Help - basic DAW setup help

sylvr317

New member
Hello,

I'm a computer guy but never a sound person. It's all really greek and doesn't make sense. My son is the musician and he's not technical. I am, but finding this not all that intuitive.

So helping my son I enrolled him into an Ableton DAW school to learn the tool. We got him set up with a beefy old computer I had. Was fast but not so much anymore. I got some external monitor speakers and a firewire M-Audio firewire solo. That worked for plugging into the computer and the speakers. But my son has a Yamaha midi keyboard and a USB microphone.

So my question is, do we just plug the USB intruments into the computer directly? I keep thinking the M-Audio controller or some kind of controller that can take these USB plugs plus do analog inputs too, would be best. But I can't seem to find anything like that. I just seem like I can't figure this out.

I was thinking the Ableton software could sort it out via the software, but I'm not sure what the best approach is.

thanks for any help.
 

Atkron205

Member
the interface you have has an XLR input ( for mics) and a 1/4 inch input for 2 channels of input. A mic with the XLR connection would be best instead of a USB mic. does the keyboard have a 1/4 inch output? if so you can connect it to input number 2. from what I can tell the interface does not have a MIDI input.
 

sylvr317

New member
So what I'm hearing is to do one or the other, analog or Midi. That would solve a few problems but also a few dollars. Now the keyboard I believe is USB and nothing else. It's not very highend, we got it for him several years ago. They have some nice keyboard inputs that are smaller and not that much money, but should I also stay with 1/4 inch output?
 

Atkron205

Member
So what I'm hearing is to do one or the other, analog or Midi. That would solve a few problems but also a few dollars. Now the keyboard I believe is USB and nothing else. It's not very highend, we got it for him several years ago. They have some nice keyboard inputs that are smaller and not that much money, but should I also stay with 1/4 inch output?

I am by no means a keyboard player but if you want to keep the interface you have then I would stay with the 1/4 inch output, this way you can connect directly to the input on the interface. you can get a dynamic mic with an XLR connection for a pretty good price, condensers are a little more. Most decent keyboards will have at least a 1/4 inch output. what exactly are you trying to do?
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
Since the keyboard's USB is for MIDI and probably not audio it may work as a USB device alongside the interface.

Recording MIDI instead of audio you would be able to do things like edit the performance and change what samples are being triggered. You could change a concert grand to a tack piano, harpsichord or Hammond organ. You can move notes, change key and much more. If you record audio from the keyboard you can only process that audio.
 

Atkron205

Member
Since the keyboard's USB is for MIDI and probably not audio it may work as a USB device alongside the interface.

Recording MIDI instead of audio you would be able to do things like edit the performance and change what samples are being triggered. You could change a concert grand to a tack piano, harpsichord or Hammond organ. You can move notes, change key and much more. If you record audio from the keyboard you can only process that audio.

See? told you I am not a keyboard guy! Boulder is correct and knows his stuff. :eek:
 

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
Keep Interface, record audio via this. Keyboard can go direct to computer via USB. USB mike . . . replace with a non-USB mike. This will conenct via interface and give you greater future flexibility.

This is pretty much repeating what Bouldersound said.

It is not a case of either/or. You can record both audio and midi.
 

SeaGtGruff

Member
Unless it's a synth, the USB-to-Host connection almost certainly does not carry any audio signals, just MIDI-- as far as I know, none of Yamaha's portable keyboards and arrangers transmit or receive audio over the USB-to-Host connection. On the other hand, the Yamaha MX49 and MX61 synths do, although offhand I don't know about Yamaha's other synths. Check the keyboard's Owner's Manual to be sure.

You said "It's not very highend." What model is it?
 

sylvr317

New member
Oh and one more thing is the product. He's a singer songwriter, he needs to be able to present something that the further developed and polished it is, will get someone's ear. So that was another driver for the Ableton software. He could or I could take his song and keep improving it.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Hi Sylvr and welcome!
To be brutally honest I would ditch the Fw solo for a modern USB interface and I shall not apologize for suggesting the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6!

The Yamaha* keyboard should indeed work USB'ed into the computer but your son is likely to experience "latency" when using the M-A device to play out the MIDI sounds (the internal key's sounds will be fine.) There will also be a delay if he wants to play along and build tracks. Now I am sure there are ways to optimize the Solo for better latency but the KA6 (with ASIO drivers) will likely be better to begin with and allow even lower latency with a little adjustment to buffer levels.

The mic will work and some USB units are not at all bad but it will be a bit of an operational faff. He will have to sing his piece into the PC,THEN play a backing track to it (or tother way around!) because he won't be able, pretty sure, to run mic and another source into Ableton at the same time. As others have said, he needs a conventional mic on an XLR cable.

Abelton is a DAW of what I call the "cut and shunt" type and if he has become slick with it fine but most recording software is of the "linear" type and somewhat emulates the way a multitrack tape recorder and mixer worked. The KA6 comes with a version of Cubase and that is of the latter variety and is the dog's whatsits for MIDI work. Another linear DAW is Reaper..VERY powerful and cheap!

*You say a "MIDI" keyboard? Cannot say I have seen a Yamaha that did not have DIN MIDI ports but I shall await a model number!

Dave.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Meant to say, the KA6 can take 2 mics (or mic +guitar etc) and two further inputs from say a stereo keyboard so Son could record the whole song on 3 or 4 tracks in one bash!

Dave.
 

SeaGtGruff

Member
Many of Yamaha's low-end keyboards these days don't have MIDI ports, just a USB-to-Host connection for sending and receiving MIDI. I have three such Yamaha keyboards myself-- the PSR-E433, PSR-E443, and YPT-400 (the PSR-E403 with a different name). Oddly enough, the PSR-E4xx series is the "top of the line" among Yamaha's current crop of low-end PSR keyboards (i.e., the PSR-E models), and has never had MIDI ports-- yet the lesser PSR-E2xx and PSR-E3xx series did have MIDI ports, although the newest models don't-- the PSR-E353 has USB-to-Host, and the PSR-E253 doesn't have anything at all! It seems like keyboard manufacturers are moving away from MIDI ports, except on their higher-end models.

Ableton Live can do linear recording-- look for the two little icons near the upper right corner of the screen, one with three horizontal lines and the other with three vertical lines (see screenshot below). The lines represent tracks, with the horizontal lines indicating a standard linear type of recording, and the vertical lines indicating the clip-oriented type of recording/performing that Live is known for. So click on the icon with the horizontal lines to get a regular-looking DAW screen-- except Live likes to be different, so the track controls are on the right side of the screen instead of on the left side.

I used to avoid using Live because it looked intimidating and confusing compared to other DAWs, but after I took a free online introductory course I realized that it's actually very easy to use. However, the impression I got from using the "deluxe" edition of Live 9 on a trial basis is that Live is heavy on electronic virtual instruments but seems to be weak on acoustic virtual instruments-- e.g., I had trouble finding a decent "Acoustic Piano" sound. I have Live Lite 9, and my Live 9 trial has expired, so I can no longer access the complete set of virtual instruments to confirm, but that's what I remember from when I was taking the online course-- and other students mentioned it, too, so apparently it wasn't just my impression. Of course, you can always add external plugins-- but when a DAW costs as much as Live does, you expect it to come with a pretty complete and well-rounded set of virtual instruments.

As for latency, you can reduce it dramatically by adjusting your settings (buffer size, etc.)-- and use an ASIO driver for your sound card or audio interface if one is available, otherwise you can use ASIO4ALL. I guess ASIO4ALL isn't "really" ASIO, more like an emulation(?) of ASIO, but it works well. However, it's like any other driver-- you should always use drivers that were designed for your specific equipment (monitor, sound card, printer, etc.), because they'll work far better with your equipment than using generic drivers. So if your sound card or audio interface has an ASIO driver, you should definitely use that instead.

Live001.png

Live002.png
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Much obliged Sarg! Yes, MIDI ports are vanishing fast on AI as well as other devices. USB is fine UNTIL you find you need a MIDI input!

Did no know that about Ableton. I had a bundled copy with an M-Audio product yonks ago, gave it ten minutes I think, hated it and went back to Samplitude SE8!

BTW I have a very old Yammy PSS-790 and that has MIDI in, out and thru but they did not implement MIDI properly so if you play it into modern kit it plays the wrong instruments...Hilarious but not terribly useful!

Dave.
 

SeaGtGruff

Member
Actually, "SeaGt" is short for "Sea Goat"-- although "Sergeant Gruff" sounds a lot more mature than "Sea Goat Gruff"! :) It's a pun on "Billy Goats Gruff," going back to when I first went online back in 1995, and I've maintained it as an online name mainly for continuity.

I think manufacturers are trending toward USB because it's easier to connect a keyboard to a computer via USB. But it would be nice to have both.

My reaction to Live was rather similar to yours, except in my case I was "dazed and confused" by it rather than hating it. I kept starting it up every other month, feeling like I really ought to learn it (even though, like you, I'd gotten it bundled "free" with an M-Audio product), but each time I would exit back out of it after a few minutes. The idea that Live can't do linear track recording seems to be a common misconception, possibly due to the way Live starts up in the clip-based mode ("Session View").

As for the PSS-790, I'm thinking it must date back to before GM Level 1. I like to "collect" the PDF manuals for old Yamaha and Casio keyboards, and it used to be common for keyboards to boast that they had a whopping selection of 100 different voices, which were selected using Program Change numbers that bore little or no relation to the General MIDI Level 1 Program Change numbers.

PS-- It's funny how a lot of those early keyboards had miniature keys, then full-sized keys became the norm-- and now it seems like manufacturers are wanting to go back to producing keyboards, synths, and controllers with miniature keys!
 

ecc83

Well-known member
My apologies Sea Goat! I scanned the letters and brain did a reverse "typo". I got an instant image of a Clint Eastwood character from Heartbreak Ridge!

First let me put the record straight. I am NO keyboard or MIDI expert! And I am certainly no kind of player (bit of bass G now and again). No, I am but a lowly amp tech with a musically talented son. Top guitarist, reads well and grade 8 piano. We had an Evolution Ekeys 49* controller but some 7 or 8 years ago were struggling to grasp MIDI (having no money didn't help!) . I then found the PSS in a small music shop and bought it for £50 as an uncollected repair.

It wasn't a lot of use, as you say, incomplete MIDI implementation (I was told a year or so later that I should have looked for a Roland) but it does have 8 assignable pads on the front that are useful for percussion. I have the full service manual for it somewhere, if I can find it you can have a copy.

Son has now more or less made a life for himself in France (me at NN5 5P!) so all the kit is silent and unused. We shall see him Christmas tho.

*Came with some useful software mostly a little sampler called Picture Board. Written for 98se I think, still works in Win 7/64!

Dave.
 

sylvr317

New member
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 looks perfect. I'll have to change beer for almost a week to save up. But from your description, my son didn't have a chance with our current setup.

His Yamaha is a YPT-410. It sure doesn't seem to have the right port, but I have no problem being set straight.

Now the last thing is I play a sax and clarinet and my son uses his guitar and vocals. I was thinking about using a Ribbon style mic since I'm probably going to swap that one too. They are pricey, but wanted to know if phantom power is a concern with the Komplete 6 device. I have no idea so any hints would be appreciated.

Pat
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Hi Pat, there are of course many excellent AIs about now but yes, have to say I am a bit struck with my KA6!

Phantom power poses no risk to modern ribbon (if it ever did! The BBC use 100s of ribbons and AFAIK all their mic amps have spook juice. I have heard from ex Beeb engineers that nobody ever took extra precautions with ribbons and there were never any problems..Bobbs?) It IS possible for spook juice to damage a ribbon theoretically IF the mic cable is faulty but we keep a check on those don't we!

Ribbons of course have a reputation of low sensitivity* but on clarinet and certainly sax I doubt you will have any bother with the KA6 pre amps which do not have MASSES of gain but are very low noise.

Others here are vastly more qualified to comment on the suitability of ribbons on those instruments? For my money they can do little wrong! Money is however the key I think. Is it worth the investment? Can you do as well/better with a more versatile mic, multi pattern LDC say?

*Apart from a few like the Coles 4038, most ribbons are in fact AS sensitive as most dynamic mics, certainly hotter than an SM7B! The fact is ribbons tend to be used at much greater distances from the source.

Dave.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Grrr! distracted by Wife!

The Yamaha keyboard does not have MIDI ports damn it. It also does not have audio line outs and USB is just MIDI data and a data dump. If you want to get the audio into an AI you will need a TRS "y" cable to two TS 1/4" plugs to feed an AI. This of course silences the keyboard and robs you of the headphone output! (never fekkin think of these things DO they!) ...Options.

A simple headphone splitter. Not seen one but I am sure somebody makes a stereo " one in, two out" gizmo? If not, if you can solder, beer into water to make with 3 TRS 1/4" jacks.

If plugged into an AI you will have a "zero latency" monitoring feed to headphones (and monitor speakers but they cannot be live for mic recording). Bit of a faff tho'...

Small, $50 mixer: Keys into mixer line ins, mixer outs to AI, mixer H/P output always available. This last would be my preferred solution since with two of you "jammin'" I think you would find a small mixer vey useful, even with the KA6's 4 inputs.

Dave.
 

SeaGtGruff

Member
His Yamaha is a YPT-410. It sure doesn't seem to have the right port, but I have no problem being set straight.

If you're having trouble getting the YPT-410 to show up when it's connected to the computer via the USB-to-Host, it might be a compatibility issue with the newer Yamaha USB-MIDI drivers. I have a YPT-400, and when I connect it to my 64-bit Windows computers they can tell that a USB device is connected but report that the correct driver isn't installed, and the newer 64-bit compatible driver doesn't recognize that the YPT-400 is connected. The YPT-400 shipped with an older driver, which I think may be a 16-bit driver, because the installation program won't even run on my 64-bit systems. Oddly enough, the YPT-400 does work correctly with my iPad 2 (which doesn't require a driver), so I know it isn't a problem with the USB connection. I've heard from several other people who had the same problem-- their older Yamaha keyboards wouldn't work with Yamaha's newer USB-MIDI drivers.

I'll tinker around with my YPT-400 later today and see if I can figure anything out, but there's a good possibility that you'll either have to get a newer Yamaha model that works with the newer drivers, or resign yourself to just recording the audio from the keyboard. If you decide to replace the YPT-410 with a newer model in the same series, I can recommend either the PSR-E433 or PSR-E443, as I have both models and they're fully compatible with Yamaha's newest USB-MIDI drivers. They also have more voices, styles, and arpeggios than the YPT-410 does. (The YPT models are exactly the same as the similarly-numbered PSR-E models, although for some reason the YPT-410 and YPT-420 were both the same as the PSR-E403, even though they "should" have corresponded to the PSR-E413 and PSR-E423.)
 
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