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Thread: Is it safe to plug in a piano to my laptop?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    In over 40 years of fiddling with all things recording, I have never blown anything up, and nobody I have has either. Electronics kit is usually pretty bomb proof. The worst that happens is nasty distortion. As Bouldersound says, the problems are usually silly things like the stereo output not being compatible with the computer input in ways that either produce horrible hums, or worse - a kind of ghostly phantom version of your piano because the headphone output expects to drive headphone.

    You should try it and see what happens - no harm will come. Computers have pretty dreadful audio systems - they're designed to be happy with inputs from headsets, not musical instruments. There is, however a 50/50 chance it will work. You might have to fiddle with the gain control, for the socket, but it might work.

    Now the bad news. Yamaha for some reason never seem to give their Clavinovas proper connections to the outside world, and the headphone socket seems to rarely do a very good job and the result is a rather feeble, thin and weedy sound that never sounds as good as the internal speakers. My pet theory on this (which doesn't seem to apply to Rolands) is that Yamaha tweak the frequency response to match the smallish speakers, and this tweaked sound is what comes out of the headphone socket.

    The suggestion to use the USB socket, which I don't think you have would have been a non-starter, as no audio comes out of a data socket - it would be very rare to find keyboards that actually behave like an audio device. Normally the USB simply allows the keyboard to interface with a DAW or sequencer, and it allows recording and playback through the keyboard. You really need to find between 50 and 100 quid for a proper interface to get any semblance of decent quality.
    Thanks for your reply, turns out that my clavinova has more connectivity options than i originally knew so that's a plot twist. Good advice for future experiments though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHunter View Post
    My God, I never realized what connectivity my piano offered. I had it against a wall for 11 years and did not bother checking for extra ports not visible to the front side. That makes things a lot more convenient to record. I still have to invest on an interface i guess. I own a guitar (with an amp of course), so it'd be even more worth it if the recording quality is better than the one the amplifier already offers. The amp is a Blackstar ID:30 TVP with both emulated line output and USB for recording. Could a 100$ focusrite top that?

    ---------- Update ----------



    Thank you very much, looking into it right now.
    CAN you get a F'rite interface for 100 bucks? Do NOT I implore you get a one lunged Solo! Trust me, you will be frustrated beyond measure in not a little while. IMHO you have two ways to jump?

    Spend a bit and go for an AI with TWO mic/line/git inputs (two more line ins at the back if you can stretch it) and DIN MIDI ports. Again, in a month or year's at most time you will kick yourself if you did not. Have I mentioned the Tascam 2X2? (old, on a lot of meds y'know) .

    Or.

    Go uber cheap on the UCA202 until you find out more about this recording lark, MIDI and all that jazz. I can assure you the 202 will make recordings close to CD quality and way better than any cassette machine.

    The ID TVP 30 is a bit of a conundrum? It does work as a USB interface but I am not sure how you would get stereo signals into it to record. It does have a 3.5mm AUX jack input but whether that is routed to the USB converter I do not know Atmo. Will see if I can find out. You would certainly have to monitor via the ID's speakers or headphone jack. Neither option is ideal for a synth.

    Dave.

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  4. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHunter View Post
    My God, I never realized what connectivity my piano offered. I had it against a wall for 11 years and did not bother checking for extra ports not visible to the front side. That makes things a lot more convenient to record.
    Haha. Mine's been against the wall for the around the same time.
    Maybe we should dust from time to time? :P

    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHunter View Post
    I still have to invest on an interface i guess. I own a guitar (with an amp of course), so it'd be even more worth it if the recording quality is better than the one the amplifier already offers. The amp is a Blackstar ID:30 TVP with both emulated line output and USB for recording. Could a 100$ focusrite top that?
    I think so.
    The unit Ecc is recommending would be totally fine for recording your piano, and I'm not knocking it, but I'd keep expansion in mind.
    If you decide you want try try midi some day you need a third box, and if you decide you want to sing or record acoustic guitar you need a fourth box, or maybe fifth?

    If you think recording is going to be something you'll keep tinkering with I'd get an all-in-one.
    Something with speaker outputs, headphone outputs, mic inputs, line inputs, and midi I/O all in one box.

    Your recording software will thank you for keeping everything in one box.

    That sounds like a lot of ins and outs, but it's pretty standard.
    You have the benefit of all your cables running to one place, once neat box on the bench, and, usually, reliable quality drivers from one manufacturer.

    Some of the usual suspects for starting off are Presonus, Tascam, Native Instruments, Focusrite.

    Personally I'd recommend looking at something where the line inputs are separate from/additional to the mic preamps; I.E. Something with four analog inputs.
    Only you know your requirements, but it's usually nice to have those options as separate things. (keyboard and microphone live, some day?)

    Hope that's helpful.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    It won't hurt if you have the input you need, but some connectors are more preferable than others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
    CAN you get a F'rite interface for 100 bucks? Do NOT I implore you get a one lunged Solo! Trust me, you will be frustrated beyond measure in not a little while. IMHO you have two ways to jump?

    Spend a bit and go for an AI with TWO mic/line/git inputs (two more line ins at the back if you can stretch it) and DIN MIDI ports. Again, in a month or year's at most time you will kick yourself if you did not. Have I mentioned the Tascam 2X2? (old, on a lot of meds y'know) .

    Or.

    Go uber cheap on the UCA202 until you find out more about this recording lark, MIDI and all that jazz. I can assure you the 202 will make recordings close to CD quality and way better than any cassette machine.

    The ID TVP 30 is a bit of a conundrum? It does work as a USB interface but I am not sure how you would get stereo signals into it to record. It does have a 3.5mm AUX jack input but whether that is routed to the USB converter I do not know Atmo. Will see if I can find out. You would certainly have to monitor via the ID's speakers or headphone jack. Neither option is ideal for a synth.

    Dave.
    Thank you for your assistance, already I am looking at a focusrite scarlett 2i2. I don't think i want to involve midi on my workflow, especially since the piano offers the auxiliary outputs, and i don't have any midi cables whatsoever. The amplifier usb interface is decent but not great (from what i've seen, not personal experience), so i guess an external interface is justified.

    I also cannot answer your question about the 3.5mm going to the usb converter as i do not have a 3.5mm male cable to test it out. However i think you misunderstood me: i spoke of the amplifier as means of recording my guitar, not the keyboard So the monitoring is not an issue (i think). For monitoring the plan is to use a pair of 5$ headphones running out of the piano's outputs for headphones and stuff, or the amplifier is case i am recording the guitar, or simpy and most preferably the interface.

    There is a couple of questions that have arisen from this conversation: I learned through you mostly that I need to record my instruments in stereo, which i did not account for. In my understanding the piano has 2 6.3mm outputs one for each channel. How does it work with the guitar though? (1 6.3mm output from the guitar). The software I am using is Adobe Audition. Also is it possible to connect the guitar to the interface and then have a digital amplifier on the computer which will be recorded by Adobe Audition?

    Thank you for your replies, your help has been invaluable to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    Haha. Mine's been against the wall for the around the same time.
    Maybe we should dust from time to time? :P



    I think so.
    The unit Ecc is recommending would be totally fine for recording your piano, and I'm not knocking it, but I'd keep expansion in mind.
    If you decide you want try try midi some day you need a third box, and if you decide you want to sing or record acoustic guitar you need a fourth box, or maybe fifth?

    If you think recording is going to be something you'll keep tinkering with I'd get an all-in-one.
    Something with speaker outputs, headphone outputs, mic inputs, line inputs, and midi I/O all in one box.

    Your recording software will thank you for keeping everything in one box.

    That sounds like a lot of ins and outs, but it's pretty standard.
    You have the benefit of all your cables running to one place, once neat box on the bench, and, usually, reliable quality drivers from one manufacturer.

    Some of the usual suspects for starting off are Presonus, Tascam, Native Instruments, Focusrite.

    Personally I'd recommend looking at something where the line inputs are separate from/additional to the mic preamps; I.E. Something with four analog inputs.
    Only you know your requirements, but it's usually nice to have those options as separate things. (keyboard and microphone live, some day?)

    Hope that's helpful.
    Regarding the inputs i only own these two instruments, and for the time being i don't plan to add more. So i think 2 inputs is fine, especially considering i am not a huge fan of live recording (would rather record in layers, and then each instrument can listen to the backing track of the previous instruments while recording). Tell me if i'm right, cause its all theory, i've never tried any of this, but this is why i am not hugely concerned with inputs. Once again thank you for your help, you save me a lot of time and potentially money.

  9. #17
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    That's cool. A simpler two channel interface will probably suffice, then.
    It's just always worth mentioning because a lot of people buy small then progress a bit and want, say, to record live acoustic and vocal, or a drum kit, or whatever.
    Best to think ahead now and buy once.

    You were asking Ecc, but regarding guitar recording there's a few ways to do it.
    Firstly the reason your piano has a pair of outputs and the guitar has one is because the guitar is a single/mono source.
    There's no left and right; It's just 'guitar'.

    The piano emulates stereo, emphasising bass on one side and treble on the other, to simulate what you'd hear sitting playing a real piano.

    For recording guitar you can plug a guitar straight into an interface then use amp emulation software in your recording suite,
    or you can plug the emulated line output of the amp into your interface (line in) and record the sound of the amp,
    or (and probably the favourite option for most) you can put a microphone in front of the amp and plug that mic into your interface.

    For monitoring what you describe is fine but if you want to record layers, maybe guitar on top of piano, you'll want to have the headphones plugged into the interface, rather than the instrument/amp you're using.
    That way you'll hear back what was recorded previously; Your guide or backing track.

    If one instrument at a time is your thing, an interface with a pair of mic preamps is fine.
    Most have combo inputs so they'll accept mic, line, or Hi-Z/instrument. Check for that.

    A midi cable is a few bucks, tops. You may have no interest now but if you're a keyboard player I'd get an interface with midi.
    I used to record line-out exclusively and now I use midi exclusively because A: I can fix a tiny mistake that ruined a 3:00 take very easily and B: I prefer the sounds I get from some virtual instruments I've picked up over the years.

    It's one of those; It's not going to cost you anything extra but one day you might go duuuh..why didn't I get one with midi.

    Hope that's helpful.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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  11. #18
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    Thanks, this helped clear up a couple of things. So on guitar i just record mono? Or there's a way to make it stereo? Also how does midi compare to the line outputs in terms of quality? Lastly what's your take on the focusrite scarlett 2i2?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHunter View Post
    Thanks, this helped clear up a couple of things. So on guitar i just record mono? Or there's a way to make it stereo? Also how does midi compare to the line outputs in terms of quality? Lastly what's your take on the focusrite scarlett 2i2?
    MIDI just records the performance data: when you hit keys and how hard you hit them. Those hits trigger the sounds that your hear, but you aren't stuck with whatever sounds you used while recording because you weren't recording sounds, just data. So you can go back later and change from a grand piano to an electric piano, tack piano, harpsichord or whatever. You can edit the performance as well, adjusting the timing etc. of keystrokes on the "piano roll" editor. That's the power of MIDI recording.

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  14. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHunter View Post
    Thanks, this helped clear up a couple of things. So on guitar i just record mono?
    There's no real choice with an electric guitar. It's a single source with a single output, like a flute or a voice.

    When recording larger instruments (drums/piano), or instruments in nice sounding environments, we often use two microphones to capture it as our ears would hear it,
    so that there is a stereo image.
    Even with an acoustic guitar, whether in a dead room or reverby room, it's common to stereo mic with space between the microphones, to create that stereo image.

    With electric guitar, though, it's generally just treated as a mono source and a mono recording is made.
    You might use effects to create width in a mix, like stereo delays/choruses/reverbs, as with vocals, but the source is usually a single input; Mono.

    It's a minefield but the simple answer for your specific setup is guitar = mono = 1 cable, piano = stereo = two.


    Midi doesn't have quality, as such. It's effectively sheet music for an instrument.
    If you were using midi the computer would record down data as you play. What notes, how hard, etc.
    When you play back some virtual instrument would read that and create sound, so the quality comes from the virtual instrument.
    It's just a nice option to have, down the road. Not meaning to complicate things for you!
    You can tinker away on your clavinova but be hearing a Steinway grand recorded at Abbey Road!

    I don't have any first hand experience of focusrite interfaces, I'm afraid, but they're recommended a lot.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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