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Tiny digipiano with recording ability? #2720154 03/09/18 06:03 PM
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shaouy Offline OP
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Hi all,

I have an unusual request for a keyboard, one I can't find. I'm a songwriter who sometimes gets a good melody fragment in a dream. But when I wake up, the memory of it lasts a few seconds before it's gone. I'd like to capture these melody fragments in a recording device of some kind, but silently. A small keyboard, with earbuds connected, that I could keep on my nightstand would be ideal for this. It would need the following features:

- Small, no more than 24" wide
- Piano and/or EP sounds. I don't need many. Even one sound will do, as long as the keyboard has polyphony.
- A record button, with the ability to save the recording after powering off. Important: I don't want to fiddle with a second device to record, e.g. iPhone, iPad, etc.
- Can run on batteries
- Can be operated with my eyes closed, i.e. I want to use just the on switch, the record button, and then play immediately before the melody evaporates from my brain.

The Yamaha Reface CP is the closest thing I've found (https://goo.gl/txJHgP). It meets all the criteria except for the record button.

Does anyone know of a keyboard that meets all five criteria? Thanks in advance!

Bill

Last edited by shaouy; 03/09/18 08:12 PM.
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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720170 03/09/18 08:36 PM
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Roland Go:Piano is almost perfect but it’s 34” frown


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords)
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: Chrispy] #2720172 03/09/18 08:51 PM
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shaouy Offline OP
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Thanks squidbot! I didn't know about the Go:Piano, but I checked it out on Sweetwater and it looks perfect except for its size. If it was smaller I'd be all over it!

Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720196 03/10/18 01:09 AM
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OK, another came to mind and it actually fits the bill 100%, the Teenage Engineering OP-1. It is way overkill as it's a ridiculously powerful little beast. But it checks all your boxes. Even the eyes closed, as complicated as it is, it can power on into record mode with a specific sound selected.

BTW, the fact that you dream music is pretty cool. I've remembered maybe 3 or 4 dreams my entire life, and certainly wasn't composing any tunes in them!

Last edited by squidbot; 03/10/18 01:19 AM.

Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords)
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720255 03/10/18 09:37 AM
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Do you have Pianoteq? Could you run a little keyboard to your computer? Pianoteq has an "always on" recording feature. So if you happened to wake up in the middle of the night and played something, it could record it without you having do anything else. (Other than have a computer running Pianoteq all the time near your bed.)

Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720286 03/10/18 11:22 AM
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I'm wondering if a tablet with a touchscreen and a piano app with recording ability, would do the job? Not sure if such an app exists, and if the screen would be too small. How many octaves do you need?

Otherwise, I agree that Pianoteq, which runs on most PCs or Macs, even on Linux, therefore also on a Raspberry Pi 3, with a small keyboard, might do the job. If you already have a laptop, that's no extra cost, except €99 for a Pianoteq license.

The trial version might suffice, since it records the silent notes a MIDI, even if you won't hear them through Pianoteq. If you want a Windows application without restrictions, Salamander Grand and Sforzando player, both free, can record as audio, in wave format (filename.wav). Though I assume you'd prefer to record as MIDI.

If a tablet/laptop/mobile phone, especially hooked up to a keyboard, is too tedious for this purpose, I can understand that, and I hope you find a keyboard which meets all your criteria on it's own.

Last edited by TheodorN; 03/10/18 11:32 AM.

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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720315 03/10/18 01:02 PM
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The OP said "battery power". That eliminates most "MIDI keyboard plus computer" options.

The trick is finding a compact synth that includes a sequencer. All the other requirements are easy.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720322 03/10/18 01:32 PM
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Yes, I noticed that, my suggestions were just a way of saying - if you can't get the prettiest girl around, go for the second prettiest one. cool

That said, I haven't ruled out the possibility a keyboard that meets the requirements of the OP exists, he'll just have to keep looking.


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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: Charles Cohen] #2720326 03/10/18 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TheodorN
I'm wondering if a tablet with a touchscreen and a piano app with recording ability, would do the job?

OP wants something operated by feel, without looking ("Can be operated with my eyes closed"), which eliminates anything with a touchscreen interface.

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
The OP said "battery power". That eliminates most "MIDI keyboard plus computer" options.

Not if the computer is a laptop. There are lots of MIDI keyboards that run from battery and/or can be powered by the laptop. But yeah, probably not what he's looking for.

It's a tough one. I was thinking Roland JD-Xi, small enough, with a sequencer (though I'm not sure it has the one-button free-form recording the OP wants)... but it doesn't run on batteries...

Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720350 03/10/18 02:33 PM
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The eyes closed requirement puzzled me a little bit (didn't miss it). Turning the thing on, pressing recording and playing, all with eyes closed. I guess if you can play from notes without looking at your hands, you can play with your eyes closed.

On and Record buttons usually stand out a little bit from the keyboard's chassis, so you can maybe feel your way around it, but then you're awake with eyes open, or what?

The window of creativity or memory of these song fragments is maybe too narrow for all that, in this case, I don't know.

I will say no more about this, I have no idea if this ideal recording keyboard exists, just wanted to suggest some second or third options, no more about that.


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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720353 03/10/18 02:40 PM
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If it's a melody, you could sing it into one of the many devices which are equipped with sound recorders as standard (phone or iPad). If you are also dreaming harmony and bass lines too, then I suppose you could write it down in a note book. But you'd probably have to open your eyes to do that.


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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: toddy] #2720361 03/10/18 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by TheodorN
The eyes closed requirement puzzled me a little bit (didn't miss it). Turning the thing on, pressing recording and playing, all with eyes closed.

Perhaps to stay as close to "in the dream" as possible. This stuff evaporates quickly. Opening your eyes, seeing any light or having to read something, is all going to get you further from your dream state that much more quickly, as well as possibly making it more difficult to fall back to sleep afterwards. Also, if there is a partner sleeping nearby whom you don't want to wake, turning on a light or illuminating a screen could have unfortunate additional consequences...

Originally Posted by toddy
If it's a melody, you could sing it into one of the many devices which are equipped with sound recorders

...as could making noise or singing (he also said he wants to record silently). That's even assuming he's good at carrying a tune... and even people who are good singers may not be pitch accurate 5 seconds out of sleep. Personally, I think I'd be able to "play" it better than I could "sing" it in this situation, plus you could do chords. And again, if I'm trying to "stay half asleep," I suspect singing would "wake" me more than playing would.

It's an interesting idea, I've often wished for a "dream recorder" that could play back the music I hear in my dreams. I have captured a few things on waking, but only if it's pretty simple, and even then, only as much as I can recreate in a matter of seconds. So I understand wanting it to be as quick and "frictionless" as possible.

Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720365 03/10/18 03:18 PM
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Exactly, the window of memory for these song bits seems very narrow, and only in the state of dream, half-sleep, half-awake, besides the duty of not disturbing a nearby partner.

Maybe someone can call Paul McCartney, and get the recipe, ha ha! See the opening lines in Wikipedia's article on Yesterday, the chapter Origin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yesterday_(Beatles_song)#Origin

Last edited by TheodorN; 03/10/18 03:21 PM.

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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720389 03/10/18 04:27 PM
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shaouy Offline OP
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Hi Everyone,

Sorry to be slow to respond but I was out on errands all day. Thank you all for your responses!

Squidbot, I didn’t know about the Teenage Engineering OP-1. It meets all my criteria, but wow is it expensive at @$900. You’re right, it’s overkill, though it’s extremely cool! So, to my five criteria, I’ll add a sixth: I’d like it to be under $400. smile

Also squidbot, I dream songs a lot, but retain almost none of them. The two I have captured have both made it onto albums. smile

David Farley, I do indeed have Pianoteq. I’ve been a user for the past five years and am a true believer. But I’d like my solution to be contained all in the keyboard, and not a keyboard plus a computer.

TheodorN, I want to avoid using a tablet for two reasons. First, I don’t want the light to disturb my wife in the middle of the night. Second, light from an electronic device — smartphone, tablet, or laptop — would disturb my own circadian rhythm and make it harder for me to get back to sleep. That said, I’m very intrigued at the prospect of using Pianoteq on a Rasperry Pi for live shows, but that’s a different topic for a different thread.

Charles Cohen, you’re correct, battery power is preferred. It’s a looser requirement than the others, however. If it needs to be plugged into a wall, I can make that work.

Anotherscott, I didn’t know about the Roland JD-Xi but I just read up on it on the Sweetwater site. It’s small enough for sure. I’d prefer it run on batteries but can make wall power work. I’ll have to research how its recording function works, and whether it’s one-button free-form recording.

TheodorN, regarding playing with closed eyes, I am able to play without looking. Anotherscott is exactly right. Ideally I want the room to stay pitch dark and my eyes to stay closed so I can more easily get back to sleep. That’s why I find the Yamaha Reface CP so appealing. It’s simple and has only a few big knobs. It has exactly what I need except the record button.

Toddy, yes, I have sung into my iPhone once or twice. As Anotherscott said, I’d like to be able to do this silently, thus the keyboard option. Anotherscott is also correct in saying I play better than I sing, especially when groggy. smile

TheodorN, yes, I knew of the story of how Yesterday came to be. What a great story! As mentioned above, I was able to capture two dream songs, and both have made it onto albums. But it’s safe to say neither are as lovely as McCartney’s song. smile

Thanks a lot everyone. Keep the ideas coming!

Bill

Last edited by shaouy; 03/10/18 04:29 PM.
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720419 03/10/18 07:00 PM
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No specific suggestion - but if you search for '49 key workstations' you'll find a lot of options. The Akai MPK249 looks interesting.


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And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720456 03/11/18 01:58 AM
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The MPK249 (as far as I can see) has no built-in sound generator, or sequencing (MIDI recording) capability.

But this one is vague, about that:

https://www.amazon.com/eMedia-Piano-Starter-Pack-Kids/dp/B003V4BFXI

Another way to look at this:

. . . Why does the _keyboard_ have to record?

Buy an inexpensive (= "toy") kid's keyboard. On the headphone jack, put a stereo Y-connector. One side goes to stereo headphones (or a small loudspeaker). The other side goes to the "Line In" of the simplest audio recorder you can buy (that has a "Line In" connection).

. . . Turn on the keyboard;
. . . Turn on the recorder;
. . . Listen to the headphones (or speaker), and start playing.

. . . When finished playing, turn off keyboard and recorder.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720461 03/11/18 02:33 AM
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Korg MicroStation ? It's too wide (37 inches), but it does have a sequencer.

It's too bad Korg didn't include a recorder in the MicroKorg. It would be perfect, if it had one.


. Charles
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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720508 03/11/18 10:42 AM
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Casio WK-245 (around $200) fails the "maximum width" requirement, but comes close on the rest.

I think the "functional requirement" is something like:

. . . I need a keyboard attached to a recorder, and I don't want to get out of bed (and preferably, don't want to open my eyes)
. . . to use it.

I'm sure there's something out there . . .


. Charles
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Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720572 03/11/18 06:41 PM
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shaouy Offline OP
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Hi All,

Thanks for the continued suggestions!

GrooveOn, I searched for 49-key workstations as you suggested, and indeed yes, there are indeed many that have built-in recording. All are too large in size, however, and all are also overkill with functionality I’ll never use for my use case.

Charles Cohen, to answer your question “Why does the _keyboard_ have to record”, it’s because I’ll be in a groggy state where I want to capture a fleeting song fragment before I lose memory of it. Spending a couple of extra seconds fiddling with a multi-device rig is something I don’t want in my use case. Clean and simple is the best, and to that end, your suggestion of a toy keyboard may be the key. I remember seeing a toy keyboard in a Walmart that had a built-in recorder. I’ll have to pay a trip to Walmart again to investigate. Also, the Casio WK-245 you suggested meets all the requirements except size. (By the way, does Casio provide a lot of bang for the buck or what!)

Thanks SO much everyone. The hunt continues!

Last edited by shaouy; 03/11/18 08:25 PM.
Re: Tiny digipiano with recording ability? [Re: shaouy] #2720606 03/11/18 11:52 PM
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What about a 37-key controller velcro’ed to a smart phone?

Korg and iRig have 37-key controllers that draw their power directly from a smart phone. So you only need to charge the phone and it can be Instantly On whenever you need it. Plus, it’s easy to take with you anywhere!

US$100 - 37-key controller (Korg / iRig)
US$200 - iPhone 5 or re-furbished iPhone 6 / iPad Mini 2


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