Speakers for iMac G5 and digital piano?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Willy S, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Willy S macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    I need new speakers for my wife´s digital piano and also for our iMac. I no very little about audio and speakers and I´m wondering whether it is a good idea to connect the digital piano through the iMac or to buy separate speakers and amplifier. Is the quality the same or very different?

    I don´t know the difference between computer speakers and normal speakers that are connected with amplifiers and why computer speakers don´t need amplifiers.

    We live in a small appartment so we don´t need enough power so that 1000 people can listen, all we want is high quality music sound. The budget is several hundred $, depending on what is the best value.
  2. supergod macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2004
    First of all, depending on what model of keyboard, the sounds that you will find for free in Garageband will almost certainly be of a better quality. To simplify your setup you need to buy a MIDI interface to hook up the piano to the computer. Since you'll only be hooking up one MIDI device, I recommend buying a cheap 1-in, 1-out cable: for example the Edirol UM-1X (whatever you do don't buy the MIDI connector from M-Audio, it will be shoddy). It is very reasonable and will mean that you only need 1 set of speakers, hooked up to the iMac. If the keyboard is one with really great sound modules onboard, (I doubt it in this case, but you never know) than you should go with a keyboard amp, the only advantage would be in it's volume. But that would be a less practical choice.

    Next you'll want a good pair of speakers or monitors (powered speakers). Depending on your price you'll be able to find any number of very nice speakers that suit your taste. Most computer speakers over $150 will give a very good bass response and will sound great for movies, music and whathaveyou. They will also be able to fill your aparment with sound or let you listen from a distance. On the other hand there are monitors: these are larger, powered (requiring a wall outlet) speakers. Typically they do not have the same boomy-distorted bass that fans of video games and hiphop like, instead they have very crisp and accurate sounding high and mid ends. Though monitors are traditionally more expensive, there are good options at the low end, for instance the M-Audio Studiopro 4s, which you can buy online from the Apple store and which feature great sound for a very reasonable price: about the same as mid to high end computer speakers. The only problem is that unless you are spending over $300 or so, the monitors that you would be getting would be "near-field" monitors, meaning that they are designed to be listened to at a close distance and not suited to movie watching.

    Depending on what kind of music you are playing and listening to and whether you also want to watch movies, you will have plenty of choices. The best thing to do is to go to a local computer store (not Futureshop, Staples,etc...) find a speaker in your price range that you like the sound of, and order it online to save a hell of a lot of money. The same goes for the MIDI interface. Have fun.
  3. Willy S thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005

    The piano is Yamaha P80 and she has only used it with a headset. I understand that with "monitors" I don´t need an extra amplifier, please correct me if I´m wrong.

    Also, my brother suggested to plug the piano to the iMac from the headset plug on the piano to the mic input on the Mac. Is that possible or would it hurt the sound quality?

    And finally, would I benefit much from buying more expensive monitors than StudioPro 4, like those Studiophiles, living in a small apartment?
  4. supergod macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2004
    P80 is a good keyboard, but she will no doubt find that the virtual instruments included with Garageband sound much better than the modules on the keyboard. The piano sound is fairly decent but there are a huge number of sounds to explore in addition. Monitors are powered and contain their own amplifier. There would definitely be a benefit in getting expensive versus cheap monitors, however the M-Audios are in fact much better than most monitors that are below $300. For the price they are definitely a steal. Also they are very small (for monitors) and going up the price range also increases the size of the monitors. Assuming you have iLife (ie: garageband) than you can get a setup with the monitors and the MIDI cable all up and going for under $200, and it will sound great. If you want to spend more for the sound, go right ahead, but it would probably make more sense to spend more and get a really expensive pair of computer speakers than to spend more on monitors that will only be slightly better than the M-Audios.

    also: That cable setup (into the mic) your brother suggests won't work well at all.
  5. Willy S thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    Thanks again!

    Yes we have iLife. Oboy, she is going to be thrilled with this and insist that be keep using macs only. How about that for the "wife acceptance factor"! :p

    Alright, what computer speakers are better for music, mainly classical, than these M-audio monitors? Will there be much inprovement in the quality? I always thought computer speakers were bad, especially for classical music.
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Unless you have a huge screen and sit 30' away, nearfield monitors would be OK for movies.

    The piano has a much wider dynamic range than AM or FM radio, TV and most commercial CD's. Wimpy speakers will sound really bad. You need somthing with bass end to them, plus a fairly large power handling, even if you keep it low volume, so they don't distort on the peaks. Typical computer speakers will probably be hopeless. You'd be looking at the higher end of the Creative or Logitech lines, or Klipsch. Or look into self-powered studio monitors from M-Audio, Mackie, Samson, Alesis, ESI, etc.. See if you can get some with more than one input so the Yamaha's audio can be connected directly.

    You're may run into the problem of latency. When you play the keyboard, transmit the note-ons through MIDI, generate instrument sounds with Garageband, fill the sound buffer and output the sound form the Mac, there will be a 5 to 15 millisecond delay between when the key is hit and the sound comes out. Some people are more sensitive to latency than others. Your wife may find she prefers the piano sound directly from the Yamaha for this reason. Plus the Yamaha has some really good sounds built in.

  7. Willy S thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    Yes, I was conerned about some lag. After a bit more research I found that people love Swan M200 but the problem is I cannot find any of these in European online stores.

    If I cannot find any, I wonder if it would be a good idea to buy the bottom line of e.g. Klipsch Reference or equalent and some amplifer? :confused:

    As you said, the piano has more tonal range than CDs and my wife deserves some treat since she gave birth to our daughter seven months ago and finished all her uni exams. :)

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