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#1970547 - 10/08/12 10:38 PM Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano?  
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MosaicDave Offline
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So, I've been reading about the various available software pianos; thinking to acquire something along the lines of Ivory II or Vintage D to use with an older weighted-key MIDI board (a Yamaha P80 in this case). Mainly at this point, for the purpose of just experimenting with software pianos, with which I've as yet had no direct experience. Though also for some other reasons, such as late at night when the kids are sleeping, some teaching / recording, etc. (I already have a high-quality Mason & Hamlin grand, so this isn't somehow to be a substitute.)

One drawback of software pianos, though, seems to be the need to run a Windows PC, or laptop, for this setup to be used - making it: big; cumbersome; temperamental; fragile; slow to boot; with unwanted wires & cables; etc. But, that seems to be what it takes, to run the best software pianos?

What I'd like most, would be: a compact and rugged "black box", with a MIDI input, and audio outputs; maybe half the size of a brick; simple to configure with just a few controls; but with the resources built in to run a decent high-end software piano. Something that you just turn on and it starts running with no wait or fuss; that you can bump or drop on the floor without damaging it.

Is there any such thing as that??

Here's a corollary question: Since as far as I've seen there isn't any such thing, I've been thinking of just building one for our own use. Now then, as it happens, I operate a business capable of manufacturing and distributing such a gadget... would this be something that might have some level of broad appeal, even if only to a limited audience, such as gigging musicians, etc?

Okay - very interested to hear any comments, etc...

thx--

--dc

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#1970551 - 10/08/12 10:48 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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Kawai James Offline
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Something like a Muse Receptor?

http://www.museresearch.com/products/index.php

Alternatively, you could perhaps build your own pico-ITX based system (running Windows or Linux). It could be stripped down with only the essentials required for a software piano, and utilise an SSD for faster booting.

I'm surprised one of the DIY enthusiasts (dewster) hasn't done so already.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
#1970566 - 10/08/12 11:29 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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Interesting... I didn't know about Muse.

But, I think that's not what I'm after. Looks like you get just their selection of canned prepackaged sounds; not something you can run your own on, right? I'm just guessing-without-knowing, that the synthesized pianos in the Muse, don't approach something like Galaxy Vintage D or Ivory II and the like.

Plus, the price is really high, with a lot of stuff I don't want...

Yes, though - something along the lines of a uATX box is what I'm thinking of putting together here.

To my mind, Linux would be great - but as far as I know, nobody sells Linux software pianos? I would imagine, piracy would be too easy, etc.

hmmm...


#1970567 - 10/08/12 11:30 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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The Mac Mini is a small unit. Not as small as a brick, but suitable for your purpose. But there's no getting around it. You need a box.

I use a laptop with an outboard sound card. No slow boot, though. I never boot. I just put it to sleep overnight.

As for building your own box: It can be done, but if you make something very small and completely custom, the cost will be high. You have to REALLY want it badly to go to that much trouble and expense.

As for selling such boxes: The market is extremely limited, and few people would buy from an unknown maker.

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#1970568 - 10/08/12 11:30 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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Unfortunately I think it will have to [NOT] be Linux unless you want to use PianoTeq. The other software pianos either don't work at all or don't work well under Linux. I'm a hardcore, exclusive Linux user but I was forced to get a windows computer for my piano.

Edit: Added the [NOT] so it makes sense.

Last edited by gvfarns; 10/08/12 11:57 PM.
#1970572 - 10/08/12 11:35 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MacMacMac]  
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
As for building your own box: It can be done, but if you make something very small and completely custom, the cost will be high. You have to REALLY want it badly to go to that much trouble and expense.

Well, that would be true... though in my peculiar case, I've got enough variety of parts left over from other things, to sort of put something like this together without having to buy anything else...

#1970574 - 10/08/12 11:38 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: gvfarns]  
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MosaicDave Offline
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
Unfortunately I think it will have to be Linux unless you want to use PianoTeq. The other software pianos either don't work at all or don't work well under Linux. I'm a hardcore, exclusive Linux user but I was forced to get a windows computer for my piano.

Yes, sounds familiar: I'd also be exclusively on Linux also, except for certain Windows-only design softwares I need to run.

#1970582 - 10/08/12 11:56 PM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: Kawai James]  
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by gvfarns
Unfortunately I think it will have to be Linux unless you want to use PianoTeq.


I believe you may have intended to write Windows here.

Cheers,
James
x


Oops. Stupid brain! Yes, it will have to be something that is NON-linux. You know...I'll just edit the original so it's not so confusing.

#1970595 - 10/09/12 12:29 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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Originally Posted by MosaicDave
Interesting... I didn't know about Muse.

But, I think that's not what I'm after. Looks like you get just their selection of canned prepackaged sounds; not something you can run your own on, right? I'm just guessing-without-knowing, that the synthesized pianos in the Muse, don't approach something like Galaxy Vintage D or Ivory II and the like.

You can load your own plug-ins into the Muse Receptor, you're not limited to pre-packaged sounds from Muse. The problem is mostly that, as has been referenced here, the plug-ins have to be able to be run on a Linux system. Many are, but many require Windows (or mac)... I think often (always?) because of the requirement for some kind of hardware dongle to prevent piracy, but I'm not sure about that part, I haven't looked into it in that much detail myself.

#1970596 - 10/09/12 12:33 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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In that box of parts can you find the things needed to build the equivalent of a PC motherboard into the size of brick? I doubt it. If your wish for a brick-sized box can be discarded, then what's wrong with a run-of-the mill PC or Mac?
Originally Posted by MosaicDave
I've got enough variety of parts left over from other things, to sort of put something like this together without having to buy anything else...

#1970598 - 10/09/12 12:43 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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You guys are making it too easy on him. He doesn't want it to be the size of a brick, he wants it to be HALF the size of a brick. ;-)

The Mac Mini is probably the smallest current solution, in terms of footprint. I've considered looking into using that with a VNC setup so I can use the iPad I have with me anyway as a screen for the Mini if and when needed.

I'm also intrigued by the possibility of running VSTs on next years Windows Surface Pro tablets, but I don't know if they will have enough RAM or processor speed to handle some of the more demanding stuff.

#1970603 - 10/09/12 01:08 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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ando Offline
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Also, with a Mac Mini, you can make it into a Windows machine anyway. The drivers are available using bootcamp. You can put a sticker over the apple if you like...

#1970611 - 10/09/12 01:17 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: MosaicDave]  
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I like the Mac Mini idea. Configured with a 256GB SSD, I think it currently costs about USD 1,400. It only has S/PDIF audio outputs, though, so you'd probably need more hardware for I/O.

What I'd *really* like to see is a software piano running on iOS, with a nice iPad dock to handle MIDI and audio I/O.

Last edited by slowtraveler; 10/09/12 01:18 AM.
#1970614 - 10/09/12 01:27 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: Kawai James]  
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ONfrank Offline
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Something like a Muse Receptor?

http://www.museresearch.com/products/index.php

Alternatively, you could perhaps build your own micro-ATX based system (running Windows or Linux). It could be stripped down with only the essentials required for a software piano, and utilise an SSD for faster booting.

I'm surprised one of the DIY enthusiasts (dewster) hasn't done so already.

Cheers,
James
x


Mac Mini or mini ITX PC with a small SSD and the slimmest box you can find.

#1970659 - 10/09/12 04:45 AM Re: Compact & rugged hardware for a software piano? [Re: ando]  
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Macy Offline
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Originally Posted by ando
Also, with a Mac Mini, you can make it into a Windows machine anyway. The drivers are available using bootcamp. You can put a sticker over the apple if you like...
Why in the world would you do that? Run OS X and avoid problems. Run the Mini from a iPad and use the iPad for your sheet music. Great solution -- weighs less than a brick.

Last edited by Macy; 10/09/12 04:45 AM.

Macy

CVP-409GP, Garritan CFX, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, Pianoteq, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad Pro/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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