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#968706 - 01/12/06 08:09 PM How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4195
Loc: Arizona.
It seems that there are many different computer and digital piano configurations out there. Some people have input and output jacks, others have mic and headphone ports. Whatever the case, I am very confused and it seems like others are too!

Two people have alerted me to a potential problem (Copper and Bob Muir) that I want to make sure no-one hooks up anything incorrectly.

I want the recording process to go smoothly for everyone, however, I don't want any mishaps with the electronic hook-ups.

When it comes to "correctly" hooking up the piano to the computer, I am without a doubt the LEAST qualified to explain.

Can someone knowledgable chime in for the peace of mind to me and others?

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#968707 - 01/12/06 08:14 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Here's something I whipped up. I hope it helps. Hunky, is your keyboard plugged into the MIC port or the LINE-IN port?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On my Yamaha P90, there are five primary output ports:

1. 1/4" Stereo Headphone port – (your keyboard may have the mini-jack for consumer headphones) - this port ouputs an amplified similar to what a stereo sends to a speaker. Since it is amplified, you don't want to connect it to a destination that is not ready for an amplified signal. If you do, you have to make sure the volume is turned way down and be very careful. (See connecting headphone jack to line-in jack below.)

2. 1/4" Left & Right ports. These ports are amplified to what’s referred to as “line level” voltages. The louder the volume, of course the higher the amplification. However it is not amplified to the levels that the headphone jack is. That’s why the signal from this port and the stereo ports below need to be boosted by an amplifier to be heard. You can connect this port to either an external stereo amplifier, external amplified speakers (like computer speakers), or to a line-in port on another device.

3. 1/4" Left/mono port. When used by itself, this port combines both stereo channels into one channel for a mono keyboard amplifier.

4. RCA type jacks a left & right pair. Carries the same signal as the ¼” ports in 2 above and can be connected the same way.

5. MIDI out. Used to send MIDI control signals out.

To record MIDI data, to the computer or to play MIDI from the computer through the keyboard, you need a MIDI interface in the computer. I use an Audiophile 2496 sound card for the purpose, but there are lots of other options.

To record analog audio on the computer directly from the keyboard, the keyboard has to be connected to the computer via one of the first 4 options above.

COMPUTER PORTS

Depending on your computer, you may have the following ports:

A. Line-in – this is usually a stereo mini-jack and is indicated by a couple of concentric circles with an arrow pointing into the center of the circles. This is the ideal input.

- You can connect the headphone jack to this port, but extreme care must be exercised because you don’t want to blow out your sound card by having the volume up too high. Make sure the volume is turned all the way down and only turn it up a little bit until you can hear it on your computer.

- Ideally, you want to connect either the 1/4" left/right ports or the RCA stereo jacks to this port. The volume cannot blow out your card.

B. Mic-in – this is usually a mono mini-jack and is indicated by a little microphone icon. In some laptops, this jack might be dual purpose, for both a dynamic microphone or as a line-in port. You have to read your manual to be sure. Normally though, it’s for a monophonic dynamic mic that generates voltage solely from the diaphragm vibrating in the un-amplified microphone. If you connect the headphone jack or the line-outs of the keyboard to this jack, it may work (if the card was designed with the proper safeguards), or you may damage your sound card from the excessive voltage.

C. Headphone/speaker port(s) - stereo mini-port that sends an amplified signal out of the sound card. Most current desktops will usually have several of these for surround sound. Most laptops will only have one and it will have a little headphone icon next to it.

D. Joystick/MIDI port. This is a 15-pin port that looks kind of like the video connector, but it’s usually black in color while the video connector is usually blue. If you have one, then you may be able to use inexpensive cables to use it as MIDI in/out for your computer. Check your computer manual to see if it is a MIDI connector.


You may have to select which port you’re using in the software that you’re using to record with.

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#968708 - 01/12/06 09:05 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Just in case anyone else is as frustrated as I was.....I spent weeks trying to figure out the MIDI features on my piano. I have to use the microphone jack and not the MIDI port because my laptop doesn't have MIDI input capabilities. I was told that most laptops don't....not sure if this is true or not but the microphone input works fine anyway.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#968709 - 01/12/06 09:11 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Yes, most laptops require either a PCMCIA, or a USB, or a firewire device to interface with a keyboard via MIDI.

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#968710 - 01/12/06 09:41 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4195
Loc: Arizona.
Mic port Bob

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#968711 - 01/12/06 09:45 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
rocky Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 1456
Loc: Louisville, KY
I connect the headphone from piano to the microphone jack in my laptop. But I do have the volume turned WAY down. I didn't know it could damage the sound card, but did notice the sound was distorted terribly if the volume was very high on the piano. Guess I'm lucky I didn't blow my card up.

Now, for probably a stupid question. If use MIDI does the sound of the piano sound different than recording as audio? I know absolutely nothing about MIDI.
_________________________
When I reach the place I'm going, I will surely know my way.

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#968712 - 01/12/06 10:14 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"Mic port Bob"

Hey, if it works for you . . . \:\)

"If use MIDI does the sound of the piano sound different than recording as audio?"

If you play the MIDI file back through the keyboard, then it will sound the same. Otherwise, it'll sound like whatever voices are used by your software player.

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#968713 - 01/12/06 10:19 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
dvdiva Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 249
Loc: Manila
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocky:
If I use MIDI does the sound of the piano sound different than recording as audio? I know absolutely nothing about MIDI. [/b]
I use MIDI to record from my Clavinova to my computer, which I then convert to WAV or MP3. The resulting piano tone is very electronic, sounding like those early electronic keyboards or synthesizers of the previous decade without touch response or weighted keys. But since this method is what is available to me and easiest, I settle for it. I can post a sample if you'd like to hear the output.

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#968714 - 01/12/06 10:29 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4195
Loc: Arizona.
Bob,with the way I hooked up my digital piano, do you think I will be okay if I make sure to keep the volume very, very low?

However I hooked it up (piano outputs into a two into one adaptor going into computers mic post) seems to not only work, but the sound is very good. I would like to keep this quality, but I definatelly don't want to damage computer in any way. Just wondering if I skate on thin ice with the volume turned way down if I may be okay.

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#968715 - 01/12/06 10:45 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
You're probably ok. If you were going to fry the sound card, it should already have been fried. The worst you could do now is to shorten its life.

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#968716 - 01/13/06 07:44 AM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
rocky Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 1456
Loc: Louisville, KY
dvdiva, sure, I'd love to hear what it sounds like. I think I have an idea, but would like to hear it!!
_________________________
When I reach the place I'm going, I will surely know my way.

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#968717 - 01/13/06 08:59 AM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
dvdiva Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 249
Loc: Manila
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocky:
dvdiva, sure, I'd love to hear what it sounds like. I think I have an idea, but would like to hear it!! [/b]
Here you go! A test sample I recorded for you just now. \:\) I used Anvil Studio to record from the Clavinova into MIDI, then MIDI-to-WAV-maker to convert it. Click this link to download the file: http://www.yourfilelink.com/get.php?fid=3823

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#968718 - 01/13/06 09:20 AM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
rocky Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 1456
Loc: Louisville, KY
Thanks dvdiva, the sound isn't so bad. I may try the midi thing! And please tell me you aren't a *beginner*, the playing was terrific!!!
Thanks again!
_________________________
When I reach the place I'm going, I will surely know my way.

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#968719 - 01/13/06 10:04 AM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
dvdiva Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 249
Loc: Manila
You're welcome! \:\) I've been taking regular lessons with a teacher for over 2 years now.

If you have a digital, the best way is really what Bob and super-hunky recommend, which is to connect a cable from the piano's output or headphone port into the computer's mic port. I've tried that also before, but it just was so much of a hassle for me and my husband to set up. The cable was of poor quality and picked up a lot of noise, so we had to clean up the sound file using lots of filters. Then there was all that moving around of furniture and computers and trying this cable and that.

Then I figured, since there was already an existing connection running from the Clavinova MIDI port into my PC's joystick/modem port, I might as well use that. For an amateur adult beginner, my recording needs are simple (just this forum and nothing else), so I didn't really want to spend on any new equipment. Of course, if you're a serious pianist (like the pros in the Pianist Corner), you'd naturally want the best recording setup that really brings out the authentic tones of your grand piano. But for my basic AB needs, MIDI to WAV is not too bad. \:\)

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#968720 - 01/13/06 11:41 AM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Rodney Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/04
Posts: 735
Loc: Caledon ON, Canada
I thought I would jump in here with a little tutorial about the different ways to record from your electronic keyboard/digital piano.

First it is important to understand that MIDI is a computer protocol (your digital instrument is a computer) that tells the tone generator (the part of the instrument/computer that makes sound) what sound to make. When you hit a key on the keyboard, it generates a midi message with information on which key you pressed and how hard/quickly you pressed it. When you release the key, that generates another message, and when you press and release the pedals this also sends different messages. All of these messages are really small which is why when you capture these to a midi file, the file tends to be quite tiny as compared to an actual audio (WAV, AIFF, MP3,...) file.

If you connect the midi out (some keyboards also have a native USB midi interface) from your instrument and capture the midi messages using a sequencing package (midi recording software), then you can later play back those messages to any tone generator/sampler/rompler. Each of these devices will have different capabilities to create actual sound but they will all use the same information (note on/off, sustain, etc) to do it.

A midi adapter for USB that will work with any Desktop/laptop can be had for about ~$40, and there are lots of free sequencing (midi recording) packages available for both Windows and Mac computers.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=home/search/detail/base_pid/701379/

Once you have captured your midi file (sequence), it can then be played back and sent to either a hardware or a software tone generator.

MS-Windows has a built in tone generator software package called the wavetable synthesis engine. In the absence of a more professional package this is what is used to create sounds from midi files by default and quite frankly is is awfull!!! When you click on a midi file in Windows, by default the media player will strem the recorded (sequenced) midi messages to the vavetable synthesizer which will then convert those messages into sounds and send those sounds to the audio output of your computer. The midi to wav package described above does the same thing except instead of sending the audio output from the wavetable synth engin to the audio out interface, it writes it to disk.

The point I'm trying to make is that when you record midi, you are not actually recording the sound that is created by the professional tone generator built into your instrument. More likely the sound is created by a rather cheezy software package included with your computer's opperating system.

There are many software synthesisers/tone generators and samplers that can dramatically outperform ANY digital piano/keyboard on the market but these are expensive and require VERY powerful computers to run.

To actually record your keyboard, you need to connect the audio output jacks on the instrument using appropriate cables to the audio input of your computer. Almost every computer today comes with some kind of a built in audio in/out interface but again you get what you pay for. The quality of these devices tends to be poor when compared to more professional interfaces but they should be more than good enough for the average person that just wants to record and share their music with a few friends. You will also need a software package that can convert the signal coming into you computer into the correct file format. For example:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/

Using this method will result in a high quality recording of the sound actually created by you instrument. The files that you record will tend to be VERY alrge since they are in a raw (uncompressed) fromat which really isn't suitable for sharing with others. There are also many free programs that can compress and convert these raw (WAV, AIFF) files to more appropriate formats such as MP3.

Hope this helps someone,

Rodney

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#968721 - 01/13/06 12:36 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
I agree that Microsoft's built-in tone generator is terrible Rodney. Since I received my P90 at Christmas, I've routed all MIDI through the keyboard - sounds much better. What do you use to hear MIDI on the computer?

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#968722 - 01/13/06 01:43 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
One really powerful method is to add a midi interface to your computer as well as a software sample playback engine together with a piano sample library. The sample library contains recordings of all the notes at many different loudness levels and the sampler engine goes out and gets the recording of the right note, plays it back at the right level and for the right length of time... all in real time while you're playing on the keyboard. To simplify things a little, you could alternatively buy "virtual instruments" which combine the playback engine and library into one package. Here's a link to another thread where a developer I know posted recordings which I gave him of both a real piano and his sample library playing the same piece for comparison:

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/6/1500.html#000002

That particular midi recording was made from a tft recording strip I had inserted into the Renner action of my piano. I also use a Yamaha P90 with a Tascam US122 USB interface hooked to my laptop on occasion... usually for dual piano performances when only 1 is available. It's nice being able to pull out any piano you need on demand. The hard part is convincing some piano players to play it.

Howard

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#968723 - 01/13/06 02:36 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Rodney Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/04
Posts: 735
Loc: Caledon ON, Canada
Bob,

For general practice session I'll use the Yamaha Motif ES workstation which has a built in 16 track sequencer/sampler so I can record both midi and audio. That way I don't need to take the time to boot the computer and load any software. It's very convenient to do quick recordings and to check my progress on ony repertoire that I'm learning. I've recently started learning electric guitar as well, so Using the workstation I can create some tracks using midi, and then plug the guitar into the keyboard and record additional tracks in audio and mix them on the spot. I personally love the MotifES so I'll route midi files I get from the Internet through it, or if they're solo piano, I'll route to the Clavinova (CLP-170) we have and then take the audio out from that back into the ES or directly back to the computer.

My son who composes primarily orchestral stuff does a lot more sequencing than I so he always uses the computer. He uses Finale for scoring with Gigastudio (I've spent a small fortune on sample libraries "primarily piano") and Gerritan Personal Orchestra for sample playback as he wants the most realist insturments he can get. As well we have a pile of VSTi synth modules for synth sounds and VST effects for sound refinement which are hosted in either Steinberg Cubase or Mackie Traction.

Rodney

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#968724 - 01/13/06 03:11 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Ah, there's the problem. Midi via the MS wavetable synthesis engine really sucks, but there doesn't seem to be an affordable alternative for those who don't have a decent keyboard they can route the midi signal through for audio. But then, I haven't done a lot of research in the matter.

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#968725 - 01/13/06 09:49 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Kam Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 184
Loc: Canada
what cable should we use for best audio recording?
Do I need any adapter since i only have a laptop?
_________________________
"Bass creates motion" - David Lanz

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#968726 - 01/13/06 10:12 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Any audio cable will do. You'll need an adapter if the cable end isn't the same type as the receptacle.

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#968727 - 01/13/06 10:57 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Kam Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 184
Loc: Canada
do u have the pic of the audio cable?
im using notebook audigy2 , do i need an adapter?
_________________________
"Bass creates motion" - David Lanz

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#968728 - 01/16/06 01:50 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Rodney Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/04
Posts: 735
Loc: Caledon ON, Canada
KAM,

The Audigy 2 Notebook features a stereo mini jack (1/8") input. You'll need a Y type cable or adaptor that can take the two channels (L & R) from your keyboard (likely dual 1/4" phono or RCA type connectors) and combnie them into a single stereo mini-plug. One approach is to use standard music/guitar patch cables (mono phono to mono phono) and plug them into an adapter.

Just detirmine which kind of output your keyboard has (phone or RCA) and then ask the salesman at your local music store or electronics store to set you up.

RCA is the format on the back of every DVD or VCR and phone is the type found on guitars and professional audio equipment.

Rodney

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#968729 - 01/16/06 06:50 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Kam Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 184
Loc: Canada
i got the cable(RCA) connected to my notebook audigy2. wut software should i use to determine it is working or not?
_________________________
"Bass creates motion" - David Lanz

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#968730 - 01/16/06 06:56 PM Re: How to hook up a digital piano to your computer.
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Audacity is a good freeware audio recording application.

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