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If so, how?


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The short answer is no. If you are not happy with the piano sounds then you'll need another source of sounds (either software or hardware) and play it via MIDI, which is pretty much exactly what we suggested in your other thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...20PX-720.%20About%20the.html#Post1182490

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And just to add to that thread further...

You asked what you needed to do to use the Casio as a MIDI controller. In a nutshell, you take a MIDI cable, and you connect it from the "MIDI out" port of the Casio to the "MIDI in" port of another sound source. And voila, you can now play this sound source from the Casio's keyboard! This other sound source can be another keyboard altogether, a sound module (a small "box" that contains sounds; essentially like a synthesizer or digital piano without the keyboard), or a computer with "virtual instrument" software on it.

If you go the computer route, the basic principal is the same; you connect the MIDI out port of the Casio to the MIDI in port of the computer. Only most computers don't have actual MIDI ports like you see on your Casio! So you have to get a USB MIDI interface which basically turns the Casio's MIDI ports into a USB cable that can connect to a standard USB port on you're computer. And then you just need a software instrument, and that's it! There are far too many virtual instruments out there to start naming them, just listen to various online demos and reviews of them and find one that you think sounds good! The only other thing that I'll suggest about going the computer/software route is that you'll want to go to asio4all.com and download the ASIO drivers. If you're new to all of this, it as not as complicated or tech-y as it sounds. But put simply, when you buy a high end soundcard specifically made for MIDI and audio work, it comes with dedicated ASIO drivers that let it perform optimally. If you are using a standard sound card that came with your computer though, you need to go to the above website and download their universal ASIO drivers. And that's pretty much it!

Below are some links you can check out to give you an idea of what the things I've mentioned actually look like. If you're still confused about the whole MIDI and controller thing, there are plenty of resources around the net, including those two links I gave you in the other thread (tweakheadz.com)

MIDI cable:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/closeup/MID201--Main

Sound Module (notice the MIDI ports on the back):
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/closeup/RPX--Main
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/closeup/RPX--back.jpg

Software instruments:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Ivory/


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I see it a bit clearer now, but another question pops up. Because my piano only has one 'MIDI' and no USB port, can it only play MIDI sounds? Because I was informed that Ivory Synthogy uses recorded audio samples. So how can MIDI play real audio files?

To the experts, I probably look silly asking these sort of questions, but I have never used a software piano before.



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Don't ever apologize for your "newb-ness." Trust me, we all started there.

The first thing to understand about MIDI is that it is not actual audio; there is really no such thing as "MIDI sound." The way it works, when you press a key on your piano, MIDI transmits the data that describes how you pressed that key. This information includes things like "note on" (the moment when you hit the key), "note number" (which key you pressed), "velocity" (how hard you hit the key) and "note off" (the moment you release the key). This is the data that is transmitted from one keyboard to another via a MIDI cable, NOT AUDIO. The recieving sound module or keyboard then interprets this data, triggering its own sounds (now we ARE talking actual audio).

So, with this said, a software instrument like Ivory works the same way. You send this MIDI data into the computer, not actual audio. Then, Ivory (or any other software instrument) interprets this data and triggers the appropriate audio file, at the right volume (determined by the MIDI "velocity" sent from your Casio), for the right length of time (determined by the "note on" and "note off" MIDI messages).

Where I think you may be confused is the fact that virtually all digital pianos contain actual audio files, just like Ivory. Even on your Casio, when you hit a key, you are generating MIDI data, and this data is then interpreted by the Casio's sound engine, which triggers the appropriate audio sample, at the right volume, for the right amount of time. It works the same way as I described in the previous paragraph, except it all happens behind the scenes in the Casio. So, in other words, the only difference between you playing your Casio, and playing Ivory is that the MIDI data is sent out of the Casio, to be received by Ivory, as opposed to staying within the Casio to be received by it's own sound engine. The only real difference is that your Casio uses small pieces of audio, while Ivory is triggering many gigabytes of high quality audio.

You're absolutely right, your Casio doesn't have a USB port. So what you need is a USB MIDI interface. It has standard MIDI jacks on one end, and a regular USB plug on the other end. It looks like this: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/closeup/XMIDI1x1--Main

One last thing. Ivory is indeed a great program. But you do need certain computer specs to run it effectively. You need a nice fast hard drive, plenty of RAM, and a nice CPU. You'll want to check out the Synthogy website to see what your system specs should be. As long as you do this, and do the ASIO driver thing that I mentioned in my last post (or get a new high quality sound card with it's own dedicated ASIO drivers, which is a better solution...) then you should be fine. But don't forget that software is not the only options. Sound modules, such as the GEM RP-X (linked in my last post) or the Motif Rack series from Yamaha offer a much more convenient way to add great sounds to your setup. But if you want absolute highest quality sounds, I guess software is indeed the best bet. There's just no subsitute for using huge, gigabytes of audio data like Ivory does.

Hope this helps. Let me know what else you'd like to know.

Last edited by seanakaforty; 04/22/09 09:50 PM.
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MIDI files contain no audio whatsoever. They simply record the notes (and velocity, and pedals, etc). It's up to a computer to take the data and create (synthesize) sound from that.

Your PC can do it.

And, if your digital piano has a MIDI input, it can do that. (But you'll have to have something that's sending MIDI data to the piano.)

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Thank you all, I just want to make some clarifications.

So, I simply just connect my piano to my computer (laptop) via the MIDI to USB interface, load up (Synthogy Ivory), and my laptop and piano will immediately interact each other and samples from Ivory will play on my piano instead of the stock Casio samples? If not, what else do I need to do?


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Generally, you'll need ASIO software. That's free. Just google for ASIO4All. You install that and it will run itself on demand.

I've never used Ivory, so I don't know if there are any specific requirements. Perhaps others can answer. Or check out the Production Forum.

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Check the Synthogy website for computer spec suggestions. Ivory uses huge, high quality samples, so I'd imagine you'd have to have a pretty good laptop to run it. As long as you have a good enough system and you have ASIO drivers (download for free from asio4all.com) then you should be well on your way.

The only thing I'll mention is latency. This is the delay from the time you hit the key to the time you hear the sound when using software instruments. Minimizing latency is the main reason for ASIO drivers. You'll want to look for a setting that may be called "buffer size" or simply "latency." It will be either in the option/preferences menu within Ivory or whatever software you're using, or it can be accessed from the Asio4all control panel that will install with the asio4all drivers. You'll then lower this setting as low as you can get it without getting wierd audio artifacts. These are typically clicks and popping sounds as you try to play the instrument. When you start to hear these things, you now you've set your latency setting too low for your system to handle. Increase it to the minimum setting you can go to without getting these clicks and pops in your piano sound.

Finally, if this is your very first time using a software instrument, might I suggest that you download a demo of a program such as Pianoteq or Truepianos. This way, you don't have to pay any money, and you can try your hand at setting up the software and installing the ASIO drivers, experiment, etc. Once you see how to get it up and running, then you can always go buy Ivory. Just beware that the two products I mentioned (Pianoteq and Truepianos) are not as hard on computer resources as Ivory. So don't assume that just because you get them to work on your laptop, Ivory will work just as flawlessly. As Horwinkle suggested, go to the Ivory website (the company is called Synthogy) and see what they suggest for system specs.

Last edited by seanakaforty; 04/25/09 09:54 PM.
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seanakaforty brings up a good point about laptop robustness. Some piano synths can run on a garden variety PC. Pianoteq will.

But I suspect that the high-end synths, such as Ivory, are more demanding. You'd do well to check the manufacturer's recommendations before you lay out cash for software that might overwhelm your laptop.





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Something that hasn't been discussed yet is the option of adding a sound card to your computer. For example, I added an Echo MiaMidi sound card to my desktop computer, which has a "dongle" which takes the midi cables straight out of my Casio AP-45 digital piano. I preferred to take the midi info directly to the computer, rather than going "midi to USB". The card (about $150) is very high quality, with its own ASIO drivers. I use this rig with a number of software pianos, including the Garritan Steinway software. The dedicated soundcard and driver result in latency of 2.8 ms -- essentially NO latency: it's imperceptible. Works great.


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Originally Posted by Drunk3nFist
Thank you all, I just want to make some clarifications.

So, I simply just connect my piano to my computer (laptop) via the MIDI to USB interface, load up (Synthogy Ivory), and my laptop and piano will immediately interact each other and samples from Ivory will play on my piano instead of the stock Casio samples? If not, what else do I need to do?


Lot of good and helpful info above already, but I think you may still be a bit confused. What happens in this scenario is that your keyboard becomes a midi controller. The sound is generated and comes from your computer.



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