Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it...

Posted by: jens4711

Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/17/10 05:09 PM


I finally sold my beloved Juno Di keyboard. So yesterday I brought home my new Kawai CN 33, and it is great laugh

However, as expected, I miss all the great synth sounds of my Juno Di. So now I want to connect my Macbook Pro, with Garageband, Pianoteq Play, and all sorts of free softsynths to the CN33. I have already connected them with the USB cable, and it works fine. But I want to get the sound out from the piano speakers, instead of from the Macbook.

I was think of buying a (used) EMU 0202 USB soundcard and connect the EMU's Lineout to the CN33's Linein, so that the sound from the Macbook could come out of the speakers of the CN33.

But now I am in doubt whether that would work, as I read this in the CN33 manual, p.64:

"LINE IN JACKS
These jacks are used to connect a pair of stereo outputs from other audio equipment or electronic instruments to the piano's speakers.
The audio signal coming through these jacks bypasses the piano's volume control. To adjust the volume level, use the output control of the external device."

Does the bypassing of the piano volume control imply, that the signal from the LineIn is not amplified ? Do I need and separate amplifier between the soundcard and the piano ?

Any advice would be great. Thanks.

/Jens
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/17/10 05:27 PM

Good morning Jens,

First off, congrats on your new CN33! wink

Quote:
Does the bypassing of the piano volume control imply, that the signal from the LineIn is not amplified ?


No, the Line In sound will be amplified. What the text in the owner's manual means is that the volume level of the Line In audio source is not affected by the CN33's master volume control. Therefore, you need to use the Mac in order to adjust the volume level heard from the CN33.

Quote:
Do I need and separate amplifier between the soundcard and the piano ?


No, I don't believe so - your Macbook's built-in sound should be fine. Just connect the Mac's audio out to the CN33's line in, fire-up Pianoteq, and you're all set.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: jens4711

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/17/10 05:59 PM

Good evening James :-) (Here it is midnight)

Originally Posted By: Kawai James

No, I don't believe so - your Macbook's built-in sound should be fine. Just connect the Mac's audio out to the CN33's line in, fire-up Pianoteq, and you're all set.


Ah, great! I will just go and find a minijack <-> 2xJack converter tomorrow, and see how that works.

Thanks for the quick reply !

/Jens
Posted by: ChrisA

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/17/10 06:11 PM

Originally Posted By: jens4711
...
Ah, great! I will just go and find a minijack <-> 2xJack converter tomorrow, and see how that works.


Yes you can send the Macbook's audio out directly to the piano. All you need is a cable adaptor. But if you have an audio interface box then you get an physical volume control knob on the box and also a headphone jack on the box. This means you don't need the mouse to change the volume and you don't have to swap cables around to use headphones. Some audio interfaces have built-in MIDI so if the piano has "real MIDI" yu connect that to the box and then there is only one cable plugged into the computer it all goes through the one USB cable.

The Mac's built-in audio quality is pretty good. You can use it for most line level recording and play back. The interface box does simplify cabling and give you physical knobs and jacks
Posted by: Upright

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/18/10 02:15 AM

I did the same thing and it works very well, although the volume coming from the MacBook Pro is a little low. Pianoteq is loud enough, but for Galaxy Vintage D, the volume on the MacBook Pro needs to be put to the max.

If you get some digital noise in the CN33 loudspeakers, don't be desperate. I had some very loud noise as soon as I connected both, audio and USB. Kawai Europe suggested me a hum destroyer like the Behringer HD400. I bought one and it works perfectly. The noise is completely gone.
Posted by: Rimmer

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/18/10 04:56 AM

Originally Posted By: jens4711

I was think of buying a (used) EMU 0202 USB soundcard and connect the EMU's Lineout to the CN33's Linein, so that the sound from the Macbook could come out of the speakers of the CN33.


May I ask why you are thinking of buy the EMU specifically? How much are you looking at for a used one..


Regards. Rimmer
Posted by: hpeterh

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/18/10 05:39 AM

Originally Posted By: Mawima
I did the same thing and it works very well, although the volume coming from the MacBook Pro is a little low. Pianoteq is loud enough, but for Galaxy Vintage D, the volume on the MacBook Pro needs to be put to the max.


Basically Vintage D should be able to produce so much volume that clipping occurs, that means both pianos should be able to produce the same volume.

In Vintage D there are three possibilities to adjust the volume:
1) The volume slider of the piano itself. If multiple instruments are loaded, each can have individual volume.
2) Master volume. That is the knob in the upper section at the left side.
3) Individual adjustments for each audio channel. You get this, if you click at the Icon with the sliders. This will open the output and effects section of Kontakt player.
Each audio channel can have individual volume and effects, if a multichannel soundcard is used.

Maybe the default settings are too low for your system...
BTW, hope you installed the updates. The choosen instrument setting is now remembered when a instrument is saved and loaded again. I reported this as a bug during beta testing and it was fixed... ;-)

Best,

Peter
Posted by: jens4711

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/18/10 02:57 PM

Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Some audio interfaces have built-in MIDI so if the piano has
"real MIDI" yu connect that to the box and then there is only one cable plugged
into the computer it all goes through the one USB cable.


Thanks, ChrisA. Good advice there.

Originally Posted By: Mawima
I did the same thing and it works very well, although the volume
coming from the MacBook Pro is a little low. Pianoteq is loud enough, but for
Galaxy Vintage D, the volume on the MacBook Pro needs to be put to the max.

If you get some digital noise in the CN33 loudspeakers, don't be desperate. I
had some very loud noise as soon as I connected both, audio and USB. Kawai
Europe suggested me a hum destroyer like the
Behringer HD400.
I bought one and it works perfectly. The noise is completely gone.


I also tried it today, with Garageband and Pianoteq. I found that the volume
from the Mac was fine, but I also got that annoying hum.

When I just connect the audio cable there is no noise, but when I connect the
USB the hum appears. Although the hum is not so loud it is quite annoying. Which
is why I am again considering to buy an external sound card, probably one with
Midi. I hope that gets rid of the noise.

The box you refer to looks good, but I think I would prefer to solve the problem
with a sound card, because of all the other benefits of that.

Originally Posted By: Rimmer
May I ask why you are thinking of buy the EMU specifically? How
much are you looking at for a used one..


No particular reason, really. The EMU was just the cheapest soundcard on the
local online marketplace, the asking price was €40 ($56). After the advice from
ChrisA, I would probably now go for one with Midi.

Do you know any soundcard, you could recommend ?
Posted by: ChrisA

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 10/18/10 06:08 PM

Originally Posted By: jens4711
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Some audio interfaces have built-in MIDI so if the piano has
"real MIDI" yu connect that to the box and then there is only one cable plugged
into the computer it all goes through the one USB cable.


Thanks, ChrisA. Good advice there.

Originally Posted By: Mawima
I did the same thing and it works very well, although the volume
coming from the MacBook Pro is a little low. Pianoteq is loud enough, but for
Galaxy Vintage D, the volume on the MacBook Pro needs to be put to the max.

If you get some digital noise in the CN33 loudspeakers, don't be desperate. I
had some very loud noise as soon as I connected both, audio and USB. Kawai
Europe suggested me a hum destroyer like the
Behringer HD400.
I bought one and it works perfectly. The noise is completely gone.


I also tried it today, with Garageband and Pianoteq. I found that the volume
from the Mac was fine, but I also got that annoying hum.

When I just connect the audio cable there is no noise, but when I connect the
USB the hum appears. Although the hum is not so loud it is quite annoying. Which
is why I am again considering to buy an external sound card, probably one with
Midi. I hope that gets rid of the noise.

The box you refer to looks good, but I think I would prefer to solve the problem
with a sound card, because of all the other benefits of that.

Originally Posted By: Rimmer
May I ask why you are thinking of buy the EMU specifically? How
much are you looking at for a used one..


No particular reason, really. The EMU was just the cheapest soundcard on the
local online marketplace, the asking price was €40 ($56). After the advice from
ChrisA, I would probably now go for one with Midi.

Do you know any soundcard, you could recommend ?


The problem is called a "ground loop" and it is one more reason to "just say no to USB MIDI" and go with those old round MIDI plugs. You are going to get a ground loop any time you can trace with your finger a circle of ground connections. Your audio cables, have grounds and so does the USB and technically what's happened is the grounds in the two cables are not at equal potentials. A few things to try are (1) making sure the computer is not running on AC and you don't have a pwered hub pluged into AC power. This way there is only one AC mains plug used. (2) get an audio interface box that has MIDI (3) use little box on the audio cables that is designed to break the ground, perhaps it has a line level transformer inside
Posted by: jens4711

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 12/28/10 05:45 AM


I can see, I forgot to thank for the advice.

The explanation on "ground loop" was especially helpful.

I ended up purchasing the Lexicon Alpha audio interface.

It helped very much, there is still a slight hum, but it is acceptable, and the sound is overall better.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 12/28/10 01:32 PM

No, USB won't introduce ground loop problems.
1. The data is purely digital, with high noise immunity.
2. The ground connection is independent of the data connection.
3. The data is sent in differential mode, with high immunity to induced, common-mode noise.

If hum is present, it's because something else is broken, not because USB has shortcomings.
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/13/11 01:02 PM

I connected the line out of my CN-33 into a M-AUDIO fast track ultra and the sound level is very low. -20 decibels. Not even close to being in the normal level. Has anyone else had this problem? I don't know how to record it because the piano sound is too low.
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/13/11 01:42 PM

after some fiddling around I discovered that the sound is very low, even with the keyboard volume up high. I have to use the gain of the sound card to bring it up to level. I suppose I could put the volume of the piano at maximum too but I don't see why the piano's volume would have an impact on line out. It's a pain to have the piano so loud just to record it.

I also found that the USB midi connection creates a lot of noise, not sure if it's coming out of the CN33 or if it's interference in my computer. But unplugging that is definitely required before recording audio.

Lastly I did a quick comparison of the kawai audio w/ a recording via midi rendered to audio with true pianos. I didn't notice a major difference. I need to repeat the experiment with the exact same midi file so I can make a fair comparison. My initial impression is that recording with midi and rendering with true pianos would be much easier than trying to record audio.
Posted by: jens4711

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/13/11 03:58 PM

Hi cunparis,

I don't know if I can help, but I need some more info to picture your setup.

What is your setup ?

Is it like this:
CN33 Line out/R -> M-Audio Mic/Inst 1
CN33 Line out/L -> M-Audio Mic/Inst 2
M-Audio USB -> Computer USB

Did you use the front or rear inputs ? And make sure that the two front/rear buttons are set to accordingly ?
Did you turn up the two Ch1 Gain and Ch2 Gain controls ?
What computer do you use, and what software ?
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 01:22 AM

Originally Posted By: jens4711
Hi cunparis,

I don't know if I can help, but I need some more info to picture your setup.

What is your setup ?

Is it like this:
CN33 Line out/R -> M-Audio Mic/Inst 1
CN33 Line out/L -> M-Audio Mic/Inst 2
M-Audio USB -> Computer USB

Did you use the front or rear inputs ? And make sure that the two front/rear buttons are set to accordingly ?
Did you turn up the two Ch1 Gain and Ch2 Gain controls ?
What computer do you use, and what software ?


You described my setup exactly. I'm using the front inputs because I need to use the gain which I have put at 75% for Channels 1 & 2. I'm using an HP notebook dual core with 2 gigs memory running windows 7 x32.

If I put the gain knobs at 100% then there is a lot of noise. At 75% there is a slight noise that's not audible when the piano is playing but if there is silence it's slightly audible.

I thought line out would work like my stereo equipment: Just do line out to line in and the signal is perfect regardless of the volume setting. It seems on the Kawai this isn't the case.

If I have the kawai plugged into my computer via USB there is definitely more noise/interference. This will be a problem because I want to record a midi file in cubase and then play it back on the kawai to record the audio.

Thanks for the help, I appreciate it. BTW how do you get notified when there is a new post? I can't figure it out.

Thanks
Posted by: R0B

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 01:30 AM

'BTW how do you get notified when there is a new post? I can't figure it out.'

Go to the top of this page, and click on 'Topic Options'
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 05:01 AM

Rob - I have the thread watched but I don't get any email notifications so I never know when a thread is updated.
Posted by: R0B

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 05:10 AM

Ok,

Again, top of page, click on 'My Stuff'/Edit preferences,
check 'Yes' in the text that reads:
By default should anything added to your Watch Lists be emailed to you?
Yes No
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 09:26 AM

Originally Posted By: R0B
Ok,

Again, top of page, click on 'My Stuff'/Edit preferences,
check 'Yes' in the text that reads:
By default should anything added to your Watch Lists be emailed to you?
Yes No


Thanks Rob, I got it configured to email me now.

I hope to get this recording issue working so that I can do some comparisons between the kawai, true pianos, and some live recordings on concert grands. It's a lot of fun.
Posted by: jens4711

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 02:42 PM

Hmm, I tried the same setup with my Lexicon Alpha audio interface.

In my setup I found the best sound level, by first turning all volume levels down to zero.

Then I turned each of the audio interface Line In levels (your ch1/2 gains) up to full, and then I slowly turned the master volume on the CN33 up until the recoding level in Garageband was ok. In that situation, I needed to turn the CN33 Master volume up to about 50% (middle setting).

It is a bit annoying, that it apparently is not possible to turn of the CN33 speakers in that situation.

Here is a checklist you might try:

Have you tried to use the Line In on the back of the M-Audio instead. I can see from the M-Audio description, that the front Line in's are also used for Mic. Maybe they are also high impedance inputs to be used for guitars ? Have you made sure, that the fantom power for the Mic inputs is turned off ?

Have you checked that the M-Audio is the only input to the computer, sometimes I have had a lot of noise, because the internal Mic on my Macbook was selected, when I thought that the input came from the audio interface.

Have you tried to remove any cables from the CN33 Line in ? In my case I have connected the Line out from the audio interface back to the Line In on the CN33, but in one case this gave some positive feedback loop, which caused at loud noise.
Posted by: jens4711

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/14/11 02:44 PM

Originally Posted By: jens4711

It is a bit annoying, that it apparently is not possible to turn of the CN33 speakers in that situation.


Off course it can be turned off but inserting the headphones jack into the CN33.
Posted by: hpeterh

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/15/11 02:40 AM

Assymetrical noninsulated low level audio+ noninsulated USB MIDI + noninsulated USB soundcards + Computers are a fatal combination.
When will they learn this at Kawai,Roland, Yamaha ... and and?

Try the headphone outlet, it has higher level. This will however not help when the noise is injected and amplified at line in of the Piano.
If conventional MIDI is available, use this, it is isolated.
Use high quality cables to keep the voltage drop over the cable low. (The most voltage drop is not at the cable, but at the contacts. These are most important, especially the ground and shield contacts)

I have a reliable contacted 1mm² cable that connects audio ground and computer frame and inside my Piano I connected USB shield and audio shield with a thick soldered cable. Big success! Probably they dont care too much at the manufacturer about proper low resistance ground routing and decoupling.

These devices can help:
http://www.wut.de/e-33001-ww-dade-000.php
http://www.bb-elec.com/product_family.asp?FamilyId=651

These are also availble much cheaper as DIY projects:
http://greinert.hopto.org:8081/index.php?id=20091022f7jj5hd5h9q5j5b12k4
http://www.circuitsathome.com/measurements/usb-isolator
http://www.elv.de/USB-galvanisch-getrennt-USB-Isolator-UI-100/x.aspx/cid_726/detail_30743

I have not tried these myself, but in various audiophile forums I have seen reports about big success.

A cheaper solution might be to buy expensive isolated high end soundcards only. Unfortunately the datasheets dont say anything about isolation. So you must ask the manufacturer. I think RME would be a good candidate, but I dont know.

Peter


Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/15/11 04:27 AM

I'm doing some research on this issue and I found an interesting thread where they talk about this problem with a digital piano, and one person replied mentioning a Kawai:

http://forum.recordingreview.com/f66/frustrated-m-audio-fasttrack-ultra-8r-31671/

The summary is that peaking at -9 dB is fine and even peaking -18 dB could be ok. So apparently I don't need so much gain on the fast track ultra.

I'm going to try it again. Will plug a headphone in so I can put the keyboard volume at 100%, I never thought of that (duh!). wink
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/15/11 05:44 AM

Good news. First, line-out from Kawai into the rear line-in inputs on the fast track ultra work fine and there is no need for the front inputs or gain. The levels peak about -7 dB for the 1st demo song which has good dynamics (gets very loud for some parts and quiet for others).

I took a midi file I downloaded from a live performance and I used that to record the audio. I then rendered the same audio with true pianos. I do not have a trained ear when it comes to pianos or recordings but from what I hear, the TruePianos is more pleasant. I think that it would take recording experience to make the Kawai sound better, for example adding some EQ & treble. Some may prefer the Kawai which sounds a bit "flat" for me, some may consider TruePianos to be over EQ'd. In any case they sound very similar to me so if one wasn't comparing them directly one after the other then I don't think the average person would know the difference.

It was a fun exercise. For me, I will probably just record as midi and then render to audio using TruePianos. I'm considering getting a sampled piano library such as Galaxy II to see if that sounds better.

So bottom line for recording the Kawai CN-33 audio:

- line-out works fine. Will peak -7 dB for the loudest parts of the 1st demo song and probably average around -15 dB
- put the volume slider to maximum
- plug in a headphone into the jack to turn off the speakers
- probably need some recording engineer type skills to make it sound good

If anyone wants to listen to the recording, I have three mp3 files here:

http://www.mediafire.com/?ym8c06c34p29bk8

- kawai cn-33
- truepianos sapphire default
- truepianos diamond classical (had to cut the first few seconds to remove a program change which set truepianos to sapphire, no idea how to fix that)

Thanks everyone for the help!
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/15/11 05:48 AM

cunparis, I'm not terribly familiar with the hardware, however the 'gain' controls on the suggest the FastTrack Ultra's front connectors are for mic/guitar recording, rather than line-level.

May I ask if you have tried using the input connectors on the back of the interface?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: cunparis

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/15/11 06:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
cunparis, I'm not terribly familiar with the hardware, however the 'gain' controls on the suggest the FastTrack Ultra's front connectors are for mic/guitar recording, rather than line-level.

May I ask if you have tried using the input connectors on the back of the interface?

Cheers,
James
x


James - yes I ended up using the line-in inputs on the rear. I thought I needed to boost the signal to get it up near 0 dB but it turns out that's not necessary (or desirable).

Also, I forgot in my last post, the USB midi definitely causes interface on my computer. I get a hum type noise as soon as I plug it in. So I will have to use regular MIDI cables if I want to record audio & do midi at the same time. Which isn't really a problem, just mentioning it so that others will know.

I still love my CN-33 and play it almost every day. I loaded some classical midi files onto a USB stick and it's very relaxing. wink
Posted by: R0B

Re: Got a Kawai CN33 :-) but now I want to connect it... - 02/15/11 10:03 AM

Cunparis,

Plugging in a headphone adapter jack, will do the same job
(isolate the on-board speakers), and also avoid the annoying
tinny sound of the music coming out of the headphones.