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#662764 - 05/16/03 01:13 AM MIDI musings
Razvan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/11/03
Posts: 4
I spent some time tonight reading about MIDI and sequencers and the amount of information available out there is pretty overwhelming. \:\)

I am looking at getting a digital piano (Yamaha P120) and would like to do the following:

1. Hook it up to a laptop using a MIDI <-> USB interface (the laptop has no MIDI ports)
2. Have the laptop record what I play on the piano (using a MIDI sequencer) and produce a .MID file
3. Have the laptop playback a .MID either through the piano or through the laptop speakers
4. Have the laptop play the MIDI data coming from the piano in "realtime"
5. Use different soundfonts on the laptop (for example, get a better "grand piano" soundfont than the one that the piano comes with)

This seems like it should all be feasible, but I am confused by the bewildering availability of hardware and/or software offerings for something like this.

Does the setup above sound feasible? Do I need a fancy soundcard on the laptop to be able to use a MIDI sequencer and/or soundfonts? Does the laptop need to have a powerful CPU (I have PIII 600Mhz right now)? Can the laptop play MIDI data coming from the piano in realtime, or does it need to store it in a .MID file first, then play it?

Thanks in advance,

Razvan.

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#662765 - 05/16/03 07:38 PM Re: MIDI musings
Craig S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 137
Loc: Wyoming
I am not a midi expert so I may tell you things that you already know or things that may be incorrect. With that said I will wade in anyway with my understanding of midi.

I use a Roland KR577 and I assume for midi purposes that it is similar to your Yamaha. The digital piano creates a midi file. It can be sent to a computer. It can be manipulated on the computer in all kinds of ways with software programs such as Cakewalk, in fact Cakewalk can be used to create midi files in a composing manner.

Now to turn the file into sound the file has to be sent from the computer and run through some sort of a midi output device. This can be midi capabilities on the motherboard built in sound (usually poor midi capability), a seperate sound card with midi capabilities (better but probably not as good as your yamaha), a midi sound module (good ones are pricey), or run it through packaged software then out through your sound card and speaker system.

In order to have something that you can play on a CD player, the midi file needs to be run through some sort of sound module and then back into the computer as an audio signal in order to get a wav file or some other type of audio file.

A digital piano can be used as the output divice. This will give the sound samples from that piano. If you want different samples they have to come from either software packages or other sound modules.

You should be able to send a midi signal from your keyboard to another sound module and get a different sample. The module will require a sound system in order to hear it or you could run the audio signal to your computer as an audio file.

Real time may present some lag problems if things get to complex or if cables are long.

Practically anything is possable but in order to get quality audio it may be a spendy project.
_________________________
Craig

No piano industry association. Amateur interests in playing and technical aspects of piano.

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#662766 - 05/22/03 12:32 PM Re: MIDI musings
LorenzoGonzalez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/03
Posts: 23
Loc: Michigan, USA
It's definitely feasible, but you may find that your laptop is disappointing as a sound module, if you try to push it too far. The "sound fonts" (a specific technology that you may or may not use) require special software to play back, or a soundcard (with accompanying software) that specifically supports them. 600MHz isn't so bad, but you will want as much memory as possible if you plan to load several or very large samples into memory for realtime play. Unfortunately, there is no way the laptop hard drive is fast enough to stream the big, beautiful software samples off disk. Probably limited, but still better than your in-built sounds on a low-end digital piano.

The USB midi interfaces are not so bad, and not terribly expensive (relatively). I have a cheap Edirol USB unit, and the lag is okay, but I haven't tried it with Kontakt (or Gigastudio, which I don't own), as I have a desktop that handles those heavier chores (with PCI soundcard).

Unfortunately I've never heard a soundfont yet that was actually better than my Yamaha and Roland pianos. But once you hear the Post samples for Giga/Kontakt (for example, there are other great samples) you'll be lusting after the hardware and software to play them.

Oh, and any computer-based sound source (ie. VST or DXi sampler, or soundfonts) can be dumped to CD audio or MP3 without ever leaving the computer, for a convenient and high quality pure-digital recording. If the samples/sound sources are good, this beats an analog path in many ways.

-Lorenzo

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