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JacobTheDK

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Hello. I just bought a midi interface thing(the one with two midi thing in the on end and usb in the other end) so that i can connect it to my pc. But i am looking for some software that can change the sound and get the sound direct to my headphones, and record and all the other stuff. What software should i buy/download?
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Hello and welcome!

 

You may want to check out some Youtube demos on various DAW software, and find the one that will best work for you. Some different DAW's to check out are Sonar, Cubase, and Studio One, just to name a few. Each DAW has different editions at every price point. For example, Sonar (my personal favorite) has three different editions--the base program ($59), the Studio edition ($119), and the Producer edition ($329.) As you move up the ladder to the higher priced editions, offering more features for each edition. So, I would personally recommend Sonar, although others will probably chime in with other options. Just check them all out and find the DAW that's going to work best for you.

 

You'll also want to get yourself an external audio interface, to take some of the load off of your PC's internal sound card. These can be had for not a lot of money. You'll also be able to connect a mic or a guitar, or pretty much anything into the audio interface, making it easier to record audio into the DAW if you ever want to do that.

Yamaha MODX7, DX7, PSR-530/Korg TR-Rack, 01/W Pro X, Trinity Pro X, Karma/Ensoniq ESQ-1, VFX-SD/Behringer DeepMind12, Model D, Odyssey/Roland RD-1000
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Let's start with the basics.

 

A MIDI interface won't pass the audio from your keyboard into your computer. To do that, you need an "audio interface" also called "soundcard" (for mostly historical reasons; most of them aren't cards you plug into a backplane.)

 

The MIDI sends not audio but data, such as letting the computer know when you play a key (and how hard), when you let it up, and when you push a sustain pedal down and let it up, and when you change patches on the keyboard. You can use that to play sounds on your computer with the right software, which is one of your questions. This kind of software is called "virtual instruments". These are usually "plugins" that plug into another piece of software, called a "host". There are two kinds of hosts, that I'll get to below.

 

Your other question is about audio; either getting the keyboard's built-in sounds into the computer (to hear or record), and also recording audio. (You can also record MIDI, and edit it.) This software is called a "Digital Audio Workstation" or DAW, as Justin points out. There are lots of options in a wide price range. Many programs have free demos. A DAW is one kind of "host" that I mentioned above.

 

Many audio interfaces come with DAW software; usually one of the low-end versions of one of the major players such as Sonar or Cubase. If you plan to record audio, you may want to look into an audio interface first. Again, there's a wide range of prices. There are a lot of good offerings in the $120-$150 range and possibly lower. The sound quality of even the inexpensive ones is remarkably good, enough so that few people can really hear the difference.

 

A bigger difference between them is "latency", which doesn't matter much for recording, but matters for people playing software instruments. Latency is the time between when you play a note and when you hear it. It's a tricky issue. There's at least one site that benchmarks latency. However, even many inexpensive cards have low enough latency, especially if you're not particularly picky. I can tolerate 10 ms without a fuss; others are more picky. (I've had worse and managed, but 20 ms is a nuisance even for me. Good cards go down to 2 ms.)

 

Sorry to get technical, but IMHO, that's the main thing to pay attention to on picking an audio interface, unless you're a serious audiophile and gifted recording engineer. If not, the extra money for a more expensive interface would be far better spent elsewhere. I'll get off my soapbox for now.

 

The other kind of host is called a "live host". These are made to accept virtual instrument (and effect) plugins and are oriented towards playing rather than recording. They're especially useful for the gigging musician, as they're nicely oriented towards changing setups on the fly during a gig. I won't say much more about these since I think a DAW is more appropriate for your use.

 

Some virtual instruments come with a "standalone" player, so you can use the instrument without a host program. This is fine when you're only using that one virtual instrument, and it's a nice way to get started.

 

Next post: your first (free) software instruments. I'm going to assume your PC is Windows. Let us know if it's a Mac.

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Good news: I'm going to set you up with some free software to get you started, using your computer's built-in for sound output.

 

First, download and install ASIO4ALL, which is a driver that lets you use your built-in audio with relatively low latency:

 

http://asio4all.com

 

Just install it; we'll configure it later.

 

Next, here's a free "soundfont" player. Download it from my site, since (long story) I don't think it's available any more, but it's legit, legal, and safe; you have my word on it.

 

http://learjeff.net/sf/sfz-exe.zip

 

This is the standalone version of sfz. Just drag both .exe and .dll from the zip file to wherever you want to keep them (they need to be together). Then right-click on the .exe and select Properties -> Compatibility, and pick "XP service pack 2". That may not be necessary but it's worked for me on XP, Win7 and Win8.

 

A "soundfont" is a sample set: recordings of some instrument various notes at various volume levels. A soundfont player plays the samples back, adjusting as appropriate. Here are two soundfonts to try out:

 

http://learjeff.net/sf/splendid_grand_136.zip - grand piano

http://learjeff.net/sf/jRhodes3c.sf2.zip - Rhodes electric piano (mine)

 

Again, these are both legal to copy and distribute. Just drag the contents of each zip file out to wherever you want to keep it.

 

Plug in your MIDI adaptor and then run sfz. Connect MIDI to your keyboard at any time.

 

In sfz, click ASIO and make sure "ASIO4ALL v2" is selected.

Click ASIO -> ASIO Control Panel and check the buffer size. I believe the default is 512 which should be fine. Lower numbers will have lower latency but might produce pops & clicks; higher numbers make the pops & clicks go away but longer latency. Use whatever works for you. Close the ASIO control panel.

 

In sfz, click MIDI and select your MIDI interface. Click Output and make sure your PC's audio interface is selected.

 

Click the FILE space, and navigate to wherever you stored the two .sf2 files (the soundfonts). Pick one, such as Splendid Grand 136.

 

Turn the volume down all the way on your keyboard or disconnect its audio, to avoid confusion. Play some notes on the keyboard! You should hear them from your computer.

 

Try the other soundfont the same way.

 

Enjoy, and let us know how it works out. Next, we'll want to know what your budget is and what kinds of instruments you're interested in playing.

 

If you plan to get an audio interface, you may want to spend some time choosing one, and it may take time to get one. There is a free live host that's finicky to set up, but it's FREE and it works, and it's something you can use to play software instruments as you find them, until you get set up with a proper DAW. Let me know if you're interested. Or just google vsthost by Hermann Seib.

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FL Studio comes with some synths, but which synths it comes with depends on the price point you buy it at. Also, it depends on what type of music you want to play. I wouldn't really use FL Studio for anything but electronica or EDM, because that seems to be the genre that FL Studio is geared towards.
Yamaha MODX7, DX7, PSR-530/Korg TR-Rack, 01/W Pro X, Trinity Pro X, Karma/Ensoniq ESQ-1, VFX-SD/Behringer DeepMind12, Model D, Odyssey/Roland RD-1000
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I think those last few comments are stereotypical comments coming from people who haven't tried every DAW. If by PC you mean "personal computer," and it's a Mac, get the free program GarageBand. If by PC you mean "piece of ____," I probably won't be able to help you. But I heard people say that Logic Pro X is only good for electronic and dance music, and I haven't recorded a single dance or 'electronica' song, and I love it!
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I've used many DAW's, including Logic, and FL Studio, and while Logic is great for all genres, FL Studio is geared more towards electronic music, as it is based around creating patterns with a step sequencer, then arranging the patterns in a playlist, alongside which you can record audio tracks. I won't go into detail about how to do that, as FL Studio's method for recording audio isn't as straight-forward as other DAW's. Honestly, I couldn't even figure it out.
Yamaha MODX7, DX7, PSR-530/Korg TR-Rack, 01/W Pro X, Trinity Pro X, Karma/Ensoniq ESQ-1, VFX-SD/Behringer DeepMind12, Model D, Odyssey/Roland RD-1000
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