on the line input. The latency is in the audio output. Adding an ASIO driver to the laptop might help. But usually the solution is to use an upgrade external audio output interface.

Based on the above, this might not matter:
Quote:
... it would appear that #3 is the only solution unless one buys a more expensive audio interface with low latency.

As for this:
Quote:
I don't think I can listen to the piano if I'm using the phones output, as it automatically turns the internal speakers silent.
That's a shame. Some pianos let you keep the speakers on. But since your piano won't, you still could ...
a. Split the output. Feed one output to the computer, the other to your headphones.
b. Use one of the audio interfaces you've mentioned. Does it have a headphone output jack? If so, problem solved.

Quote:
... I've heard in the past that a mic input absolutely cannot work. Supposedly the result would be bad audio quality.
Can have bad audio quality? Yes. But only if it's done improperly.
Do it properly. Get an audio pad to drop the signal level by 20 or 30 dB. Or build one yourself. It's just a cable pair with two resistors added to each cable.

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#2552245 - 06/26/16 07:43 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: MacMacMac]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By MacMacMac
There is virtually no latency on the line input. The latency is in the audio output.

I have some problems understanding this. Do you mean that if I connect the DP to the laptop's line-in, I will have latency on the laptop's speakers?

Quote:
]That's a shame. Some pianos let you keep the speakers on. But since your piano won't, you still could ...
a. Split the output. Feed one output to the computer, the other to your headphones.
b. Use one of the audio interfaces you've mentioned. Does it have a headphone output jack? If so, problem solved.

Well, I intend to record video of me playing and record the audio separately, which I'd add to the video later. Therefore I want to avoid having to wear headphones while recording the video.

My DP has two headphones outputs though. Do you think I could make use of this?
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#2552301 - 06/27/16 01:23 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
Charles Cohen Offline
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Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 2976
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Here's another idea, since you just mentioned that you want to do video recordings, and combine video and audio tracks:

a) Record your piano playing _in MIDI_, on the computer, rather than in audio. That way, you'll get to hear it out of the DP's speakers, since MIDI output happens all the time.

b) Use a "virtual piano" (I'd pick Pianoteq, because I own it) to "render" the MIDI into audio (a WAV or MP3 file), at some later time. That eliminates all problems with latency.

Pianoteq has a built-in MIDI recorder; I suspect that all other virtual pianos have them, too.

Your computer's sound card (which has stereo output) is perfectly capable of producing "video-quality" sound.

The sound from Pianoteq is (IMHO) better than what you'll get from any low-to-medium-priced DP. So your playing might actually sound better on the recording than it did when you performed. [You can edit MIDI files to fix mistakes, but it might throw off the sync between audio and video.]

The hardware requirement is simplified. If your DP has a "USB-to-host" jack, you'll just need a USB "printer cable". If it doesn't, and has a "real MIDI" jack, you'll need a $30 (or thereabouts) MIDI-to-USB adapter. M-Audio makes some that work OK.

Many ways to skin a cat, some not so obvious.
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#2552306 - 06/27/16 01:47 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
AndrewJCW Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/14
Posts: 664
Loc: Middle of nowhere, Australia
Originally Posted By Stephano

My DP has two headphones outputs though. Do you think I could make use of this?


Yes, just plug any speakers into the other headphone output. Any random hi fi or cheap desktop computer speakers will be fine to just hear what you're playing. You might need a 1/4 inch to 3.5mm adaptor (approx $2).
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#2552307 - 06/27/16 01:49 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Charles Cohen]
Frédéric L Offline
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Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 786
Loc: France
I quote " Pianoteq has a built-in MIDI recorder; I suspect that all other virtual pianos have them, too.". Pianoteq is the exception : with most virtual piano you have to use them with a DAW (Reaper, Anvil Studio, Garage Band to name a few), and use it to record. The PC version of Ivory comes with Cantabile which permits also to record yourself.

If the piano has can record to a WAV file, it should be the most evident way to proceed.
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#2552396 - 06/27/16 11:42 AM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Charles Cohen]
Stephano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By Charles Cohen
Here's another idea...

Thanks Charles, however I'm not really interested in MIDI at this point. I don't want to buy a virtual piano or have to render anything. Maybe in the future, but not now. Just the simplest audio recording from DP to laptop is what I'm looking for.

What I want to understand is: Why does DP phones-out to laptop line-in have latency, and DP phones-out to external speakers does not? Does it have go do with the computer's need to first process the audio coming in?

And it was also suggested that I use phones-out on an audio interface for monitoring, but wouldn't that method also have latency?

Honestly, I thought recording would be much simpler, lol.
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#2552412 - 06/27/16 12:19 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
Frédéric L Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 786
Loc: France
About the latency from the DP to the PC (in audio), it is simple : the PC can't ask the sound card 44100 times per second to get a sample. It will take too much time. Then, the PC ask the sound card to fill a buffer of lets say 128 samples, and it wakes up when the buffer is full of samples. Then, since it take 3ms to fill the buffer, you have a 3ms latency.

The reverse is even worse : if the PC doesn't fill the buffers fast enough, we will hear a dropout. Then some margin is added and we have even more latency.

About the MIDI link: the plain old MIDI link is quite slow and 3 bytes (note on, note off) needs 1ms to be sent. A USB is much faster BUT the keyboard can't send a single bytes without been permitted by the PC... And a PC ask the keyboard each 1ms... Then we can also have 1ms of latency.
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Yamaha CLP150, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq

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#2552413 - 06/27/16 12:19 PM Re: No line-in input: recording question [Re: Stephano]
9190 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/14
Posts: 139
Originally Posted By Stephano
Honestly, I thought recording would be much simpler, lol.

That is why I appreciate so much the USB Audio Recorder function in digital pianos. The easiest way with decent quality. For me there are no digital pianos without this feature anymore.

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