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MIDI, computer?!

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Reemo_bassist, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. Hi,

    I'm asking on behalf of a friend - she has a Kawai midi-enabled keyboard, and a laptop. I'm wondering is it possible to have a midi-controlled-pc-based synthesizer? Like a rackmount synth, only on PC. I take it softsynths can be MIDI-controlled, and hence be used for this purpose? We'd like to hook the Kawai up to laptop at rehearsals, and all the samples be stored on there and played in real time through the computer, back out and into the keyboard again?
  2. Koushaku

    Koushaku The artist never sleeps, only dreams

    Mar 10, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Yes, you can have one. You need to hook the keyboard up to the computer, such as with a Midi to USB cable, then you need a host program like Cubase, or Cakewalk Sonar, that works with VST technology for softsynths. You can also get samplers like Kontakt and/or Battery that are run in similar fashion if you use actualy samples in addition to synths.
  3. hehehehe! Just read that on Wiki, and it made perfect sense. But how instantaneous is it, I take it it depends on your PCs peformance.
  4. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
  5. doesn't a softsynth have to be controlled by a MIDI controller?

    anyways, Koushaku had some good titles, i am a big fan of my Reason 2.5...but i believe they are up to 3.0 now
  6. Yup, everything except the last bit. Not too many synths (and not the Kawai) take an audio input. You'll need a USB MIDI interface like this: [​IMG] and a mini-jack to 1/4" jack to hook up the soundcard of the laptop to the amp / PA.

    Buy Computer Music magazine and snag their Computer Muzys free sequencer with VST host capabilities, and/or download something like Chainer or Steinberg's V-Stack VST rack. That way you can plug together various synths, FX etc and control them from your keyboard.
  7. Koushaku

    Koushaku The artist never sleeps, only dreams

    Mar 10, 2005
    Albany, NY
    If you run many synths at once, you'd want a computer with good power (for an idea, the laptop I use when I perform with my band is 3ghz and 1.25gb ram) I'm both the bassist and keyboardist in the group I play in.

    But if you are only going to run one or two things, you can get away with less. I wouldn't suggest relying on it too heavily if you have less than 1ghz and 512mb ram on your laptop, but its still worth a try, cause playing through your computer is awesome. Again, these estimates are from someone who likes to run a dozen softsynths at once sometimes, so you may get away with lesser performance, as long as you can keep the latency down.
  8. That's exactly what she has, 1.5GHz, and 512MB. Now, Latency is becoming an issue (she has SoundMAX integrated sound, it's a Compaq V4000 laptop). Tried the ASIO4All drivers, but we haven't tried plugging it in yet, anything we can try just in case? How did you chop your latency, Koushaku
  9. Koushaku

    Koushaku The artist never sleeps, only dreams

    Mar 10, 2005
    Albany, NY
    If you haven't, check the audio options in your host program and adjust the buffer size for the latency.

    Some other tips: a friend of mine found it helpful to not have the midi input jack on his keyboard plugged in when using it with the computer, I don't know if you have your cables set up that way cause I don't know what you are using to connect it to the computer, but if you don't need midi messages being sent into the keyboard and the midi input into the keyboard is still connected, you could try leaving only the output connected to reduce input/output latency.

    I know, that's a lot of "if". But different computers and programs respond differently. I find it helpful sometimes to make sure as few other programs are running on the computer as possible to conserve CPU as that can have an affect on it.

    So anyway, check your audio options to see if you can simply reduce the buffer size, if you are using cable options that are not needed than unplug them, and make sure your computer has as much free CPU/memory available by having as few programs running as possible. Sometimes its the combination of little adjustments that allows it to work well, otherwise you might consider an upgrade of ram if it is within your means.

    Hope that helps, you can probably find more info looking around the net. I've been lucky, whenever I had latency problems I could either adjust it in the program or simply close any outside applications and it'd work, but my computer is more powerful than the one you said you are using. But it ought to work, I've got it working as well on lesser computers before, just as any bassist knows, more power is always better :cool:
  10. True. Could it be the internal sound card is ass?
  11. Koushaku

    Koushaku The artist never sleeps, only dreams

    Mar 10, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Could be, my laptop has soundmax too, its pretty standard among laptops, but you could get a PCI soundcard to put in your laptop. Its hard for me to say, cause I don't remember what soundcard my friend with his lesser computer was using in his desktop, and when I used to use a desktop I just dealt with it as best I could and didn't start using my computer in performances until I had my laptop which is twice the machine. I could get around latency issues using the soundmax card with tricks and being conservative with what I really needed to have running.

    I have an E-MU 1616M that I use for recording projects, and that comes with a PCI card that certainly sounds better, and it seems to handle running two midi keyboard controllers, two sound modules, and a behringer midi foot pedal that I use to trigger samples alright, but that's an expensive venture...really, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to get it to work with just a keyboard plugged into a computer with a midi-usb cable and just trying out different settings til something works...but without being there in person I can't say.

    It'd be great if you could find anyone around you who might have knowledge pertaining to this kind of setup. Sometimes it really just takes somebody who knows, or who has simply tried other things, who could look it over. I know, you came to the internet to find answers, but is there perhaps a music store or something like that near you with midi products? Maybe somebody there could look over your setup if you still have problems.
  12. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I'm very interested in this topic as well!

    One place I am sure youcould find a lot of experts, however, is over at the Harmony Central forums. They have an entire forum dedicated to Keyboards/Sequencers/MIDI. If you can't find the answers you're looking for in a search, I'm sure someone over there knows!

  13. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    My biggest gripe about it is that I notice a subtle delay. I've got a quick laptop and still hear it. I'll stick to hardware synths myself.
  14. Koushaku

    Koushaku The artist never sleeps, only dreams

    Mar 10, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Admittedly, many if not most users of softsynths are only writing music with them, not always performing with them. It is very popular today for synth groups to use CD or DVD backing tracks with maybe an electronic drumset, vocals, and a keyboard or two playing a few parts but not the whole demanding song.

    Despite this, I've had very few if any problems running full songs with all tracks in realtime, with more than one controller playing, in live situations. But maybe I'm just lucky. :D

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