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#678831 - 10/09/08 04:59 PM Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
Always Wanted to Play Piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 674
Loc: Chicago
I have been spending some time giving a good close look at the information on How to Record Piano ( http://www.pianoclues.com/how-to-record-piano/ ). In parallel, I have been conducting an offline conversation on this topic with AnthonyB. I had regarded the SD Card Feature (and, to a lesser extent, support for USB Connectivity) as a high priority in my digital piano purchase. After all, one of my key drivers for getting a digital is the ability to save recordings. However, it seems that recording using a Line Out to my laptop's Mic In input is a perfectly acceptable way to do it.

Am I right?

If so, what does USB Connectivity or an SD Card buy me (assuming I'm somewhat computer savvy, if that even matters)?

(Edited post to make a URL)
_________________________

Casio Ap-200
Almost midway thru Alfred's All-In-One Book Two
Blogging my family's piano learning experiences: http://aw2pp.blogspot.com/

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#678832 - 10/09/08 06:36 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Advantages over line-out:

Memory Card/USB Storage
- Save songs without having to be tethered to a computer (and corresponding extra steps/software to record).
- No analog recording quality issues (e.g. you are not constrained by the quality of the line-in of your sound card).

USB - ability to capture MIDI output from your piano. Some pianos support USB host mode in which case you can plug in a USB device to record as above.

BTW, don't use the mic-in on your computer. The voltage levels and impedance of mic level and line level are quite different and you can possibly damage your sound card at worst and will usually get a crappy recording at best.

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#678833 - 10/09/08 07:08 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
Always Wanted to Play Piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 674
Loc: Chicago
Ok, that helps. So in the case of my laptop, which lacks a line-in, my choices would be:

1. Use the mic-in to record my actual piano sounds, which is a lousy (potentially even dangerous) option.

2. Buy a Midi-to-USB cable, to record Midi signals using a third party recording tool. Then possibly using another tool to convert Midi to MP3. (In which case, the MP3 I generate isn't my actual piano sounds, but rather the piano sounds generated by the Midi to MP3 converter. Although depending on which DP I buy, maybe that's not a bad thing...)

3. Same as above, but buy a DP that has USB output, and use just a regular USB cable to capture Midi.

4. Buy a DP with card storage, which records not only my actual piano sounds, but does so digitally. I assume this is the best recording, no?
_________________________

Casio Ap-200
Almost midway thru Alfred's All-In-One Book Two
Blogging my family's piano learning experiences: http://aw2pp.blogspot.com/

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#678834 - 10/09/08 08:46 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
ohitpro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 104
Loc: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Hello,

I just went through this exercise and ended up using the SD card slot on my DP.

I record the song to the flash memory of the DP (Casio PX-200), copy the file to the card and then import the file to my PC (SynthFont).

Works like a charm!

Good luck and let me know if you have questions.
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#678835 - 10/09/08 10:26 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
Vincent L. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 349
Loc: Austin, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Always Wanted to Play Piano:
Ok, that helps. So in the case of my laptop, which lacks a line-in, my choices would be:

1. Use the mic-in to record my actual piano sounds, which is a lousy (potentially even dangerous) option.

2. Buy a Midi-to-USB cable, to record Midi signals using a third party recording tool. Then possibly using another tool to convert Midi to MP3. (In which case, the MP3 I generate isn't my actual piano sounds, but rather the piano sounds generated by the Midi to MP3 converter. Although depending on which DP I buy, maybe that's not a bad thing...)

3. Same as above, but buy a DP that has USB output, and use just a regular USB cable to capture Midi.

4. Buy a DP with card storage, which records not only my actual piano sounds, but does so digitally. I assume this is the best recording, no? [/b]
You have it mixed, I believe.
The PX-200 or 320 will not record any sound on the SD card but only midi files and data, using the proprietary Casio Format, that can be converted back to Midi and then you have to play the midi file through a synth to record its sound. The wav file you get from the recorder (assuming you use a PC, there is a recorder that generate such .wav files) must then be encoded in MP3, OGG ... - Of course you shall be able to find a software to directly generate the MP3 from Midi, but I have never heard of it.

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#678836 - 10/10/08 09:55 AM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
ohitpro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 104
Loc: Columbus, Ohio, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent L.:
... Of course you shall be able to find a software to directly generate the MP3 from Midi, but I have never heard of it. [/b]
I use SynthFont and a free SoundFont Steinway synthesizer. Got this tip from another member here.

The PX-200 does onboard conversion to SMF when writing to the SD card.

SynthFont can output to WAV or MP3 file.
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#678837 - 10/10/08 10:46 AM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
Vincent L. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 349
Loc: Austin, TX
Yes I just admitted my ignorance on this last point.

But the reason of my post was to make sure it was clear that the PX-200/320 do not record any MP3 or Wav file directly (digitally) on the SD card.

When AWTPP wrote:
4. Buy a DP with card storage, which records not only my actual piano sounds, but does so digitally. I assume this is the best recording, no?

It did seem to me that the expectations were ... wrong.

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#678838 - 10/10/08 11:14 AM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent L.:
Yes I just admitted my ignorance on this last point.

But the reason of my post was to make sure it was clear that the PX-200/320 do not record any MP3 or Wav file directly (digitally) on the SD card.

When AWTPP wrote:
4. Buy a DP with card storage, which records not only my actual piano sounds, but does so digitally. I assume this is the best recording, no?

It did seem to me that the expectations were ... wrong. [/b]
True, not all DP's that offer card/usb storage can actually record audio, this is a relatively new capability. The OP would be well advised to be certain that a DP can record audio as well as midi (or other proprietary) format.

AWTPP - your four points are basically correct. Theoretically recording audio directly in the piano itself to a memory card will yield the best results easiest. Going midi to the computer and utilizing a third party package can _possibly_ yield better results depending on the package vs the quality of the DP itself. If going DP line-out -> computer line-in was good enough for you, then most likely getting a DP that can do audio straight to the card would be the easiest option and still yield good results.

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#678839 - 10/10/08 11:15 AM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
SSB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Cumbria, UK
The main thing to remember is that the USB connection to your pc allows you to save / transfer the notes you play, rather than the sound the piano is making. It is only when the notes are played through the computer's onboard midi synthesizer, or output through USB midi back to the piano, that you will be able to listen to the notes you recorded.

I would say that it isn't an either / or option. By all means get a USB midi enabled piano, but also get a sound card (internal or external) that allows you to connect the instrument and record the sound itself.

With the right software you can record both the midi performance and the audio sound (provided you are hooked up with audio cables) simultaneously.

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#678840 - 10/10/08 12:19 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
AnthonyB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/28/07
Posts: 661
Loc: Center City, MN
I'll describe the way I end up making my audio recordings currently.

I currently use the digital piano's record button to record a take. If I like this take, I save the file to my usb stick which is attached. This way I don't have to worry about losing that data. Then I hook up my computer to the line out of the piano and to the line in on my sound card. I fire up my audio recording program, hit record, then roll over to the piano and hit play. I currently use the sound from my digital piano instead of running the midi file through software.

There are only a few advantages to using usb to get midi data.

1) You're using a software or sample based piano on a computer
2) Your piano doesn't have a way to hook up storage to save the song data
3) You can't record with the piano buttons locked

It is usually a bit more of a hassle to record midi on the computer since you have to get your computer to start recording followed by going back to the piano to start playing.
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Roland FP-7 / Pianoteq 4.5.1


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#678841 - 10/10/08 01:21 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
ohitpro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 104
Loc: Columbus, Ohio, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent L.:
...
When AWTPP wrote:
4. Buy a DP with card storage, which records not only my actual piano sounds, but does so digitally. I assume this is the best recording, no?

It did seem to me that the expectations were ... wrong. [/b]
Yeah, it sounds like AWTPP had those expectations so your points are well stated.

I've asked in other posts if the "quality" of line out is same/better/worse than the MIDI file and don't know if anyone really answered.

Does the line out signal have any loss potential compared to the directly created MIDI file? Is it hardware dependent?

I don't see the benefit of USB to PC over using SD card for the sole purpose of getting an MP3 or WAV file. The MIDI would be the same in this case, correct?
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Whatever you do, do it from the heart...

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#678842 - 10/10/08 01:42 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
 Quote:
Originally posted by SSB:
With the right software you can record both the midi performance and the audio sound (provided you are hooked up with audio cables) simultaneously.

] [/b]
Thanks for the picture, that helps me a lot. What is an example of "the right software" ?
Thanks, everyone, I am new to recording and have the same questions as AWTPP.

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#678843 - 10/10/08 02:27 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
SSB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Cumbria, UK
Well, recording software like Cakewalk Sonar allows you to record midi and audio tracks simultaneously. I would think it's a common feature on the more expensive recording software - Cubase would be another example. It might be overkill to spend alot of money on such software, unless you're really keen to use it. It does tend to have quite a learning curve to get over.

But imagine you've done just that, recorded midi and audio similtaneously - you can then do some really interesting things. You can mix your audio recording with midi playback using whichever instruments you like, based on your actual playing - so say for certain elements you want to replicate the melody you played at an octave higher, you can transpose the midi track and layer it over your audio recording. Or you might want to use the chords you played to be replicated using a pad or string sound, that can be done too. The main thing is that in recording them together in the same application, you can ensure that they remain in sync.
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#678844 - 10/10/08 02:47 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
 Quote:
Originally posted by ohitpro:
I've asked in other posts if the "quality" of line out is same/better/worse than the MIDI file and don't know if anyone really answered.[/b]
You are comparing apples with oranges. A line out recording is completely different from a MIDI recoring. In case of line out you're recording actual sounds, in case of MIDI you're recording *instructions* for the computer or some other synthesizer device to produce sound. You still need to convert these instructions to actual sounds before you can hear anything.

Either way lets you produce high quality recordings. Line out will sound as good as your digital piano can sound, and some digitals sound better than others. MIDI will sound as good as your computer/synthesizer/sound module sounds. Free software synths such as SoundFont are acceptable for many people, but to turn MIDI into truly great sounds you'll have to buy something like Ivory.
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#678845 - 10/12/08 11:40 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
Always Wanted to Play Piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 674
Loc: Chicago
Thanks everyone for this informative discussion. What I have learned is that the only way to record your actual piano sounds is to connect your DP to a recording device via a line-out mechanism, and that unless you have specifically upgraded your computer for this purpose, it makes a lousy endpoint for this connection. Further, I have learned that if you do not do this, the recording you make is a digital one, and what you hear after you convert the recording depends on the piano template you use during the conversion process.
_________________________

Casio Ap-200
Almost midway thru Alfred's All-In-One Book Two
Blogging my family's piano learning experiences: http://aw2pp.blogspot.com/

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#678846 - 10/13/08 12:14 AM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
AW2PP, are you then going with midi for making recordings with your new AP -200? I didn't think the AP-200 had a line out.

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#678847 - 10/13/08 10:12 AM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
Always Wanted to Play Piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 674
Loc: Chicago
It doesn't. I am going to use a Midi to USB connection, and convert the Midi to MP3 using... well, I just saw that the program I had downloaded and installed now wants $30 to convert more than 60 seconds worth of sound. So at this point, I am not sure what I'll use for the conversion, and I'll take any recommendations. Preferably something free that also uses soundfonts.
_________________________

Casio Ap-200
Almost midway thru Alfred's All-In-One Book Two
Blogging my family's piano learning experiences: http://aw2pp.blogspot.com/

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#678848 - 10/13/08 12:33 PM Re: Recording off a DP... what's the point of USB / SD?
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
 Quote:
Originally posted by Always Wanted to Play Piano:
So at this point, I am not sure what I'll use for the conversion, and I'll take any recommendations. Preferably something free that also uses soundfonts. [/b]
http://www.pianoclues.com/2008/03/11/how-to-convert-midi-files-to-mp3-and-make-them-sound-good/
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