Connecting electric piano to macbook pro

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by gadgetgirl85, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. gadgetgirl85 macrumors 68040

    gadgetgirl85

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    Mar 24, 2006
    #1
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #3
    You need more than that.

    First what KIND of keyboard do yo want? Do you want a piano hammer action that has the feel of weighted piano keys? Do you want an un-weighted synth-action type keys that have only light springs under them? There is a pretty radical difference. It is are used to playing an acoustic piano you are going to want the piano action keys. This is a big decision point: piano or synth action keys. The better piano style keys are rather complex and have many moving parts. Some synth action keys are velocity sensitive and some are not. I can't imagine playing on non-senitive keys but every pipe organ is that way

    You will find that most synth action boards have mod wheels that allows for note bending (pitch) and tremolo. But piano boards will have piano peddles that piano players need.

    If yu have never played any keyboard instrument then just go with a way-cheap keyboard and plan on replacing in in 6 months.

    It both styles you can buy either a "stage" or "home" style. The sets types are portable and set on stands that you can fold up. The home type are made more like furniture and not meant to me moved around.


    There are two ways to connect them to a computer:
    1) using the industry standard "MIDI" plugs. These are two round five-pin connectors and these are universally comparable with "everything"

    2) USB. Some boards use USB but then you need special drivers on the commuter and you hope they will be abatable after an OS upgrade.

    OK. That is just the board itself.


    How to connect it? There are three things you need


    1) A way to get the MIDI data from the board to the computer and

    2) A way to get the sound from the computer to your speakers or headphones

    3) software to record the MIDI data and convert it to sound. Apple's Garage Band is a good start. Use this until you have good reason not to.


    If your keyboard is "real MIDI" with those two round plugs you need a pair of MIDI cable and and MIDI to USB interface. The best plan is to buy an audio interface that has MIDI also all in one box. Like this:
    http://www.presonus.com/products/AudioBox-USB
    Then you need speakers and headphones.


    But notice that the Roland piano that you picked out also can make sound all on it's own. In fact that model is very good at it. Better than the software that comes with Garage band. So there is a completely different route you can take. MIDI data is jet key presses. MIDI is not sound it just says "key down" and "key up" and then software generate the sound. But with this Roland the internal sons is good so you might want to record tis audio output. You can do that also with the Presonus AudioBox but you need a pair of audio cables.

    A third option: Do both. You can record the audio and MEDI data at the same time. Then later you can mix it down and have many options.

    In short you need:
    1 Keyboard of some type (piano or synth)
    2 An audio/MIDI interface
    3 Audio and/or MIDI cable from #1 to #2
    4 Speakers and headphones and audio cable to/from #2
    5 DAW software, like Garage Band or Logic

    At some point you might want to add a microphone. If so then plan for it now and make sure you have enough audio input channels in the audio interface. A stereo piano takes up two channels and a mic takes one

    Will you play with other musicians, they need inputs also. Guitars take only one channels drums take "many"
     
  3. gadgetgirl85 thread starter macrumors 68040

    gadgetgirl85

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    Mar 24, 2006
    #4
    Oh wow..this is sounding complicated. I do know how to play piano (I have that Roland at home) but wanted to make more electronic type music.
     
  4. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #5
    The specs for the Roland FP-4F you linked to says it has a USB MIDI interface, plus MIDI In/Out. You should be able to use a standard A-B USB cable to connect to your Mac. I live in a rural area and yet virtually ever retail store, from Walmart to drug stores, carries standard A-B USB cables for a few bucks.
     
  5. iMacBooked macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

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    #7
  6. gadgetgirl85 thread starter macrumors 68040

    gadgetgirl85

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    #8
    I tried searching Ebay for one that looks like yours using USB to midi cable, but they all seem to have 2 circle parts?
     
  7. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #9
    You do not need to use a USB-to-MIDI cable...

    Just use your USB port, that's located in back of your Roland keyboard
    Screen shot 2014-06-08 at 4.45.09 PM.png

    and then connect the Roland's USB port (labeled "2" in the image above) to your Mac using the very common, and very ordinary AB USB cable...

    [​IMG]


    Per page #63 of the manual for the Roland keyboard

    Screen shot 2014-06-08 at 4.52.14 PM.png
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    So what kind of key action do you like. Don't even think about electronics. Do you want a grand piano or a pipe organ. The keys "feel" completely different.

    Most synths are more like the organ but many people took classical piano lessons and learned on a baby grand.

    The "synth action" keys are much faster and so have attributes that are COMPLETELY FORGIN to a pianist. Like "after touch" this means the key is sensitive to pressure AFTER it has bottomed out. On a piano the key is disconnected from the hammer and you can press as hard as you like on a bottomed out piano key and it does nothing. These things get inside your muscle memory and you don't even know it.

    I say this because much electronic music is done with synth action keys which will feel kind of different or "wrong" to a pianist.

    ----------


    This is true if you want to record MIDI. Many keyboards have a MIDI to USB interface built inside the keyboard. Then you only need one USB cable. This is likely the best for a typical home user. However "real midi" using the two round plugs offers moor flexibility and the ability to use much longer cables.

    But what if you want to record the audio coming from the keyboard? One of the best features of the Roland FP4 is the quality of the internal instruments. You may (or may not) want to record that.

    MIDI and audi or very different kinds of data.
     
  9. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #11
    He could walk down to the corner drug store and buy a standard A-B USB cable for a few bucks. Then he could then begin actually doing something, e.g., creating songs in Garageband, minutes later.

    Longer cables? Nice if you need them, otherwise there's nothing to be gained. I used 16-foot (5 meter) USB cables in my setup that's more than enough length for my needs.

    Yep. Been there, done that, know that. I bought one of the few MIDI keyboards on the market, a Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, 'way back in 1984, along with a MIDI interface that I plugged into my Commodore 64 together with the software needed to record/playback MIDI sequences.

    Sure, he'd probably will want to consider buying a USB recording interface to capture audio from the Roland at some point in time, but he might as well take advantage of the opportunity to play around with composing songs now. The only thing thing stopping him from start doing something/anything today is a standard USB cable that costs a few bucks.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #12
    Yes exactly. That is why I wrote that the USB cable is best for the typical home user.

    But he paid the extra big bucks of the Roland FP4. I've read on other forums where people get upset that the Roland's internal sound is not used and they have to pay quite a lot of money for a third party software piano that is as good.

    To get piano sound as good as Roland's latest "supernatural" you are looking at maybe $200 for software. Yes Garage band does same a sampled piano but it not close to as good as what what Roland has.
     
  11. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #13
    The USB cable will do the same job as a MIDI cable. Using either a USB cable or MIDI cables he can use the Roland as an external MIDI device.

    Neither will give him the ability to record from the audio outputs on the Roland. He'll need an audio interface for that. MIDI's not going to help with that.

    He doesn't mention having a decent set of monitors or headphones he'd need to really hear the pristine sound of the Roland or to even make a decent mixdown.

    He doesn't mention of having any experience working with a DAW. At this point I think his best bet is getting his feet wet by playing around with Garageband (unless he's already purchased Logic Pro). All his needs to get started with doing that is a USB cable.

    Having a killer piano sound is more useful in some musical genres than others. After playing around with Garageband/Logic Pro for a while he might fall discover his niche lies within a genre that rarely makes use of a conventional piano patch. At this point, who knows what types of sounds he'll actually need/want to use?
     
  12. gadgetgirl85 thread starter macrumors 68040

    gadgetgirl85

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    Mar 24, 2006
    #14
    Thanks for the advice guys. Just looking to play around at the moment. Was thinking using Garageband to start with but would be cool if I could put some sounds from my electric piano.
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #15
    What you do is start small, just USB to Garage Band then you start adding to that. Right soon you will want better audio output, maybe some monitor speakers and head phones. An interface to plug them into and them move unto Logic. There is really no end to it.

    Don't wait just start simple.
     
  14. ghosie macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2014
    #16
    FP4 to ipad Air

    hi,

    any idea how to connect Roland FP-4 to ipad Air?:apple:
     

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